Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

The Most Important TASK Done For Everyone Everywhere – JESUS CHRIST! (Our Christmas and Biblical Worldview)

Part A:

Part B:

Full Message:

Bible Verse: Luke 2


Can you see from reading this section of the Nicene Creed what would be missing if as Christians we ONLY spoke about Jesus in terms of His birth (Christmas), His suffering, death and resurrection?

Excerpt about Jesus from the Nicence Creed

“We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through Him all things were made. For us and for our salvation He came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit, He became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate; He suffered death and was buried. On the third day He rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and His kingdom will have no end.”

What happens if we leave out His incarnate life for 33 years? What if after speaking about His Resurrection we stopped and never addressed His human Ascension and Bodily Return?

Theological Theme:

“Christ does not heal us as an ordinary doctor might, by standing over us, diagnosing our sickness, prescribing medicine for us to take and then going away, leaving us to get better as we follow His instructions. No, He becomes the patient. He assumes that very humanity which is in need of redemption, and by being anointed by the Spirit in our humanity, by a life of perfect obedience, by dying and rising again, for us, our humanity is healed in Him, in His person. We are not just healed through Christ, because of the work of Christ, but in and through Christ. Person and work must not be separated.” – James Torrance

Christ Connection:

Christ emptied himself so we may be filled

“The very Son of God, old­er than the ages, the invis­i­ble, the incom­pre­hen­si­ble, the incor­po­re­al, the begin­ning of begin­ning, the light of light, the foun­tain of life and immor­tal­i­ty, the image of the arche­type, the immov­able seal, the per­fect like­ness, the def­i­n­i­tion and word of the Father: he it is who comes to his own image and takes our nature for the good of our nature, and unites him­self to an intel­li­gent soul for the good of my soul, to puri­fy like by like.

He takes to him­self all that is human, except for sin. He was con­ceived by the Vir­gin Mary, who had been first pre­pared in soul and body by the Spir­it; his com­ing to birth had to be treat­ed with hon­or, vir­gin­i­ty had to receive new hon­or. He comes forth as God, in the human nature he has tak­en, one being, made of two con­trary ele­ments, flesh and spir­it. Spir­it gave divin­i­ty, flesh received it.

He who makes rich is made poor; he takes on the pover­ty of my flesh, that I may gain the rich­es of his divin­i­ty. He who is full is made emp­ty; he is emp­tied for a brief space of his glo­ry, that I may share in his full­ness. What is this wealth of good­ness? What is this mys­tery that sur­rounds me? I received the like­ness of God, but failed to keep it. He takes on my flesh, to bring sal­va­tion to the image, immor­tal­i­ty to the flesh. He enters into a sec­ond union with us, a union far more won­der­ful than the first.” – St. Gregory The Theologian

Missional Application:

Just as Jesus took on all the parts of our human nature and flesh through the history of a human life to bring us Salvation, as those in union with Jesus in the Spirit we participate with Him in all the parts of His human history and continued Lordship, pointing others to Him as their Salvation also!

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The Most Important PERSON For Everyone Everywhere – JESUS CHRIST! (Our Christmas and Biblical Worldview)

Part A:

Part B:

Full Message:

Bible Verse: Luke 2


Luke 1:26-38

1:26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth,
1:27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.
1:28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”
1:29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
1:30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
1:31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.
1:32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David.
1:33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
1:34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”
1:35 The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.
1:36 And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren.
1:37 For nothing will be impossible with God.”
1:38 Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

Theological Theme:

This story in Luke, noted above, is a good example of how we can preach and witness to others similarly about the Gospel!

vv.26-31 “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”    You should start your witnessing with Who God is as Revealed in Jesus and who we are in Him – Favored!

v.31 “And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.” ONLY AFTER PROCLAIMING WHO GOD IS IN HIS WORDS AND DEEDS do you proclaim our participation with Him!

v.34 “Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’, 35 The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.’”

All of this happens by the grace of God – from the Father, through the Son, and in the Holy Spirit!

