Choice: To cling to dreams

November 30, 2022

         One of the charming moments in “It’s a Wonderful Life” is when George and Mary are walking home after Mary’s high school graduation party.  They pass the old run-down Granville house and George throws a rock at one of the windows and makes a wish.  He wants to travel the world and see new places.  Mary picks up a rock and throws, breaking another window.  She won’t tell her wish but we, the viewers, know she is wishing for George.  As a young girl she had professed her eternal love for George in his deaf ear as he bent over to scoop up an ice cream at the Pharmacy.

         This Sunday, Advent 2, we will read of another young man with a dream.  Matthew tells us that Joseph has done everything to for the marriage to Mary, mother of Jesus, but discovers she is pregnant.  There seems to be a detour on the road to the dream for Joseph.  There will be a detour for George Bailey as he seeks to live a wonderful life.  There is often a detour in our lives as we chase our dreams.  How do we maintain hope when we are discouraged? 

         Mary, takes the next step, goes to college.  George, does not travel the world, but is able to help the poor immigrants that have come into his world as he chooses to take the leadership of his father’s loan business as he is about to hear his father has had a stroke.  Detours to our dreams can be very discouraging.  Perhaps we cannot give that gift we had hoped we could this Christmas.  Perhaps there will be an empty seat at the feast.  Perhaps there is some other detour we did not expect.  Mary clung to her wish despite the detours.  Wishing reveals the love in our heart and a God who also wants to bless us in the midst of our detours.  Let’s keep our eyes on Him!  Blessings as you wish and prepare!

Choices: To speak truth to power

November 29, 2022

Clarence Oddbody, Angel Second Class, in “It’s a Wonderful Life” reviews George Bailey’s life whom Clarence is being sent to help.  Clarence sees a scene from George’s youth when he is working at the Pharmacy.  George sees a telegram on the counter and reads it only to learn that his boss, Mr. Gower has just been informed that his son died of influenza.  George sees Mr. Gower drinking in his grief and realizes that Mr. Gower has mistakenly filled a prescription with poisonous medicine.  George is told to deliver the medicine.  George at about age 12 is called upon “to speak truth to power.”  He runs to his father for moral support but his father is arguing with the banker.  George returns to the shop and tells his boss about the mistake.  Mr. Gower boxes George’s sore ear but on hearing his mistake, falls on his knees in gratitude.  George never tells anyone of the incident.

         Part of the Christmas story in Matthew tells of the wise men traveling to Jerusalem as they follow the star and then being interviewed by King Herod.  They do not hide that they are looking for “the one who has been born king of the Jews.”  They must have realized that such an announcement would be shocking to the power structures there. 

         Sharing the truth of who we are and what we believe is not always a comfortable experience.  If we refuse to follow instructions because of our values, we may have our ears boxed figuratively.  The temptation is to sugar coat news that might hurt, to gloss over some of the facts, or to paint a nice picture.  Can you think of a time when you did not share your faith or did not exactly tell the whole truth?  One of the challenges of this Advent season is to speak our truth about Christmas, about the birth of the Christ child, in a transparent way that not only another can hear and understand but presents honestly the birth of Christ into our world of political powers like King Herod.  Yes, we enjoy the fun of the season but we know the core truth is about Jesus’s birth.  May God give us courage as we are called upon to speak our truth to the people who have power in our lives.  Blessings.

Choices: To risk your life to save another

November 28, 2022

“It’s a Wonderful Life” opens with a chorus of prayers rising to the heavens for George Bailey of Bedford Falls.  Something is terribly wrong and his friends turn to God for help.  Clarence Oddbody, Angel Second Class who has not earned his wings, is sent to help.  But first he must review George’s life that has brought him to this moment of crisis.  The review starts with a vision of George, age 12, and friends sliding on shovels down a snowy embankment onto a frozen pond.  It comes to George’s little brother’s turn and he slides down the hill, onto the pond and into a hole in the ice at the end of the pond.  He cries out, “George, help!”  George jumps into the icy water and saves his brother but looses his hearing in his left ear.  Choosing to help costs.

         Abraham is the first name of the genealogy of Jesus that opens the New Testament and the Gospel of Matthew.  The list of people that are descendants also made choices about trusting God in challenging situations.  Each one takes risks that cost.  Abraham left his home country with his wife Sarah and nephew Lot. Abraham allowed Lot to choose the rich valley for his flocks.  Abraham chose to believe God that even in his old age he could sire a son, Isaac.  Stepping out in faith is risky.  We must believe that there is a God, that he is watching and that he cares.  That’s how Hebrews 11:1-3 defines faith.

