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Keep The Merry!

December 16, 2019
by Sarah Keith   —   Audio controls are below the devotional to listen to this devotional or to hymn music while you read

2 Corinthians 5:21 – For our sake [God] made [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (ESV)

For a few years, American atheists promoted a "Christmas" message: "Keep the merry, dump the myth." This jarring promotion showed a picture of a laughing Santa, next to the suffering face of Jesus wearing a crown of thorns. It is quite poignant that they didn't attack the Christ Child, since that is what the merriment celebrates! No, they went right to the heart of the matter: Christ on the cross. You see for many people — apparently atheists included — it's easy and okay to celebrate the joy of Christmas with the Jolly ol' Man, the Elf on the Shelf, or Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer; there's no commitment to God or call for repentance; nothing is required! (But we do spend a lot of money trying to have a merry Christmas!) The atheists' promotion was revealing — they understood the implication of believing in the Baby in the manger — it's beautifully stated in the hymn, Hark! the herald angels sing: "Born to raise the sons of earth; born to give them second birth."

Atheists understand that the Baby grew up and died a terrible, bloody death on the cross. There isn't anything "merry" about that picture! You see, to truly celebrate the Saviour's birth, we must be willing to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him. Atheists, of course, are not willing to do this. But are we, who celebrate the Babe in the manger, willing to submit to the crucified and risen One when the trials and suffering of life come our way? Do we trust that God is in control and that nothing happens in our lives apart from the will of the Father? It is during these difficult times that we may be tempted to give up and ask, "Where are You, God?" or even "Is there a God?"

In October of 2013, my husband survived a traumatic brain injury. I can't imagine my family and me walking this path without the hope that God has a greater plan in mind. Admittedly, many days, I wanted to give up. Yet, where would I go? To whom would I turn? There is eternal hope in no one else!

Some of the fruit of our suffering has become evident: our family is closer, and we are grateful for the extra time to love one another. I also thank God for the body of Christ. For years now, we have been on the receiving end of love being poured out to us in a myriad of ways, all to show us Jesus-with-skin-on love! Over and over again, God has faithfully provided for us, teaching us that He is near and can be trusted.

Yes, the Christ Child is the reason for the season! His birth was for His death. His death was for our birth. In Him, we can find true Christmas joy!

Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank You for coming to earth to give us second birth. Help us to have merry hearts today, tomorrow, and in the coming New Year. Amen."


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Listen while you read: "While Shepherds Watched" (Lyrics)

About the author:

Sarah Keith <sarah@sundayschoolnetwork.com>
West Palm Beach, Florida, USA

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Great Reminder, thanks so much!


    I would like to share your devotional.


    Well said, HUGS to you and yours for your faith.


    What a touching and lovely devotional. Thank you.


    Amen Sarah, well said.
    Christmas blessings.


    Thanks, Sarah, for the Christmas challenge. Have a Merry Christmas.


    Thank you, Sarah, for faithfully sharing this devotional with us. Blessings.


    Hi Sarah,
    Thank you for this lovely Christmas message!
    Blessings.


    Thanks, Sarah, for your testimony. I was especially interested in how the atheists protested Christ in Christmas They know, but their eyes are blind.


    Dear Sarah,
    Many thanks for this special morning devotional. We truly should be “merry” and very thankful for the great love and care we receive from our devoted Saviour. He is ever present to hear our prayers.
    Blessings to you and enjoy!
    (B.C.)


    Thank you for today’s devotional, Sarah. You don’t often anymore hear that verse about denying self, taking up our cross and following Jesus. That is very sad for the church today. With all of the prosperity “gospels” out there, instead the belief that we are entitled to have our best life now, is preached! So, it is refreshing to hear the true gospel for a change! May our God bless you for writing His truth.


    Good morning Sarah,
    The taking Christ out of Christmas is one of my pet peeves, I talk, write, preach about it quite often, but it seems like a losing battle.
    Here in Canada there is this continuous effort to take God out of everything.
    Thank you for writing, and we wish you and yours a blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year.


    So beautiful and encouraging, Sarah. I always feel a special pang for atheists who are trapped in their ‘non-beliefs.’ Steve Martin wrote a song, ‘Atheists – they have no hymns,’ going on to point out that all faiths have their music – but not atheists. A slogan reminds us that ‘doubting God is just low-grade atheism’. As you say, they have no one to turn to. No one to sing about. Everyone knows one or two and at Christmas, they most need our prayers and love, (which they cannot answer). A much-needed devotional at this time of year. Well said.


    I survived a stroke a little over a year ago and I heard the therapist tell my family that the best they could offer was a nursing home maybe a wheelchair. I thought no way am I going to burden my husband that way. I was able to tell my daughter where my passwords were and where the financial stuff is as my husband does not know anything about the finances. So, I prayed and prayed that either I be given the strength to fight this or take me home. I still am not able to do many things I did. Then my husband said it was his turn. So he does many things I used to do and we hired a woman to clean. We found out that following brain surgery today it takes 5 years to recover at a minimum. Hang in there with your husband. I would be unhappy in LTC. Friends tell me it is not where you want to be. You take care too.
    (ON)


    Good morning, Sarah. I wanted to thank you for your meaningful devotion. When someone is going through a difficult time, I always appreciate hearing their account of how they moved forward in spite of the horrendous difficulties they faced. And the reason is your faith in our Savior!! The manner in which you ended your message has stayed with me and I have shared it with friends.
    God bless you as you continue to share your faith via PresbyCan devotions, and may He shower you with Christmas blessings!


    Hello Sarah,
    I enjoyed reading your devotional, Keep the Merry, that recently appeared in Presbycan.
    God bless you as you continue to write for Him!


    Thanks Sarah. Enjoy your husband, I lost mine unexpectedly. I would have taken an illness. But he deserved heaven over this mean world. That brings peace.

 



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