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Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

The Incarnation

by Odd Thomas

what good is the Christmas story
if it’s void of God and His glory
what’s the worth of the words “peace on earth”
if it’s not rooted in the truth of Christ’s birth
what benefit is it for us to discuss the joy of the season
unless we fix our hearts and our minds on the principal reason
that Christ has atoned for us

see, Christmas is more than just a story
about a baby born in a manger
more than a poor fiance engaged to a humble virgin teenager
more than a Magi
more than gold, frankincense, and myrrh
it’s more than a narrative of the nativity scene
there was so much more that occurred

it’s the coming of the Messiah
the fulfillment of all Old Testament promises
the prophecy of the suffering servant and all of His accomplishments
the second Person of the Trinity
commissioned to abandon His position
and literally set aside the independent exercise of His attributes
in full submission
the Word manifested in the flesh
the fullness of God expressed
the self-emptying Jesus poured out at the Father’s request
the image of the invisible God
the radiance of the Father’s fame
holy
but retained His humanness to emphathize with our pain

He was unjustly crushed
chastised
cursed
and shamed
mocked and adorned with a crown of thorns
disgraced
but He still faced the grave
to fulfill the Father’s will
to come and die in the place of sinful men
and receive the full fury of God’s judgment upon Himself instead

the most monumental mark for mankind
made in human history
wretched sinners being made righteous
only by the wounds of the risen King
the condescending of a holy God
made in the likeness of men
a child born to be the Savior
that would save the world from their sins
the offspring of the virgin’s womb
the Christ
God’s own Son
fully God yet fully man
the only theanthropic One

this is what we celebrate
Christ
the newborn King
veiled in flesh the Godhead see
hail! incarnate Deity

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Christmas Must Be Something More

by Taylor Swift

what if ribbons and bows didn’t mean a thing
would the song still survive without five golden rings
would you still wanna kiss without misletoe
what would happen if God never let it snow
what would happen if Christmas carols told a lie
tell me what would you find

you’d see that today holds something special
something holy, not superficial
so here’s to the birthday boy who saved our lives
it’s something we all try to ignore
and put a wreath up on your door
so here’s something you should know that is for sure
Christmas must be something more

what if angels did not pay attention to
all the things that we wished they would always do
what if happiness came in a cardboard box
then i think there is something we all forgot
what would happen if presents all went away
tell me what would you find

you’d see that today holds something special
something holy, not superficial
so here’s to the birthday boy who saved our lives
it’s something we all try to ignore
and put a wreath up on your door
so here’s something you should know that is for sure
Christmas must be something more

we get so caught up in all of it
business and relationships
hundred-mile-an-hour lives
and it’s this time of year
and everybody’s here
it seems the last thing on your mind

is that the day holds something special
something holy, not superficial
so here’s to Jesus Christ who saved our lives
it’s something we all try to ignore
and put a wreath up on your door
but here’s something you should know that is for sure
Christmas must be something
Christmas must be something
Christmas must be something more

there’s gotta be more
there’s gotta be more

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Ditto

Wow, how uncanny the similarities between my friend’s and my own family:

In less than 24 hours I will be leaving with my family on my first trip to Asia!  I’m excited and feel so blessed to finally have the opportunity to meet my extended family, many of whom I’ve heard about but never seen. At the same time, I realize that this may be a once in a lifetime opportunity for us to witness to them, since we don’t go back very often and the majority of my relatives who are overseas are not believers and are at least as old as my parents. It will also be the first significant amount of time I’ve spent with my brother since he decided to tell me he’d renounced God. So, I would really appreciate your prayers for God’s love to show through in our interactions, even though there might be language, age, cultural barriers, and the usual family tensions.

I also wanted to say that I’m thankful and would love to hear how you’re doing or pray for you if you’ve anything to share; but since I may not be able to communicate as frequently while I’m overseas, I want to go ahead and wish you a very Merry Christmas and send you wishes for a wonderful holiday season!

