Thursday, December 25, 2014


Dear Christa—
Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, clicked the heels of her ruby red slippers and said, “There’s no place like home.”
As I pulled off my boot last night, out tumbled the puzzle piece that Jay and I had searched through 999 puzzle pieces to find.
Often, what we seek most is what we’ve already put our feet into.
As Mark preached on joy yesterday morning, it seemed to me that it really just shakes out to one word—contentment.
Why is it so easy to search for joy in all the wrong places?
We tend to think it lies across the street or in the next county or country. If only we had a different job, a different house, a different body, a different spouse—when all along we are dissatisfied with the choices we have made and the path God has planted us on.
Years ago I read a book titled Happiness is a Choice. I read it at a time that was very difficult. I didn’t have a job; there wasn’t enough money; and relationships were tense. All these years later, I don’t remember the specifics inside the cover, but I’ve always remembered the title.
Joy is not found in jobs, houses, money, or people. Mel has said that the happiest people she has ever known were the orphan children she met in the Dominican Republic on a missions trip with Heidi.
As Mark said yesterday, “When you pursue your own joy, you lose it.” And, “Abiding in Jesus is the restoration of fulfillment and fruitfulness.”
Real joy is found in a Savior who is only a breath away. I’m praying for a specific person to find Him this Christmas season. I’m praying she’ll look at her feet and discover that she has been standing in joy all along.
—the parishioner who doesn’t do anything

Monday, December 22, 2014

Things Forgotten

Dear Christa—
Chris said we’d been there once. I didn’t remember. I don’t remember seeing that at all. I think there are a lot of things that I intended to remember, but I don’t.
I intended to remember so many things. I wanted most to remember the most important things, but I think the daily things got in the way, and somehow when I was cooking dinner, doing the laundry, and cleaning house, I forgot or downright missed some of the important things.
I wonder if Mary, the mother of Jesus, ever did that. Did she get so busy with the other children, the regular doings of mothers, the interruptions that she laid aside the incarnation. Oh, she would never forget the angel, the wise men, the trip to Egypt; but as they settled in to daily life in Nazareth, did life overshadow the important things?
When he was 12, she didn’t notice his absence as they left Jerusalem. I doubt she was used to his having to be looked out for. When she and Joseph turned back, they found him in the temple, and he reminded her. He reminded her of the important thing—that he was the Son of God. Mary scolded him for not being with the others. She probably wondered what he’d eaten and where he’d slept. Did she notice that he was explaining the Scripture to the leaders?
Submitting, he followed them back to Nazareth, for it wasn’t his time. As she walked the dusty road, did she once again ponder the things of his birth? Did she begin to watch him now, like mothers watch and wonder about the future?
The daily robs us of the significant. There is so much that I didn’t want to forget, but I know that I have. Sometimes, it surprises me.
—the parishioner who doesn’t do anything

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Christmas Spirit

Dear Christa—
Sometimes it’s hard to be in the Christmas spirit. I’ve heard it, I’ve read it on Face Book, I’ve felt it myself. The Christmas spirit—I wonder what that is, exactly…
Angels were singing. Wisemen were gazing at a star. Mary, like most new mothers, searched the face of a newborn child.
But, for most of the world, this day was like any other day. Rulers ruled. Workers worked. Priests—well, they did what priests do. Most people lived totally unaware that this was one of the greatest days in history.
I suppose it does have to do with awareness.
Maybe the Christmas spirit isn’t the clicking of glasses, the elation of music and presents. Maybe it isn’t even the smell of hot chocolate, the cookies, and pie. It isn’t at all what is or what isn’t under the tree. The handmade ornaments of small hands, the memories, or even the calm of late night.
Maybe it isn’t even the face of those you love best, or don’t love at all.
Just maybe the Christmas spirit is pondering the Light of the World and staring—and accepting—the Christ who touched the earth with his holy purpose. And because of his purpose, we have purpose—you and I.
Stare into his face because he’s staring at you—loving you.
Slip your heart in his and walk with him, trust in him.
It might be different from how many think of the Christmas spirit, but you will have it.
To give yourself to Jesus is the greatest day in your history.

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Rocky Road

Dear Christa—

The saying in the fortune cookie said, “The road to glory will be rocky but fulfilling.” I laughed out loud, though there wasn’t anyone around to hear me. If there is one thing I’ve noticed as I get older it’s that there are rocky places for each of us. Rare are the days that there aren’t waves to rock our boat.
Now, is the advent season, when we wish we would take time—real serious time—to focus on the incarnation of Jesus, our Savior. So many things keep us distracted, but at least, let’s start out pondering the mysteries and incredulousness of those days so far removed from the here and now.
In a small village, not one to really even notice on the map of the world at that time, lived a man, a carpenter. Trained as a typical Jewish man of his day, I imagine him as an ordinary guy that any of us might know. Engaged to Mary, he probably thought things were looking up for him.
And they were…
Just not in the way he was anticipating.
There’s blessing in not looking too far ahead. Sometimes I think people plan too much today. Seniors, who don’t know what they want to do forever and ever, fret over the approaching graduation that’s a mere semester away. Yet, sometimes, all we need to do is to take the next step.
If Joseph and Mary’s world was going to be rocky, think about Jesus—stuck in human flesh. What happens when the Potter turns to clay? Did 33 years seem long or short for the Creator who’d never experienced time and space limitations? I don’t know.
Mary, bewildered, went to visit Elizabeth. Joseph, heartsick, decided to quietly end the engagement. On the edge of utter spectacular, the two people most affected in all the world probably spent many hours pondering where their road to glory would lead. We know the end of the story. We know that it was often rocky. We doubt they looked too far ahead because no one could imagine what was really going to take place.
The only truly important thing today is to know we’re on the road to Glory. Some days will be rocky. Some will be fulfilling. Today, I want to remember I can be on the road to Glory because Jesus left Glory. God Himself wrapped in a young woman’s womb. 
Amazing, unbelievable—when the Creator became the created.
—the parishioner who doesn’t do anything