When my daughter was a preschooler she was accustomed to having a nightlight burning in her room at night when she slept. There is a measure of comfort to know that the light is burning. Occasionally the bulb in the nightlight would burn out. For my daughter it was a frightening experience when this happened at night-time. If she awoke and the light was not there she called out to let me know that something was wrong. By replacing the bulb, fears are calmed and the whole household can return to sleep.

Jesus tells us that he himself is the light of the world. Without this light, we cannot see, we cannot find comfort. With the light of Christ we are comforted and we can enjoy life calmly. The light was first introduced into the world at the first Christmas. Today, Christ-followers carry the light of Jesus in their spirits. While the light will not burn out (like a nightlight’s bulb), we must let it shine out through the things that we do, and the way that we live.

This is the message of Christmas—Let your light shine!

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One of my favorite quips is to tell people I have no first name—I am named for my uncle (Robert Benjamin Weaver), and my grandmother (Ruby Allen Holloway Weaver). So, I have two second names, but no first. I share this distinction with my second daughter who bears the middle names of both my sister and my wife’s sister. When Little Bit was born, we wanted to honor our sisters, but we also wanted to give her a name that could influence her demeanor. And so, like her aunt, her middle name is Joy.

It is a fitting name because of the joy she brought into our home on the day of her birth. It is further fitting because of the exuberant way that she lives life. Her gusto for living every moment to the fullest reminds me of the other reason that we named her “Joy.” And that reason is to remind us of the joy that can be found only in Christ—and it is one of the greatest gifts of Christmas. We are reminded again at Christmas and can echo the words of Barney Warren’s old gospel song:

I have found the joy no tongue can tell,

How its waves of glory roll!

It is like a great o’erflowing well

Springing up within my soul.

      It is joy unspeakable and full of glory,

      Full of glory, full of glory.

      It is joy unspeakable and full of glory;

      Oh the half has never yet been told!

(verse 4, taken from The Celebration Hymnal, 1997, #740)

What lasts? According to some companies, the warranty (“As long as you own your car!”). According to television commercials several things last: Energizer® batteries (“they keep going and going and going). I personally believe that it’s just the Bunny that keeps on going because I have had to replace their batteries any number of times.

Years ago we were entertained by a cartoonish commercial that asked, “How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll® center of a Tootsie Pop®?” Which everyone assured the boy asking, “I don’t know, I always bite.” But the owl decided to give the question a scientific test: “One, two, three . . . Three.” “The world may never know.”

So what is long-lasting? Sermons? Opera? Wal-Mart check-out lines?

I think the best answer is the never-ending love of Christ that we celebrate at Christmas. It is a love that lasts in spite of wars, a love that endures despite heartache, and a love that will accompany the believer into eternity (and abide with him there). This is Christmas: Love that never ends.

In the New Testament we find the story of Jesus and His disciples (the Twelve) caught up in a storm in the middle of the sea (see Mark 4). Jesus, weary from a day of ministry, has fallen to sleep in the back of the boat. The disciples, on the other hand are in search of the one thing that a storm in the middle of the Sea of Galilee will rob them of—calm. When they are finally able to wake Him, with fear in their eyes, hearts, and voices, they convince Jesus of their dire need. With a simple command – “Be still!” – Jesus brings peace upon the whole setting.

Jesus’ words, “Peace! Be still!” were not directed only at the raging waves (that became completely calm at the command), but also to His followers. “Be still!” He says. “Be quiet, I am with you,” He reminds us. This is His special gift to those who believe and follow—Peace. Hear one more promise from the King who came as an infant to be a gift to the world: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27)

Probably the best part of Advent Season is the Advent–the Coming–of the Christ (the Anointed One).

He is the One whose advent was told about hundreds of years before it happened. Isaiah said, “a virgin shall conceive” and she did!

He is the One whose coming is an advantage for all the world and the basis for the ADVENTure that is the life of Christendom.

He is the One whose appearance on our planet changed calendars, societies and hearts. And this from the very night of His birth–this night. And so I can say, “Merry Christmas” and sing with the whos down in Woodville, “Welcome Christmas, Christmas Day.”

And most of all we can welcome Jesus. Will you join me this Christmas in welcoming Jesus into your heart, your home, your highways and byways and plans?

World peace. The wish of peoplBeFunky_manger-cross_thumb[7].jpge all over the globe. Just listen to the question/answer portion of any beauty contest:

Q: What is your greatest desire?

A: World peace, and . . .

It is an honorable desire. It is also one that has already been achieved. Achieved because of Christmas. It is the Christ of Christmas that brings peace to this world.

The problem with most of our attempts at achieving world peace has to do with our approach. We miss the objective by trying to force it, trying to buy it, trying to bully our way into it. And the design of world peace is missed because we are also mis-defining it. World peace is not what we want it to be. Nor is it what works best for us.

World peace is best defined by the Maker of the world. And He teaches us in His Word that Peace in this world is achieved at a manger. A manger that leads to a cross. That leads to an empty tomb. And peace in our time or any other is found in Christ Jesus. The One that started life on this Earth with  a manger for His cradle, the cradle for our Faith.

When the angel visited shepherds one night long ago in they were going about their regular business—watching over the sheep to protect them and keep them safe from night-time predators. When the sky lit up with the glory of God and the angel appeared, they were scared speechless. But their fright would soon turn to the opposite on the range of the emotional spectrum—Joy.

The angel proclaimed that it was “good tidings of great joy.” We could call it unspeakable joy, a joy that leaves us speechless. And it was not just an isolated joy—just for the shepherd-witnesses that night, but for all the people. And when the angel said all the people, he was talking about all the people. In all the world. For all of time. That is unspeakable joy.

This joy is a joy beyond words and explanation. Joy rings out, not because of the warm, fuzzy feeling that the Christmas Season brings, but because of the Christ who brings the Season. This Advent, let us meditate on the Joy that is the Christ.