Thinking about the Magi

Nathan's balloon for 3 Kings' DayHave you ever thought much about the Magi? They were some pretty interesting characters in the Biblical account of the birth of Christ.

If Herod was really as disturbed as it seems according to Matthew 2, they must have caused quite a stir.

Although traditionally we talk of three wise men, there were probably more. They could have been part of a giant caravan of people traveling through Jerusalem, chasing a strange star. If you have ever taken a group of teenagers on a road trip, you know how much of a hassle it can be to travel in a large group.

Imagine how the palace guard treated this caravan. They probably didn’t receive them with the warm cookies and milk. The Magi might have been lucky to escape with their lives. You just don’t go around asking for the “new” king without causing problems in the current king’s regime.

But these guys had their eyes open and were in tune with God. Herod didn’t have a clue that Jesus had been born until these strangers told him. The Magi, however, had taken the risk to meet the new King. They had ventured into a far away land so they could get a glimpse of what God was doing through the Messiah. And it all happened because they were paying attention to God.

You and I need to have our eyes open and our ears in tune with what God is doing. I don’t want someone showing up on my doorstep because they have seen Him working and I missed it. I want to be paying attention when He is doing something in this world.

Christmas Day 2008

Christmas Day 2008

This Christmas was a lot better than last Christmas. Last year, Nathan was so sick for Christmas that he couldn’t hardly open his presents. This year, however, we got to wake up and have some family time before the craziness of the day.

He got lots of cool toys, including a Leapster (a kids’ educational video game system), some moon sand, a Bullseye horse and from the movie Toy Story (and a Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head set), the game “Ants in Your Pants,” and other things.

We traveled home specifically to spend Ben’s first Christmas with our family (even though my sister lives in Las Vegas…miss you Christy). Since he’s only 5 months old, his presents were basically rattles and some clothes. But he liked them, I think.

Overall, it was a good day, especially for the kids.

Here are a few video slideshows from the day:

Pictures from the camera:

Pictures from my iPhone:

You can also see our flickr set from Christmas 2008.

Christmas Contrasts

Christmas Contrasts

I love Christmas Eve. In fact, I think I enjoy Christmas Eve more than Christmas day. I spend a lot of time on Christmas Eve before the rush of family reflecting on the reason for Christmas.

Today, I got to thinking about the contrasts that existed on that first Christmas when Jesus was born. A few things stand out as powerful contrasts in the Christmas narrative.

  • The purest of all was born in a dirty stable. Imagine how disgusting that stable was. The innkeeper had to be so busy with the travelers that he had little time to take care of the animals. If each family parked their donkey in there, there had to be a lot of animals in there. And if the animals had been walking along the dusty roads, imagine how dirty they had been. But in that filth, pure baby Jesus was born.
  • The most powerful was made powerless. I can’t think of many things more helpless than a newborn baby. But God Almighty became the most powerless creature in the world.
  • The one who owns everything now had nothing. According to the Biblical account, Mary and Joseph were a poor family. Newlyweds are almost always poor, but they had their baby with nothing.
  • The one who sustains everything couldn’t even hold his head up. The hand of Jesus sustains everything, but a little baby is so helpless, powerless, and weak that he can’t even hold up his head. Babies don’t even control their own body, let alone the universe.
  • The independent, self existing One now was dependent on others. The “I Am” who depends on nothing was now dependent on human hands to feed Him, change his diapers, and care for Him for everything.
  • The Creator became creation. Jesus, who was there in the beginning and participated in creation, was now part of that creation.
  • The light of the world came into the darkness. The world was a dark place. The people of Israel had gone a long time without hearing from God. And in walked the Light of the World.
  • Deity became humanity. The one and only God who created and ruled everything became finite. Jesus put away equality with God and became like us, with all the problems that being human brings with it.
  • The author and giver of life became vulnerable to death. And He was killed 33 years later. But, of course, God raised Him up and exalted Him higher than all others.

These things will take me more than a lifetime or more to comprehend, but they are all things that I’m thinking about this Christmas. I hope you have a great Christmas, and I pray that these contrasts can draw you closer to the person of Jesus.

I’m contemplating Philippians 2:5-9 this Christmas and the contrasts that it brings.

(Image by c.a. muller on flickr)

The Wonder of Christmas

The Wonder of Christmas

I love Christmas! It’s definitely my favorite time of the year. I love everything that comes with the Christmas season. I love both the secular and the sacred parts of Christmas.

We recently took the boys to get their pictures taken with Santa Claus. In Mexico, it seems as though the malls compete with each other to see who can have the best Christmas display. The one we took the boys to had a little area where the kids could write their letter to Santa and then stick it in the mailbox for him.

I love the look of wonder and excitement (and hope) on Nathan’s face as we do all of this stuff. Christmas is a wonderful time. Wonder-Full, or full of wonder. It’s because a long time ago, baby Jesus came to save the world. I’m filled with wonder as I contemplate all that this celebration entails.

Writing a letter to Santa Mailing our letter to Santa

One of my favorite bands, Third Day, sings a song called “Christmas Like a Child.” The lyrics go like this:

I want to feel Christmas, how it used to be
With all of its wonder falling on me
This season has felt so empty, oh for quite a while
I want to feel Christmas like a child

I want to see snowflakes fall to the ground
My brothers and sisters all gathered around
Singing “Away In A Manager” as we sit by the fire
I want to feel Christmas like a child

It’s been so long now, I can’t say
Just when I lost my way
But I’m going back to how it was
When this day meant everything
And we spent our time remembering
The baby Child born for us

It’s all about Jesus, asleep in the straw
This infant, this King, this Savior for all

So I don’t need bells to be ringing
‘Cause I’ll join with angels singing Gloria
And I can feel Christmas like a child
I want to feel Christmas like a child…

I pray that your Christmas will be filled with wonder and that you can experience it like a child, with all of the excitement and joy that comes with it.