Posts belonging to Category Christmas



Favorite Christmas CDs – Number 4

I am sharing sound clips from my five favorite Christmas CDs this week. Today is number four.

FAVORITE CHRISTMAS CD #4:

Harvey Reid; The Heart of the Minstrel on Christmas Day (Out of stock at Amazon, but you can order directly from Woodpecker Records here.)

The Heart Of The Minstrel On Christmas Day: Harvey Reid 1. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen; 2. Deck The Halls; 3. Angels We Have Heard On High; 4. Greensleeves; 5. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town; 6. Silent Night; 7. Little Drummer Boy; 8. Away In A Manger; 9. Good King Wenceslas; 10. Ode To Joy; 11. Hark, The Herald Angels Sing; 12. O Tannenbaum; 13. Jingle Bells; 14. Carol Of The Birds; 15. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer; 16. The Heart Of The Minstrel On Christmas Day; 17. O Holy Night.

Harvey Reid is an extremely talented multi-instrumentalist who lives in Maine and makes his own recordings. This is a great collection of mostly instrumental Christmas tunes on guitar and/or autoharp. Here are some sound clips:

Good King Wenceslas
[audio:HarveyReid_GoodKingWenceslas_sample.mp3]

Jingle Bells
[audio:HarveyReid_JingleBells_sample.mp3]

Feel free to share any of your favorites in the comments, and be sure to come back tomorrow for number three!

Other posts in the series:
    Number 5: Shawn Colvin; Holiday Songs and Lullabies
    Number 4: Harvey Reid; The Heart of the Minstrel on Christmas Day
    Number 3: Amy Grant; Home for Christmas
    Number 2: Bruce Cockburn; Christmas
    Number 1: Kathy Mattea; Good News

Favorite Christmas CDs – Number 5

We love Christmas music at our house and have collected quite a few Christmas CDs over the years. We have a lot of the old classics such as Bing Crosby, the Vienna Boys’ Choir, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, as well as more modern ones.

This week I will be sharing with you sound clips from my five all-time favorite Christmas CDs. My favorite music revolves around singer/songwriters and acoustic guitar, so you will quickly notice a trend in each of these recordings!

I will do this in the form of a countdown, so today we start with number five.

FAVORITE CHRISTMAS CD #5:
Shawn ColvinHoliday Songs and Lullabies

Holiday Songs and Lullabies: Shawn Colvin Song list: 1. In the Bleak Midwinter; 2. Christmas Time Is Here; 3. Now the Day Is Over; 4. Rocking; 5. Windy Nights; 6. All Through the Night; 7. Love Came Down at Christmas; 8. Silent Night; 9. All the Pretty Li’l Horses; 10. Little Road to Bethlehem; 11. Seal Lullaby; 12. Evening Is a Little Boy/The Night Will Never Stay; 13. The Christ Child’s Lullaby; 14. Close Your Eyes.
 

This delightful CD features a unique blend of Christmas carols, folk songs, and lullabies. I love the way Shawn wraps her voice around each of these melodies in her own distinctive way. Here are a couple sound clips:

Little Road to Bethlehem
[audio:ShawnColvin_LittleRoadtoBethlehem_sample.mp3]

Love Came Down at Christmas
[audio:ShawnColvin_LoveCameDownAtChristmas_sample.mp3]

Feel free to share any of your favorites in the comments, and be sure to come back tomorrow for number four!

Other posts in the series:
    Number 5: Shawn Colvin; Holiday Songs and Lullabies
    Number 4: Harvey Reid; The Heart of the Minstrel on Christmas Day
    Number 3: Amy Grant; Home for Christmas
    Number 2: Bruce Cockburn; Christmas
    Number 1: Kathy Mattea; Good News

7 Great Books to Read at Christmas

One of the ways I like preparing for Christmas during the Advent season is to read books relating to Christmas and the incarnation. Here are seven of my favorites.

In the Fullness of Time: A Historian Looks at Christmas, Easter, and the Early Church - By: Paul L. Maier

In the Fullness of Time: A Historian Looks at Christmas, Easter, and the Early Church, by Paul L. Maier. Pastor and historian Paul Maier looks at the historical and cultural backgrounds surrounding Christmas, Easter and the Christians of the early church. This is a gorgeous book full of maps, photos and many fascinating facts.

 

Great Sermons on the Birth, Death, and Resurrection of Christ, edited by Wilbur M. Smith

Great Sermons on the Birth, Death, and Resurrection of Christ, edited by Wilbur M. Smith. This is a great collection of sermons. The first volume contains 15 Christmas sermons by 10 different preachers, including messages by Charles Spurgeon, Joseph Parker, Martin Luther, G. Campbell Morgan, Harold Ockenga, and more. (Currently out of print but can be purchased used.)

