I love Christmas! Of course many people love the season of celebrating Christ’s birth. Each year the Christmas season means more to me. When I think about the greatness of God’s love for us to become a man, sinless in nature, compassionate and filled with love he bore our sins to the Cross.
For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.” Titus 2:11-14, NLT
In this passage we are taught the first and second advent of our Lord! God’s grace was revealed and we celebrate his virgin birth at Christmas while we look forward with great anticipation His imminent return. Look forward with hope for that day, Jesus returns. For Christ’s followers, it will be day of joy. We look forward not because of our good deeds but because our sins have been judged and forgiven through Christ. It will be a day of sorrow for those who are committed to injustice, violence, and evil. Imagine both the joy and the peace for those who follow Christ when he appears again. I pray that you have truly discovered the peace and joy that is eternal through Christ our Lord this Christmas! If not, why not bow your heart before him now and thank Him for coming to die for your sins and turn from those sins to live for Jesus. I want you to know that Christ would have died just for you, even if you were the only one. That is not a condescending statement to you but a fact of God’s great love for each individual.
Our Creative Arts Team at Woodland put together a musical presentation filled with beauty and meaning. Every demographic from our Woodland Family participated in the production of this year’s “Christmas Gift.”
Of course when Andrew and his family arrived, it really felt like Christmas. Our grandsons came in full of life and ready to play. We played tag outside, (Michigan has enjoyed the warmest December in our 20 years here) and they kept changing the rules. Which is something that Andrew would do when he was little. After the Christmas Eve service our oldest grandson, Nolan, said, “Papa, next year you need to bring us on the platform too.” We enjoyed having guests over after Christmas Eve. There was so much laughter and love in our home.
Christmas morning we enjoyed a feast for breakfast of ginger pancakes, lemon syrup, breakfast meats, and all the trimmings. I don’t know how Becky manages to do everything that she does during the Christmas season and do it all with a smile. The list I could make is so long, and yet she does it all with excellence and joy. I love her so much.
I preached two Christmas messages this year about “What I learned from Joseph and Mary” and “What I learned from the Shepherds.” I’d encourage you to listen to those two messages at http://www.Woodland.Church. Our Staff preached four messages in a series called “Meet Me at the Manger!” Each of them did gave us a wonderful biblical message of hope.
Christmas Day we flew to Georgia to be with our families there. Chris and his girlfriend Rachel met us here. Rachel wanted to go sightseeing in Macon and we’ve enjoyed showing them around and pointing them to places to go on their own. One beautiful place we visited is Coleman’s Hill. Which brought up a funny story of when I pastored here. Becky and I drove up to Coleman’s Hill after dinner one night to look out over the city and just go for a walk. As soon as pulled up a car took off. Later we found out it was a boy and girl we knew. They couldn’t believe that Becky and I were at Coleman’s Hill at night. Soon our entire youth group had spread the word that “Beware, Pastor and Becky go parking at Coleman’s Hill sometimes!” You’re welcome Moms and Dads!
We look forward to spending time with our families in Georgia each year. It’s a greater blessing to pray and sing Christmas carols together. Last night I was listening to conversations about visiting Israel, missions to South America, Africa, and Asia, youth ministry, praise and worship, and helping families grow. Of course there is a lot of talk about college football and good food too!
Well, I’m being told to hurry up, we have another family party to attend!