Archives for posts with tag: nativity

BTTC Web JPEGGrowing up poor, our Christmases were never about going places. We stayed put and people came to us. We never traveled anywhere, no matter the season. A trip to the beach (half an hour away) was an annual event to which the whole church looked forward with great anticipation.

The rise of cities, the easy access to different modes of transportation, the expectation that we will all be home for Christmas — all these have contributed to the notion that Christmas is more about the buzz around the thing than the thing itself. And considering the amount of travel people will be doing over the next couple of weeks, you would be tempted to believe that the buzz is in the packing, the marvel is in the travel and the Christmas spirit is indeed in the air since 66% of travelers are flying this year instead of using an automobile or another means of transportation.

So once again we will pack our bags, fill our planes, keep the roads busy, tell our kids we are almost there for hundreds of times and make excuses to our parents as to why we can’t stay there long. For an outsider looking in, Christmas would appear to be more about getting there than actually being there.

While I will be one of those thousands of happy parents who will be able to be with his children on Christmas Day, I would like to remind everyone that the only trip that matters in connection with the Christmas story is the one that the King of the universe made to this lowly planet called earth. While this is so obvious to us, it is worth repeating: We travel to be home for Christmas, Jesus traveled so we could one day have a home in Christ.

Of all the travel surrounding the birth of the baby Jesus — Mary’s trip to visit her pregnant relative, Elizabeth, Joseph and Mary’s trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem, the wise men who came from the East, which could be modern-day Iran or even as far away as China, the angels who engaged in some amazing intergalactic travel, even the flight to Egypt — all of these pale in comparison to the journey the Creator of the universe took, from the bosom of the Father and the soothing presence of the Holy Spirit to a place replete with suffering, strife, selfishness and sin.

But it didn’t stop there. This journey was not merely a stopover; it was a permanent change of address, the most radical change of zip code ever done. John put it this way: “And ‘The Word’ became flesh and moved permanently to our neighborhood.” (John 1:14). There you have it. While many are always looking for an upgrade, Jesus got the mother of all downgrades — He took our skin to remove our sin; He traveled down below so we wouldn’t keep falling “belower.” This infamy that gave Him incarnation is the impetus that gives us justification and ensures our salvation. His humiliation causes us to share in His glory and the anticipation of this sharing is what I hope to keep lodged in the front lobe of my brain and in the core of my heart throughout this season. That’s what I will remind my family of when I read them the story of the Birth of Christ from the book of Luke on Christmas Day.

Merry Christmas, everyone. Don’t let the travel steer you away from the marvel.


Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade
Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA

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The Moravians are famous not only for the incredible feat of saving Lititz’ nativity scene (against the schemes of none other than the ACLU, mind you!), they have a knack for even crazier things. That’s right. There were some crazy things going on with those Moravians early on.

John Hus began to preach to the people of Moravia (in modern-day Czech Republic) in 1400 A.D. Because he refused to stop preaching the Word to the common people, he was burned at the stake by the established Church at the time. But before he died he made a prediction that the preaching of the Word would be like a “hidden seed” in the ground that one day would bring revival.

Another 200 years go by and a man by the name of John Amos Comenius led the Moravians out of their land into a safe place. They lived as wanderers for 100 years, often without a home, but before Comenius died, he predicted that the “hidden seed” that Hus spoke about would sprout in revival in 100 years.

Then along came the crazy man with a weird name – Zinzendorf, a man of noble birth whose family was rich and powerful, but he went off the deep end. No, not that deep end but a real deep one – he found Christ and was “doomed” for it. People call him “the rich young ruler who said ‘yes.’” And say yes he did. At age 27 he took in one Moravian refugee into his sprawling estate and the next thing you know he had 300 living with him. Crazy stuff, I know. Then he became their leader – wouldn’t he though, if he is footing the bill?

Okay, seriously, this guy was the real thing –this Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf. Under his spiritual guidance, those Moravians lived together, studied God’s Word together, and grew together. One day the Count was studying history and he came across the statement by John Amos Comenius about the “hidden seed” of revival. He looked at the calendar and that week was exactly 100 years since Comenius made that prophecy.

Crazy, huh? He called an all-night prayer vigil and the next day revival broke out. It was August 13, 1727, “the Moravian Pentecost.” But it gets even crazier… He picked a place in town and decided to start a 24 hour, round the clock prayer meeting. Every hour three people would be praying. Do you know how may one-hour periods are there in a week? Exactly 168. 300 Moravians. You do the math.

That means that at any particular hour three people were praying together in the place of prayer. For a whole week? No? A whole year? No. 5 years? No. 10 years? No. 50 years? No. 100 years? No. 110 years to be exact. Crazy people, those Moravians. I told you.

