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INFINITY WALLED IN A WOMB

 

I MEMORIZE LUCI SHAW’S POEMS OF THE INCARNATION

BECAUSE THEY FEED MY SOUL EACH ADVENT

WHEN MY SOUL IS HUNGRY FOR MORE

THAN SENTIMENTALITY,

SWEETS,

SANTA,

AND SAPPY CHRISTMAS MOVIES

(NOT THAT I DO NOT ENJOY ALL OF THE ABOVE!)

BUT I WANT MORE

SO MUCH MORE


LAST YEAR I MEMORIZED “MADE FLESH”

TURNING OVER PHRASES THAT MADE ME WORSHIP

THE GOD WHO WAS MADE FLESH

THE GOD WHO WAS WILLING TO BE

“INFINITY WALLED IN A WOMB”

 

If you are not familiar with Luci Shaw, you are in for a grand adventure. She is my favorite contemporary poet, a woman of great talent, wisdom, and integrity. I can hardly believe how merciful God was to me to let Luci be the woman who opened the door to the writing world for me, mentoring me, publishing my first work. If you love poetry (I know some of you are learning to do so!) then you must get Luci’s book on “Poems of the Incarnation.” When Luci was about four or five years old, her dad recorded her first poem, recognizing her genius. This pre-kindergartener said:

I see a loon

standing against the moon

and it reminds me of

the judgment of God

 

God gave her a talent, and she has not buried it. She is also a woman of enormous integrity, which I have experienced firsthand.  She has been my mentor, and I wrote so much about her in The Friendships of Women that I embarrassed her. I want you to meet her — and here is a clip of Luci talking about her book, “The Crime of Living Cautiously.” It begins with her doing a stunt I cannot imagine doing at my age — which is about how old she was when this was filmed. Click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eL2PExlczrU Please listen too to the challenge she brings about how risks in obeying God can bring us closer to Him. Ponder what this means for you this week. You will see this philosophy again in the 2nd part of Luci’s poem.

Along with Luci’s poem, “Made Flesh” we will listen to my favorite Christmas sermon from Tim Keller, also inspired by the prologue of John. I promise you, this will feed your soul. There’s not a lot of homework, because I know it’s a crazy busy week, but your soul needs it, and it will help you slow down and sense His light in the darkness, His love in the loneliness, and His strength in the exhaustion of all there is to do.

 


The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it

SUNDAY/MONDAY: ICE-BREAKER AND DOWNLOAD KELLER’S MESSAGE: http://sermons2.redeemer.com/sermons/word-made-flesh

1. What stands out to you from the above and why?

2. Luci, in her video, challenges us to take risks based on our talents, based on God’s leading — how might you live less cautiously this Advent week — how might you love outrageously, how might you trust Him boldly?

 

Monday-Tuesday: Read John 1:1-5 and Meditate on Luci Shaw’s Poem: Made Flesh, Part I.

 

After

the white-hot beam of annunciation

fused heaven with dark earth,

his searing, sharply focused light

went out for a while,

eclipsed in amniotic gloom:

his cool immensity of splendor,

his universal grace,

small-folded in a warm, dim

female space—

the Word stern-sentenced to be

nine months’ dumb—

infinity walled in a womb,

until the next enormity—

the Mighty One, after submission

to a woman’s pains,

helpless on a barn’s bare floor,

first-tasting bitter earth.


2. What phrases about Jesus stand out to you and why? (Go slowly – this is fine dining.)

 

Wednesday: Read Part II. of Luci Shaw’s Made Flesh.

Now

I in him surrender

to the crush and cry of birth.

Because eternity

was closeted in time,

he is my open door to forever.

From his imprisonment

my freedoms grow,

find wings. Part of this body,

I transcend this flesh.

From his sweet silence my mouth sings.

Out of his dark I glow.

My life, as his,

slips through death’s mesh,

time’s bars,

joins hands with heaven,

speaks with stars.

“Made flesh,” in Accompanied by Angels: Poems of the Incarnation

 

3. What phrases stand out to you from the above and why?

4. List one example from this Advent or this year that the phrase you chose is being made real in your life.

 

Thursday-Friday   Listen to Keller’s sermon and answer:

5. First Point: The Word

A. Keller gives the illustration that you can’t really say you “know” someone until you have spoken to him. Can you give an example?

B. Concerning the above, what have you learned about dialoguing with God?

C. Keller says Philosophy 101 says you can’t prove anything is true. Therefore, we cannot present a watertight case for Christianity, but we do have a watertight Person. List three ways that Jesus has shown His love by coming down and experiencing the pain we have experienced.

6. Second Point: Became Flesh

A. Keller relates the story of the woman who cried out from the street for help because she was being stabbed. Lights came on, but no one came down. In what ways did Jesus make Himself vulnerable by coming down?

B. By taking on human flesh and experiencing our pain, He became our “Wonderful Counselor.” Explain why this is so and one way He has been a wonderful counselor to you.

7. Third point: Dwelt among us

A. Keller said that the incarnation was “the end of religion as we know it.” Explain what he meant.

B. Write a prayer of praise to The Word who became flesh and dwelt among us.

Saturday

8. What’s your take-a-way and why?

 

Next week is our final Advent week, then New Year’s Day, and  in early January we will launch a new and exciting adventure, and I hope you will join us and invite friends too! I’m 90% sure what it will be, but would love your prayers for wisdom.

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311 comments

  1. Just came across this today from Martin Luther:

    “We must both read and meditate on the Nativity. If the meditation does not reach the heart, we shall sense no sweetness, nor shall we know what solace for humankind lies in this contemplation. The heart will not laugh nor be merry. As spray does not touch the deep, so mere meditation will not quiet the heart. There is such richness and goodness in this nativity that if we should see and deeply understand, we should be dissolved in perpetual joy.”

    1. “…we should be dissolved in perpetual joy.” Amen.

    2. thanks, this is sooooo good! Im getting sprayed a lot but its not hitting the depths

    3. May the SPRAY of his “richness” reach out depths and “DISSOLVE us in perpetual joy”. Seriously! This is deep. I would like to be dissolved. … But I can’t help smiling about Susan being sprayed by the hose when I read this now. 🙂

      1. Oh Dee, that article is incredible. I started to copy & paste the lines that were hitting me most–and truly, it became full paragraphs–almost too real and personal-it hit exact wounds in me, yet that was the best part–thank you for sharing just what i needed today. I’ve printed it off to save.

      2. Good article, Dee. It deals with some of what I have struggled with about Christmas for years.

  2. I read this in my email box today and it goes along with what we are studying. Enjoy!
    Titled, “When Christmas stretches you” 12/21/11

    Ann writes:
    I pray for those pregnant with Christ this Christmas.
    For those who will extend themselves for difficult family members, those who will let God take them to the utmost extremity of selflessness.
    For women who will be heavy with the Grace-Child.

    To read more:

    http://www.aholyexperience.com/

    1. Thanks, Kim. I needed this today.

  3. Ladies

    I want to praise the Lord for something.. I just brought my client home she lives 16 miles about 25 min fro mhere and today we are getting freezing rain/sleet and The Lord kept me safe bringing her home and then back.. it was very slow going took me about 45 minutes instead of 25 but I thank the Lord that i am safe!

