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Christmas Devotionals

  • ‘Twas the night before Christmas...

    Angel Chritmas OrnamentEvery family has those traditions and days that help define their family. I personally know some families (although I shall not divulge any names unless there is enough cash present) that are adequately defined by April 1. For me, Christmas Eve clearly defines me.

    Christmas Eve means many things to me. For one, it means shopping. Yes, it is true; I do all my Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve. It cuts down on the stress. I know some people who spend weeks shopping and their life is full of stress.

    Unlike me in many ways, the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage begins her Christmas shopping in January and by August, she is in full shopping spree. There should be a law that any present bought before December cannot be considered a Christmas present.

    When the children were still at home, I was just as eager as they were on Christmas morning to see what I had bought them for Christmas. They always appreciated the thought that went into their gift. You did not hear this from me, but sometimes my wife was surprised at the gift as well.

  • 1 Corinthians 13 for Christmas

    loveIf I speak in the tongues of Christmas materialism and greed but have not love, I am only a tinny Christmas song or an out of tune choir.

    If I have the gift of knowing what Aunt Agatha will give me this year and can even understand last year's present, and if I have the faith that I won't get yet more socks and ties this year but have not love, I am nothing.

    If I clear out the house and give everything to charity and my credit cards are snapped in half but have not love, what can I possibly gain?

  • A Christmas Prayer

    church crecheMost Holy & Majestic Father,

    There's so much "hype" around Christmas time. I have to admit that I enjoy all the jolly jingle and festive frolic as much as anyone. But, Lord, as I enter into the fast-paced season ahead, help me walk slowly and quietly.

    Let me stop and listen to the angels sing of the greatest news ever told!

    Let my heart, mind and soul join the chorus, "Glory in the Highest!! The Messiah has been born!"

    Among all the bright sparkling lights and cheery holiday tunes, let my spirit travel once again toward Bethlehem to honor and worship Jesus, my King, The Prince of Peace, the Lord of Hosts, Mighty Counselor, Son of God, the Lamb. All Your love, mercy and power somehow made flesh in the tiny form of a humble baby born in a manger. Let me worship the only One who is able to take our sin away and reconcile men and women with God once again!

    Amen

  • Advent Virus

    Advent Virus*VIRUS ALERT: ADVENT VIRUS*

    Be on the alert for symptoms of inner HOPE, PEACE, JOY, AND LOVE. The hearts of a great many have already been exposed to this virus and it is possible that people everywhere could come down with it in epidemic proportions. This could pose a serious threat to what has, up to now, been a fairly stable condition of conflict in the world.

    Some signs and symptoms of THE ADVENT VIRUS:

    ~ A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than on fears based on past experiences.

    ~ An unmistakable ability to enjoy the moment.

  • Family Fruitcakes

    THE SEASON OF FAMILY FRUITCAKES

    By Saralee Perel

    This season, certain relatives we haven't seen since last Christmas (because we kept making excuses) gather together. During festive meals, we sharply elbow loved ones sitting next to us. This is to discourage them from snapping back at innuendos that loved ones sitting further away are spewing.

    Sibling rivalry is a brief adolescent phase that ends at age 92. It stems from the fact that most kids have distinctively different ideas as to what their parents are really like. And we each know our perspective is the RIGHT one.

    Back when my parents were alive, the whole family met for holiday dinners.

    My folks doted upon on my perfect/skinny/refined/rich brother Michael.

    Dad to Mike at supper: "How's the government (meaning high paying) job going?"

    Me, interrupting: "Bob makes money too." Bob sharply elbows me.

    Mom, assuming I'm on a diet because – well, I should be, dollops skinny Mike's potato pancakes with sour cream. And me? I had to dollop all by myself. Can you imagine the hurt?

    Me to Bob: "Tell everybody the things we buy . . . the really good things like . . . we have a car."

    Mom to me, with a look of compassion I always detested, because I would have truly preferred a fight: "Is something wrong, honey?"

    Me: "Hah! As if you don't know."

    Mike to me: "It's wonderful to see you. I've missed you."

    Me to everyone: "Mr. Perfect here is obviously trying to start something," I say victoriously as I dramatically exit in my "Sarah Heartburn" (as mom always called it) style.

    Bob has two older sisters, Dottie and Lucy. His parents doted on him. The girls hated that, but Bob sucked it up. The girls show this resentment differently. Dottie is sarcastic.

    Bob to Dottie at a Christmas dinner: "Do you like your school nurse job?"

    Dottie: "I love it. It gives mum and dad a WHOLE LOT of time to ask me to do a thousand things for them and NEVER call you for anything. Not that if they did you wouldn't have some stupid well-rehearsed excuse. How's your job?"

    Lucy is attention-seeking and – oh boy, timeout - Bob won't let me write an example. He's afraid if I do, she'll come over and steal silverware.

    All right. It's Christmas for heaven's sake. The time of miracles. Let me role-play my fantasy holiday dinners.

    Mom to me, while piling whipped cream on my sponge cake: "Don't you eat? You're just skin and bones!"

    Me to Mom: "Poor Mike. With those hips, he's got to diet." I turn to Mike. "But not tonight, OK?" I spoon all my whipped cream on his cake.

    Dad to me: "When I die, I'll die peacefully because I know how stinking rich you've made yourself." My parents toast me. But I add, "Mike's here too!" We all raise our glasses.

