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THE MIRACLE OF THE CHRISTMAS CROSS.

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God bless you.

Happy birthday, Jesus, and Merry Christmas to everybody else.

I feel like having church, if you don't mind. I said I feel like having church John

Powers, Marcia Starks, Pastor Charles Jenkins, Pastor Clay Evans, Maria, Donna,

George, Connie, Posey, the Kizart brothers, Veryuncye, Gwen Murphy, Carole, Betty,

Eugene McKinney, Deacon Erwin Dabney, Sister Veola Broyles, Sister Beverly Rogers,

Rev. Darrell Jackson, Rev. Joseph Jackson, Rev. DeVille, Rev. Hardy and the rest of

y'all.

Hallelujah!!!!!!!

Thank you Jesus!!!!!!

Joy to the world because the Lord is come!!!!

Hark the heralded angels sing, "Glory to the new-born king. Peace on earth and

mercy mild. God and sinner reconciled."

In case some of y'all just tuned in, here is late-breaking news from heaven's anchor

desk with the prophet Isaiah reporting in the field of Old Testament antiquity: "For unto us

a child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder:

and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting

Father, the Prince of Peace."

It's been some 2,740 years since my fellow news reporter Isaiah filed this

report. And just as it was shouting news then, it's "sho nuff" is shouting news today. And

I'm mighty glad about it. Are you?

This is my 66th Christmas. 'Tis the season to be jolly, to be sure. Yes, this is the

happiest time of the year. Colorful lights, smiling faces, jingle bells, beautiful sacred and

secular decorations and laughter fill the air.

But Christmas will not give my cross or your cross the day off. Sickness, sadness

still abound all around town to make us fill down and wear a frown. But no cross, no

crown.

Even when King Jesus was finally born of the virgin Mary, sired by God through

the Holy Ghost, who had sacred sex with the virgin Mary; hear me now, born He was in

Bethlehem, wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger because there was no

room for Him in the inn.

That's why one day a songwriter took a pen and wrote these lyrics: "Away in a

manger, no crib for a day, the little Lord Jesus lay down His sweet head. The stars in the

bright sky looked down where He lay, the little Lord Jesus asleep in the hay."

Even then, when sin got wind of God's grace coming 'round the bend, there sat

upon Israel's throne, a psychotic, neurotic, manic depressive, schizophrenic king named

Herold, who tried to kill the sweet little baby Jesus. And while heaven air-lifted Jesus

and His family out of Bethlehem and placed them in a witness-protection program in

Egypt, Israel's previous home of bondage, Herold had his police, his highway patrol, his

FBI, CIA and secret service agents of that day engage in an infanticidal sweep of the holy

land, killing babies two years old and younger, in an effort to crush Christ in His cradle.

The New Testament writer Matthew reported, "In Rama, was there a voice heard,

lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and

would not be comforted, because they are not." Yes, mothers had babies ripped from

their hugging arms and slaughtered like cattle. This was an abomination of extreme,

obscene atrocity. I wouldn't be surprised this treacherous tragedy broke up choir

practice in heaven. I wouldn't be surprised if the four and twenty elders dropped a tear

or two. Yes, there was limited joy to the world and limited silent night for the first

Christmas.

Listen!

I said, listen!

Can't you hear those poor mothers screaming?

Can't you hear those ear-screeching screams? Screaming like my mama screamed

when she got the news one morning that her sister Senia Bell Crump had died.

Screaming like my daddy screamed when my mother died of blood poisoning and a racist

health care system at age 42 in Lyon, Miss.

I wonder if anybody else feels like screaming right now. Ain't no harm to scream

sometimes. Even I find relief in screaming. Sometimes when I'm all by myself, I scream.

I scream not just screams of sadness but sometimes I scream screams of gladness

because earth has no sorrow that heaven can not heal.

What a cross that was that Jesus had to bear early with that price placed on His

heads and thousands of babies ending up dead in His stead. But whereas others died

for King Jesus in the beginning, King Jesus turned right around and died for us in the

end.

Yes, we know about the Easter cross. We know about how Jesus eventually died

for our sins on that old rugged cross on Calvary's hill far away. We know about how He

surrendered Himself to be wounded for our transgressions, to be bruised for our iniquity

and to have the chasetisement of our peace striped upon His blistered back and His

nail-pierced hands, arms and feet. We know about all that.

But after He died that Friday evening and stayed in the grave Friday night,

Saturday and Saturday night, well, right early Sunday morning, right about the crack

of dawn, He gave the roosters the morning off, and woke up the world by Himself

through His resurrection from the dead.

Thus, He, for whom there was no motel room in Bethlehem's INN, made mercy

room for us in the heavenly END.