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White Christmases

by Branded

if you dream of horse-drawn carriages
dashing through the snow
before you move to Texas
there’s something you should know….

that they don’t have white Christmases in Houston
i’ve lived here most my life, and i should know
i’ve prayed and i’ve pleaded for way too many years
but they just don’t have white Christmases down here

i’ve heard of winter carnivals in Aspen
it looks just like a winter wonderland
but remember while you’re freezin’
throughout this Christmas season
we’ll be down here with Christmas cheer
and flip-flops in the sand

that they don’t have white Christmases in Houston
i’ve lived here most my life, and i should know
i’ve prayed and i’ve pleaded for way too many years
but they just don’t have white Christmases down here

play on!

that’s nice!

i’ve seen all those Christmas shows on TV
blankets of white powder, my how grand!
but while you’ve got snow and holly
I’m feasting on tamales
sittin’ on my back porch
with an iced tea in my hand

that they don’t have white Christmases in Houston
i’ve lived here most my life, and i should know
i’ve prayed and i’ve pleaded for way too many years
but they just don’t have white Christmases down here

i’ve prayed and i’ve pleaded for way too many years
but they just don’t have white Christmases down here

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Good news of great joy

Some words shared to a missionary’s teammates:

We had a Christmas service at school last week. Every year, it is a boring quiet service which only about 10 students gather, but this year, the three of us got to be involved in the planing with teachers, and this year it became such a blessed wonderful time!! M planned 2 Gospel, I planned 1 sign dance, and S shared her testimony! All in front of about 100 people who gathered for the service (for the first time!)! It was such an awesome time, giving me enough of joy for this Christmas. Especially watching S sharing her joy in meeting Christ through us and the gospel choir, with the great peace from the Holy Spirit. We saw many people cry, and many were touched.

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. (3 John 4)

God must wish to arrive in St.Luke’s again, and God must LOVE using the choir for His salvation!! Thank you guys!! Hope you have a blessed Christmas, too!

“Meeeellllllyyyyy  Kuuuurrreeeesuuuummmaaasssuuuuuuuuuuuuu”–God with us!

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Today’s worship quote of the week for 12/26/2000 is one of my favorite poems about Christ’s first advent:

THOU WHO WAST RICH BEYOND ALL SPLENDOUR
by Frank Houghton (1894-1972)
in Praying with the English Hymn Writers
compiled by Timothy Dudley-Smith, Triangle Books, 1994
also found in Hymns II, InterVarsity Press, 1976

Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour,
All for love’s sake becamest poor;
Thrones for a manger didst surrender,
Sapphire-paved courts for stable floor.
Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour,
All for love’s sake becomes poor.

Thou who art God beyond all praising,
All for love’s sake becamest Man;
Stooping so low, but sinners raising
Heavenward by Thine eternal plan.
Thou who art God beyond all praising,
All for love’s sake becamest Man.

Thou who art love beyond all telling,
Saviour and King, we worship thee.
Emmanuel, within us dwelling,
Make us what Thou wouldst have us be.
Thou who art love beyond all telling,
Saviour and King, we worship Thee.

Serving as Editorial Secretary for the China Inland Mission, Frank Houghton made a trip to China in 1934 to see first-hand the progress of the work. This hymn was written at a particularly difficult time in the history of the missions to China. Missionaries had been captured by the communist Red Army and released in poor health after over a year of suffering. Others had been captured never to be heard from again. In 1934 the young missionaries John and Betty Stam (my great aunt and uncle) were captured in Anhwei and beheaded. The news of these sorrows had reached the mission’s headquarters in Shanghai. Though this was a very dangerous time for both the Chinese Christians and the foreign missionaries, Frank Houghton decided he needed to begin a tour through the country to visit various missionary outposts. While traveling over the mountains of Szechwan, the powerful and comforting words of 2 Corinthians 8:9 were transformed into this beautiful Christmas hymn. It can be sung to the tune of the French Carol melody “Fragrance”. We try to find a place for it in our Christmas worship each year. Give it a try.

Frank Houghton was consecrated as Bishop of East Szechwan in 1937. For the difficult years of 1940 to 1951 he served as General Director of the China Inland Mission, a time when most missionaries were either interred or evacuated. Although some would return after War II, by 1953 there were no more foreign missionaries in China. What Hudson Taylor had begun almost 100 years earlier would be left to the Chinese Christians to continue. I guess this turned into a little lesson in the history of missions to China. Merry Christmas!

Have a great week,
Chip Stam
Director, Institute for Christian Worship
School of Church Music and Worship
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Louisville, Kentucky
www.carlstam.org
www.sbts.edu

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