    1. wonderful praise meg! 😉

    2. Oh, yes, Meg! I am rejoicing with you. I know the stress of bad roads 🙁

  4. After seeing Meg’s post about freezing rain, I thought I’d post part of my (pathetic) poetry ~ it’s been going through my mind all week, and I’ve stifled myself until now. My poetry consists of wrecking other peoples’ poetry:

    I’m dreaming of a brown Christmas,
    Unlike the ones I used to know.
    With blizzards missing,
    No people hissing
    Because their cars spun in the snow.

    Ok, that’s enough! I will spare you further torture. This might be the first brown Christmas of my lifetime, and I am not heartbroken — especially because I’m driving a couple hours (not that far, but I’ve done it in bad weather). I’ve driven past Nativity Scenes in town and thought that without snow, they might be a little closer to the original.

    1. I actually would prefer a brown Christmas. We don’t usually have one here in Atlantic Canada. We had some freezing rain here too, Meg.

    2. LOL thanks, you made me smile this GRAY morning! I should write a poem about how all I want is a SUNNY Christmas…..or not

      1. Still do 🙂

  5. 3. He is my open door to forever….I get that and like it! He is the door, the only way to eternity with Himself. Great meditation of truth.

    4. It has always been real as far as I can remember. However just the wonder of Him as we read our advent Scriptures and just realizing His amazing plan….so cool. He is the door.

  6. 2. What phrases about Jesus stand out to you and why? (Go slowly – this is fine dining.)

    After

    the white-hot beam of annunciation

    fused heaven with dark earth,

    his searing, sharply focused light

    went out for a while,

    Ok, I have to admit I wasn’t looking forward to this week with the poetry and all. I watched luci’s video and she seems like a ‘cool’ lady! I have NO desire to bungee jump, but I started my masters at 45 years of age! I have many things I do and just believe He will guide me through. For example, we took in Sarahs new friend so she could stay in our district to finish school. It is a difficult situation in that the two girls aren’t always getting along. i think Sarah is a bit jealous of her and isn’t being so nice. It is hard to get Sarah to “behave.” I have to think of creative ways and sometimes I’m just out of ideas.

    I like the verse above; I can see the ‘hot, white light” like a spot light that goes from heaven to earth making the connection one. Then, it just goes out. That is sad…..

    1. I am praying for your Sarah Laura! Im praying that God will be able to just wrap HIS arms around her and make her really understand how much HE loves her!! it is so hard to feel different or “not enough” in this world, I pray for her to know that God has a special plan for her life and for her to find that plan.

    2. Praying for you, Laura dancer, as you stretch to embrace your daughter and others needy emotionally in your life. Did you read Kim’s link to Ann Voskamp about stretching at Christmas, as Mary stretched to carry Jesus? See above. I found it helpful.

  7. 5. First Point: The Word

    A. Keller gives the illustration that you can’t really say you “know” someone until you have spoken to him. Can you give an example?

    You can observe someone and infer they are a certain way by what you see in their face, their actions, etc.. but until you talk with them you won’t know them-you can be wrong about inferences until you talk with them. An example would be: The other day I went to the store and saw a woman from the church we used to attend. I was unshowered, hair messy, no makeup, and just looked horrible. It would be easy for her to think, “oh wow is she going through a crisis in her life?” I did look like I needed to be admitted to two rivers hospital. ;~) If I were asked I would have said, “I forgot Jake had a dental appointment, didn’t have time to shower, couldn’t find my hair clip that held all my hair up in the back, took him to his appointment and had to go to the store afterward.” So, in truth I am not struggling, just embarrassed that I saw my friend at the store. ;~)

    1. wish I would have seen you:) I would have just given you a big hug and said “at least you got him to his apt! I forgot all about Lily’s tap lesson yesterday and she didn’t get to it:) your a great mom who puts her kids in front of her pride:)

      1. Cyndi, if you would have seen me we both would have died laughing and joked about it! That is what I love about you. 😉 Oh my, I have forgotten about appointments and even though I write it down, I am always forgetting about Andrew’s Wednesday morning chess club. I feel horrible about that because he loves it-I don’t mention it when I forget because he would start crying-he is n 4th grade and is the engineer type who is detailed and VERY FOCUSED on his tasks-He will take all day to complete building something-I have to remind him to take breaks. He is also OCD about being on time, and missing things. 😉 I’m babbling-totally off track, I’ll stop. 🙂

        1. LOL I love you Rebecca! Lily was SO mad at me:) just have to shake it off, im not perfect and shes just going to have to deal. the funny thing is that I have an alarm on my phone set for it but It goes off 15 min. before class…I was in the middle of a store and she was at a friends house…didn’t help much, i must set it for an HOUR before next time:) have a good day:) thanks for making me laugh:)

    2. this is a classic one Rebecca–oh I am saving it! 😉

  8. B. Concerning the above, what have you learned about dialoguing with God?

    Jesus is my great counselor-He knows grief, hunger, loneliness, rejection, homelessness, being broke, etc.. he can identify with me so I should go to him with everything. I LOVED how he brought in Jesus in Gethsemane, how he even knows what it feels like to be desperate in prayer and have God turn you down, and how Jesus also knows how it feels to have God turn his face from you as God did on the cross to Jesus. Jesus is sensitive to my yearnings for Grace and Mercy. I have also learned from reading the Yancy book that God prefers passionate prayer over holding back.

    C. Keller says Philosophy 101 says you can’t prove anything is true. Therefore, we cannot present a watertight case for Christianity, but we do have a watertight Person. List three ways that Jesus has shown His love by coming down and experiencing the pain we have experienced.

    I noted this above-the Garden of Gethsemane. It was there he experienced God turning his prayer request down so he knows what that feels like. He was rejected-boy was he rejected by the religious leaders and was looked upon as a fool and mocked on the cross while dying-even betrayed by Judas and denied by Peter-He really knows what it feels like more so than us actually. Ultimately death-Jesus experienced death in a barbaric and painful way, and in the process God turned his face from Jesus so he experienced the deepest lonliness anyone could experience. He experienced all of this for us. He didn’t have to-he did because He loves us-wow..

  9. Good morning,
    I’ve been ill this week; laryngitis for 2 days and could hardly talk; this am I still sound like a baritone. Headache, congestion….sipping Umka Coldcare now hoping it will help! Hot liquids feel really good now. I didn’t help myself yesterday when it was like spring weather outside and I decided to hose out my garage; dropped the hose and the sprayer hit the cement and blasted me in the face and soaked my clothes!
    I haven’t even started this weeks study.

    1. so sorry your sick Susan….but I had to laugh at the picture of you getting sprayed with the hose:) feel better soon!!!!

      1. Susan, so sorry about you being sick-I can relate to wanting to get stuff done on nice days even when sick! Hope you feel better soon. Loved the story about the hose-lol! 😉

    2. Been missing you Susan, so sorry you’ve been sick! Praying it clears up soon–but give yourself a break from cleaning the garage! Time to be Nurse Susan to yourself–rest 😉

    3. Oh, Susan, I sorry you’re feeling so bad. I hope the spraying didn’t make it worse. Still it is a funny picture. Did you see Elizabeth’s quote from Martin Luther about being sprayed? Funny, how your story ties with that quote! 🙂

    4. I’m so sorry you are ill, Susan….take care of yourself…prayer’s are going out to you:)

      1. sorry you are sick Susan been praying for you!

