by Dr. Eric Hankins, pastor
FBC, Oxford, Miss.
For years, I have loved re-reading Dylan Thomas’ “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” during this time of the year. It opens with a line so evocative of my own memories of Christmas:
“One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town corner now and out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six.”
As adults, we spend a great deal of energy trying solve the puzzle of our longing for the past, trying to recapture wholly those experiences that return to us only as a fleeting glimpse or a whisper just between our waking and sleeping. For me, these moments of “homesickness” are never more acute than at Christmas. I believe the reason for this is that these memories are uniquely imbued with the reality of my ultimate home, heaven. Christmas in a Christian home weaves the best of life (faith, hope, and love) around the deep reality of the gospel: God in Christ for us.
Thomas closes his poem with these words:
“Looking through my bedroom window, out into the moonlight and the unending smoke-colored snow, I could see the lights in the windows of all the other houses on our hill and hear the music rising from them up the long, steady falling night. I turned the gas down, I got into bed. I said some words to the close and holy darkness, and then I slept.”
It is the desire to connect to “the close and holy darkness” to which our lives are drawn, around which our memories orbit, that guides us to the solution of the puzzle of our past. The only way home is not backward, but forward, is not in the futile attempts to recreate what has disappeared, but in the faithful decision to believe and to share with others that the best is yet to come, that there is a Father, a Brother, a family, a feast, and a home prepared for us.
by J. Ben Simpson, pastor
West Main Baptist Church
Alexandria, TN 37012
One of my favorite songs to think on at Christmas is not even a Christmas song per se. I’m talking about “Come, Thou Almighty King,” which says in the first verse:
Come, thou almighty King; / Help us thy name to sing;
Help us to praise,
Father all glorious, / O’er all victorious; / Come and reign over us,
Ancient of Days!
(Listen the London Philharmonic Choir version here)
A king. That’s exactly what the world received when Jesus, God the Son, took on flesh and dwelt among us. Although He was born of a virgin, Mary, in a cattle stall far—at least in quality if not in proximity—from palaces and golden crowns, that blesséd Babe was and is the King of all creation, deserving all of our laud and life. Praise be to King Jesus!
The Apostle Paul through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit captured the Christ’s regality the following way in 1 Timothy 6:15-16:
15 …[Jesus Christ] who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.
There are many powerful people in this world with vast fortunes, massive armies, and a supercharged ego, but they pale in comparison to our King. There are indeed many kings presently and in history, but our Jesus is the King of kings. The lords of the earth are undoubtedly powerful, but our Jesus is the Lord of lords. To Him they all will bow in either glorious surrender or crushing defeat (Phi 2:9-11).
In our day of political upheaval and rising anxiety, we would be foolish to put our hope in any government or its leaders. They are all corrupt in some level because they’re all made up of thoroughly corrupt human beings. Furthermore, nations regularly rise and fall. For some, there are centuries between their rise and fall like with Rome, but for others, there are just a few decades between like we saw with the Soviet Union last century. In glorious contrast, our King has been promised by God to reign forever, “[Jesus] will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end,” (Luke 1:32-33).
Dear friends, we dare not put our hope into something that is lesser and destined to fail. There is but one Sovereign. His name is King Jesus, and He’s a blesséd Sovereign indeed. He is King of kings and Lord of Lords! It is in Him that we hope and rejoice this Christmas season, and it is to Him that we say, “Come again quickly, Thou Almighty King!”
The Gifts of the Wise Men and Our Gifts to Jesus
by Dr. Adrian Rogers
It’s that time of year again…time for gift-buying, gift-wrapping, and gift-exchanging. What are the gifts we could bring Jesus this Christmas? One way we can discover that is to look at Matthew 2:1-12, which tells of the gifts the wise men brought Him on the night when God became flesh and dwelt among us. Continue reading