Black Friday

BLACK FRIDAY BOOK DEAL!

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Hi, everyone!

I just wanted to pass along that my publishers have allowed me to put my “The Art of the Christian Ninja” book on a 40% off sale from Back Friday to Cyber Monday.

Visit http://wipfandstock.com/the-art-of-the-christian-ninja.html and use discount code: CONF to get the deal!

Above is a little video explaining what it’s all about!

Thanks and please share this post and video with others. (I don’t have an advertising budget, so I need your help!)

Simeon & Waiting (Advent 2015)

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1 Waiting and Simeon

Welcome to the Season of Advent. Over the past years I’ve really appreciated the this season-before-the-season because I think it’s a wonderful tool and jumping off point for what Christmas is all about. I appreciate the Advent wreath that has one candle lit each week – and having to wait seven days to see the next… and then another seven days to see the next. I think it’s good practice. That’s what Advent means… it simply means “coming”. Something is coming and we are to wait for it.

I think what I appreciate most about the Season of Advent is that instead of jumping straight into the craziness of Christmas, our forefathers had the foresight to set aside four weeks where all believers could take some time the practice something that many of us are not very good at: waiting.

I created a little video the other day this week to help illustrate this point.

Black Friday vs Advent

We, as a culture, are not very good at waiting. In fact, we’ve almost turned waiting into a dirty word. While the Christian church is talking about the people who waited whole life-times to see Jesus – after waiting for hundreds of years between prophecies, and thousands of years since Adam and Eve were promised the coming of one who would “crush the serpents head” – the culture around us is ramping up to higher and higher speeds.

This year was even more ridiculous as I noticed more and more pre-black-Friday sales. We can’t even wait for Black Friday anymore! That’s nuts by even the world’s standards. A presale for the big presale to kick off the Christmas sales season.

The Christian church talks about slowing down and reflecting, preparing ourselves to meditate over the story of Jesus Christ’s birth and life; taking a whole month to get our homes and hearts ready. I feel like, as we sit here today, we’re in the eye of the storm. It’s calm right here, but everything around us is swirling with as much noise, lights and commercialism as they can muster. It’s quite a dichotomy.

We sit here and say “wait for the coming of Jesus”, while everyone else says get everything you want right now! Black Friday is all about “getting it now”. Don’t wait until Christmas! Don’t even wait until the store opens! Camp outside and we’ll open extra early for you, so you can stampede over your neighbours to get things you don’t really need for the same price they’ll be in two weeks and then again on Boxing Day. And then go home and sit in front of your computer all night, credit card in hand, so you can get the best of Cyber Monday. Sure, get people some gifts, but you know you’re not going to get what you really want for Christmas, so use this day to buy those things for yourself!”

Not exactly the true meaning of Christmas, is it?

Advent is the time where Christians are encouraged to remember that waiting is a good thing, that patience is a godly virtue, and that being first and getting the most is actually not good for our souls. Advent tells us to stop for a while, listen to what is going on around is, reprioritize what matters: our relationship with Jesus and others. It reminds us that a relationship with God, with Christ, with the Holy Spirit, or with anyone else, isn’t built with speed – but requires time and patience.

I recognize – because I’ve felt it in myself – that there is a temptation to start ramping up for Christmas. It’s hard not to leave the eye of the storm and get sucked into the whirlwind of activity. But I want to encourage you to relax for a moment this morning, realize where you are, appreciate a moment dedicated to God – and then consider extending this moment for the rest of the season. We are here, today, worshipping Jesus, remembering His coming, His birth, and our salvation. I just want us to hang onto that and let it fill the rest of the season.

Waiting

Let’s talk a little about waiting. Have you ever had to wait for something? We all do. What kind of waiter are you? Are you the kind that can sit and wait, or are you more like the people in the video that mash on the button over and over and over until it changes? Can you wait for an elevator without hitting the button two or three times? Can you send a text to someone and then turn off the phone and wait for a reply, or do you have to text them back a few times to remind them that you texted them?