  10. 3-4 Now I in him surrender…..this stands out to me the most because i long to live a life that is surrendered, it is so hard to know what that looks like some days! what does HE want today ,is today a day of surrendering to the task he has put before me, or is it a day of surrendering to a task left undone to serve someone else, or to sit in the quite and just rest in HIM. I would be glad to surrender it I could just figure out what He wanted me to do every moment.
    That is what I am striving for this season, cheerfully “doing” and yet also cheerfully “not doing”

    5. I had a picture of Lily for over a year, I could see her face but never “knew” her. actually if you put this criteria in it it was not until months after she was given to us in China that I was able to “know” her. she could not speak my language, so I loved her but did not KNOW her.
    even when I do not hear HIS voice I still KNOW he is there, but it is in the times that I do hear HIM that I really get to know HIM.
    I am frustrated with my unhearing ears, a brain that is so cluttered that it is having a hard time finding room for HIM in it, but my heart KNOWS he is here, loving me even when my brain just will not slow down enough even in the “quiet” times to hear HIS voice.
    the word that keeps comming back to me over and over this season is LIGHT. as I look at my tree my spirit calms, as I bask in HIS light I am refueled (coffee helps too:) As I try to by HIS light to others I feel HIS presence. I met a man on the train in Chicago who after just letting the sun soak into his face he smiled at me and said I just love the sun, it feels like God. I said yes, its cool that the SON and the SUN sound the same.
    I LOVE the SUN, i never feel closer to the SON then when I am basking in the warm sun.
    LIGHT that is my word for this advent. To see the light, to feel the light and to be the light.

    1. Cyndi, I am feeling a word picture coming on with the quickening the Lord gave you: “I LOVE the SUN, i never feel closer to the SON then when I am basking in the warm sun. LIGHT that is my word for this advent. To see the light, to feel the light and to be the light.” Soooo good-your encounter with that man; the power, the fire, yet the warm covering of the Sun are so much a great word picture of Jesus. I love how everything God created points back to great truths about Him. I haven’t thought about the Sun in a long time though now I am.

      This made me laugh: “…as I bask in HIS light I am refueled (coffee helps too:) THIS is one of the things I love about you sister! 🙂

    2. Oh Cyndi–I agree–love the feeling of the sun upon me as well–and when you can close your eyes and just face it–feeling the warmth on your cheeks feels like His love pouring out. Yesterday I noticed how the vase of cut tulips on my counter had overnight gone all haywire–twisted outward, sideways–you know what I mean? We have windows all around but it had been cloudy and it was like they were looking for light. After a few hours of the kitchen light being on, they were standing straight up again–going towards the light. Did make me think about how earnestly do I seek the Light…

  11. after days and days of rain and gray the sun just popped above the horrizon, just as I typed the above, it was as if God was saying to me, yes Cyndi I am here, I love you, don’t forget THAT this season:) basking in HIS sweet love this morning!

    1. 🙂

  12. 5. First Point: The Word

    A. Keller gives the illustration that you can’t really say you “know” someone until you have spoken to him. Can you give an example? You cant really get to know someone until you have talked with them.. you can see their actions etc.. but dont really know them until you talk to them. Well just this morning my mom told me that i need to text her next time right when i get home and not put on facebook that i was home safe and sound and i said I did text you as soon as i got home before i got onto the computer.. so she was making an assumption there.

    B. Concerning the above, what have you learned about dialoguing with God? He Knows everything.. our lonliness, brokenness, even singleness.. and i need to bring it all before him and talk to him about it.. Just yesterday afternoon I was feeling pressured by my clients mom who wanted me to bring her daugher home at 5;30 and my own mom who didnt want me to drive at all( we had really bad weather yesterday) So I started bawling and i was with my client at the bowling alley and then we left and i we went to my house and i literally fell onto my bed and talked to God right then and there and said God please give me your comfort and peace.. I told him that i was feeling pressured and anxious and as soon as i said Amen.. It came and i stopped crying!

    1. Meg, I love it how God came to you but I love it that you cried out to Him.

    2. 🙂

  13. B. Concerning the above, what have you learned about dialoguing with God?

    We can know God, by knowing Jesus. We know Jesus understands, reminds me of Hebrews 4: 15 “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin.” So He gets it—there is nothing He can’t relate to, nothing He doesn’t already know, and nothing He can’t give us the strength to endure. It’s the difference between being with someone who has actually experienced your same kind of grief, and someone who just hasn’t—only on a much grander scale. We have some dear friends who have struggled through infertility and are now have been enduring a long wait to adopt. When we spend time with them, sometimes my husband will just read scripture—because there is nothing more to be said—but they always tell us they prefer any time with us, because they know we know—they know we understand, we’ve been there. There is nothing He doesn’t understand, and the best part is, He has the Power to strengthen, to answer our prayers, to bring glory to the Father through our trial, and to love us more deeply than we can ever imagine.

    C. Keller says Philosophy 101 says you can’t prove anything is true. Therefore, we cannot present a watertight case for Christianity, but we do have a watertight Person. List three ways that Jesus has shown His love by coming down and experiencing the pain we have experienced.

    He was persecuted, beaten, wrongly accused, misunderstood. He was tempted in every way. He experienced separation from God.
    He endured a horrific death.

    6. Second Point: Became Flesh
    A. Keller relates the story of the woman who cried out from the street for help because she was being stabbed. Lights came on, but no one came down. In what ways did Jesus make Himself vulnerable by coming down?

    He was made vulnerable, killable. God came down, knowing it would cost His Son. Jesus came, knowing it would cost Him His life.
    Jesus was made like us in every way, so that He would be able to help us, to understand.

    B. By taking on human flesh and experiencing our pain, He became our “Wonderful Counselor.” Explain why this is so and one way He has been a wonderful counselor to you.

    He became flesh, He understands, He’s been where we’ve been. The best counselors have been through a problem, have come through it OK. Jesus, our Creator God, knows hunger, loneliness, loss, grief, rejection, betrayal, torture, injustice, death. Jesus has experienced all of it, even abandonment by God, He knows what it feels like.

  14. 7. Third point: Dwelt among us
    A. Keller said that the incarnation was “the end of religion as we know it.” Explain what he meant.

    All other religions insist on doing things to be right with God. Religion says, “Live this way, then you’ll be accepted.” Christianity says, “You’re accepted. Therefore, you live this way.” All the requirements of religion is gone, because Jesus Himself is the tabernacle, the Temple, the Priest, the Sacrifice. There is nothing for us to do to get right with God. In religion you need to prove yourself to be good before you can see God’s glory–in Christianity, we are shown God’s glory freely through Jesus Christ.

