Category Archives: Advent

Christmas in South Carolina

written by my daughter, Karen E. Hall

Christmas in the post-War United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

’Twas the night before Christmas; ’twas 70 degrees,
And people went round in short sleeves and capris.
Though decked all in holly and bright ribbons fair,
The windows were open to let in the air.
Downtown in shops was sold candy molasses,
To shoppers in flip-flops, wearing sunglasses.
At home in the neighborhood kids were at play,
In air that felt like Midsummer’s Day

Around the bright tree Christmas gifts lay by,
But the fireplace lay empty; the A/C was on high.
If not for the Christmas songs one well remembered,
One might have thought it was sometime in September.
Then Christmas Eve came, and a cool night it was,
But no one believed for one minute it’d snow.
The kids were snuggled all cozy in bed,
While visions of X-Box games danced in their heads.
Some dreamed of Barbies, and others of guns,
Anxiously awaiting the rising of the sun.
Then up came the sun and not a moment too soon:
Not a kid was in bed any later than noon.
They rushed down the stairs with a bump and a clatter.
Their parents knew exactly what was the matter.
The room was a mess, of course, in due time,
But the children’s glee was perfectly sublime.
Gift-wrappings, ribbons, paper, and bows,
Littered the floor like Siberian snow.
Outside the window the landscape was gray,
But no one quite noticed; they were used to it that way.
The turkey was cooked and the table was set
As the sun shone through the wide-open dining room windows.
There may be snow in those far northern states,
But we Carolinians are proud of our state.
We know it ain’t Christmas to some without snow,
But mark us, we’ll get some, by and by low.
We may have warm winters, brown trees, and clear skies,
But we’ve got warm hearts and streets safe to drive.
So when the weather gets cooler than sixty-and-two,
We’ll wish a Merry S.C. Christmas to you!

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Advent Meditation # 2

From John Piper’s Good News of Great Joy Daily Advent Readings

For God’s Little People

“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus

that all the world should be registered. This was the first

registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And

all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph

also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to

Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem,

because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be

registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.”

—Luke 2:1–5

Have you ever thought what an amazing thing it is that God

ordained beforehand that the Messiah be born in Bethlehem

(as the prophecy in Micah 5 shows); and that he so ordained

things that when the time came, the Messiah’s mother and

legal father were living in Nazareth; and that in order to fulfill

his word and bring two little people to Bethlehem that first

Christmas, God put it in the heart of Caesar Augustus that all

the Roman world should be enrolled each in his own town?

Have you ever felt, like me, little and insignificant in a

world of seven billion people, where all the news is of big political

and economic and social movements and of outstanding

people with lots of power and prestige?

If you have, don’t let that make you disheartened or unhappy.

“For it is implicit in Scripture that all the mammoth political

forces and all the giant industrial complexes, without their

even knowing it, are being guided by God, not for their own

sake but for the sake of God’s little people—the little Mary and

the little Joseph who have to be got from Nazareth to Bethlehem.”

God wields an empire to bless his children.

Do not think, because you experience adversity, that the

hand of the Lord is shortened.

“It is not our prosperity but our

holiness that he seeks with all his heart.”

And to that end, he

rules the whole world. As Proverbs 21:1 says, “The king’s heart

is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever

he will.”

He is a big God for little people, and

“we have great cause to

rejoice that, unbeknownst to them, all the kings and presidents

and premiers and chancellors of the world follow the sovereign

decrees of our Father in heaven, that we, the children, might be

conformed to the image of his Son, Jesus Christ.”

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Advent Meditation #1

From John Piper’s Good News of Great Joy (a free e-book download):

“Mary and Elizabeth are wonderful heroines in Luke’s

account. He loves the faith of these women. The thing that

impresses him most, it appears, and the thing he wants to

impress on Theophilus, his noble reader, is the lowliness and

cheerful humility of Elizabeth and Mary.

Elizabeth says,“Why is this granted to me that the mother of

my Lord would come to me?” (Luke 1:43). And Mary says, “He

has looked on the humble estate of his servant” (Luke 1:48).

The only people whose soul can truly magnify the Lord are

people like Elizabeth and Mary—people who acknowledge

their lowly estate and are overwhelmed by the condescension

of the magnificent God.”

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Keeping Holy in Holidays

My conscience stabbed me in the back last week when our pastor Jim Britt asked, “Are we too busy celebrating the King of Kings to spend time with Him?” While I do have devotions every day, I’ve been as guilty as anyone lately of speeding through my precious time with God so I can get on with the task of speeding through all the other tasks and events of the holidays.

Our friend Uk Chong, serving God in Thailand, wrote on his family’s Christmas card this year, “We wish you the ability to focus on the birth of Jesus like the Wise Men did when they followed the star on their long journey. May all the distractions fall into the background and may the most glorious Christmas gift shine His light into your life.”

Charles Spurgeon wrote the following for December 25 in Morning and Evening, “It ought not to be true, but it is true, that our days of feasting are very seldom days of sanctified enjoyment, but too frequently degenerate into unhallowed mirth.” Thankfully, he also wrote, “Have you been forgetful of your high calling?…Then confess the sin, and fly to the sacrifice…This is the best ending of a Christmas – to wash anew in the purifying fountain. Believer, come to this sacrifice continually; if it is so good tonight, it is good every night. To live at the altar is the privilege of the royal priesthood.”

Let’s celebrate our Lord’s birth and enjoy our precious time with friends and family. But let’s never forget to honor Him in our hearts through every bit of it.

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