Christ, the Lord!

Luke 2:9.  “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.”

Image result for Luke 2:9

I’m taking, perhaps, a somewhat whimsical approach this morning.  I didn’t have anything in mind to write about, really, except that it’s the Christmas season, so I chose to write about the Christmas story in Luke 2, verse 9 because today is December 9.

I was delighted to see that it was one of my favorite parts in the story.

The  “they” in verse 9 refers to the shepherds who were camping out in the fields, protecting their flocks of sheep during the night.

These were not the educated elite of Israel who wore fine garments and held themselves away from the rabble so they would not be made unclean.  They were men of the earth, of hard work, of sometimes long cold nights watching over a bunch of smelly sheep. Of course, they were used to the smell, so I’m sure it didn’t bother them.

So all was normal.  The sky was star-filled, and I’m sure some of the shepherds were wrapped up in their cloaks trying to get some sleep while the others kept watch for predators or thieves. Just sitting there, perhaps warming themselves at a fire, wishing the long night weren’t quite so long as they knew it would be.

If those who study these things are right, it was much more likely that Christ was born in the spring, more around the time of the passover. Our tradition is a combination of pagan celebrations and church tradition, but let’s put all that aside for now.  It is true that we do not know the exact date, and I believe God arranged that we would not.  The main thing is not the date, but the event.

The event changed the history of the world, and was the beginning of the earthly life of Jesus, Messiah, The Holy One of Israel, Yaweh, Elohim, Prince of Peace, Lord of Lords, King of Kings!

And who got the message directly from the Angel of the Lord that night?  Poor shepherds, that’s who.  Of course we know the Magi were on their way from their lands in the Orient, but  the shepherds had no knowledge of that. And they would not see the Magi by the manger.  That incredible privilege was reserved for the poor, hard-working shepherds, who would be in company with Joseph the Carpenter, his young wife Mary,  an amazing infant, and  whatever animals were there to help warm the air.

But before they went to Bethlehem, they experienced the awesome, unearthly, holy light that accompanied the angel, and was the glory of the Lord. This overwhelming light “shone round about them,” illuminating the fields in a way I can’t even imagine.

Think about it.  How often do you suppose they had seen a real, gorgeous, brilliant angel?  Never!  I think they were struck speechless.  And, the Bible says, they were sore afraid.

Yes. They were terrified.  I don’t blame them.  I can’t imagine what they must have thought about during those moments.  Maybe they were too terrified to think.

Dipping into the next two verses, the angel said “Fear not.”  Right.  I wonder if they immediately stopped being afraid.

But then they heard the wonderful news that all Israel had waited to hear for centuries:  “Unto you is born this day, in the City of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” And the angel made it clear that this was not just for the Jews, but for ALL PEOPLE!.

Christ, the Savior, is born!

Sunday Morning Coffee: December

In spite of the fact that it feels like it came way too fast, December is here. And there’s no escaping it. Not that I want to.  I love Christmas and all that it stands for, especially to those of us who love God and truly celebrate the birth of His Son, and not just all the other tinsel and tales that accompany Christmas now.

I don’t remember how my parents did it, but even when they took us to a big department store in Minneapolis to have our pictures take with Santa, I knew he was just a normal man dressed in a costume.  I never believed he was real, even as I learned to read and enjoyed ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.

What I remember far more clearly are my early Christmases at Fourth Baptist Church in Minneapolis.  I had to memorize the story in Luke 2 one year.  I must have been six or seven, no older. I remember the pretty gold corduroy jumper Mom made for me, and that my hair was done in two pony tails just above my ears.  I remember being in front of all those people and, for some reason, not being nervous at all as I said all those verses into the microphone. I remember the singing, and then the ushers passed out bags of Christmas candy and nuts to all the kids.  Remember ribbon candy?  There was always either a big shiny apple or an orange, too.  I was SO excited to get an orange, a luxury that was rare for us.

