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Have you ever met someone who does not like balloons? I haven't. Their bright colors bring smiles to people of all ages. Even grumpy people become playful when a balloon starts bouncing around. And, when they are filled with helium, heads and arms are all lifted up - either to keep the balloons close or to wonder with amazement as they soar away. I have never gone for a ride on a hot air balloon, but I have heard the experience is incredible.

Have you ever thought about the similarities between balloons and blessings?

Have you ever met a person who does not wish to be blessed? I haven't. Blessings, like balloons, produce smiles upon faces and can can get even the grumpiest of the grumpies to say thank you. Blessings lift people up (If I am not mistaken, that is, in fact, what the word bless means - "to lift up") in such a way that draws them closer and opens their eyes to the amazing love of God in Christ Jesus.

Christmas is a time filled with incredible blessings, and they all flow from the act of God that started the whole thing - God in Christ descending to earth to be cursed, that we might be eternally lifted up (blessed) in God's loving, saving and eternal presence. No matter what our 'grump level' be, the balloonessing message of Christmas is, "Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle! Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is the King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory!" (Psalm 24.7-10)

And then the balloonessing of Jesus expands - connecting us to person after person to lift us up higher and higher ... and providing us with opportunity after opportunity to bring his balloonessing to others. In the past two weeks Monica and I have been blessed by having a houseful of family (from far, near, and in-between) ... and a house that is empty except for the two of us. In the same two-week period I have the privilege of participating in 2 weddings, 1 funeral, and countless other conversations at church and in homes ... and many places in-between. This Saturday God will use STL to bring Christ's balloonessings to 60-100 families by providing them with a Christmas feast ... and offering them much more, as well.

In yesterday's Advent service we spent a little time remembering the special messengers God has sent to each of us throughout our lives to bring us his balloonessings. I urge you to do that today - to remember the people and ways God has used to bring a smile to your face and joy to your heart throughout the years. The balloonessings of God come in all different colors and sizes ... but they all come with the same intent - to lift us up ... and in lifting us up to enable us to hear him saying, "I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness." (Isaiah 42.6-7)he

Have you ever met someone who does not need to be lifted up? I haven't. We all (and, yes, that includes me) are not, by nature, filled with helium - if you know what I mean. We need to be filled with the breath of God (2 Timothy 3.16 is not talking about hot air). However, as God breaths into us, we are lifted up ... higher and higher ... heads and arms around us are lifted up ... the incredible ride God has prepared for all becomes a little more real for many ... and the balloonessings of Christmas - we pray - become a life-long (and longer) experience for those we touch.

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