Each Day As God’s Gift

On Palm Sunday when we were kids, it was the custom (as we exited the church building after services) for an usher to give each of us a small palm branch to carry home. It was an odd thing, meant (I suppose) to commemorate Jesus entering Jerusalem while riding a donkey. John 12:13 tells us “they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him” and they acknowledged Jesus as “the king of Israel.”

Looking at the palm leaves (the above image is just one example), I’m struck today by their beauty and symmetry. During childhood, I think we used the branches to tickle and torment each other. Today, my usual impulse is one of contemplation. These green fronds hold the last droplets of morning dew and invite peaceful reflection. Continue reading “Each Day As God’s Gift”

Glory to God in the Highest!

It’s Christmas morning! Chart-topping pop singer Andy Williams (from a previous generation obviously) called it the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”

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Based on my earliest memories, I’ve viewed the day through the same lens as Andy Williams. It’s magical — a day of mystery (gift-giving and receiving)! It’s a day for love and sharing, spending time with family and dear ones.

For all the commercialization of Christmas Day/Christmas Season, it’s easy to be side-tracked with activities and busy-ness. I try to take time every year to remind myself of the true meaning and long-lasting ramifications of this perennial celebration. It’s about Christ, the babe in a manger, the second person of the Trinity who took on flesh — not to enjoy the good life, but to DIE! The God-Man entered Time to provide eternal Life for those who receive Him as Savior.

Throughout the ages, Christmas is and has been the most wonderful time of the year! All because of God’s Gift! I’ve reprinted below the narrative as told by the physician Luke in the second chapter of his Gospel.

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.

As you ponder the details of this narrative, may you enjoy the blessings of knowing Christ personally. Merry Christmas to you on this amazing, special day!

A Day Like None Other

Resurrection Day was a day like none other in the history of mankind! John 20 tells us: “Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.” The heavy stone which had been covering the entrance was rolled aside! The crucified Jesus was no longer buried within!

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

What a shock that must have been for the people who followed Jesus! He’d been buried in a tomb, a heavy stone was positioned and the chief priests set some kind of seal on the stone. For extra security (Matthew 27:65-66), Pilate permitted them to post a guard at the tomb. No one was getting in or out of that tomb!

Except … Jesus did! A day like none other. Continue reading “A Day Like None Other”

The 15-Day Year

Remember 2020? It was March 11, 2020 when all the purported experts instructed people (all over the globe) that we needed “15 days to slow the spread. That 15 days turned into a month … and then six weeks … and here we are (a year later) still laboring through various “baby steps”  in hopes of recovering some semblance of normalcy.

globe with mask
Image by Frauke Riether from Pixabay

Does it seem like it’s been a year? From my vantage point, it seems as if a decade or more has gone by! When children look back on this time, I can just hear the question to grandma or grandpa:  Granny & Gramps, what was the world like when people didn’t have to wear masks or social distance? Were you really allowed to go outside your house with faces uncovered?!! Continue reading “The 15-Day Year”

Behold, The Rose

The old saying “Beauty is as beauty does” was a phrase my mother used often when I was a child. Naturally, she desired to impress upon me the maxim that outer beauty is mostly irrelevant (or worthless) if there’s no inner beauty. In my teens, I might have offered this observation about the rose. It doesn’t do anything. A rose is beautiful simply because it is.

a rose in all its splendor
Image by Bessi from Pixabay

Today, we have beauty consultants, beauty tips and trends, spas and wellness clinics … all these and more revolving around the pursuit of beauty. In fact, according to one source, the $532 billion beauty industry is “growing faster than ever before.” Indeed, multiple market forces combine everyday to expand this already-significant effort at satisfying consumer demand.

A SELF magazine post from 2017 indicates women spend amazing amounts on beauty products:  $15,000 during an average woman’s lifetime, including $3,000 on mascara, another $2,000 on eyeshadows, and a whopping $1,700 on lip colors to match the multiple shades contained within one woman’s makeup bag! These are averages; some women will spend more. Ah, the pursuit of beauty does come at a hefty price. Continue reading “Behold, The Rose”

Happy Birthday, My Beloved!

Today, March 1st, is a special day we’re celebrating at our house. It is my dear Beloved’s birthday. He is my best friend, a mentor, and my respected spiritual leader. It’s almost impossible for me to recall a time when he wasn’t part of my life. Even before I knew him, I knew the kind of man I hoped (and prayed) my husband would be … and when I met him, I knew he was the one I’d been waiting for.

