Monday, December 20, 2010

Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!

"I never thought it was such a bad little tree. It's not bad at all, really. Maybe it just needs a little love." - Linus

My nephew & godson Henry was quite cooperative for this little photo shoot. He'd been Charlie Brown for Halloween (black pants, yellow shirt with a zig zag stripe drawn on it, and a naturally big, round head made for the easiest costume ever) and come Christmas time we realized we couldn't pass up the chance at this picture. I can't stop smiling from looking at it so I knew I needed to share. I dare you not to break out in a grin and hear Linus' poignant monologue begin in your head.

"Isn't there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?!"
"Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about...And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, 'Fear not: for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.' And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.' ...That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas is coming...

I don’t know about you but it can be awfully hard to remember what I’m preparing for during this season. Okay, not that hard. I mean, I’m buying presents, baking cookies, listening to Advent themed sermons on Sundays. Obviously it’s Christmas that we’re preparing for in these present weeks. Better put, it can be difficult to appreciate and understand the result of that which we’ll celebrate on the 25th. Contemplation is a lost art. Stillness of mind and heart can seem impossible or even counterproductive. We always have to be doing enough, saying enough, moving enough. I'm as susceptible to this as anyone. But if I quiet down and hold still, what might I find?

I might find that God is with me. I might find His presence to be full of consuming, transforming peace and joy and hope. All the things we wish for one another in our greeting cards, we’re walking through life surrounded by. They hang about us like the particles in the air of this room, invisible until we stop moving and look at where the light shines brightest.

Mary knew how to do it, always "[keeping] all these things, reflecting on them in her heart" (Luke 2:19). Joseph knew how to do it, aware that the actions he took to be the guardian of the Savior were more important than any words he could speak. So our record of him in Scripture holds no words of his own, only listening, hearing the Word of God guide him, and acting upon it. Simeon knew how to do it, waiting and praying year after year for God to reveal the Messiah. His preparation made him know that Messiah the moment he saw the Holy Family enter the temple.

"Don't we love the word 'with'? 'Will you go with me?' we ask. 'To the store, to the hospital, through my life?' God says he will. 'I am with you always,' Jesus said before he ascended into heaven, 'to the very end of the age' (Matthew 28:20). Search for restrictions on the promise; you'll find none.... Prophets weren't enough. Apostles wouldn't do. Angels won't suffice. God sent more than miracles and messages. He sent himself; he sent his Son. 'The Word became flesh and dwelt among us' (John 1:14)." (Max Lucado, Cure for the Common Life)

With a little practice now - taking a bit of time each day to pray, reading through the Scripture story of the arrival of my Savior, thinking over this extraordinary truth as I perform ordinary tasks - maybe come December 26 and into the new year, I won't forget that God is with me. Christmas brought Emmanuel, "God With Us," but every morning brings another day that He is with me, another day for me to acknowledge and thank Him for being with me, another day to speak and move and act in a manner that declares I know He is with me and I choose not to forget.

God is with us... may we always remain with God.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Snowy Night

Nature launched a blitz attack on my evening plans. The snow began mid-afternoon, millions of flakes rushing to the ground with the aid of a skin-chilling wind. It hasn't stopped. I'm attempting to focus on the sparkly blanket of beauty and not on the shoveling or the messy driving. In lieu of dinner and a movie with Matt and Nethanial, I am opting for "Without a Trace" reruns, long neglected issues of "Better Homes & Gardens," and chicken alfredo pizza.

The snow has me in the mood for slippers and writing. I'm craving progress. I'm craving the feel of my pen in my hand, the pressure of the point on the paper. I was part of a conversation today on the transition of books to a digital format. My personal preference remains old school. I'm doing my best to accept that this realm of things is changing drastically though. That the generation after me will likely be raised on digital literature is a fact I'm not going to ignore. But as I listened to the guys talk up the evolving technology I thought to myself that the delight of writing won't ever change. The satisfaction of scratching those letters onto the lined page will remain. My work can be published in whatever format anyone wants. I won't fight that. Whatever the end result, it'll start with pen and paper though. No better night to return to that work than this snowy one.