Salvation - Day 24 - Holiday Haiku


"She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus,  for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)  

And isn't that the heart of the holiday? A Savior, born to die, to save us from the sins that we've committed: the ultimate scapegoat, the eternal passover lamb. I've always said that Christmas is about His death and resurrection as much as His birth. Without Easter Sunday, Christmas would be just another birthday.

If you have made it through advent, celebrating the tinsel and the cookies and the elf on the shelf, but somehow not yet understood the incredible love of God -  that He would send His Son to earth to redeem you from all your sin-stained aches and pains - then I pray you have the eyes to see, the ears to hear, and the mind to perceive that He came for you. He left the glory throne of Heaven to chase you down in your self-suficient pride and woo you to salvation.


Dear friend, there is nothing on earth that you can do to clean yourself up, make yourself right and worthy to stand before God. The thoughts you think, the words you speak, the things you do, the motivations that lead you... can never be good enough, holy enough, to earn you access to heaven, and a right relationship with God.


You can't earn it. But you can receive it.


It is the greatest gift of all. But a gift is not a gift until it is received. This gift must be received by each man, woman, boy, or girl.


Have you received this gift?

It's as simple as ripping all the paper off your Christmas morning presents. Here's a prayer that you can pray if you believe:

"Jesus, I can't do this on my own. I need You! I see now why you came to earth. You came for me. You came to save me. You came to live a perfect life because I couldn't. And then you died in my place so that I wouldn't have to. Now I get to have an eternity in heaven with You. You saved me. And I believe it! Thank You for being my Savior. Thank You, in Your Name, Jesus, I pray, Amen.

And so, with all the hustle bustle behind us now, here on Christmas Eve - the wrapping of gifts and the decking of halls is all done - we are celebrating the heart of Christmas.

Our Savior - and the Salvation He came to bring.



Today is the final day of our Holiday Haiku Challenge. If you missed any of the series and would like to start at the beginning, join us here.


A very special thank you to those of you who advent-ed along with me this December. May you enjoy celebrating our Savior, unwrapping anew the Salvation He came to deliver to those who would simply receive this most incredible gift.


Merry Christmas,


The Shepherds - Day 22 - a holiday haiku

Welcome to Day 22 of our Holiday Haiku Challenge One of the joys of the season is reading again the account of the very first Christmas. The star, the wisemen, the angel chorus, and the shepherds keeping watch. Here is a fresh translation:

An Event for Everyone (Luke 2:8-20, MSG)

There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”

At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises:

Glory to God in the heavenly heights, Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.

As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were amazed.

Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they’d been told!


Today's challenge is to write one haiku, just 17 syllables, inspired by those lowly characters,


the shepherds



The Shepherds

by Gayl Wright In Luke 2 we read that the night Christ was born some shepherds were staying in the fields nearby, "in the neighborhood", watching their sheep. Imagine their surprise when an angel suddenly appeared and then a whole host of angels praising God! The shepherds didn't waste any time getting to Bethlehem to find Jesus. Everything was just as the angel had told them. Bursting with the news they began telling others what the angel had told them about the Child. Scripture tells us that all who heard were amazed. As the shepherds made their way back to the fields they glorified and praised God. They were in awe of everything they had seen and heard. It's a familiar story but seemed to come alive as I took time reading and pondering it.


Shepherd haiku



gayle picToday's guest, Gayl Wright, has been one of the most faithful haiku participants in the series. If you start at the beginning and work your way through all 21 days thus far, you'll find her daily offerings in the comments section of each day's post. While they're all wonderful, I especially love the words she recently included on her own blog. It's a longer poem, however, each stanza is made out of haiku. It's entitled Make Room for Jesus.

Gayl Wright makes her home in upstate South Carolina. She is a seeker of truth who looks for beauty in ordinary things. A self-taught poet, photographer and artist, she loves to capture what she finds using her talents to encourage others and glorify God.



Christmas Contentment - Day 21 - Holiday Haiku Challenge


Welcome to our 23rd day of the Holiday Haiku Challenge Today's haiku challenge is to write 17 poetic syllables inspired by the often ellusive concept,


Christmas Contentment


My dear friend Amber Lia shares a personal story on the subject, then wraps it up at the end with a haiku. If you are inspired, leave your own #holidayhaiku in the comment thread below.


Christmas Contentment

By Amber Lia


My husband thought it was a fun idea to put a pink feather boa and other gag gifts in my Christmas stocking that first year of marriage. Meanwhile, I thoughtfully wrapped all his favorite things. Ten years later, he still struggles with what to get me. Just today, I bought a gift from him, for me. He’ll wrap it. I’ll be happy and he won’t have to sleep on the couch.

Just kidding.

Sort of.

Like you, I want Christmas to be less about “stuff” and more about rejoicing over the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, but even with my best intentions, I can become disappointed when holidays roll around. My prayer for 2015 was that I would hunger and thirst for righteousness more than anything else. I wanted to grow in contentment and truly feel like peace ruled my heart and mind this year, despite my circumstances. When December arrives, my contentment can be severely tested. My birthday is the day after Christmas and so many expectations come into play. I want to focus on what really matters—the many blessing that are already mine to treasure. I also want to humble myself, much like we see in Jesus’ example:


“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:

That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:5-11


Jesus, the King of Kings came into the world in total humility, for the sake of the cross. And now He reigns exalted! Christmas is the ultimate opportunity for us to humble ourselves and to be content! Just as God loves His Son, I cherish the gift of my own three boys the most this holiday season. They bless my socks off and bring me so much joy! This year, I know that I won’t be getting diamond earrings or a fabulous handbag. But it’s not going to induce a pity-party. I have Jesus and my family. Everything else is blessing upon blessing.



contentment haiku


If you've missed any of our Holiday Haiku Challenge, head on over to the beginning.


Emmanuel - Day 20 - holiday haiku


Welcome to Day 20 of our Holiday Haiku Challenge Today's charge is to  write a haiku inspired by the Name of Christ,




emmanuel haiku


by Tara Ulrich


Emmanuel "God with us" is such a beautiful reminder that we are never alone. I love Eugune Peterson's translation in the Message when he states "Jesus puts on flesh and blood and moves into the neighborhood." Can you just picture Mary, Joseph, and baby Joseph moving in next to you?

Would you bring them gifts fit for a king? Would you be oohing and aahing over this precious gift not even knowing that this infant was the promise Messiah? During this Advent season, may you welcome this promised Messiah into your heart, and extend Him out into your very own neighborhoods!


tarapicTara Ulrich lives in Minot, ND where she serves at a Lutheran church as the Director of Home and Family Ministry. She is a rostered Diaconal Minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (Diaconal Ministers grew out of the Catholic understanding of deacons and deaconesses; Word and Service rather than Word and Sacrament). Prior to coming to Minot, she lived in Moorhead, MN and served at a church in Dilworth, MN for approximately 6 1/2 years. She is a graduate of the University of Mary (Bismarck, ND) and Wartburg Theological Seminary. She loves to spend time with her friends and family, reading, writing, and on the beautiful prairies of North Dakota.

You can follow her at her blog Praying on the Prairie. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram.