Cynthia Ruchti: Christmas and God’s Restoring Love
Psalm 51:12 Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation, And sustain me with a willing spirit.
We celebrate Christmas because God came to earth as a baby to die for our sins. That’s a pretty huge event, very worth celebrating.For many people, it’s a painful time. You may have sustained a loss during the year or miss someone who died years ago. We don’t often think about Christmas and restoration in the same sentence, but my guest, Cynthia Ruchti wrote a book, Restoring Christmas. What an interesting concept! I looked up the word restore and found it occurred about seventy times. (depending on your translation, that may vary.)
After giving the matter some thought, I agree with Cynthia. Jesus came to earth to be our redeemer. He came to pay the price for our sins so we can have restored fellowship with God. But what about all those other hurts we experience? Cynthia shares her heart on heartache during Christmas.
1:45 Share the basic story of the book
5:35 Did any event in your life prompt this story?
12:10 Talk about restoration for those hurting places.
19:50 Jesus is close to the broken-hearted. Share with people who may be there this year.
21:25 What about folks who are stumbling through Christmas with sadness or depression?
[tweetthis]I can’t unravel, I’m hemmed in hope[/tweetthis]
[tweetthis]Christmas is all about God’s love[/tweetthis]
Difficult relatives can make your Christmas miserable. Family can give us the most fulfillment when we actually connect with them, However, they can also cause the most heartache because we love them and long for their approval. With the holidays coming, we all dread grumpy Uncle Bill or feisty Aunt Sally. Past hurts can also intensify the impact of uncomfortable encounters.
My father used to crack the same jokes every year and expect us to laugh. If I didn’t respond to his humor, he’d tease me about how my face looked, as if he thought I was holding in my response.
Mother would make a huge meal for Thanksgiving. I’d select certain foods, but not others, knowing I couldn’t eat it all. She would always point out what I missed, as if I overlooked that dish by accident. Plus she would attempt to get us all to eat more, even when we were full.
My grandmother would make snide comments with an innocent look on her face, and she’d do annoying things. she favored boys over girls and she’d always make sure we knew how much she spent on the boys. If we asked her to do anything, she’d do the exact opposite.
Well, you know how it goes. Romans 12:18 says, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” Wow! That’s a hefty command.
Today I have two guests. The first is Angela Breidenbach. She’s a life coach and a terribly fun person. The second is Linda Rondeau. Both can give insight on this issue.
Have you ever looked up the phrase Christmas rush? I just did that. I saw pictures of people buried in lights that didn’t work, or under a pile of packages. One picture had Santa Claus pointing to a clock. Another showed a distressed lady surrounded by piles of bows and ribbons. The one I liked the best was shoppers pushing carts heaped with gifts. One lady in the foreground is trying to hold a package in place as she hurried to the register. Shopping can be a huge distraction for me this time of year. After all, we are celebrating the birth of Christ. Right after Jesus arrival here as a baby, God saw fit to send an angel chorus to earth to sing:
Luke 2:14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
Without a doubt, this his message of peace was pretty important. God didn’t send angel choruses often in history. He was announcing hope for our broken world, yet sometimes I get forget and still get caught up in the craziness of the holiday. How can we keep our focus and not get obliterated by the holiday?
Author Linda Gilden shares thoughts from her newest book and meditations from her newest book, Words to Live By.
Karen Whiting: Christmas Advent – Teach Kids While They Wait
As a child, Christmas was a magical time for me. I loved the lights, the color, the carols, the excitement. I have lots of fond memories. At our church, combined choirs would do parts of Messiah every year. What a feast for the senses! Mother always made us wait for a tree because she liked real trees, and she worried about the tree drying out. It seemed like we were always the last to get a tree, but the big day would always arrive. Once the tree was up, she’d let us decorate. She’d hand us icicles, which were long, thin and shiny. She expected us to hang the icicles one by one one. I found it much more exciting to toss them on the tree. They always landed in interesting shapes which reflected the lights so nicely. However, I can remember how Christmas took forever to arrive. I remember talking about the eve of the eve of Christmas Eve, and then the eve of Christmas Eve.
The Christmas 2016 has arrived. The baby in the manger can easily be overlooked in our digital world. Parents must work to keep the focus on the true meaning of Christmas rather than the commercials and ads that catch the children’s attention. What a challenge! While we are busy preparing for the holiday, our children may grow restless since time passes slowly for them. Karen Whiting has written a book called Christmas is Coming, but Waiting is Hard. She has lots of ideas to share.
1:25 What are some activities that can help kids focus while they wait?
2:55 Do you cover the history of Christmas?
4:15 Share some traditions of the past and their meanings.
5:10 What is the peace candle?
7:01 What does red have to do with Christmas?
7:30 How about green?
8:00 What about the Christmas stocking?
9:15 How can you keep the new gadget or toy from becoming the focus of Christmas?
Today I want you to put yourself in the shoes of Mary. Imagine with me. Picture the angel arriving. In many places in Scripture, people displayed symptoms of shock when an angel appeared, so it’s pretty incredible to see the supernatural. The angel started off by saying Mary was highly favored and said that she will be the mother of the promised Messiah. Wow! Imagine how that felt.
Think of all the frustration she faced when she informed her mother and father she was with child. Maybe they guessed when she got back from Cousin Elizabeth’s house. Either way it wasn’t fun. Imagine her concern about Joseph hearing the news and not understanding. Can you picture relatives rolling their eyes and saying they’d never heard that excuse.
Think about how she felt while riding to Bethlehem on a donkey when she was about the give birth. Nothing feels comfortable when you’re nine months pregnant.
Imagine how she felt giving birth in a stable and wrapping the child in whatever cloth she had and placing him in a manger. Remember that a manger was a feeding trough for animals. Not pretty and clean. Ugh!
Today I have Christy Fay with me, she wrote Reclaimed: uncovering your worth. It’s a Bible study about five women in the genealogy of Jesus.
What kinds of things had the Lord done to prepare her for this time?
How did he use these events in her life?
How does this impact our lives?
Learn more about Christy Fay and her ministry here.
Christmas is a time of joy, and it should be. As believers we celebrate because we understand the hope we have. Jesus died to give us eternal life. When we come to know him we have a reason to live for something bigger than ourselves.
But it also important to realize that because our world is messed up, not everyone will be happy.
For instance, men who serve in the military often struggle with PTSD, which is post traumatic stress. It’s so important for us to understand this disorder so we can offer help.
There’s also a disorder for children called Attachment disorder. A child who has this is fearful of bonding with an adult. They crave it, yet they fear it too. They don’t have appropriate social behavior with others.
Kathi Macias wrote about PTSD and Attachment Syndrome in her latest book. She shares more about both and how we can minister to our solders who struggle to adjust to life after the horrors of battle.
Romans 12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.