Anna: Proclaimer of Christ

familyAnd coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.— Luke 2:38 (ESV)

To Read: Luke 2:22–38

Biblical Synopsis: Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord in accordance with the Mosaic law. Simeon, a man in the temple, took the babe in his arms and blessed him. Afterward, they met the pious woman Anna, who gave thanks and spoke of the Redeemer to all who would listen.

Application for Today: Anna’s story, encompassing only three verses, doesn’t give many details to her life. We don’t hear how she met her husband, or if she had any children, or even what she said. Read more

What the Traditional Nativity often Gets Wrong

nativityWe sing about the babe born in the manger, and we decorate with beautiful nativity scenes commemorating the Christ child’s birth.

If you go to Bethlehem, you could visit the “Church of the Nativity,” a basilica erected by Constantine on top of the place traditionally believed to be the birthplace of Christ.

And, there’s certainly nothing wrong with reverent displays.

But as we celebrate tradition and the words of the Christ tale, we mustn’t forget that the lenses of our cultural glasses have the tendency to color the story. Or to put it another way, we often take our modern day notions and ideas and read them back into the text. Sometimes, this causes us to miss out on crucial parts of the story. Read more

What the Christmas Story Means for the Oppressed and the Oppressors

red_christmas_rejoiceThese recent days, I’ve struggled to express the words of my heart over the plight of my African American brothers and sisters in the United States.

I’ve found myself waking up in the middle of the night troubled over the callous words spoken verbally or spread across social media platforms by several conservative white evangelicals. Read more

Mother Mary Depicted through Art

I’ve seen several artistic renderings of Mary in museums depicting her with a sweet yet somber look. And of course, the golden halo and white shining skin. Probably not so realistic, right?

But I still love to look at this artwork because even when the skin color is wrong or the clothes are obviously from the wrong century, great artists know how to capture emotion. And it’s this emotion that often draws me into a picture, captivating me for a few splendid moments.

How marvelous though when an artist captures emotion in a realistic way—sometimes these images stay with you the rest of your life.

The artwork for Moody Bible Institute’s 2014 Candle Light Carols falls into such a category. It was done by the talented artist Bryan Butler. Take a look at his design for Moody here.

The Influence of the Old Testament in Mary’s Magnificat

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“So Mary trusted God more than what her eyes could see,” reads the Jesus Storybook Bible.

Gabriel had told her an astonishing thing—she as a virgin would be the mother of the Son of God, “For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).

Later, Mary responds with a song of praise to God, known today as the Magnificat.

Mary’s song reflects her deep knowledge of the lives and words of the Old Testament saints, and in particular, Hannah’s story resonated with Mary.

Over a thousand years earlier, Hannah sang a song of praise to God for blessing her barren womb, and Mary praised God for making fertile the womb of a virgin. Read more

Christmas with an Old Testament Twist

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As the 2014 Advent season begins, I’m excited to explore some of the Old Testament themes pertaining to Christmas.

Check back tomorrow morning to read how Hannah’s song of praise resonated with Mary, and join me throughout the season of Advent as I seek to direct our hearts toward the Christ of the first advent, who promises to return in a mighty second advent.