Tag Archives: Christmas

Friday Funny! ;-) Christmas Decorations

I’m not against Christmas decorations but I do think they should come out only after Thanksgiving!

 

two kinds of people - christmas decorations

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2013. All rights reserved.

 

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More Than Once a Year

Josh Wilson is one of my favorite musicians and I discovered this song just before Christmas. You might think I’m sharing it a bit late since Christmas was a couple of weeks ago but if you’ll listen to the message – wonderfully displayed in the video – you’ll understand why I waited to share it.

P.S. – This song also features Andrew Peterson, another of my favorite musicians!

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2013. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Christianity, Christmas, Christmas Music, Compassion, influence with the world, Jesus, Loving others, Music Video, Religion and Spirituality, Serving

Thank you scandalous God…

Christmas prayer

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The Christmas Chord

A creative take on

telling the Christmas Story

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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A new twist on an old Christmas song

No disrespect to anyone who is a pure traditionalist in regard to Christmas music but I really like how Josh Wilson does this song. Hope you enjoy it!

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Holiday Intimidation: The Grinches v. the First Amendment

metaxas_w_label2An editorial by Eric Metaxas of BreakPoint.
December 20, 2012

For six years, the Moanalua High School orchestra in Hawaii has provided Christmas for poor African children. They hold a benefit concert that raises $30,000 each year for Mercy Ships, a fantastic Christian relief agency that provides life-saving, and life-enhancing surgery to the poor across the globe.

But this year, a local atheist attempted to steal Christmas for both the young musicians and African children by complaining to the state Department of Education. You see, volunteers from Hawaii’s New Hope Church worked on sets for the concert, and sold tickets, including, horrifyingly, at their Sunday church services. So of course there MUST be a constitutional violation somewhere, somehow.

Worst of all, the state Department of Education agreed. And so—four days before the concert—the high school was ordered to cancel it. No Christmas concert, no $30,000 for suffering African children. In the words of that famous song, “You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch.”

Of course, the high school was not even close to violating the Constitution. The concert was a school event, not a church event, and it was being put on by high school students and staff. So why do these Grinches get away with canceling Christmas in Hawaii and in other states every year?

Well, as the Hawaii Reporter editorialized, this person “doesn’t win in court so much as he gets his way by getting people in government to simply bend to his wishes through bullying and threats.” And as Hawaii radio talk show host Michael Perry notes, “There are all kinds of organizations that would be happy to take [this guy] on and win. But he wins because they quickly capitulate.”

In addition, as the Wall Street Journal’s Bill McGurn points out, when it comes to church-state scrimmages, people in power seem unable “to distinguish between upholding religious pluralism and enforcing anti-religion.” Our country, he declares, is “ill-served by a government that reads ‘no establishment of religion’ as mandating official hostility toward even innocuous religious expressions of its citizenry.”

And McGurn points out that the Grinch who led another holiday fight—this one against nativity displays in Santa Monica—acknowledged that he did so, not because he and his cohorts wanted “an opportunity to express their own views but to ban those they disagreed with from expressing theirs.” Exactly!

When we see bullying tactics being employed during the holidays, we ought to direct the victims to religious rights groups like the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, or the Alliance Defending Freedom. They take on religious hostility cases with great gusto and, I might add, with great success.

We also need to demonstrate Christian love to these Grinches—and no, not by sending them Aunt Eulalie’s fruitcake; we should also pray that their hearts—now two sizes too small—will expand to embrace those of different religious faiths, and that they’d stop their bullying ways.

By the way, you’ll be happy to learn that—thanks to the Christmas controversy—Mercy  Ships is going to receive even more money than usual. New Hope Church invited Christian musicians called the Katinas to perform at their church to benefit Mercy Ships. Those who’d purchased tickets for the original concert could use them to see the Katinas. Plus, the church sold 200 additional tickets—and accepted a $2,000 donation from a non-Christian woman—non-Christian—who gave simply because “this is the right thing to do,” as she put it.

