Monday, December 22, 2008

"born that man no more may die"

"and i heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'look! God's dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. they will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death" or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.'

"He who was seated on the throne said, 'I am making everything new!' then he said, 'Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'
" (revelation 21.3-5 tniv)

we went to visit bill's home church yesterday. i have been enough times now that i am starting to get to know a lot of the family friends. this year has been a little bittersweet because the longtime pastor of bill's church recently lost his wife to cancer. i can only imagine the pain and sorrow he is experiencing as he faces this first christmas without his beloved wife by his side to join in the celebration.

charles wesley reminds us that christmas is the time to remember that one reason Jesus as born was so that we would not be permanently separated by death. the triumphant words of isaiah 25 and revelation 21 (not to mention hosea 13) could not have been written if Jesus had not been willing to come to earth and die for us. the loved ones that we miss so sorely during these holiday gatherings and celebrations will be reunited with us in heaven because of Christ's sacrifice.

what an incredible gift we have been given in Christ's birth. we can get caught up in the purchasing of gifts for friends and family that will last for few years if all goes well. today we picked out a present for tate, and i wonder if he will play with it for more than a few days total. Jesus with his birth gave us the gift that blesses us and our loved ones for all eternity. we are released even now from our fear of death because of Christ's coming. even in the midst of our sorrow from a loss, we can rejoice in the birth of Christ and the gift of eternal life we receive as a result.

"on this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare
a feast of rich food for all peoples,
a banquet of aged wine—
the best of meats and the finest of wines.

on this mountain he will destroy
the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
the sheet that covers all nations;

he will swallow up death forever.
the Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears
from all faces;
he will remove his people's disgrace
from all the earth.
the LORD has spoken.

in that day they will say,
'surely this is our God;
we trusted in him, and he saved us.
this is the LORD, we trusted in him;
let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.'"
(isaiah 25.6-9 tniv)

for the kids: if you have experienced in your family, talk about how it feels to miss that person in our time here on earth. if they haven't experienced it firsthand, ask them to think about how someone else you know feels to be without a loved one. talk to them about how the birth made eternal life available to any who believe. what are they most looking forward to about heaven? for a project, make a gift out of a square of felt or craft foam. decorate with ribbon or another piece of foam or felt. remember the gift of eternal life that is available to us now.

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