The story of the birth of Christ is recorded in both Matthew and Luke. Both stories are beautiful in their own right, but recently the passage in Matthew (1:18-24) has especially caught my attention. I would invite you to grab your Bible and read this story once again. As you do, please notice how the message unfolds with key words, each of which begin with the letter P:...
I have known Mike Platten, who is a Christian professional magician, for years and have enjoyed watching him perform and share his testimony on several occasions. Recently he shared his gifts both in public worship and for the children's Christmas party at the 1st United Methodist Church in Sapulpa. As Mike began his performance, he made it clear that the "magic" he performed was just a "trick" based on illusion, and that the only one who could truly perform miracles was Jesus Christ. He brought his point home in an effective way by doing a card trick featuring the "king of hearts" and reminded the audience that we need to remember, this Christmas, that Christ came into the world to be the King of our heart. But it was his statement, "Jesus is the only one who performs true miracles" that caught my attention. It reminded me of the wonderful miracle that we know of as Christmas...
For years I have been impressed with the work of the Salvation Army. The merging of personal salvation with social acts of charity have long been their style. Every Christmas I am reminded of the dedication of these Army workers as I sometimes see them in extremely cold weather, ringing their bells and collecting money for the needy. But the scene I saw this year caught my attention in still another way: It was a mom and her two young children working together to bless others. Their example made clear the lesson that giving and serving is not just something that adults are called to do; rather, it is something we, as families, can do together..
It is very common this time of year for families, churches, shopping malls, (and even some businesses) to decorate in ways that lift up the Christmas season. The light displays throughout the Tulsa and surrounding area spectacular. Christmas trees and manger scenes can be easily found. (Pictured above is a display that was set up by the Passages Sunday School class of the 1st UMC of Sapulpa). But the value of these displays does not come from a simple casual glance; rather the value is found in a pause coupled with reflection...
Every year, at this time, the beloved Dr Seuss classic, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, can be found on one of our local or cable stations. It is a humorous story and one which provides a wonderful lesson for children young and old. But the fact is, there are real "grinches" who steal Christmas from many, each and every year. Some of theses grinches have been around since the birth of Christ.
I recently learned that our local Presbyterian Church (1st Presbyterian of Sapulpa) was offering a Blue Christmas service for families during Advent. Some may ask, "Why would they do that? Isn't Christmas a season for celebration and joy? Who would attend a "blue" Christmas service?" Well the fact is many will (or should) attend.
Dr. Allen Schneider is a United Methodist pastor and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist presently serving the Sapulpa and greater Tulsa communities.