For many people, Christmas is an exciting time of reuniting with family, spending quality time together, and eating too many cookies.
But for others, it’s a painful reminder of broken families, loss of loved ones, or long distances that separate you.
During Advent and Christmas, we hear about peace. We read Isaiah’s names for the Messiah, including “Prince of Peace.” In Jesus’ birth story, recorded in Luke, the heavenly hosts say, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!” (Luke 2:14). We sing, “Sleep in heavenly peace” in the hymn “Silent Night, Holy Night” (LSB 363:1).
Sometimes, I read a familiar Bible passage or story and it comes alive in a new way. This happened recently with the story of Naaman in 2 Kings 5, which I recall from childhood Sunday School as being a simple story of the faith of a servant girl leading to a man being healed of leprosy. As I read it as an adult, however, I can see that it gives us a dramatic account of how our expectations and God’s actions can collide.
I find myself fighting with a tangled ball of lights year after year as we decorate the Christmas tree. Since we have had children, this has gotten extraordinarily difficult.
You may ask, what is the “wilderness”? A wilderness is usually an experience that follows a season of highs. When Jesus was baptized (which was more accurately a coronation), He took His rightful place as the final and greatest king of Israel.
But as soon as the event was over, He was immediately thrown into a wilderness experience where He fasted for forty days while being tempted by Satan. (See Mark 1:9–13.) Wilderness experiences usually happen when you are at the end of your spiritual rope. They are times of seeking God’s will and direction for your life.
Christmas is the best time of year to share the story of Jesus’ birth with your children! No matter the age or reading level, the Christmas story can be found in many different books for kids. From beautiful, lifelike pictures to singsong rhyming patterns, there are so many wonderful options to read with your child this Christmas.
A very Merry Christmas to you! As we celebrate Jesus’ birth today, we read a portion of the Christmas Day sermon in Selected Sermons of Norman Nagel: From Valparaiso to St. Louis.
One snowy December evening, three of the young adults from our congregation stopped over to visit . . . on a whim. Here is the beauty of a whim visit: it doesn’t leave time for me to consider whether I should clean the house, run to the grocery store, or even change the tablecloth. Whim Visits say, “I love you enough to have zero expectations. You don’t even have to let me in the house if you prefer.”
Today’s devotion focuses on the Epistle and comes from Concordia Commentary: Galatians.