THE KING HAS COME (BLOGMAS DAY TWENTY-FIVE)

The Lost Christmas Poem by J. R. R. Tolkien

Grim was the world and grey last night:
The moon and stars were fled,
The hall was dark without song or light,
The fires were fallen dead.
The wind in the trees was like to the sea,
And over the mountains’ teeth
It whistled bitter-cold and free,
As a sword leapt from its sheath.

The lord of snows upreared his head;
His mantle long and pale
Upon the bitter blast was spread
And hung o’er hill and dale.
The world was blind, the boughs were bent,
All ways and paths were wild:
Then the veil of cloud apart was rent,
And here was born a Child.

The ancient dome of heaven sheer
Was pricked with distant light;
A star came shining white and clear
Alone above the night.
In the dale of dark in that hour of birth
One voice on a sudden sang:
Then all the bells in Heaven and Earth
Together at midnight rang.

Mary sang in this world below:
They heard her song arise
O’er mist and over mountain snow
To the walls of Paradise,
And the tongue of many bells was stirred
in Heaven’s towers to ring
When the voice of mortal maid was heard,
That was mother of Heaven’s King.

Glad is the world and fair this night
With stars about its head,
And the hall is filled with laughter and light,
And fires are burning red.
The bells of Paradise now ring
With bells of Christendom,
And Gloria, Gloria we will sing
That God on earth is come.

The King has come! We celebrate this Christmas Day for that reason. No longer is our world grey and grim. No, it is now bursting with hope and joy because the Light has come into our darkness in the most powerful way. What an adventure this has been! Have a very Merry Christmas, y’all! We thank God for each and every one of you!

You can listen to us read the poem above on our Podcast (uploaded just today) by clicking here! We briefly explain what Tolkien is alluding to, and how it can change our perception of Christmas. Enjoy!

O COME, O COME, EMMANUAEL

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

CHRISTMAS IS WHAT WE DEFINE IT AS (BLOGMAS DAY TWENTY-THREE)

(Post by: Madie Hobbs)

Just yesterday, I was listening to someone who was talking about some of the things she had done with her family before Christmas Day. She was speaking about an exhibit they had seen which illustrated ‘Christmas through the ages’. It showed Christmas during the Victorian era, the early 1900’s, and present-day Christmas. Then the exhibit began to illustrate what the makers of the exhibit think Christmas will look like in the future.

(Cue the scary music)

The exhibit interpreted Christmas of the future as being entirely virtual, free of contact, and entirely secularized. They didn’t even include real decorations or gift boxes, but rather showed a world in which everything was plastic, and pre-packaged, and all care for thoughtful, touching gifts had ceased to exist. Many of us have been expecting this, as we have looked around at the pre-meditated plans of many in our society who have a strong desire to completely change the world as we know it. This story filled my heart and soul with a heavy sorrow that made me fear for Christmas in the future.

The woman then made the point that Christmas is about incarnation, Jesus coming in the flesh, congregating, fellowshipping, with His Creation. I thought about this for a while and came to consider the deep, profoundness and importance of physical fellowship that we experience with family and friends during this time.

I think over the course of 2020 and 2021, we have all realized that if people can take away our ability to socialize with others, they can control our lives, and I think many of us regret letting people have so much power over us in that way.

For a moment, I felt it was too late; too late to turn back on the path we’ve already chosen. Too late to take back control over our own lives and our own health. Too late to make the world a better place for my children, and to make Christmas the special time I remember from when I was a girl.

Since then, however, I have been filled with hope anew. You see, in that moment, I focused on the darkness, and the power I thought it had over the way we may celebrate Christmas in the future. Now, I focus on the small things, as I wrote about in one of my other, recent posts. I began to focus on the things I can do to keep darkness at bay, the intimate gatherings we have during this season. The good food we are blessed to enjoy. The presents we have the privilege of giving, and I was reminded all over again that Christmas is about the little things. It is about the words we sing in carols, the things we write in a Christmas card, or the time we spend together as a family, in the flesh, just as Jesus came and did.

I will say that this futuristic exhibit is still scary because it is so close to being real. But I will also say that Christmas is what we choose to define it as. Will we choose to define it as a time of fear, as we cower in our houses, afraid of death? Will we choose to define Christmas as a holiday about ourselves as we spend unbelievable amounts of money so we can outdo the neighbors next door? Or will we choose to celebrate Christmas together, and define it as a time of reflection, used to think about the glory of our Savior and His coming?

I challenge you to act on the small things this year. Please, don’t take them for granted. Those are the things that make Christmas magical.

“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.”  (J. R. R. Tolkien)

ANGELS WE HAVE HEARD ON HIGH

Come to Bethlehem and see
Him Whose birth the angels sing;
Come, adore on bended knee,
Christ the Lord, the newborn King.

Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

THE EVERYDAY DEEDS (BLOGMAS DAY ELEVEN)

(Post by: Madie Hobbs)

Christmas has the power to change people, don’t you think?

Over the years, we have all seen the change that takes place in people around this holiday season, and I think that there can be power in that change. People begin to talk to one another as they do their last-minute Christmas shopping. We all sing the songs that have become so familiar. We all tend to greet one another with a joy-filled, “Merry Christmas.”