 

God With Us: The Miracle of Christmas, by John MacArthur

God With Us: The Miracle of Christmas, by John MacArthur. We have used this as an advent devotional with our children in the past. MacArthur provides brief, informative chapters on Old Testament prophecy, Jesus’ ancestry, the Virgin Birth, Joseph and Mary, the Wise Men, and other Christmas themes. Various sidebars throughout the book explain the origins of common Christmas traditions.

 

The Risk of Birth, edited by Luci Shaw

The Risk of Birth, edited by Luci Shaw. This is a wonderful and thought-provoking collection of poems exploring Christ’s birth and the implications of the incarnation. Shaw presents some of her own works along with poems by C.S. Lewis, Madeleine L’Engle, Eugene Warren, and others. (Currently out of print but can be purchased used.)

 

Proclaiming the Christmas Gospel, edited by John D. Witvliet and David Vroege

Proclaiming the Christmas Gospel: Ancient Sermons and Hymns for Contemporary Christian Inspiration, edited by John D. Witvliet and David Vroege. This collection of 13 Christmas sermons spans nearly 1100 years. Included are messages from Augustine, Jerome, Gregory the Great, John Wycliffe, Thomas à Kempis, and more. This is a great way to dig into some of the sermons of the past dealing with Christmas.

 

The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis | 7-Volume Set

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis.   This is a great book to read any time of the year, but especially at Christmas. “Always winter, but never Christmas” — that is, until Aslan comes along! Lewis’ ability to capture rich, Christian insight in narrative form is unmatched. Read it with your kids or just enjoy it for yourself.

 

Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus - Edited by Nancy Guthrie

Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas, edited by Nancy Guthrie. This is new for me this year, but I am already enjoying it. The book contains Christmas reflections from 22 different writers. There are classic theologians from the past such as Whitefield, Calvin and Edwards, as well as contemporary writers such as Keller, Piper, Alcorn, MacArthur, Schaeffer, Sproul, and Joni Eareckson Tada.

Do you have suggestions for books to read at Christmas? Feel free to share them in the comments section.

God’s Purpose for the Star of Bethlehem

Star of Bethlehem

Here is another excerpt from Sunday’s message on The Star of Bethlehem.

God’s purpose for the Star of Bethlehem was to point the Magi to Christ … That is still God’s purpose for us today. God doesn’t want us to get all hung up on the various attempts at explaining the star away or trying to figure it all out. Just as the purpose of a reading lamp is to shed light on the book you are reading, or the purpose of a spotlight is to highlight the person on stage, the purpose of the star is to point us to Christ …

Jesus is the real “star” of Bethlehem. He is the star attraction. He is center stage. He was the motivation for the Magi’s journey and the reason for their rejoicing. He is the reason for our celebration of Christmas today. The babe in the manger is the centerpiece of every nativity scene. The purpose of the star is to point us to him.

So every time you see a star this Christmas, think about Jesus. When you place the star on your tree this Christmas, remember Jesus. When you hear Christmas carols referencing the star, worship and celebrate Jesus. And when you think about the star and how it led the Magi to Christ, ask God, “With whom would you have me share the good news of Jesus this Christmas?”

Jesus is the reason for the season. The purpose of the star is to point us to Christ.

Recommended Gifts and Resources for Christmas:
     

Related post: What Was the Star of Bethlehem?

Click here for more Christmas related posts.

What Was the Star of Bethlehem?

Star of Bethlehem

What was the Star of Bethlehem? There have been many attempts over the years to identify this star. Here are the four most common explanations:

  1. A comet: The early church father Origen was the first to suggest that the star may really have been a comet. Halley’s Comet made an appearance in 12 B.C., but that is much too early for Christ’s birth. Another comet appeared for about seventy days in March and April of 5 B.C. That is closer to the time frame of Christ’s birth, but it does not explain the miraculous movement of the star toward Bethlehem. Also, comets were generally considered bad omens rather than bearers of good news.
  2. A conjunction of planets: Others suggest that the star was a conjunction of planets. Johannes Kepler, one of the fathers of modern astronomy, pointed to the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in 7 B.C. (later joined by Mars in February of 6 B.C.). However, the timing is still not right, nor does it explain the movement of the star. Also, planetary conjunctions are relatively brief events, lasting at the most for several nights and in their most compact configurations for only a few hours.
  3. Planetary Conjunction | Star of Bethlehem | Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn as they would have appeared over the western horizon in the constellation Pisces during Feburary of 6 B.C.
    (Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn as they would have appeared over the western horizon in the constellation Pisces during Feburary of 6 B.C.)