         “11 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.”

         George was watching his brother and George cared.  God was watching Abraham and his descendants and he cared.  God is watching us and he cares when we get ourselves in horrible situations.  We are people of HOPE, our Advent word for this week, because we see through history God watching over his creation in good times and rough times.  Blessings as you cry out for “help” and trust the God who is willing to save you at the price of the cross.

Advent 1 Year A, November 27, 2022 HOPE

November 27, 2022

First Reading: Isaiah 2:1-5

1The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
2In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house
 shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
  and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it.
  3Many peoples shall come and say,
 “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
  to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways
  and that we may walk in his paths.”
 For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from   Jerusalem.
4He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many   peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
  and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
5O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!

Psalm: Psalm 122

1I was glad when they said to me,
  “Let us go to the house | of the Lord.”
2Now our feet are standing
  within your gates, O Jerusalem.
3Jerusalem is built as a city that is at unity with itself;
4to which the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord,
  the assembly of Israel, to praise the name of the Lord. 
5For there are the thrones of judgment,
  the thrones of the house of David.
6Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
  “May they prosper who love you.
7Peace be within your walls
  and quietness within your towers.
8For the sake of my kindred and companions,
  I pray for your prosperity.
9Because of the house of the Lord our God,
  I will seek to do you good.”

Second Reading: Romans 13:11-14

11Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; 12the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; 13let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Gospel: Matthew 1:1-17   The Genealogy of Jesus the Messiah

An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Aram, and Aram the father of Aminadab, and Aminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David.

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 10 and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, 11 and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

12 And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Salathiel, and Salathiel the father of Zerubbabel, 13 and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, 14 and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, 15 and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, 16 and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah.

17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah, fourteen generations.

CHILDREN’S SERMON:  Turn to a neighbor and tell about a relative that impacted your life story.

Let us pray:  Lord may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, the eternal I AM, who incarnated among his creation, and who still comes to us.


         Today we start a new church year.  We will look at the Christian faith story through the eyes of Matthew. Matthew opens the New Testament and starts his account of the Christian faith with a genealogy. Advent 1 focuses on a theme of Prophecy and Hope.  Life is not random. We do not despair as we look at our world. We know God has prophesized wars, illness, poverty, injustice, and false prophets who will try to convince us that God is not able or is not wanting to make our lives happy. But prophecy assures us God is leading us into an eternal reality, unlike the problems of this life. God cannot be defeated.  The New Testament and Matthew start by tracking God’s faithfulness.

         The beloved Christmas story, It’s a Wonderful Life, is a favorite Christmas movie Frank Copra produced and that came out in 1946, along with us Baby Boomers!!!  Viewers follow the life of George Bailey who dreamed of traveling the world and escaping small town America.  We long to escape the problems that plague our lives and so we identify with George.  The death of George’s father forces him to choose between his dream of running around the world or running the loan business his father owned.  He sacrifices his personal dream.  George marries a hometown girl, Mary, and raises a family.  So far, his story is ordinary. Enter the villain, Mr. Potter, the bank owner, whose greed tries to defeat George. George despairs and decides to commit suicide.  He figures he would be “better dead than alive.”  A chorus of prayers ascend to heaven and in response to the prayers for George, Clarence Oddbody, Angel 2nd class who has not earned his wings is sent to help George.

         We are not at the movies. We are at church.  This movie, though, helps bring the Matthew Christmas story into the reality of our lives.  The Matthew account of Christmas is unlike Mark and Luke’s account. I hope by relating Matthew’s perspective on Christmas to this beloved movie, we will bring the ancient story into Baby Boomer reality.  In the Biblical story we find hope, peace, joy and love – our Christmas banners.  Lord, open our hearts to hear your story that impacts our story with hope today.

The Backstory: Prophecy: Hope

 Matthew opens with a long genealogy that we usually skim past because the names are hard to pronounce.  But genealogies give us the backstory putting the present story in context.  We gain perspective for what is to unfold.  The movie It’s a Wonderful Life opens on Christmas Eve.  Clarence Oddbody, Angel 2nd class is chosen to go and help George.  He has “the IQ of a rabbit” and the “faith of a child, simple.”  He has an hour to prepare and so is told to sit down, listen, and he is asked,

“If you’re going to help a man,

you want to know something about him,

don’t you?”