I especially remember these small changes in people from when I was a child, looking at Christmas as this crazy time when suddenly, all our differences and disputes were put aside. It was something that I always loved experiencing and seeing, and something that now, I miss very sorely.

You see that small window of time, that month and a half leading up to Christmas, was something that has impacted me in such a powerful way, and I wish I saw that more now. I think that now, in 2021, we have become so self-obsessed, and so consumed with what we want and need, that no one even thinks about the power they could have, just by telling a little girl “Merry Christmas”.

Once again, I believe that J. R. R. Tolkien sums up the power of these little things in this perfect quote by Gandalf, when talking about why he chose Bilbo Baggins to accompany himself and thirteen dwarves on a perilous quest.

He says, “Some believe that it is only great power that can hold Evil in check. But that is not what I have found. It is rather the small, everyday deeds of ordinary folks that keeps the Darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? Perhaps it is because I am afraid; and he gives me courage.”

Now, I believe we can all agree that the darkness in this world is barely, at best, being kept at bay. Yet we are all at a loss as to how that has happened so rapidly. If what Gandalf has said is true, which I believe it is entirely, the answer is staring us straight in the face.

It is the small, everyday deeds of ordinary folks. Something which we have not taken as seriously as we ought.

You see, the reason I always felt so much happier and more content around Christmas time, is because of the small things, that kept the darkness at bay for the month of December. The small things that changed a little girl’s view of the world, even for a short time.

I want to encourage you today, it is the small things you do, the smile you freely give to a stranger, the holiday greeting you utter, that keep the darkness at bay.

Why do I enjoy the changed mood, the songs we all sing, and the spirit of Christmas that changes people?

Perhaps it is because I am afraid; and they give me courage.

HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

Let your heart be light

From now on, our troubles will be out of sight

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

Make the Yuletide gay

From now on, our troubles will be miles away

Here we are as in olden days

Happy golden days of yore

Faithful friends who are dear to us

Gather near to us once more

Through the years we all will be together

If the fates allow

So hang a shining star upon the highest bough

And have yourself a merry little Christmas now

FROM CHILDISH TO CHILDLIKE (BLOGMAS DAY THREE)

(Post by: Madie Hobbs)

This summer, I took a class that went behind and beyond The Lord of the Rings, and we discussed some of the very real spiritual values that Tolkien presents through his imaginary stories, and how they apply to our everyday lives.

One of the things we talked about was how each Hobbit involved in the stories took a personal journey from their childish ways and went on this quest to become childlike.

Now, I know some of you may not see a difference between the two, I mean, kids are kids, right? But there is actually a big difference between being childish and childlike, and it is deeply intertwined with our relationship with Jesus.

You see, being childish means that you are petty, concerned with small things, unable to grasp the big picture when it comes to life, and you literally act like a child.

Being childlike, however, means that you think like a child. You see endless possibilities and worlds and beings, and you believe that everything is achievable, and that’s just the way life is. Now, I’m sure you have heard of the term “child-like faith” thrown around in church, and kind of referred to as this belief that we all want to have, but soon grow out of as we mature in life and see things in a more realistic sense.

Before I took that class, and heard this topic being discussed, a “child-like faith” didn’t mean much to me. It was just the term we used in the church that referred to a child’s inexperience, and lack of realistic knowledge, and we then accredited that as the reason children can believe in the Lord so easily.

But today, I want you to see the power in becoming childlike. I believe that a childlike faith actually consists of this thought that we are merely a small part in the big scheme of life, but we take pride in Jesus wanting to use us. We still see those endless possibilities, but they are now cultivated by God, and used to help us step off the shore and dive into an ocean of incredibility.

“And He said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become child-like, you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven.”” (Matthew 18:3)

During Christmas time, I think we can all agree that there is this feeling that fills the air, and makes us excited and giddy, like we physically cannot wait for Christmas day. However, I think this is a good example of what it means to go from childish to childlike. When we are childish, we get excited about the snow, or sitting on Santa’s lap, or the presents under the Christmas tree.

But if we have made that transition to a childlike attitude, we are filled with joy, not just excitement, and while we may still anticipate those things I just listed, we know that the actual reason for Christmas is the celebration of Jesus’ birth, and we use that time to remember everything he has done for us, and ultimately prepare ourselves for his second coming.

You see, we all must walk on the road of childishness, where we are selfish and simple, and travel to the glorious destination of being childlike, where we are transformed into a creature who sees possibility and does not doubt the supernatural power and goodness of God.

Only then, can we enter the kingdom of Heaven. Only then, can we look at our Lord through a childlike wonder and awe, that is profoundly connected to our salvation.

WHAT CHILD IS THIS?

Why lies he in such mean estate
Where ox and ass are feeding
The end of fear for all who hear
The silent Word is speaking
This, this is Christ the king
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing
Haste, haste to bring him laud
The babe, the son of Mary

So bring him incense, gold and myrrh
Come peasant king to love him;
The king of kings salvation brings
Let loving hearts enthrone him
This, this is Christ the king
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing
Haste, haste to bring him praise
The babe, the son of Mary

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