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And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us

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I found this fantastic image while looking for Christmas art. Unfortunately, as I tried to do research, I wasn’t able to discover much about the art or the artist. All of the links were dead. However, I was able to glean some comments from the site about the artist’s ideas for this unique artwork.
The artist, whose internet name is JACKIEpainting, wrote this about the art: “So, here is my vision of the Author of Life in His early days here on earth with the Virgin Mary, Joseph and some shepherds.”
As we view the art, enjoy the unique angle as we look from above onto the scene with Mary, Joseph, the baby, a cow and some shepherds. As we look closer, we might quibble - as one person does in the comments on this piece - that the baby is portrayed as Caucasian with blonde hair. The artist responds: “Well, that’s why it’s my vision of Him, I believe that gold’s color is a good color for the King of kings, and also draw my version of the Virgin Mary as a redhead.”
The most striking element is …

The wait is over

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Luke 2:25-40 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: 29 "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all people, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel." 33 The child's father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will b…

Worship Helps for Christmas 2

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The Road to Bethlehem Joseph Brickey
Worship Theme: “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” we sing at Christmas time. Bethlehem, “the house of bread,” was a little town, but an important town too. There, in humility, the Savior of the world was born.
Old Testament: Micah 5:2-5a "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times." 3 Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor gives birth and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites. 4 He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth. 5 And he will be their peace.
1. Why was Bethlehem seemingly an unlikely place for a king to be born (verse 2)?
2. Even though Jesus was to be born in Bethlehem, what was his tr…

God in a box

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John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. The man dressed in high priestly garb stands over the opened box. Lights are lit and cameras are rolling to record the momentous event. At first the box is only filled with sand. Suddenly, lights begin flashing and bulbs start exploding. Fog begins to pour out of the box and jets of light shoot upwards. The rays of light turn into ghostly beings that pass through the soldiers who are watching. Then beams of fiery light shoot out from the box and through the Nazi soldiers, killing them. The Nazi officer and Nazi spy melt and Belloq, the archeologist dressed as a high priest, blows up. Then fire comes from the box, the Ark of the Covenant, and consumes the bodies – except for Marion and Indiana Jones. That is the dramatic sequence from “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” What does “Raiders of the Lost Ark” have to do with Christma…

Fugitives no more

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Do you remember the 1993 action film The Fugitive?  Costing $44 million to make, it grossed over $360 million at the box office!  People loved this story.  A man wrongfully accused, on the run, trying to prove his innocence while being relentlessly pursued by the law.  Finally, he does prove his innocence and exposes those who were trying to silence him from telling the truth.   
It is interesting that God calls us fugitives Isaiah 45:20: “Gather together and come; assemble, you fugitives from the nations.” We are people who have escaped some sort of captivity.  Unlike the fugitive Harrison Ford played, you couldn’t call us innocent.  We had sinned against God.  We deserved the judgment of “guilty.”  We deserved to pay the penalty of our sin.  In general, we were captives to sin.  Here, the captivity God is talking about is one of ignorance.  We were once captive to the thinking of this world where gods carved by human hands are looked to for salvation they cannot provide.  This left u…

The Name of Jesus

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Matthew 1:21 The angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph and told him, “… She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” The angel of the Lord first appeared to Mary and later to Joseph to tell them they would be the earthly parents to the Son of God. They very easily could have named their Child “Fred,” “George,” or “Sam.” All fine names. But God had a special name picked out for this Child. A special name that was actually a very ordinary name. At the time of the Annunciation, there were probably a few dozen children in Nazareth that were named “Jesus.” That’s because “Jesus” is the New Testament version of the Old Testament “Joshua” or “Isaiah.” Yet the names in the Bible always have much more meaning behind them. Open your bulletin and look at those squiggly lines next to the Christmas Meditation. Those are the Hebrew letters for Jesus. Those letters mean “YHWH saves” – “the Lord saves.” Jesus literally does what …

Nothing is impossible with God

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Luke 1:26-38 In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." 29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31 You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end." 34 "How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?" 35 The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshado…

Worship Helps for Christmas 1

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The Presentation in the Temple Pieter Jozef Verhaghen 1767
Worship Theme: There are two great miracles in Christmas: the one that God has become man for us and for our salvation, and that he in grace reveals the first miracle even to me and blesses me with all its benefit.
Old Testament: Isaiah 45:20-25 "Gather together and come; assemble, you fugitives from the nations. Ignorant are those who carry about idols of wood, who pray to gods that cannot save. 21 Declare what is to be, present it-- let them take counsel together. Who foretold this long ago, who declared it from the distant past? Was it not I, the LORD? And there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me. 22 "Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other. 23 By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear. 24 They will say of me, 'In …