Thursday, December 30, 2010

Today I am sharing a video by one of the 3 people that I have had the pleasure of giving birth to and raising and living with over the last nearly 18 years.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Mostly, O Holy Night!

So, there are some great Christmas songs out there and there are some not so great ones and then the snarky and the all out anti-Christmas ones. The ones that rail out against poverty and cry out in pain like Father Christmas by the Kinks. It is a pretty angry song but not unlike much of the brokenness in this world behind that anger is a whole lot of hurt.
This year has been different for me. The brokenness of human relationships has pounded my mind and torn open scars in my heart. Usually, the music of the season is going so long (an October start) and so loud in my car and in my home that by December 14th my family is pretty much done with me and my Christmas music.
October came and I did started to listen to Christmas music a little bit. I texted a friend to see when she started to listen to the songs of celebration and she responded with "the day after game day" which would be 2 days after Thanksgiving and then she wrote, "Mostly O Holy Night." I have that one by 7 different artists. It is really the only one that I have paid attention to this season.
Going to my computer I wanted to find out the history of the song. These are the words we normally sing:
O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
'Til He appear'd and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! O hear the angels' voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born;
O night divine, O night, O night Divine.
Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here come the wise men from Orient land.
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friend.
He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King, Before Him lowly bend!
Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
His power and glory evermore proclaim.

Incarnation: Emmanuel, God is with us. Strangely, I have felt at a loss at how to celebrate and acknowledge that the Creator of the Universe took on flesh and walked among us. I guess you might say I am on a search for simplicity.
The above words of O Holy Night is John Sullivan Dwight's translation. The original song was derived from French poet Placide Cappeau. Here is the literal English translation:
Midnight, Christians, it is the solemn hour,
When God-man descended to us
To erase the stain of original sin
And to end the wrath of His Father.
The entire world thrills with hope
On this night that gives it a Savior.
People kneel down, wait for your deliverance.
Christmas, Christmas, here is the Redeemer,
Christmas, Christmas, here is the Redeemer!
May the ardent light of our Faith
Guide us all to the cradle of the infant,
As in ancient times a brilliant star
Guided the Oriental kings there.
The King of Kings was born in a humble manger;
O mighty ones of today, proud of your greatness,
It is to your pride that God preaches.
Bow your heads before the Redeemer!
Bow your heads before the Redeemer!
The Redeemer has overcome every obstacle:
The Earth is free, and Heaven is open.
He sees a brother where there was only a slave,
Love unites those that iron had chained.
Who will tell Him of our gratitude,
For all of us He is born, He suffers and dies.
People stand up! Sing of your deliverance,
Christmas, Christmas, sing of the Redeemer,
Christmas, Christmas, sing of the Redeemer!

This is the first year in many years that I did not purchase any additional music to add to my December collection. I never got off the ground with my usual listening tradition. A couple of Boston radio stations started their holiday tunes in November and I found myself changing the station once I heard the voice of Johnny Mathis or Bing Crosby or The Carpenters.

I came very close to abandoning all of the usual traditions. However, we had already made plans with extended family and I had committed to hosting one side and attending the other side's festivities. I did manage to enjoy being with extended family. Of course, we are very happy to have our "girls" home even while having to continue to adjust to their adult status. The relatives wanted to see them too.

I really want to think about revisiting the idea of simplifying Christmas for 2011 perhaps in February. There are traditions that are worth keeping: like reflecting on the Babe in the Manger, singing and enjoying Christmas music, seeing relatives and friends.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Be Ready
Today we will prepare for our oldest daughter, Grace to come home. She is back in the Commonwealth and went straight to helping out dear friends. There are lots of things to prepare for in this life before they come to pass. Be ready. People make incredible and often elaborate plans for a wedding and little preparation for marriage: get ready to have a baby but fail to prepare for parenting; focus on the Babe in the manger and forget that His entrance was made in the shadow of The Cross.

Many Americans go ALL out for Christmas and usually, I am one of them. There is lots of preparations involved. Playing Christmas music and singing along, black Friday, baking, decorating, shopping, making lists, checking them twice, Christmas parties, The Tree, spending lots of money, Holiday concerts, writing Christmas cards and letters, shopping, putting up the Advent Calendar (hey look at that, something I actually did this year), deciding when to get together with the in-laws ( a check mark here as well;-), time to reflect on what we are celebrating.