Merry Christmas, Mr. Grinch.

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Emmanuel (Hallowed Manger Ground) by Chris Tomlin

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Advent, Christmas, Divine presence, Emmanuel, God, Jesus, Music Video, Religion and Spirituality

Why candles in the window at Christmas?

candle in windowThe practice of placing lighted candles in the windows at Christmas was brought to America by the Irish. The historical background of this custom is quite interesting.

When religion was suppressed throughout Ireland during the English persecution, the people had no churches. Priests hid in forests and caves and secretly visited the farms and homes to say Mass there during the night.

Every Irish family longed for at least one chance during their lifetime to be visited by a priest at Christmas to celebrate the Divine sacrifice during Holy Night. Many hope and prayed for this all through the year.

When Christmas came, they left their doors unlocked and placed burning candles in the windows so that any priest who happened to be in the vicinity would know they were welcome and were guided to their home through the dark night. Silently he entered through the unlatched door and was received by the faithful who were grateful that their home was used to worship the birth of Christ Jesus.

To justify this practice in the eyes of the English soldiers, the Irish people used to explain: “We burn the candles and keep the doors unlocked, that Mary and Joseph, looking for a place to stay, will find their way to our home and be welcomed with open doors and open hearts.” The English authorities, finding this Irish “superstition” harmless, did not bother to suppress it.

Candles or not the choice is ours. God’s Spirit resides in us and pausing to be aware of that makes any moment or any location sacred.

question mark orangeIn the midst of another busy holiday season are we making room for Jesus to enter more deeply into our hearts?

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Advent, Christmas, Divine presence, Holy Spirit, intimacy with the Lord, Jesus, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality

You’re Here – Francesca Battistelli

One of the most beautiful and meaningful Christmas songs I’ve ever heard. Hope it blesses you!

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Christianity, Christmas, Christmas Music, Divine presence, God, Jesus, Love of God, Religion and Spirituality

Skip Christmas?

According to a recent BreakPoint article by Eric Metaxas, a new survey of Americans found that 45 percent would rather skip Christmas this year claiming they don’t have enough money to celebrate the holiday!

Times are tough and the economy is soft, but does it really all come down to dollars?

Ruth Haley Barton, in an Advent devotional, describes people feeling the pull of Black Friday and stores opening earlier. They didn’t want to leave family gatherings early but didn’t want to risk missing out on great bargains.

“You have to have these things to enjoy your children and your family…It shouldn’t be that way but in a sense there’s no way around it.  Everything ends up with a dollar amount.  Even your happiness.” 

Maybe it does all come down to the dollars! Maybe it is all about the stuff! Maybe we should skip Christmas!

Bonhoeffer

Or maybe not…

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German pastor during WWII. Because he strongly and openly opposed Hitler and the Nazi regime he spent two years in prison and was executed just days before the end of the war. This excerpt is from a letter written to his fiancée Maria von Wedemeyer, December 1, 1943.

I think we’re going to have an exceptionally good Christmas. The very fact that every outward circumstance precludes our making provision for it will show whether we can be content with what is truly essential. I used to be very fond of thinking up and buying presents, but now that we have nothing to give, the gift God gave us in the birth of Christ will seem all the more glorious; the emptier our hands, the better we understand what Luther meant by his dying words: “We’re beggars; it’s true.” The poorer our quarters, the more clearly we perceive that our hearts should be Christ’s home on earth. ~ From Love Letters from Cell 92

While many today expect a lackluster Christmas due to not enough stuff, Bonhoeffer sat alone in a prison cell expecting a glorious Christmas because of no stuff. He understood that the absence of material things would make more room in his heart for God and the gift of the Christ child come to earth.

question mark orange So what will it be, skip Christmas or create space for God to make it something extra special?

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Advent, Black Friday, Choices, Christianity, Christmas, Consumerism, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Divine presence, God, Religion and Spirituality