What about waiting in line at the grocery store, or a theme park? Do you size up the lines and see if you can find the fastest one? If your car or something else in your home breaks down, do you need it fixed that day? Have you ever had to put off a project wait for a replacement part? How well did you do then?

Christmas is a time when there is an inherent impatience built in. Some of us even have an advent calendar where we count down the days. We wait for the Christmas season to come – some of us start waiting in August. When do you start playing music? I started before Remembrance Day. I couldn’t wait anymore. We order gifts and then have to wait for them to come. We have relatives that we want to see, but we have to wait until they arrive. There’s a tonne of things that Advent, that “Come”, during this season, that we have to wait for, isn’t there? And sometimes that waiting is hard.

God Plays the Long Game

God doesn’t seem to have a problem with being patient – nor does He seem to have a problem making people wait. He seems to really like the “long game”, where everything takes much, much, much longer than we would ever expect or desire.

He had the power to create the universe in an instant – but He took six days whole days (unless you’re an evolutionary creationist, in which He took considerably more time), and then took a day off! He told Noah there would be a flood coming 120 years before the flood came. God told Abraham that he would have a son 15 years before he fulfilled the promise . God’s people were in slavery in Egypt for 400 years before He raised up Moses. And then God sent Moses away for 40 more years, and then had his people wander the desert for 40 more years.

David spent years waiting for God to fulfil his promise that he would become King of Israel. God established dozens of Kings in Israel after that, over more than 200 years, each getting worse than the last, and then God sent the Israelites into the Babylonian exile for 70 years!

It was over 700 years after Isaiah prophesied about the coming of the Messiah, and 400 years after the last Old Testament Prophet, Malachi, died that the prophecies about Jesus started to come true.

God has absolutely no problem with waiting. He always comes through, but it’s always in His own time. He never rushes. It’s almost as though He believes that the act of waiting itself has benefits! Strange concept for us today, isn’t it?

Simeon

Today, I want to take a little time to look at a man in the Bible who is known as the man who waited. God gave him a promise, but he had to wait for his entire life – almost the very, very end – before he saw it fulfilled. He waited for decades before the promise came to light.

His name was Simeon and his story is found in Luke 2:22-35. This story occurs forty days after the shepherds have come to see Jesus in the stable, right after Jesus was born:

“And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, ‘Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord’) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, ‘a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.’ Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, ‘Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.’

And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.’”

A Brief Bio

We don’t know a lot about Simeon. For example, we don’t know how hold he is. He could be 30 or a hundred. But, judging by him statement of “departing in peace”, most people assume that he lived a good many years and died shortly after seeing Jesus.

We don’t know his job, either. He may have been a priest, or he may have been a spiritual layman who listened well to God.

One thing we do know is that he was a good waiter. The descriptors we have of this man talk mainly about his attitude and spiritual understanding. He “was a righteous and devout” man, who was “waiting for the consolation of Israel” (meaning the time when God would rescue His people) and had “the Holy Spirit upon Him”.

He was a man of good integrity with a bona-fide faith in God. He didn’t come to temple out of habit or religious duty. He came because he took his faith seriously, loved God and God’s people, and wanted to live it out every day. He lived every day in eager anticipation that God would speak, act and help His people.

Of course, he wasn’t alone. A lot of people were waiting for the Messiah. King Herod was a cruel dictator and the Romans made life miserable for the defeated Israelites. Even their religious leaders made life miserable. Pharisees had turned their religion into a grueling set of rules, regulations and tasks, and their love for God had run cold.  The Sadducees spent their time reinterpreting the scriptures, denying the miracles God performed, and rejecting the prophets.

A corrupt government filled with unbelievers and a corrupt religious system that made one choose between overwhelming rules or a powerless, spiritless, sterilized God. But there were still some who had faith – and they waited hopefully for a time when God would finally straighten it all out. Simeon was one of these people.

 

Waiting Well

What I want to do with this story is to pull out one simple truth: there are two different ways to wait for something… worthwhile waiting and worthless waiting.

