The Seventh Day of Christmas

IMG_7668

New Year’s Eve.

How quickly the year seems to pass. People used to tell me that time goes by faster the older you get. Well I can attest to that fact after 67 years, 9 months, and 2 days!

Olin and I both expected to have aches and pains as we aged and to not be able to do everything that we used to do. We just didn’t expect it to happen so soon.

I found myself having to take a break when mowing the yard this summer. It now takes me two days to do what I used to do in one. The same is true for him.

 

There are many things in this world that could be of concern but as the sign says, “Let your faith be bigger than your fears.” We don’t know what the new year holds for us but we do know the One in charge of our future and we trust in His plan for us.

 

The Sixth Day of Christmas

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom;

teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

And whatsoever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

Colossians 3: 16-17

 

Let us ponder these words as we come to the end of 2018. As we look ahead to what 2019 holds for us, we can purpose in our hearts to “do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.”

How would that change the way we live? Would you act differently if you knew that your actions would be seen as acts of Jesus? Would the reputation of our Lord suffer from your actions, your words, your thoughts?

Oswald Chambers writes in “My Utmost For His Highest” –

The sign that God is at work in us is that He corrupts confidence in the natural virtues, because they are not promises of what we are going to be, but remnants of what God created man to be. We will cling to the natural virtues, while all the time God is trying to get us into contact with the life of Jesus Christ which can never be described in terms of the natural virtues. It is the saddest thing to see people in the service of God depending on that which the grace of God never gave them, depending on what they have by the accident of heredity. God does not build up our natural virtues and transfigure them, because our natural virtues can never come anywhere near what Jesus Christ wants. No natural love, no natural patience, no natural purity can ever come up to His demands. But as we bring every bit of our bodily life into harmony with the new life which God has put in us, He will exhibit in us the virtues that were characteristic of the Lord Jesus. 

For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:26-28

 

That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

Ephesians 4:22-24

Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

Colossians 3:9-11

Dying to self daily and living for Jesus is what we are called to do if we claim the name of Christ. We cannot do this on our own but only the Holy Spirit working in us can accomplish this. Allow God to transfigure you, to form Christ in you.

Prayer.

Lord, I know that on my own I can do nothing but with Christ all things are possible. Guide me moment by moment. Show me when to act and when to stand still. Show me when to speak and when to keep silent. Show me when to question and when to trust. And whatsoever I do in word or deed, may I do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus. Amen

The Fifth Day of Christmas

IMG_9161

More Memories!

December 29, 2010 I attended my last choir Christmas Party. These events were some of the most memorable of my twelve years at Magnolia United Methodist Church.

Ms. Jane was our director and she did not put up with half way efforts when it came to our music. The Christmas Cantatas she put together were awesome! We were small in number but that lady could get amazing results. I was watching a group singing on television one night and saw one of the performers actually chewing gum! Ms. Jane would have straightened him out in a flash.

She worked us hard all year with the Christmas Cantata being our crowning moment. We also hosted a Christmas luncheon for the seniors with holiday music and lots of food and fun. But the best came the week after Christmas with the choir Christmas party. We always drew names but we couldn’t just buy a gift – NO – we had to compose a poem to go with it. Those were the most hilarious moments. Some wrote short poems but there were a few who really got into the spirit and had us all roaring. By the end of the poem we were supposed to figure out who the recipient was.

So as I sit here reminiscing I am carried back to those moments where people took the time to show how much they cared with words written with much angst. I dug out one of my own masterpieces to share this Christmas.

Another year has come and passed.

            My they do seem to go by so fast!

The Christmas traditions have all been kept.

            The Senior luncheon where no one slept.

The guests were too busy laughing with glee

            At Bob Lane and the chipmunks three.

The food was delicious, the party merry,

            The entertainment goofy, like Curly, Moe, and Larry.

But what a wonderful time it was,

            A time to gather “Just Because.”

Because we love Jesus and want to share

            Our joy in Him with others there.

 

And next came the night we all love – and dread.

            The Christmas Cantata, or Can-ta-ta, as Joe has said.

We love this night because of the magic.

            God takes our voices – sometimes tragic –

And makes them blend in love’s harmony

            With music that makes a glad melody.