I might rephrase this quote for us today, to challenge us:

If you’re going to believe in Jesus Christ

You want to know something about him,

Don’t you?

Genealogies give texture to names.  We might say we come from a long line of farmers or that we are just like our ancestor who was artistic.  Of course there are those skeletons in the closet we don’t talk about much.  Then there are the shadows of people who died of cancer, Alzheimer’s or some other disease that plague us with fear.  Differently abled relatives are hard to put in context.  Pride, shame, and fears will be met in thee tonight, O Bethlehem, as a new child is born. 

            The Matthew genealogy opens, tracing from Abraham to Joseph who is the husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus, “who is called the Messiah.” Similarly, the movie starts with an overview of George Bailey’s life.  Clarence Oddbody, Angel 2nd class sees George Bailey as a kid who saved his little brother Harry’s life when Harry slid into a hole in the ice.  George lost hearing in one ear so as a teenager did not hear Mary profess her love at the soda fountain.  George also had to choose whether to deliver the wrong prescription to a family or correct his boss, Mr. Gower, the pharmacist.  We meet Mr. Potter bullying George’s father as George ran to his father for advice.  Fast forward, George’s father died and George must decide between his desire to travel the world or assume the responsibility of his deceased father’s business so his brother can go to college.  It is those choices that bring George to the present point of crisis.  Likewise Matthew shows us the choices Abraham’s descendants made that brought the Jewish people to this moment that is about to unfold in Bethlehem.  It is the events of our life that have brought us here today and impact the decisions we will be making as we go forward into our future.

         Let us look a little closer at the genealogy of Jesus.  We see that the problems that are brewing and affecting life in Israel are not a God problem but a human problem.  Matthew starts with Abraham, the father of the Jews, to first trace human frailty that requires a Messiah. Jesus must be TRUE MAN to deal with a problem that is rooted in humanity.  Likewise, if the United States bombs Russia to save Ukraine, it will be called aggression and so we hear about all the help sent to Ukraine so they can fight their war.  The genealogy shows God’s help to us to fight our human war with sin.

         The first 14 generations start with Abraham.  God steps into the life of Abraham and makes a promise, a covenant, Genesis 12:2

          “I will make you into a great nation and will bless you.  I will make your name great and you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you and whoever curse you I will curse and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” 

God is making a promise about what will take place in the future.  It is prophetic.  But why Abraham?  Let me ask again, why Abraham?  God chose a stiff-necked and stubborn man to work with and to form and be the bearer of his promise.  God also chooses us to work out his promises.  Why us?  Grace.  Amazing.  God gets the glory.

         In that first set of the Matthew genealogy we see a list of ordinary, flaky people with questionable lives.  They come from multiple ethnicities that form the family line of Jesus.  God speaks to these people, making promises, molding and guiding them as they make moral decisions, into a future they cannot see. 

         Abraham lies about Sarah and allows her to be put in a haram in Egypt.  God protects her and in their old age son Isaac is born.  God promises that people more than the number of stars will be blessed.  More than our children are blessed by our life as we trust God for our inadequacies.  Isaac follows father Abraham and lies about wife Rebecca but then has twins.  Younger twin, Jacob, steals his brother’s birthright and deceives his father to get the family blessing but then is deceived by his uncle Laban.  He marries two sisters because he is so drunk he does not realize he has married the wrong sister!  Talk about a dysfunctional family!  God can work with us.  Jacob’s son, Joseph marries the daughter of an Egyptian priest. Meanwhile Jacob’s fourth son, Judah, has relations with Tamar, a Canaanite, who was Judah’s daughter-in-law. We are deep into human frailty now.

         The story continues though.  Ruth, a Moabitess, has a son by Boaz who is the son of Rehab the harlot.  Oh my, why do we think our little problems are too hard for a God who promises over and over to bless Abraham’s descendants?  The genealogy clearly shows us that the New Testament that is about to unfold is not about our wonderfulness but about God’s faithfulness.  We are human and flawed. Jesus is born into our mess.  Unless we understand that Jesus is under the same sentence of death as we are, the hope of the resurrection that comes with Christmas is hollow.  We serve a God who incarnated into a line of ordinary sinners and will bring salvation.  We must acknowledge our past, our sinfulness, to truly appreciate the blessings of Christ now and for the future to be.  Angel Clarence Oddbody learned about George to understand his dilemma.

