Project Description

Christmas 2020

 

Merry Christmas everybody!!!

 

Anybody know what a “word cloud” is?. . .

 

a “word cloud?”

 

A “word cloud” is an image—

a graphic of a bunch of words. . .

 

with all the words relating

to a particular theme.

 

And what I think makes a “word cloud”

so interesting and engaging

is that the size of the text of each word

 

indicates how important or

how often a particular word is used

when describing the theme.

 

Here’s an example.

This is a “word cloud” from last year

on the theme of Christmas.

 

Now, whoever made this “word cloud”

asked a bunch of people

to send in a word

that described Christmas for them.

 

The words that are bigger are

the words that were used most frequently

when this group thought about Christmas.

 

Words like:

 

LORD. . .

 

and SHEPHERDS. . .

 

and MARY.

 

I first discovered what a

“word cloud” was while watching a TV show. . . .

 

and I started to wonder. . .

what would our collective “word cloud”

look like today. . .

 

in the midst of such social unrest

and a worldwide pandemic.

 

What’s going on in our hearts and minds?

 

So I found a “word cloud” on the internet

that captured what we

are experiencing as a collective whole

in these very interesting times.

 

Here it is. . .

I found our “word cloud” fascinating. . .

 

Because it was so consistent

with what I’m going through!

 

Some of the largest words. . .

the words that are in

most people’s hearts and minds are

 

AFRAID. . .

 

ALONE. . .

ANGRY. . .

 

ANXIOUS. . .

 

ISOLATED. . .

 

BROKE. . .

 

FEAR. . .

 

MAD. . .

 

CONFUSED.

There were also a few smaller words

in this “pandemic word cloud” that

especially resonated with me.

 

In my “pandemic word cloud”

the text

 

EXHAUSTED. . .

 

PRESSURE. . .

 

and VULNERABLE.

 

Would have been huge.

 

What would some of the

biggest words on your “pandemic word cloud” be? . . .

 

And then. . .

in the midst of all of this. . .

we come together here. . .

and at home. . .

 

to celebrate Christmas.

 

What a curious Christmas this is. . .

with all that we’re going through.

 

And because of what I’m going through. . .

And because of what you’re going through. . .

my “Christmas word cloud”

looks a lot different than the one from last year.

 

We can’t just magically erase all of those pandemic words

From our hearts and minds

And think just of

LORD. . .

 

and SHEPHERDS. . .

 

and AMAZED. . .

 

and PEACE.

 

At least not for me.

 

No, this Christmas,

I think some of our Christmas words

need to be really emphasized. . .

 

We especially need to accentuate

Christmas words that put “

 

AFRAID. . .

 

And ALONE. . .

 

And ANXIOUS. . .

 

And ISOLATED. . .

 

into their proper perspective.

 

We can’t erase them. . .

but we can put them in perspective

 

So I started thinking. . .

and praying. . .

about what my

“Christmas word cloud”

would look like this year. . . .

 

What are the Christmas words that

should be. . .

that need to be

BIGGEST and BOLDEST.

 

Some of my BIGGEST and BOLDEST

words are

BE NOT AFRAID.

 

Remember what the biggest and boldest word

on the pandemic word cloud was?

 

It was AFRAID.

 

Most of us,

at one time or another,

have felt AFRAID during all of this.

But one of the most commonly

repeated phrases in the whole Bible. . .

 

in both the Old Testament. . .

 

and the New Testament is. . .

 

“FEAR NOT!”. . .

or “BE NOT AFRAID!”

 

This phrase appears over

a 100 times in the Old Testament. . .

 

over 40 times in the New!

 

And “BE NOT AFRAID”

is a key—

key phrase

in the Christmas story.

 

The angel Gabriel told Mary:

“Do not be afraid, Mary,

for you have found favor with God.”                                    (Luke 1:30)

 

And Gabriel told Joseph:

“Joseph, son of David,

do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife,

for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.”    (Matthew 1:20b)

 

And to the Shepherds:

“Then an angel of the Lord stood before them,

and the glory of the Lord shone around them,

and they were terrified. . . .