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I remember the holy, hushed atmosphere as everyone stood at the end and sang Silent Night as the organ and piano softly played.  Even back then, I would get teary-eyed.  I still do.  Of course, it took me awhile to figure roundjonversion,   but still the meaning of the song was clear.  I also loved Away in a Manger,  and the little Lord Jesus asleep in the hay.

Some things you treasure far longer than the tales of Rudolph, Frosty, or a one-horse-open sleigh. You value what is real.

As you prepare for your Christmas, however you celebrate, keep your eyes on what is real.  Have fun, enjoy yourself, but remember to worship.  Christ was born!

Sunday Morning Coffee:Christmas has Begun

I officially played my first Christmas CD this afternoon.  I know, I know. CD’s are old school. That’s okay, I have a very nice collection and I  just don’t have it in me to upload all of them so I can play them over my computer.

Anyway, I always wait until Thanksgiving is over before I get out my Christmas music.  I look forward to that every year.  Terry surprised me by bringing our Christmas tree up from the basement.  It’s waiting for the decorations now, which we’re planning to do Thursday evening when my daughter and her family come up to help us. I’m looking forward to that.

This is the same tree, with a lot of the same decorations, that our family has used for over 25 years. Some of the decorations go all the way back to our first Christmas, nearly 50 years ago. And some are new, only a year old, given to us by a relative of my daughter-in-law Maria.  After nearly fifty years of marriage, that’s what you have–a beloved collection of the old and the new.

I love the Christmas story in Luke 2.  Hearing it repeatedly over the years has not made it dull, but more wonderful each year.

Luke 2

 

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.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

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

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

15 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.

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

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

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

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

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

Actually, I have it by memory.  I remember learning it for a church Christmas program when I was eight. I think it’s one of the most beautiful passages in God’s Word. Like our decorations, this passage takes on a patina over time, and just becomes more precious as the years go by.

I want you to know that, even if you’ve never commented on a post here, your faithfulness in reading for over six years has been a huge blessing to me.  Some of you have become Facebook friends, and we’ve gotten to know each other a little that way.

I won’t be in church tomorrow, because of the increasing pain in my back. I get the next injection this Thursday.  Please pray with me that this one will act like a booster to strengthen the first one.  It would be so nice if this holiday season could be free of pain.

So–best wishes to all of you as we begin this Christmas season.  May it be the best ever. If you would like to share a prayer request or blessing here in the comments, please feel free to do so this month.  Please keep them brief. We don’t need lots of detail.  Just give us your first name, and a short summary of the problem or the blessing.  I’d love to hear from you.

Sunday Morning Coffee:Proverbs 18:8

 Proverbs 18:8.  “The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.”

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The word belly in this verse is used figuratively of the human heart.

I think we can read this verse from two points of view:  the gossip, and the one about whom the gossip is repeated.

So  let’s look at the gossip (talebearer) first.  If you have ever shared a juicy tidbit about someone, it was kind of fun at the start, right?   I mean, if we consider the reasons we bear tales about other people, it’s really to build our own egos, isn’t it?  Why else would we do it, unless we are guilty of sheer malice against someone else?

But the words of a gossip are like wounds, maybe wounds from a sharp knife that has been stabbed into the heart of the hearer.  Do we ever consider that when we’re guilty of gossip?  That maybe the person we’re gossiping to is going to be hurt by our words?

And we are, too.  When we gossip.  If we have any sense of displeasing God, we’re going to start feeling bad about our gossip fairly soon after the words have left our own lips.

Have you ever had to go to someone and confess that you gossiped; that  you made them a participant; and say you’re sorry, and seek forgiveness?  No?   Maybe you didn’t approach the person you gossiped to, but you know you should.  Pride gets in our way too often.

And then there’s the victim of the gossip.  Tale-bearing words are like wounds in his heart, too.  When he/she hears about your gossip, it’s going to hurt, especially if the person counted you as a friend. We may have done permanent damage to the subject of our gossip.  We may be guilty of helping to destroy a marriage, or cast doubt on the character of a pastor or of others in leadership.