         The second 14 generations start with King David.  If we look at the second group of people, we see a list of kings. The genealogical focus has shifted.  The people of God refuse a theocracy where God is our social leader and they demand a king.  People want a leader they can see rather than trust a God they cannot see.  Saul, the first king is flawed but God is not defeated and has David anointed, “a man after God’s own heart.”  David is just as fallible with blood on his hands plus he sleeps with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah (and God does not cover that up!).

          But this genealogy is not about David. It is about God building a kingdom of people, a priesthood of believers.  It is about community life.  Through this second set of genealogy we see kings, flawed leaders living out the responsibility in the positions God has put them in.  Some make good choices and some make bad.  Even we make good and bad choices.  God speaks into these kings’ lives and watches over the kingdom He is forming.  Prophecy is not just about my salvation.  Prophecy is not just about Jesus dying on the cross for my sins. The story goes on to the resurrection and the formation of the church with leaders just as flakey as the kings. God is still working, forming us, his kingdom and promising the return of Jesus. Hope! George Bailey has life events that explain him but at the same time George is creating a story of community.  Our lives impact the community forming around us.

         So why the third set of names in the genealogy?  The focus changes again.  The third 14 generations starts, “after the deportation to Babylon…  Matthew is writing his Gospel to a people who know their cultural heroes, who know the Jewish national history of glory under kings like David and Solomon, but who also live in a reality of oppression by a foreign power, in a struggling economy, persecuted and out of favor.  Something has gone wrong!  The names in this third set are for the most part, little known to us. Mostly it is those books of the Bible that we call the minor prophets and often ignore. 

         My thought is that Matthew is telling us that in the face of fantastic prophecies of a promising future that will start to come about with the birth of the Christ child, everyday life is hard. Most of us live life after having gone through messes like the exile.  Matthew is setting up for the cross that comes between the prophecy and the fulfillment. George Bailey represents every person who has a history of choices made that brings the person to their present crisis.  Something has gone wrong in George’s story and something is wrong in ours.  We need God’s help.

         We can only have hope today if we know we are sinners and will die.  We have not loved God with are whole heart, soul, and mind.  We can only have hope if we understand that Jesus incarnated, suffered with us, and now stands in the Godhead for us.  Suffering is not God abandoning us nor necessarily punishing us. During hard times and defeats, we do not need to loose hope because God is faithful to his promises and is working in ways we do not understand. 

         God was not defeated by all those faulty guys in the first fourteen generations.  God covenanted with real humans. God was not defeated in forming a kingdom by all those very human kings in the second fourteen generations.  God is not defeated by the twists and turns of history, the sufferings and hardships, nor the momentary triumph of evil.  There is hope for George Bailey for there is a God hearing the prayers of George’s friends and watching George’s life unfold.  Like Joseph, “the husband of Mary of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ,” we are an important part of the Christmas story.  We can be people of HOPE as we look at how God has been faithful to work with us to bring about his promises.  Many generations were blessed through Abraham.  All people were blessed through Jesus.  May we share God’s blessing during this Advent season and live as people of Hope.

Let the people of God say, “Amen!”

“O Come, O Come…”

November 26, 2022

Tomorrow is the first Sunday in Advent.  We will be starting a new Christian year.  Advent mean “the coming” and so in December we will build up to when we celebrate the coming of Jesus on Christmas. One of the favorite 12th century hymns that is frequently sung during Advent is “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”  We prepare socially by finding presents to bring to beloved friends as the Wise Men did.  We fill the air with Christmas carols as the angels did.  We think of family as Joseph and Mary had to return to his family roots in Bethlehem because of the census.  The birth in a stable reminds us of the plight of refugees looking for shelter at our borders. 