But at the same time we can be filled with dread

            That Ms. Jane will hear mistakes we might “said.”

(I know the correct English is “say” but it doesn’t rhyme!)

Mistakes we all make with a slip of the tongue,

            Like man-GER instead of man-ga – we’ve all said that one!

Or singing when silent we should be

            That one is hard to hide you see.

Or not coming in on the proper beat,

            Then we’d see Ms. Jane coming up out of her seat.

“You’re not watching me.” She would admonish.

            But in the very next moment we would astonish

Because we would sing every note to perfection

            Bringing a smile from Ms. Jane’s direction.

And let us not mention the “Procession” we walked.

            When someone would hurry – or else they would balk

And hold up the line and make all out of step

            Or forget which side to hold their candle – LIT.

But at last the night would finally come

            When we stood before the people and our Cantata we sung.

 

And this is the very best part you see

            Because it didn’t really matter how good we might be.

For God took our offering of voice and heart

            And added His blessing and made us a part

Of something much bigger than our little choir

            It’s as if the angels had come from afar.

It must be the angels sent from above

            Sent by the Father in response to our LOVE

For our music is offered in love can’t you see.

            That’s what makes it so special to me.

And to all who come to listen – to hear

            Christmas music loud and clear,

Offered in love to the Father’s glory

            Telling once more the old Christmas story.

What this choir shares is much, much more

            Than just a beautiful musical score.

The love of God is what you give.

            The life of Christ you’re willing to live.

You give of yourselves again and again.

            And I myself – hope it never will end.

 

And now on this Epiphany night

            We are rewarded for all our fright.

We come to the final tradition you see,

            The choir Christmas Party – WHOOPIE!

We gather together to laugh out loud.

            We really are a boisterous crowd.

We’ll remember the triumphs and also the clinkers,

            The angelic voices and also the stinkers.

We’ll eat till we’re full; we’ll laugh till we cry.

            By the end of the night not an eye will be dry.

We’ll remember those who aren’t with us tonight.

            June and Bob have taken flight.

They’ve gone south with the geese –

            No longer needing mittens and fleece.

And Gwen and Brian – Donna and “Trouble”

            They’ve marched off on the double.

For they have been called. Their country they serve.

            All of our prayers they so richly deserve.

And some have gone home to sing in another choir.

            Listen, can you hear the music afar?

And though there are many not with us this year

            They are still a part of our choir – and dear

Dear to our hearts and forgotten – NEVER!

            For once a member – you are always – forever.

 

Oh dear! I seem to have gone astray.

            I’m supposed to talk about my “Name” today.

But all of this pertains to the name I drew.

            In speaking of the choir, I’m speaking of you too.

For you offer your gifts to family and friends.

            You give of yourself without an end.

Sometimes it seems you’re unappreciated – I know

            But never forget – God’s looking below.

And He sees the offering in secret made.

            And the reward in heaven is waiting to be paid.

This gift I got – I haven’t a clue

            Of how it works or what it will do.

I saw one word and said “That’s the one!”

            The word was GOLF – Bob, I hope it is fun!

 

           

 What wonderful times we had. what wonderful memories we made.

What memories are you making this Christmastide?

 

The Fourth Day of Christmas

902655_525183010852172_169083626_o

More Christmas Memories!

In December 2010 we were preparing to take my parents on a road trip to Las Vegas for my niece’s wedding.

We left Delaware on December 30th and arrived in Las Vegas on January 2nd, celebrated the wedding on the 4th, left Las Vegas on the 6th, and arrived back in Delaware on the 15th.

It was spending those seventeen days on the road with my parents that gave birth to the idea of taking them on an extended trip in a motor home. My parents were longtime RV’er’s and didn’t think spending every night in a different hotel was the proper way to travel. Dad was overheard making the comment “I never thought I’d see the mountains in New Mexico again except from the air. He felt that their camping days were over and that future travel would necessitate flying. After we returned home from that trip we began to think about this idea of a cross-country trip in an RV. So Christina is responsible!

We purchased a motor home in the spring and December 2011 found us preparing for a trip to Florida in the RV. Sort of a practice run. We left Delaware January 5th and headed south.

 

Our first stop was Hampton, VA for a visit with Jeff & Maria.