Christ Connection:

“God loves you so utterly and completely that he has given himself for you in Jesus Christ his beloved Son, and has thereby pledged [promised and given] his very being as God for your salvation. In Jesus Christ God has actualized [made actual and real] his unconditional love for you in your human nature in such a once for all way, that he cannot go back upon it without undoing the Incarnation and the Cross and thereby denying himself. Jesus Christ died for you precisely because you are sinful and utterly unworthy of him, and has thereby already made you his own before and apart from your ever believing in him. He has bound you to himself by his love in a way that he will never let you go, for even if you refuse him and damn yourself in hell his love will never cease. Therefore, repent and believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.”- (T. F. Torrance, “The Mediation of Christ,” 94)

Missional Application:

As we are filled with the Love of the Father and Son Relationship in the Holy Spirit, we participate with God, compelled to go to all and say:

“In and through Jesus, God has included all people everywhere in a particular relationship with himself for just these purposes so that what has been fulfilled for us objectively in Jesus by the Spirit, will then be fulfilled in us personally (subjectively) by the Spirit via our deliberate, purposeful participation (response) as subjects who are moral, spiritual agents. What Christ did for us, he did so that the Holy Spirit could work a response out in us. When we understand that the person and work of Christ establishes or reestablishes a living, vital, personal relationship with all humanity, then the biblical teachings concerning inviting, admonishing, encouraging, directing, commanding and warning in regard to setting forth the fitting or appropriate response make sense.”Gary Deddo

Our Father’s Hope For All: In The Forgiveness Of Sin! pt.6

Part 6A:

Part 6B:

Full Message:

Watch On YouTube

Main Bible Verses: Luke 24 Luke 7: 36-50


“Our Father’s hope for all: In The Forgiveness Of Sin” has primarily to do with relationship and how relationships work. It is not some static fact apart from actual relationship. When we say Resurrection, we mean God’s forgiveness resulted not only in the sending away of sin but RELATIONSHIP with JESUS in a RENEWED HUMAN NATURE by the Spirit. This message focuses in on the forgiveness/reconciliation that is ours because of Jesus, The Resurrection.

Theological Theme:

The Gift God gives us is The Gift of Himself. God doesn’t have anything else to give humanity but Himself, so the gift you have been given in The Gospel is God -The Father, Son and Spirit and relationship with Him. This is why Jesus personalized Resurrection saying that HE IS THE RESURRECTION – John 11:25.

John 3:16

Christ Connection:

The primary thing Jesus has been proclaiming is HIMSELF and Who HE IS. Because He is God the Son, the only begotten of The Father, then when He is with us, in our humanity, He is God with us, God for us, for our humanity!

What The Resurrection is proclaiming:

  • Jesus is God The Father for us (since He is One with the Father).
  • Jesus is The Holy Spirit in us (since the Spirit is One with He and the Father).
  • Jesus is God, having done something to our human nature. Jesus is literally inside our human nature and so God is intimate with us by the Holy Spirit in our human nature.
  • Jesus is God, transforming our human nature up close and personal – personalizing and humanizing us.

When we say JESUS, we are saying that in Him and because of His union with us as His creation, there is now a reconciled relationship that God has with all with creation. For Jesus to become human and to touch and heal humanity means that what God created but had fallen into sin has now been made right again, in Him, so that we can have hope now and fulfillment at Jesus’ Final Appearing! We receive in Christ the complete forgiveness of sin and at the same time the complete healing of the proper relationship between God and man, and all creation.

“The Gospel is as inclusive as Jesus’ Humanity” – Bobby Grow

Missional Application:

What sin is:

Because God is a relationship and has called us into His relationship, sin means our not believing in Him, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Sin is our not trusting, or relating with Him. Sin is turning to something else other than The Father, Son and Spirit for your identity, for guidance in your life, for strength in your trials, etc. Sin is also the horrible motive of seeking to put God to death. Sin according to the scriptures is lawlessness meaning that it corrupts every part of our humanity in word and deed, and everything in between..

However, the one unchanging Truth of the universe is God and His love revealed in Jesus Christ. God is interested in us and in a restored relationship no matter that we have sinned and despite that we have done everything to mess up our relationship with Him. In His fantastic mercy and grace He has placed into the universe, and into His creation in Jesus Christ, THE FULLNESS OF THE FATHER SON AND SPIRIT IN FLESH! So Law in The New Testament is actually the Love of The Father, Son and Holy Spirit Revealed in the human nature of the Son. Since everyone has sinned, and Christ has undone our sin, every human has been forgiven of their sin and reconciled to God in Jesus Christ and, therefore, are each and all called to put their trust in Jesus and receive this forgiveness and reconciliation freely given to us!


