HOW DOES A PERSON CHANGE?
ONE IMPORTANT LINK BETWEEN
PUTTING OFF THE OLD SELF
AND PUTTING ON THE NEW
IS “BEING RENEWED IN THE SPIRIT OF OUR MINDS”
MARY SERVES AS AN EXAMPLE
REPEATEDLY WE ARE TOLD
SHE PONDERED ALL THESE THINGS IN HER HEART
LET’S NOT SAY GOOD-BYE TO CHRISTMAS
Many of you have a favorite Christmas movie. I love especially the scenes from Luke 1 and Luke 2 in Jesus of Nazareth, as pictured below. Olivia Hussey is a believer and has a radiance that seems befitting Mary. She shows awe, wonder, and amazement. We see her pondering, truly.
The verses in the captions above are all from Luke. They are so familiar that we tend not to hear them. I listened to my son dramatically read Luke 2 to his children last week, but saw their eyes glaze over. It’s hard when it is so familiar. But at least on this Christmas day, this day that falls once every seven years on a Sunday, let us ponder the verses below the pictures and see if we have a question, a comment, a new insight. And then I will lead you into pondering some other Advent thoughts. Many of these are questions that could be done with children as well.
I promise to keep the homework simple this week — and I’m not giving you a sermon, though if you want one, I’d recommend Keller’s How To Sing at Christmas — about Mary’s Magnificat I also want to give my website manager David a break this week, so don’t have an easy link, but here is what I can do and you can paste into your browser.
How To Sing At Christmas: http://sermons.redeemer.com/store/index.cfm?fuseaction=category.display&category_ID=6&Name=How+To+Sing+at+Christmas&monthrecorded=&yearrecorded=&scripture=&speaker=all&messagetype=&SKUsearch=&sort=DateNew&CFID=3459427&CFToken=23274446
Christmas Day and Monday: Pondering the Word
1. What’s your favorite Christmas movie and why? (I’ve already told you my spiritual favorite, but I also love Elf and love watching it with my daughter-in-law who laughs through it all every time. I have a son who wouldn’t watch it because it wasn’t spiritual and we made him, and he rolled on the floor with laughter.)
2. Read through the above verses that are captions below the pictures. If one quickens you, camp there, and tell us what you see. Ponder, ponder — for He’s speaking to you!
3. Name one memory from Christmas Eve or Christmas Day of 2011. Why do you want to remember it?
Tuesday: Pondering the Gifts: Though it is true this can become the focus, gifts can also be a way of showing Christ’s love if done not as a duty but as an expression of love. Maybe because people knew I’d be alone this Christmas (though I’m not really — the Lord is so present and I was with dear friends last night) I was given some very thoughtful gifts this year — and each time sensed love from the giver and the Lord. My daughter Annie knew I treasured some small pottery dessert plates that Hallmark once made that have the words grateful, thankful, abundance, and blessed on them. For years she has been combing e-bay, Craig’s list, garage sales…this year she found them! She is the best gift giver in our family for she listens and watches and prays to do it well! I have a friend who reads this blog and and noticed I mentioned I liked Bath and Body and the balsam fragrance and gave me B and B balsam candles. This is “paying attention.” Isn’t that what we all crave — someone who will “pay attention” and not give as a chore? I have a friend who is an amazing bread maker and mailed me, with dry ice, four loaves! And my sister Sally sent me some old pictures of Steve and me that I had never seen, and I melted. So much love. Gift giving can be meaningful. It’s one of the ways God showed me His love this year, that He is Emmanuel.
Challenge question: The wisemen brought three gifts. What was each and how did each foretell something about Jesus?
5. What was one of the most thoughtful gifts you received this Christmas and what do you learn about expressing love through gifts from that giver?
6. What was the most thoughtful gift you gave, and did it provoke the response you hoped for?
How might you improve in this area?
7. What are some of the most efficacious ways to articulate thanks for gifts given — to people, and to God?
Wednesday — Thursday: Pondering the Music
Music penetrates the heart and when done in true worship gives pleasure to God. How blessed we are. I loved your reflections on music at church, The Messiah, your you-tube postings.
8. I’m going to give you some familiar lines from carols and ask for your reflections.
A. For the hard times, for those of you who are persecuted in your families, for those of you with illness, and with heavy burdens — this from It Came Upon A Midnight Clear:
And ye, beneath life’s crushing load, whose forms are bending low
who toil along the climbing way with painful steps and slow
look now! for glad and golden hours come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road and hear the angels sing.
B. For welcoming Him in on a regular basis, from O Little Town — think of it not just for the salvation from the penalty of sin but from the power of sin.
No ear may hear his coming, but in this world of sin
where meek souls will receive him still, the dear Christ enters in
C. Do you agree with this theology from Away in a Manger? Why or why not? What do your children think?
The little Lord Jesus no crying he makes
D. After our studies, does this mean more to you? Explain, from O Come All Ye Faithful
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing
E. Joy to the World is really a song of the second coming — what hope does it give you?
No more let sins and sorrows grow
nor thorns infest the ground
F. O Come O Come Emmanuel prays this line — did it happen for you with anyone this Advent?
Bid now our sad divisions cease
and be thou now our Prince of Peace
G. From O Holy Night — He appeared and the soul felt its worth — Are you realizing this?
H. Share a line from a carol that impacts you and why
Friday-Saturday Pondering How God was Emmanuel, with us in Advent 2011
8. What stood out to you in your own life and why?
9. Share one story you read on this blog and why it stood out to you.
10. If you did listen to “How To Sing At Christmas,” what stood out to you?
11. Give thanks to God for gifts from Him this Advent.