December 24, 2010

The Dinner Conversation

You know that parlor game, the one where you name the people you would most like to have dinner with? They can be living or dead, so it's often overwhelming to think of all the people who could make your list, and consequently they tend to be from the last couple of hundred years. Oh, sure, lots of people throw Jesus into the mix, but other than that, you'll often hear names like Lincoln, Churchill, and JFK.

Recently I have found myself thinking it would be fascinating to have a dinner conversation with Mary. Yes, THAT Mary. The Mary who doesn't often generate much in the way of curiosity among Southern Baptists, such as myself. We cover that angelic visitation thing with Gabriel and Mary's subsequent visit to her older cousin Elizabeth, who also found herself in the midst of a miraculous pregnancy, but then there's that whole stable scene where the angels and the shepherds seem to dominate as the baby in the manger takes center stage.

After that, Mary is relegated to a supporting player role with a few cameo scenes and her primary purpose seems to be to move the storyline along. Lately, I have found myself wondering, "What was she thinking?" At various points in the life of Jesus I am curious about how much she knew.

If I could talk to her, I would start with that visit from Gabriel.

"Mary, when he said, 'Do not be afraid,' were you really able to not be afraid?"

"And when he told you the purpose of his visit, did you think you were imagining things? Were you able to so calmly respond with, 'May it be to me as you have said,' because you thought it was a dream?"

"When did it become real to you? Was it when you saw Elizabeth in her sixth month? Was it when you began to feel the baby moving in your own womb? Was it in Bethlehem when you realized you weren't even going to have the dignity of a room at the inn in which to give birth to your first child? Did you long for the presence of your mother or any another woman to hold your hand and give you moral support?"

"Were you afraid then? Did God at least spare you the pain of childbirth, or was yours the most painful of all? Did you feel the full power of this cosmic mystery as you gave birth?"

"What was Jesus like growing up? Was he like any other child up to a point, or was he always different? Was it when he stayed behind in Jerusalem to talk to the teachers that you first saw the signs that he was not like other children or were there signs before that?"

"Were you surprised that he took up carpentry, like Joseph, or did you always expect that? Did you spend your life waiting for the other shoe/sandal to drop, wondering at what point God would take him from your home to use him for greater things?"

"Did you know that once his ministry began, he would no longer belong to you? Or had you always felt that he didn't belong to you? Were you surprised by the stories of healings, or had you seen evidence of his power before? Did he ever whip up dinner when there was nothing in the pantry?"

"Did it break your heart to hear the derogatory things that some people said about him, or had you been prepared for that? Did you know where this was headed? Did you expect him to sit on an earthly throne or did you always know how it would end? Was it a rolling revelation, or did the reality of his calling come to you for the first time on that awful Friday afternoon when the sun went dark?"

"Did he spend time with you and your family after the resurrection? What did he say to you? Did you understand it then, or was it years later that it began to make sense? Or did it ever fully make sense to you in this life?"

As Christmas Eve comes, it never ceases to amaze me to think of all the preparation it took in order for the pieces to come together in Bethlehem that night so long ago, or of the willing hearts that had to be open enough to say, "May it be to me as you have said."

May you feel the power of the risen Christ in your life on this day, and every day.

Until next time,

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He 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, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” ~ Luke 1:30-33

December 21, 2010

The Spirit of Thankfulness Continues

I'm baaaaack! After eight days of coping with a stupid, stupid cold during the busiest month of the year, I'm back on track with much to catch up on in the way of thankfulness leading up to Christmas. From the trivial to the meaningful, here we go:

  • I am thankful for over-the-counter cold medicine. It might not provide a cure, but at least it helps get some relief and the sleep you need until you can feel better. (And I'm thankful to finally be feeling better.)
  • I am thankful for the sleep timer on my TV. 
  • I am thankful for my two cats who think it's their job to keep me warm while I sleep. Or maybe they think it's my job to keep them warm. Whichever it is, it works...although sometimes too well.
  • I am thankful for the countless hours that others put into preparing for Christmas programs so the rest of us can enjoy them..
  • I am thankful for coworkers who make my job such a joy.
  • I am thankful for friends and family who mean more and more with each passing year.
  • I am thankful that my sister and nephews will be here to spend Christmas with our family.
  • I am thankful my family decided to draw names this year so we can spend more time focusing on our time together.
  • I am thankful for my niece and her family who moved back home this year. It's wonderful to see her do such a great job of being a mom.
  • I am thankful for our first Christmas with my grandniece, who at 9-1/2 months should be a lot of fun to watch Christmas day. Heck, she's a lot of fun to watch any day.
  • I am thankful for this time of year when we stop to remember the greatest gift of all, the gift of a Savior.

I don't say it often enough, but I am thankful for each one of you. You encourage me, you challenge me, and you enrich my life. Thanks for being a part of Single and Sane.

Until next time,

I thank my God every time I remember you.  In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 1:3-6 (NIV)

December 11, 2010

Spirit of Thanksgiving, Post #4 - Elizabeth's Shining Light

Now I know why smart bloggers did the sensible thing and wrote their posts about gratitude leading up to Thanksgiving instead of after the turkey was history. It's not that it's hard to continue the attitude of Thanksgiving throughout the Christmas season, it's just that December is a ridiculously crazy month. So while I'm only on post #4, rest assured that I'm not facing a shortage of things for which to be grateful.

Today, as her family says their final goodbye - inasmuch as any of us can ever say a final goodbye to someone we love - I am thankful for the life of Elizabeth Edwards. Like many who never met her, I still felt as though I knew her, and I found her inspiring. What can be said about this woman that hasn't been said? She was articulate, she was passionate about the people and the things she believed in, she was determined, she was a force of nature, she was a devoted mother, and clearly from what we have heard from her friends, she was also a devoted friend. But all of that has been said.

Source: Google Images

I admired all of those things about her, but most of all, I admired how she lived out her faith in a public way, not by shouting about her beliefs, but by quietly showing us what is is to live as a follower of Christ when your world is crumbling around you.

December 2, 2010

Spirit of Thanksgiving, Post #3 (The Smallest Tree)

As I strive to continue the Spirit of Thanksgiving throughout the holiday season, today I am thankful for small Christmas trees. This is also my shameless attempt to win an itty bitty candy cane, courtesy of Lea at My Letters to Emily. Her contest was inspired by A Haven for Vee's 3-foot tree, which I believe totally defies its small stature.

It's not all about my competitive nature though. I really am thankful for small trees, since they grace my home with a festive spirit during the Christmas seasons that I choose not to put up a tree, or when time gets away from me before that deed can be accomplished.

There are the trees I made for my mantel. The picture is not great, because I cropped it from last year's pictures, but you get the idea. These trees are still in the closet, waiting to grace my living room, once again...

I think the lopsidedness is part of their charm. ;-)  The ceramic tree (just to the left of the tree on the far right) rotates as it plays Angels We Have Heard on High.

There is the whimsical tree that sits on my coffee table. Again, an unfortunate cropping job from last year...

There is the retro pink tinsel tree that I love for the fun bit of kitsch that it brings to my life each December...

And then there is the tiniest tree, the only one that is actually out so far...

There is a bit of an optical illusion in the picture below - it's about 4-3/4" high, but it looks even shorter next to the yardstick, thanks to the angle...

Someday, it will go to my grandniece (along with the dollhouse I originally purchased it for) when she is old enough for such an itsy bitsy treasure. For now, it's my tiniest tree.

Until next time,

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. ~ I Timothy 4:12