Your Best Christmas Ever

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I’m recording this on Thursday, the 20th of December. That means, tomorrow is the Winter Solstice. The shortest day and longest night of the year. Then starting Saturday, the days start getting longer. Man, that’s an exciting day for me. Then I get excited on the Spring Equinox, because that means the days are longer than the nights. Yes, I’m easily pleased. But tomorrow night will be especially cool, because it’s also a full moon. Sadly, here in Buckie, it will be cloudy, so we might miss it. But in other places, the full moon on the Winter Solstice is just plain cool.

I hope you’ve got your Christmas shopping done. I have to go to Liddle’s or Tesco before Christmas. I’m not looking forward to it. The crowds will be insane. Everyone who has waited until the last minute to buy a turkey, or a Christmas pudding will be there rummaging through, in search of a bargain.

Aberdeen, Elgin and Inverness will be absolute pandemonium, as people look for last minute bargains. Oddly, one of my favorite memories of Glasgow, is going to the Barra’s on Christmas Eve at midnight. The crowds were crazy, and the deals phenomenal. It really was a magical place. I don’t know whether or not it’s still the place to be on Christmas eve, but I cherish those memories.

What are your favorite Christmas memories? Do you have some? I know some people don’t. Their memories of the Holiday, are bathed in thoughts of abusive parents, or of alcohol, or drugs, or poverty. Christmas has always been a day of dread, or even fear. I totally understand. I won’t go into detail, but one of the darkest days of my life was a Christmas, many years ago. The hurt, the pain, the discomfort that came with it, haunted the season for years. If I allowed myself, I could still feel the agony of those dark days.

Fortunately, that dark time is long ago for me. And, I promise, those memories, those fears, can become distant and faded. I’m not trying to sound like your counselor or like I’m just preaching like I do on Sundays. I just want to share with you something I know. Something that used to be prominent during the Christmas Season. And it Changes everything.

The Apostle John, says in Chapter 1 verse 14, The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us. The Good News Bible, one of my favorite translations, says it this way, The Word became a human being, and live among us.

I want to kind of stop and think about that for a minute. If you remember last week, John started his Gospel with the words, In the Beginning was the Word. The Word was with God, and the Word Was God. That sounds kind of high brow and churchy to us in the 21st century, but basically, John says, Jesus, The Word, is God. You can’t deny he says that. He’s going to use his whole book to prove it, but he makes the claim. He says it directly, and boldly. I dare you to read the book of John and try to prove that Jesus and his followers believed anything different that that.

It’s a bold statement. Especially in our 21 century politically correct world. But it’s only part of the story. He completes his thought in verse 14. The word became a human being and lived for a while among us.

John is saying, that God became a human being. He didn’t disguise himself. He didn’t just look human. He was human. St. Paul says the same thing later in the Book of Philippians, chapter 2. He says that Jesus, although being in form, God, didn’t consider that something to be clung to, but he emptied himself, and became a human. That’s incredible.

I bet, when you think of God. Yo u think of Him as far off, as some kind of unknowable, maybe even judgemental person, who has know real idea of what your life is like. After all, He’s God. He lives in heaven, surrounded by angels. He can’t possible understand what it’s like to be you.

But the heart of the Gospel is something completely different. God became a man. He experienced the need to have his nappy changed. He knew what it was to be cold, or hungry, he knew what hard work was. He experienced the desire for friends. He knew what being rejected by people felt like. He actually understood what it felt like to lose people you love. He can tell you exactly what being arrested and kept in prison is like. He knows all about how fickle local government can be. He knows what it’s like when you’ve been beaten until you can’t stand up under your own power. And he knows what it’s like to be falsely accused and laughed at. All of the dark things you’ve felt throughout your life. All of the rejection, all of the unfulfilled hopes and dreams.

That’s the Christmas message. It’s a beautiful, romantic story of a baby born in a stable. Of a group of shepherds who came to visit and worship. Of Angels, and wise men, and an evil king. It has all the characteristics of a great movie. But is is much more that that.

Its the story of God becoming a man. To demonstrate his love for us. To show us how to live. How to have hope in a crazy, sometimes dark world.

I can’t speak for you. I can tell you, that my pain took a long time to heal. And that only happened because I surrendered it to Him, to Jesus. I realized that He understood, that He could give me a new start. That the God who became a man, could take my pain and build something new, and marvellous.

Christmas time, is so amazing. It’s a new beginning, at the very heart of the darkness of winter. It’s bright lights in the middle of December. How cool is that. What a metaphor. There is hope in Christmas. At just the right time, a hero arrived. He can, and wants to, give you a new life. The Bible calls it being born again. How appropriate is that?

I’m not going to spend all our times together trying to sound like a TV preacher. But sometimes I’ve got to. God loves you. He loves you so much that he became a human, just like you. And he want’s to make your Christmas, and all your Christmases to come, just like they are in the movies. Full of hope, and joy, and love.

Think about it. Next week, we’ll have some fun thinking about the year end and looking forward to what 2019 has in store. I can’t wait. I hope your Christmas is everything you dream it will be. Don’t eat too much. Or drink too much. Remember to leave some mince pies out for Santa. If you want, stop by the Church of the 23rd at 6:30 p.m. And join us in our Christmas Carol celebration. You’re invited, wanted and welcome. Merry Christmas to you. That’s it from me this week. I’m out.

 

Jesus’ DNA, And What It Means For Christmas

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Hello Buckie! How’s everybody doing out there today. After yesterday’s high winds, I hope you’re well and that nobody’s house blew to Oz. Wow, that was a wild day. Anyway, thanks for tuning in. You’re listening to Radio Free Buckie, and I’m your host, Sam Burton. Glad you’re here.

We’ve got a couple events coming up real quick that I want to take notice of. First of all, this weekend is the Christmas Cracker. Wow, can you believe it’s already that time of year? I remember last year, it was cold. Brr. But what a load of fun it was. Anyway, I do hope you get out and enjoy all the festivities. As usual, at our Church, the Buckie Church of Christ, on West Church and Pringle Streets, Glenn Campbell is having another fund raiser for the youth drama team and they’ll be hosting a luncheon. Brittan and I plan to be there for a good part of the day, so do say hello.

On Sunday, the Second of December, we’re hosting a movie night at the Church. We’re showing, I Can Only Imagine. It’s the movie about how the song came to be. It’s really a great film and you’re invited to come join us. The film will be starting at 6:30, but the doors will be open by 5:45 for everyone to come on in and get some freshly popped corn and/or get some fresh candy floss and find a good seat. The back rows fill up quickly, so get there early.

And finally, On Saturday, 8th December, we’re holding our second annual, Bake Off, cake competition. I’m sure you’ve seen some posters around town, but if not, it’s a baking competition for fun and prizes. Last year we had about 15 cakes. We’d like to double that this year. So we have some new categories. First, we have two categories for children up to age 15. We have one for adults. There is also a category for non cake bakers, like cookies, puddings, or other desserts. And we have an open competition for: The biggest cake disaster. It is only 5 pounds to enter, and all proceeds go to the Fishermen’s Hall. So please come and join the fun.

If you have any questions about any of those events just write me at radiofreebuckie@gmail.com.

Have any of you noticed all the interest and hubub about tracing your ancestry? This whole DNA thing is really starting to catch on. For the low low price of about 49 to 100 pounds, a company will post a kit to you. Basically, you spit in the cup and post it back to the company. In a few weeks they will send you a complete DNA profile, including the names of relatives, racial background, where your ancestors come from, whether or not you have any Neandrathals in your family tree, etc. It’s all good fun and making these companies filthy rich. We’re fascinated by it.

At the same time, one of the parts of the Bible that drives most of us crazy are all the genealogies, sometimes called the BEGATS. You know. Someone begat so and so and he begat whats his name and etc. etc. They drive most of us crazy. They are boring and we can’t even pronounce half the names. So usually, we just skip over them. You know you do.

But I want to try and change your mind about the genealogies in the Bible. Today, we’re going to talk about the one that starts the book of Matthew, the very first book of the New Testament. I mean the book starts right off with it right in verse one. Most of us see that, and we close our Bibles right up, or we decide to skip to the book of Mark.

But Matthew was very smart in his genealogy, giving people a great deal to think about. In his day, this would have been thought provoking and controversial. He is showing that Jesus is the heir to the throne of Israel. No controversy there, the Jewish Messiah should be heir to the throne. But he mentions 5 women. 5 significant women. Nobody did that. Especially this list of women.

First there is Tamar. She is Judah’s daughter in Law. She’s a gentile. And Judah father’s twins by her. This is a long and sordid story. The short version is, She was married to Judah’s oldest son, he died before children, so as the custom was, she was then married off to his younger brother. He also died. Because Judah’s next son was too young, she was sent home to her family with a promise that she’d be married to his next son once he was old enough. That’s a tough thing for us to understand that custom. To us, it sounds weird and kind of gross. But to all of them, it was quite normal. Anyway, Judah in time forgot about Tamar. After his wife died, in order to get Judah’s attention, Tamar dresses up as a prostitute and slept with him. I know, it sounds like something straight out of netflix. Anyway, she turns up pregnant. There is a big scandalous showdown, and Judah admits they are his babies. But although its a huge scandal in town, She is in the family tree of Jesus.

The next woman is Rahab. She is also a gentile. And she is a prostitute. She ran a hotel and brothel in Jericho. We read about her in the book of Exodus. She protected the spies, and because of that she was spared when the Jews took the City by force. Then she marries a Jew named Salmon, and has a son named Boaz.

The third woman mentioned is Ruth. She has a whole book of the old testament that tells here story. She is a gentile. She is married and her husband dies. She moves in with her mother in law, Naomi. They are both widows and become very poor. Naomi has a rich relative who has a farm. She talks Ruth into working at his farm. Short version, she and the farmer fall in love and get married. The rich farmer is, Boaz. Ruth gives birth to a son, Obed, who is the Grandfather of King David.

The next woman mentioned is Bathsheba. Bathsheba may or may not have been a gentile. Her name means daughter of Sheba which could be her father’s name, or could mean she is from sheba in Africa. Either way, she was married to Uriah the Hittite, one of David’s most famous soldiers. He and Bathsheba were neighbors of David. David has an affair with Bathsheba while Uriah is away in the army, and she gets pregnant. As a result, in the end, David has Uriah killed and marries Bathsheba. Their son dies. It is a tragic scene in the Bible. Anyway. David does love her, despite all the scandal of tragedy. She has a second son, named Solomon. Yes, THAT solomon.

Would you look at that list of women. All 4 of them are gentiles. Three of them are of quetionable morality. Who would list them in their genealogy as the only women. Oh wait, there’s another. Her name is Mary. She is a young woman from Nazareth who is told she is going to have a baby, and her child would be the son of God. She can’t understand this message because though she’s engaged, she’s a virgin. The angel says, God will take care of that part so she will be pure when the child is born and still be a virgin for her wedding day.

See, Jesus is not the product of perfection. The family tree is loaded with liars, cheats, false religious leaders, adulterers and even murderers. His family is a mess. Just like yours and mine. He knows what we feel like, what we endure. He gets it. But you see, when the Bible mentions these women, Matthew is telling us, Jesus died for ordinary people, and he died for some pretty wicked ones. The gospel is for everyone. Whoever we are and where ever we’re from. The people who read his gospel in his day, understood exactly that. And he ends the same way, The book of matthew ends with these words from Jesus. “Therefore go and make disciples of every nation, baptizing them in the name of the father, son and Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey every thing I’ve commanded you. Surely I will be with you, to the very end of the age.”

That is so awesome, Matthew declares at the beginning and the end of his memories of Jesus, that Jesus came, not just for the religious elite, or the rich and famous, but for every single one of us. Now that’s some good news to start of this Christmas season. Think about it.

That’s all I’ve got for today. I sure hope to see you at one or more of the events coming up. That’s the Cracker, at the movie, or at the Cake Off. If you have any questions to ask about any of the events or about the stuff in Matthew’s Gospel, write me at radiofreebuckie@gmail.com , or use the comments section at www.radiofreebuckie.com or pm me at the radiofreebuckie FB page. Until next week. I’m done. I’m out.