Waiting does have value, as clearly God thinks it does, but we can negate that value by refusing to accept the value that comes during the waiting time. Worthwhile waiting is the kind where we use the time to prepare ourselves for the advent, or coming, of the thing we are waiting for. Worthless waiting occurs when we allow that time to turn our hearts towards things like bitterness, sloth, procrastination or greed.

Me encouragement to you today is to embrace waiting, and allow the time in between to build your character, skills, faith, and heart. Don’t waste it.

I know there are people here that are waiting for something. You’re waiting for healing, for love, for a relationship, for forgiveness, for release from pain, for your next position, for an answer. You’re waiting until you are old enough to do something, or strong enough, or wealthy enough, or brave enough. You’re waiting for someone to respond to you, or waiting for the right moment to do something. You’re waiting for marriage, a baby, for your kids to grow, or your parents to finally see how much you’ve grown. You’re waiting for retirement or a new job. You’re waiting for the government to fulfil their promises, or the next election cycle so you can hear all new promises.

We all here, today, are waiting for something. Christians here today are waiting for Jesus to return. We can sympathize with Simeon who saw corruption in his leadership, corruption in his church, his family, and his own heart, corruption all around him, and longed for the time when God would send the Messiah. We’re there too. We can’t wait until Jesus comes again to make it all right.

But right now… we wait. We wait for big things and small things, relational things and practical things, life-changingly important things and mundane things.

So my encouragement to you, on this first day of Advent, is to wait well.

Simeon waited well. Consider those descriptors again. He was “righteous and devout” and “the Holy Spirit was upon him.” He was given the promise that something would happen – he would see the Messiah – buy year after year, as he waited, his waiting didn’t lead him to sin, but to faith. His waiting was worthwhile because it was focused on God.

He didn’t hold himself up in a cave and wait for God’s promise to come true – he continued to go to the temple and do what was right. He didn’t spend his life bragging gthat he had some kind of special knowledge – instead he allowed that knowledge to spur him in to righteous and devout actions.

Waiting for God to fulfill his promise didn’t make him bitter, but drove him to a closer relationship with the Holy Spirt. Waiting for the promise didn’t make him doubt his faith, but drove him to a greater commitment.

Above all, his waiting was active – not passive. He kept doing the good things he was supposed to do – praying, serving, attending, giving, studying, caring for others – while he waited!

Application

That is my my simple application for today. Waiting is a spiritual exercise. Waiting is a gift from God. Whatever God has given you to wait for, the gift isn’t just the receiving at the end, but the entire time of waiting in between. Use that time to grow closer to God. Don’t waste your waiting time.

Sometimes we sit there and hammer God with the desire for instant gratification. “When God? Why not now, God? How about now, God? Now? What about now?”  It’s like banging on that button over and over as though it is going to make the light change – make God act faster. It’s not. All it’s doing is creating bitterness and anxiety in our hearts.

And God does what that little crosswalk sign does. He says, “Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait.”

This world hates to wait. They won’t wait for marriage before they take the benefits of marriage, which causes them much trouble. They won’t wait until they have the money before they buy things, which puts them into debt. They buy lottery tickets hoping for an instant fix to all their problems. That’s not how it works. That’s not how God designed it.

No, instead, God wants us to build our faith and dependence on him. He says in Hebrews “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Waiting gives us the opportunity to build our faith. And it is by faith that we are saved, and by which the next verse in Hebrews says, “we receive our commendation” from God, and “understand that the universe was created by the word of God”.

At the end of that chapter in Hebrews, after giving a list of people who lived by faith alone, it says, “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us they would be made perfect.” (Heb 11:39-40)

If we want that “something better” – which is a strong faith in Jesus Christ, and a commendation from God – then we must learn to wait.

Let us, as we wait for Christmas, (or whatever you are waiting for), be like Simeon, and trust in the God who makes us wait.

The Meaning of the Advent Wreath and Some Inspiration for the Christmas Season

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The Advent Wreath

Over the next month we will be been celebrating the season by using Advent candles to mark the weeks preceding Christmas. I’ve appreciated doing this over the past years because I believe they are a wonderful tool to remind us about what Christmas is all about. The Advent wreath is rich with imagery that reminds us that Christmas is about Jesus – and not just Jesus, the baby in the manger, but the story of Jesus which encompasses the whole gospel.

