Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Entries from December 1, 2008 - January 1, 2009 Tuesday

Entries from December 1, 2008 - January 1, 2009


My Christmas Tree Rant

I was commenting on Kathy of Brazoscowgirl’s rant and started a rant of my own in her comment section! She graciously allowed my comment to post. I realized I need a brief rant of my own.

Since Christmas is almost upon us this is my Christmas tree rant. In point of fact, I love Christmas trees. This is a rant directed toward those people who feel the need to point out (often with smug moral superiority) that Christmas trees are in actuality pagan in origin! Shock!

To which I now rant “ Duh”.

Paganism in what is now Europe without a doubt predated Christianity. With the coming of the Gospel, the church fathers (at least some of them, there are Bah Hum Bug people in every generation) wisely realized that people desire a reason to celebrate before the impending cold dark of deep winter. What better reason to celebrate than the birth of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Just to clarify we do not celebrate Jesus’ birthday on December 25, we celebrate His birth.

Now if you are replacing a pagan celebration with one focused on the birth of the Savior (can you think of something better to celebrate?) and there are no Wal-Mart’s, flower marts or on line shopping available and you really do need something festive to decorate the house and it is winter and most everything is dead or in hibernation, what are you going use to decorate?

A pretty green fir tree! Available to anyone who needs celebratory decorations.

We believers plan to take over the Superbowl parties next! Moreover, no one had better say pigs in a blanket were originally a secular tradition or I will have to reply “Duh!”

Colored or white lights, which do you prefer?


The Great Christmas Divide

He loves It's A Wonderful Life.

I love A Christmas Story. I just can't watch his favorite one more time.

Bless him, the teens all perfer to watch A Christmas Story with me. They will watch It's A Wonderful Life with their dad on the off chance there really is a Santa and they need the good kid points.

Thank goodness we both perfer colored lights on the tree and roast beef for Christmas dinner or it would get tense around here.

Which do you perfer, It's A Wonderful Life or A Christmas Story? Something else?


Aging with Grace: 4, Now 3 Perhaps 2, Then 1, Then What?

My oldest is not coming home for Christmas this year. This is the first time all the kids will not be at our home for the holiday but most likely, it is not the last.

Even though I had all year to prepare, I am just not ready. Haggai started his youth pastor position last year. His boss was a little surprised Haggai was hoping to fly to visit family just four short months after getting started. It turns out that from Christmas to New Years is a busy time for many pastors...who knew?

His boss knows me and he knew I was not ready for a Christmas without my 20-year-old baby. (Of course they are no longer babies, but all four of them will always be my babies). Haggi came home for Christmas and I bless his boss’ kindness to this day.

However he is not coming home this year. It is not as if we are out of touch. Cell phones are a blessing to moms with far-flung kids. I still remember what he looks like so all is good.

It’s just he won’t be here. My daughter works in a restaurant. I anxiously asked if the restaurant was open on Thanksgiving or on Christmas. Fortunately it is closed both days. I just could not face having two kids missing from the holiday dinner this year. One is hard enough.

However that day will come…one is gone, then some day two, perhaps three, than one day all four. It is too sad to even think about.

I already told my husband, the first Christmas all the kids are gone, I am flying to Europe for the holiday and he is welcome to come with me.

In the mean time, I just know I will boohoo every time I hear “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”.

I better put some tissues with the Ben-Gay and lipstick in my purse.

How did you cope the first time a child didn’t come home for the holidays? When did you stop feeling so sad?


Mary Was One Remarkable Woman

In paintings, Mary is often imaged as this frail child/woman (frequently with blue eyes and blond hair…that is just weird). Mary was one smart, practical chick.

I am not sure how I would respond if an angel showed up while I was going about my daily business. When the Angle rolled to stone from Jesus' tomb, the Roman centurions guarding it fell as dead men (Matt 28:4).Mary on the other hand, asks a no-nonsense question. 400 years of silence, no prophets in Israel, Gabriel announces that she is to be the mother of the nations longed for Messiah; How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin.”

35The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. 37For nothing is impossible with God." Luke 1

What is the first thing this intrepid young woman does? She hightails it off to see if her cousin is indeed 6 months pregnant to check out the angel's words! Elizabeth’s greeting confirms what Mary has been told and the missing of several periods would be additional confirmation. Not to mention morning sickness if she had any.

Three months later, she returns home to have a little conversation with Joseph that evidently did not go as well as it could have. God intervenes and Joseph (a remarkable man in his own right) takes Mary into his home.

As her due date is approaching, Caesar calls for a census and Joseph is forced to travel 60 miles to the town of his ancestors to be counted. He takes his very pregnant betrothed and most likely traveling with Mary riding in a wagon, they go from Nazareth to Bethlehem. This young woman planning ahead takes swaddling clothes with her.

Her child is born under less then ideal circumstances and shortly after company (Luke 2) arrives. Before the child is two, the young family will flee to Egypt to escape Herod’s plot to kill her son. Before their flight, wise men show up at the house with gifts. They worship her son! The gifts are provision for Joseph’s family’s time in Egypt.

Mary was not only smart, tough and practical; she was a woman of faith, confident in her God. It was this confidence nurtured long before the Angel's appeared that carried this then unknown woman through what was going to be the unique events of the next few years.

And through the most pivotal event in history. She would see her baby die on a cross and rise again!

6And Mary said:
"My soul glorifies the Lord
47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
50His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
51He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
54He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
55to Abraham and his descendants forever,
even as he said to our fathers." Luke 1


It Was Anything But a Quiet Night

The night was filled with anger. Men forced to leave their homes, some to travel far from home to register for a census imposed on them by an invading power. They were to be counted in order to be taxed. It was not a quiet night.

Bethlehem was in an uproar. More people than the little town could accommodate were pouring in. David’s descendents were numerous and to Bethlehem, the men had to return for the census. Shepherds watching their flocks in the fields meant farmers wanted to be home tending their crops. It was spring or summer, not the dead of winter. It was when families worked to grow enough food to pay both the temple tax and the tax demanded by Rome and to survive the next year. It was not a good time to be away. The Roman guards were edgy. Groups of angry men hostile to Rome were not good for keeping the peace. Caesar gives commands. The difficulty in enforcing them is the problem of the Roman army. It was anything but calm in the city.

Even non-farmers were losing wages. Men traveling cannot work. Did Rome plan to compensate the fishermen, carpenters, shop owners who lost wages to be included in the census?

Into Bethlehem came a man and his pregnant young wife. They were probably not the only couple expecting a child soon. Perhaps that is why the Angel was so specific when telling the shepherds where to find the Child. “You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger” The first place most men would look for a newborn is not a cave used as a barn.

It was neither a quiet nor a calm night, the night that Jesus was born.

It was a holy night.

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isa 9: 6

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 "Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." Luke 2

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