It Did cross my mind that in the traditional sense, I am not ready and not worried about it either. What a gift from God. I have been poked and questioned about my lack of action but remained unmoved for the most part. This morning I sat down to read my Bible (nothing unusual there) and came to a passage in Isaiah:

"It will be said on that day, Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation."
Isaiah 25;9

Jesus is the One who came. He has given us the gift of salvation. He will come again. Preparation for the remembrance of our God becoming flesh, yes I have done it during this season of Advent but instead of it being a family affair, it has been something, I have been quietly doing myself. (Our family is in one of the great seasons of parenting: some call it "launching arrows, others "sending out the eaglets" or "birthing adults." I freely admit that I am not doing a perfect job and at times find myself treating these adults like children. There is a lot of coming and going happening.)

Some Jews, Simeon and Anna, the Prophetess, Joseph and Mary, Mary's cousin Elizabeth and her husband, Zechariah, the lowly shepherds and others recognized Jesus as the Christ. All of Israel was waiting for their Messiah and some are still waiting. We, Christians await Jesus Second Coming. He will not come in the same manner as the first coming but as the Warrior Kin in power and might. And we say, Maranatha! (translated means Come Lord Jesus Come!)

Are we prepared for the Return of the Reigning King? Do we care? When Jesus does return will He find faith on the earth? I hope so. I want to be found ready: walking in the Truth with the Truth by the Truth in the stream of His Love empowered by His Spirit, loving God and Loving others, being about the business of building His Kingdom for His glory.

The food will be eaten, the drinks drunk, the songs sung and gifts given. Then we will turn the calendars to January 2011, a new year and hopefully continuing to prepare for the Return of God's One and Only Son.

I say Rejoice, Rejoice Emmanuel shall come to you O Israel.

Friday, December 10, 2010


I am really having trouble with posting my Advent Foretold posts and I still haven't figured it out. Perhaps, the revisiting of this devotional is for my personal benefit and not to be shared. Honestly, I have had a hard time getting into the Christmas Spirit this year. Tonight I am planning to go to a Christmas party and I am thinking that I want to just skip it. It is out of character for me. I am one of those people who drives her family crazy because I start listening to Christmas music in October. I am listening to some right now but even the music, I have been "eh," take it or leave it.

Nevertheless, Jesus Christ is the Hope of Glory, He is the Word who became flesh and He is the Light of the World. Jesus Christ is the Joy of our Salvation. He is the Alpha and the Omega and nothing I desire can compare with Him. My zeal, my love, my passion for my Lord has actually increased over the last few months, as I begin to see the Beauty of His Holiness. You read that right "begin." O Christians do you not believe what it says in the second letter to the Corinthians, "Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day?"

Now that I am writing I remember a song by my friend David MacAdam and in this song he writes, "Christmas can be everyday of the year when Jesus does your living. No longer a slave to yourself must you be when you can be forgiven." Yes, each day, I get up and say yes, LORD thank you for another day. With you there is Hope and with your Holy Spirit and by Your power will I live out this day. When (not if) I stumble and fall, your forgiveness, grace, mercy and yes, hope is right there enabling me to carry on. With this hope, I desire to bring life, joy, grace, truth, love and hope to each person I encounter because I have a personal relationship with the One who was born of a virgin, hailed as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, is called Immanuel, at birth was King of Kings, Lord of Lords. Jesus is the One who has given me His Holy Spirit. It is this Spirit that I need each and every day in every season.

So, I am not into the festivities or the mood or the decorating or shopping or even the music that is brought about at Christmas time, but that doesn't make me a Humbug. It just makes me human in the midst of life, changes and challenges, joys and sorrows, faith, hope and love.

Have a day full of hope!

Monday, December 06, 2010

In the past few years my sleeping habits have changed and I am usually in bed by 10 PM when I am at home. Well, I knew that tonight's game would be big, but I thought I might fall asleep. NO WAY, the cold, the adrenaline and of course the action of the New England Patriots have kept me totally engaged.