Then on to South Carolina for a visit with cousins. There was an unexpected delay in Savannah, GA. We spent three weeks in a motel while the RV was in the shop for a new engine.

Finally after 32 days we arrived in Florida

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We returned to Delaware in March to prepare for our cross-country trip.

Although these aren’t strictly Christmas memories. Both December 2010 and December 2011 found us preparing for an adventure.

We are always making memories. What memories will you make this day?

The Third Day of Christmas

IMG_9153

Christmas Memories!

I am thinking today of one of the best gifts my husband ever gave me.

It is a Beatrix Potter figurine of a mother hen and her chicks. When you wind it up it plays the tune “Music Box Dancer.”

I fell in love with this beautiful tune in the eighties and that summer every time it would come on the radio I would hush my children so that I could just listen. It is such a happy melody. It makes me smile every time I hear it.

One day in the fall my husband came home with a package wrapped in red paper. He put it on the bookshelf and told me that it was my Christmas present and I had to wait to open it on Christmas Day!

Imagine my surprise when I heard that happy tune on Christmas morning. I happen to love Beatrix Potter stories also so it was a double blessing. I sat that chicken in the middle of our table and played it everyday while washing dishes. It made the chores go by quickly.

I still have it today. It plays a little slower but I don’t care. This little figurine speaks to me of the love of a husband for his wife. We were a young family with not a lot of money and there were many things he could have bought that I needed more than a chicken that played a happy tune. But that chicken brought me JOY!

NOTE* Everyone saw that little chicken and saw how much I loved it. They thought it was the chicken. They didn’t get the part about the tune and so for years people bought me chickens of all sorts. I ended up with a “chicken” collection.

As I write this I am listening to Frank Mills play his tune “Music Box Dancer” on YouTube. Check it out. I dare you to listen and not smile!

 

The Second Day of Christmas

 

Yesterday was a quiet day with just the two of us and our critters of course.

Olin & I enjoyed a turkey dinner with mashed potatoes and gravy, lima beans, cole slaw, with pumpkin pie for dessert.

IMG_9139

Everyone got special treats Buttons, Ms. Pepper, Jalapeno, Habanero, and  the barn cats and the chickens!

There were presents to share and telephone calls to and from both the east coast and the west coast.

It was a very good day!

IMG_9142

It is the second day of Christmastide and the celebration continues!

A neighbor stopped by with some homemade goodies.

The mailman delivered another Christmas package.

We had turkey soup made with the carcass of yesterday’s dinner.

So even though it is a cloudy, rainy day our Christmas spirit is still strong.

img_6921

Christmas Day

newborn-baby-feet-basket-161534.jpeg

And the Word was made flesh,

and dwelt among us,

and we beheld His glory,

the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,

full of grace and truth.

John 1:14

 

 

All of the candles on the Advent wreath are lit. Christmas has arrived! I pray that you will find peace, joy, and love as you celebrate the Christmas season. As you dismantle the decorations and put away the gifts I pray that you keep the spirit of Christmas throughout the new year.

IMG_9141

Christmas Eve

IMG_9096

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

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.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Luke 2:1-20

 

The Fourth Sunday of Advent

IMG_9096

And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda;

And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.

And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:

And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.

And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.

And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.

Luke 1:39-45

 

img_6979

And blessed is she that believed: 

When the angel Gabriel came to Mary “she was troubled at his saying”

but her response was one of complete trust.

“Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me  according to your word.”

When Mary told Joseph his first reaction was to call of the betrothal.

“Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example,was minded to put her away secretly.”

But then the angel came.

We don’t know what Joseph said to the angel who visited him.

But we do know that he “did as the angel of the Lord commanded him.”

His response was also one of trust.

Mary believed what the Lord said.

Joseph believed what the Lord said.

And they acted accordingly.

What if we believed what the Lord says and acted accordingly.

 

God says: Ask and it shall be given you. Seek and you shall find. Knock and the door will be opened to you.

We don’t ask because sometimes we don’t want to know.

We would rather do it our way and ask forgiveness after we mess it up.

 

God says: Don’t worry about whether you have enough food to eat or clothes to wear.

All mankind scratches for its daily bread, but your heavenly Father knows your needs.

He will always give you all you need from day to day if you will make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.

 

God says: Give and you shall receive.

