Thursday, December 20, 2007

A White Christmas?

Will it be a white Christmas,
or not?

Fancy Christmas . . .

Sometimes this time of year – the Christmas season – I hear someone remark that “I don't need anything fancy.”

Somehow I'm hardly ever convinced.

I think the truth is, often we don't think we can afford something fancy, or we don't think we deserve it, or we don't want to go to the trouble of arranging it.

But the Christmas season seems made for fancy, never mind the simplicity of Jesus's actual birth. God didn't seem troubled that His son was born in a stable; I wonder sometimes how He looks at our elaborate Christmas decorations, gift-wrap, food . . .

On the other hand, maybe He is pleased that we make a fuss, that we celebrate the good news that Jesus is born among us. Maybe he feels honored when we bring our best selves to the party, when we fuss over Him.

I wonder what He sees when He looks at our hearts . . .

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Someday . . .

Although Elton Trueblood is talking specifically about economic integrity, his observation applies to all of life – our integrity matters. It's important that what we do matches what we say we believe.
So, when I'm rude to a clerk after waiting in line to buy a Christmas gift, my automatic “Merry Christmas” at the end of the transaction is not just hollow, it's offensive.
It's hard to have integrity when you're tired, overwhelmed, and your feet hurt.
It's not just at Christmas, either. What mom hasn't heard the example of the “bad” mom who talks nicely to someone on the phone, then turns and snarls at her own dear children? What mom hasn't been that mom?
How do we live out what we say we believe?
Especially during the Christmas season I try to remember that I don't have to live this life of integrity by myself – part of the reason God sent Jesus is so we have the help we need to live so the outside of us matches the inside of us. God is conforming us to the image of Jesus, challenge by challenge, difficult moment by difficult moment – as well as joy by joy.
I'm certainly not there yet, but someday . . .

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Putting Up the Christmas Trees . . .

We put up two Christmas trees this past week-end. One, a Fraser fir, is tall and beautifully shaped. The other is a soft-needle pine, tall and slender.
All our grandkids and one son helped us decorate the Fraser fir, but John and I put up the tall, slender pine ourselves. One tree has ornaments carefully placed, spaced at pleasing intervals. The other tree is a jumble of ornaments, with some placed almost on top of the one next to it, and the ornaments are disproportionately toward the bottom of the tree.
Guess which is which, and guess which one pleases us more . . .

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Good News of Christmas . . .

Ice storms notwithstanding, Thanksgiving is past and Christmas is coming.

We have snow on the ground, and more in the forecast, and it's cold outside, bitterly cold.

There was a shooting in a mall in Omaha this afternoon. I happened to be at one of our local malls later this afternoon, where mall security guards were patrolling, making a show of their presence. How difficult it must be for them, wondering if the shooting was an isolated incident or if it might be part of a pattern of attack.

What a terrible juxtaposition – Christmas decorations acting as a backdrop to a shooting rampage. Yet, isn't Christmas always framed by the sad, bad things happening in the world? Isn't that why Jesus was born? We seem to forget that as we delight in the celebration.

The bad news we hear so often and constantly is the very reason that Jesus's coming is good news – He has come to save us from our sin, and to redeem what is lost.

In the meantime, our prayers are with the victims, their families, and the people of Omaha.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Another Ice Storm . . .

Another December, another ice storm.

At least this year the power didn't go out here, and the ice on local roads melted fairly quickly, courtesy of warmer temperatures.

The areas just west and north of us weren't quite so fortunate, with power outages that have lasted awhile.

In the interest of good stewardship we don't turn on quite so many lights these days, but we aren't sitting in the dark, either, and I am reminded of how precious light is, especially this time of the year when days are so short, and often cloudy.