Tag Archives: christmas

It’s The Most Wonderful Time

Is the Christmas season the best month of the year or just the most stressful? Yes! This humorous video overwhelms us with all the craziness that crowds our schedules at Christmas and then adds a tongue-in-cheek reminder that “Jesus is the reason for the season” and after yesterday’s post I couldn’t help but piggy-back this on. Enjoy!

Don’t Bull Rush Christmas

rushAh, the sounds of Christmas…carols playing softly, a crackling fire and WAIT! Not in my house. Here is what Christmas sound like in our house (it’s more fun if you sing it…)

Hark how the bells, phones, and the texts, ring through the house, giving no rest. MOM WHERE IS THIS? MOM I NEED THAT! He’s touching me. She started it! Merry merry merry merry Christmas! Merry merry merry merry Christmas!

I am so bored. Can I go here? Please take me there. I need a dozen cookies. I need a dozen more please! She’s got my stuff! He started it! Merry merry merry merry Christmas! Merry merry merry merry Christmas!

It’s picture time. Can’t you sit still? Just look right here. You have a Christmas concert? You have to be at practice? Get in the car! We need more gas. Merry merry merry merry Christmas! Merry merry merry merry Christmas!

A picture of Christmas for so many of us, right? I wrote this last year for our Christmas cards, a picture of the days leading up to our Christmas, written in jest but based in reality. And then more recently I read this, “When it’s so easy to be overbooked, overstretched, and about to snap, STOP! Otherwise you will bulldoze right past some of life’s most precious moments.”

More than ever, this year I have a desire to do more than just have Christmas. I want to experience Christmas. Here is my advent challenge. I want to open my heart up to be present in the season today, not bulldoze through it in anticipation of tomorrow, or next week. I don’t want to bull rush my way to Christmas day. I want to make this very moment count. I want to allow my soul to awaken to the thrills of the Lord’s presence as I move through this holiday season. I love Jacob’s words in Genesis, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!” These words echo in my heart as a reminder to slow down and notice Emmanuel, God with us, this season.

Merry merry merry merry Christmas!

Where will you be staying this Christmas?

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A question to ponder today as we are all “innkeepers”…do you have room?

Dearest God,
Please never let me
Crowd my life
Full to the brim.
So like the keeper of Bethlehem’s Inn,
I find I have no room for Him.
Instead, let my heart’s door
Be ever open,
Ready to welcome
The newborn King.
Let me offer the best I have
To Him
Who gives me everything.
–author unknown

Behind Door Number 3

 

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Advent…and so it begins. (Actually is began two days ago.) The countdown that marches us closer and closer to Christmas. I think of calendars with tiny little doors that open to reveal a piece of chocolate (eaten before breakfast, of course) for every day between now and Christmas. My kids used to get excited if they happened to miss a day for some reason and got to have two pieces of chocolate.  I can remember having my own advent calendar years ago and the excitement and anticipation that opening every little door brought. One day closer…

Do you still have that excitement and anticipation or are the days flying by in a blur of to-do lists and to-buy lists? Advent is to Christmas what Lent is to Easter. A time of preparation for the coming celebration.  John Piper says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” In other words, “In every heart prepare him room…by cleaning the house.”

Take some time to be still today, and in the coming days, to prepare your heart, or as John Piper said, clean the house. Marvel with me in wonder at the miracle of the season. Allow yourself time to take a deep breath and soak in the meaning of the season. 

Jesus said, “I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark.” (John 12:46)  He came to light up our world, to rescue us, to pull us out of the darkness forevermore. The very first gift of Christmas, given to you, to me, was love and salvation, peace and joy, given in the tiny form of a baby, wrapped, not in shiny paper and sparkly bow, but in rags. 

I look forward to going on an advent journey together.  For tonight, lets kick off the journey with a piece of chocolate and recapture the innocent anticipation of the coming celebration.

No Vacancy

carols

With Halloween in the rearview mirror we are heading full steam ahead towards the holidays.  Someone told me just recently that they view Thanksgiving as the first Christmas celebration.  Doesn’t it feel that way sometimes?  The stores are already glimmering and shimmering with Christmas bling, encouraging us to shop early and beat the rush!  I sheepishly admit that I did cave into the pressure and bought the first presents of the year but I at least waited until Nov. 1.  As I look ahead to the Christmas season, I can feel one of two ways.  Tired already from thinking about the pressures of creating a storybook Christmas that will be remembered though family history as the best Christmas ever, or I can chuck all of what society tells me I need to make my holidays “merry and bright” and return to the basics, remember what is truly important, and not lose myself in the frantic, over-the-top, Christmas production.  I know that this is super early to even begin thinking along these lines but I wanted to be able to take a minute and encourage you while your mind is still relatively holiday-fog free.  When you feel yourself beginning to feel buried in Christmas, take a deep breath, remember this story and ask yourself, “What would Wally the inn-keeper do?”

For years now whenever Christmas pageants are talked about in a certain little town in the Midwest, someone is sure to mention the name of Wallace Purling. Wally’s performance in one annual production of the Nativity play has slipped into the realm of legend. But the old-timers who were in the audience that night never tire of recalling exactly what happened.

Wally was 9 that year and in the second grade, though he should have been in the fourth. Most people in town knew that he had difficulty in keeping up. He was big and clumsy, slow in movement and mind. Still, Wally was well liked by the other children in his class, all of whom were smaller than he, though the boys had trouble hiding their irritation when the uncoordinated Wally would ask to play ball with them.

Most often they’d find a way to keep him off the field, but Wally would hang around anyway—not sulking, just hoping. He was always a helpful boy, a willing and smiling one, and the natural protector, paradoxically, of the underdog. Sometimes if the older boys chased the younger ones away, it would always be Wally who’d say, ‘Can’t they stay? They’re no bother.’

Wally fancied the idea of being in the Christmas pageant that year [as] a shepherd with a flute, but the play’s director, Miss Lumbard, assigned him to a more important role. After all, she reasoned, the Innkeeper did not have too many lines, and Wally’s size would make his refusal of lodging to Joseph more forceful.

And so it happened that the usual large, partisan audience gathered for the town’s Yuletide extravaganza of the crooks and crèches, of beards, crowns, halos, and a whole stage full of squeaky voices. No one on stage or off was more caught up in the magic of the night than Wallace Purling. They said later that he stood in the wings and watched the performance with such fascination that from time to time Miss Lumbard had to make sure he didn’t wander onstage before his cue.

Then the time came when Joseph appeared, slowly, tenderly guiding Mary to the door of the inn. Joseph knocked hard on the wooden door set into the painted backdrop. Wally the Innkeeper was there, waiting.

“’What do you want?’ Wally said, swinging the door open with a brusque gesture.

“’We seek lodging.”

“’Seek it elsewhere,” Wally looked straight ahead but spoke vigorously. “The inn is filled.”

“’Sir, we have asked everywhere in vain. We have traveled far and are very weary.”

“’There is no room in this inn for you.” Wally looked properly stern.

“’Please, good innkeeper, this is my wife, Mary. She is heavy with child and needs a place to rest. Surely you must have some small corner for her. She is so tired.”

Now for the first time, the Innkeeper relaxed his stiff stance and looked down at Mary. With that, there was a long pause, long enough to make the audience a bit tense with embarrassment.

[Finally] the prompter whispered from the wings, [‘Wally, your line, it’s,] “No! Begone!”’

[And] Wally repeated automatically, “No! Begone!’”

[So] Joseph sadly placed his arm around Mary, and Mary laid her head upon her husband’s shoulder and the two of them started to move away. The Innkeeper, however, did not return inside his inn. Wally stood there in the doorway, watching the forlorn couple. His mouth was open, his brow creased with concern, his eyes filling unmistakably with tears.

And suddenly this Christmas pageant became different from all others.

“’Don’t go, Joseph,” Wally called out. “Bring Mary back.” And Wallace Purling’s face grew into a bright smile. “You can have my room.’”

Some people in town thought that the pageant had been ruined. Yet there were others—many, many others—who considered it the most Christmas of all Christmas pageants they had ever seen.

“You can have my room.”  In those words, we hear the love of Christ being born anew in the heart of a young boy, who had discovered the wonder of Christmas.  That instead of being caught up in the frenzy of the upcoming season we could instead become such a part of the story that we would offer Jesus room in our hearts, room in our homes, and rediscover the true wonder of the Christmas season.

**The story of Wallace Purling is from Dina Donahue’s Christmas story “Trouble at the Inn”