“THE ADVENT journey reminds us that we cannot take the light for granted. Christ is near, and God partners with us, makes covenant with us, and asks us to respond to the light that has come into the world. We may not have to move far, but God does ask us to move, to be bold enough to step out on faith and seek the light.”—Todd Outcalt, Blue Christmas
“The Advent and Christmas season is often associated with joy, love, generosity, and unity. But for many people, this time of year magnifies loneliness, anxiety, grief, and despair. While others are enjoying celebrations with their friends and families, those who are hurting often feel even more lost, abandoned, and alone than ever.
“Not all Christmases are white; some are blue,” Todd Outcalt writes. Blue Christmas is a devotional book for the 28 days of Advent and Christmas Day. Each devotion includes a scripture selection, meditation, prayer, and suggested Advent action. The book also features additional prayers, a “Blue Christmas” worship service, and reflection questions.” Blue Christmas -Description of Book….This book is available @Amazon,
Yet, the greatest BOOK gives us the greatest chandelier to light 💡 our lives and give light to those all around us. “That you love one another, John 13:34 “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.”
14 thoughts on “Christ(mas) The Light”
I wonder if the footnotes for John 13: 34,35 from the NLT may help shed some more light on understanding these verses??? 🤔 “Jesus says that our Christlike love will show we are his disciples. Do people see petty bickering, jealousy, and division in your church? Or do they know you are Jesus’followers by your love for one another? Love is more than simply warm feelings; it is an attitude that reveals itself in action. How can we love others as Jesus loves us? By helping when it’s not convenient, by giving when it hurts, by devoting energy to others’ welfare rather than our own, by absorbing hurts from others without complaining or fighting back. This kind of loving is hard to do. That is why people notice when you do it and know you are empowered by a supernatural source. The Bible has another beautiful description of love in first Corinthians 13.”
Tammy, I think the footnotes are powerful in demonstrating love. I have noticed all the negatives mentioned that = darkness is contagious throughout the church. The Hope we have is knowing and being light. I have always loved the song,
“🎶It only takes a spark
To get a fire going
And soon all those around
Can warm up in the glowing
That’s how it is with God’s love
Once you’ve experienced it
You’ll spread His love
You’ll want to pass it on”🎶
Yet, all too often we refuse to even be a spark. We don’t want to be different, to be rejected, to be anything but feel important. We all to often rather not have God’s spark because we like the dark. We pick and choose what we will and won’t do. Outcult writes, “God does ask us to move, to be bold enough to step out on faith and seek the light.”
Advent is a good time to examine our motives. Look deep within and properly judge ourselves.
“t only takes a spark To get a fire going”…. “Yet, all too often we refuse to even be a spark. We don’t want to be different, to be rejected, to be anything but feel important.”
When I looked up to see what this vital “spark” is that can help start a fire it said: “a small fiery particle thrown off from a fire, alight in ashes, or produced by striking together two hard surfaces such as stone or metal.”
It looks like if we are just content to do/contribute our small part, then we can have the joy of knowing we are a part of a larger fire that can accomplish much.
Tammy, do you have footnotes for the Matthew 4:16 Scripture?
Sara, I did find Matthew Henry’s commentary on verses 12-17: “Henry’s Concise Commentary
4:12-17 It is just with God to take the gospel and the means of grace, from those that slight them and thrust them away. Christ will not stay long where he is not welcome. Those who are without Christ, are in the dark. They were sitting in this condition, a contented posture; they chose it rather than light; they were willingly ignorant. When the gospel comes, light comes; when it comes to any place, when it comes to any soul, it makes day there. Light discovers and directs; so does the gospel. The doctrine of repentance is right gospel doctrine. Not only the austere John Baptist, but the gracious Jesus, preached repentance. There is still the same reason to do so. The kingdom of heaven was not reckoned to be fully come, till the pouring out of the Holy Spirit after Christ’s ascension.” Any thoughts?
When I read the above “Christ will not stay long where he is not welcome,” brought to mind a verse and song I have been singing recently. “Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”
Tammy, I greatly appreciate your research and posting both your Bible footnotes when available and Matthew Henry. I find the study of God’s Word is both light and life awesome. Just awesome!
My top immediate thoughts from Henry would be these words since we, the church, pause each year at this appointed time to review our fruit or lack there of. “Light discovers and directs; so does the gospel.” And, “ take the gospel and the means of grace, from those that slight them and thrust them away. Christ will not stay long where he is not welcome.”
These words make me ask myself, am I or those I’m in relationship with happen to be the fig tree that had no fruit to offer Jesus when He walked by and needed sustenance. The big glowing leaves were calling Him over but not a fig to be seen. (Matt 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11)
How long did Jesus stay around the tree? How long does he stay around us when we leaf with no fruit? We talk up a storm but what do we do to be peacemakers among other attitudes from our hearts?
