The Christmas Door We All Need to Walk Through

MARISSA BONDURANT|GUEST “I’m so sorry, but your daughter has cancer.” She was only four years old. The tumor was found on a Wednesday afternoon, and by Friday morning she was being wheeled back for surgery. It was so sudden, traumatic, and terrifying. We kissed our daughter, pleaded with the nurses to not leave her side, and then watched as her bed was pushed through the swinging doors of the pediatric surgery hall. As the doors swung closed behind her, my knees buckled, and I crumpled against my husband. I hated those doors. They represented my lack of control, my fear for her wellbeing, and my inability to fix the problem of her cancer. How could God separate me from my baby? Why would He put her, and us, through this? A few months later, Christmas rolled around. The lights, the wreaths, the trees—all seemed so frivolous compared to what we were walking through. Out of necessity, we toned down our Christmas activities that year...

The Christmas Door We All Need to Walk Through2022-05-04T23:30:15+00:00

Immanuel: Not Just for Your Christmas Card

CHRISTINE GORDON|GUEST It’s that time of year when many parents of young children ask their friends this important question: “Do any of you have a shepherd’s robe or sheep costume we could borrow for a couple of weeks?” We enjoy watching our little ones dress up as Mary or Joseph, an angel or camel, and listening to the history of how Jesus came into the world. We do it to help our kids learn the story and to remind ourselves of the same. We wrap them in burlap and flowing robes to help them act out the scenes of Jesus’s birth, inviting them to enter the culture and customs of Jesus’ world. In their telling of the story, they often read a portion of Matthew 1, including these verses:  Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus. (Matthew 1:18-24)  Every year we are transported back into the world of 1st century Palestine as we again hear the beginnings of the Christmas story. But is that really the beginning?  Before the Christmas Story As with much of the Bible, the scripts our children read to us are part of a story within a story— one that originated not just with the birth in a manger, but hundreds of years before. There are hints of the Christmas story throughout the Old Testament narrative, beginning even in Genesis. One of the greatest parts of the origin story for our Christmas plays starts with the prophecy Matthew quotes from Isaiah 7 in Matthew 1:23: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel.” What might our children encounter if they entered Isaiah’s world?  More than 700 years before Mary placed Jesus in the manger, God’s people were threatened by Assyria...

Immanuel: Not Just for Your Christmas Card2022-05-04T23:30:34+00:00
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