     This year we look at Christmas through the eyes of Matthew.  He does not focus on the traditional nativity scene we see so often enacted.  He opens with a genealogy and goes on to talk of Joseph’s situation, the wise men and Herod, and the slaughter of the innocent children.  Monday we will start looking at this epic story. We will be laying the Christmas story next to the beloved movie, It’s a Wonderful Life

     Clarence Oddbody, angel 2nd class without wings first reviews the life of George Bailey before he goes to help him.  Matthew first reviews the genealogy of Jesus before he jumps into his story.  We find hope during Advent as we trace the faithfulness of God to his promises and prophecies.  Let’s sing the first verse of the hymn goes like this:

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Tomorrow we light the first candle of the Advent wreath, Blessings as you enter the season and may God’s promises sustain you through the stresses and blessings of this season.

Black Friday

November 25, 2022

We dub today “Black Friday” which is a bit of a dubious honor.  We associate “black” with the black plague in the Middle Ages but we also know “Black is beautiful.”  This tension carries into the modern naming of the day after Thanksgiving as “Black Friday.”  It feels to me this year that the whole month is advertisements about pre-Black Friday sales.  We step into the tension between wanting to bless friends and the reality of our financial limitations.  We want to recover financially from the economic stress we are feeling but we want to be kind. 

         I find it ironical that today, a day of sales and preparations for blessing others at Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Christ, is called Black Friday.  On the other hand, the Friday before Easter, the day we celebrate the crucifixion, before the joys of Easter, we call “Good Friday.”

         The name “Black Friday” was first used around 1951 and did not begin to pick up momentum until 1975, in many of our life times.  Whatever the origins, if in the suburban crowds that come to the city to shop for Christmas, or the fans that flock to football games, or because shop owners anticipate their red ledgers turning black after being in the red due to Coved, today is one of the biggest shopping days of the year and is used to predict the health of the economy.

         So perhaps one question we can reflect on today is how we cope with those down times and those stress filled times in our life.  Many turn to alcohol or shopping and partying.  Others find joy in community and gathering together.  There might be a bit of the Grinch in many of us. I think of the Bible verse Proverbs 17:22,

“A cheerful heart is good medicine,

but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

      We may not have much spare money to share this year but money is not a measure of the love in our hearts. Good or hard times is not a measure of the love in the heart of God whom we celebrate incarnating to be with us on Christmas, not as a dictator but as a small child loving us during dark times.  As you manage this Black Friday, may you be blessed knowing God loves you in ways way beyond the material.   Blessings!

“Thanksgiving ” “G” is for Grace

November 24, 2022

“For health and food and loving friends

For everything thy goodness sends

We thank thee Heavenly Father


That was our family grace before each meal in my biological family.  I carried it into my marriage family and even today say this grace.  I have heard almost the same grace said by people from a Norwegian or Swedish background and my family was English.  We will bow our heads today and give thanks. Hopefully. 

         It reminds me of the scene in the movie “Blindside” when the family grabs food to watch the football game as the kid from the other side of the tracks who lived with them sat at the table.  The family realizes the social awkwardness and joins him at the table and they bow their heads and give thanks.  We bow our heads to show humility, I think.  In Kenya, when a Maasai child met an adult, he would dip his head and the elder would put his hand on the child’s head and bless the child.  Nice!

         One of the blessing for me this year has been the discovery of a new singing artist.  New to me anyway.  His name is Don Moen.  He does praise music that comforts my soul when I feel bedraggled.  Let me share a song with you that is appropriate for Thanksgiving.

         This year, my husband and I have faced health challenges due to aging.  The next song has deeply blessed me.  I pray it blesses you this Thanksgiving.  Have a happy Thanksgiving!  The grace of the Lord be on you!

“Thanksgiving –n- Kneel ”

November 23, 2022

Revelation 7:11-12

“11 And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, 12 singing,

‘Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom
and thanksgiving and honour
and power and might
be to our God for ever and ever! Amen.’”

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving when theoretically we finally gather with family and friends, feast on a roasted beast or at least good food, and turn our eyes towards Advent and Christmas.  Many in our country will not have experiences that measure up to the visions spun by the media.  Most will not take time to go to their place of worship to give prayers of thanks to the host of our blessings, maybe a prayer before the meal.  Many will be preparing for Black Friday, warming up their fingers to find sales on the Internet.  Many more will grieve the loss of a beloved at the table this year.