Sara, I read the scriptures you wrote about above regarding the fig tree and noticed something in one translation about fig season. “Off in the distance he saw a fig tree in full leaf. He came up to it expecting to find something for breakfast, but found nothing but fig leaves. (It wasn’t yet the season for figs.)”
Hmm, I thought, it makes sense in the natural plant world that trees bear fruit at specific seasons, so why was the fig to blame?
But then a scripture thought/warning came to mind from 2 Timothy 4:2: “Be ready in season and out of season”. And some translations go on to say, “whether the time is right or not” or “whether convenient or not”.
So, maybe the fig tree (an example of ‘us’) was simply not ready with fruit with the excuse, ‘the time is not right’, I am going to operate with my natural eye and instinct, not trust the Spirit to do the seeming impossible. Or maybe the fig was too pre-occupied with something else and answered, ‘now is just not convenient, Jesus’. And it would make sense that with an attitude like that, Jesus would not ‘stay around us’ as you said, because we just gave Him no reason to.
Matthew Henry commented: “The fig-tree that had no fruit, soon lost its leaves. This represents the state of the nation and people of the Jews in particular. Our Lord Jesus found among them nothing but leaves.”
Greg Lanier comments, “When the disciples ask Jesus to explain what just transpired, he pivots and talks about prayer. Why? Though they do not yet fully understand, they will be the new caretakers of God’s people (Matt. 21:33–45). They will be instruments by which Israel is transformed—when the Jewish nucleus of Christ-followers extends branches worldwide and brings forth fruit from all nations (beginning in Acts). And, as Jesus teaches here, they will do this by the power of faithful prayer.”
And, Lanier, Professor PhD, Cambridge) serves as associate professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando. He is also an associate pastor at River Oaks Church (PCA). goes on to say, “Soberingly, this passage does not just remind us that a Christian by definition must produce spiritual fruit (even if only small early figs). It’s also about the threat of and temptation toward false pretenses of fruit.
The fig tree, like the bustling temple courts during Passover, was putting on a good show. And that made it all the worse. It’s one thing to lack fruit out of season. It’s another thing to lack it while pretending you have it.
So let us be warned.
Our personal lives can look like “in leaf.” Our leaves may look like those of a supermom, a winner, a perfect family, an A-team Christian with an overstuffed schedule of ministry activities. But the root may be withered. There may be no fruit of holiness and no intimacy with God. What’s worse—our leaves may even fool us.
And our churches can do the same. A church’s leaves may look impressive: booming attendance, capital campaigns, clever pastors, impressive music. But what will the Lord find upon close inspection? Will he find only leaves? Or will he find figs, too?”
I love Advent season and candlelight on my heart as I enjoin The family of God around the world each Christmas Season. We light the candle of peace, among others, and we affirm Isaiah’s vision that peace will come on earth. “…The LORD blesses his people with peace.” Psalm 29:11b (NIV)
Our Heavenly Father, search us with Your strength and abiding love that we might have more room for you and those that dwell on earth. 🎼Let there be Peace on earth and let it begin with us…🎼🎹🎤
We are a week away from our wait…
“WHAT A RELIEF that God’s reality and trustworthiness does not depend on our feelings. And God can be trusted with all our emotions and all our hungers, pains, fears, and doubts. The reason we are called to wait on God during Advent is because God always shows up. While we wait on God, we can lean into the believing community that trusts with us and for us. Hope and belief can be shared within the body of Christ.”—Enuma Okoro, Silence and Other Surprising Invitations of Advent (Upper Room Books, 2012)
“Our Heavenly Father, search us with Your strength and abiding love that we might have more room for you and those that dwell on earth.”
Thank you for that prayer, Sara. I would like to say, Amen. How needed it is and really something to reflect upon at this busy season.
It also made me think of the time when Jesus was born in Bethlehem. There was no room for Him (Luke 2:7) and no room for those that cared for Him. The town was crowded with people preoccupied with other concerns.
You also wrote, “The reason we are called to wait on God during Advent is because God always shows up.”
Interesting that while everyone else was taken up with reporting for a census, there were three wise men from eastern lands that had been waiting. And their waiting was not passive, they were active seekers who made room for Him by taking precious time to follow a star and travel a long distance to find Him. And God did ‘show up’. And when God did, they were ready and prepared to serve and honor him with their many gifts. And I suspect that their sacrifice of time, travel and gifts also blessed and made room for His parents who dwelled on the earth caring for Him.
Debi, love your story trek with the wise men to search for and find the Holy One.
Let us thank God for the gift of Emmanuel. Give thanks for all that help others to experience the presence of Christ
“THE POWER OF a believing community can do wonders in how we wait in hope. A community helps us discern how God calls us and speaks into our lives, keeping us accountable to spiritual integrity and affirming or challenging our discernment as necessary. It is important to have people with whom we can prayerfully share our spiritual journeys and who can help us name the new realities that God might be birthing in our community can support us as we name these new realities and learn to live into our expanding or changing sense of identity as flourishing children of God.”
—Enuma Okoro, Silence and Other Surprising Invitations of Advent