astoral Reflections Rev. Robert P. Doner, Pastor, Peace United Church of Christ Gladbrook, Iowa-Christmas’ Celebration Is Near: Set A Place for Jesus!
December 21, 2012
The little quoted Old Testament prophet Zephaniah live some 600 years before Jesus was born. At that time divided Israel and Judah were about to be swallowed up by Nebuchadrezzar and the Babylonians. After warning God’s people that God would allow them to suffer if they did not turn back to God and God’s way, the prophet extends a word of hope, saying: “Do not fear, O Zion; the Lord your God is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing as on a day of festival.” (Zephaniah 3:16b, 17) This time of the year is one that radiates hope and joy. We watch one Christmas show after another but seemingly ends in some miraculous finale borne out of hope and love, leading to joy unbounded. The news media, in this season, despite sharing news that reminds us of the reality we live in, attempts to find stories of great joy and love leading to hope in our world. Christmas is almost here; it is my wish for you to embrace some of that hope, joy, and love for yourselves and for your loved ones. After all, 2012 gave us our fair share of trials and challenges. As we welcome the birth of the Savior I’m sure there are many prayers lifted up for a blessed, happy, and healthy 2013. Let Christmas be the source of spiritual new life that brings you what you truly need. The Lord our God is in the midst through the coming of Jesus. If we allow God to enter our homes and be part of our celebrations, God, in Jesus’ name, will give us strength to be victorious over the challenges we face in the coming year. God will rejoice over you and bring you joy; God will renew you daily with love and out of that love you will find God’s praise to be a source of happiness in every decision you make and every action you take. In Judaism an empty chair is set at the Seder table for the coming return of the prophet Elijah. Set a place for your Lord Jesus. When you celebrate Christmas remind yourselves that Jesus is your guest, Jesus is in your midst, and Jesus on the Savior whose life has transformed you and brought you into daily, living relationship with God now and forever. May you and yours have a wonderful, happy, and merry Christmas! And may your Christmas with Jesus bring you a truly blessed 2013!
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