Treasure In Earthen Vessels

Discovering the Indwelling Holy Spirit

Don’t Miss the “Come” of Christmas December 20, 2013

Christmas is upon us once again, and by our very traditions we will come to the manger for a fresh look at Baby Jesus. We will come to view or perhaps participate in musicals, plays, and programs in myriad types of pageantry and merriment. Regardless of their content, they all serve one purpose—to remind us to come and celebrate the Reason for the season.

 

I love the word “come.” It is a word of invitation and welcome. It speaks to our longing hearts: “You are wanted!” Who doesn’t remember the cherished sound of Mamma calling us to “Come to dinner,” or the joy of friends saying “Come to see us,” or how good it feels when someone invites us to “Come to church on Sunday?” In short, a hearty “Ya’ll come” makes one feel warm all over.

 

The word come is also used to compel us to do something when there is good reason to do it. A little coaxing might be the better way to describe it. We reach out our hands to a toddler and compelled him or her to “Come to me.” Ah yes, come is a good word!

 

It is simply impossible to have Christmas without the joyful sound of “O Come, All Ye Faithful.” Who doesn’t love to join in the familiar chorus: “O come, let us adore Him; O come, let us adore Him; O come, let us adore Him; Christ the Lord!” This best-loved hymn by John F. Wade truly compels us to come and worship our Christ.

 

However we celebrate Christmas this year, we must not miss the come of Christmas. It is tucked within that miraculous Gift given to us by God. And what a Gift it is! The Creator clothed Himself in humanity so He could save us. The magnitude of the humility of God on our behalf is baffling. Why did He do it?

 

We can find the answer in the come of Christmas, if we will but look closely at the God-child. We think it doesn’t make sense—born to poor and lowly parents, a manger in lieu of a royal cradle, and some very strange onlookers. What was God thinking? Yet, from that humble setting, we can easily hear God’s come: “You—young or old, rich or poor, black or white, educated or uneducated—are welcome here.” There in the cold, dark surroundings of Bethlehem’s mystery, God invites us to “Come, see what I have given you. Come, gaze at incarnate flesh. Come, join the angelic celebration. I want you this much!”

 

We feel the warmth of God’s come in the age-old story that compels us to believe in the virgin birth, the boy Jesus, the carpenter turned preacher, the miracle-worker, the dying Savior, and the resurrected Lord. It compels us not only to come to the manger, but to come to the cross where we can receive salvation. This Christmas, may we linger long enough at that manger to hear Jesus say, “Come to me, all of you….”

 

Wherever you find yourself this Christmas of 2013, I wish you all of the blessings that family and traditions have to offer. And whatever you do—don’t miss the come of Christmas!

 

O Come, let us adore Him! ~ Janie Kellogg

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Our Non-traditional Thanksgiving Traditions December 2, 2013

Filed under: Holidays — Janie Kellogg @ 8:43 pm
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On Thanksgiving Day, American families gathered together all across this great and diverse nation to share a meal and give tribute to the One who ultimately provided it. That is simply what we do on this day.

 

 

Like other American families, my family has our own Thanksgiving traditions. They are, however, what you might call non-traditional traditions. For more than 30 years, we have celebrated in a unique and personal style in setting, food, and dress.

 

 

When asked by strangers how my family celebrates Thanksgiving, I often struggle for words to explain what it is that we actually do. My story is generally met with amusement: “What! No turkey, no dressing, no cranberry sauce!”

 

 

It is true nonetheless.  Five generations of non-traditionalists converge on the side of a mountain at a deer-hunters cabin in the pine-covered mountains of Southeast Oklahoma. We arrive on ATVs, Jeeps, and 4-wheel drive vehicles to share in the family fun on this day. We come decked out in camouflage and denim, and everyone who can grow a beard has one. The cabin’s open fireplace assures that everyone and everything will soon smell of smoke.

 

 

The food menu hasn’t changed in 33 years—venison, wild turkey, mashed potatoes, beans and cornbread—cooked by the hunters who have camped there for the entire week of deer season. Over the years the menu has grown to include a few traditional side items brought by those who don’t appreciate the non-traditional cuisine (like me); but regardless of what tops the home-built table covered with an orange Oklahoma State University Pistol Pete tablecloth, no one leaves hungry.

 

 

When my pastor-son was asked to bless the food, an immediate hush fell across the room. Whether it was kids running to and fro, age-old stories being told and retold, or last minute efforts to put the food on the table, it all ceased for the Thanksgiving prayer. I won’t soon forget my son’s words—they were a testimony of who we are.

 

 

In his prayer, my son gave thanks to God for all who had gathered there and for His many blessings to our family during the year. Then he said, “I thank You that someone in this family made the decision many years ago to live godly….” He finished his prayer, but my mind lingered long on the thought, “made the decision to live godly.”

 

 

This family was truly blessed to have godly grandparents who blazed the trail before us. They have long departed to heaven, and through the years other family members have joined them there as well. Yet every Thanksgiving, we meet once again to cherish those we can still hug, lavish love on the newest among us, and to remember those who left us this godly heritage.

 

 

So what does “live godly” mean anyway? Oh, don’t get me wrong—we are not a perfect family—by any stretch of the imagination. We have our faults, our failures, our sins, and our wounds. Being godly doesn’t mean that we haven’t sinned; it means that we know the Savior who takes away the sin of the world.1 It doesn’t mean that we haven’t made mistakes; it means that we trust in the blood of the Lamb that washes white as snow.2

 

 

Deciding to live godly simply means choosing to be like God

We choose to extend grace to undeserving people, because God extended grace to us when we were undeserving.

We choose to forgive those who have hurt us, because God forgave us when we were guilty of hurting others.

We choose to love the unlovable in the world, because God loved us when we were unlovely.

 

 

Perfect people—not by a long shot! But we are people who live by our faith in the God who forgives,3 whose mercies are new every morning,4 and who has promised to take us to heaven when we die.5

 

 

At the end of the day, a group of full and happy family members who smelled of smoke gathered into a huddle for the annual photo shoot. There we stood—five generations of imperfect godly people enjoying our non-traditional Thanksgiving traditions.  ~Janie Kellogg

 

1John 1:29; 2Isaiah 1:18; 31 John 1:9; 4Lamentations 3:23; 5John 14:2-3