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Advent 2018 – Monday, December 17


Do you remember the pure wonderment and joy of Christmas as a young child? The unmitigated magic of Christmas that made you wake up your parents at 4:00 AM to tear open presents because your once-a-year incredible happiness could not wait? Why can’t you feel that same energetic joy anymore? Is there a void in your life since you lost the “magic?”

I have many excuses: It’s a busy and stressful time of year. I have many bills and obligations to pay. I have all sorts of this-and-that which must be done before Christmas!

Christians in the Western world have a tendency to rank “sin” in degrees of severity. I have not remotely overcome this problem in my life, but the definition of “sin,” for me, has become “anything that keeps me from growing a closer relationship with God.” Who do you know who is feeling lonely, marginalized, and abandoned this Christmas? Who has faced physical or psychological obstacles in their life this past year? Who do you know who doesn’t have “faith” who you could be praying for? I confess, I often miss obvious opportunities right in front of my eyes….

The shame and honor culture of Jesus’ day hedged bets on their children’s “value” by waiting to adopt them according to how influential and successful they became—and, therefore, how much they “honored” their family. In Matthew 10, Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.”

Can you still feel the joy you felt as a child on Christmas morning after years of secular ridicule and skepticism? My prayer for myself, my family, Dillon Community Church, and the people of faith (or no faith at all) who may be reading this is: “Merry Christmas to you and your family. May the glory and grace of God bring meaningful peace, rest, and restoration to you this Christmas and into the New Year; may we all receive Christ-like love into our hearts as we move into 2019.” For Polar Express fans, can you still hear the bell? It exists, just not the way you originally thought…. Merry Christmas.

Bruce Butler, elder