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Showing posts from December, 2014

Dwindling Days

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There is something about this time in-between Christmas and New Year's that invites reflection.  Perhaps it is because everyone and their brother is doing a "Year in Review" or Countdowns of music and highest grossing movies.  We pause, we look back at the past 365 days, and we at 2015 like a blank canvass beckoning us to create something new, different.  That is what resolutions are after all.  They are our attempt to re-create, re-imagine, and re-purpose our present life in a new way.  I think it is healthy to look back at the last year, but not only as a trip down memory lane.  Rather, ask yourself, when did you feel most fully alive?  For me, it was on our summer vacation to Disney World.  Yes, it was hot...Florida tends to be that way in the summer.  Yes, it was crowded...Disney tends to be that way, almost always.  But there was something about the ease of laughter in our family, we did not try to do it all, we took it easy ourselves.  Unfortunately, that vacation…

Ponder

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So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.  Luke 2:16-20
I take heart that the first Christmas was far from perfect.  It was messy and inconvenient.  It was stressful...and I thought I had it bad making sure the bulletin was error free and all the candles were ready to be lit!  The first Christmas was not perfectly wrapped or a Norman Rockwell painting.  To quote the Grinch, the very first Christmas, "Came without ribbon, it came without bags, it came without packages, boxes or bags!"  Good to remember when tonight, someone cries because they are tired, or Aunt Bertha has a bit too much liquor, or life does not seem …

Hopes and Fears

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And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.  Luke 2:8-12

As if I need to prove that I am a child of the 80s, I cannot hear this passage of Luke without the voice of Linus from A Charlie Brown Christmas saying these words.  Remember the scene?  Charlie has just lost it...have that feeling yet this December when out shopping or your hand numb from writing cards or having one more thing to do?  Charlie exclaims..."Doesn't anyone know the true meaning of Christmas?"  And Linus…

Christmas Pageants

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While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.  Luke 2:6-7
This weekend is our Christmas pageant at our church, a moment of sacred chaos.  As the children tell us the old, old story we know so well, we see a deeper truth.  We see brought to life not only the words of Luke and Matthew.  We see brought to life not only the heavenly angels fluttering, shepherds acting scared, Mary and Joseph nervously huddled around a plastic doll in a wooden manger.  We will see all these truths and one more that is often unspoken: our children embody the mystery of Emmanuel: God with us, in the flesh.  Our children speedily saying their lines or needing a cue from the director or singing off key...all of this less-than-perfect moments amplify the truth of Emmanuel: God with us, in the flesh.
Often times in church we get caught up in thi…

Great Expectations

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Joseph went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child.  Luke 2:5
What was Mary expecting?  Yes, I know, a baby.  Thank you Ms. Literal.  No, I am wondering what was she expecting deep down in our soul?  What dreams had she played out in our mind of giving birth to the son of God?  Did she think it would hurt?  Did she think Jesus quote the Torah rather than go through the terrible twos?  Did she think, this will be the best retirement plan ever!  
What did Joseph expect?  Did he expect to see his own eyes in the one he would adopt as his own?  Did he expect that his heart would burst open?  Did he anticipate showing Jesus around his carpenter shop, showing him how to use the tools, gently guiding his hands?
What do you expect this Christmas?  Expectations are a powerful and potent part of our lives.  So often our great expectations go awry.  We expect to be overwhelmed with joy when we open a gift...only to find a store bought fruit cake.  "…

Decrees

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In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered.  Luke 2: 1
Aren't you glad we live in a world where there are no decrees? Aren't you glad we are fully in control of our own lives, the master of our own domains? Aren't you glad we live in a world where there are no obligations to attend Christmas parties?   To participate in secret Santa exchanges? To spend our Saturdays among crowded streets of retail refugees seeking the last Xbox? Aren't you glad your neighbor doesn't show up with fruit cake and force you to eat a piece while faking yummy noises?
Sorry...maybe that last one is just me.
Part of the reality of the first Christmas and the Christmas today is there are all sorts of written and unwritten decrees.  We might call them, "Obligations".  We might drag our feet with slouched shoulders as we put on our reindeer tie to head out to some gatherings.  We might grumble as we write out cards to our second cou…