    B. Write a prayer of praise to The Word who became flesh and dwelt among us.

    Thank You Jesus, my God. Thank You that You are the Ideal made real. You are grace and forgiveness embodied, allowing me to know my Creator King in a true relationship. Thank You that You understand—EVERYTHING. You get my personality, the way I think and feel. You know my struggles, You forgive my sin. But You also change me. You came down, You lived, You endured such pain and suffering I will never experience. You died, You rose. Thank You that You have the Power to come in and mess with my heart, and help me to see Truth. You give me the gift of being used by You, to bring joy to the Father, to reflect You. Please forgive me Lord for when I do not trust You, when I am stubborn, for when I place myself on the throne of my heart, and please grow in me a hunger to search Your Word and treasure it in my heart, deeper every day.

  15. I am not kidding, as soon as I wrote that and saw the sun for that moment….clouds filled the sky, went from blue to gray in less then a min. and the sun never shone again today, God knows just how to speak my language:)
    but tomorrow He could make it last a little longer:)

  16. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why?

    Feeding my soul this advent, being hungry for more than sentimentality, sweets, sappy Christmas movies. The more the people around me seem to care less about Jesus, the more it makes me hungry for more, to seek out something with substance, the stuff that really matters. I like to think that memorizing poems like Luci’s can be the springboard to worship, pondering the verses. Love the picture of the baby in the womb.

    2. Luci, in her video, challenges us to take risks based on our talents, based on God’s leading – how might you live less cautiously this Advent week – how might you love outrageously, how might you trust Him boldly?

    When I watched the opening of the video where Luci bungee jumped off that bridge, and just seemed to be flying, free – it brought tears to my eyes. It was a visual picture for me of what I want my relationship with God to be like. That level of trust in Him; the “jump” symbolizes for me letting go of doubt, fear, avoidance, mistrust, always being unsure of God’s love, and just free-falling into His arms, into His love.
    Well, I don’t feel very outrageous or bold this week; I am actually feeling really bad right now but I’m tired of lying on the couch – I’m running a low fever and wearing my coat because I am chilled, headache, congestion, yuck!
    The verse Dee gave me from Isaiah 46 is like a balm to my soul right now. I am trusting in Him quietly.

    1. oh Susan–praying again for healing–so sorry!

    2. Thanks for sharing this, Susan. The part of me that is fearful and timid needs to embrace what you are saying.

      “When I watched the opening of the video where Luci bungee jumped off that bridge, and just seemed to be flying, free – it brought tears to my eyes. It was a visual picture for me of what I want my relationship with God to be like. That level of trust in Him; the “jump” symbolizes for me letting go of doubt, fear, avoidance, mistrust, always being unsure of God’s love, and just free-falling into His arms, into His love.”

      Hope you are feeling better today.

  17. I have a prayer request. A very good friend’s daughter has been in terrible pain for a week with back pain. She is barely able to get to the bathroom and back by herself. This is a recurring problem that the doctors cannot find the cause. She has a 1 year-old whom she cannot lift or, at this point, even take care of. Thankfully she lives close enough to her parents who are helping with the toddler. Narcotics are barely touching the pain. They are at their wit’s end with what to do. They have tried chiropractors, massage, naturopathic medicine, besides conventional medical route. She has already had a couple of surgeries to try to alleviate the problem. This is a medical mystery, as well as a spiritual mystery why God allows such pain in one so young. We have been praying for healing, but so far that is not what God has done. I would appreciate it if you would pray with us for God’s strength and his guidance in this matter.

    1. I am praying right now. Oh so much pain in our world. I just learned another friend has cancer again. One evening watching a Christmas special the next in the hospital. He is our age and it makes us want to sit and cry for them. Jesus, please give answers to this young woman and her family to alleviate the pain and heal her body. Please give a special touch to those with cancer and comfort their families with your sweet presence. If it be your will, heal their bodies. Touch Susan’s body and heal her. May she be well and able to enjoy Christmas. We believe in the power of prayer and love you, Jesus. Amen.

      1. thank you, Kim…Amen.

    2. I just prayed, Diane, for your friend’s daughter. I know about back pain. It sounds like maybe Sciatica pain…a pinched nerve. Has she seen a orthopedic Dr.? I will keep praying for her 🙁

  18. 4. List one example from this Advent or this year that the phrase you chose is being made real in your life.

    God gave me the privilege of going on a short term mission trip to India in February this year. It was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream that I scarcely even dreamed possible, since I lived in India as a child, but thought I would never return. The experience and after effects have touched my life in a very profound way and has been the catalyst to give me “wings”, helping me to risk more for Christ, to care more passionately for those who are living in poverty, and given me many opportunities to share about this experience. This God-adventure has also pushed me deeper and deeper into my intimacy with God.

    1. Praise God, Diane

      1. Dee, Can you ask David to get rid of this comma in front of my name:) Thanks!

        1. Joyce, First you might check the boxes above where you post…. see if there is a comma before your name and, if so, delete it. Ok, sorry if you already tried that. Then you will have to wait for David 🙂

        2. Tried that…but there is certainly no hurry…It’s christmas time! 🙂

  19. 6. Second Point: Became Flesh

    A. Keller relates the story of the woman who cried out from the street for help because she was being stabbed. Lights came on, but no one came down. In what ways did Jesus make Himself vulnerable by coming down?

    No one came down to help the woman when they heard her cries because they would have had to make themselves vulnerable and risk their life. In contrast when Jesus heard our cries, he came down, made himself vulnerable, yet didn’t come down to risk his life, he came down KNOWING it would cost him his life. The Word became vulnerable and killable.

    B. By taking on human flesh and experiencing our pain, He became our “Wonderful Counselor.” Explain why this is so and one way He has been a wonderful counselor to you.

    God has been where we are. Some of the best counselors have been where we are and have come out on the other side. Jesus has faced hunger, loneliness, grief, betrayal, injustice, facing death so we can go to him with what we have. He has also faced God turning down his prayer request-or desperate plea, and has experienced God turning his face from him-abandonment by God-for some reason, this stuck out to me the most. I believe God might be preparing me to share this perhaps with my dad and/or my aunt and those around her.

    Recently, I have been reminded of how Jesus walked among unbelievers daily-and was ridiculed, judged, challenged and while He knew their hearts he didn’t trust them, yet He loved, served and died for them. I haven’t been or never will be judged quite the way Jesus was, but as I enter this season of my aunt dying I am basically going to walk into a mess-it will be similar to what Jesus went through as I know my dad will fear that my brother or I will share the Gospel with my aunt, but Jesus can identify with that, and that gives me such comfort and quiet strength.

    As Keller encouraged-I am framing this struggle with the knowledge of the word became flesh. Jesus has been my wonderful counselor in this as I am dialoguing with Him about this-He has given me an overwhelming comfort and has been my control. My aunt turning to Him isn’t up to me, but I desire to be obedient to Jesus if He quickens me to speak, or when He quickens me to be silent. I am thinking this is how he has changed me-I am not nervous, or afraid or fear I might ‘fail’ in sharing or not sharing the Gospel. I am actually filled with joy and confidence that He is with me and I can rest in Him-well, and be free to love outrageously. I have found other opportunities in dialoguing with unbelievers when I just rest in Him dialoguing with Him as I dialogue with them.

