Advent and Our Own Inconveniences

It is a beautiful December day here in North Dakota. Fresh snow from this weekend layers the ground while frost covers the trees. It is a picture straight out of a North Dakota winter calendar. I love the peacefulness this time of the year brings upon the land. But then something happens and I am shaken back into my reality. This morning, I woke up to a cold sore. Now don’t get me wrong, there are worse things than cold sores, but I always seem to get one this time of the year which just annoys me and makes me extremely self conscious.

I want to hide away from the world and not show my face until that ugly cold sore has disappeared. And, of course, this week I am helping with the women’s Christmas party on Thursday and preaching this weekend. So this morning, I quickly texted my friend Chris who loves her essential oils and asked her if she would recommend an essential oil to help my cold sore disappear more quickly. She had some recommendations and borrowed them to me. So at lunch time, I ran over and grabbed them from her office. Time will tell if they will do the trick! 🙂

I don’t know about you, but I can so easily let these little inconveniences get in the way of who God has called me to be. God has created each and everyone of us as “fearfully and wonderfully made.” God loved us so much that God sent God’s one and only son into the world for each and every one of us.

I can so easily get sidetracked by how I look, but it’s really about what is on the inside, isn’t it? I think of the movie The Grinch Who Stole Christmas where we hear “It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes, and bows.” Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before…”Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas…he thought…means a little bit more.” And yes, my friends, that is the true…Christmas isn’t bought in a store. Christmas is so much more!

Christmas is about spreading Christmas cheer to those who cannot afford their own packages. Christmas is about spending time with those that we love….or perhaps spending this Christmas without that special someone and yet knowing we are not alone. Christmas is about trusting in our God who sends God’s son; the promise Messiah as this precious infant boy born in a stable in Bethlehem. Have you ever thought about that? The stable wasn’t the cleanest place in the world. In fact, it was probably pretty dirty and didn’t emit the nicest odor. And perhaps it wasn’t such a silent night after all?

My prayer is that we can remember what this season is truly about…not to get hung up on our own inconveniences which in the grand scheme of things are actually pretty petty…but rather to listen for the cry of this babe born in the stable in Bethlehem and hear the words as the angels and so many proclaim “Glory to God in the highest and peace to those whom he favors” Amen!

I am linking up with Holly at Testimony Tuesday and Kelly at the RaRa Linkup:


Moving Into the Neighborhood

It is Christmas Eve! I’m currently hanging out at my aunt and uncles. I had to run out to the farm to print my sermon for Christmas morning. The gravel roads to the farm where crummy. My car got caught up a little on a snowdrift. Yet none of this seems to matter to me today. What matters is this infant Emmanuel “God with us” who in the words of Eugene Peterson, “puts on flesh and blood and moves into the neighborhood.”

I don’t know about you but I love that image. Jesus being my next door neighbor. But also Jesus being the one who is finding bodily nourishment at the church in my neighborhood at a soup kitchen

Jesus is born to the unlikeliest people in the unlikeliest of places; in a stinky smell stable surrounded by all sorts of animals. (I smile as I type this looking out the big picture window which overlooks a cattle stall.) Jesus indeed comes on this holy night to remind us of Gods immeasurable love for all people.

I know that this holiday brings about emotions of all kinds including sadness. But, my friends, even in your sadness, no especially in your sadness, Jesus comes as Emmanuel “God with us.” Jesus indeed is the greatest gift; a gift that isn’t returnable by us but rather is a gift that is continually offered and given to us.

This holy story reminds us that we shouldn’t be afraid; “Do not be afraid.”Rather we need to cling to the promise of this one who comes to bring us hope, peace, joy and so much more.

I’m reminded of these words from the Grinch, “It isn’t about boxes, presents and bows. Perhaps Christmas is a little bit more.” Yes my friends Christmas indeed is much more than we could ever imagine!!

And as these words ring in my ears, I hear Linus proudly reciting the words to Luke 2 which we all will hear soon. This version of the holy story is one of my faves because through Linus, I remember and am reminded what this story is all about. It is through this silent holy night that Jesus was born, came in flesh and blood and moved into our neighborhood. And my friends this holy child isn’t going to move out of our neighborhoods any time soon. This precious infant promises to never leave or forsake you. This infant will carry you through your sadness, your joy and all the seasons of your life.

Christmas blessings to you all my dear readers and friends! Merry Christmas to you and yours. May peace be yours on this holy night.