    At Bob's family dinner, Dottie affectionately turns to Bob: "I want to do everything for the folks. I know you're busy, what with a dog to walk and all. But if you wouldn't mind just showing up only for special family occasions the way you do now, then you'll stay in the will and that would make me so happy."

    Lucy picks up a sterling silver spoon and does not put it in her pocket.

    And so, the holidays are the time bombs of the dysfunctional (like there's somebody who isn't). But I know 4 things:

    1. I don't think this is the best time to bring up our issues. When is the time right? I don't know. Probably not at a once-a-year holiday dinner.

    2. I love Mike.

    3. I loved my parents.

    4. I'm missing 7 sterling forks.

    Award-winning columnist/novelist Saralee Perel can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or via her website: http://www.saraleeperel.com/

    Her novel,"Raw Nerves," is available on Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/44797

  • Nice Is a Matter of Perspective

    Which list is Rev. James Snyder on?Sitting in the living room the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and me were enjoying some hot apple cider tea and listening to some Christmas music. The song came that referred to Santa’s nice list and naughty list. I was not paying too much of attention, but somebody else in the room was.

    “Do you think you are on,” my wife said rather sarcastically, “Santa’s nice list or naughty list?”

    I always get trapped by such questions. I have been married long enough to know that questions are not posed to get an answer, but rather to get someone in trouble, mainly me.

  • Santa Claus Hasn’t Received My Letter Yet!

     christmas horseIn first grade, our teacher asked us to pen a letter to Santa for Christmas.

    She asked us, “Name one present you would like Santa to bring you for Christmas.”

    Then we were to write a letter to Santa, who, according to her, lived at the North Pole, and tell him what we wanted for Christmas and why we wanted it. Then, we put it in an envelope and she mailed it to the North Pole.

  • The Gift of the Magi

    ornaments goldGod is not served by human hands as though he needed anything (Acts 17:25). The gifts of the magi are not given by way of assistance or need-meeting. It would dishonor a monarch if foreign visitors came with royal care-packages.

    Nor are these gifts meant to be bribes. Deuteronomy 10:17 says that God takes no bribe. Well, what then do they mean? How are they worship?

  • The Merrification of Christmas

    christmas manger1One word defines Christmas. It is the word “merry.” I never tire of wishing people a Merry Christmas. Although, for some, it may not be politically correct, but for the rest of us who have at least two gray cells working, it is wonderful.

    I was relaxing one afternoon this past week when the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage approached me with a request. It is very difficult for me to deny her request, even though it goes against my current energy status.

    “Would you,” she said so very sweetly, “go to the mall and pick up a gift that I had ordered?”

    Being married to GMP for more years than I can remember, is very difficult for me to say no. Actually, even when I do say no, someone on the other end of the conversation is not listening.

  • The Only Contest I Really Win Each Year

    christmas shoppingBetween now and the end of the year our house is going to be a mad dash for the stores in preparation for Christmas.

    This time of the year, I lay low and try to be as invisible as possible. If I hide in the shadows of the parsonage and do not speak, I am in pretty good shape. I have been practicing this for over 40 years, so I have reached a certain level of proficiency.

    Having a wife and two daughters has been a challenge, especially at this time of the year. My son and I have survived and so I am sure I will make it through another year. However, I am not taking anything for granted.

    I am somewhat of a competitive person, in some degree. I like a good challenge and I certainly like to win. Going up against the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage has not been a successful competition. Even when she loses, so to speak, she wins. When she wins, I also win, so why should I complain?

    The contest at this time of the year is to see how much money these ladies of the parsonage can save. I have not kept track over the years for obvious reasons, so I do not know who is ahead and who is behind.

  • The Risk of Innocence

    The Risk of InnocenceTiny, helpless
    swaddled in hay
    washed, clothed, fed
    carried each day.

    Poverty, heat
    occupied land
    Romans, cruel Herod
    Palestine sand.

  • What Christmas Means To Me

    A message delivered to Houston's First Baptist Church on Sunday, Dec 24th, 2000

    I was asked to share with you what Christmas means to me. In order to do that, I will begin with a brief history of my personal journey out of Hong Kong followed by four applications of what Christmas means to me as a result of that background. I pray this message will bless you in a special way.

    A Christmas ManagerI was born in the city of Hong Kong. I went to a mission school and accepted Jesus for the salvation of my soul at a young age. I remember going to the chapel every day at the age of 10, talking to God, longing to have more of Him but not knowing then that God reveals Himself in the Bible and that the only way to know God better was through studying His Word.

  • What It Was, Was Fruitcake

    christmas fruit cakeThe period between November 1 and January 1 happens to be my favorite time frame. Oh yes, there is the idea of Christmas and Christmas presents and all of that. I certainly enjoy Christmas with my family and friends.

    As the oldest person in my family, (I will never mention aloud that the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage is a wee bit older than myself), it is my duty to pay for all of these Christmas presents. By the time January 1 rolls around, I am just about broke.

    What good is money if you can’t spend it on your favorite people in all of the world? I won’t say that my family is the best people in all of the world, although it is true, I just won’t say it aloud.

  • Who Started Christmas?

    christmas shoppingA woman was out Christmas shopping with her two children. After many hours of looking at row after row of toys and everything else imaginable, and after hours of hearing both her children asking for everything they saw on those many shelves, she finally made it to the elevator with her two kids.