Welcome to our blog! This is a place to share ideas, thoughts, concerns and joys of our faith journey. I'll be posting sporadically, but hope you will feel free to comment and join in the discussions.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Reflections in a Christmas Ball

Standing in front of the Christmas tree on this New Year's Eve day, I am pondering what the new year will bring and what I've received from the previous year. Not the material things, the "other" things. Now lest you think I will get all sappy here, please keep in mind that I received a diagnosis of basal cell cancer that I wasn't too thrilled about!

Each year I am filled with a profound sense of the Lord's work, but I only seem to see it at the end of the year more clearly (I guess Paul, that great letter writer would be nodding his head, all that stuff about the mirror dimly). God's presence was there in the big things (our daughter's wedding) and the small--seeing a butterfly close up without it flying away. I felt Him when I visited our nephew's grave and longed for it when, on a rainy afternoon I thought no one cared.

The Christmas tree with its shiny ornaments and twinkling lights is a passing thing. Soon it will be time to take down the decorations, empty out the cookies tins, tuck away the outdoor lights and life will continue on as it has for years. But what do we take away from this past year? What can we say about the gifts The Lord has bestowed on us, not just for Christmas but all the year? What can we do to bring about the light in the dark places? This is I think what the New Year is about. Reflecting on what has taken place, sure. But thinking about the possibilities of the year coming up as well. Where will we be and what will we be doing?

Let's celebrate the New Year by being the light bringers! Let us share the hope that Jesus brings to all we meet, so that next New Year's Eve the light reflected on the Christmas balls on the tree will be the same light He shares with us each day.

Have a wonderful and safe New Year.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Chritmas Eve

This is the night that I used to suspend all logical thoughts and believe in the magical. When I was a kid, this was the night that Santa came to our house, appeared in our living room (we didn't have a fireplace, so there was no way he was coming down the chimney) and left a piles of presents for my siblings and I. We helped our dad decorate the tree, the smells coming from the kitchen of baked pies for the next day's dessert, and giggled and wiggled until far into the night waiting for the next day.

But also in the room was my mother's elaborate Nativity scene. It was not lavish, nor imported from some foreign land. It was put on top of a card table or placed on top of the stereo speakers completely obliterating it. It was a large wooden platform that had some grainy green stuff for the base which I think was that fake grass from train sets. It had a sandy path which led up to a wooden barn-like thing. It had sheep grazing around and occasionally sipping from the mirror placed amid the sand and grit to look like a pond. One of the sheep had a busted leg, so we had to prop him up on a piece of stick placed to look like a log near the pond. Each day my mother would read from the purple "Advent book" and we would either place a new figure in the scene or read about something related to the scene. By the time Christmas Eve rolled around the scene was set and after church on this night, we would come home and place Mary and Joseph in the old barn, looking at an empty manger. See it wasn't Christmas yet. Jesus made his first appearance on Christmas morning, so we couldn't add him in until the correct time.

The Nativity scene I have in my own home fits on the mantlepiece around the chimney (yes, I have a fireplace now). It's not as homespun as my mothers and not as big. But the pieces are lovingly placed each year throughout Advent, waiting until Christmas morning for Jesus.

The magic of the season is with me still. Maybe not the Santa part. But the small baby part, coming to redeem us from ourselves. God coming down once again in the mystic communion of the night to see his creations and let us know that as unworthy as we are of his love, He loves us still.So there is still magic in the night tonight. The magic of love and wonder and awe. God comes down every Christmas, indeed every day of every year. What could be more magical than that?

Merry Christmas all!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Do You Need Proof?

I get a couple of devotions delivered to my in box every day.  They vary as to whether they actually touch me or even resonate at all. But once in a while a line or two will reach out of my computer and grab me by the arm...well, maybe just grab my mind and it is such a startling experience that I have to write it down somewhere to remember at a later time. This happened the other day. This devotional is using a book by Dietrich Boenhoffer to make it's point and most of the time, I think he's either too deep or to cerebral for me. But just the other day I read this and thought, well, yeah, this is great:
Only when I forgo visible proof, do I believe in God.

It reminded me of reading C.S. Lewis' book, Mere Christianity. He reminded me that if I go looking around for proof positive that God exists and is there (or here or anywhere for that matter), I'm not going to find him. Because to have faith means to believe when there really isn't anything concrete to put my hand on. And I feel like that is what Advent and even Christmas is all about, too. Does it really have to be proven that Mary was a virgin? Do we have to get all astronomy minded about the "star of Bethlehem"? Do you need to know that the angel chorus was a hundred, a thousand or just a couple? The most basic thing to remember is that God came down. God so loved our poor pitiful souls that he was willing to sacrifice his own son to show us that love. I don't think it matters whether the stable was wooden or really a cave. And I'm pretty sure the evidence of three kings dropping by is non-existent. But God's love is pretty tangible. And if I can get sappy for a minute or two, it seems really real, tangible and certain at this time of the year, more than almost any other. I've seen more charitable acts, witnessed more kindnesses, and heard more "good will to men" than at any other time of the year. And I really don't care if it's just at this time of the year either. At least it's at this time of the year! At least we can feast our eyes on the marvelous works of a starry cold winter night, of family and friends who join together in song and praise, or rest quietly from a long days labor while reading once again that story of the first Christmas. It's a good story. A loving story, and it feels true because it is just so, well, unbelievable.

So I will forgo the visible proof that God exists and continue on my merry faith-filled way in the sure and certain hope that Jesus loves me, this I know. With or without the multitude of heavenly hosts filling me in on it.