Archives For Christmas

This year, my favorite Christmas present wasn’t a gizmo, a gadget, a phone, or some other compellingly cool technological marvel.

I didn’t get:

An Amazon FireTV

An AppleTV

A new laptop

Or even any books (e, or otherwise).

No, my favorite gift this year was from my eight-year-old daughter (with an assist from mom, who took her shopping), and uses technology that’s been around for centuries.

While the other things would have been nice, displaying a knowledge of the things I like (and would have been appreciated), what I got shows me just how special I am to a certain little.

It shows me how loved I am.

It’s not really even so much the gift itself as it is the sentiment behind it. So just what is this magical gift?

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Just a couple of bracelets–which happen to mean the world to me. Thank-you, Bella, daddy will wear them with pride.

Love you.

Christmas. A time to gather with friends and family to celebrate the joys of the season. Of a year ending, and a new one to come. A time to celebrate the birth of Christ, a Savior born (like we all are) in blood and pain. Unlike, His tiny body was wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in a feeding trough hewn from cold, hard stone.

They didn’t have Apgar scores, or incubators, in His day. No one was standing by with a nasal aspirator to suction the mucus from His nose and throat. What a risk! Eternal God to come and be made man! Think of all He forswore to be contracted into such a span!

The minds reels at the thought of the incarnation. That the God Who made it all could limit Himself to such a lowly estate, and not only, but to be born amongst stinking animals, too.

I don’t think we spend nearly enough time thinking about what Christ lost coming into our world. What He laid down for our sakes.

As such, as someone who knows sorrow (“a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief”), Jesus is very tender towards those know loss this season. Maybe this is your first Christmas without that special someone. Jesus knows. Or maybe tour loved one died on (or around) Christmas.

Jesus knows.

And He loves you. He knows your loss, and grieves with you. As I know He is grieving with my family now, having lost a cousin just before Thanksgiving, and a great aunt on Christmas Eve. Forever will the holidays be associated with these events.

There is sorrow, yes. But there is also the  joy of hoped for reunions one day, and the happiness of being able to hold our living loved ones near.

Christmas: A Season of Hope and Loss.

“He shall wipe away every tear.”

How are your holidays? Do think of those who have gone on before, and hold you family tight?

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    James Thomas Harthan, age 75 of Geneva, PA passed away on Monday, November 24, 2014 at his residence.
    James was born April 6, 1939 in Sharon, Pennsylvania, the son of the late Thomas and Elsie Eldridge Harthan.
    He had a long career in retail automobile sales, working for several car dealerships in Mercer, Erie and Crawford counties. Later in life he established his own auto sales business.  He enjoyed buying and selling cars.  He also enjoyed watching old movies.
    James is survived by his son Bradley Harthan and his wife Audrey, several cousins, nieces and nephews, and a close friend Jenny Palmer of Emlenton, PA.
    In addition to his parents, James was preceded in death by his younger brother Edward Harthan and his significant other Verla Shaw of Emlenton, PA
     Services will be private and at the convenience of the family.
     Memorials can be made to the Northwestern Community Educational Foundation, Harthan Character
Award, 100 Harthan Way, Albion, Pa. 16401.
Please sign the online guestbook at hatheway-tedesco.com
Arrangements have been entrusted to the Dickson Funeral Home & Crematory, Rocco R. Tedesco III, Supervisor, 130 N Second Street, Conneaut Lake, PA 16316

No, not the movie starring Tim Allen. No this one stars you. That is to say it’s not a movie at, but rather your life. And it’s unfolding around you in living Technicolor©, blasting your ears with Quadrophonic sound.

You’re at church.

You’re a tither, a regular attender. It’s normally a safe haven–a refuge from the cares and worries of life. But it’s Christmas. And all bets are off. Because the place is packed. Don’t get me wrong–you’re glad all those folks are there. God knows they need to hear the good news.

But you wish they were just a little more attentive.

And that little Johnny (not his real name) behind you would stop kicking your chair. Where are his parents anyway? Then there’s the kid right in front you, whose parents have given him an iPhone to pacify him. You keep hearing the squawking of Angry Birds©!

But, you keep reminding yourself, this is church.

Time was, people knew how to comport themselves, how to keep their children well-behaved… But not, it seems, anymore. You’re just about ready to slay someone in the spirit, but then the rousing rendition of “Joy to World” is followed by the minister, who has come to speak about the “Colors of Christmas.” How what can such a dark time in people’s lives can be made light in Christ. You’re enjoying it, trying to listen, when the mom, who was talking to a friend ask throughout the song service, begins reading a story book to her squirming, squalling child.

Boy, it sure seems like all the bored, distracted, tired people all around you just don’t love Jesus like you love Jesus…

Then you catch yourself wishing that none of them were there… That you could just have a minute to engage with what the pastor’s saying. That people, who likely only go to church twice a year, would act more like you…

Then you swallow, draw in a deep breath, as it dawns on you that maybe, just maybe, the Christmas cranks aren’t the unruly masses all around you.

It’s you.

Bowing your head in silent prayer, you ask for forgiveness.

And you thank God for Christmas.

For Jesus coming to redeem such a one as you.

Click the following link to read my guest post for Tim Gallen:

An Open Letter to Ted Dekker

(Which is really all about Christmas).

20121205-062754.jpgI have made many mistakes as a parent, but perhaps none so grievous as quashing my son’s belief in Santa at a very young age. What can I say? I was living out of a very conservative, a very legalisitic, place in my faith.

I was afraid.

I was afraid, at that time, that allowing him to continue to believe in Santa would, and his subsequent eventual discovery of the truth, damage my credibility vis-a-vis Jesus. I did not want him to feel lied to.

I could not have been more wrong.

Oh, sure my intentions were good, but the net effect–and this is something that took me years to understand–was rather than protecting him, I was harming him. Moreover, in quashing his childlike faith, I was creating a hyper-rationalist–someone who was skeptical of everything.

Hewing to a conservative theology is one thing. Having convictions, and keeping them, can be a very wonderful thing in our world. It is indeed important to stand for something. Thing is, and my wife–being much more intuitive about these things–tried to warn me: I was doing far more harm than good.

Because, you see, having a belief in Santa at a young age is something Jesus can work with. Rather than hindering an eventual trust in Jesus, this childlike faith actually fosters faith in him. For that sweet sincerity of childhood makes a transfer of trust all the easier. Because, though they do not know it, what they are truly seeking is him, is Jesus. (I think of Shasta, in C.S. Lewis last Narnian tale, The Last Battle, who–though he did not know it, truly sought Aslan all along).

So take it from one who has been there: the consequences of quashing childlike faith (which, sadly, eventually happens all on its own) early are far-reaching. Yes, there is such a thing as a healthy skepticism, but fostering it too early takes just about all the wonder out of the world.

Which is why my wife and I are doing things differently with our daughter: we are allowing her to believe in the the Tooth Fairy, Santa, et cetera for as long as she needs to. We will cross the bridge when we need to, and not sooner.

Childlike wonder is a wonderful thing to behold. Let live as long as you can.

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