    Keller brought up some great examples in this sermon that I can use with my dad or others there if they ask why God would allow such suffering-I can say I don’t know, but I do know He suffered on purpose for you and knows how it feels to suffer and to die, He knows how it feels to have God turn down your plea to live and knows how it feels to grieve. I am adding too much to this question so I will stop. 🙂

    1. Thanks for sharing this, Rebecca. My prayers are with you. Your willingness to let God be in control in your aunt’s situation is inspiring. I know God will use you to touch your dad, your aunt and others with His spirit during this difficult time.

      Your last paragraph saying, “if they ask why God would allow such suffering-I can say I don’t know, but I do know He suffered on purpose for you and knows how it feels to suffer and to die, He knows how it feels to have God turn down your plea to live and knows how it feels to grieve.” is helpful in summarizing Keller’s idea of how much Jesus suffered for us. As I struggle to understand pain and suffering in those I love, this helps me understand His amazing love that none of us can deserve. Thanks again for sharing.

      1. Dee, lol! OH my, don’t tempt me-I love that answer. 😉

  20. 7. Third point: Dwelt among us

    A. Keller said that the incarnation was “the end of religion as we know it.” Explain what he meant.

    Jesus’ incarnation means He is our temple, He is our priest, He is our sacrifice, we don’t need to do sacrifices anymore. Because of what Jesus has done I am accepted in Him and now I live this way, not if I do all this stuff then I will be accepted. Jesus is the tabernacle, he is the end of tabernacles, temples , sacrifices and all that. We don’t get religion, we get a person-the word.

    B. Write a prayer of praise to The Word who became flesh and dwelt among us.

    Oh Lord, I praise you-you are the Great I AM, the Alpha and Omega, yet you made yourself vulnerable, killable for a dirty sinner like me. You emptied yourself, you limited yourself to become killable for me so that I would become totally acceptable in You, so that I can have a relationship with you forever. OH Lord, thank you, thank you that I am fully accepted by you-I don’t deserve it, but you love me. Thank you Lord that you are with me every day and that you are pressing me further into you in intimacy-God even though you are pressing me in, I still want to go further in to you-this yearning Lord seems not to be quenched and it is frustrating, but I eagerly await the day when my flesh will be no more, and Lord thank you that because of your desire to rescue me, knowing you would die, that one day my flesh will be no more and I will enjoy you to the fullest. Lord thank you that because you became flesh I can grow to enjoy you deeper still even while here. In your precious and Holy name..

  21. 6. Second Point: Became Flesh

    A. Keller relates the story of the woman who cried out from the street for help because she was being stabbed. Lights came on, but no one came down. In what ways did Jesus make Himself vulnerable by coming down? By risking his life.. He came down knowning that it would risk his life.

    B. By taking on human flesh and experiencing our pain, He became our “Wonderful Counselor.” Explain why this is so and one way He has been a wonderful counselor to you. He knows how we feel, are you feeling lonley so is he, are you feeling broken so is he, are you feeling rejected so is he.. Go to him who is the wonderful consler! I can think of so many ways but i am trusting him to be my wonderful counsler in a specicif situation right now..

  22. 7. Third point: Dwelt among us

    A. Keller said that the incarnation was “the end of religion as we know it.” Explain what he meant. Christianity says your acceptable because what Christ has done and religion says do all these good things. With Christianity we get a person , a relationship with Christ.

    B. Write a prayer of praise to The Word who became flesh and dwelt among us.

    Thank you Lord that you are the Wonderful Cousler, Everlasting father and Prince of peace thank you for dwelling among us and thank you that you emptied yourself for me! Thank you for making yourself vulnerable.. Lord I cry out to you this day in Praise. Thank you for saving such a wretch like me! Amen

  23. 5. The Word
    A. Keller gives the illustration that you can’t really say you “know” someone until you have spoken to him. Can you give an example?

    Facebook! I can read “all about” some people on Facebook, sometimes more than I want to know! But I get to know people much better after I have talked with them. And yet, even talking with people (unless it has involved knowing them for a long time and interacting under MANY different circumstances) doesn’t allow me to know someone as well as if I’ve lived with them. I’ve even noticed that I don’t like traveling with some people I consider friends.

    B. Concerning the above, what have you learned about dialoguing with God?

    Reading about Him is not enough. Reading His Word (and knowing the Word) is important. I also know that people can share space (e.g., be roommates or even spouses) without interacting very much. Being together with Him, during conversation and times of silence, is such a privilege.

    C. Keller says Philosophy 101 says you can’t prove anything is true. Therefore, we cannot present a watertight case for Christianity, but we do have a watertight Person. List three ways that Jesus has shown His love by coming down and experiencing the pain we have experienced.

    Philippians 2 pops right into my brain… maybe even provides 3 answers? At least, the passage provides what I thought about first:
    1) He took on the limitations of becoming human — which involved a level of humility I can’t begin to comprehend.
    2) As a human, he was completely obedient to His Father — he suffered greatly, felt separated from His father, and died on the cross. He experienced “it all,” as He was putting us ahead of His comfort and happiness.
    3) Not from Phil 2! He wept when Lazarus died. He entered into relationships so completely that he also experienced the losses and temptations that we face.

    1. Great tie in to Philippians 2, Renee.

  24. 6. Second Point: Became Flesh

    A. Keller relates the story of the woman who cried out from the street for help because she was being stabbed. Lights came on, but no one came down. In what ways did Jesus make Himself vulnerable by coming down?

    Jesus got involved! Becoming involved in someone’s life means that we may have to commit time, energy, money, safety, even our life…. At the very least, becoming involved is inconvenient. Jesus was vulnerable to the extent that He gave his life, after going through inconvenience, exhaustion, betrayal, grief, pain, temptation. In spite of all that, he demonstrated a life of purpose, obedience, and joy.

    B. By taking on human flesh and experiencing our pain, He became our “Wonderful Counselor.” Explain why this is so and one way He has been a wonderful counselor to you.

    Hmm…. so often it is said that someone who has been through something “bad” makes the best counselor for someone else going through a similar situation. 2 Cor 1: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.”

    When I first read this question, I didn’t like it too much! It reminded me a little of testimonies I heard growing up — and I sorta got the message that I should get involved in a much rougher life so that I would have a “good” testimony (Obviously Paul addressed this pretty clearly in Romans, but sometimes I think the “glory” of sin and forgiveness is presented without the pain and consequences of sin).

    But Jesus was different. He became human and didn’t sin. He experienced pain, suffering, grief, betrayal without sinning. Right now, He is being a Wonderful Counselor to me by showing me that I don’t always have to look for a specific sin at the root of something painful. More obviously, he has been a Wonderful Counselor to me through grief. And He is showing me that he will be a Wonderful Counselor to me in other areas if I invite Him to be!

      1. This is very helpful, Dee. “Those who have been tempted and resisted are the very best counselors.” I need to remember this when I see others struggling and feel inadequate. Jesus did not sin, yet he is our greatest Counselor.

  25. 7. Third point: Dwelt among us
    A. Keller said that the incarnation was “the end of religion as we know it.” Explain what he meant.

    According to Keller, John used the Greek word for “tabernacled” (which is translated as dwelt). In OT times, seeing the glory of God directly; He concealed His glory in the tabernacle. Now Jesus is the tabernacle, and we can see His glory in Jesus.