In The Resurrection Season, God The Father proclaims to you through His Son and in the Holy Spirit the forgiveness of all of your sins. Luke 24: 1-8

God wants all to participate in what Christ has done for us and to receive what is already theirs in Christ – THE FORGIVENESS OF SIN. The reason your sins are forgiven in Christ is because Jesus is “THE ONE FOR THE MANY”. Knowing Christ in His Resurrection means knowing the forgiveness of ALL your sins. Hear and receive this hope and proclamation of THE COMPLETE forgiveness of your sins because of Jesus, THE Resurrection, and because of Jesus’ Resurrection, bodily, from the dead!

“….Despite man’s sin, God is with him, the One who was in Jesus Christ reconciling the world, drawing man unto Himself in merciful judgment. Man’s evil past is not merely crossed out because of its irrelevancy. Rather, it is in the good care of God. Despite man’s life in the flesh, corrupt and ephemeral, God is with him. The victor in Christ is here and now present through His Spirit, man’s strength, companion, and comfort. Despite man’s death God is with him, meeting him as redeemer and perfecter at the threshold of the future to show him the totality of existence in the true light in which the eyes of God beheld it from the beginning and will behold it evermore. In what He is for man and does for man, God ushers in the history leading to the ultimate salvation of man.” ― Karl Barth, The Humanity of God

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God’s Grace Expressed Through Jesus’ Love!

Part A: Pastor Tony Marra:

Part B: Pastor Dave Stonesifer

Part C: Pastor Ann Vinson

Part D: Pastor Timothy Brassell

Part E: Full Message: NLF Pastoral Team

Bible Verses: Mark 1: 14-16 Ephesians 1 2 Cor 12: 19 Numbers 6: 24 – 26


“God loves you so utterly and completely that he has given himself for you in Jesus Christ his beloved Son, and has thereby pledged his very being as God for your salvation. In Jesus Christ God has actualized his unconditional love for you in your human nature in such a once for all way, that he cannot go back upon it without undoing the Incarnation and the Cross and thereby denying himself. Jesus Christ died for you precisely because you are sinful and utterly unworthy of him, and has thereby already made you his own before and apart from your ever believing in him. He has bound you to himself by his love in a way that he will never let you go, for even if you refuse him and damn yourself in hell his love will never cease. Therefore, repent and believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.” —(T. F. Torrance, “The Mediation of Christ,” 94)

Theological Theme:

“The gospel announces that salvation is available by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, and not through additional obligations and works.”

The gospel is the Good News of God, that we are included in the life and love of God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit by grace. It is nothing we have earned or deserve but rather something given as a free gift to us. We have to remember that Jesus is THE Savior of the world. The struggle in believing this good news is that it sounds really good but it is not easy to receive and can only be received by the grace of God; That means GOD working in us to WILL and to DO and to BELIEVE that it is actually the truth of our lives in Jesus, in our place and on our behalf!

“Grace is the hardest thing for us to be reconciled to, because it implies the renouncing of our pretensions, our power, our pomp and circumstance. It is opposite of everything our ‘religious’ sentiments are looking for.” —Jacques Ellul

Christ Connection:

Salvation is a Revelation, something God has to lead us to. Since Jesus Christ is the center-point of God, then Salvation is actually the Person Jesus Christ. But this is something only God can reveal, and through Jesus Christ. That means from beginning to end, Jesus Christ is the only one who pulls off what God wanted done with us.

The primary message of the gospel is NOT that you need to receive the gospel, but rather the gospel HAS RECEIVED YOU! The Father HAS RECEIVED YOU in Jesus Christ, by The Holy Spirit; but the good news always proclaims REPENT! When we say Jesus Christ lives IN US, we mean Jesus lives inside our human nature hence He made “human nature” capable of being able to receive that He did good for us. However the Father-Son-and-Spirit-God is NOT a substance but a relationship. God IN us means us having an INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP with God, Father, Son and Spirit!

Because Jesus is our Salvation, Salvation is a proclamation not just in Word but also in Deed.

