Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

wake up 2I was so proud of myself a couple of months ago. I set myself a goal to wake up at 5:30 a.m. every day (even non-work days) and I did it. Someone asked me why I bothered with this exercise and I explained that I was trying to find another hour in my day. But the part I didn’t understand then (which I learned this week from Pastor Jess) was that I didn’t use that extra hour to wake up the second time.

The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. [Romans 13:11b-12, NIV]

Beginning today, we are entering a time of year called Advent, a time of waiting for the arrival of Christmas, the time the Church has designated to celebrate the birth of Christ, our long-awaited Messiah. Advent (and Christmas, for that matter) is a purely man-made time of year and yet, I’m glad of it. I need to direct some energy and preparation to my spiritual awakening. That is what the Christ was all about, that is why Jesus came into the world, to wake us all up.

But there is a challenge for believers to see past the tinsel and the commercialism and the anxious Martha-type shopping and planning. After all, families will gather and great amounts of food will be eaten and gifts will be collected and distributed (some well chosen and others not so much). It’s not that such things are inherently bad at all. It’s just that we need to balance these external activities with some inward contemplation. If we don’t . . . if I don’t, then I will make the same mistake I made two months ago and miss the point.

Sometimes it’s more than just busy-ness that overtakes us. For those who have little money, it’s a heartbreaking time in which blinders and dark glasses are a necessity to shut out the cacophony of the marketplace: “buy, buy, buy” or “lay-it-away” or “charge it.” Every sign and commercial is telling people what they want, whether they want it or not. And soon, everyone groans under the weight of wishes and wants they cannot have or cannot afford. Our eyes are not open; not the eyes that count.

Open your eyes 1It is for this second awakening that I want to engage our hearts and minds during this season. Pastor Jess talked about the ever-present armies of God surrounding us and our circumstances (see II Kings 6:15-17). Elisha prayed that his servant’s eyes would be opened to see them, to actually see through and beyond the enemy soldiers camped nearby. So it must be with our Christmas season.

We must wake up and look beyond and through the difficulties, the depression, the expectations, the clamor, and the demands of others and focus on the coming (and present) Christ, whose birth we celebrate.

How often do mothers post their birthday wishes to their children and include a picture of the child when he or she was just a baby or toddler? Those were the innocent times, the days and weeks and months when the future was unknown and the child had a world to explore. Jesus came into the creation just so.

Come with me on this Advent journey. We will wait together and prepare and when we come to that day, we will see the light that broke through the darkness.

Just give a little time to your inner life. That’s all it takes to wake up again.

Read Full Post »

nativity scene with childrenIf you went to church as a kid, you know that the Baby Jesus was born in a manger because there was no room for them at the inn. Many of us have been in those Christmas pageants, where one of the girls got to play Mary (coveted role) while another girl had to play Joseph  with a fake beard and they walked across the stage from inn to inn asking for a place to stay because, after all, Mary was preggers. All the innkeepers shook their heads no until one nice one agreed to put them up in the stable (or was it a cave–biblical scholarship is mixed on this minor point).  But then, voila, baby appears in a soft bed of hay with a pretty blue blanket.

While in Bethlehem, she went into labor and gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped the baby in a blanket and laid Him in a feeding trough because the inn had no room for them. [Luke 2:6b-7, The Voice]

But really, don’t we all know, having a baby in a stable could not have been a picnic. And don’t we wonder, did Joseph help Mary through her labor, telling her to breathe rhythmically? I doubt it. There may have been a midwife, but we will never know this part of the story. It’s been sanitized over the years and honestly, by the men who wrote it. Back in those days, having babies was woman’s work.

Did Mary wonder? First a bright, slightly overwhelming Angel comes to her with the big news that she’s having a baby by the touch of God and then, her world begins a slow crumbling until her ends up in a strange city, pregnant, with not even a bed to give birth to this wunderkind. Oh yes, Mary had lots to ponder in her heart [Luke 2:19].

I can imagine that throughout the time of her pregnancy and the birth of her son, she was feeling ostracized from her community and her family. I doubt very seriously that anyone around her (except for Elizabeth who lived in a different city altogether), believed Mary was the anointed mother of the Messiah.

There was no room for this story as it was happening.

All she had was a prophecy, a promise, a supernatural appearance, and a dream to hold on to through their trials. They were homeless and alone. They were poor and without many resources.

soylent greenWhen the phrase “no room” came to me, outside of the Bethlehem story, I remembered the science fiction movie, Soylent Green, a film that was loosely based on Harry Harrison’s novel, “Make Room! Make Room!” :  a civilization gone mad, over-populated and consuming green wafers made from– (well, you should watch the movie or read the book). There was little room for anything or anyone. No room for human caring, no room for individualism, no room for random acts of kindness. Nothing, just survival: food, shelter & clothing. Is it too much to ask?

But are we doing much better? Have we such busy lives that there is no room? Have I? Is my schedule so packed that there’s no room for the unexpected need, the human soul in distress, the unforeseen incident or meeting? Am I turning away a Mary or a Joseph because I am too busy? Am I turning them away because I am protecting my own little half acre? Really? No room?

Who am I in the real Christmas story played out every day?

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: