There are a couple of links I’d like to share, which have thought-provoking messages for us to consider this time of year. I believe they encourage us to be grateful for what God has provided and to put more stock into the real reason we celebrate Christmas. It’s not “Giftmas” or “Travelmas” or “Spendmoneymas” or even “Make-Sure-Everyone-Observes-YOUR-Traditionsmas.” It is CHRISTmas.

It really shouldn’t be about putting pressure on ourselves. It shouldn’t be stressful.

That’s not what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

Here’s the first one. I’ll post the other one later today.

Pastor Kip’s e-Letter  
Asbury United Methodist Church

One Asbury Way
Birmingham, Alabama 35242
All of Pastor Kip’s e-Letters:


December 15, 2010  One of my favorite pieces of literature to read during this season of the year is Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” It seems to always hold a fresh and special magic for me each holiday season.  There is one portion of the story that has always fascinated me. The Ghost of Christmas Past has just paid a very disturbing visit to Ebenezer Scrooge. Clearly the old penny pinching miser is shaken by the eerie episode. But when he awakens from his sleep, he simply dismisses it by famously saying: “Bah, humbug! It wasn’t real. Just a bit of last night’s undigested beef.”  Scrooge seems incapable of taking the message to heart. 

It is a question that always haunts me at Christmastime. Would I have heard the choirs of angels singing or simply the sounds of barnyard animals scrounging for food? Would I have spotted the star in the sky, and would I have had the courage to follow? Would I have comprehended the message of Emmanuel, “God with us”, or would the cosmic implications of that evening been totally lost on me?  Would I have been like the Magi and had the honesty to stop and ask for directions to the manger? 

I know what you are probably thinking – If I had been there at Bethlehem that night I would have understood what was taking place.  I would have understood.  Would you really?   

There is one way of knowing: Ask yourself what you are really seeing this Christmas Season. When you went out to do your shopping did you see only masses of people in the stores pushing and shoving for the latest deal, or did you notice the worried expressions on some of their faces…people needing to hear a word of hope?  Do you see the burdens hordes that are facing this Christmas without employment and unsure how they are going to make ends meet.

You need to also ask yourself what you are hearing this Christmas.  Did you hear only the redundant sounds of music and carols, or did you hear the heavy sighs of the lonely and the bereaved who may be dreading Christmas because it only accentuates their loneliness?  Can you hear those who seem to be skipping Christmas because it is just too painful to celebrate?  And in the midst of the honking horns and people arguing over parking places at The Summit, did you hear the holy sounds of laughter that will come from downtown because someone furnished toys for impoverished children? 

You see, so often what we see and what we hear centers on ourselves instead of others.  If we can but take our eyes off our own desires this Christmas, we just might have understood the meaning of what happened in Bethlehem so long ago.  In the end perhaps one of our carols says it best: “No ear may hear his coming, but in this world of sin. Where meek souls shall receive him still, the dear Christ child enters in.”


May it be so in your life this Christmas!

Pastor Kip