         I come to the end of my Bible references found in for the word, “thanksgiving,” and end with a reference found in Revelation, the last book of the Bible.  It seems appropriate.  Revelation does not focus on the pleasures of this life as the author, John, was on the Isles of Patmos, because of his faith and he was old.  His eyes turn to heaven as he envisions the angels in heaven praising God.  There is a list of words: blessing, glory, wisdom, thanksgiving, honor, power and might.  Thanksgiving is the one that is most easy for me to tie down in words I can understand.  For two weeks we’ve fleshed it out.  We can be thankful for

  –deliverance in times of trouble

  –antibodies to fight disease


  –deeds of kindness


  –God’s goodness

  –gifts people have that bless our lives

  –God is invested in us and values us

  –we have voice in the path of our life

So many things to be thankful for and to kneel before the host of our banquet tomorrow…along with the angels and elders in the heavenlies!  Blessings, you are not alone.

“Thanksgiving –i- Invest ”

November 22, 2022

Ephesians 5:4

“Entirely out of place is obscene, silly, and vulgar talk;

but instead, let there be thanksgiving.”

“The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” by Dr. Seuss is the theme for an ice “adventure” in the city near me.  The book first published in 1957 was one of his easiest books to write as he was beginning his career back in 1955.  It was brought to life in 1966 with Boris Karloff as the voice of the Grinch.  Jim Carey played the Grinch in 2007 in film.  This poem, I discovered, was Dr. Seuss dealing with his cynicism on Dec. 26, 1955, as he grappled with his wife’s illnesses and his perceived commercialization of Christmas.  He was the Grinch!!!  He sat down and turned to words and poetry.  He wrote himself into a dilemma, though, as he tried to reconcile the reality of life and faith.  He resolved that tension by having the Grinch sit down at the Christmas table and the Grinch carves the roast beast.

         Perhaps you feel like the Grinch right now as you face the merriment of the season with the reality of expectations and limited resources or perhaps you face the future with an ailing friends.  The Grinch might be your story this year!  Ephesians warns us to avoid the trap of using vulgar talk, obscene language to express our deep frustrations with situations.  It’s rather acceptable today to hear what some consider vulgar language on all media, language that would not have been acceptable at the time of the writing of the Grinch.  It seems that language can be used to let off steam but vulgar language does not resolve the situation.  Paul urges us to turn to thanksgiving and finding the positive.

         The Grinch carves the roast beast.  Allow me the “poetic license” of this post to suggest that it is only as we cut into Christ, our sacrifice that we celebrate now, that we can find any resolution and hope for the future.  Our heart grows three times larger when we praise and release our grumps.  We have a choice on how we focus and Invest (i) through thanksgiving.  I is for ….., N is for ….., V is for ….., E is for ……, S is for….., and T is for …….  Blessings.,vid:yGk8tU5p4iY

“Thanksgiving –v- Voice ”

November 21, 2022

Philippians 4:6

“Do not worry about anything,

but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving

let your requests be made known to God.”

“Do not worry!”  I think that can be rephrased as “don’t be anxious.”  Then there is the motto of just “be prepared”.  I’m just making sure I have my “bases covered”!  We have various ways that we politely admit we are worried.  The last two weeks I had dermatology “stuff” to deal with.  One spot was a “cut and sew.”  The other was “mohs” that I call “scoop and sew.”  My husband had it on the back of his hand and no one noticed.  The one on his chin looked “manly.”  But knowing my face might end up scarred led to … worry.

         Paul is in jail when he writes these words.  Perhaps he too felt helpless and realized worry did no good.  His advice is to pray and plead (supplication) but then he adds “with thanksgiving.”  Thanksgiving challenges the soul to think positive.  I prayed that the doctors and nurses would have a good night’s sleep and be rested.  I prayed that I would not cry when given  the Novocain shots.  I prayed my children would not worry.  I prayed that my friend who went with me would not be too inconvenienced.  Focusing on the aspects of the situation where I believe God could intervene for a positive outcome helped me not to focus on the potential catastrophe, social discomfort because of a scarred face, that I feared.  Thanksgiving factors God into the equation and worry forgets God is there mediating the evil that can touch me.

         I looked on the Internet for worship songs that deal with worry and found a new one I had never heard by Casting Crowns, a more modern group,  It’s called “Just be Held.”

For those who want a more meditative tone, may I suggest the time honored favorite, “Be Still My Soul.”

As we head into Thanksgiving and Christmas season, may we guard our hearts and minds from worry and may we voice all our concerns to God in prayer with supplication and thanksgiving.  V is for ….., O is for ….., I is for ……, C is for ….., and E is for …….  Blessings.