Merry Christmas!

I’ve always had fond memories as a child going out with my
family to pick out a Christmas tree and bring it home to set it up. So
since Hershey is pretty close to a lot of tree farms, and our home in
Tanzania is surrounded by acacia woodland and not evergreens, I thought
we should take this opportunity on furlough to do this. So we told the
kids we were going to get a real tree and put it in the family room, and
Drew said, “What! A real tree, I don’t want a real tree, I want the
plastic one in the basement that looks like a Christmas tree, a real
tree won’t look like a Christmas tree!” Ahhhh, we thought, here’s a kid
whose main experience with Christmasy type trees was the fake plastic
ones. He thought we were going to cut down the Japanese Maple out back
and stick it in the family room! After reassuring him that there are
REAL evergreens that came first, look as Christmasy as you can get, of
which the fake ones are modeled after, he went along with the idea.

So remember this season, amidst all the fake glitter and gold,
there is a REAL Jesus, a REAL God who loves us, a REAL peace that He has
secured for us.

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the
government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”
Isaiah 9:6
“And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly
host praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on
earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.’ ” Luke 2:13-14
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives,
do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be
fearful.” John 14:27
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In
the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the
world.” John 16:33

“But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought
near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both
groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by
abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments
contained in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two into one
new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one
body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.
And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to
those who were near; for through Him we both have our access in one
Spirit to the Father.” Ephesians 2: 13-18

Let us together realize afresh this season the awesomeness of the birth
of Jesus. Consider this, that God Himself had us in mind, had the whole
of humanity in mind, had all of His creation in mind, when He planned
and chose from the very beginning to become like us, become one of us,
become our… Savior, Substitute, Advocate, Mediator, Reconciler,
Redeemer, Resurrection, Propitiation, Perfect High Priest, Prince of Peace.

Merry Christmas from our whole family,

Jon, Melissa, Joshua, Andrew, and Rachel