Connecting Point – December 13, 2023

 

I love classic Christmas movies. I love hearing George Bailey say, "What is it you want, Mary? You want the moon? Just say the word, and I'll throw a lasso around it." I love hearing adults respond to Ralphie's request for a Red Ryder BB Gun by saying, "You'll shoot your eye out." I find nostalgia in watching the pizza delivery boy in Home Alone run when he hears, "I'm gonna give you to the count of ten to get your ugly, yella, no-good keister off my property..."

One Christmas story I love is not funny, but kind of sad. In July of 1861, the wife of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow tragically died when her dress caught on fire. Henry tried to extinguish the flames, but she had already suffered severe burns and died the next morning. Henry was also badly burned, so much so that he stopped shaving and grew a beard, which became his trademark. His grief was so overwhelming that he almost admitted himself to an asylum.

Two years later, in March of 1863, against his father's wishes, Henry's 18-year-old son Charles enlisted in the Union Army and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the 1st Massachusetts Cavalry. On December 1st of that same year, Henry received the news that his son had been severely wounded in the battle of the Mine Run Campaign. Charley, as he was called, had been shot through the left shoulder. He avoided paralysis by less than an inch.

Three weeks later, on Christmas Day, 1863, Henry was overwhelmed by loss. He was a 57-year-old widowed father of six children, the oldest of whom had been nearly killed or paralyzed as he fought for a country that was at war with itself. To capture the way he felt, Henry wrote these words: I heard the bells on Christmas Day, their old familiar carols play, And wild and sweet, the words repeat of peace on earth, goodwill to men... But then, in contrast, he wrote - And in despair, I bowed my head; "There is no peace on earth," I said. "For hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, goodwill to men."

Sometimes, I feel like Longfellow. People are trying to be merry, but is there really so much to be merry about? We have wars in Ukraine and in Israel? Everything is expensive. People care more about their political views than their faith and morals. Longtime family members and friends are no longer with us. Violence and crime are rampant, making folks afraid to leave their homes. Mental health is at an all-time low, despite all of our technological advances. But no one seems to care. Businesses take advantage of the season. Traffic is bad, and tempers are on edge. Family members are estranged from one another, and often, reconciliation seems impossible. In these desperate times, we may ask ourselves, does God really care?"

Yes, He sees and knows everything that is happening and He cares very much.

Sometimes, we face the same overwhelming despair Henry Wadsworth Longfellow must have felt. But we haven't yet heard the end of the poem. Even in his despair, he continued to write, "Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: "God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; the wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth, good-will to men."We can rejoice because God is alive. He loves us. His righteousness will prevail. One day, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. And one day, we will spend eternity with Him, where the Bible says that "He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain." Hallelujah. Merry Christmas and peace on earth, and goodwill to men.

This weekend, we continue our Our Immanuel - God With Us series. We've already learned about how Jesus came to Earth that very first Christmas to be our Wonderful Counselor, our Mighty Champion, and our Everlasting Father. And this Sunday (December 17), we're going to be learning how Jesus came to Earth to be the Prince who brings Peace to our lives. We all need peace, and so do others around us, so make sure to join us and bring someone with you.

Also, please invite your Friends and Family members to join you for our Christmas Weekend (December 23-24) services. We'll be singing familiar Christmas songs, participating in Communion, having a Pastor's time with the Children, and taking time in a powerful and uplifting way to remember what Christmas is all about. Our Christmas services are always a great opportunity to invite friends and family members to come with you. It just might change their lives forever.

This weekend, we'll be continuing to receive funds for this year's Christmas Missions Offering. Through this year's offering, we plan to

  • Build 5 houses for homeless families in Guatemala

  • Provide 6 months of funding for our Life Transformation Community Center in the Hollygrove/Dixon community

  • Construct a village Church worship facility in Kenya

  • Train 800 Pastors and Church Leaders in Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic

  • Provide Benevolence Funding for the elderly and disadvantaged of our region

  • Undergird the Baptist Village ministry in Israel that is housing displaced people

  • Support 100 Celebration Missionaries as well as 2469 North American Mission Board missionaries and 3552 International Mission Board missionaries

You can give to our Christmas Missions Offering at www.celebrationchurch.org/give or by using the envelopes with red lettering in our Worship Centers. For more information, see www.celebrationchurch.org.

   Merry Christmas.  

   John Frady 
Executive Pastor of Spiritual Growth
Celebration Church
johnf@celebrationchurch.org

Scroll to Top