Yes! I am a fan since before the days
of Tom Brady.

Play offs and then on to the Superbowl 2011
chances look good for the Patriots.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Advent Foretold
Technology not always cooperating

For the last 3 days I have attempted to post my thoughts on Advent Foretold which I am reading through and I am doing something technically that is not allowing my posts to be posted. Nevertheless, I am reading, reflecting, and remembering our times in this book and around God's Word and His story of using imperfect human beings who really lived to carry out His perfect plan.
It is an Amazing story: Abraham, an old man and Sarah his wife, past childbearing age gives birth to Isaac. Isaac is the promised seed of Abraham and God says, bring this son to the alter, worship and sacrifice him. Abraham trusted God enough believing perhaps that God could and would raise Isaac from the dead. He didn't know how "God would provide" which was the answer Abraham gave to Isaac when he asked "We have the wood and the fire, what about the sacrifice father?" Abraham did however have faith in God. (Genesis 22)
The ancestral line is being set up for the One who would come in humility born of a woman. Isaac lives and has Esau and Jacob. Jacob the younger receives the blessing and begets many sons. Again, in God's providence and outside of the scope of human tradition, chooses son #4 of 12 and makes Judah the Lion and Ruler of his brothers.
For several generations there is silence and then from the tribe of Judah, Jesse would become the father of David, who would be the least likely son to become King of Israel.

To Date: it is a continuous History lesson and one that my children learned during the preparations of Christmas.

"Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 6In his days Judah will be saved, an Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called:'The LORD is our righteousness.' Jeremiah 23;5

Thursday, December 02, 2010

December 2

Advent Foretold
written by Gary and Wanda Sanseri
originally published 1990 for their family

Looking at the first prophecy

Genesis 3;15

The stage was set.
Sin and death had entered the world.
God stated that there would be war and there would be the Victory.

All was not lost at the beginning of human history.

There is hope for those who believe in Restoration and The Restorer.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

December 1st Advent Foretold Revisited
Last year Katie and I went into our storage to find a few things - one of the treasures I came across was our family's copy of Advent Foretold, a December devotional for all Ages. We used this devotional from 1996 through 2002. At the moment of discovery, I was flooded with memories and emotions, of our family with growing little ones sharing in this tradition.

You probably can't tell by the picture but the book is held together by duct tape. There are pictures that can be colored in with each day's devotion. Many copies were made over those 7 years, unfortunately, not many were saved.
The first half of the devotional is Prophecies about our coming Messiah and the second half is the fulfillment of those prophecies. The purpose of the book is to point us to Our God Incarnate, the Son of Man coming as a babe, born of a woman. It is because of this Event in history that we celebrate His humble entrance into this world.
Today's devotion sends us to 3 Scriptures Isaiah 46;9-10, Isaiah 48;3, 5 and Numbers 23;19

3"The former things I declared of old;
they went out from my mouth, and I announced them;
then suddenly I did them, and they came to pass.
4Because I know that you are obstinate,
and your neck is an iron sinew
and your forehead brass,
5 I declared them to you from of old,
before they came to pass I announced them to you,
lest you should say, 'My idol did them,
my carved image and my metal image commanded them.'

6"You have heard; now see all this;
and will you not declare it?
From this time forth I announce to you new things,
hidden things that you have not known.

Now I am looking at Isaiah 48 and since the devotion today sets us up for the rest of the book, I thought I would give you my take on it. Only God has ever perfectly proclaimed those things that are yet to come. When I read, "hidden things that you have not known." It makes me think not only of the coming of the LORD but also, of those things yet to come in my own life and the life of the Lord's Church. His Bride being prepared for the Bridegroom and the LORD's second coming.

The Bible is a Living Word and we can trust in what God has left us, His Holy Word and he says here in Isaiah 48 I spoke it out and it happened. He announces new things and we can be sure that God's Word will come to pass.

I am looking forward to revisiting this book and looking again at the coming of Emmanuel.

"Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly. The hard truth is that all people love poorly. We need to forgive and be forgiven every day, every hour increasingly. That is the great work of love among the fellowship of the weak that is the human family."
-Henri Nouwen