23 December, 2011

PinPrick Christmas?

So this morning I was sitting in my prayer chair and forcing myself to “de-Christmas” myself. I know this sounds strange . But my life these last few weeks has had little to do with a Saviour’s birth and MUCH to do with cooking, wrapping, buying, decorating, and stressing over who-is-getting-what-and-will-they-like-it”.

I began thinking about the gift giving and how it is supposed to represent our celebration of the birth of Jesus into our world. We ARE celebrating His magnificent Self coming into our world. What Glory that is for the God of the universe to squeeze Himself into our world.

Ahhh, I thought, I can’t possibly understand what that even means. But, if I could understand His Glory perhaps I could better understand my great need for a Saviour. Isn’t that our problem in the world…we don’t really think we need a Saviour. We’ve got it “under control”.

So how can we even start to understand His Glory, His great Light to the world? Think with me.

Did your mama ever tell you: “Don’t look directly at the sun, cause you’ll go blind!” Or have you ever been driving west at 2 or 3 in the afternoon and get blinded by the sun? It’s just so very intense and bright it hurts your eyes to look at it? It’s too much for me. So out come my polarized sunglasses and down goes the sun visor. I need help to see. The light is too much. It’s overwhelming.Now, have you ever heard of pinprick art? This is an art project where you punch pin holes in black paper and then tape it to a sun-filled window and let the filtered sun shine through the holes. The sun finds the little openings and floods through creating a pattern…just tiny bits of light shine through.

With all my hustling and bustling, have I forgotten the overwhelming sunlight, the Glory of Jesus squeezing Himself into a human birth? The great Glory of God…coming into our little world?

And, have I begun to settle for a pinprick Christmas….just a glimpse of the Glory? His glory shone round about…and they were afraid or overwhelmed or in awe. Am I overwhelmed by this great light this Christmas? This Glory came into the world for me and you and you and you!

Do I want a pinprick Christmas or a full-sun, Glory-filled Christmas? Look at this short verse below:

An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
 Luke 2:8-10

Glory of the Lord, I wondered. His Glory shone round about them and they were amazed, overwhelmed, in awe, thankful and relishing in His coming.

Happy Birthday, my Jesus, the Glory is You.

15 December, 2011

Home for Christmas

One of my favorite Christmas songs is, I’ll be home for Christmas

♪♫ I’ll be home for Christmas, you can count on me. Please have snow and mistletoe and presents on the tree. Christmas Eve will find me where the lovelight gleams; I’ll be home for Christmas if only in my dreams. ♫♪

Humming this tune for the last several weeks has brought to mind many people who will be traveling home for Christmas. Those who even now are planning and packing and anticipating the love and joy their arrival will create.

I remember the loneliness of long nights at the campus library wanting nothing more that to be home experiencing Christmas with my family. I remember the excitement of finals ending and being on the road headed home for Christmas break. My son is coming home for Christmas. I haven’t seen him since August so yes, I’m thrilled, nervous and anticipating all at the same time! I’m anticipating long talks, great laughs, and a celebration of the Saviour being born. A Saviour that heals broken hearts.

I wonder if Mary and Joseph hummed a tune as they traveled the long road from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Their anticipation was quite different than ours. They didn’t know what was ahead. Their journey was inconvenient, mandated by the law, a very difficult journey on foot (or riding on donkey) for a pregnant woman. Just imagine…..not so much humming, I’m thinking. But oh, the splendor they would encounter. Oh, the joy of that one night. The Saviour was on the way. A Saviour that paves the way.

I wonder about Lily…Lily with the big smile and sweet giggle…a friend who also has gone home for Christmas. I know she was anticipating the joy of going home, the joy of seeing her husband and son after many months. Her journey was difficult for it is a long plane ride from Tuscaloosa to China. She left today and arrives tomorrow – a really long journey. She returns to China with gifts and stories to tell. This visiting scholar returns with a newness for her profession and a newness of knowledge.

I remember one day in our English class when we were studying a writing from the Psalms. The Chinese students were practicing pronunciation and understanding of the text. Lily was shy at first and her English was very difficult to understand but she kept repeating a word. “Laud, Loll, Load, Lo”….finally, I understood….”Lord! Lord”! “Yes”, I said. Lily told me then that she had met Jesus. She knew Him. She had met the Saviour.

This Christmas will be different for Lily. This is the first Christmas that she knows her Saviour. This is the first Christmas she is anticipating a true celebration. She’s going home for Christmas to bring the Saviour to her family. She’s not filling a Christmas list of unnecessary items, I bet she’s humming a song celebrating and anticipating the Saviour’s birth.

I want to hum this song too.

06 December, 2011

Hustle Bustle

Some of you know that I have two children, a son who is 22 and a daughter who is 17. My daughter is in her senior year of high school. (For those of you, who have raised a high-school senior daughter, you may now stop and pray for me….that I not torture her, disown her or continuously cry until her graduation in May!)

Thus far this senior year has felt a bit like the holidays. All hustle and bustle, deadlines, applications due, celebrations, money needed, invitations ordered, gifts, gowns, going, going and going. On November 23, we were having such a morning. And in all the hustle and bustle tempers flared, words were exchanged, doors slammed and she was gone. Ugh…motherhood!!! I went straight for my coffee and quiet time. I furiously opened my devotional book and read these words:

“Entrust your loved ones to me; release them into My protective care. They are much safer with Me than in your clinging hands. When you release loved ones to me, you are free to cling to my hand.”1

What soothing and convicting words for my heart and spirit. Oh, Lord you meet me exactly where I am. In and amongst all the struggling to live life, you have gone before me and are waiting for me. How glorious is this knowledge for me.

That evening I couldn’t wait to share this devotional with Ray. While I was cooking our dinner I explained the morning drama with our daughter then handed him my little devotional book and said, “Now look at today’s devotional.” He read in silence for a few moments and then said, “Honey, I’m sorry but I don’t see how this relates.” So I began my pious spiritual babble and he interrupts me and says, “Kat, that’s not even close to what this says.” Frustrated now, I go over to him and get the book and begin to read…it’s totally NOT the devotional I read. November 23 was a devotional about Thanksgiving…We finally found MY devotional from that morning…it was dated AUGUST 23. What???? That morning, I had deliberately gone to today’s date, or so I thought.

I know in my hustle and bustle, I turned to the wrong date BUT I also know God had a finger in my devotional book. Once I stopped.....He was there. He led me to read those words from August 23, the perfect words for my day and my heart.

In our hustle and bustle in December, I fear I will leave Him behind somewhere. In the cooking, and decorating, and gift buying, Jesus will be left out. In my frantic to-do list, He’ll take a back seat. As our duties multiply this month let’s remember that all He desires is our hearts and our time with Him. Get your coffee, your devotional book and Bible and see what He has for you to read – you will find Him!

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21

1 Excerpt from, Jesus is Calling, Sarah Young

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