I like two kinds of coffee.
Officially, they're both "coffee." But in reality they're so dissimilar, they're like two entirely different things.
One is coffee with flavored cream and sugar. It's a luxurious, desserty kind of thing. The other is coffee black and strong. This drink is bare, sharp, essential. There's nothing desserty about it.
Both start in the same place - made from the same beans and the same water in the same pot. It's what's added afterward that makes the difference.
I call coffee-with-stuff-in-it "coffee drink".
Black coffee I just call "coffee".
Having different names helps me keep mental track of them.
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I used to think I was a little schizophrenic when it comes to Christmas. On one hand I really enjoy the whole Christmas deal - the lights, the music, the trees, and yes even the gifts. But there's also a part of me that began to feel a little guilty about all the distracting hubbub after I became a Christian. I mean, really, where is Jesus in all that stuff?
And so, to save myself from an early insanity I decided that, like coffee, there must be two kinds of Christmas.
Officially, they're both "Christmas." But they really are two entirely different things.
Christmas-with-stuff-in-it is a luxurious, desserty celebration.
But there's another kind of Christmas that's just as real, yet intensely more bare, sharp & essential.
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This year I propose we enjoy "Christmas" to the full. See, smell, hear, feel and taste everything Christmasy you can. Get everything out of it that hundreds of years of tradition have put into it. And don't even compromise the experience (or belittle God Almighty) by trying to stick Jesus in next to the Tree, between Santa & Rudolph.
But then, when the day arrives, celebrate another Christmas - a Christmas that the world around you doesn't know about or care for.
Both Jewish and Christian tradition have always called especially holy days, "feasts".
So, I suggest that this year we take a moment out of celebrating Christmas-as-the-world-does-it to celebrate something different, the "Feast of the Incarnation".
This Feast will be a time set apart to fully appreciate the fact that the Eternal God became a human being with only one purpose - to tear us away from sin & death and pull us close to Him. It will be a quiet celebration, maybe at church or in a room by yourself alone with the Lord. It will probably be more an act of joyful worship than a celebration in the normal sense.
And to get you started, here's a text for this day:
In the very beginning, Jesus Christ already was.
From the very beginning Jesus Christ was God.
Through Him all things were made, and in Him was Life.
But there came a time when Jesus Christ became a human man.
And He lived with us.
And we saw His glory.
And His light has taken away our darkness, and His life has delivered us from death.
(John 1:1~17 - paraphrased)
Merry Christmas to you all.
And many blessings on this Feast of the Incarnation.