Posted in advent, Advent devotions, Devotions

2020 Advent devotion: Unto us a child is born

“Live and in person Advent devotion for December 8, 2020.” Read Isaiah 9:6-7 and Psalm 121.

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 Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
    there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
    to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
    from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

Who comes to mind when you think of a child star? I guess it depends on your generation. Shirley Temple? Ron Howard (Opie)? Maureen McCormick (Marsha Brady)? Barry Livingston (Ernie Douglas on “My Three Sons”)? Mccaulay Culkin (Home Alone)?

Scripture has its share of child stars, too. From Cain and Abel to Jacob and Esau to Samson and John the Baptist, the arrival of children would shape the story of God’s people. But none of them were expected to be or do as much as the child Isaiah spoke of. In the birth of this son the world would meet the “Mighty God” and the “Everlasting Father” live and in person!

The arrival of every son and daughter is filled with the anticipation of what they will grow up to be and the things that they will do. Each addition to a family is unique. Each will discover their talents and learn new skills as they grow. Each brings a hint of the future with them, for they will one day be leaders, teachers, inventors, healers and artists. Children whet our appetite for a world that is better than the one we live in now.

It certainly is fun to discover what our children can do. We give them balls to see what kinds of athletic abilities they have. We put crayons and paint brushes in their hands to unleash artistic ability. We sing songs, play games and read books, watching as they become the people God created them to be.

Long before His birth, Isaiah reveals what this child would become. He was born for public service, politics and government. He would be the one to fill the very big shoes of David, ascending to the throne of a kingdom that would never end. His parents, His people and the world had high hopes for this child.

We still do. Each Christmas, we have high hopes that Jesus will bring peace and joy to our world. How thankful we are for this child!

Lord, be the child star of our Christmas, coming with the counsel, strength and peace we so much need. Amen.

Posted in Christmas

He knew we’d want to play with this.

IMG-7920I knew I’d be watching my two-year-old grandson Elijah for a few hours today while my daughter and wife did a little shopping. Before he arrived, I set out our little Playmobile nativity out on the porch.

From the moment he saw it he was delighted! He exclaimed, “This is perfect!” And then he picked up the baby from the manger and announced, “He’s awake!” He pointed out the donkey, camel, and sheep. Then, spotting the magi’s treasure chests, his eyes got big and he burst out with “Presents!” We got a full ninety minutes of play from this season’s first encounter with the cast of characters from Luke 2 and Matthew 2!

I believe our all-knowing Father knew that his children would delight in this hands-on telling and re-enactment of Christ’s birth. I can’t prove it, but I would contend he purposely chose the first-century, Roman empire, Bethlehem, virgin and carpenter setting because he knew it would capture our imagination, our hearts, and our souls.

I also believe it is therapeutic to sit and play with a nativity, preferably with kids. The holidays aren’t always the easiest times to navigate. You may be dealing with distance, death or divorce. There may be family conflicts, financial worries, unrealistic demands and unmet expectations, But when you sit down to play with a nativity, much of that fades behind the reminders of God’s promises, faithfulness, and presence. He shows up in the lives of real, ordinary people just like us, to walk us through guilt, sorrow, doubt, fear, pain, or whatever we’re dealing with.

That’s what it’s all about. Even a child knows that. I guess Jesus was right. You really need to be a child.