23 December, 2016

Are you in Wonder?

Cross posted from Adventagain.blogspot.com

Wonder in a child's eyes is a spectacular sight.  The open amazement and awe is so very beautiful to behold.  In fact, one of my Christmas joys is to see our children experience the wonder of their gifts.  I look to see if they 'really like' their gifts; I look to see the wonder in their eyes.  And I know immediately if we have slightly missed the mark for the look of appreciation is so very different from the look of wonder or awe.  And today, even with our grown children I want them to experience wonder!  Perhaps they are too old now.  Perhaps wonder is a child-only event.  In fact, in looking for a picture to express 'wonder' for this writing, I struggled.  And it perplexed me that all the pictures labeled as 'Christmas wonder' were of children.   I could not find one single picture of an adult expressing wonder.  Why is that?  Are we so mature, so hard-hearted, so immune that our wonder has vanished?

Do you feel wonder in your life?  Will you feel wonder on Christmas Eve at your church service or on Christmas Day as you formally celebrate Christ being born into our world?

I daresay that we've lost our wonder.  Michael Yacconelli in his book Dangerous Wonder, said "the most critical issue facing Christians today is dullness. ‘We have lost our astonishment. The Good News is no longer good news, it is okay news. Christianity is no longer life changing, it is life enhancing. Jesus doesn’t change people into wild-eyed radicals anymore, He changes them into ‘nice people’.  But radical Christianity wasn’t nice; it was category-smashing, life-threatening, anti-institutional; it spread like wildfire through the 1st century and was considered by those in power to be dangerous. ‘I want to be filled with an astonishment which is so captivating that I am considered wild and unpredictable and ... well ... dangerous’. I want to be dangerous to a dull and boring religion. I want a faith that is considered dangerous by our predictable and monotonous culture.’

We've somehow lost the wonder of Christmas.  We've lost the wonder of what we celebrate!  We have embraced Baby Jesus coming into the world but have we let him remain as a baby in our hearts and minds?  Yes, He came humbly, He came quietly, He came in human form - all so that we could somehow begin to comprehend Him and welcome Him into our lives and hearts.  BUT....we cannot keep Him in the manger.  Our wonder today rests solely on who He is today, was yesterday and will be tomorrow.  And who is He?

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will [a]rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.  Isaiah 9:6

He is our Wonderful Counselor. He is our Mighty God.  He is our Eternal Father.  He is the Prince of Peace.  These are not just words from 2700 years ago.  These are the personal qualities of the Christian God.  I ponder today whether I've sold him short?  That's right, have we sold God short?  To sell short = to underestimate the true value or worth of something or someone.  Is your God still in a manger scene?  Has your God been defeated and destroyed amidst all the chaos in the world today?  In those dark, lonely moments have you forgotten that He is your Counselor?  Did you leave Him at your church last week, last month, last year?

The God I strive to serve IS the Counselor.  He IS a mighty God.  He IS eternal.  He IS Prince and King of Peace.  And you what else, He's waiting to see me on Christmas morning.  He waiting to see if my eyes behold wonder as I open my gift from Him.  Just like us parents, he too desperately wants to see the wonder in our eyes.  He waits to see if we truly have wonder in our eyes on Christmas morning!

We may offer Him the look of appreciation but it's WONDER He wants!  And it is wonder we desperately desire.

11 December, 2016

No Room

Cross post from Adventagain.blogspot.com
Whew!  What a few weeks we've had in our family! We've experienced overwhelming joy and
overwhelming tragedy.  And yet, life keeps moving, the sun is still rising every morning.  And a Christmas tree stands in my den so here we go again!  The turkey is still in my freezer and the calories are still on my hips but I've got to make room for more activities.  And if my Christmas activities and happenings are not enough I can also work on our daughters upcoming wedding plans!!  (we are so excited for those two to be wed).  But truly, I find myself thinking I have no room for anything else.

Or do I?  I certainly have no room for another scone or piece of pie....but somehow I make room!  I certainly have no more room on my calendar but somehow things keep appearing and we make room.  We make room for what's important to us or expected of us, right?

Mary made room...certainly her life was interrupted but she made room.  Joseph did too and they were clearly going waaaaayyyyy against the norm!  But, why didn't the Innkeeper make room for Joseph and Mary?  If he had only known Whom he had turned away...
While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.  And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.  Luke 2:6-8 New American Standard Bible
In the book, Christmas from the Backside, Ellsworth Kallas offers a good picture of what 'inn' life was like 2000 years ago. The inn: "It was probably a series of thatched rooms built around a central courtyard-looking more like covered porches than like rooms.  Travelers brought their own food-and the pot in which to cook it-their own bedding, and often their firewood.(Handel Brown, "When Jesus Came," in The Light of Christmas).  The hotel in Bethlehem was probably a shabby sort of place, perhaps several hundred years old.  They were usually dirty, uncomfortable, badly kept, and badly managed.  Innkeepers in those days had a generally unsavory reputation, probably because their places were so often use for immoral and criminal purposes. (A. C. Bouquet, Everyday Life in New Testament Times).

So what are we to think?  Poor, foolish innkeeper?  Poor Mary, Joseph, and unborn Jesus?  Perhaps we are to see that Jesus' entrance into the world was humble.  His entrance was rather quiet but His entrance was for everyone.  He came to this world in an unlikely manner and in an unlikely place.  It was a place full of unwanted people, unsavory characters.  Yes, even the Innkeeper.  And yes, even you and me.

When you read the Bible do you jump into the cast?  Can't we do that?  Isn't the Bible called the LIVING Word of God.....active today, tomorrow, yesterday, forever??  So when we read let's not just read an old story and barely see the words but instead let's jump into the story and find ourselves.  How are we the Innkeeper?  Or more personally....in my life today, who have I shut out?  When the Christ-inside-of-me knocks on the door of my heart, do I say, 'Sorry, no room'.  Or more truth here...how often do I say, No Room.

Or am I so used to my deep-south, American life that when Jesus comes to people who look different than me or who are unsavory or who live in other countries with other faiths, I simply walk-away and say No Room in my heart and attitude.

This baby born of Mary came for e v e r y one of us.  And He came in love not in condemnation.  Is there room inside of you?  Can we stop the Christmas music, the shallow Christmas celebrations and scream from the top of our lungs.....YES, THERE IS ROOM INSIDE OF ME.  COME LORD JESUS COME.  COME IN.  COME CHANGE ME.  COME FILL ME WITH YOUR TYPE OF LOVE.

Thank you Lord God, that your Love is unconditional.  Thank you that you came to save me, the innkeeper....the unsavory one.

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