Some traditions have different colours and meanings, but they all contain a round wreath and candles — sometimes four, sometimes five, and sometimes more. Historically, there is some evidence to suggest the round wreath with candles predates Christianity, and, like many Christmas traditions, was adopted by the church sometime in the Middle Ages.

The wrath is made of evergreens to signify the continuous life we have because of the coming of Jesus. They are shaped in a circle which looks like a Laurel – which was a woven branch worn on as a crown to mark someone as a victor (like in the Olympics) or someone of great honour (like when you see an image of Caesar). So it symbolizes Christ – immortal, victorious, worthy of praise, giving us everlasting life.

On our wreath are five candles, representing the four weeks of advent and the coming of Jesus at Christmas. The smoke rising from them symbolizes our prayers. The light represents Jesus. Three candles are purple, one is pink, and one is white – each have their own meanings, and traditionally, these were the same colours worn by the priest as he presided over Mass.

The Christ candle, which we light on Christmas Eve, is white and at the centre of the wreath. The outside candles represent Hope, Love, Joy and Peace surround the Christ Candle to remind us that all of those things are ultimately and perfectly found in Christ.

Waiting…

What I appreciate most about the season of Advent is that instead of jumping straight into Christmas, our forefathers set aside four weeks where all believers could take some time to practice two important things that we don’t normally do unless we have to: Wait.

As a culture we aren’t very good at waiting. In fact, we’ve almost turned waiting into a dirty word. Consider how the commercial industry begins the Christmas season. While the church is saying it’s time to slow down and reflect, to pause and prepare ourselves for celebrating the amazing story of the coming of Jesus Christ… to take a whole month to get our homes and hearts ready… to meditate over one aspect of the gospel for an entire week – one whole week on the Love of God, another week on what it means that Jesus is the Prince of Peace… everywhere else seems to be ramping us up with as much commercialism, noise, and craziness they can.

The unofficial inauguration the season is called “Black Friday” which is essentially an all-night shopping spree. And even that they couldn’t wait for this year as they pushed the sales back into the week prior!

“Don’t wait… get it now. Don’t even wait until the store opens! Go ahead and camp outside and we’ll open extra early so you can stampede over people to be first to get what you want. Stay up all night on Sunday, sitting in front of your computer so you can get the best of Cyber Monday. And since you probably won’t get what you want for Christmas, and it’s so far away – use this as a day to buy things for yourself!”

Not exactly the “true meaning of Christmas”, is it? Advent is a time where we remember that being first, getting the most, and filling up our homes and credit cards isn’t what Christmas is all about. Advent tells us to stop, listen and prioritize what really matters: our relationships with Jesus and with each other. Those relationships aren’t built at the pace this world wants us to move – true love requires time and patience.

I know my kids are learning this. The tree is up, lights are going on houses, the Christmas music is playing, the schedule is filling up … they know Christmas is coming. The countdown to Christmas Eve – the day they get to open one present after the Candlelight service – has begun. So my encouragement this season is to ask you to practice waiting, practice not getting what you want when you want it. To slow down, evaluate your priorities, reawaken the lost art of waiting.

That’s good practice for building our relationship with God because He doesn’t work on our schedule, but instead invites us to step outside of our agendas and live by His timetable instead. He loves to teach us patience, because He is patient.

I know our temptation is to start ramping up, but let me encourage you to relax this season. To evaluate the motivations, to ask Jesus to set your heart and mind on what matters this year. To worship Jesus and care for people first – before worrying about the trappings of Christmas.

You Are Loved

So, to prepare you for this season, I want to do something a little different and give you something to think and pray about. Next week we are going to start a series based on the book I just gave you where we are going to explore “The Purpose of Christmas”. I’m hoping that we can all read it together – it’s short, interesting, has lots of stories, only has 4 chapters and has lots of pictures, so we should be able to do this – and meditate on the true meaning of Christmas.