“God came in Christ, in our place and on our behalf, to actually undo what we had done (Eph. 1:10). In that undoing, a real relationship (via the hypostatic union) between God and mankind was forged in the Son of God’s own person.”—Clarifying Our Theological Vision, by Gary Deddo

Missional Application:

Salvation is a Proclamation and that proclamation is— Repent and receive Jesus as your Salvation! Salvation as a RELATIONSHIP with Jesus Christ. It is relying on Jesus Christ. It is praying to God The Father through Jesus Christ in The Holy Spirit, and this is what we witness to others about that they may share in this relationship with us! All of humanity is encouraged to turn from what they were thinking and doing by turning to Jesus Christ! The Father calls His humanity to turn from turning away from Jesus and begin to relate with and trust Jesus in union with the Holy Spirit! God-Father-Son-and-Spirit loves and includes all of mankind in relationship with Himself through Jesus, the Son of God made human..

 “Grace is to be understood as the impartation not just of something from God but of God Himself. In Jesus Christ and in the Holy Spirit God freely gives to us in such a way that the Gift and the Giver are one and the same in the wholeness and indivisibility of His grace…”—(Thomas F. Torrance, Reality and Evangelical Theology. Westminster Press. 1981. pgs 14,15).

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Our Father’s Gift of Jesus’ Life and Death!

gods gift

Audio – Part A: 21min


Audio – Part B: 22min


Full Message:


Bible Verses:  Luke 1  Hebrews 2  Luke 2: 1-20

Theological Theme:

The primary Gift given to humanity is the most Personal Gift you could ever get. It is nothing less than the Gift of God Himself [Father, Son, and Holy Spirit] to us. That is all God really has to give us —the Gift of Himself in the Person of Jesus Christ.

Christ Connection:

The Father’s Gift of Jesus’ Life and Death is God’s greatest gift to us. He lived the life we didn’t live so that we could truly live. Jesus died the death that all of us die so that our death would truly die and remain dead.

We are to understand the gospel as Jesus being given to us by the Father so that we would have His life, the way He lived, the way He thought and acted, the way he talked and related with His Father and other people. And Jesus lived this way by the Holy Spirit, and we live a true human life by the Holy Spirit!

Missional Application:

The word of Christ that believers share with others is this — Don’t underestimate the kind of life that is available to you right now in Christ. Jesus has come now so that we can, somehow, right now, begin to receive this transformed life. We don’t have to wait! Right now we can be full of The Holy Spirit, full of the smiles and hugs of The Father even as we still die and approach our death. We still do sin, but we no longer have to be sin centered and sin focused. We repent and believe the good news and encourage everyone else to do so! May we all receive Jesus now and say as Mary said: “I am The Lord’s servant –Son or daughter– may it be done to me according to your word.”

….those who trust in Christ share in his life, death, resurrection and ascension…just as we are dead already in Jesus’ substitutionary death, we have also already been “made alive together with him” and we are “raised up together with him” and “seated together with him in the heavenly realms.” All this comes from God’s grace and is experienced through faith—the faith of Jesus that he shares with us by the Spirit….

The benefit of what Jesus did so long ago extends to the past, to the present and into the future. Paul says, “how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!”  This shows that salvation is not a one-time event, but an enduring relationship that God has with all humanity—a relationship formed within the person of Jesus Christ, who has brought God and humanity together in peace.

Jesus has not simply done something for us, he has done something with us by including us in his life, death, resurrection and ascension. —GOD: THE GOD REVEALED IN JESUS CHRIST – A BOOKLET (GCI)

What God Becoming Human Means For Us!


Part 1a: 31min


Part 1b: 33min″

Full Message:


Main Passages: Luke 2:1-20 Matthew 2:1-12

“The birth of Jesus is recorded in the Gospel of Luke and the Gospel of Matthew. Here we see the beautiful event in which God takes on human flesh and enters our world as a baby. In Luke’s telling of the story, we see that Jesus was born in humble circumstances, where the news of His birth was then announced to the marginalized of society. In Matthew’s account, we see how the arrival of the wise men demonstrates the plan of God for the gospel to go out to all the nations. As followers of Christ, we are to resemble the shepherds and the wise men—responding to Christ’s birth with extravagant praise and public testimony.” The Gospel Project

Theological Theme:

Christ’s humble birth demonstrates the nature and extent of The kingdom of God [Father, Son, and Spirit]

Christ Connection:

The birth of Jesus is the fulfillment of multiple Old Testament prophecies of the coming Messiah. The promised Messiah was born in obscurity, but after His death and resurrection, He was exalted as King of the world. In the humble circumstances surrounding Jesus’ birth, we see God’s love for all people in every nation.

