Two Turtle Doves

And to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” Luke 2:24 ESV

This morning I was thinking of how, Mary and Joseph had heard from angels and watched shepherds and wise men kneel before Jesus, but when they came to the temple to dedicate God’s miracle child, they offered only the sacrifice of the poorest of the poor. Though they were not ashamed to come to Herod’s golden temple with their babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, sometimes I wonder why God chose two doves for their offering.

Think how different it might have been if God had picked a princess or the wife of a wealthy merchant in place of Mary. But God chose a young peasant girl from Nazareth to be the mother of His Son. He specifically selected a poor village for Him to grow up in and a simple carpenter to provide Him a home. No place on earth was too humble for the Lord of the universe to visit and no offering too small for Him to treasure. And maybe it is like when I tell my grandchildren, “One cookie isn’t enough! You need another so there will be one for each hand!” Maybe God chose two doves so that they would have something in each hand to give Him. So, if you wonder what you have to give God this Christmas, think of Mary’s turtledoves and then come with whatever He puts in your hands.

Receiving God’s Christmas Love

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:16-17 ESV

The last few weeks have been a blur of events and emotions. Our California trip to attend my wife’s sister’s funeral and then 5 Christmas Services at different long-term care facilities have all blurred together in my mind. Last night we settled down to watch White Christmas (20 times and counting!) and slowed down enough to catch our collective breathes. We will not see family but are grateful that we have children and grandchildren to miss. We have each other, a few friends and a quiet life. How different our experience is from Mary and Joseph on a chilly night in Bethlehem.

The stable was dark and dank. There was no soft bed for Mary to lie on, no nurse or even mid-wife to attend. When the baby came, Joseph tried his best to find a place to lay him, but a feeding trough was all he found. There in that cold dark place the love of God was born as a fragile child, wrapped in rough cloth and laid in a hay bin. That Holy Night reminds me of another cold dark day, thirty-three years later when God’s love was poured out again. This time on a rough wooden cross, with blood streaming down from His hands and feet Jesus gave Himself for us. Now anyone willing to come as a child can find forgiveness and receive His gift of love (Eternal Life). May God bless you and watch over you in this Holiday season. Jesus still comes and God’s love is still being poured out. What we need are the eyes of children to see Him and receive His gift today! My song video this week features Away in a Manger. Have a blessed week all!

Christmas at Nursing Home – Listening With Our Eyes

 And he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them.  Luke 21:2-3 ESV

Three years ago, we hadn’t met many of our neighbors yet since we had just moved in, so when I saw the teenage boy pull in the driveway across the street I called over “Hey good morning!”, hoping to strike up a conversation. Surprisingly he didn’t even turn his head to look at me, and headed into his house. I was a bit put off and grumbled about that “unfriendly boy across the street” to my wife later. Nancy paused to let me finish griping, then she said, “He’s deaf you know. He can lip read, but he had to be able to see your face.” In an instant, not only did my attitude completely change but I felt pretty silly to boot.

When ministering at nursing homes, whether for Christmas, or any other time, one of the most important things we can do is to listen with our eyes, just as my deaf neighbor would have done if He could have seen me. In this third and final installment on preparing a Nursing Home Christmas program, let’s take time to consider the value of really seeing the people we are called to serve. In the same way that deaf people lip read, we need to pay attention to people’s facial expressions and body language while we are singing, giving gifts or putting on a Nativity play. We shouldn’t just plough through our well-planned program, then announce proudly to others how loving and generous we have been. We need to watch people’s faces to see how they are responding. If someone is just staring off into space, then catch their eyes and smile. If you see those in the back, turning their heads or cupping their ears, move closer as they may not be able to hear the song. Don’t let your “Silent Night” be silent because they can’t hear the notes! Ask God for help to not only listen to the words of greeting as you shake their hands to say goodbye; but take time to see them as Jesus does. Then maybe we will hear more than people’s words. We will see them as God does when we learn to listen with our eyes!