Volume 16.12 | December 2015

  • Full of wonder

    The story of the first Nativity scene is a well-known Christmas staple: Saint Francis of Assisi is traditionally believed to have asked the citizens of the village of Grecchio, in 1223, to play the characters in the Nativity. What’s certain is that these “living cribs” became highly popular and the tradition spread around the world. […]

  • The best Christmas

    The year we had very little money to spend on Christmas turned out to be our best ever! After a recent move to a new country, we’d had to leave behind all of our Christmas decorations, and I wondered how we could decorate our home, especially since we were tight on cash and had extra […]

  • Celebration, not perfection

    If you’re like me, you have an idea of what the perfect Christmas should be like. Maybe you have a mental picture of the perfect tree and decorations, somewhere ideal to go on holiday, the perfect Christmas dinner surrounded by family and friends, drinks, Christmas cake, or whatever it is that you love. Maybe the […]

  • A time of miracles

    A number of years ago, I lived and worked in a small volunteer center in the south of Russia. A week before Christmas, a snowstorm blew down the main power line for the whole region. Nobody knew how long the blackout would last, as the repair crew had to wait for the weather to clear […]

  • Telegram of hope

    The well-known motivational author Norman Vincent Peale wrote, “Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” This quote evokes pictures of a roaring fire in a hearth, with colorful stockings hanging from the mantelshelf; an evergreen tree laden with baubles and tinsel, surrounded by a pile of […]

  • Why the stable?

    She brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.—Luke 2:7 The Lord of the universe could have picked anywhere for Jesus to be born. That raises the question of why God picked a humble dwelling where […]

  • God with us

    Some people cannot understand how God could have come down and been wrapped in human flesh. That isn’t strange to me, though. In fact it is quite easy for me to believe, because I see Jesus born in human hearts every day. He comes and lives in hearts and transforms lives, and to me that’s […]

  • Following the Star

    Every Christmas I picture the three wise men as they traveled through the desert in pursuit of that mysterious star. I can visualize them crossing the hot, sandy deserts by day and camping at night. Nowhere on earth are the heavens so laden with beauty and mystery as on a clear night in the desert! […]

  • In it for the long haul

    It’s wonderful to think about the manger, the angels, and that night when Jesus came to earth. It’s a thought that we focus on for a few weeks over the Christmas season, and we might even ponder it from time to time throughout the year. But that was only part of a much bigger picture. […]

  • Alone at Christmas

    I’d been trying not to think about Christmas, dreading the day, hoping against hope that some angel would come into my life and make everything okay. I even tried pretending that it was just a normal day, nothing special, in hopes that would make the loneliness go away. But I couldn’t avoid it: Christmas was […]

  • The most important thing

    —A Christmas adaptation of 1 Corinthians 13 If I decorate my house perfectly with holly, strands of twinkling lights, and shiny balls, but do not show love, I’m just another decorator. If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals, and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not […]

  • At the close of the year

    The path of the past year is ending. We can look back at what has passed and recall the happy moments, the unanticipated joys, the good news that arrived like refreshing waters to a thirsty soul.1 Then again, we may also heave a sigh of relief that the troubles of the past year have finally […]