    Before, religion mandated that people had to do certain things to be acceptable to God (or a god). But that’s no longer true for Christians because Jesus was the sacrifice and the tabernacle. We need Jesus’ sacrifice because the gap between us and God (helpful example of us as perpetrators of huge injustice, against Him, creation, each other. When he used that example, I started to “get” the gap that injustice causes in a relationship) As the tabernacle/sacrifice, Jesus closed that gap.

  26. I’m falling behind reading comments also….but I continue to hold you all up in prayer…those on here and those silent ones…we love you all. We are all sister’s in Christ and this is his birthday we all can celebrate together in his sweet love. Merry Christmas everyone!

  27. I mentioned this before but is anyone going to this. Our church is encouraging us to go!! http://thegospelcoalition.org/conferences/2012-womens/#overview

    Keller will be there too!! If any of you go please let me know I would love to meet up in person!!

    Loved the sermon but did not take notes. Will try to listen again!!

    1. Wow! Thanks for posting this, Angela. Earlier today, I was looking for a “reason” to go to Orlando. But I have a wedding invitation for the same time. Either will involve a plane ticket. Hmm… I suspect I will be listening to the recordings.

  28. My take-away for this week (I’m posting today instead of tomorrow. If I allow myself to get online tomorrow, I won’t get out of town early enough!):

    I was thinking of a couple of things and realized that Romans 5:8 (with a more added from v. 15) summarizes what I was thinking.

    “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. . . . For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!”

    Praying that all of you will have a blessed Christmas with Him!

  29. I did the study. It was AWESOME! I think maybe I should focus on my questions and catch up with comments at the end of the week if I have time. I won’t share all of my answers but there are some that are uplifting I think.

    2. The first phrase that stands out to me is that the Word was silent for nine months. It seems that creation would just implode with the Word silent. Yet when I read verses 1-5 I think: of course! He can do this! His light can shine in the darkness and not be overcome. What a miraculous time it must have been for those with eyes to see.

    The whole poem is worship of a God who can be with us. He tasted bitter earth for us. He walked in our shoes from conception to birth in this poem. I think of the verses in Phillipians 2 He did not see equality with God as something to be used for His advantage. He walked the hardest road beginning right here and ending in the cruelest death known to man.

    Another thing that stands out to me is the progression (or perhaps regression) of glory from the white hot beam from heaven to the bitter earth. Amazing, amazing, amazing! We will travel from bitter earth to the white hot glory of heaven because of the bridge He has built for us! Blessed, blessed, blessed we are! We have all things because of Him. Lord, help me to hold this white hot beam within me. Let not the bitter earth cause me to forget at any moment the glory that I have received in You my Lord. I think I begin to understand the pain of Your separation from the Father. It was that, even more than the bitter earth that was so hard to bear. Oh Lord! For me, for me, for me.

    3. In Him I surrender to the crush and cry of birth. 4. This year as I have contended with idolatry in my life it has been crushing at times. I remember commenting in that first few weeks that I felt like my insides were shaking. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I cried out to Him and He met me but not right away. These words describe that time, crushing and I cried out, but now I see that I was being born anew. My life has slipped through death’s mesh, times bars, and I have come closer to heaven than I ever was before.

    5b. To dialog with God it is absolutely essential to listen to Him. I must read the word (Christ) and pause to listen also. This reminds me that somewhere I learned that the entire Bible is about the Lord Jesus Christ.

    6a. He left His Father to come from heaven to bitter fallen earth and experience our pain. Not only did He risk His life but He gave it willingly for our redemption.

    7a. To me the end of religion as we know it is God with us, Immanuel. God’s glory is deadly to all fallen humans. The glory of the incarnation is that God took on human form. We could be in His presence. He was meek and lowly, not deadly at all. All other religions try to appease because man just knows that he is not clean or right. He has to do something to earn fellowship and favor from God or gods. Even Judaism is basically how sinful man can have fellowship with holy God.

    b. Lord, how amazing You are! I have always wondered how You could become a baby but now I wonder anew. You came to us in a way that we could endure, without fear or harm. You answered Moses’ prayer and let us see Your glory. I see more clearly how greatly blessed I am and how I need never fear. I do see that I can step out in faith at Your leading to do whatever You call me to do. My heart sings of the all sufficiency of Christ and Your Spirit within me. Even as I come to this prayer I realize that I have been riddled with fear over my own insufficiency. Thank You for reminding me that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

    8. Luci’s poems are deep and rich. They help me to see more clearly the enormity of what Immanuel means to me. Our God LOVES us! He wants us close to Him. My take away is that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I know this is true because of the lengths that He went to for me, to give me all that I need to live godly in Him. I have to admit that as I read Boundaries I am overwhelmed and confused. My mind strives to make connections and a plan for how I will deal with my problem, but I must stop and give it to Him. He will show me the way, one step at a time.

  30. What a beautiful sermon. I have family from both coasts in my town and am making food for all so please forgive me for not answering the questions. This is a sermon I will listen to again and again. We had a Christmas program at church tonight and it felt so good to have for the first time put Jesus absolutely first and foremost in my heart this season. I could cry just thinking of how I have changed this year and am truly excited for the new year with all of you here and anticipate all the new ways I will grow next year. I am truly enjoying life to the fullest. Love to you all and a very blessed Christmas!

  31. 8. What’s your take-a-way and why?

    This stuck out to me: “Luci, in her video, challenges us to take risks based on our talents, based on God’s leading — how might you live less cautiously this Advent week — how might you love outrageously, how might you trust Him boldly?”

    This may sound almost too simplistic for me. 😉 My eyes have been opened to taking more risks-challenges to love boldly with my boys. I’m excited! This is a shift for me as my mind has pretty much been fixed on taking risks and loving outrageously via singing and in other ways with women at church. God got me started by signing up for family nights with the homeless at the mission, but that was the start and he used this study to seal it, but to live less cautiously and to love outrageously trusting Him boldly is the key here-it is easy to keep at arms length with the hurting and down trodden. We will see how God leads. 🙂

    I would also love to go with my family on a mission trip to another country some time but I would have to go with all the boys without my husband because of his work. That is why we haven’t gone yet-I know he would want to go with us.

  32. Merry Christmas to you my sweet sisters!

    I have been praying and will continue to pray. Susan, I am lifting you up. Hope you are feeling better today! I am thankful God gave that passage in Isaiah to Dee for you-It is a balm to me too-He is with Us!

  33. Diane, I wanted to let you know I am praying for you about tomorrow. SO EXCITING! You will have to let us know how it goes! 🙂

  34. My take away is from the poem.. “he is my open door to forever” I have been thinking about it all week.. and i have even smiled some when i think of it… Ahh I will be with the Lord forever!

    I have been struggling latley with Christmas… I am not sure if its because we finally got some snow yesterday or a little bit i have been having an attidtude with my Christmas tips with not getting many this year.. I need to rememeber its not about the money its about Jesus..But the Lord provided enough money for when i am gone on my cruise to pay my bills and to replenish my envelopes.. So i need to be thankful for that.

    Anyway if you could pray for me i would appreciate it!

    Merry Christmas Sisters!

