I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. – Genesis 22:17 NIV
Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life … – Philippians 2:14-16a, NIV 1984
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. – John 14:1, NIV1984
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new! Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” – Revelation 21:5, NIV1984
I love the Christmas season, but it may not be for the reason you may think.
Yes, I have my traditions. Movies I watch – “It’s A Wonderful Life”, “Ann of Green Gables” (CBC version with Megan Follows), various versions of “A Christmas Carol”, and the animated movie “Star” to name a few. Music I listen to proclaiming the birth of and our thankfulness for the first advent of Jesus of Nazareth – “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”, “Silent Night”, “Gratitude” (by Brandon Lake), “Carol of the Bells”, the “December” album by George Winston, and, my heart favorite, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”.
There are also things I love about the Christmas season. The excitement and skill with which my wife decorates the house and the tree, the food, the change of seasons, the change in the attitude of many people including myself.
Remembering the birth of Christ reminds us that we really can be better people than we think we are most of the time. Not because we gut it out or strive to be better but because He is, we are.
As I have been leaning into the Christmas season this year I am once again filled with awe and wonder and I remember. I remember that God made a promise to Abraham. That Abraham would not be cut off and lost to time. His descendants would innumerably fill the earth, like the stars in the sky or the sand on the seashore. And, living by the ocean, I, like Abraham, have the physical manifestation of both.
I also remember who Paul encourages us to be in a world full of hatred, malice, and desolation as we near the end of the age (Philippians 2:14-16a, NIV 1984). As “Wardaddy” Collier says in the movie Fury, “Ideals are peaceful. History is violent.” It’s not mere coincidence that Paul too uses God’s imagery of “stars in the universe”. Even as I am reminded of all this, 2023 has been and will always be a very special year in my walk with God.
At the end of 2020, there was major conflict with one we loved deeply. There was unknown pain and injury that led to estrangement. Pretty much complete separation. It was hard and painful for reasons I am not at liberty, as yet, to talk about. And it was long; as months turned into years.
And then last November, November 2022, God gave me a dream. It was simple. Nothing flashy. It was Christmas with the person we were estranged from. And, not only Christmas, but somehow I knew it was 2023. Christmas 2023. God told me the estrangement would end by Christmas 2023. So, there my heart rested. I had no idea how that could happen, but I knew it would. God had told me, and I believed him.
Fast forward a few months to February 2023. Debbie and I are visiting the city where this person lives for other reasons. Unexpectedly, the person we are estranged from reaches out and relationship is restored. Not perfectly and, even now, after months of contact and communication there is still much to discuss. But, as we head into Christmas 2023, God has once again proved himself trustworthy and true.
So, I want to remind you this year, as you head into Christmas, to remember that God – Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit – is Trustworthy and True.
And, as you celebrate the first Advent of Jesus, that you would set your eyes and heart on his second Advent. In John14 Jesus promised he would return. I encourage you to add this to your Christmas reading and meditation this year. It is part of mine because he is Trustworthy and True.
Merry Christmas and Godspeed!