Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Auld Lang Syne?

Good times past. That's what those words mean. It's Old English or something like that. And, we sing that song in remembrance of the passing year. Oh, and there's a question mark at the end of the line..."Should auld acquaintance be forgot?" The song implies that you shouldn't forget what has past, but we should look forward to the future.
2011 has been a year of mixed blessings, but then what year isn't? We all had our share of good times and not so good times. People died and babies were born. The winter was long and cold and the summer was hot. Daily life went on. We were happy, and we were sad.
Someone asked me recently about the "meaning of life." I suppose everyone has a different idea about why we exist, but I am pretty sure that my purpose in life is to always do my best. I think that's what God wants us to do. Yes, do our best and love God and all of our fellow earthly dwellers (humans and non-humans) maybe with the exception of snakes and spiders.
That's my philosophy and my theology.
Blessings for a great 2012.

God, we thank you for our lives.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

"Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree"

I am tempted to do a short dissertation on the prevailing idea that Christians only want to"give to the needy", at Christmastime. But, I won't. Someday, Christians everywhere will realize that God's message of Good Will to Men, is a 12 month lifestyle, and not just a 12/25 thing.
Instead, I want to share another Jolly Holiday observation. I want to tell you all about a small town, near my home. This quaint little town has very unusual holiday decorations.
Along both sides of the one-street. six block long shopping area, participating businesses have all decorated, for public display, very large 7-8 foot evergreen trees. The trees are placed outside the shops. These trees, with their colorful and sometimes whimsical themes, are all chained to the street lamp poles.
Now, I know that the merchants are concerned that someone will steal their festive trees, but the whole effect brings to mind terms like "Hostage Holiday", "Chained Christmas" and "enSlaved Santa". No matter what the caliber of decoration, the trees all appear to be straining to break free from their bondage. The effect is totally bizarre. But, no matter. The city has been doing it for years. It's a tradition.
The idea of having to lock and chain your decorations to prevent theft, goes against the very theme of the season. If someone wants a tree so much that they feel compelled to steal it.......then let them take it. Don't we believe that it is always better to give than receive?

Baby Jesus: How you must laugh at our attempts to celebrate your birthday. This year Christmas even falls on Sunday. The Lord's Day, for Christ's sake, and your churches are scaling down the number of regular Sunday Services! Oh, Lord, help us to remember that You are the real reason for the season.
Have a great birthday, Jesus.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Today's sermon was from the book of Daniel. The pastor spoke of the heroes in the fiery furnace. Hot stuff for a cold December morning. However, my mind was doing a bit of wandering, particularly around the word hero. Because, I am convinced that I met a real "hero" last Sunday.
Last Sunday morning, was a particularly big day at church. A family had four of their children baptized. The four siblings, three boys and a girl, had been adopted into this family, only two weeks before. And, that evening, the whole family went Christmas Caroling with a large group of church folks.
The new Christians were the youngest among us, but they were a sensation at every place we sang. Armed with bells, they provided the backup to some really rousing renditions of "Jingle Bells".

I'm in awe of a mom that would take on four small children and make them part of her existing tribe. She's a real hero.

Everlasting Father: Open our hearts and minds to the possibilities of service all around us. Show us ways to better the lives of all of your children. We thank you for our many blessings.

Friday, December 2, 2011

"a rose by any other name..."

The word was VEHICLE. Our students were being taught the word "vehicle", and it was a word that needed quite a bit of explanation.
When our English Language Learners encounter a new word, they will ask the meaning of the word and then they want to know other words that have the same meaning. They will keep asking for synonyms, until they find a word that sounds similar to a word they know in their native languages.
With vehicle, I explained that it was a word that I very rarely use. I say car or even automobile more often than vehicle.
Naturally, I have had vehicles on my mind. Tonight on my bus ride home, I turned to look out the left hand windows and in my immediate sight there were many vehicles. First there was the big old bus that I was riding in. Then, there were quite a few cars of many shapes and sizes. They were sharing the road with some trucks and vans. A bit further to my left was a moving freight train, loaded with coal cars. And, then finally I sited a small personal jet airplane taking off from the nearby airport.
We have lots of choices when it comes to selecting a vehicle.

Gracious God. We are often in awe of our abundance and our choices. You have given us so much and yet you ask so little of us. Why is it sometimes so hard to follow your simple directive....to love You and to love our neighbors and ourselves? We are such a selfish bunch of folks. Please, don't give up on us. We want to do better. Guide us and help us to make wise choices.