But this week I want to whet your appetite by setting up the Christmas season with the reminder that you are loved – first through scripture, and then with a story.

The Amplified Version of John 3:16 reads like this:

“For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.”

You are “greatly loved and dearly prized” by your Father in Heaven. So much so that He “gave up” His Son for you – to die in your place so that you could be with Him forever.

Romans 5:1-8 tells us that Jesus came to earth on purpose, to save us, even when we didn’t deserve it. That anyone who would believe that they are a sinner in need of a Saviour, that Jesus Christ died on the cross and then was resurrected on the third day to save them from that sin, would be saved. The free gift of salvation that cost so much. Let me read that to you:

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.  And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

That’s the love that Jesus has for you. He didn’t just come to save “the world” in general, but you in particular. Not everyone will be saved, but He gives everyone the opportunity to be saved. He created you, designed you, knew you before you were born, picked your parents, your skills and talents, gave you gifts and hopes and dreams, and then invited you into a long-term relationship with Him so He could pour out His love for you, give you a purpose, build you and transform you into the image of Son Jesus Christ.

And nothing can take you away from Him. Romans 8:38-39 says,

“…neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

In this world, distance and death can separate us from our loved ones… but there is no distance – not even death – that can separate you from the love of God. There is no cavern into which you can fall that He cannot pull you out of, there is no darkness to deep that He cannot shine His light in. No temptation that He will not help you in. No fear He will not give you the strength to overcome. No need He will not fulfill. The world may come against you, and foes may assail you, all of creation may try to push you away from Him, Satan himself may try to drive a wedge between you and Him – but He will never, ever let you go.

The King and His Son

To close this morning I want to tell you a story that illustrates the kind of love God has for you. I heard this illustration used by a pastor named Steve Brown and was moved by it and want to pass it on to you to, hopefully, help you understand Christmas a little better. Please remember that this is an illustration, so it isn’t perfect, but I do hope it’s helpful.

Riikka Jäntti

There once was a king who loved being king. He liked sitting on the throne and making decisions; he liked living in the castle, he liked the symbolic functions of his office, he liked visiting the towns and villages of the kingdom and meeting his subjects, he liked the authority and power because he could use them to help his people.

Not only did the king like being king, but his people throughout the kingdom praised him for ruling so benevolently and wisely. The people knew they could trust their king to do the right thing for them and for the kingdom, and they were right. Because of the king’s wisdom, the kingdom was prosperous and peaceful.

When the king’s son was born, the people put on a great celebration. Now there was an heir! The people knew the king would be a good father and that his son would someday be as great and wise as his father. The king loved his son more than his own life. His greatest joy was to spend time with his son. Each evening after the day’s duties were accomplished, the king would go out into the formal gardens and play with his son. The thought of those times with his son often made the hard task of ruling a little easier. Sometimes when he faced a difficult decision or had to settle a dispute or complete a project, the king would think, when this is over, I can be with my son, and he would smile.

One day the king’s son got lost. It was one of the most tragic days that had ever passed in the kingdom. He didn’t mean to get lost. He loved his father as much as his father loved him.

But one day his father had a particularly busy day and was late for their daily meeting in the castle gardens. So the boy decided to explore…. It happened before he knew it. He was just walking and thinking about his father when, looking up, he found himself in the forest behind the castle. Nothing looked familiar! At first he was calm because his father would come soon and find him, but, as he waited, he began to panic. In his confusion he began to run away from the castle. His clothes caught on broken limbs and tore. A couple of times he fell in mud holes, and once he cut himself on a jagged rock.

Eventually the little boy wandered into one of the villages of the kingdom. To be perfectly honest, by that time he looked more like a beggar than a prince. The little boy would go up behind someone, grab his coat, pull on it and say, “Mister, I’m the king’s son. Would you help me get home?”

“Sure you are, kid.”

“But you don’t understand”, the little boy would say to another. “I got lost, and I can’t find my father.”