  35. For those of you who have been praying for me about tomorrow, I have some difficult news. We had invited to Christmas lunch at our home a small group of people who were not busy with family, but each one declined our invitation, except one senior lady who committed to coming. Now, just a while ago, she called to say that she has family who plan to drop in to see her tomorrow and she does not want to miss them so will not be coming here either. So … at this point, there is no one here except my husband and I. (Possibly we will find someone to invite tomorrow at the morning service.) I am partly relieved because I was so nervous, and partly disappointed because I wanted to feel I was helping someone who would be lonely on this family day. But mostly, I am puzzled why God seems so determined that we be ALONE this Christmas Day. Perhaps he has something really important he is trying to teach me that I can learn no other way! So keep praying.

    1. Diane,
      I’m sorry to hear this…your heart was in the right place. Will pray about tomorrow for you. Does all of your family live far away from you?

      1. It is not so bad really. It’s tricky doing Christmas when you have adult children who feel pulled in two directions with a spouses’ family and other commitments to share the holidays as well.

        My family does not live that far away, but they all have other commitments on Christmas Day. Our son and his wife and two-year-old son will be driving up from Nova Scotia (6 hours away) on Boxing Day to be with us for a few days, so I just have to get over the loneliness on Christmas Day and then I will be busy. My daughter and family (three small kids) is spending Christmas Day with her husband’s family and is too far away to do both families on the one day, but will be visiting over the following days as well. Our bachelor son is busy until the evening of Christmas Day.

        1. my internet is acting funny this morning, so not sure if this will post–but Diane, I just read this and felt that “lump in my throat” feeling for you! But then to read your response to Susan and see already how the Lord is carrying you–helping you to look for what He’s showing you…I will pray that you feel His special blessing especially tomorrow–that you will fell encouraged of the journey ahead, of all He’s showing you and growing in you–much love and prayers to you~

  36. Read John 1:1-5 and meditate on Luci Shaw’s poem: Made Flesh, Part I

    3. What phrases stand out to you from the above and why?

    I was struck by all the stark contrasts in the poem…

    white-hot beam dark earth
    searing light eclipsed in gloom

    cool immense splendor small-folded in a warm
    universal grace dim space

    the Word sentenced to silence (nine month’s dumb)

    infinity walled-in

    the Mighty One submitted Himself to a woman’s pains, helpless

    Pondering this after reading John 1, that Jesus, Who is God, the Creator of all things,
    the great I AM, what He went through to get to us, I love the phrase “fused heaven with dark earth” – when you fuse two things together, they are inseparable – He did not abandon us in our sin and darkness, no, He permanently fused Himself to us, to our condition, even to the point of becoming one of us to experience the pain and suffering of being human, even being tempted by sin so He understands what it is like (yet not sinning Himself).
    He didn’t just LOOK down on our condition, He CAME down.

    The humility to place Himself, His immensity, His light, His brilliance, in a warm, dim, female space. The One who knew no boundaries of space and time is walled-in by a womb. Then, birthed like every one of us was, and totally helpless, vulnerable, dependent on mother and father to feed and take care of Him.

    Mulling over the phrase, “first-tasting bitter earth”. He had created the earth, and human beings, had appeared to His people before, but to be like us, made like us, was that the bitterness?

    This poem is so amazing, and speaks so deeply of our Savior’s determination to give everything He had to come for us. It “shines a light into the womb”, so we can reflect on those nine months of silent waiting.

    Feeling better today. I went to the doctor yesterday and he said it is a virus. Thanks for prayers!

    1. You expressed your understanding of the poem so beautifully, Susan, that we will all benefit from the Wonder of his Nativity. Thank you.

    2. love this Susan “He didn’t just LOOK down on our condition, He CAME down.” This morning I felt struck by a similar thought about His coming. There is something so active, and yet, humble as you said, in Him coming to us–so much to take in and ponder.

      Thanking Him you are feeling better and pray it continues!

    3. Susan, Yeah! Thankful you are feeling better! 🙂

  37. Diane,

    Oh I am sorry, Diane. I am sure you are disappointed but I was thinking, wow, glory be-this is God’s plan. He has made it clear! Isn’t that awesome!?! I hope I don’t sound too flippant-not meaning to, but am sincerely excited at how God has made it clear as far as direction so far-who knows, He may just want you and your husband alone. :-)It is awesome to see you open to His moving either way. 🙂

  38. Listening to Fernando Ortega’s Christmas album (HIGHLY recommend!), getting ready to cook for my family, and thinking of the blessing of all of you–what an unexpected gift this has been this year! Thanking Him and praying you all have a blessed Christmas!
    Many of the songs on this CD are traditional–this one isn’t, but I thought of you all while listening and thought it might bless you too:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wOhVh2bct8

    Of course, that song just ended as I type and the CD player has switched to Bing Crosby! Quite a shift–but I guess the push will get me up & cooking 😉

    Here are the lyrics:
    Jesus King Of Angels by Fernando Ortega

    Jesus, King of angels, heaven’s light,
    Shine Your face upon this house tonight.
    Let no evil come into my dreams;
    Light of heaven, keep me in Your peace.

    Remind me how You made dark spirits flee, And spoke Your power to the raging sea.
    And spoke Your mercy to a sinful man;
    Remind me, Jesus, this is what I am.

    The universe is vast beyond the stars,
    But You are mindful when the sparrow falls, And mindful of the anxious thoughts That find me, surround me, and bind me . . . .

    With all my heart I love You, Sovereign Lord.
    Tomorrow, let me love You even more.
    And rise to speak the goodness of Your name Until I close my eyes and sleep again.

    1. Such a beautiful song, Elizabeth. I just love it how much new music and musicians I am being introduced to here on this blog. I need to listen to this again and again. And I had never heard of Fernando Ortega before. Yes, I am pretty out of touch with much of the music scene. Though I love good Christian music, we don’t have a Christian radio or television station in our range, and seldom buy CDs.

  39. 8. What’s your take-a-way and why?

    Sorry I didn’t answer most of the questions this week. I have just been too distracted. I really love Keller’s sermon and it tied with Luci Shaw’s poem so well. My take-away is a deeper understanding and wonder at what Jesus gave up to come down to earth to rescue us. I too was thinking about the door imagery and how the door to the stable is really the doorway to heaven, like in C.S. Lewis’ Narnia book “The Last Battle.” The stable seems dark and dangerous, but it is really a door to the real Reality.

    This year has been a year full of new adventures with Jesus for me, going “farther in and higher up”, as Lewis would say, with our Lord. It has been such a joy to meet you all, even if only by blog. Technology certainly changed be used by God as well. Have a blessed, joyous Christmas!

  40. we decided since we’re on our own to do a special Christmas Eve dinner, a tradition in my family, and we’ll go to church in the morning–I have been SO excited to have Christmas fall on Sunday and be able to start the day in that celebration!

    But, I decided to jump on here one more time because I am distracting myself from the never-before-cooked-made-up-by-me recipe pork tenderloin in the oven ;0

    My take away–is that He CAME. He chose to come. He did not come to condemn, but to SAVE. I imagine Him thrust forth from Heaven–into this–OUR WORLD–by the powerful force of LOVE. That’s the “why?” Pure Love. Glory to Him–more “weight” to Him…that He might over-power every thing, every plan, every pain, every desire that touches me this coming year–that I would behold Him as Greater than anything else.

