“Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year” as the song goes. However, it is also the busiest time of the year. But I would say, Christmas is still my favorite time of the year. After all it is the season and time to celebrate and remember that our Lord Jesus came to earth as a Baby. He left His heavenly kingdom to come to earth as a helpless baby so He could live with us and become like one of us. Just imagine – the love of God came down from heaven to earth to save us. Matthew 1:21 says, “she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
As already mentioned, sometimes Christmas can be the busiest time of the year. It’s only today, New Year’s Eve, that I took time to sit and write this reflection. Better late than never! 😊 Like some of you, we keep our ornaments up for a week or so after Christmas Day. In my native country of the Philippines, we continue to celebrate Christmas until Epiphany/Three Kings’ Day (usually the first Sunday in January). As we prepare to undecorate and pack up the ornaments, I would like to take time to reflect on the real meaning of this Christmas season. In a day or two, our Christmas decorations will be folded up and packed away.
Actually, this year, we decided to have a real/live tree as opposed to the small/artificial pre-lit Christmas tree that we have used for several years. Our real/live Christmas tree is a small fir tree, only about 4 feet tall. However, each of the ornaments hanging on the branches of our fir tree represents some fun memories and precious people. It is almost like going down “memory lane.”
This ornament (photo above) is more than 50 years old! David made this little ornament when he was in kindergarten. His mom kept it all those years. It is a small bell, made from an egg carton.
Others are little bamboo ornaments from David’s time in Saipan.
Then, there is a little glass ball with the inscription “Saipan” on it. This is where David spent 18 years serving as a missionary engineer for FEBC Shortwave station.
Another is a flat bell with the inscription “The Creels – 1978” from David’s parents, a gift from church members when they were serving in the United Methodist church.
Then, there is an “Alaska” souvenir from David’s sister and her husband from their trip to Alaska in 2017.
Next, there is an “I believe” star ornament from our Church Sunday school Christmas party from a couple of years ago, along with other ornaments from the previous 5 years of Christmas parties.
Others are ornaments given by friends and neighbors through the years.
One of my favorites is a “Bethlehem” olive wood nativity scene. We acquired this ornament at the annual “Homestead Hollow” event in Springville, Alabama a few months ago.
For me, this ornament represents the simplicity and true meaning of Christmas – Mary and Joseph with Baby Jesus on the night when the God came down from heaven to earth. From eternity, He stepped into humanity.
As we all fold and pack up our Christmas trees and other ornaments, may the true meaning and spirit of Christmas remain in our hearts. Let’s remember in this Christmas season, throughout the coming year of 2020, and always that Jesus is still the “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6) since “Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)
The past few weeks, David started a Bible study on the Epistle of Philippians (New Testament) in our church on Wednesday evenings.
Here is the note for the introduction for the lesson: (Please see attachments for the study guides for each chapter in PDF).
- Author: The Apostle Paul
- Setting: Written from a prison in Rome, around 60-62 A.D.
- Occasion: Paul was in prison in Rome… about ten years after he had founded the Church in Philippi, and about 3-4 years after he had last visited there. Apparently (4: 10), he had begun to wonder if they had forgotten him. Then Epaphroditus arrived from far away Philippi with an offering of money. Paul was deeply touched. Epaphroditus had nearly lost his life in the journey. Paul sent him to Philippi with this beautiful letter to express his thanks for their gift.
- Key Text: Philippians 3:10 “My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.”
- Key Term: “Joy.” Forms of the word “joy” and the verb “rejoice” occur 16 times in this short letter. Philippians is the biblical book that most extensively defines and describes joy.
- One-Sentence Summary: Knowing Jesus Christ is much more joyful and important than anything else because God has exalted Jesus, the crucified Servant, with the name above every name.
- Named for Philip Il of Macedon (father of Alexander the Great).
- In Paul’s day, it was a Roman colony located at the southeast corner of Europe in “Macedonia” in Biblical days; now in the northeastern part of modern-day Greece.
- It was a strategic city on the Great Northern Highway between the East and the West, noted for its gold mines.
- This was Paul’s first European Church, founded around 51 A.D. in the early part of Paul’s second missionary journey. Lydia and the Jailer were among the first converts. Luke, the beloved Physician, was its pastor the first 6 years. It may have been Luke’s home, where he practiced medicine. Luke must have had a hand in the development of the unspotted character of the Church. As far as we know, the Philippian Church was one of the purest of New Testament Churches. For more on the background of the founding of the Church at Philippi, see Acts 16:6-40.
- Read Acts 16:6-40 and look at its location on the map.
- Look at the ancient Philippi archaeological book.
- The Jeremiah Study Bible” by Dr. David Jeremiah
- “Halley’s Bible Handbook” by H.H. Halley
- “Ultimate Bible Guide: A Complete Walk-Through of All 66 Books of the Bible” from Holman Reference
Attached study guides for Philippians 1, 2, 3 & 4