 

But the angel said to them,

“Do not be afraid; for see,

I am bringing you good news of

great joy for all the people:”                                                    (Luke 2:9-10)

 

And when Jesus’ disciples were

the most AFRAID and CONFUSED. . .

 

DO NOT BE AFRAID

was a phrase He used to reassure them.

 

When Jesus called his first disciples,

To a life of trusting in Him,

He told them,

“DO NOT BE AFRAID.”                                                     (Luke 5:10)

 

And when they were afraid and

paralyzed with fear

during a great storm at sea

 

Jesus told them. . .

“WHY ARE YOU AFRAID?

Have you still no faith?”                                       (Mark  4:40)

 

And in His great Sermon on the Mount

Jesus says:

“But even the hairs of your head are all counted.

DO NOT BE AFRAID;

you are of more value than many sparrows.                     (Luke 12:7)

 

Yes, on my “Christmas word cloud” this year. . .

 

in HUGE, BOLD letters are the words

DO NOT BE AFRAID!

 

Another dominant word

this Christmas for me will be

EMMANUEL.

 

Commenting on the birth of Jesus,

Matthew quotes the Prophet Isaiah:

 

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord

had said through the prophet:

 

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son,

and they shall name him EMMANUEL,”

which means “GOD IS WITH US.”                                      (Matthew 1:23)

 

That’s a huge one for me.

 

You know someone just can’t say

BE NOT AFRAID

without backing it up with something. . .

without giving a reason why we shouldn’t be afraid. . .

 

well, here it is.

 

No matter what we’re going through. . .

EMMANUEL. . .

GOD IS WITH US.

 

In our FEAR and in our CONFUSION and in our FATIGUE

the all-powerful

and all-knowing

and all the loving God

is here with us. . .

 

Experiencing the same thing.

 

JESUS once told Teresa of Avila

that when she cried,

He had to turn his head,

because it hurt him so bad too.

 

But BE NOT AFRAID,

Jesus says,

Because in the end God,

will bring great good from it all—

because of EMMANUEL—

GOD IS WITH US.

 

Yes,

BE NOT AFRAID. . .

And EMMANUEL—

GOD IS WITH US.

 

But the BIGGEST. . .

and the BOLDEST word on my

“Christmas word cloud” this year

will be the name. . .

JESUS.

 

In Hebrew,

it’s pronounced YESHUA.

 

But in English,

we say JESUS.

 

JESUS is a form of the name Joshua,

which means “GOD SAVES.”

Yes, GOD SAVES.

 

Remember YESHUA. . .

JESUS. . .

Teaching:

“I tell you, my friends,

do not fear those who kill the body,

and after that can do nothing more.”

 

Why?

 

Because GOD SAVES. . .

Because JESUS SAVES.

 

One of the most precious times

in a child’s life,

is something they don’t even remember.

 

It happens right after their birth,

and the mother is holding the child. . .

 

And she looks at it with such love—

love that is so great that only God’s love is greater. . .

 

And she whispers to the child. . .

She whispers to him or her

Their name.

 

What a moment.

 

And we,

on this special day,

we see Mary,

looking down at the newborn in her arms with such love. . .

 

and whispering to Him his name. . .

 

the name that is above all other names. . .

the name at which in the end. . .

every head will bow

and every knee will bend. . .

 

whispering to His name. . .

YESHUA. . .

 

JESUS,

 

GOD SAVES.

 

DO NOT BE AFRAID. . .

 

EMMANUEL. . .

 

GOD IS WITH US. . .

 

YESHUA. . .

 

JESUS. . .

 

GOD SAVES.

 

Our BIGGEST AND BOLDEST Christmas words

that help put this Christmas

in proper perspective

 

Holy Spirit 2020