Gather Round

I am old enough to remember Christmas cards that you wrote by hand.

There was a real signature and maybe even a short message, likely written in cursive, which anyone under 20 can no longer read.

Pretend this is my super-long, rambling-with-love note that would have been penned inside your 1983 mail delivery.

This is our virtual Christmas card…an extension to a physical card or social media post, wishing you a Merry Christmas.

Before you get to the cute photos below, I would like to admit that this Christmas is not brought to you by Hallmark.

The house isn’t completely decorated this year, there are zero lights outside and I’m not sure everyone is even speaking to each other.

Sigh.


I say all of this to make sure you understand that we are not perfect. I’m not trying to sell you a rose-colored lens from which to view life.

This post is to extend a message of HOPE despite the circumstances you’re facing today. I understand.

And so does Jesus.

Even in the awkwardness and sadness that looms over me this year, the only thing I could think of when I quickly designed a Christmas card was, “Does everyone in my circle know – and believe – in the true meaning of Christmas?”

“Do they have hope?”

Our expectations often set us up for a letdown because our focus shifts to our comfort, our matching outfits, or our checklist of what must happen to make Christmas special.

Jesus.

He is all we really need.

Jesus, the Son of God, was born.

Outrageous Hope.

Extravagant Joy.

The Savior of the world.

.

.

We can handle everything else if we know Jesus is at the center of our relationships. Problems grow dim and feelings are healed when He is exalted above everything else.


As I designed the Christmas card, it was hard to choose just the right design in 50 characters or less.

The message of Christmas is so much more than the number of photos I can squish into a glossy collage and mail to you in a single envelope.

Believe me, I’ve tried.

Christmas is about a story so detailed and wonderful that it fills all sixty-six books of the bible.

From Genesis to Revelation, the birth and life of Jesus Christ is foreshadowed, foretold, fulfilled and…forthcoming.

It’s the season for “peace on earth and goodwill to all men.”

It’s the season of sacrificial love.

The ultimate love.


When you love someone, you often want to show your love with gifts or acts of service.

I would probably give my family almost anything. I love planning their gifts, wrapping presents for them, and I often can’t even wait until the designated holiday for them to open it.

I love everyone who would receive a Christmas card from us.

I even love the person I don’t even know who is reading this blog.

Why? Because God sent His Son for the whole world. If my heavenly Father wants you to have it and He’s offering it to you, then as His child, I want you to have it, too.

Even if I disagree with you, or even if you were someone who has done horrible things, the fact is, there is no one who I would want to see spending eternity separated from God, in a very real place called hell.


Let’s go back to that scene where I am excitedly preparing gifts. I can also be disappointed if, after giving a present, they don’t like it or they cast it aside…unused.

Now imagine God sending us the gift of salvation through Jesus, and we then leave it on a shelf or treat it callously, instead of jumping up and down with excitement, like we were just given the greatest thing ever.

The life-changing message of salvation, which makes anything in this life bearable by His grace, is the only gift that keeps on giving. ❤️

It can ignite a movement changing families, churches, cities…the whole world.

I wouldn’t want another Christmas to pass without everyone I know hearing – and responding – to this true story.


So, gather round ye children come…

Andrew Peterson’s album, Behold The Lamb of God, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.

With every lyric and note, it is the greatest collection of songs describing the true meaning of Christmas.

Download the album or find the songs on Youtube.

My hope is to write about each one, but first listen (or watch) this presentation of the gospel…and may it eternally change your life.

Merry Christmas,

The Thomastons


Read before the concert begins from The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones:


🎶 Playlist

Behold the Lamb of God – Andrew Peterson (album w/lyrics)

❤️

Experiencing Christmas

❤️

What is salvation?

❤️

And for those who are hurting this Christmas, read this.

🎶 More Christmas Music


Gather round ye children come,

Listen to the old, old story

Of the power of death undone

By an infant born of glory

Son of God, Son of Man

Gather ’round, remember now

How creation held its breath

How it let out a sigh

And it filled up the sky with the angels

Son of God, Son of Man

So sing out with joy for the brave little boy

Who was God, but He made Himself nothing

Well, He gave up His pride and He came here to die

Like a man

Therefore God exalted Him

To the place of highest praises

And He gave Him a name above every name

That at the very name of Jesus, Son of God

We would sing out with joy for the brave little boy

Who was God, but He made Himself nothing

Well, He gave up His pride and He came here to die

Like a man

So in heav’n and earth and below

Every knee would bow in worship

And ev’ry tongue would proclaim

That Jesus, He reigns with the angels

So sing out with joy for the brave little boy

Who was God, but He made Himself nothing

Well, He gave up His pride and He came here to die

Like a man

Gather round ye children come,

Listen to the old, old story

Of the power of death undone

By an infant born of glory

Son of God, Son of Man

Songwriter: Andrew Peterson


The Birth of Jesus

Luke 2 New International Version (NIV)

The Birth of Jesus

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.

2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.

4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.

6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.

9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them,

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.

19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.



🎶

Noel – The Nativity Story

Christmas Card/Journey Club Playlist

Christmas Offerings – Third Day

TobyMac Christmas Songs

Chris Tomlin Christmas

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