The Christmas season is in full swing here at Hill Crest! I thought I would share with you a few snapshots of what this season has looked like from my point of view! We kicked off the Christmas season the Saturday after Thanksgiving with Gwen dancing in the Nutcracker – she shined her light for Jesus and the show was beautiful. Then we hopped right on over into the Wayne tree-lighting celebration with a parade, toys, cookies, hot chocolate, games, and our very own Buddy the Elf made an appearance – he wasn’t even afraid of the dinosaurs and even knew who the real Santa was! We had our church Christmas party sock exchange, and despite Darren’s best efforts, everyone brought NEW socks… at least as far as I know. Mr. Mike shared a devotion with a good reminder of the true meaning of Christmas – and the best gift of all – Jesus. 2 Corinthians 9:15, “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!”
Love has come.
This past Sunday we had Super Sunday with our children’s church where we celebrated the birth of our Savior with an old-fashioned birthday party for Jesus complete with pinata, pin the star on the nativity, and decorating individual mini-Christmas trees (just to name a few of the many activities!). It was a long, exhausting, wonderful, and memorable day. In a few years, maybe even weeks, I’m not sure these kids will remember exactly what we did this past Sunday but I am positive that they will remember how they felt – loved. Mrs. Jill taught a lesson about that first Christmas night and what it meant for the whole entire world. Jesus is our Good Shepherd, He is the King of Kings, the Prince of Peace, the Light of the World, the Way, the Truth, and the Life…and He has come to be our Savior. Psalm 33:22, “Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.”
Love has come.
Last week, our “Masked Electrician” helped install new outdoor lights at the church. Mr. Matt and Uncle G. kept saying that they wanted to drive by just to see how brightly the church was lit and how it feels brighter, happier, fresher… it made me think how the presence of Jesus in that manger must have made that barn feel… less smelly, less dark, less lonely. John 8:12, “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”
Love has come.
The countdown to Christmas has begun in the McDonald household, and while this year we may not have a whole lot of decorations up… YET… we do have epic Lego advent calendars. (Thanks to my thoughtful husband). One of the calendars has a little map on it that correlates with the number of the Lego for that day and at the end of the countdown a whole scene will be completed! I’m positive Mary and Joseph weren’t able to see the big picture of Jesus’ birth, but I know that they trusted in God’s plan for their lives, and in doing so, became a part of the greatest story ever told. Want to know something extra cool? YOU can be a part of the greatest story ever told! Psalm 16:11, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
Love has come.
Sunday night, my niece Nina came up to me and told me she was ready to ask Jesus into her heart. This Christmas season, Nina’s heart recognized that love has come – for her. And isn’t that what Christmas is really all about? Not the presents, not the decorations, not the parties…but Jesus. Jesus, Savior of the whole world, sees you, knows you, and loves you. Titus 2:11, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people.” Truly,
Love has come.
Read: Proverbs 19:20-21
Consider: John 1:16, “For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” There have been many times throughout my life where I have clung to God’s grace with a white-knuckled grip. There have been other times in my life where I have held it loosely – not recognizing it for the treasure and miracle it is. What has amazed me and continues to astound me is that God doesn’t extend His grace towards me because of anything I have or haven’t done, His grace doesn’t run out, and He freely bestows it – What love is this?!
There have been times, and I’m sure there will be times again, when I feel as though I have nothing left to give, nothing left in the tank – and I’ve learned that I can trust that God often empties us of ourselves to fill us with Him. 2 Timothy 2:1, “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” When I worry about what the future holds, I can trust the One who holds the future, and will be with me every step of the way. 2 Timothy 1:9, “Who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.”
We’ve been called to excel in grace (2 Corinthians 8:7), and we know that grace has been given to us according to the measure of Christ’s gift (Ephesians 4:7), and we know that grace never runs out (Romans 5:20), and we know that we have been called and set apart by grace (Galatians 1:15).
As I look at Proverbs 19:20-21 and I look towards this next year, I can trust that God has a purpose and a plan and will guide me each step of the way. My prayer for each of us, as we step out on faith and follow God’s will for our lives is that we never forget His gift of grace, that we be willing to accept it, and that we extend grace towards others. Numbers 6:25, “The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you.”
To Do: How can you be the light in a dark world this Christmas? How do you plan on showing grace to others? What traditions do you have that remind you that Love has come?