Beloved Patriot

In the picture above, I positioned his face over the image. Among his other fine qualities, I’m glad to acknowledge he is a patriot. The notion of patriotism has lost some of its sheen, unfortunately. But I’m pretty certain if he’d been alive in 1776, his name would have been included with all the other signers on the Declaration of Independence (maybe not entirely legible though) and he’d have been standing next to George Washington on the battlefields, fighting during our War for Independence. Continue reading “Happy Birthday, My Beloved!”

The Devil Made Me Do It!

Black History Month for 2021 ends today. I had been thinking about a comedian, Flip Wilson, who was the first African-American to host a successful ’70s-era variety show on television. Though he died in 1998, one of Wilson’s standard routines was built around the statement:  the devil made me do it! The 5-minute 1970 video (below) from the Ed Sullivan Show provides a taste of Wilson’s humor.

Since I am ignorant of most pop culture, I was unaware there’s also a rapper album titled The Devil Made Me Do It, plus other references (none I’m familiar with). My only point of reference is Flip Wilson’s skit from the 70s. But a recent Facebook post reminded me of Wilson’s skit. (If you’re on Facebook, you’ve probably seen the same post.)

Conversation between 2 devils

To the left is a screen capture (not the full FB post) but enough for it to be recognizable. The post emphasizes the similarities between our current age of fear (centered around Covid etc.) and the author’s suggestions on how to foment fear from “nearly 79 years ago.”

The original post credits C. S. Lewis (from his book The Screwtape Letters) as author. While this conversation between two devils does reflect a similar theme, there’s one problem. The words aren’t from The Screwtape Letters. Continue reading “The Devil Made Me Do It!”

What Is Love?

Who can explain love? L-O-V-E … Is love that junior high twitter-pation you experience when sitting across the lunch table from him/her? Is it that crazy weak-kneed feeling you get while dancing with your prom date? Or maybe the head-spinning breathlessness on your wedding day as you gaze down the aisle into the eyes of your future spouse? Maybe it’s all the above? Or none of the above? What is love?

Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay

When someone possesses the figurative key to your heart (beautifully illustrated above), you’re likely to experience a host of emotions, even contradictory emotions. Doomed … when your love seems to go unrequited. Blissful … when your loved one loves you back. Inconsolable … when something unforeseen has happened to your loved one. You may well face an emotional roller coaster whenever love is involved. Continue reading “What Is Love?”

Brokenness

No matter where we live or what our stage in life, all of us have a common problem:  our world is broken. It’s easy to name the multiple ills that seem to overwhelm our 21st century earthbound reality. Just a small list will suffice here – poverty, war, hunger, racism, disease. Yes, there are ample reasons to declare:  life sucks.

Image by enriquelopezgarre from Pixabay

As individuals, we’re also broken. We muddle through life in the midst of our brokenness. Thankfully, the grace of God is available to redeem us from the despair and despond. That is superb Good News! No matter how broken we are, because Christ died for us, we’re not without hope.

No one knows how many people across the world suffer from soul-killing hopelessness that mars their lives, almost from the moment of birth. (I suspect that number is staggering beyond belief.) My high school teacher used the phrase, man’s inhumanity to man, but whether it’s a tyrannical government or a caregiver being abusive and cruel, we know there’s suffering over which we’re unable to exert even the most minimal control. Continue reading “Brokenness”

Christmas Past

Discussion of a Christmas Past may evoke ghostly images from Charles Dickens’s novella A Christmas Carol. Since first publication in 1843, the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge remains an annual favorite. If anyone could dampen the spirit of Christmas, it was the old miser.

“Bah, humbug!” exclaims Ebenezer Scrooge.

But there are no misers in this Christmas Past. Nor does the tale about which I write wrap up as neatly as one miser’s timely transformation. This Christmas Past is for real people.

The central figure is generous, a young mother whose heart overflows with love and good will. Like Scrooge though, she had lost all enthusiasm for celebrating Christmas. Though Scrooge was beset by general grumpiness, this mother had reason for sadness. She’d been crushed by grief after the sudden death of an infant daughter. Christmas 1955 was close at hand and the mother’s precious babe had been in the ground less than six months.

With loss so fresh, how could anyone summon the strength to celebrate the Birth of a child – even the Holy Christ child? For months, she’d been going through the motions. Now, the thought of celebrating Christmas seemed almost beyond reason for her wounded soul. Continue reading “Christmas Past”