“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try me in this,” says the Lord of Hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.”

We say: I’d rather wait to see how much You give me first then I’ll decide how much to give back.

God is saying give to me FIRST  and trust ME

 

In her book “The Unnecessary Pastor” Dr. Marva J. Dawn writes:

Church members find themselves powerless in the world and not able to invite

neighbors into the faith because Christians often don’t live in ways that give any

warrant for belief. Observers don’t seem to be saying, “Oh, you Christians have a superb

attitude about time. I can see that in the way you observe the Sabbath.”

They don’t say, “Oh, you Christians have a great perspective on money;

you are so generous and don’t seem to be scrambling after it like the rest of society,”

or “It amazes me that you Christians never try to pull power plays.”

The best evangelist I’ve ever known was a dear man who spoke English so poorly

that he was painfully shy . . . yet his grace and goodness were evident to all his peers.

Anyone who ever needed any help went to Peter, for the people knew that he loved

them.

God’s love through us is the language we speak, the way of life in which we are engaged.

The Trinity’s grace undergirds our customs and practices and habits of faith, which show

how we have learned from Christ. The Holy Spirit uses Scripture and the community of

faith and the risen Christ within us to train us in those traditions and disciplines and

language. By these means God draws the world to Himself.

 

 

Ask your self  –    Can people tell that I am a Christian by the way I live?

Do people look surprised when they find out I go to church?

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, the final day of Advent.

Tomorrow the season of Christmas begins – GOD WITH US.

May we live our lives in such a way as to proclaim the message GOD IS WITH US!

 

img_6983

 

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

Isaiah 9:6-7
IMG_9098
We light this candle as a symbol of the Prince of Peace.
May the visitation of Your Holy Spirit, O God,
make us ready for the coming of Jesus, our hope and joy.
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.

The Third Saturday of Advent

IMG_9095

And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?

Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.

And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy.

And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.

Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.

Matthew 26:40-45

 

Only two more days and the Christmas Season begins. Sadly for many the hustle and bustle of the modern day Christmas has them worn out before Christmas even begins.

It pains me to hear some say, “I will be glad when it is over!”

OVER – when it hasn’t yet begun.

If that is where you find yourself this last Saturday before Christmas then I would like to share with you this poem I discovered in a little book called “Streams In The Desert.” The message is especially appropriate for these busy days.

“I’m too tired to trust and too tired to pray,

Said one, as the over-taxed strength gave way.

The one conscious thought by my mind possessed,

Is, oh, could I just drop it all and rest.

 

“Will God forgive me, do you suppose,

If I go right to sleep as a baby goes,

Without asking if I may,

Without ever trying to trust and pray?

 

“Will God forgive you? Why think, dear heart,

When language was an unknown art,

Did a mother deny you needed rest,

Or refuse to pillow your head on her breast?

 

“Did she let you want when you could not ask?

Did she set her child an unequal task?

Or did she cradle you in her arms,

And then guard your slumber against alarms?

 

“Ah, how quick was her mother love to see,

The unconscious yearnings of infancy.

When you’ve grown too tired to trust and pray,

When over-wrought nature has quite given way:

 

“Then just drop it all, and give up to rest,

As you used to do on a mother’s breast,

He knows all about it – the dear Lord knows,

So just go to sleep as a baby goes;

 

“Without even asking if you may,

God knows when His child is too tired to pray.

He judges not solely by uttered prayer,

He knows when the yearnings of love are there.

 

“He knows you do pray, He knows you do trust,

And He knows, too, the limits of poor weak dust.

Oh, the wonderful sympathy of Christ,

For His chosen ones in that midnight tryst,

 

“When He bade them sleep and take their rest,

While on Him the guilt of the whole world pressed –

You’ve given your life up to Him to keep,

Then don’t be afraid to go right to sleep.”

 

We are in the season of Advent. I hope that you have celebrated this season by lighting the candles, reading scripture, and spending time in prayer, preparing your hearts for the twelve days of Christmas.

But if you are on of those who have gotten caught up in the false celebration of Christmas, if you are weary and worn and ready for it to be over, take heart the Lord knows and understands. Just as he understood when the disciples fell asleep in the garden while he was in such agony. As he said to them – he says to you –

Sleep on now, and take your rest.