Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry Christmas

Jackie, Kim, and I finished baking and decorating cookies somewhere around 3:30-4:00 a.m. this morning so I did not get up early and write a Christmas message until now. We have a large crowd, close to twenty coming over around 2:30 for a meal and gift opening, but if nothing further happened this would be one of the finest Christmases in memory.We made the rounds last night dropping off gifts and cookies to various friends and relatives. We went to see my Mom in Elkhart General Hospital, dropped off her present and more cookies at the nurses station there. Everyplace we went we had just a wonderful time.

We can endlessly debate and I'm sure most of us know people who refuse to celebrate Christmas due to its uncertainty of being on the correct day and on its uncertain origins. That is all very valid. We do not know for sure that Jesus was born on December 25th. It would seem likely that the date of his birth was known for certain by at least his mother. We are assured that she survived him. She was mentioned as being at the foot of the cross with the disciple John and furthermore it would seem likely that Jesus being who he was would have inspired people to celebrate his birth right from the start. It is difficult for me to understand, knowing the continuity of belief for Jesus life, straight up from the start of His ministry until this very day almost 2000 years later, how people could have been celebrating his birth on say on one day and then to have someone change the date to another, but I suppose it could happen.

The one thing that we cannot argue, is that His birth did occur and regardless of the exact day it occurred upon we give honor to Him on this day. There are lots of things wrong with how we do it. There are lots of things wrong with how we do almost everything, but that should not cause us to feel guilty for our celebration on this day. Our family reads the Christmas story in Luke from the Bible before opening gifts. We pray, standing together holding hands before our meal, giving thanks. For some that may be the most time spent in devotion to God all the year long, but it is time spent in devotion to God nonetheless!

I think we do our selves, our families, our collective world culture a great disservice if we abandon the field and give the celebration over to those who dance around the pagan trees in happiness at the winter solstice or to St. Nicholas and his American Express bevy of little elves. Christ was born on a day and we celebrate God giving us this unsurpassably precious gift. We celebrate His taking on flesh and coming to us and placing Himself in the body of an infant in a birth that changed both men and the entire universe forever more. . . We should endeavor on this day and indeed on every day to share our gifts and share the fruit of our O most holy relationship with the King of Kings. . . . We shout it on the rooftops. . . . We share the gladness with everyone we meet. . .

Isaiah 9:6-7
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

Thank you Lord for everything You've done. . .

Merry Christmas Everyone!!!

Dave Stokely

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