Monday, November 30, 2009

"My Soul Glorifies the Lord!"


Luke1:
39At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40where she entered Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth. 41When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42In a loud voice she exclaimed: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!"
Mary's Song
46And Mary said:
"My soul glorifies the Lord
47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
50His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
51He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
54He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
55to Abraham and his descendants forever,
even as he said to our fathers."
56Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

I am the Lord's Servant


Advent Thoughts. 2009
Luke 1:
26In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. 28The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."
29Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."

34"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"

35The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[c] the Son of God. 36Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. 37For nothing is impossible with God."

38"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Finding Baby Jesus




Advent starts tomorrow. We will go to church then meet with friends and family to share a meal, make a wreath and share the lighting of the first candle on the wreath.It's time to slow down and make a real effort to celebrate the season. Slowing down is contrary to what our culture demands. But I have re-found the joy of this amazing holiday and refinding it began a few years back when I lost baby Jesus. What follows I have posted before and likely will post again because when Jesus shows you something that changes your life you just have to share it.

Christmas can be a pretty hard time for me. Not because I don't like it- but because I do. Working at the Post Office often 6 or 7 days a weeks does not leave me with time to do the my regular chores much less to have the time to do the fun and relaxing things that come with the season. So, I make lists. Unlike many other people who make a daily list, my list may continue for days or weeks. I am always adding to it the things that I need or want to get done. I even write down the most obvious things like -cook dinner or do the laundry so I can reward myself with at least crossing off something. I even go so far as to break down the laundry into sub-lists: wash, dry, fold and put up are on the list because that way I have four things completed instead of one. It was this list that the Lord used to get my attention this Christmas season.
One afternoon I was climbing around in the attic pulling out the Christmas decorations. I unearthed the box with the wooden nativity that has been a central part of our Christmas celebrations since my daughter Gretchen was 2 yrs. old in 1977. My mother bought this particular set for us that year because she thought how great it was that the kids could touch it and it wouldn't break. Early in the season on the first day of Advent we set up the stable on one side of the room and Mary and Joseph on the other side with the kings even further away. The shepherds were positioned close to the stable where they would keep watch over their sheep. Each night during Advent the characters got closer and closer to Bethlehem until finally on Christmas Eve, Mary and Joseph arrived at the stable. On Christmas morning the children took turns putting baby Jesus in the manger. We then would sing Happy Birthday to our Savior and have a time of prayer before any gifts were exchanged. We have continued this tradition now for 28 yrs now with my grandchildren now stepping into the role that their mothers played. Needless to say, this little wooden nativity set is a very dear to my heart. Its monetary value is not very much but it is priceless to me. So this year when I set up the stable I was beside myself when I got to the bottom of the box and the one-inch baby Jesus was not there. What could I have done with him? Not really having time to look other places, I added this task to my list.
Days past and the list grew, Put up the tree, go to Belk, order Micah's gift, laundry –wash, dry, fold, put up. Copy Christmas card photo. Bank, call so and so. Some things got crossed off my list only to make room for other things. Then – last week I stood at my kitchen table, exhausted and cranky I scanned the list this time only one thing jumped out at me "FIND BABY JESUS". It hit me like a ton of bricks. All these other things that I had on my list were really of no importance. That was the only thing that mattered. It occurred to me that just as this wooden nativity piece was hidden somewhere in my attic in some box coved by some Christmas stuff -that I was doing the same thing with my Jesus. I was so consumed with all the Christmas stuff that I had lost Jesus. As with the wooden nativity piece I guess I just thought that I would find Him on the way.
We are surrounded by reminders of Christ at this time of year. If we are not careful it can all become just stuff to hide Jesus under. We and the world can sing Joy to the World or Silent Night and not find Jesus there. We will not necessarily just come upon Him because it is Christmas. The Bible tells us that if we search for God we will find Him. This is not a passive search but an active search. When the angel told the shepherds that Jesus was born they did not say "Cool, we will have to see if we run into him the next time we go to town for food." It was not enough for them to just know that he was there somewhere. The shepherds left everything that was important to them and they went "AT ONCE" to Bethlehem to see this thing that the angel had told them. They searched for Jesus until they found Him, they worshipped him and they went out telling others about him. Likewise, the wise men knew that it was not enough just to know that Jesus was born – they didn't just hope that someday they would see him. They searched for him for a long time until they found him. They worshipped him and gave to him gifts that they had prepared for Him. There was nothing passive about it. These men deliberately set out to find Christ. That is was Jesus is teaching me. I must set my heart on finding him. I cannot let the radio, TV or even my pastor tell me about Him and accept that as Christmas. I must take the time, even if this means cutting down my list and letting some other perhaps very good things go. If you set out to find Him, intent on searching until you do- you will. If I had been more careful when I put the nativity away last year I never would have lost baby Jesus. I must be careful not to put myself in the place where I cannot seem to find Jesus. I am sorry to say that as of yet I have not found my wooden nativity piece I am so glad to tell you that Jesus is right here with me.
Epilogue:
In January I was once again packing up all of my Christmas decorations. I picked up the wooden barn of the nativity set and turned it upside down to place it in the box. Now I was you could see this barn. It is very plain and there is no place in where anything could get 'stuck'. As I turned it over I heard something drop to the floor. There HE was. I had looked everywhere for Him. I started to cry outloud with heaving sobs as the still small voice said "I have been with you always."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

