Life has not unfolded as I envisioned it as a young dreamer many years ago. Similarly Christmas 2013 bears little resemblance to its “year zero” original. However, in the words of author Dallas Willard, we live in a “God-breathed world*.” There is nothing humanity can make or unmake, do or undo with Christmas or anything else that God did not create, permit or control.
God breathed new life into me 30 years ago and as I’ve walked on in faith since then, I seek God’s context in every moment and to “lean not on my own understanding.” Through God’s eyes, UPs emerge in the mundane and amazingly from the deepest of DOWNs.
So, this UP SIDE DOWN ornament is available this year by request AND your pledge to think about and comment how its message strikes you.
Christmas celebrates the birth of a child said to fulfill ancient Jewish prophecies about a Messiah King like their great King David (1050 BC) who would vanquish their enemies and establish an everlasting reign of peace. (Isaiah 9:6).
While Jewish scholars today discount prophecies Christians claim are messianic, the fanfare of Christmas 2013 would have suited their UP expectations for Messiah more than Christmas “year zero” did. In looking for an UP king like David they were caught looking in the wrong direction. Here are a few points of confusion.
DOWN #1 – How Jesus arrived – born to a mom who insisted she conceived while still an unmarried virgin. Really?
DOWN #2 – Birthplace. Although Bethlehem was the birthplace of King David, in “year zero” it was little more than a backwoods town located literally in the shadow of the local king’s fortress at Herodium that towered 2,487 feet in elevation over Bethlehem (elevation 775) just 3.1 miles down the road. God could pick anywhere. Why Bethlehem?
DOWN # 3 – Convoluted birth story. He wasn’t born at home surrounded by a royal family but in an animal stall in a distant city. His only visitors were shepherds who say they were summoned by an angelic host and the mysterious magi from who knows where who followed a star.
A stall? Shepherds and Magi? Angels and a star? Could the Messiah King’s entrance be any less credible or more confusing?
After the shepherds departed, it was noted that “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19)
What things did she ponder? . . . (Was anything about Jesus’ birth NOT ponderable?)
DOWN # 4 – Jesus’ compelling manner but counterintuitive message first wowed the crowds but ultimately confounded them.
Scripture offers clues for understanding:
Hint! Hint! Relationship with God requires both heart and brain. Jesus would affirm and reinforce that idea. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21; Luke 12:34)
The verses quoted on the ornament’s pages are just a small sampling of Jesus’ UP SIDE DOWN-ness . Others include: bless your enemies (Rom 12:14), value godliness over wealth (1 Tim 6: 6-9), take joy in hardship (James 1:2), God sets himself against worldly wisdom and strength (1 Cor 1:27), and “Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. “ (Matt 16: 25).
Christianity today presents the birth of Christ as a holy and magical event – God touching down on planet earth. But as a stand-alone event in history, it wasn’t that at all. It is only so in context to the greater story of God’s efforts to connect with humanity and that story didn’t begin in Bethlehem but in Eden. Christmas is really part of that greater story and Jesus has a significant role in it.
Which is why Christians believe that Christ is the answer to why we are. Arriving as he did, odd as it seems, went EXACTLY as planned. But to truly hear and see and know him “breathing life” into us and the chaos around us, we need to completely INVERT our perspective – UP SIDE DOWN!
- To SeaLemonDIY on You Tube (http://www.youtube.com/user/SeaLemonDIY) for the lesson on how to make my little book with real pages. She has many other DIY “How Tos” there as well. Check it out.
- To my friend and Pastor, Doug Walker for yet another lesson to build a Christmas ornament around. If you read back through prior ornament messages, you’ll note that I attribute many of my ornament lessons to Doug’s teaching. Doug is pastor of the church we attend, Grace Chapel in Farmington Hills, MI (www.graceepc.org). The “counterintuitive, upside down gospel” is a predominant theme in his messages.
- To my new colleague, Sister Joyce Van de Vyver who encouraged me not to abandon my ornament project this year when I was thinking of doing so. Thanks!
- TEXT of UP SIDE DOWN Ornament
FRONT COVER: UP SIDE DOWN (upside down)
INSIDE FRONT COVER: THE GOOD NEWS?
1st page: lean not on your own understanding… (Proverbs 3: 5-7)
2nd page: The virgin will conceive and give birth (Isaiah 7:14)
3rd page: I came (not) to bring peace… but division (even within families) (Luke 12: 51-53, paraphrase)
4th page: He was despised and rejected…Like one from whom people hide their faces (Isaiah 53:3)
INSIDE BACK COVER: By Glenn Trevisan, Christmas 2013
- IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO RECEIVE a 2013 “UP SIDE DOWN,” simply request one by emailing me at FarmingtonGlenn@gmail.com. If you receive one, I respectfully ask that you offer a comment about the message by email, Facebook (if we’re already “friends”) or here on at RoadReportJournal.com. I’m not fishing for “likes” but how the message struck you.
- Dallas Willard quote from his book, “The Divine Conspiracy”
- BIBLE READING: If you are serious about answering why you are, grab a bible, start with prayer to ask God to reveal himself to you and give you understanding. For a great Bible reading program, check out the Bible Reading System on my blog. I’d be happy to walk you through it.
- About Glenn’s Ornaments: See the pictures and stories of all the ornaments under category Creations.