A Good Time to Reflect

With a sigh of relief you may discover this is a good time to reflect upon what happened leading up to Christmas: the rush, the frantic search for deals . . .

Empty Present – images from pixabay.com
After the Giving and Receiving – images from pixabay.com

. . . the grand meals, the exciting parties, the hectic traveling . . . perhaps all or none of the above.  Materialism should not overwhelm the spirit of the season and neither should the gloom if you could not participate.

 

Some people like myself have experienced loss just when we should have been about to reach a pinnacle of exciting joy.

I’m OK – image from pixabay.com

Others may have been facing enormous hardships: health challenges, financial short falls . . . I know of a person fighting a health problem but you would never guess it. She is a Christian who has taken Apostle (ST) Paul literally:

Philippians 4:11-12ESV

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.

Water is Fun – images from pixabay.com

I found watching little children play to be comforting and a way to acquire a source of peace.

A Child’s Laugh – images from pixabay.com

 Proverbs 17:6 ESV 

Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their fathers.

Happy Children – images from pixabay.com

I also enjoy the simple relationship that can be experienced when some of GOD’s animals are at peace and content.

Animals are Fun – images from pixabay.com

Job 12:7-10 ESV 

“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.

Animals at Play – images from pixabay.com
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Not Just During the Christmas Season

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Enjoy Your Christmas Blessings . . .

Christmas Feasting: Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. “The top of the season to you from two “Chaps”” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed December 12, 2017. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e3-5a10-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
.  .  . and share with the poor also: This is good for you and them.
Salvation Army Share – Via Google Images
Food to Warm – images from pixabay.com

The needy have been around a long time.

Vagrants: Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. “New York City : Early Morning At A Police Station — Turning Out The Vagrant Lodgers.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed December 12, 2017. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e1-273f-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

 

Yes it is Good to Help Needy People During Christmas Holidays but what About the Rest of the Year?
Lodging Cellar for the Poor: Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. “A Five Points Lodging Cellar.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed December 12, 2017. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e0-d7e8-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

 

Part of my childhood was affected by the absence of my father which created hardship for my Mother and two brothers.  In those days people we knew seemed less understanding and sometimes cold. What support and help we did get was meager and sometimes perfunctory. Ironically just a decade beyond the Holocaust the Jewish neighbors (some death camp survivors I learned later) helped us more than our fellow Christians – some from our own family. Those who did continue to help surely took the Biblical teaching that the poor should be helped; not just during “The Holidays”.

Proverbs 19:17 ESV 

Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.

God gave that instruction before Christians even existed . . . and this one when “The Church” began:

Acts 20:35 ESV 

In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

Having much to share is a blessing, not just because it is the material wealth that you can enjoy but, that you may share and store treasure for yourself in heaven.

Burned Out – images from pixabay.com

 

Remember not only the underprivileged but those who suffer loss as well.

1 Timothy 6:17-19 ESV 

As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

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Hijacked Holidays Still Matter

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Stonehenge – images from pixabay.com

Some people get compulsive about the origin and meaning of a celebrated holiday so much so that they miss the value of the celebration.

Merry Christmas 1 – image from pixabay.com

Does it really matter what exact day Jesus was born? In my opinion no. What really matters is who He was, why He came and what He accomplished.

John 1:14 ESV

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

 

Jesus is central – image from pixabay.com

So if someone says Christmas is just one of many holidays observed on or near  The Winter Solstice they probably miss the true meaning for humanity of The Christmas Holiday that Christians celebrate.

John 3:16 ESV

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

TRADITIONAL celebrations can meld into new meanings or acquire entirely new meanings

Take the story of ST Nicholas and how this became a story about how the Santa Claus tradition began.

Fra Angelico – The Story of St Nicholas: Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Nicholas

People are social entities and observing an event, a commemoration, or a remembrance corporately, is one way to fill the need to be united or connected.

Taylor Afternoon Winter Panorama – Google
Nicholas of Myra – images from pixabay.com
The Story of ST Nicholas and Black Peter – images from pixabay.com

We need uplifting and joyful celebrations . . .

. . . so we celebrate the Fourth of July in the USA ; many other countries celebrate special days that their citizens consider important; this also includes many holidays connected with the religions of the world. As a Christian? Christmas and Resurrection Sunday (Easter) top my list.

It helps to face winter’s dark and cold nights to have eternal hope in GOD because of the accomplishments of Jesus Christ.
Merligen – images from pixabay.com
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Relationships Between Men and Women

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Ah Ha! I suppose you thought I was going to join in on the sexual harassment news of the day: NO

Nativity – images from pixabay.com

I am going to highlight the relationship of Joseph and Mary when she was found to be carrying baby Jesus.

Nativity 2 – images from pixabay.com

In the Jewish culture of the their time a betrothed couple were already in a binding contract almost as secure as marriage itself. What was expected was much: the man must prepare a home secure and sufficient for a family and the woman must make all the necessary preparations for her becoming a wife and a mother.  Both were expected to remain pure: no sexual relations between them and, most definitely not with another person.

Proverbs 18:22 ESV

He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.

So when Joseph learned of Mary’s pregnancy he had every right to break the engagement (equal to a divorce) or quietly vacate the betrothal.  He did not.
Marriage Bond is Global – images from pixabay.com

Mark 10:9 ESV 

What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Human Bonds in Marriage – images from pixabay.com

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 ESV

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Wedding – images from pixabay.com

 

Bride and Groom – images from pixabay.com
Human Bonds in Marriage – images from pixabay.com
Wedding 2 – images from pixabay.com
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