Missional Application:

Like the shepherds and wise men, we should respond to Jesus, through His Holy Spirit, with extravagant praise and public testimony of His grace.

“We have not properly engaged with the nativity of Jesus until we find ourselves standing in the shoes of the shepherds and the magi. We are reminded once again that the rabbis said you have not walked long enough with someone until you realize that you are on the same journey. That journey from the obscurity of the sheep pens to that place beside the manger is a journey we must make as well. Like the shepherds, we must be drawn out of the daily drudgery of our lives and realize that the good news has been revealed even to people like you and me. At the same time, we are men and women who are unimaginably rich in contrast to the rest of the world. We have been gifted with an education that most of the people in the rest of the world could hardly dream of. Yet with all our possessions and education, we must acknowledge along with the wise men that something vital is missing. That “something” can be found nowhere else except at the feet of Jesus.” – The Gospel Project

“The global purpose of God is the glad praise of Christ among the peoples of the world.”  –David Platt


Anticipating Jesus – Our Soon Coming King!

Jesus Christ King of Kings

Part 1a: 32 min


Part 1b: 25 min


Full Message


Main Passage:  Isaiah 11:1-10

“One of the prophecies from Isaiah, written around seven hundred years before the time of Christ, was written to the Jewish people in Judah to inform them of a future King. This unlikely King from the line of David would be filled with the Spirit and would bring God’s justice and redemption to the world. In seeing Isaiah’s vision of the coming King, we understand our need for God’s salvation and the reason we are incorporated into God’s people, who exist for His mission.” – The Gospel Project

Theological Theme:
The Old Testament foretells the birth of King Jesus, sent by the Father as Jesus Revealed in the biblical New Testament.

Christ Connection:
Isaiah and many of the other prophets in the Old Testament prophesied about the coming King who will establish David’s throne forever. Jesus of Nazareth, the Father’s Son in flesh, is the King who fulfills these ancient prophecies.

Missional Application:
God The Holy Spirit calls us to anticipate the second coming of King Jesus by declaring His message of redemption and demonstrating His love in His Grace and Power.

*Picture courtesy of



Questions And Responses!

Questions and Responses

Part 1: 25min


Part 2: 25min


Full Message:


Main Passage: John 14: 6


Who and What is The Gospel? And how does knowing the Gospel help us in responses to many of our questions? In other words, How can we know where we are going? and “How can we know the way?”

Jesus responds to this question unequivocally in John 14:6 ” I am the way, the truth, and the life.”, and FOLLOWED BY…”No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will also know my Father…”

How does taking what Jesus says, seriously, help us in getting answers not only to where we’re going and the way to get there, but also to these two questions asked by members of the congregation?:

Question 1: Why do we baptize people and take the Lord’s Supper as The Church? Matthew 28: 16 – 20

Question 2: How can Jesus be God and yet not know when His Father is going to send Him back? Matthew 24: 36


*picture courtesy


The Mystery in Our Midst

“Hark the Herald Angels Sing” is one of my favorite Christmas carols, so I sing it with gusto. Sometimes my “gusto” is a little overpowering. I noticed this on Christmas Eve when I saw the gentleman sitting ahead of me sticking his finger in his right ear! I just can’t help myself. The lyrics of this carol resonate with me, especially these lines: “Hail the incarnate deity / Pleased as man with men to dwell / Jesus, our Emmanuel.”

“Emmanuel” – God with us – speaks volumes about the the blessing of Jesus’s birth, with “incarnate deity” affirming his status as fully God and fully man. “Pleased as man with men to dwell” shows the willingness, the self-emptying nature of the Son who was “pleased” to take on our frail flesh so that we might participate in the love relationship that is integral to the Triune God. These short verses from a well-known hymn reveal the heart of the Divine toward humanity.

