The other day I was listening to Christmas music on the radio. There was a mix of religious Christmas songs and carols and holiday music that is what we would call, more secular in nature. When Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer played, I was transported back to my childhood. I remembered the year when I had my ear right up against the wall in my bedroom so I could be the first to hear Santa’s sleigh land on our roof. I knew that the delivery of the presents would surely follow. I was hoping that Rudolph’s nose would have a very definite and loud sound so I wouldn’t miss it. As I look back, I never wondered how Santa was going to slide down the chimney into the fireplace that didn’t exist in our house.
I was jolted out of that childhood memory as the radio station then played Frosty the Snowman and that took me back to the magic of Christmas. As a child, there always seemed to be snow on Christmas day although, that may just be my selective memory at work. As the radio station moved into a commercial, I was reflecting on the hours I would spend on the living room floor looking at the lights on our Christmas tree.
I realize that, when I was a child, Christmas was all about Santa and the presents I would receive. It wasn’t until I was in high school that Christmas really became a time to celebrate the gift of Jesus Christ. How could I have lived all those years believing that Christmas was just a holiday to receive gifts?
13:1 The Message on Babylon. Isaiah son of Amoz saw it:
2 “Run up a flag on an open hill. Yell loud. Get their attention. Wave them into formation. Direct them to the nerve center of power. 3 I’ve taken charge of my special forces, called up my crack troops. They’re bursting with pride and passion to carry out my angry judgment.”
4 Thunder rolls off the mountains like a mob huge and noisy—Thunder of kingdoms in an uproar, nations assembling for war. GOD of-the-Angel-Armies is calling his army into battle formation.
5 They come from far-off countries, they pour in across the horizon.
It’s GOD on the move with the weapons of his wrath, ready to destroy the whole country.
6 Wail! GOD’S Day of Judgment is near— an avalanche crashing down from the Strong God!
7 Everyone paralyzed in the panic, hysterical
8 and unstrung, Doubled up in pain like a woman giving birth to a baby. Horrified—everyone they see is like a face out of a nightmare.
9 “Watch now. GOD’S Judgment Day comes. Cruel it is, a day of wrath and anger, a day to waste the earth and clean out all the sinners.
10 The stars in the sky, the great parade of constellations, will be nothing but black holes. The sun will come up as a black disk, and the moon a blank nothing.
11 I’ll put a full stop to the evil on earth, terminate the dark acts of the wicked. I’ll gag all braggarts and boasters—not a peep anymore from them— and trip strutting tyrants, leave them flat on their faces.
12 Proud humanity will disappear from the earth. I’ll make mortals rarer than hens’ teeth.
13 And yes, I’ll even make the sky shake, and the earth quake to its roots under the wrath of GOD of-the-Angel-Armies, the Judgment Day of his raging anger.
In the defeat of Babylon, Isaiah saw a picture of the final “day of the Lord” when the world will taste the judgment of God. God is long suffering with sinners, but there comes a time when God’s judgment must fall. Isaiah’s message against Babylon was fulfilled, and the city and their empire are no more. Like Babylon in Isaiah’s day, the world today seems so successful and invincible; but one day, the whole system will fall.
When you think back upon your Christmas traditions, is it more about the secular or about Jesus? What are some of the traditions you remember from your childhood? What similarities are there between the secular Christmas and the Jesus Christmas? Do you think that our society will one day go for only the secular Christmas? Have a day!
In Conversation with a child today: Ask a child to tell you the Christmas story they know
Prayers for our soldiers and others fighting for our country:
Remember in Prayer: Terecia, Jim, Tim, Heidi, Jeremy, Dick, Diane, Frank & Jean, Carolyn & family, Dennis, Barb, Sue, Michael Paul’s mother, Vivian
And those experiencing loss – family & friends of: Nancy, Edward, Doris, Angela
Prayer: We love you, O God, and we thank you for this day. Thank you for the gift of your son, Jesus Christ. While we are so moved by the material things of this world, we ask that you be in our hearts and help us stay connected with this awesome gift you have given us. Amen
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© 2016 Lucia Oerter
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The Message Bible – contemporary translation
A ministry at Pines Presbyterian Church, 12751 Kimberley Lane, Houston, TX