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.”

https://cdn.pixabay.com/photo/2019/11/28/12/58/christmas-4659102_1280.jpg

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”

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?”

One For All

As a child, reading was one of my favorite pastimes. I couldn’t have been very old – maybe ten or eleven – when my imagination began feasting on the classics. (If you’re familiar with any of my posts in 2013, it should be clear my reading tastes tend to be eclectic.) What I especially enjoyed were adventure tales where seemingly ordinary people performed heroic deeds.

Image by Julia Casado from Pixabay

There were particular authors whose works I enjoyed. I devoured stories by Alexander Dumas. I read and re-read The Count of Monte Cristo. Ditto for Mutiny On the Bounty (by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall). Such adventure tales helped my imagination soar; in a way, I was able to live the adventures in my head. Continue reading “One For All”

Christmas Wishes

At the Manger
Image by Jeff Jacobs from Pixabay

From the Bible, Luke 2:

While Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem,
the time came for her to have the baby.
She gave birth to her first son.

An angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds,
and the glory of the Lord was shining around them ….
The angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid.
I have some very good news for you –
news that will make everyone happy.
Today your Savior was born … He is the Messiah, the Lord.

Have a Merry Christmas! And may your New Year be one of meaningful blessings!

Heavenly Valentines

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Since my mother’s passing a week ago, I’ve reflected on aspects of her life … and mine. As a writer (and a family historian), it’s always been important to me to keep written records and when possible, to match them with images (photos mostly).

This need to retain a written record appears to be a trait I inherited from my forebears – parents, grandparents etc. going back many generations. (Consider Der Stricker for further details.) So, when I get a bit nostalgic, I tend to look at the collection of resources that have come into my possession through the years.

In a previous post, I mentioned my dad spent his working life as an over-the-road trucker. He ended up with hours of dead time on his hands, waiting for a delivery to be loaded or unloaded. Being the contemplative person he was, he wrote poetry. Thanks to his impeccable handwriting, these poems are in pristine condition, many of them penned on motel stationery (wherever he happened to be staying).

The large majority of poems are personal in nature, small rhymed jewels to express his love (most often addressed to his wife, my mom). My dad had been deceased more than a decade in 2004 when I decided it was time to set his handwritten poems into book form. I had copies printed for family members and that’s where the project stayed … until now.

As an added subsection of the Blood Type / Stricker page, I’ve included a flipbook of dad’s poetry. Toward the end (page 50), there’s a poem titled My Heavenly Valentine. It’s written (obviously) to my mother. The final lines present a fitting coda to two lives well-lived … and now reunited in Eternity.

A Peculiar Crossroads

Almost a decade ago, I launched this blog. The nameplate has changed slightly but my general high regard for Flannery O’Connor (from whom the blog name was admittedly plucked) hasn’t diminished. I don’t recall our first meeting (in the pages of a book), but my philosophy as a young writer was partly formed thanks to her insights.

Her book Mystery and Manners set in motion my lifelong interest. I borrowed the book from the library. We were casual acquaintances then. By the due-date, I realized I couldn’t relinquish the book! In those pre-Amazon days, I scrambled to find a hard copy to purchase but found none.

As a last resort, I located a photocopier and proceeded to copy over 200 pages, dime by dime. (The above photo shows that well-worn copy.) I omitted the first chapter (21 pages) which relates O’Connor’s tale “The King of the Birds.” It was an amusing story but not worth the extra buck. Continue reading “A Peculiar Crossroads”

Educated Opinions

Experts. We rely on them. We make life choices based on the advice of experts. Before having a vehicle/appliance/roof/computer repaired, we consult the expert, someone who by reputation has achieved a level of knowledge and expertise worthy of respect. In fact, we so highly value their abilities, we pay them.

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

We crave the wisdom of medical experts. A highly-respected figure who’s both a physician and immunologist, for instance, would logically command attention and even admiration. Or a government official (less an expert but we listen nonetheless) may yield information worthy of consideration.

Unfortunately, mistakes happen. A physician could remove your leg instead of your appendix. Your computer guru could delete 30,000 emails instead of a virus on the hard drive. (It could actually happen!) In the real world, human beings – yes, even experts – can be miserably inept. Continue reading “Educated Opinions”