Summary: BELIEVING IN THE HOPE THAT THERE IS MORE IS CRITICAL IF WE ARE TO CRAVE MORE PRESENCE.
Hope for a New Presence
As Americans, we pride ourselves in "doing Christmas up right." Tons of gifts, big holiday feasts, huge trees, Lights on the houses. USA!
Here are some of the other ways people prepare for the celebration of Christmas.
* In Italy they have no Christmas trees, instead they decorate small wooden pyramids with fruit.
* In Caracas, the capital city of Venezuela, it is customary for the streets to be blocked off on Christmas Eve so that the people can roller-skate to church.
* An artificial spider and web are often included in the decorations on Ukrainian Christmas trees. A spider web found on Christmas morning is believed to bring good luck.
* It is a British Christmas tradition that a wish made while mixing the Christmas pudding will come true only if the ingredients are stirred in a clockwise direction.
* Sending red Christmas cards to anyone in Japan constitutes bad etiquette, since funeral notices there are customarily printed in red.
* In Yugoslavia, on the 2nd Sunday before Christmas, children creep in and tie their mother’s feet to a chair, shouting ’Mother’s Day, Mother’s Day, what will you pay to get away?’ She then gives them presents. Children play the same trick on their father the following week and get more presents.
* A new holiday trend is literally turning a traditional Christmas celebration upside down. Hammacher Schlemmer, a retail company based in New York, recently offered a unique yuletide decoration: the Upside-Down Christmas Tree.
Standing at 7-feet tall and pre-lit with over 800 commercial grade lights, this technological marvel can be yours for the low price of $599.95. But why would anyone want an upside-down Christmas tree? According to Hammacher Schlemmer’s website: "The inverted shape makes it easier to see ornaments, which hang away from the dense needles," while "allowing more room for the accumulation of presents underneath."
T.S. This year we’re in search of more presence, more of God, Jesus in our holidays. In Luke 2 there is the story of a man and woman who discovered the Hope of a New Presence.
Turn with me to. . .
21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived.
22 When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23(as it is written in the Law of the Lord, "Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord"), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: "a pair of doves or two young pigeons."
25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
29 "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you now dismiss your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the sight of all people,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel."
33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too."
36 There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
Both of these individuals were hoping for the presence and were not disappoint.
BELIEVING IN THE HOPE THAT THERE IS MORE IS CRITICAL IF WE ARE TO CRAVE MORE PRESENCE.
1. The Hope of His presence is worth waiting for