It Isn’t About Those Cups!

The Starbucks seasonal cups are the talk of the town and world as of late.

But, my friends, Christmas is not at all about those red cups. Christmas is about Jesus—Emmanuel (God with us)–who comes into the world in an unlikely place; in a dirty stable in Bethlehem. This infant comes into the world as our savior who later will die on a cross for each and every one of us. This infant is the person who is our one true king who enters the world in the unlikeliest form; a lowly infant.

So often we forget the true reason for the season. This holiday has become so commercialized. Stores cannot even wait for the Halloween costumes to be packed away before they pull out the Christmas decorations. I love decorating for Christmas and don’t think there is anything wrong with decorating before Thanksgiving at all–especially when we have the right motives. But I also believe Thanksgiving opens the door to “Eucharisto”; giving thanks for all God has given and blessed us with in our lives.

“Eucharisto” continually reminds me of what God did when God chose Mary and Joseph to be Jesus’ parents. “Eucharisto” reminds me of the power of God’s love for all of God’s people. “Eucharisto” is Jesus born in that stable in Bethlehem. And “Eucharisto” is giving thanks for that infant Jesus; the unlikely one chosen to be the Messiah; the Messiah we are called to celebrate and remember not just one day a year, but all year round.

One day, when I was at seminary, my friends and I walked into our friend Louise’s office. As we entered her office, my friend Mark immediately noticed a nativity set out on Louise’s desk. It was the spring of the year, so we found that just a little odd. My friend Mark being Mark asked, “Why do you have a nativity set up?  It’s not Advent or Christmas.” I’ll never forget our friend’s response. She smiled and asked, “Should we celebrate Jesus just one day a year?” To which we all replied, “Not at all.” She then shared that she keeps one up all year long to remind her of the promises that come in that infant son. Ever since, I keep a nativity up all year long to remind me of that too! (Talk about a conversation starter!)



And that’s the thing friends, Advent is about waiting for this precious son to be born. It is about the birth of this chosen one called to be our Messiah. It is NOT about what is or is not on those red Starbucks cups. It is about who and whose we are. It is about this one who comes as the light in the midst of the darkness.

This Advent and Christmas may we take the time to break bread, give thanks and spend time with those we love; knowing that God loves us so much that God sent God’s son into the world; to be our Messiah; to be a world changer; a world changer who sat and broke bread with tax collectors and sinners.

Linking up at Inspire Me Monday


I Don’t Ever Want to Forget!

Standing arms outstreched
A crown of thorns upon his head.
The sound of the hammer
Driving the nails into his hands and feet.

Thunder rolling.
Lighting flashing.
The curtain being torn in two.
Jesus uttering his last words.

IT
IS
FINISHED!

And then pure and utter silence.

(His Last Day by Tara L. Ulrich)

Today we sit in silence as Jesus lies in the tomb. And as Jesus lies in that tomb, I find myself reflecting on what he has done for me. I don’t want to ever forget what Jesus did for me and for you. Yet in the hustle and bustle of getting ready for Sunday, I find myself realizing how easy it is to forget. I had to go to Walmart this morning to pick up groceries for our youth Easter breakfast. As I walked around the store, carefully placing items into my cart, I found myself watching the crowds of people busying themselves for tomorrow too.

I bought our groceries and headed back to church. The youth and their parents met me there. We decorated for tomorrow, cut fruit, and I hid some eggs for our Easter egg hunt. After about an hour, I came home and finished my butterfly craft for my children’s sermon for tomorrow. And then I mixed up some muffin mix and placed those in the oven. As I was washing my kitchen counters, I came across a gift that my aunt gave me several years ago. It is a cookie jar but this cookie jar is unlike any cookie jar I have ever seen. This cookie jar is a Nativity. This jar stopped me dead in my tracks as I was washing my counters.

That jar has been sitting there  for months. There are times I think, oh, I should put that away until next year. But then I get busy and forget about it. So it still sits upon my kitchen counter. Now Nativities in my house are not unusual because I collect them. All of them are carefully packed away after Christmas. But there is one that sits on my tv stand. That Nativity is there to remind me that Christ did not come one day a year but is here all the year round.