But what are we supposed to do when we know for a fact that someone is guilty of gross wrongdoing?  Well, biblically, according to Matthew 18:15, we are to go to the one we believe is guilty.  We are not told to go to his superiors or his wife or his best friend, but directly to the offender.  If he will not hear us, the next step is to take a couple of good, godly people with you.  If he refuses to hear you again, the next step is to start the process of church discipline.

I’m talking about the really big stuff in that last paragraph:  Adultery, financial wrongdoing, pedophilia, heresy, and so forth. These are issues that MUST be addressed according to scripture.

You don’t want to do any of that?  Then I’m guessing that whatever you’ve gossiped about isn’t really very important in the over-all scheme of things, and you had no business sharing it in the first place.  In that case, go apologize to the person you gossiped against.  I promise you, you will not be too tempted to gossip to that person again.

Have I ever been guilty?  Of course.  The tongue is a very hard thing to tame, and I’ve had to do my share of eating crow and humble pie. Sometimes, though, I’ve been accused when I haven’t been guilty.  It happens. Forgive it and let it go.It’s good for your soul to do so, and  there are much more important things to think about!

 

 

 

 

Sunday Morning Coffee: Decisions

My back is acting up again.  I have a message in to my pain specialist, and we’re going to set up an appointment for the second shot as soon as we get the go-ahead from my primary doctor.

This is happening a lot sooner than I hoped.  I mean, I knew it was going to happen, but it’s only been four weeks since the first shot.  Hoping the second shot will reinforce what’s already down there, and I’ll be better for a longer period of time.

So tonight, I got up out of my chair too quickly, and forgot to grab my cane.  After just a few steps, I had to stop and grab whatever was close by–in this case, the bathroom door–and just wait a few seconds for the pain to settle down.

Which of course brought Terry into the picture.  And now we’re talking about decisions.

One possibility is to get me a small recliner for the office.  The  chair I have here at home is my most comfortable place other than my bed.  It’s made for short people,  and fits me quite well. It’s not a recliner, but it came with an ottoman, so I can keep my legs up.  A recliner would allow me more flexibility in how I position my feet and legs, which does seem to matter in relation to my pain.

Image result for short person sitting in big chair

 

And yes, you CAN get recliners for short people.  It’s amazing.  What I’m curious about, though, is if they will fit  my kind of short.  My legs are very short, but I’m fairly normal  from shoulder to hip.  My arms are also quite short, but that doesn’t come into play here. So we’ll be doing some research on the chair possibility.

The other decision, and it seems like I may need to make it sooner than I intended, is how much longer I can continue to work.   I can’t be canceling on my clients all the time, leaving them spinning in the wind, waiting for me to reappear.  It’s not fair to them.

On the other hand, I’m not going to be at my best if I’m in too much pain, or doped up with pain meds. I don’t always realize that the meds are messing with my head  until I notice that I’ve put incorrect information on my office notes.  Those are mistakes I don’t typically make.   Or I’ll say something completely unrelated to the conversation, and my poor client sits there looking puzzled—and I have to apologize for having been in La-La Land.  It’s really quite embarrassing.

Well, I don’t know that we need to do anything dramatic until after I get this next shot.  We just have to think ahead a little bit, and try to do what’s best for everyone.

We saw one of those electric wheelchairs that are quite popular with the older set.  Terry says maybe that’s what we need, but I told him I don’t think it hops up and down the office stairs 🙂

It is a great comfort to me that all of this was known to God before I was ever born.  It’s in His hands.  We can ask Him for wisdom in our decisions, and He will give it to us liberally:  James 1:5-6.

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

Oh, and Terry has already made the decision that I’m staying home tomorrow.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Slight Delay :)

I can’t believe I FORGOT!  First time I’ve ever completely forgotten about writing my Sunday morning post.

Well, I could beg off with the good old “Not my fault!”  excuse.  However, doing that always makes it someone else’s fault, doesn’t it?  So I’m not going to do that.

We had an overnight guest last night, one of our grandchildren.  I had asked him if he’d like anything special for supper, and he asked for Kielbasa.  Warmed his grandpa’s heart 🙂  We splurged, too, and had ice cream for dessert.

He enjoys comedienne Jeanne Robertson as much as I do, so we watched several of her videos together.

Of course, all this fun stuff occupied time I often use to write my Sunday morning post, which I then schedule to show up at 7 a.m.

This morning, we found ourselves rushing a little.  Three people, one tiny bathroom.  We’re barely used to TWO people, one tiny bathroom (Terry is remodeling, and he had some must-do car stuff to take care of, so the bathroom is getting put off until–well, sometime).  We had to drop our grandson  off at home so he could get ready for church, which meant we left here about half an hour earlier than we normally do.

So time was short, and it just never crossed my mind to do my normal Sunday morning post.   So what you’re getting instead is  a Sunday evening post, just so I can feel better about posting something 🙂  Hope you all remembered to set your clocks back an hour last night.  And don’t forget:  GO VOTE on Tuesday.

 

 

 

Sunday Morning Coffee: Just Thinking

This is the last Sunday in October.  The weather is cooling.  I love it for sleeping, because I love to pile on the puffy comforters and blankets.  We’re supposed to be getting a very heavy wind/rain storm, but so far it’s quiet out there.  One more week of Daylight Saving Time, which it truly wish would go to its eternal rest.   Soon it will be Election Day.

I cannot urge you strongly enough to GO VOTE on Nov 6.  Doing nothing is not acceptable.  This is undoubtedly the most important mid-term election in our history, and whoever is behind the invasion from Central America has organized and timed it to hit our borders just in time for the election. No matter what President Trump does or does not do, the scavenger bird media will tear him to pieces.  We need to pray for him.  His position is anything but easy.

Okay, no more politics.

The other thing I’m thinking about is the approaching holidays.  I love Thanksgiving.  I’ve held it here most of the time, but my failing back has made it necessary for my daughter to step up a couple of times.  She’s an amazing cook, and it’s no trouble to go there, believe me!  I just feel a bit lost that this part of my life is slowly moving into other hands.  You never think it’s going to happen to you.

My daughter always does the family Christmas, and again, it’s a wonderful treat. They decorate beautifully, and the meal deserves to be featured in some fancy cooking magazine 🙂

Still, as I think back over the Christmases of my life, I find myself, in one small corner of my heart, a little unwilling to let it go to the next generation.

Instead of being sad, though, I should instead be overwhelmingly thankful for all the wonderful holiday seasons of my 71 years, from the tinsel-covered Christmas tree of my childhood, to Christmases on the farm, to driving to South Carolina to be with my parents, or to Michigan to be with Terry’s—so many good memories, good times, good music, laughter, and activity.

Remember when everyone put tinsel on the tree? I guess it’s considered tacky these days, which I don’t understand at all.  I thought it was magical, and I miss it.

 

Image result for Christmas tree covered with tinsel

Now, Terry and I are the old folks that the kids and grandkids come to see when they can. How did that happen?  Where did the time go?  And even more important, when did I become comfortable in this role?

Every season of life has its own special joys and good memories, from our first Christmas as a married couple to our first Christmas as parents to a man who is now 48 years old;  three more babies to follow, one born  very close to Christmas. I hope he never felt cheated.  We always had his birthday just as we did with all the rest.  Those were the busy years, the hard-working years, the challenging years of rearing kids and making ends meet.

And now we’re in what I like to think of as the reward years.  Grandchildren are a wonderful reward.  We love them all so much, and wish there weren’t so much distance between us.

These are quieter years.  We have our house to ourselves most of the time, and I like that. But I also love it when it’s full of family.

Always, underlying the good times and the not -so-good times, has been our faith in God, and our dependence on Him through His Word, and prayer, and the preaching and teaching  in our church. We have always tried, sometimes failed, to do what we believed was right in the eyes of God. We’ve had to learn to accept that we are not responsible for choices outside our realm of authority.  Surprising, isn’t it, how hard it can be to accept that?

Well. There’s my ramble for today.  I really must be getting old. This is the second time in a week that I’ve just kind of let whatever is in my brain come leaking out through my fingers 🙂