House Cleaning

Today I had a day off from the Post Office. That was really good because my house was sorely in need of my attention. After what...4 days of rain with 8 grandchildren and as many as 9 adults.We were pretty much using ALL the space we have. Consequently I spend the day picking up little 'reminders'. There was a small pair of white socks left on the garden bench. A smaller pair of super hero socks in the loft bed. Marbles..well, just about everywhere. Little girls hair bands. Diapers neatly rolled in the trash. A little boy's sweat shirt. A grape behind the chair. A doll carriage on the front porch. A trike on the back. Hot wheels cars and a truck under the bench.Crayons in every room. An action figure under the sofa.
Now I sit in my quiet, clean house. The two clocks tic.tic.tic..and when they have ticked for 6 months the house will again be filled with 8, no, make that 9 grand babies. My cup runneth over.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Bigsby

When I read Gwenn's blog tonight I was so sadden to read that their puppy Bigsby died. And even now I just can't seem to shake it. Maybe it is not just the puppy. But he was the best puppy I ever met.Really. He almost made me want to get a puppy. And I am pretty much not a puppy person. Oh yeah, he nipped at your feet and chased after the little kids and made them scream. But to hear Fritzie shreak with laughter as she played with that puppy made my heart so glad. There was 15 yr. old Fritzie riding around the courtyard on Nia's tiny bike dragging a broom stick and Bigsby chasing behind. It was so precious to watch Fritzie just being a happy kid. The cruel reality is that Haiti has taken so much of what we think of as 'normal' childhood delights away from so many children. They know too much about death and life and hunger and seperation. So maybe that is why I am so sad about Bibsy. He represented to me the simple joys of childhood. Each day during my week in Haiti we commented about how much bigger Bigsy was than the day before. It was amazing to watch him grow. Now he's gone.
When I was a little girl we had a beautiful white German Shepherd named Lobo.She was my friend. I remember telling her my troubles. Our lives were full of insecurites at that time. My parents splitup and while moving to my grandmohter's house the cat jumped out of the car and we never found her. Lobo had to go live with an aunt for a while but one day there was a surprise waiting for us. Lobo was home. She brouht stability and comfort and protection. The day that she was hit by a car and died my grandmother came over and cried with us. Did she feel then like I do now? Did she know my childhood fears and pains were wrapped up into the emotions I felt for that dog? I know that Gwenn's kids do not have years of emotions invested in to this puppy. But Gwenn's Haitian children have already lost so much in their shorts lives. It pains me to see them loose something else.
Maybe this is just God wanting me to process something. Or to understand something...maybe it is just a good time to be thankful for a grandmother who cried with me. So that now..I can cry for them.