Save The Date
12/24- Christmas Eve
12/25- Christmas Day
12/31- New Years Eve
As we are now in the Christmas season please pray that Christ’s light would shine brightly to those around you. That the true meaning of Christmas would be on display and that those with ears to hear will hear the good news! Also pray for families whose loved ones may be serving our country and cannot be home for Christmas. Pray for the soldiers as well that they would find peace in Christ during the Christmas season.
CHRISTMAS AS WE KNOW IT TODAY
Christmas, as we know it today, has an interesting and complicated past. It has been an evolution of many cultures from around the world kind of morphed together into what we observe today. Prior to the 1800's, some communities around the country honored the day in different ways. Some observed Christmas as an important Christian religious day, honoring the birth of Jesus. Others celebrated the day with parties, music, drinking, and eating. In addition, some communities did not celebrate the day at all. It was during the early 1800s that Americans began to reinvent the holiday. They started combining ancient Christmas traditions with modern American influences.
SOME FAST FACTS
The 1600s: Christmas is hated and outlawed in New England. A fine of 5 shillings was imposed if caught.
1770s-80s: Christmas is considered unpatriotic because of the disdain for Britton. The 1820s: People start shopping. It's around this time that gift exchanging became popular, and holiday shopping started to have economic significance. It would also be around this time that some would become concerned about the growing commercialization of the holiday.
1828: Poinsettia plants are named after Joel R. Poinsett, an American minister to Mexico, who brought the red-and-green plant from Mexico to America
1843: Christmas gains worldwide popularity thanks to A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens that brought a message of charity and goodwill.
1849: A religious leader from Massachusetts wrote the words to "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear." The song "Jingle Bells" appeared seven years later. And, a year later, a religious leader in Williamsport, Pennsylvania wrote the song "We Three Kings of Orient Are."
1870: President Ulysses Grant made Christmas a federal holiday. The
1870s: Trees start making appearances in American homes. They first became popular in England, after Queen Victoria had one in the 184os.
1875: Christmas cards are introduced in the U.S. a tradition bowered from England The 1890's: The Salvation Army began sending Santa Claus-clad donation collectors into the streets
The 1910s: Shopping and must-have presents become standard.
1939: Rudolph, "the most famous reindeer of all," was the product of Robert L. May's imagination. The copywriter wrote a poem about the reindeer to help lure customers into the Montgomery Ward department store.
1953: The Santa Claus look as we know it today was created for a Coke advertisement.
The history of Christmas from a Christian's point of view happened like this It was the night before light and God said let there be light. Somewhere around 6000 plus years ago God said let us make man in our own image. God created Adam and Eve they disobeyed God. Their disobedience brought sin into the world. Sin was not overcome by the works of the law since no one could live a sinless life. Death and the punishment of sin from a just God would be the outcome. But God so loved the world that approximately 2018 years ago he caused a baby to born in a manager who was actually God with us.
Born supernaturally of a virgin and he lived among us and left us an example that we should follow. He was crucified even though he never sinned and died on the cross. He bore our sins and paid the penalty for the sins of all who would repent and believe in him. Over the years, Christians have enjoyed the secular side of Christmas but through the lens of the birth of our savior. For us, this is the real reason for the season. Let's face it some of the other stuff is fun and enjoyable. Merry Christmas from all of us here at The Cornerstone. P.S. If you are in the area on Dec. 13 stop by our open house between 10:00 and 4:00. RSVP not required
YOU SHALL CALL HIS NAME JESUS
Noah, Levi, and Eden. Those are the names my wife and I chose for our children. Each one carefully selected and purposefully picked even before we saw their faces or held them in our hands. I love their names because they have meaning and intent. I recall growing up and being told what my name meant. Christopher, meaning Christ-Bearer, was selected by my parents and in doing so they reminded me of what it meant to proclaim Jesus Christ as the only Savior from sin and death. In God’s providence, I have the joy of serving in vocation ministry and bearing His name in many capacities. I thank the Lord for His kindness and the gift of this stewardship and am reminded of it each time I consider my very own name.
I can only imagine the thoughts that ran through Joseph and Mary’s minds as they considered the special child that was growing in Mary’s womb. Each had been visited by the angel Gabriel and told of the marvelous conception and purpose of the babe to be born to them. He would be great, called the Son of the Most High and would receive the eternal throne of David just as the prophets had foretold. His name would be Jesus! Gabriel specifically told Joseph that this was to be His name because “He will save His people from their sins.” (Matt 1:21) Salvation, that’s what they thought about especially as they gazed upon the child for the first time. God’s fulfillment of His promise to Adam and Eve, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and David had come to pass in the baby born to them in Bethlehem. As their eyes met His, could they even contain themselves as they pondered the mysterious thought of God’s salvation? As the shepherds came and saw and worshipped what glory filled their hearts? When the wisest of the earth bowed low in adoration and gift giving did His parents weep for joy as they told them His name? And what about you this Christmas season? In the various prism beams of the season have you considered the brightest beam? Have you paused to consider the Christ of Christmas? His name is Jesus because He has saved His people from their sins!
THE GREATEST GIFT
Our radio station just finished working Collection Week with Operation Christmas Child, and it was an amazing experience! Over 2,000 shoeboxes came into the station from various churches and many individuals. They represent over 2,000 boys and girls who will receive a shoebox full of joy- toys, toiletries and school supplies they may never have owned or even seen. How could that get any more wondrous or awesome for that child? Well, when those children received their shoeboxes, they also get to hear the message of the gospel in their own language. They get to know that Jesus took the punishment for their sins so they can go to heaven. They call this gospel message “The Greatest Gift”. And it is, isn’t it? Salvation from sin and death. Salvation to life abundant and eternal. And for the children who respond favorably to the gospel, they are invited to participate in a discipleship program called “The Greatest Journey”. This is truly a chance for their appreciation of the Greatest Gift and the Gift Giver to grow.
Speaking of growth, my own appreciation of Jesus has grown over time. I remember how even though I came to Jesus with the faith of a child, I was limited in my understanding as a child as well. I felt a little like the Samaritan woman Jesus spoke with at Jacob’s well (see John, chapter 4). The woman was told about the gift- living water that quenches thirst eternally and springs up as a fountain to eternal life. She responded by telling Jesus she wanted the gift. Then, she went through the city and told others about her encounter. How great this all was. Yet, one cannot read the story without realizing that her appreciation of the gift and the Gift Giver was limited, like Jesus told her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink…”. Then, after Jesus reveals His omniscience and declares Himself ‘the Christ’, she still questions this claim. What happened to this woman? Is she ever mentioned again in Scripture? I’m not sure. But Scripture tells us that “many of the Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony (vs 38).”
Both Operation Christmas Child and the woman at the well serve as lessons for me. When something is appreciated, it is talked about, fussed over, and even celebrated. And indeed, when Jesus performed miracles, word got around. How can we capture that kind of excitement and appreciation about the greatest gift that we have received, our salvation? How can our gift giving this Christmas be a springboard to discuss our greatest gift and the Gift Giver? Are we willing to give this more lip service this year than we do any of the gifts we have purchased? May this be the one and only gift in your social circles that is re-gifted this year. “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.” (2 Corinthians 9:15) Even if it is ‘indescribable’, I will try!