Can We Celebrate Santa Claus & the Savior?

Weaving together the wonder of Christmas involves one part honoring the birth of our Savior and one part honoring the life of a saint. Nicholas, to be exact. Yes, we know whose birthday it is, but the fact is we get all the presents. It would be easy to blame our culture and their cashing in, literally, on the character of Santa Claus, but let’s … Continue reading Can We Celebrate Santa Claus & the Savior?

Plating the Bread of Life {a #poem}

Bed askew with straw, rummaged       leftovers of the menageries’ last meal. A stone space quarried like the heart of a  small ark, opening just enough  to cradle the straw. The stall, open planks no match for the midnight  chill, gaps lasering light, streaming in on stone. Mother draped in simple cloth, teenaged hands trembling as she lays her infant  in the place of the animals’ … Continue reading Plating the Bread of Life {a #poem}

Anna Waits {a #poem}

Light is coming she’d heard and read, and widowed, she had nothing calling her name but His across the years like an echo from The Garden so long ago. She’d been seeking (was He hiding?), steadfastly determined, for what else was her life but this–an always looking in the temple courts, trusting the doorway would be darkened some day when Light came into the room. (sharing from the Archives) Continue reading Anna Waits {a #poem}

Dayspring From on High {a #poem}

  The Christ, as yet unchristened. The Word as yet unspoken. So His Mother announced instead, He has performed mighty deeds with  His arm; He has scattered those who are proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones, but has exalted the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things But has sent the rich away empty. … Continue reading Dayspring From on High {a #poem}

Merry Christmas, Dear Readers

It seems very fitting that Christmas Eve should be on a Sunday, when we gather for worship, wherever that is. A morning to set our hearts right in a posture of worship and thankfulness is a good way to ease into the gift giving and receiving activities before us, whether we gather tonight or tomorrow with family and friends. As I prepared my head and … Continue reading Merry Christmas, Dear Readers

Christmas: Mystery, Miracle or Magic?

“Did not a great grey servant Of all my sires and me, Build this pavilion of the pines, And herd the fowls and fill the vines, And labour and pass and leave no signs Save mercy and mystery?”                                                 –G.K. Chesterton, from the Ballad of the White Horse, Book IV The holiday weeks are often heralded as the most wonderful time of the year; God … Continue reading Christmas: Mystery, Miracle or Magic?

How Can I Get into ‘The Christmas Spirit?’

“So take up what we’ve been given/ Welcome the edge of our days Hemmed in by sunrise and sunset/ By our youth and by our age Thank God for our dependence/ Here’s to our chasm of need And how it binds us together/ In faith and vulnerability This cup, this cup, I wanna drink it up To be right here in the middle of it … Continue reading How Can I Get into ‘The Christmas Spirit?’

When God Breaks Your Heart With Giving

      “…{the poem} raises an important and again characteristically modern issue about how faith is known and shared. In the end, everything depends on trustworthy human relationships.  A person who has been damaged and betrayed in one set of ‘horizontal’ or secular relationships may be genuinely prevented from opening in the ‘vertical’ dimension to the Divine.”  Malcolm Guite, December 11th reading from ‘Waiting on the Word’(emphasis mine)

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 My friend Jill and I volunteered six weeks ago to co-lead the charge of organizing, planning and staffing our church’s annual Christmas Store this year. This is a two-day, nine-hour event where we serve our community by providing an opportunity for guests to ‘shop’ for household and personal items, clothing and best of all, toys, completely free of charge.

All of the items in the Christmas Store were new donations to our church from the surplus of a large relief organization here in the Seattle area, along with toys and cash given by members of our church over the last few weeks. People gladly gave and we gladly spent.

Organizing, staffing and scheduling this kind of undertaking is an enormous task, but Jill and I know each other well and have complementary organizing and communicating gifts so we were game for pulling it all together.  There were hours on the phone, email conversations, texting each other, in person meetings with volunteers and our Pastor—all the necessary elements that go into an event this size.

Prior to the Friday/Saturday store hours things seemed to be going swimmingly. Volunteers stepped in to add their muscle—as only volunteers can do–of hauling boxes, moving furniture, schlepping tables and the like.  The Scripture about “outdoing one another in doing good” (Hebrews 10:24) kept running through my mind; some of the guys lifting tables and boxes exhibited a healthy competitive spirit in getting the job done.

Six hours into the unpacking and set up process, however, Jill and I sat back and watched as tables filled up with merchandise. Our stealth bomber sorting team were piling items atop tables that seemed to be spilling over into every available space, including the floors around the tablecloth-skirted tables.

She looked at me and said, “This was a lot more fun until right about now.”  We were both overwhelmed at the visual input of the space around us and I for one felt buried at the enormity of what we were going to do. There were plush blankets and 8 million pairs of canvas shoes and men’s body wash and all manner of balls and books and dolls and pillows and…..you get the idea.

I confessed I felt like crying myself.  I was waaaaayyyy outside my comfort zone—I like organizing things on paper, but in actuality, the stuffing and piling and sorting of STUFF made me feel like I was going to drown. When Jill made the statement she was actually an introvert who liked being alone, we both laughed out loud. We had 35 families coming with over 100 family members to serve, there was no turning back.

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It’s funny how God shows up to do what only He can do after you say that first “yes” then commit to serve  it out. The realization dawns you actually ARE in over your head; the only way out is to look up to let God do the work and get glory for doing the impossible.

When we opened our doors at 6 p.m. Friday night, there was a quiet kind of magic in the air along with the Cambridge Singers Christmas music in the background. The apartment residents we welcomed were also overwhelmed, but in a good way.

While guests shopped, we heard stories of hard times, challenging job situations, homelessness and want. But these people who seemingly had so little? Not only did they give back to us with their thanks and their hugs, but with the openness with which they received our prayers, inviting us into their brokenness with open arms.

Guite’s line above, that “everything depends on trustworthy human relationships” was certainly borne out in the time we spent with those folks we got to know while we all plugged in to that ‘vertical dimension.’

Continue reading “When God Breaks Your Heart With Giving”

Ad Vent {a #poem}

Glossy pages proclaim paltry purchases as life savers for my overrun soul. I’m run over as they bellow, beckoning, “buy me! buy me!” I cannot partake of one more iota of input– how can quiet paper carry so much loud weight and end up selling me nothing? This war of words promises joy and happiness are but a wallet-full away. Enough greenbacks and I’d have … Continue reading Ad Vent {a #poem}

A Very Married Christmas

We’re standing in the kitchen.  I move fluidly from dishwasher to counter, bending, stacking–bowls, dishes, cups, goblets. Husband is at the cupboard behind me.  I rotate, wordless, and hand him his favorite glass-he replaces it to the shelf and continues swallowing his vitamins. I interrupt his healthy intake once again, this time with the rainbow-colored stack of Ikea cups.  Without a word, he fits them … Continue reading A Very Married Christmas