The Christmas Holiday Season and Advent by the EFCA’s Greg Strand and Kelley Johnson

This is a Christmas post to draw attention to two articles I saw in the EFCA. The articles deal with Advent and Christmas by Greg Strand and Kelley Johnson. In the holiday season I wanted to share two gems that I found. The EFCA does have pockets of good inside of it. This is an example of that as discovered here at this blog.

“Who can add to Christmas? The perfect motive is that God so loved the world. The perfect gift is that He gave His only Son. The only requirement is to believe in Him. The reward of faith is that you shall have everlasting life.”

Corrie Ten Boom 

“The Christmas message is that there is hope for a ruined humanity–hope of pardon, hope of peace with God, hope of glory–because at the Father’s will Jesus became poor, and was born in a stable so that thirty years later He might hang on a cross.”

J.I. Packer

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isiah 9:6 NIV

Nativity scene

Its easy to be focused on scandal or issues in an organization. While the EFCA has its challenges there are also pockets of good inside the denomination. You just need to know where to look and keep alert. Its the goal of this blog to not just focus on scandal or issues but to share and point out the positives in the EFCA. And there are a lot of positive components. Currently I am distracted from the EFCA as I am immersed in writing about the Harvest Bible Chapel scandal with James MacDonald in Chicago. This is a post that I have been meaning to get up. Christmas is a neat time of year for many people. For myself this year the holiday is going to be dark due to the death of my Dad late last month. That comes after the loss of my Mom in 2017. But I will make that a separate post. For now I just want to feature two posts that deal with the holiday season which I read and processed and found to be a good read. The Advent post by Greg Strand is good even though we are coming to the end of Advent. In five short days it will be Christmas. I just want to take  a rest with a post and remind you to enjoy the holidays with loved ones, family, friends, and those in your life. Give your Mom and Dad a hug if you can. I wish I could hug my parents again.

Greg Strand’s post about Advent can be accessed in, “The Word Became Flesh.” The other post worth reading is by Kelley Johnson who does pastoral care in the North Central District of the EFCA. The North Central is Minnesota. I am printing  the post below or you can see it in its original form in, “Are We Really Paying Attention? Are We Really Living the Gift?

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6 (ESV)

As we move quickly through the holidays, we often see and hear this passage cited as a wonderful reminder of the long foretold prophecy of the coming Messiah, but do we ever stop to reflect on those four descriptive phrases of Jesus? Even if we strip away the adjectives, we are still left with some deep things to consider. Let’s have a quick look:

Wonderful Counselor: Having invested some time with a counselor, I can understand the value of being counseled. And, as much as I like my counselor, “Wonderful” is not always an adjective I would use to describe her. But here, we have a counselor who truly has our best in mind. We can fully trust Him and His Word to lead and guide us through Life. This should bring us comfort.

Mighty God: Not just any god, but The mighty, omnipotent God of the universe. This God loves us so much that He sent His Son to this ball of dirt to save our sorry souls. He is bigger than any earthy problem we may have to face in this life. This should bring us safety.

Everlasting Father: Even if you are living with a distorted father image because of a broken past, this Father is one you can fully embrace and one Who wants to fully embrace you. He wants to adopt you into His family as sons and daughters with all the benefits and responsibilities that go with that adoption. With this adoption comes the right to call on your “Abba, Father!” in our darkest times trusting that He will see you through them. This should bring us security.

Prince of Peace: The word for peace here is “Shalom,” and means to be safe, to be well, to be happy. And Jesus is the prince of this peace, meaning He not only brings it in the person of who He is, but He also dispenses it as “the giver of all good things.”  This should bring us peace.

But the big question is: Do we really live like this? Do we move through our busy, crazy, falling world as though we truly have a Wonderful Counselor, a Mighty God, an Everlasting Father, and a Prince of Peace? And, if we did, how would that impact our busy, crazy, falling world? No doubt people would notice, and they would either think we are a little off…or they would be drawn to find out why we have such peace, security, safety, and comfort. And then we can tell them about the gift we have received and how they can get it too.

Merry Christmas,
Kelley & Jola Johnson
NCD Pastoral Care