Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas Day 2005

“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all."
--Isaiah 53:4-6 (King James Version)

Just a few observances to ponder on this Christmas day:

No where in the Bible is there mentioned a time when Angels sing. “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men‘.”--Luke 2:13-14

I am not a scholar in ancient languages, but I have been told by experts, the words “Peace on Earth, goodwill toward men” is more accurately translated as, “Peace on Earth to men of goodwill.”

This would make more sense to those of us who believe there are rewards for the righteous and consequences for the unrepentant. The unrighteous do not know peace.

It is commonly believed that Joseph and Mary were poor because they were forced to spend the night in a barn. It is more likely that they would be considered, in today’s terms, to be working middle class. Joseph had a specialized trade, making him slightly higher in status than the ordinary man in his day.

The reason Jesus was laid in a manger was because there was no room for them in the inn, not because they didn’t have the money for a room. They were in Bethlehem for the census, along with every other man in the kingdom who’s hometown was Bethlehem, hence, the town was overcrowded.

I have always found the words of this song to be particularly touching, especially the verse that speaks of despair. How often we get depressed over the sorrows of this world. It is helpful to know that "God is not dead, nor doth He sleep."

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Henry W. Longfellow

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

2. I thought how as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along th'unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

3. And in despair I bowed my head:
'There is no peace on earth,'I said
'For hate is strong, and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.'

4. Then peeled the bells more loud and deep:
'God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.'

5. Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And now, I want to share a modern day parable, with apologies to author and lecturer Frank Peretti. It is his story, but I can only share it from memory:

It was a sunny and warm Spring day. The flowers were blooming, the new grass was green, the leaves had awakened from their Winter dormancy and had burst forth in bright green splendor upon the trees. The wind was balmy and mild.

A typical ordinary family, Father, Mother, and 8 year old girl decided to take advantage of the beautiful Spring day and go for a Sunday afternoon drive in the country. The Father was driving, Mother was in the front passenger seat, and the little girl in the back seat. It was a wonderful day for a drive.

As they drove along a dirt country road, all of the windows down, and enjoying the sights, sounds, and scents of Spring, suddenly a big black bee flew into the car window.

As the bee buzzed around inside the car, panicked from finding itself trapped in an unfamiliar place, and getting frustrated and angry, the little girl cried out in fear. She was allergic to bee stings and one sting would mean quick and certain death to her.

“Daddy,” she cried, Please Daddy, help me! The bee's going to sting me! Please save me!”

Her father, at first tried to swat at the bee and scare it back out the window, and failing that, attempted to maneuver the car to the side of the road, while trying to catch the bee in one hand and steer the car with the other.

Finally, with his panicked daughter screaming in terror, and his wife swatting at the bee, he was finally able to trap the bee against the windshield glass, and then closed his fingers around it.

And then he waited. The bee buzzed angrily within his closed fist. He waited for the inevitable. And then, the inevitable happened. He winced in pain, and then opened his hand, releasing the bee.

The bee, free of the mans hand, buzzed into the back seat area of the car, prompting the little girl to scream louder.

The Father, said, “It’s Ok, honey, He can’t hurt you now. Look what I have in my hand.”

And he opened his hand to reveal, in the center of his palm, the bee’s stinger, embedded there in the flesh of his palm. And the bee continued to buzz harmlessly around in the back seat.

Look what Jesus has in his hand.

See, this is what Jesus has done for us. He took Satan’s sting. The sting of pain, the sting of distress, the sting of loneliness, the sting of hopelessness.

The sting of death.

He took Satan’s sting.

And now all Satan can do is buzz.

This Christmas, consider the significance of that one humble birth, and how it has impacted the world for the last 2,000 years. And thank God for the greatest Christmas Gift of all.


jgf said...

"And now all Satan can do is buzz."

Grace be to God for His unspeakable gift! Merry Christmas and thank you for the beautiful story.

Lores Rizkalla said...

Amen! Amen!

Poison Pero said...

Excellent post Mark......Per normal.

TECH said...

Merry Christmas, Mark.

Kyle Foley said...

this Republican administration refuses to provide housing for thousands of disaster victims, while fleecing American taxpayers by giving no-bid contracts to their friends and cronies as Americans along the Gulf Coast continue to suffer

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Hey? What happened to my post?! Unless you're back on mod duties....

Anyway, that was a nice story at the end. I wrote out a personal account of my own yellowjacket encounter by a swarm in the comment that didn't print. But I don't want to go over it again.

Hope you, your friends and family, and your readership enjoy a warm and Merry Christmas!

Mark said...

Kyle, If you can't stay on topic, you are not welcome here. If you want to discuss Government hand-outs to Hurricane victims, that's fine. But wait until I post a comment on that subject. Your vitrious comments are inappropriate to this post. If you do it again, I will delete your comments. Consider yourself warned.

Smithy, sounds like blogger is being temperamental again. Sorry I missed it.

Merry Christmas and Peace to all my friends of good will.

Old Soldier said...

Mark, my apologies for not making it around before Christmas, but nonetheless, Merry CHRISTmas. May God bless you and your family this year to come. Peace, my friend, is your's and our's because Jesus paid the price.

tugboatcapn said...

Mark, This was an excellent post, and I am sorry that I missed it on Christmas day.

I love the story at the end. The symbolism is great for so many reasons. The father figure who was willing to take the stinger himself to insure that the child did not have to, Satan losing his sting...

It is great.

Good job, my friend!