But they don’t reveal everything. And I don’t know about you, but I like to know EVERYTHING. I like to see ten miles down the road; I like to have a plan; I like to be prepared. The story of Emmanuel doesn’t tell us everything. Like why tragedy happens in our world and innocent people suffer. Like how we are supposed to go on when we lose someone or something we love and value. Like when we will see some evidence of God’s power or healing in a world that often seems hell-bent on self-destructing.

It’s hard to live with not knowing, and our human nature makes us seek certainty and permanence, only to realize that nothing in this world is certain or permanent. Nothing, except Emmanuel, the one who was pleased to live in the midst of our suffering. Somehow we must come to terms with the mystery of God never being fully revealed, though Jesus himself says that “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (NIV, John 14:9). Author Peter Rollins says, “The point is not that the mystery of God is dissipated in the Incarnation, but that this mystery is brought into the heart of the world. The mystery is in our midst. The unknowing is here dwelling among us” (The Idolatry of God: Breaking Our Addiction to Certainty and Satisfaction).

While we can’t see ten miles down the road and we can’t have a plan or be prepared for everything, we do know that within this mystery and unknowing is a Heart that is for us, one that is present in our tragedies and unbearable losses and one that is working out healing despite the world’s chaos in ways we could never fathom. That’s the heart I sing about when I sing “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” That’s why I must belt it out with gusto (sorry, fellow singers around me!). News of the loving Mystery dwelling with us is too good not to share loudly.

~by Nan Kuhlman

Youtube video courtesy of JakeSD19

Resistance, Beauty, and Light

christmas-lights         One of my favorite Christmas traditions is outside Christmas lights, but for a number of years, I couldn’t bring myself to go out into the cold to loop lighted strands around the bushes in front of our house. Then manufacturers developed the lighted “net” that you could just drape over your bushes so the lights were evenly spaced without quite so much work. That is, unless your bush was like one of mine, shaped like an overgrown evergreen that required a number of these nets to cover. After that overgrown evergreen bush didn’t survive a particularly hard winter a few years ago, we had a rather large space left. It was then I found my perfect solution to bringing light to the dark evenings in December: a small outdoor tree with brightly colored lights. I carry that tree out to the empty space, and in an homage to the overgrown evergreen that used to occupy this spot, I plug in the tree and bask in the glow of red, blue, and green lights.

It seems simple, this bringing of light to the dark world of winter. As I look across the street, I am cheered by the Christmas lights I see my neighbors have taken the time to put out, and I see how taking time to create a beautiful array of lights is our gift to each other. The beauty of those lights resists the darkness.

This reminds me of a story I heard from the founder of a nonprofit organization called Women International ( Zainab Salbi shared the story of her visit to a war-torn country where she met with some of the women affected to find out what supplies she could bring them to help. She suggested vitamins or other practical items, but the women she visited told her to bring them lipstick, saying something like, “When the snipers look at us through their scopes, we want them to know they are shooting at a beautiful woman.” These women resisted the darkness of their situation by recognizing their beauty and doing something that would make them feel that beauty.

So many times people think that resistance must be negative. We’ve witnessed protests and the burning of effigies. We’ve read harsh words and watched disrespectful commentary. Somewhere along the line human beings lost the idea that one of the best forms of resistance is beauty and light. When we create beauty with lights outside our homes at Christmas, we are also resisting darkness. Could we recapture the notion of resisting what troubles us by creating beauty for ourselves and for others?

The very birth of Jesus is a type of resistance. Those looking for the Messiah expected a king to march in and break the rule of Rome; God Incarnate came as baby. Others thought that the birth of a king would take place within all the trappings of wealth; the Son of God was born in a stable and placed in a manger. The Father resisted complying with human assumptions about what a king should be in order to reveal himself, his grace, his love. The Son willingly emptied himself of his glory, resisting human tendencies to take honor and glory (Philippians 2:7). The Spirit moved the hearts of the shepherds and the wise men to see the beauty of this resistance, “the Light of the World” (John 8:12), and bow before it (Matthew 2:11, Luke 2:15).

Everyone knows that light dispels darkness, but the Christmas story shows how resistance can choose the way of beauty and light. It’s not always convenient or practical, and it certainly breaks the mode of fitting in with a typical human response. The tradition of decorating with lights honors that, and our challenge is to carry that same desire to create beauty and light beyond the end of December, not just for ourselves but for our neighbors and for the world.

~by Nan Kuhlman

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