Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Colors of Christmas

I love all the colors of Christmas:
  • Stained glass windows in churches
  • The many colorful lights that adorn trees and houses
  • Red poinsettias and holly berries, red velvet dresses on little girls in the Christmas program and red bow ties on choirboys
  • Pine green Christmas trees and wreaths, shiny green holly leaves, and powdery green mistletoe
  • Silver tinsel, silver bells, icicles, moonbeams reflecting on new fallen snow, and stars twinkling in the deep blue of the nighttime sky 
  • Gold ornaments and ribbons on gaily wrapped gifts
  • Purple mountains and purple robes on  the Wise Men
  • Pure white snow that transforms the dreary landscape into a glistening winter wonderland
All those colors inspired me to write this poem:


Silver stands for our redemption,
purchased at great cost.
Red stands for the blood of Jesus,
shed to save the lost.
White stands for the purity of our 
robes of righteousness;
Washed white as snow by Jesus' blood,
we stand in holiness.
Green stands for our Christian growth;
to feed on God's Word is a must.
Blue stands for our loyalty to Christ
in whom we trust.
Purple stands for His majesty;
King of kings is He.
Gold stands for the heavenly place
He has prepared for me.

by AnnaLee Conti

As you enjoy all the colors this Christmas, 
I pray that you will experience the myriad facets
 of the Light of the World, JESUS, 
 whose birth we celebrate today.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Long Journey Part of Gift

My birthday is in early December. One year, I told my husband I really wanted a pink poinsettia, which I knew would be a challenge for him. That was not the kind of shopping he felt comfortable doing. On my birthday he presented me with a lovely poinsettia. He had braved his own discomfort to obtain just what I wanted--because he loved me.

His gift reminded me of a story I heard about a young African boy who, after learning that Christians give presents to each other as an expression of our joy over the birth of Jesus and our friendship with each other, wanted to give his teacher a special Christmas gift. On Christmas Day, he brought her a rare seashell of lustrous beauty.

"Where did you find such a beautiful shell?" she asked.

"There is only one spot where such shells can be found--on the shores of a bay several miles away," he answered.

"It's gorgeous," his teacher said, "but you shouldn't have gone all that way to get a gift for me."

His eyes brightening, the boy answered, "Long walk part of gift."

And that is what makes the birth of God's only Son in a stable in Bethlehem so precious--great sacrifice was part of the Gift. Jesus set aside the majesty and splendor of heaven to become a tiny, helpless baby so He could grow up, experience the human condition, yet live without sin, and die that we might have forgiveness of sin and eternal life.

He was born to die. The long journey was part of the Gift.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Don't Forget the Birthday Boy!

In B.C.'s Christmas edition, the gang was gathered around a piano singing Christmas songs: "Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer," "Jingle Bells," "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas," "Deck the Halls," Frosty the Snowman," etc.

All of a sudden, there was a loud shout from Gronk. "You dummies forgot the birthday boy!"

In total shock, everyone stopped, and the Christmas star appeared shining in the sky.

That reminds me of the time my granddaughter, Sophia, who was then in high school, used a creche to tell the Christmas story to a large group of families in her church. She called young helpers to the front, handed them figurines of Mary, Joseph, the donkey, the shepherds, and the wise men, and instructed them to carry the figurines to various places in the sanctuary.

As Sophia told the story of Jesus' birth, each helper brought his or her figurine to the stable at the designated time in the narration. When all the were in their places, Sophia began to conclude.

Suddenly, she exclaimed, "I forgot Baby Jesus!"

Then, without missing a beat, she added, "Many people forget Jesus in all the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season. Don't forget Jesus this year."

I thought she had planned it that way, until she told me later that she really had nearly forgotten the Baby Jesus.

The truth is, most people today do forget the reason for the season. Ecclesiastes 12:1 cautions, "Don't let the excitement of youth cause you to forget your Creator. Honor him in your youth before you grow old" (NLT).

This year, in your excitement at Christmas and every day yet to come, don't forget your Creator who sent His only uniquely begotten Son into this world to be your Savior. Don't wait until you are old. If you wait, your heart can become hardened to spiritual things. Make Christ the center of your life this Christmas season and every day.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

No Exit!

On my way to church the Sunday before last, I exited I-84 in Newburgh. Immediately, I realized that I had taken the wrong exit. I was being funneled into the entrance to the New York State Thruway. And there were no other options. No exit! I could only head south toward New York City or north toward Albany.

Quickly weighing my options, I headed north. I'd turn around at the next exit, New Palz, at least a twenty-minute drive one way. I knew that way better. I'd be late for church, though. I knew that for sure.

My husband usually drives us to church. Since he is recovering from open heart surgery, that was the first time in a while that I'd driven myself to church, which involves crossing the Hudson River on I-84. The exit we take to get to our church in Newburgh has been under construction for the past couple of years. It is now completed but changed.

The last time I drove myself, I needed to take the Thruway exit to get to Route 300 South. As soon as the car rounded the first curve, I knew it didn't look like the one my husband always drove. Too late, I realized that the previous exit, which used to lead only to Route 300 North now goes to both north and south.

As I drove that long "detour" on the Thruway, I began to think about choices we make in life. Many times we make decision for which there is no turning back. We are committed to a course of action. Fortunately, the only consequence of this wrong turn was being late for church. I missed most of the song service. But other choices have lifelong consequences. Some even affect our eternity.

We really need a guide, a GPS, a map to direct us through this maze we call life. I'm so thankful for the Word of God, the Bible, which is a light to guide our footsteps, a map that leads to eternal life. And the Holy Spirit, our guide, our personal GPS, is always with us to teach us the way we should go.