That was the miracle of the Easter cross.

Well, I feel like preachin', if you don't mind.

Just as there would be an Easter cross, there was and still is a Christmas cross.

King Jesus was born in the midst of mass misery.

Born in a time of terrible turmoil.

Born in a world of wickedness.

Born on the wrong side of the tracks and the downside of the demographics.

Born at a time when His earthly mama, the virgin Mary, and her husband, were

turned down by every hotel and motel they came across.......until.....hallelujah!.......one

anonymous innkeeper couldn't take it anymore. He just gave in to his compassionate

heart.

He must have said something like this: "I'm sorry, y'all. I know y'all's tired and I know

this young lady is in labor. As y'all know, y'all didn't make any reservations and this, being

Passover, is our busiest time of the year. There have been no cancellations and we have

hundreds of other people on the waiting list. I wish I could give y'all a nice clean room.

But we don't have any. What I can do--and please don't get mad at me--what I can

do is give y'all a stall in the stable among the donkeys and the mules, the sheep and

the cows. It's nasty and dirty in there. But that's all I got. It's cold and stinky in there. But

that's all I got. If you want it, you can have it. That's the best that I can do."

Well, that was a shame. But the divinity of king Jesus was too supreme to be

discounted, demeaned or devalued by poverty, and man's petty misprioritizing. It didn't

matter where He was born. What mattered was THAT He was born. And although His

birth triggered the mass murder of innocent babies, He was born anyway and thus

survived the conspiracy of evil men trying to do Him in.

At this Christmas time, I'm glad that the Spirit of the Lord has moved through U.S.

senators to approve President Obama's health care reform. What this means is that

some 50 million Americans are closer to enjoyin a more merry Christmas. Because of this

legislation, much of a mighty cross has been lifted off the backs of 50 million Americans

who do not have health insurance.

This great cross, this tragic predicament, along with the loss of jobs that included

affordable group health plans, has cost millions their savings, their cars, their homes,

their marriages, their peace of mind, their health and, for many, their lives.

I still can't understand how so many ruthless Republicans opposed this

legislation that would help millions of their own voters. I can't understand how millions

of Americans could be so selfish and so insensitive and so un-loving so as to oppose

the rescue of legions of their less-fortunate fellow Americans.

But thank God that at this Christmastide, millions of Americans will now receive the

welcomed present of health insurance. This gives me another reason to sing "Joy to the

the world."

As a patient in my second year of battling cancer and a bad heart, I can sympathize

with these people because my family and I would have been ruined if I did not have

affordable medical insurance and a union contract that affords me time to seek and

receive appropriate medical care.

My sickness remains a cross of sorts. But every day that finds me still alive and

fighting for wholeness of health is a miracle. And in due season, when God gets ready, He

will heal me completely of my sicknesses and their symptoms.

From a material and physical standpoint, this health care package is the best

massive Christmas present that Americans could receive. And we ought to thank and

praise God for that.

Once again, happy birthday Jesus, and Merry Christmas to everybody else.

God bless you.

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6 Comments

Merry Christmas, Reverend Banks!

Quite a sermon you preached. And now, this morning, I trust you are surrounded by your loving family, sharing feasts and gifts, and great joy that you are all, once again, gathered together.

For me, it's a day of quiet and solitude. I had my celebration last night with my wonderful daughter. Once again, Christmas Eve was my favorite day of the year.

I read a quote this morning that I want to share for its stark, perfect truth. It comes from the late, great Dale Evans, America's favorite cowgirl, and the wife and sidekick of Roy Rogers:

"Christmas, my child, is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it’s Christmas."

We really can have Christmas every day. It's so simple, isn't it? Jesus is reported by Matthew as saying that the greatest commandment is "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind." But, without being asked, he added, "And a second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." Simple. Keep these two commandments and you'll have a perfect world. It's interesting to note that there are no exclusions or exemptions. No "love your neighbor unless he's Black or Asian or Caucasian or Gay or Muslim or Left-handed." Just "love your neighbor." Simple, easy to follow instructions. But, one of the most confounding things about man is he seems to have an innate resistance to following simple instructions. Maybe the universal New Year's Resolution should be: "This year I will follow simple instructions."

Can you imagine if everyone just did that one thing all at once? You don't have to believe in Jesus as a religious figure; you can embrace him for being a master teacher. And just follow that one, simple instruction: Love your neighbor as you love yourself. The we can lay down the sword and shield and study war no more. No want, no hunger, for who would see themselves starve? No crime. No lies. Sounds a lot like Heaven, doesn't it?

"You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one," sung John Lennon. It's easy, in this world, to be cynical about such a vision. Until we remember that we made the world what it is. God gave us the power to make it any way we want, and this is what we've arrived at. Not too late to make a change. Just follow the simple instructions.

I've said many times, Lacy, that you and I believe in different ways. But, it's always interesting to me that, no matter what someone's beliefs may be, the answer always comes out the same.

Merry, merry Christmas, friend.

BANKS' RESPONSE: Thank you, John, for your eloquent love-made-simple
presentation. Once again, you have crystalized chaos into cosmos. And, really, there is nothing chaotic about love. True love reigns supreme. And you are so right in the cure that you prescribe. Love is the super cure for all of mankind's ills. And the agonizing irony of all this, like you say, John, is that love is right there in front of us. Right there at our disposal. Right there available for us to implement. Everybody and anybody can love. All we have to do to simply want to love something or somebody and--voila!--we are well on our way. If everybody really loved everybody, what a wonderful, if not perfect, world this would be. Thus, it were a better New Year's resolution that any of us can have? If we would but resolve to love one another, however, sure it would radically revolutionize the world and create an instant employment problem because we'd no longer need any police, any military forces, any gun manufactory, any weapons factory, any need for air craft carriers, bombers, fight-jets. We'd also need far fewer doctors, nurses, lawyers, psychiatrists, social workers, private detectives, security guards and 911 operators. But love would still find a way to absorb these employees laid off. Love can always find a way when nothing else can. You see, true love doesn't quit until it meets it goal. Love never fails. Loves strives to give rather than take. Love helps and heals rather than hinder and hurt. Love builds rather than destroys. Loves rescues. Love protects. And at this Christmastide, we see the greatest manifestation of love in God giving us Jesus.

Merry Christmas Rev. Banks,
I agree with you 100% that many hearts have grown so cold and hardened as to fight against providing health insurance for those who have none. These folks argue that they'd rather our tax dollars pay down the deficit and pay for continued murder and mayhem in Iraq and Afghanistan instead. To place our hearts and minds on the true meaning of Christmas, my family and I studied 1st Corinthians, Chapter 13 and especially verse 13, "But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love." Thank you for sharing your Christmas message of love. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

BANKS' RESPONSE: Yes, D.Drew, it's all about love. Not money. Not power. Not good looks. Not great oratory. Not politics. Not special interests. Not ego. Not me, myself and I. It's all about love. And until it is with all of us, we are in serious trouble. Until love becomes the order of the day, we are a doomed civilization. The main mission of the Christian church is LOVE, because in one word, God is love. And what a wonderful, thunderful scripture you feasted on for Christmas, 1st Corinthians, chapter 13. It gives us a breakdown of the most misused and most misunderstand and most under-applied word in the human vocabulary. It proves that all too many of us are simply fronting, styling and profiling, lying and alibiing when it comes to true love. Love gives until it hurts. Love thinks of others first. Love fixes your plate and makes sure that you are fed well before it sits down at the table to devour leftovers. Love seeks to satisfy the "Thine" before the "mine." Love doesn't play. Love is extremely serious. It is the real deal that always delivers the real goods, if it's love. Only by the grace of God, the Calvary sacrifice of Jesus and the anointing of the Holy Ghost can we really come close to loving each other. And as long as we are wrapped up in corruptible flesh, even that is compromised. We need a love revolution all around the world.

Merry Christmas Rev. Banks and family. I love to hear the story, over and over again. Every day I am grateful for His precious gift. Every time I read your writings, sermons, etc., I see and feel your love for that precious gift. Pastor Slaughter used to say while we may not like everyone, God has given us the capacity to love everybody. So while we have a problem with the sin, we still are required and can, love the sinner. Thank you again for the messages of love.

BANKS' RESPONSE: Great to hear from you again, Gwen, because you are one of my most trusted faithful from the beginning. Happy New Year to you especially and the rest of your family. I am honored to have you as a prayer partner because I firmly believe you are a born-again child of God whose prayers are welcomed by God's ears.

I seem to recall that Jesus said if two agree on Earth, it shall be done in Heaven. So, can you and I agree that 2010 will be the year in which each of us is healed - you, physically; me, financially? Can we further agree that we will all live in peace and prosperity? I'll give you a "Happy New Year;" you give me an "Amen!"

BANKS' RESPONSE: It's a deal, John. I touch and agree with you in prayer for your healings and you touch and agree in prayer with me for mine. God encourages us to network and co-op together in prayer partnerships. He wants us to operate as a family where we bear one another's burdens and share each other's cares. There's no harm in us begging so long as we beg the right person. And there's not a friend like the lowly Jesus. He loves us and cares for us and invites us to come unto Him and to cast our cares upon Him. For He sees and he cares. No problem is too hard for the Lord because He is omnipotent. Plus, He wants to hear from us regularly. For He said in His holy word that men ought always to pray and not faint.

Dear Rev. Banks, Happy New Year! It is indeed a happy one for our family and I'm sure for yours as well. Once again, I'm tardy in keeping in touch, which seems to be quite often lately, but the devil is a liar. Our new year began with joy because my husband is home and recovering from two heart procedures that happened in the week before Christmas. The first was a catheter ablation to correct an atrial flutter. That problem was a blessing in disguise because while he was there it was discovered his heart was pumping at only 30%, which placed him at great risk of sudden cardiac arrest. He now has an implanted defibrilator that tracks his heart's activity and will "shock" his heart into normal functioning if it's needed. If I might brag on God for a while, He was awesome and right on time is guiding us to the hospital and ensuring the doctors saw everything that needed their attention. The doctors and nurses and other staff people were fabulous in caring for my husband and me. On the evening of his admission, God invited me to a private Holy Ghost party at home and wow did we have a good time! It allowed me to shed some hidden tears and praise God all at the same time, which was a great stress reliever. Glory to God that my husband is doing well, the staples are removed and his physical therapy is going well. I've been resting as much as I can and am almost back to a normal routine, if one can call being a caregiver or patient normal. (-: I share this story because it's the first of many ER visits and hospitalizations over the years that I can truly say that I was not worried because I gave it ALL totally over to God in prayer and focused only on what I could do in the circumstances. I also hope that your readers view this as a second testimony of the greatness and goodness of God. It is no secret what God can do. What He's done for others, He'll do for you! God bless us all, Marie

BANKS RESPONSE: Thanks, Marie, for sharing your trial and your triumph. Thank you, also, for praising His name and for making known His works among the people. I admire your gratitude toward God and I appreciate the way He worked with your husband and you and with how you allowed God to use you in your respective roles. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in the time of trouble. He did not let you down and you did not let Him down. He blessed you and you husband and you are blessing His name in thanksgiving and praise. So go 'head on and tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere. Tell the world that He is still healing and he's doing it in a mighty way.

agree with you 100% that many hearts have grown so cold and hardened as to fight against providing health insurance for those who have none. These folks argue that they'd rather our tax dollars pay down the deficit and pay for continued murder and mayhem in Iraq and Afghanistan instead. To place our hearts and minds on the true meaning of Christmas, my family and I studied 1st Corinthians, Chapter 13 and especially verse 13, "But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love." Thank you for sharing your Christmas message of love. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

BANKS' RESPONSE: Yes, D.Drew, it's all about love. Not money. Not power. Not good looks. Not great oratory. Not politics. Not special interests. Not ego. Not me, myself and I. It's all
all star shoes about love. And until it is with all of us, we are in serious trouble. Until love becomes the order of the day, we are a doomed civilization. The main mission of the Christian church is LOVE, because in one word, God is love. And what a wonderful, thunderful scripture you feasted on for Christmas, 1st Corinthians, chapter 13. It gives us a breakdown of the most misused and most misunderstand and most under-applied word in the human vocabulary. It proves that all too many of us are simply fronting, styling and profiling, lying and alibiing when it comes to true love. Love gives until it hurts. Love thinks of others first. Love fixes your plate and makes sure that you are fed well before it sits down at the table to devour leftovers. Love seeks to satisfy the "Thine" before the "mine." Love doesn't play. Love is extremely serious. It is the real deal that always delivers the real goods, if it's love. Only by the grace of God, the Calvary sacrifice of Jesus and the anointing of the Holy Ghost can we really come close to loving each other. And as long as we are wrapped up in corruptible flesh, even that is compromised. We need a love revolution all around the world.

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Lacy J. Banks

Lacy J. Banks, 67, has been a Sun-Times sportswriter/columnist for 38 years and a Baptist preacher for 58 years. He has preached at more than 100 different churches in the Chicago area. A native of Lyon, Miss., Banks graduated from the University of Kansas with a B.A. in French and he served three years in the Vietnam War as a U.S. Naval officer. Lacy and wife, Joyce, have been married 42 years and have three daughters and five grandchildren. Among beats Banks has covered for the Sun-Times are the Bulls, Fire, defunct Sting, Blackhawks, Wolves, Cubs, defunct Hussle, Rush, Sky, college football and basketball and pro boxing.

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This page contains a single entry by Lacy Banks published on December 24, 2009 4:22 AM.

I REMAIN A HEALING IN PROGRESS was the previous entry in this blog.

GOD DELIVERED ME FROM DEATH'S DOORSTEP WITH A HEART PUMP is the next entry in this blog.

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