Mr. Christmas

JesusAndChildren

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr. Christmas

With a chuckle in his tummy
And a smile upon his face,
He pulled them to his knee
‘Sat them gently into place.

He spoke to them of happiness
And joys too much to tell.
He laughed at wide-eyed innocence,
And voices clear as bells.

He spoke to them of coming
On a very special day,
And answered whispered questions like,
“You’re sure you know the way?”

That He loves little children,
For all it’s plain to see.
It is written in His Word,
“Let them come to Me.”

Maston E. Jackson
1992  © All Rights Reserved

Because of Sons

Photo courtesy of iStockPhoto/aimintang

The following post was written on Christmas morning, 2010, in Killeen, Texas.

I awakened this Christmas morning in an inn. Never did I imagine that I would spend Christmas Eve and Christmas morning in an inn. Remembering fondly the births of my three children, I recall that I did not spend that time lodging in an inn. Yet in spite of the comfortable surroundings built into these modern homes away from home, there is still a sense of being unsettled.

I am here because of my son. The United States Army operates on a schedule that does not alter for anything except the worst of disaster. My son is scheduled for duty in such a way that it would be impossible for him to travel home to be with our family. Therefore, we have brought the family to him.

Irritation with the inflexible Roman government was likely the source of much grumbling and criticism as travelers compelled by the world wide taxation, made their way to ancestral hometowns. Feet moved one in front of the other on dusty roads. Children were alternately energetic, then hungry, then tired. Old men grumbled their criticism of the government, unnecessary hardships, and those infernal taxes. Families found themselves displaced in order to accomplish the whims of a tyrant. Schedules were interrupted, livelihoods were put on hold, and pregnant women were forced into nightmarish scenarios.

It is doubtful that Joseph and his bride traveled toward Bethlehem alone. Jacob, Joseph’s dad, was also of the house and lineage of David. One thing is for sure, there were enough travelers making their way back to the City of David that the local inns filled to capacity. There would be no maid service nor breakfast bar; not even a cup of coffee. A place where animals were kept seemed to be the most practical spot to take refuge. As Joseph contemplated his situation, I wonder if he didn’t shake his head and say, “Never did I imagine that I would experience the birth of this special child in such a place as this.”

What he could not have known at the time was this: he was here because of his son. God had established the when and the where of this birth and brought the family to this place, in this time. Emmanuel was scheduled for duty. The heavenly Father had a plan in response to the greatest disaster of all time. His son was born to die and in the process, save His people from their sins.

I’m spending Christmas in an inn. Joseph couldn’t find one for his pregnant wife. I slept in a bed. He slept wherever he could. We are here because of our sons.

A Wise Celebration: The Christ of Christmas

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.com/DaydreamsGirl

That Jesus Christ was born in the manner described in scripture is an inescapable conclusion, but is it an event that we should commemorate? The assertion by some that we should refrain from celebrating His birth, especially a Christmas observance, is an opinion with little basis in God’s word. As a matter of fact, rejecting the idea is itself out of line with scripture.

Angels, shepherds, the Magi, and even the Creator himself marked the event with much fanfare. Shepherds were invited by angels to attend the birth celebration. An angelic praise fest and a new star cannot be considered minimal or inconsequential. In short, a celebration with attendees from heaven and earth most certainly did occur at God’s behest.

So, how does the absence of a Biblical command to celebrate the birth of the Savior equate the prohibition of the same?

To discourage or even prohibit a memorial celebration of this magnitude, based upon anything other than a “thus saith the LORD” violates the very guideline that I was taught in my childhood. “Speak where the Bible speaks, be silent where the Bible is silent”, was the mantra that I heard early and often. However, this was not the only reason cited. The Christmas observance was not a part of the first century tradition, on which grounds some would reject it. The argument that it should be avoided because we cannot know if it is the actual date, has no precedent in the pages of scripture but emanates from the rationale of man. So likewise does the argument that it may be “denominational” in nature.

To reject a memorial celebration of the birth of Christ as being “unscriptural” is in itself an unscriptural position. There is no “thus saith the Lord” on the issue. The resulting doctrinal position espoused by those who apply this approach is, from a practical perspective, likely to be applied as firmly as a “thus saith the Lord.” This in itself violates the principle of “be silent where the Bible is silent.” To reject upon the grounds of “denominationalism” is also the establishment of a doctrinal position void of specific scriptural support. Scripture either speaks or it does not. 

Students of the stars saw THE star which called their attention to the birth of the King of kings. They made their way to the child born in Bethlehem. The modern approach to Christmas is man-made to be sure, but it is the one season when men are openly reminded of the birth of a Savior. The star may have indicated where the child lay, but it also fired the starter’s pistol which moved pagan men to find Christ. Maybe if we spent more time using the celebration of Christmas as an opportunity to meet at the manger, we might just lead a few to the cross.

Criticize it if you want, but scripture is clear; “he that winneth souls is wise.” To reject a globally recognized opportunity to call all men to Jesus on the basis of arguments so intrinsically unscriptural, is anything BUT wise.

By the way, if you insist on rejecting the celebration of Christ’s birth, stop with the gifts and any observance of the holiday. It presents a bit of a hypocritical problem to indulge in the celebration of the season but completely reject the historical significance.

He Never Looked Back

He never looked back.  He hugged his mother and me, told us he loved us, and walked from the car into sacrificial service without so much as a hesitation.  I, on the other hand stood gazing after him, wishing that someone would spring from behind a bush and announce, “You’re on TV’s Bloopers and Practical Jokes!”  No such luck.  That little boy who bounced through childhood like Tigger is now a hulking young man with a cocky, powerful stride, yet still possessed of a tender, compassionate heart.  In nine weeks the Army would leave its imprint on him.

Just six months later, my wife and I endured the same scene again.  Like some recurring nightmare we watched the broad back and powerful shoulders of my eldest son walk down the same path.  Their destinations would be different; Iraq and Afghanistan.  Their experiences; as far apart as the headwaters of the Tigris and Arghandab Rivers, yet each marched forward without so much as a glance to the rear.

I know that I am not the first dad to endure this life changing event.  I walked down this well worn path with my friend Russ not long ago.  His son, at the time, was counting down the final days of an enlistment in the U.S. Marine Corps.  I knelt in prayer with him as Rusty left for Iraq. I rejoiced with him when Rusty came home safe and sound.  He assured me that he would in turn, walk that path with me.

The imprint on His son would be lasting.  Thirty years of woodworking would certainly leave a carpenter’s hands calloused and scarred.  Yet his touch was tender enough to comfort even the smallest child.  That young carpenter, whose birth caused angels to sing, now knelt in acute agony.  In that prayer of complete surrender, he made certain of the Father’s will.  He strode from the garden through the narrow corridors of a torturous night, arriving at Calvary bruised, bloody, and condemned.  He was scarred one last time; for me.

Oh what private pain must have pierced the Father’s heart as the hour of separation loomed near!  What indescribable anguish must have gripped Him who judges sin, upon seeing His son become the subject of judgment!  In that moment of selfless sacrifice, God’s own son embraced the cross.  He cried out at the stab of alienation from His Father.  He became my Savior.  From the manger in Bethlehem to the place of the skull, not once did he ever hesitate; he never looked back.

Basic Training

Our children were reared in a setting that made regular changes of residence almost obligatory. It is difficult for a child to build lasting relationships when the friends they make today are waving in the rear view mirror tomorrow. For that reason, Donna and I were purposeful in knitting close family ties between ourselves and our children.

While my wife and I were dreading the departure of our son into military service, we were blessed to be present for an exchange we shall never forget. Our daughter, who was struggling much more than either of us realized, found a way to touch her brother’s heart. She accomplished it without any danger of retaliation or retort.

She found an edition of scripture produced especially for Army personnel. Its green leather cover bore his name imprinted in beautiful gold letters, beneath the seal of the U.S. Army. Inside she had highlighted an assortment of verses. The pale blues and yellows illuminated the favorite passages of many of his friends. As he silently leafed through the gossamer pages, occasionally stopping to read marked verses, she told him,

“I have the list of verses from your friends. I will be reading those verses with you while you are gone.”

It was all that I could do to avoid falling to pieces.

In that moment I knew that Donna and I had accomplished our mission. Our children love each other and they have each experienced the love of the Lord. Though we will not be present for many of the battles they will face, we know that they each have been through basic training and have completed it successfully.