Friday, December 27, 2013

Now What?

If we have not already done so, most of us will soon be packing away the remnants of another Christmas. The tree is at the curb or stashed in a box. The family decorations and lights are boxed and stored out of sight. Christmas is over, but now what?
As we begin a new year, may this prayer of Howard Thurman help us keep Christmas every day.

The Work of Christmas
When the song of the angels is stilled

When the star in the sky is gone
When the kinds and princes are home
When the shepherds are back with their flock
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among brothers (and sisters),
To make music in the heart.


Friday, December 20, 2013

Last Minute Gift Ideas

Are you the kind of person who has all of their Christmas gifts bought and wrapped by July?  Or, are
you like the many last minute shoppers?   I saw an article suggesting simple gift ideas for last minute shoppers.  It included such things as a keyboard decal and Corkcicle wine chiller. Who knew there were decals for your keyboard? Apparently they come in all different colors and customizations.  The Corkcicle wine chiller was intriguing, you put it in your bottle of wine and it keeps both red and white at the recommended temperatures. The gift idea list went on and on with more things I've never heard of.

There are, however, some gifts this list did not mention. These gifts are not available online at Land’s End or at Macy’s or even Tiffany & Co. These are gifts you cannot buy, but should give.  They come from inside of you. The gift is you!

I wonder if there is anyone on your Christmas list that needs the gift of encouragement this year?  Or someone who needs the gift of a visit or phone call, just to let them know you are thinking of them?  What about the gift of understanding or listening? Kindness is a gift that fits all sizes, and so is patience. Hope is a gift that never goes out of style. Laughter and hugs and kisses don’t need any ribbons or bows. Come to think of it, the Bible has a great gift idea for all shoppers.  You can find it in I Corinthians 13.  It is the gift of love, because love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.  Love never ends and that’s the gift we all hope to find this Christmas. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Why Pink?

This week we lit the third candle in the advent wreath.  It was pink; the other two are purple.  Why pink?   I chuckle when folks ask me that question.  Some think it is because we ran out of purple candles. One child said it was because Mary and Joseph really wanted a little girl.  

Here’s the real explanation. Advent is a time of repentance and reflection, and the purple candles reflect this mood as we prepare for Christmas.   While the first two candles in the advent wreath are purple, the third week is pink (or rose) and is the color of joy.   The pink candle gets its name from the Latin word,   gaudete, which means rejoice.   The early church recognized it was spiritually appropriate to rejoice and experience a little joy  the third week  of Advent, before returning to a more reflective mood the week before the birth of Christ.

We hear a lot these days about the stress and hassles of the season, but it seems to me there is also much joy to experience.   Of course the Bible is clear in its rejoicing of “ Joy to the world, the Lord has come.”  I wonder what else is it that sets your feet a-tapping and your soul rejoicing?  Love to hear what it is that brings you joy.   

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Stress Level

As we enter the second week of Advent, how is your stress level?  Oh I know, every year we promise to not get caught up in the frenzy and hassle of the season, but it never seems to play out that way.   No matter how hard we try,  the stress and anxiety return every year.

Howard Thurman reminds us that something special also returns every year: Christmas! In his book, The Moods of Christmas he offers this prayer for all of us:

Christmas returns, as it always does, with its assurance that life is good.
It is the time of lift to the spirit, when the mind feels its way into the common place, and senses the wonder of simple things: an evergreen tree, familiar carols, merry laughter.  It is the time of illumination, when candles burn, and old dreams find their youth again.  It is the time of pause, when forgotten joys come back to mind and past dedications renew their claim.  It is the time of harvest for the heart, when faith reaches out to mantle all high endeavor, and love whispers its magic word to everything that breathes.  Christmas returns, as it always does, with its assurance that life is good.

Yes,  Christmas returns as it always does,  to tell us how much we are loved by God.   I’m glad Christmas is coming. Are you?