But during that time their hearts began to yearn for the things God yearns for. They were filled with a burning desire to see the message of Christ proclaimed to the unreached peoples of the world. In just 15 years they had already sent 70 missionaries around the world. But they didn’t just make an altar call and asked who was feeling God’s call to the mission field. No, they cast lots among the males, and whoever got picked got to go. They took care of the wife and children of the missionary during the time of his absence. Some of them even sold themselves intentionally as slaves so they could preach the Gospel to slaves. (Did I say they were crazy?)  Just one of the churches that the Moravians started sent 200 missionaries. They were soon all over the world among unreached people groups and they started the modern missionary movement. They would be the largest church in the world today if they didn’t have this crazy habit of starting churches and then turning them over to other groups. Who does that today? Crazy!

And the craziest thing they did? They founded the borough of Lititz. That’s right. Count Zinzendorf himself made a personal appearance, looking for a place where Moravians could settle. He spoke at a tavern in Lititz; then proceeded to Lancaster the next day. Some guy heard about him and having missed him in Lititz, followed him South and the next night gave his life to Jesus and a big parcel of land too, which happens to be where Lititz is located today. Crazy stuff.

And why am I telling you all of this? Because this Sunday I am speaking about prayer and the role it plays in changing the world. And I want us to become Moravian crazy, that’s all.

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade

Christmas Babies - Blog header

Every year it happens, “the war on Christmas.” Those who want to keep Christ in Christmas versus those who like the season but balk at the reason for it. And let’s just say it: the war is not really on Christmas; it’s on Christ. If the celebration was called “Santa-mas,” no one would care. If other symbols were added to the nativity, like a menorah, a multi-colored rainbow, a Navajo all-Seeing Eye, a Kwanza Mkeka, etc., we would all be singing Kumbaya and passing the peace pipe around. But when that baby named Christ entered the scene, as the song rightly says, “he changed everything.” As soon as He was placed in the stable, He became a target for the enemies of God and that’s why the war on Christmas rages on.

The situation got so bad a few years ago that even mild-mannered humorist Garrison Keillor entered the fray. In an article characterized by his usual sharp wit, he remarked:

“Christmas is a Christian holiday – if you’re not in the club, then buzz off. Celebrate Yule instead or dance around in druid robes for the solstice. Go light a big log, go wassailing and falalaing until you fall down, eat figgy pudding until you puke, but don’t mess with the Messiah.” (Garrison Keillor, Baltimore Sun, in a column titled “Non believers, please leave Christmas alone”).

Very well, Mr. Keillor, but that article only provoked more controversy. And though it made me laugh, I couldn’t help but think: what is all the fuss about? Could people be a little more tolerant and embrace the message of Christmas even if they didn’t care for the messenger?

Don’t misunderstand me. I am in no way advocating Christmas without Christ, but for those who take offense at Christ, I have a proposition to make: I get it that you don’t believe that Christ is the Messiah of God, but do you not agree that justice, peace and joy are all good for humanity? If you do, then Merry Christmas, for this is, in essence, the message that baby in the manger came to give, regardless of whether you believe He was a prophet or not.

Let’s agree right now: Jesus was a historical figure. No credible historian denies that anymore. Only people ranting on YouTube videos are having that discussion. The rest of us have moved on. And if your source of information is YouTube, I would like to say STOP right now. That stuff is detrimental to your health. And it will turn you into the annoyance of the party. And it will enlarge the perimeter area around your body… So drop that phone right now, delete the app, get handcuffed, if you must. And throw away the keys!

But back to Jesus now. When He made His humble entrance into the world, God was sending all of us a signal: He was going to restore justice, peace, and joy to the whole of mankind. Who can be against that? Only people who go on ranting on YouTube! No rational human being wants injustice, war, and sadness to prevail in our little planet called earth, do they? So, if you want to continue hating the Christ of Christmas, at least consider the Call of Christmas.

There are three things about the Call of Christmas that we will be studying this Sunday and these are so important I want every good atheist to hear me out.

1. Christmas tells us that God loves justice and so should we. “But about the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.’” (Hebrews 1:8).

2. Christmas tells us that God loves peace and so should we. “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’” (Luke 2:13-14).

3. Christmas tells us that God loves joy and so should we. “But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.’” (Luke 2:10).

Merry Christmas, everyone, and don’t forget to work for justice for those who are oppressed, to bring peace to the world, starting with the people in your household, and to allow yourself to be knocked out silly from sheer joy at knowing that God cares for every human being who ever set foot on the face of the earth.

Good news of joy for all!

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade