Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Different Christmas!

Christmas this year is a bit different for our family. 

Back in November my sister-in-law and I mentioned to each other several times that we just didn't have the "Christmas Spirit".  Many friends were saying the same thing.  Mr. Marvelous and I talked about it several times.  We wondered how much of it was the cultural climate and how much of it might be the media's choices of stories about hard times.  I spent a great deal of time trying to figure out how to put my thoughts into words and share them here on the blog, and I just couldn't quite get it. 

Was it because of the political situation and all the folks affected by the fiasco-of-the-week?

Perhaps a spiritual problem with me personally that kept me from "feeling" Christmas-y, or was I being overly dependent on my emotions?

Was it just because we are in that awkward season of life between empty-nest and grand-kids?

We never could quite figure it out, but Mr. Marvelous and I did decide that this year we would have a quieter Christmas with less of the trappings. 

Oddly enough for someone who delights in the celebration of Christmas, I was very happy with that decision.  As I was finishing studying II Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah, I was struck by the situation of God's people in the centuries before the coming of the Messiah.  I thought a lot about the four hundred Silent Years

I did not get carried away with list-making, blogging (sorry!), gift making, or decorating. 

Last week my sister-in-law and I discovered why not having our usual "Christmas Spirit" was God's good choice for us this year.  We discovered that she would be spending Christmas at the hospital, rather than at home or at her daughter's home.  I would be at home but going back and forth to the hospital to do what I might for her and for my brother.  Our gifts from God this year are different but they are good, as they always are.  This year we are thankful for the gifts of redemption, of God With Us, of appreciating the things we take for granted ~ like ice chips! ~ of God's people who surround us when we are in need, of surgeons who pray over and with their patients, of opportunities to speak God's Truth to many, many more people than we would have imagined, and of PEACE.  We are aware that there are so many of these good gifts that we don't even see all of them. 

I sent the following to some very dear and long-time family friends to let them know about my sister's illness.

Christmas looks a little different for us this year; a little quieter and a lot less filled with the trappings.  Our minds are turned a little more to thinking about the first Christmas: how it came after 400 years of silence.  How it came during a time of precarious political upheaval and capriciousness.  How it came during a time of dark evil to bring the light of atonement and redemption.  This year we are very conscious of Christmas being God with us.  As we wait for Christmas morning, we eagerly wait for His return.  Until then we take the opportunities to share the peace and comfort we have with those around us who so desperately need that peace and that comfort. 

Thank you for your prayers for our family over the past week.  We are asking that this week as you pray for us, you thank God for His goodness to us in getting my sister through the surgery.  Please continue to pray for us over the next several months as God brings us to your remembrance.

May His grace, mercy, comfort, and peace be with you and all those you love, both now and forever.

Most of all, 


Sunday, December 01, 2013

The Twenty-Four Days of Christmas: Day One

It doesn't always happen this way, but this year the first Sunday in Advent is December 1.  After a little research, I have discovered that this is the first time this has happened since 2002  (there's your bit of useless but slightly interesting trivia for the day).

Today is one of those "forced rest" days.  We all have them periodically; a day when we are dealing with an injury or illness and just can't quite get going.  I have learned that if I change my perspective just a little bit, I can see them for the gift that they are.  There is a choice to be made; sit and have a pity party, or take the time for quiet reflection and prayer. 

Today we will certainly be lighting our Advent Candles at dinner.  I will probably pull a few Christmas books from the basement to enjoy (Ruth Bell Graham's "Our Christmas Story" is a classic).  We will be reading in the Old Testament prophets.  And we will slow down and spend time thinking about Advent.  As we prepare for the coming of Christmas, we will have the usual struggle of not getting caught up in the distractions of the season; the battle to redirect our gaze ~ and hopefully point others ~ to Jesus.  He came as an infant.  He struggled through life.  He suffered and died for US.  He rose again.  The celebration of His birth is doubly exciting when you understand the WHY of His coming. 

Then we remember.  He's coming back!  Today we are closer to His return than we were yesterday!!  So we keep doing the work that He gives us to do each day.  We keep watching because we know that at some point, "The clouds will be rolled back as a scroll". 

May He find us engaged in doing what brings glory and honor to Him.  May He greet us with a "Well done!"

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!