  41. Ladies

    I need prayer please I am not looking forward to going to my moms tommorrow.. as you know she is not a believer.. and neither is my stepdad.. his kids will be with us for awile then they willl be going to their moms.. but all they do is sit around and watch tv all day.. and i dont want to do that.. she is not into games either.. so my friends told me tonight that if i left aroind 4 or so that, that would be enough time since i will be there around 8 and then leaving to go to church and then go back there. SHe may be coming to church with me tommorrow as well, and i was nervous about that but now I have complete peace! Love you sisters!

    1. praying for you Meg–it does sound hard, but I know they must look so forward to having you there–you are a light to them! I will pray they are drawn to Christ in you, and pray for you to have good conversations, for the time with your mom at church, and for you to enjoy the time.

    2. Meg,
      I hope your mom can go to church with you tomorrow. Be at peace – trust the Holy Spirit to do His work. The fact that she will go with you is huge! I can understand your discouragement at the activities of the day ( watching TV ), but perhaps you may be able to interest some in a game of cards or even some good conversation.

      I understand the battle. Every Christmas Eve, so tonite, we go to Catholic Mass at a nursing home where my in-laws volunteer. Then we go out to eat and go back to their home for presents. It has been my tradition, every Christmas Eve, to light the Advent Wreath and have a time of Scripture reading and prayer with my children when we get home. This year, I decided to do something different, and incorporate the poem by Luci Shaw and the Keller sermon about how in the OT, the appearance of God was terrifying, and then to compare that with the reality of Him coming as a baby. I wanted us to focus not so much on the baby in the manger, but those 9 months in the womb, “infinity walled in a womb”. Well, when I announced we were going to meet in the kitchen for the Advent wreath, my two oldest sons complained and grumbled. When I mentioned I would like to go to church tomorrow morning, and I have been going to a new church, my oldest son said he didn’t want to go to some new church on Christmas Day, “I don’t feel comfortable going there”; then he said he would go by himself to Mass; then my middle son said he would go with him, and they did everything they could to discourage and upset me about it. I said to them every year I go to Mass on Christmas Eve and I don’t complain about it. When we sat down to do the wreath, I had my reading glasses on and my son told me to push my glasses up off my nose because “you look ridiculous”. I really do understand what it is like to have to stand alone around people who don’t see things the way you do. It can be very disheartening.
      I’m still undecided if I will push for church tomorrow morning because of their attitudes. My husband did stick-up for me, though, and told the boys that if we go, we will go together as a family. We may go back to the church we went to before I changed churches, which would be fine with me.
      I hope everything goes well for you tomorrow, Meg. I’ll say a prayer for you tonite.

      1. Thanks Susan for praying for me.. I will pray for you also.. Was your daughter ok with these things or did she give you a hard time as well? I will pray that your sons will not complain with whatever you decide. Love you! Merry Christmas!

    3. Meg, am praying for you this morning-so tough. So glad I jumped on here to get my mail this morning!

    4. Praying for you today, Meg. May God bless you with His wonder and peace today in the midst of your difficult day.

  42. My childhood friend, Ginger died yesterday. If you think of her please say a prayer for her precious family, they are suffering so! Thank you.

    1. Praying now, Kim…I am so sorry. May the Lord bless them and help carry them through their grief.

      1. praying Kim!

    2. Praying Kim for them and for you.

  43. With no one around this Christmas morning, I am at peace. We have a covering of snow from a bit of a storm Thursday and Friday, but the sun is sparkling on the snow crystals on the ground, branches and icy pond that I see from my front window and the Son is shining in my heart. It really is a winter “Wonder” land.

    My husband is just leaving to preach at his first service in another village before coming back here for his second service at ll am. In the past, we would be having breakfast, followed by reading the Christmas Story and opening presents one at a time enjoying what each person gets. Today we will not be opening gifts until this evening after the evening meal so I am revelling in the quiet. Happy memories crowd in.

    I too am looking forward to being able to attend a worship service on Christmas Day. It seems so appropriate to honor God in this way today. It is a bit sad that even many Christians choose to not attend a service today, or cannot because others in their family are not believers. They are missing a special opportunity to worship. One of the local churches chose not to even have church today. It makes me sad.

    I am wondering what you all are doing this day. What are your traditions? Some have shared and I appreciate knowing. I am praying for you that Christ looms large in each of your hearts today, overshadowing whatever other distractions are there and adding to the joy that family and friends and Christian fellowship bring.

  44. Merry Christmas everyone!

    I am sitting at the Starbucks re-writing the first chapter of a book ( Historic fiction ) I have been working on for almost ten years.Waiting to pick up my brother at the long term care facility he lives in.
    This Christmas has been…different (lol) don’t know how else to explain it. I have a new grandson and spent Christmas eve last night with him, my daughter and her husband at my sister’s house with her family, my 2 other sisters and mother.( we had a nicetime).
    My father is once again in the hospital, this time because he became combative and now refuses to return to the nursing home he has been living in.He was diagnosed as “phychotic”.Yet because he can sit in the common area with the other patients ( who are a mix of chemical dependent, depressed and sucidal)the hospital deems him “well enough to be released”, and because he refuses to return to Meadowbrook; we ( my 2 sisters, mother and self) are scrambling to find a place for him to live.

    I need pray…I have a love/hate feeling for him and right now the hate is winning the fight.
    Sorry I’m human.

    Thank God I am going to my church tonight for a special candle light service!
    I visited my previous church last Sunday for their Children’s Christmas program and felt so out of place there.
    I recently completely broke off all connection with a friend whom I was close to for over 10 years because I felt I was in a “relational idoltry” type of situation. We both come from homosexual backrounds and I believe shared a “soul” bond which, after much prayer, scripture searching and self realization I know to not be line with what the “perfect will of God” to be for my life as well as hers. Without delving into the details, we should not have started the friendship the way we did.
    Aside from that, her personality was to controling for me. And I know mine was not easy to get along with as well.
    But what hurts me is the thought that because I cut off those ties, removed myself from the church we both attended( I also left to support my son in law and my daughter as they enetered into fulltime ministry) I am looked upon as some sort of bad person.
    My intuition ( maybe just imagination?) feels though things were said about me that were not entirely true…and nobody knows the true nature of our relationship…so I am looked upon as an emotionally unstable person who is a hypocrite.
    I thought my former Pastor was my friend, but I think he doesn’t like me anymore.
    The enemy is doing overtime on my mind.

    I think I like to write because it is an escape.
    Better days ahead.
    Thank you for being my friends…I pray for you as I know you will for me!

    1. Thank you for sharing this, Laura Marie. I’m sorry you have had a rough year and difficult Christmas Day. I hope the candle light service was an encouragement to you. I hope you find a suitable arrangement for your Dad. I’ll be praying. May God turn your eyes toward HIS wonderful gifts for you.

      1. Thank you! I appreciate your prayers and encouragement !

    2. Thank you for sharing Laura Marie…. As you know i come from a homosexual background as well.. Thank you for what you shared back in the summer.. I will pray for you I know this must have been hard to do. Merry Christmas!

      1. Thank you Meg! I hope your Christmas was great! My wasn’t that bad, I am just spent emotionally.