The Night before Christmas and All around Cape Town

T’was the night before Christmas and all around Cape Town… is how our December blog begins.  Yesterday afternoon I hopped on my motorcycle and cruised around town capturing some of the sights and sounds of Christmas for you.  (Well, okay, no sounds, just pictures!) Even after eleven years of living here we never seem to get use to an African Christmas.  It’s especially humorous for us when we hear familiar Christmas songs that don’t fit so well in this part of the world, like… “I’m dreaming of a White Christmas” or that line… “Oh the weather outside is frightful,” or even for us… “I’ll be home for Christmas,” and the list goes on.  So here are a few snap shots of Christmas on the day before Christmas.

You can follow the masses to the Somerset West mall or find the perfect gift along the side of the road.

You can’t find a candy cane to save you…but you can buy some sour figs!

And about that white Christmas stuff (that I don’t miss)…it’s here, it just looks a little different and is warm to the touch. (Slow day for the guy renting lounge chairs!)

One of my favorite sights is the guys selling Christmas trees along the side of the road… homely looking trees.

Those Christmas trees remind me of the lovable character, Charlie Brown, and his frustration with all the hustle and bustle of Christmas.  That’s what you mostly see here… we call them “Charlie Brown trees.”

Speaking of Charlie Brown, I remember a scene in the Charlie Brown Christmas special, the animated one, where Charlie turns to his friend and asks, “Linus, what’s Christmas all about?” And in amazing fashion, Linus quietly walks onto the set, calls for the spotlight, and tells Charlie Brown what Christmas is all about by reciting Luke 2:8-14.

That act is what started me thinking about my message for our Christmas Eve Service tonight, “What’s Christmas all about?” from 2 Corinthians 8:9. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” 

Tonight is one of the highlights for Mountain View as we once again celebrate with a Christmas Eve candlelight service. We’ll see more visitors tonight than with any other service this year and we want those who come without Christ to believe in Him and be born again.  We want them to become rich in Him through salvation!

No matter what differences there are in the sights and sounds of Christmas around the world, this is the one theme that remains the same.  Jesus Christ is what Christmas is all about.

Merry Christmas from the Wolfs to all of you.  What a joy to partner with you as we see people become rich through Jesus Christ!

One thought on “The Night before Christmas and All around Cape Town

  1. (in case the e-mail link didn’t work…Read this Christmas and enjoy!)

    Max Lucado: Tiny Mouth, Tiny Feet
    The stable stinks like all stables do. The stench of urine, dung, and sheep reeks pungently in the air. The ground is hard, the hay scarce. Cobwebs cling to the ceiling and a mouse scurries across the dirt floor. A more lowly place of birth could not exist.

    Off to one side sit a group of shepherds. They sit silently on the floor; perhaps perplexed, perhaps in awe, no doubt in amazement. Their night watch had been interrupted by an explosion of light from heaven and a symphony of angels. God goes to those who have time to hear him—so on this cloudless night he went to simple shepherds.

    Near the young mother sits the weary father. If anyone is dozing, he is. He can’t remember the last time he sat down. And now that the excitement has subsided a bit, now that Mary and the baby are comfortable, he leans against the wall of the stable and feels his eyes grow heavy. He still hasn’t figured it all out. The mystery of the event puzzles him. But he hasn’t the energy to wrestle with the questions. What’s important is that the baby is fine and that Mary is safe. As sleep comes, he remembers the name the angel told him to use . . . Jesus. “We will call him Jesus.”

    Wide awake is Mary. My, how young she looks! Her head rests on the soft leather of Joseph’s saddle. The pain has been eclipsed by wonder. She looks into the face of the baby. Her son. Her Lord. His Majesty. At this point in history, the human being who best understands who God is and what he is doing is a teenage girl in a smelly stable. She can’t take her eyes off him. Somehow Mary knows she is holding God. So this is he. She remembers the words of the angel. “His kingdom will never end” (Luke 1:33 NIV)

    He looks like anything but a king. His face is prunish and red. His cry, though strong and healthy, is still the helpless and piercing cry of a baby. And he is absolutely dependent upon Mary for his well-being.

    Majesty in the midst of the mundane. Holiness in the filth of sheep manure and sweat. Divinity entering the world on the floor of a stable, through the womb of a teenager and in the presence of a carpenter.

    She touches the face of the infant-God. How long was your journey!

    This baby had overlooked the universe. These rags keeping him warm were the robes of eternity. His golden throne room had been abandoned in favor of a dirty sheep pen.

    And so she prays . . .
    God. O infant-God. Heaven’s fairest child. Conceived by the union of divine grace with our disgrace. Sleep well.

    Sleep well. Bask in the coolness of this night bright with diamonds. Sleep well, for the heat of anger simmers nearby. Enjoy the silence of the crib, for the noise of confusion rumbles in your future. Savor the sweet safety of my arms, for a day is soon coming when I cannot protect you.

    Rest well, tiny hands. For though you belong to a king, you will touch no satin, own no gold. You will grasp no pen, guide no brush. No, your tiny hands are reserved for works more precious:

    – to touch a leper’s open wound,
    – to wipe a widow’s weary tear,
    – to claw the ground of Gethsemane.

    Your hands, so tiny, so tender, so white—clutched tonight in an infant’s fist. They aren’t destined to hold a scepter nor wave from a palace balcony. They are reserved instead for a Roman spike that will staple them to a Roman cross.

    Sleep deeply, tiny eyes. Sleep while you can. For soon the blurriness will clear and you will see the mess we have made of your world.

    You will see our nakedness, for we cannot hide.
    You will see our selfishness, for we cannot give.
    You will see our pain, for we cannot heal.

    O eyes that will see hell’s darkest pit and witness her ugly prince . . . sleep, please sleep; sleep while you can.

    Lay still, tiny mouth. Lay still mouth from which eternity will speak.

    Tiny tongue that will soon summon the dead,

    – that will define grace,
    – that will silence our foolishness.

    Rosebud lips—upon which ride a starborn kiss of forgiveness to those who believe you, and of death to those who deny you—lay still.

    And tiny feet cupped in the palm of my hand, rest. For many difficult steps lie ahead for you. . . .

    – Do you feel the cold sea water upon which you will walk?
    – Do you wrench at the invasion of the nail you will bear?
    – Do you fear the steep descent down the spiral staircase into Satan’s domain?

    Rest, tiny feet. Rest today so that tomorrow you might walk with power. Rest. For millions will follow in your steps.

    And little heart . . . holy heart . . . pumping the blood of life through the universe: How many times will we break you?

    – You’ll be torn by the thorns of our accusations.
    – You’ll be ravaged by the cancer of our sin.
    – You’ll be crushed under the weight of your own sorrow.
    – And you’ll be pierced by the spear of our rejection.

    Yet in that piercing, in that ultimate ripping of muscle and membrane, in that final rush of blood and water, you will find rest. Your hands will be freed, your eyes will see justice, your lips will smile, and your feet will carry you home.

    And there you’ll rest again—this time in the embrace of your Father.
    —————————————————————————————————————————-
    This excerpt is from Max Lucado’s CHRISTMAS STORIES: HEARTWARMING TALES OF ANGELS, A MANGER, AND THE BIRTH OF HOPE, published by Thomas Nelson (2011). Reprinted by permission

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