  4. A supernova: Kepler preferred a different explanation – that the Magi saw a star that had gone supernova. A supernova is basically an exploding star. It is a spectacular event as the star suddenly flares up in brilliance and maintains that brilliance over a period of time due to a series of internal explosions. The last supernova that occurred in our own Milky Way galaxy took place in 1604. The star was so bright you could see it in the daytime. The ancients sometimes got comets and novas confused. They often called novas “comets without a tail.” There are reports of a tailless comet in the year 4 B.C. which may actually have been a nova. The timing is close, but once again it does not account for the movement of the star.
  5. A manifestation of God’s glory: Some suggest that the star was a manifestation of God’s glory, similar to the shining cloud that led the Israelites through the wilderness, except higher in the sky. The advantage of this suggestion is that the cloud in the desert is an actual example from the Bible of a shining object that moved and stopped and guided those who followed. This is a good possibility, but then you have to wonder why the Magi called it a star. Perhaps that was the only word they had available to describe what they were seeing.

We cannot really explain the Star of Bethlehem, but when all is said and done, we have something better than an explanation. We have a mystery. We have a miracle. And the miracle of the Star of Bethlehem is one of the many wonders of the Christmas story that draws our hearts to worship the Lord each Christmas season. What do you think about the Star of Bethlehem?

This post was adapted from part of a sermon on the Star of Bethlehem.

Recommended Gifts and Resources for Christmas:
     

Related post: God’s Purpose for the Star of Bethlehem

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Another Garfield Monday – December

You know it’s Christmas when …

Another Garfield Monday - December

Santa gives you a month with no Mondays.
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Click on a month for more Garfield Mondays:  January, February, March,
    April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December

Click here for Real Life Garfield.
Click here for Garfield Monday Extra.
Click here for more Christmas related posts.

Check back the first Monday of each month for more Garfield Mondays.

Complete List of 2008 Christmas Movies

Are you wondering when your favorite Christmas special will be broadcast this year? Check out the complete list of 2008 Christmas movies.

Free Advent Devotional

Today is the first day of December and the second day of Advent, which means there is still plenty of time to get started on an Advent devotional for the season.

Christ the King Presbyterian Church has put together an excellent Advent devotional that is Biblically-based and Christ-centered. There are twenty individual devotionals in this booklet, five for each week of Advent. Each day’s devotion contains a passage of Scripture, a brief reflection on that passage, sample prayers for both children and adults, and a related hymn to sing together in praise.

This is the devotional I will be using with our family this year. You can download a free copy of the devotional here: 2008 Advent Devotional: Christ the King Presbyterian Church. (HT: JT)

Related post: What is Advent?
Click here for more Christmas related posts.

What is Advent?

What is Advent? Mark Roberts explains in Part 1 of his series on Advent:

The Christian season of Christmas actually begins on Christmas Eve and lasts for twelve days, ending on January 6. (No, the twelve-day season of Christmas did not start with the song. It was the other way around.) The time before Christmas is Advent, a season of preparation for Christmas. Christians prepare for celebrating the birth of Jesus by remembering the longing of the Jews for a Messiah. In Advent we’re reminded of how much we also need a Savior, and we look forward to our Savior’s second coming even as we prepare to celebrate his first coming at Christmas. Indeed, the word Advent comes from the Latin word that means “coming” or “visit.” In the season with this name, we keep in mind both “advents” of Christ, the first in Bethlehem and the second yet to come.

Click here to read Mark’s entire Introduction to Advent series. You may also enjoy Mark’s Advent Wreath Devotional Guide.

Related post: Free Advent Devotional
Click here for more Christmas related posts.

Praying Through Your Christmas Cards

Wait! Don’t throw those Christmas cards away. Turn them into a prayer list instead. Here is a great idea that our friend Tom shared at church last Sunday:

Do you have a bunch of Christmas cards hanging up that you just don’t know what to do with now that January has come? We put ours in a pile, and each night at supper we have someone pick a card from the pile, and we remember that family/person in prayer. People that have found out that we do this have now sent us cards just to be in our prayer pile each year. We are always sad when we reach the end of the pile, but we enjoy praying for our friends right through spring.

Click here for more Christmas related posts.

Merry Christmas 2007!

The reason for the season:

The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:10-12)

Merry Christmas!

Guess the Famous Christmas Trees

Can you identify the five Christmas trees in the photos below? You will find the answers at the end of the post. And the grand prize for guessing all five trees correctly is   —   a nice, warm, fuzzy Christmas feeling all day long. Tell us how you did in the comments below.

Christmas Tree #1:

Christmas Tree 1
 

Christmas Tree #2:

Christmas Tree 2
 

Christmas Tree #3:

Christmas Tree 3
 

Christmas Tree #4:

Christmas Tree 4
 

Christmas Tree #5:

Christmas Tree 5

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