The Nativity sitting on my tv stand is always there and I love that it reminds me of the love of this man who gave his life for mine…for yours. But the Nativity in the kitchen, it so easily has just become a part of the decor. Yet today, on this Easter Saturday, this eve before we come to the tomb and find the stone rolled away, it stopped me. It reminded me again of the nails being driven into his hands. It reminded me again of the tears that his mother shed for him. It reminded me of the deafening silence after he uttered his last words. It reminded me again that death does not have the last word but that God does.

Christ has done so much for us. Christ has put on the victor’s crown (Thanks for sharing that song, Karrilee). Christ will come again. But for now, let us sit in silence and remember as Jesus is lying in the tomb. We cannot experience the joy of Easter without Good Friday.

Sunday is coming, my friends. And because I don’t ever want to forget, that Nativity will remain on my kitchen counter.

I am linking up with Barbie and Mary at My Freshly Brewed Life for the Weekend Brew.

On My Nativities, Advent and Waiting on this Precious Holy Child

I’ll admit that I love this time of year. There is something just so incredibly holy about waiting and preparing for this King to be born. And to be born in a manger of all places; the unlikeliest of places for baby Jesus to be born but that is exactly where he comes into the world.

When Mom and Dad were still together, they did everything to make sure my sister and I had a great holiday season. I only remember some of the gifts we received but I do remember who we were with. It was more important to spend time with family then the gifts we received. They taught us the true meaning of celebrating this season. I remember when I was in 5th grade and my sister was in 2nd grade when they bought both of us our very first Bibles. Andrea and I were so excited for those Bibles that one day when Mom and Dad went out, we took a peak at what was in those beloved Christmas packages. I’m almost ashamed to admit it now, but we opened up those gifts, took a peak and rewrapped them!

I do enjoy giving gifts but this season is about the waiting, longing and preparing for this King who comes into the world. When I was in college, I bought my very first Nativity scene; a nativity scene of my very own. It is a simple piece; only five pieces and all glass. But that simple Nativity caught my eye in the christian bookstore and I had to have it. I bought it and took it back to my dorm room where I immediately set it up. That nativity started my nativity collection and each of these nativities are reminders to me of why we celebrate Emmanuel “God with Us!”

My Very First Nativity

Yes, you read that right. I collect Nativities. The collection is a wonderful reminder to me of why we celebrate. In fact, if you ever been to my house, you would know that I keep one up all year round. Some friends and I visited another friend and noticed that she had a nativity up in her office. My friend asked why and she asked, “Should we just celebrate Jesus one day a year.” When I heard her answer, I knew that from then on I would keep one up to remind me to celebrate Jesus all year through. I have nativities from different parts of the world. I have Nativities given to me from so many different people. Each one has it’s own unique story.

A handpainted Spanish Nativity that my friend J
bought while she was living in Guatemela!

Today as I put them out, I was once again reminded of where each one came from and the person who gave it to him. I found myself stopping, holding the nativity in my hand, feeling it’s texture and taking in it’s beauty just like I believe Mary took in every scent of her new son, took in each of his features and realized whose mother she was to be!

The special Angel Nativity Scene
given to me by my Aunt C.

God sent God’s son into the world as this beautiful gift who wasn’t afraid to turn the world upside down. My aunt C gave me a nativity that she bought for my Grandma while Grandma was living in the nursing home. My Aunt didn’t realize I collected Nativities but one day I must have mentioned it in one of our conversations. Not long after, the nativity arrived at my front door with a note about how this gift was always meant for me.

Every time I look at this gift I am reminded of the angel’s words to Mary. “Do not be afraid.” God sent God’s son as a promise of peace and hope in the world especially in a world that is broken. And trusting in Emmanuel “God with Us”, this Advent season, may we take the time to take in the beauty of this season and remember the true reason for the season.

Only a fraction of my Nativity collection