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The Heart And Soul of Christmas

Christmas Jesus, Savior Incarnation

Contributed By: Charles Krieg | Date Posted: 2018-12-29

Scripture: Luke 2:12 ; John 1:14

Author: Charles Krieg
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ILLUSTRATION

I have many happy memories of taking my Mom to Manhattan at Christmas time to look at the department store windows.  I will never forget the windows one store had one year. The first window had a scroll which read, "The Smell of Christmas is in the Kitchen." The scene was an old-fashioned kitchen with a black stove and food cooking on it.

The second window was titled, "The Taste of Christmas is in the Dining Room." There was a long table laden with mouth-watering food.

The third window showed a beautiful tree decorated with ornaments and lights, little toys and popcorn strings. The scroll read, "The Color of Christmas is in the Tree."

The fourth window scroll said, "The Sound of Christmas is in the Carols." This scene was a group of animated figures singing Christmas carols.

Then came the store's main entrance. I noticed that, after passing those windows, most people went into the store to do Christmas shopping.  However, if you ignored the entrance and kept on going, you would have seen one more window. The scroll in this window proclaimed: "But the Heart and Soul of Christmas is Here!" In this window was a stable with shepherds, wise men, Joseph, Mary, and the baby Jesus lying in a manger. 

APPLICATION

A lot of people miss the true meaning of Christmas. They get so caught up in the shopping, the food, the decorations, and the gifts, that they fail to see the heart and soul of Christmas: The story of the babe in the manger, of God with us!

"And this will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger" (Luke 2:12). 

Changed By The Arrival Of A Child

Christmas Incarnation Jesus, Savior

Source: The Luck of Roaring Camp by Bret Harte

Link to Source: Click here to view source

Contributed By: Howard Harden | Date Posted: 2018-01-24

Scripture: 1 John 4:19

Author: Howard Harden
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ILLUSTRATION

In1868, Bret Harte wrote a short story called “The Luck of Roaring Camp.” It turned Mr. Harte into an internationally known writer. The story was written about a mining town in California called Roaring Camp. The only woman in the town was a Cherokee named Sal. She became pregnant but died while giving birth to a son. This left a baby in a town full of single men. Not just men, but rough, tough, rude, crude men of the WILD west. What are THEY going to do with a baby?

The child was thought to be a sign of good fortune so they gave him the name Thomas Luck. They put him in a dirty box, wrapped in dirty clothes. But that didn’t look right, so they ordered a rosewood cradle with satin sheets and a soft pillow. The best room they had was filthy, so these men got on their knees and cleaned the floors and the walls. Then they decided that if they were going to take care of a baby, they needed to start using soap. They needed to wash their hands and bath more often. And then they said, “Maybe we don’t need to be gambling so much. Maybe we don’t need to be fighting so much. Maybe we don’t need to be drinking so much. And as the story progresses, the entire town of Roaring Camp was transformed by the arrival of a single baby boy.

APPLICATION

Two thousand years ago, the entire world was transformed by the arrival of a baby boy, only this baby boy was the Son of God. And because of Jesus’ birth, everything is different!  He has made a whole new way of life possible. We can know salvation and peace and hope and love and joy through Him. Because He loves us, we can learn to love others by His example. 

"We love because he first loved us" (1 John 4:19). 

Seeing the Big Picture

Christmas Worldview Incarnation

Source: "Is Social Media Disconnecting Us From the Big Picture?" by Jenna Worthan, published NOV. 22, 2016, The New York Times

Link to Source: Click here to view source

Contributed By: Shawn Nichols | Date Posted: 2016-12-04

Scripture: Luke 2:7

Author: Shawn Nichols / Illustration Exchange
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ILLUSTRATION

Jenna Wortham, a staff writer for the New York Times, asked herself a penetrating question as she worked through her surprise of the recent presidential election results. "Is social media disconnecting us from the big picture?"

Ms. Worthan was surprised at the results, and even more surprised that she was surprised. Astute to politics, she didn’t understand why she didn’t see the end results more clearly before they happened.

Then it hit her – social media. She had worked hard over the last several years to customize her preferences. The Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram algorithms did their job and filtered out all the news and feeds that were outside her circles. To her, it appeared that the results would be clear – but they were not.

She points to an ever-growing trend happening in America to filter our experiences based on our preferences, only to find that our perspectives become isolated from challenge or expansion. We don't see the "truth," but rather a filtered edition, our own version of the truth.

APPLICATION

We haven't just insulated ourselves from political messages, as in this raucous 2016 election. Rather, we've taken to insulating ourselves on every level.

Take the Christmas story, for example. These days, at Christmastime, we have Instagram churches telling Instagram stories of an Instagram Jesus in an Instagram manger.

But the picture is bigger than that. Just outside the frame of the filtered stories we tell, are the realities of sinful men, a gruesome death on a cross, and a gospel that reaches into the gutter of where men live. This is the unfiltered story of the incarnation. This is the real story of Christmas.

"She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them" (Luke 2:7, NLT). 

The Return Customer

Hospitality Witness Incarnation

Contributed By: James Miller | Date Posted: 2015-05-11

Scripture: Matthew 5:16

Author: Roger Dow / Susan Cook
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We All Need Words

Words (Power of) Incarnation Salvation

Contributed By: Thomas Bevers | Date Posted: 2015-01-15

Scripture: John 1:1 ; John 1:14

Author: Thomas Bevers
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A Handwritten Thank You

Priorities Technology Incarnation

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2014-12-06

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 4:9

Author: 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair Poll / Illustration Exchang
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ISIS Destroying the Language of Jesus

Incarnation Love (Divine) Persecution

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2014-09-10

Scripture: Romans 12:21 ; Psalms 118:1

Author: Illustration Exchange
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A Dictator's Ego

Incarnation Pride Servanthood

Contributed By: James Miller | Date Posted: 2014-08-15

Scripture: Philippians 2:3 ; Mark 10:45

Author: Robert Waite / Illustration Exchange
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From Shadows To Substance

Joy Incarnation Communion

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2014-08-09

Author: Jonathan Edwards / Illustration Exchange
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The Word Became Flesh

Incarnation Apostasy Deceived/Deception

Contributed By: John Reed | Date Posted: 2014-07-10

Scripture: Matthew 7:15

Author: Karl Barth
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