Most folks simply ignored the little boy, and those who didn’t ignore him laughed at him. Pretty soon the little boy was forced to beg for pennies just so he could buy bread to keep from starving.

Meanwhile, back at the castle, the king spent a sleepless night looking for his son. He looked everywhere he knew to look, but the boy was nowhere to be found. By morning the king suspected that someone had kidnapped his son and feared that he would never see the boy again.

The king called all his armies together, told them what had happened, and send them into the kingdom looking for his son. He offered great rewards to anyone who could give him information leading to the discovery of his son. But to the king’s great sorrow, the little boy was not found.

Hours blended into days, days into weeks, weeks into months, and months into years. The little boy was no longer a little boy; he had grown into a strong young man. At first he really had thought he was the king’s son, but so many adults had told him differently that he began to think maybe it had to be a dream. After all, adults knew those kinds of things. As the years passed he forgot about the castle and about his heritage. It didn’t take so many years to forget about the dream altogether.

Then the young man began to run with the wrong crowd. Murder, stealing, rape—nothing was beneath them. But he was still a prince. If you are a prince (even when you don’t know it), it shows. Eventually the young man became the leader of the gang. He surpassed all of his friends in his unlawful acts and spurred them on to even greater acts of lawlessness. Years after he had left the castle and his father, the king’s son had become the most wanted criminal in the kingdom.

Advent Intro (Candles and a Story)Then one day, through a rather complicated set of circumstances, the king found out that his own son was the kingdom’s most wanted criminal. At first he couldn’t believe it, but the more he checked, the more it became clear that he had found his beloved son, and when the authorities finally found him, the king faced a terrible dilemma.

The king loved his son, but he was also fair and just. He knew that if he released his own son who had committed terrible crimes, he would need to release all the others who had committed crimes. That was unacceptable.

And so the king’s son was arrested and brought before a judge who condemned him to be executed for his crimes. The verdict was just. The king’s son was thrown into a dungeon beneath the castle where he had once lived to wait for his execution.

On the night before the young man was to die, the king made his way to the prison beneath the castle. Opening his son’s cell, he walked in and sat on the bunk across from his son. The king sat there a long time looking at his son before he spoke.

“You are my son.”

“Someone told me.”

“Have you ever wondered, over these years, about your parents?”

“Sometimes, but I had a good life, and it wasn’t that important.”

“Well, I have never stopped wondering about you, where you were and what had become of you. You have never been out of my mind and heart.”

The king continued, his voice trembling with emotion and tears running down the age lines in his face, “My son, I loved you with a great love, but you became lost. I did everything I knew to do. I sent out my soldiers; I offered a great reward; I have never ceased to search for you. But now it has come to this and tomorrow you are to die. But, son, I have decided to allow you to go free.”

With those words, the old king got up and walked out of his son’s cell into the crisp night air. The young man went over to the cell door and tested it. Well, what do you know?, he thought, that old man left it open.

The king’s son grabbed his coat, threw it over his shoulder, and with a cynical smile spoke aloud: “That stupid old man! He thinks because he has set me free I will come back to his castle and be his lackey. Well, he is more senile than I thought.” And with that, the young man ran up the stairs and disappeared.

Some two weeks later the kings’ son found out what price his freedom had cost. On the day of his scheduled execution, the requirements of the law had been met. It was his own father that had taken his place before the executioner the next morning, and had literally died so that his beloved child might be free.

You probably have some questions: What did the son do? Did he return to the castle and become king? Did he even care about the price his father had paid for his freedom? Did he decide to obey the law?

I’m not sure because, you see, you are the son and I am the son.

At the very heart of the incarnation [of God becoming man], at the very heart of God himself lies a cross. That is the true meaning of Christmas: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light…For to us a child is born, to us a son is given and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:2,6) “And they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us)” (Matthew 1:23)

For us, God took on flesh, coming to earth as a baby…. But the baby didn’t stay that way. For us, the wood of the cradle became the wood of the cross… because of God’s great love.

(Story adapted from Key Life Magazine – Christmas/Winter 2009, Volume 24, #3 Pg 8 & 11)