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Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

Who is this Wonder?

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

I must admit that I am a bit of a Christmas Eve service snob.  There has to be context, content, and cooperation in every Christmas Eve service I attend…and I have attended many…even led a few myself.  Without those three aspects of the special nature of this particular worship time, I do not feel as if I have been to a service commemorating Christ’s birth. 

And, alas, I didn’t find them in this year’s service that I attended.  More specifically, what I didn’t find was the Christmas story either from Matthew or Luke and it was like missing a dear, old friend who lifts my heat and gives me hope.Nativity-Vector

There were carols, symbols and a short discussion with the children that fleshed out the reason for the service but without that story of Mary, Joseph, the birth, the Shepherds and the Heavenly Host I found the context and content missing.  The scripture to me is a bold reminder of how the incarnation became flesh and dwelt among us in a poor, homeless, unwed couple amid the muck and mud of all that is primal.  It reminds me that God comes in mysterious and unlikely ways and gives me hope this mucky and muddy world we live in. 

And I as I pondered my reaction to this omission, which I am sure didn’t cause anyone else a moment’s angst, I realized that there are many aspects of the Bible that we just don’t hear about very often.  Sabbath being one of them.

Ten CommandmentsWhen was the last time you heard a sermon on the sin of ignoring the fourth commandment?  When was the last time Christians were encouraged to stop and observe a 24 hour rest period because God told us to?  When was the last time that the purpose and power of Sabbath was sung about in a hymn or discussed for 4 weeks at a time?  When was the last time that two major world religions, Judaism and Christianity, issued a joint statement that they agreed upon the need for Sabbath and would be doing everything they could to make it a priority among its followers? When was the last time you heard people arguing over what to call Sabbath – a day of rest vs. a day of catching up on errands? 

Just a few of the thoughts that came to mind as I pondered what happens to me when I don’t have the familiar words read to me to commemorate a special occasion in the Christian church. 

The Lord’s day, Sabbath, Sunday is a special day in the Christian church but we don’t often get upset when it isn’t mentioned, preached about, or used as a reminder of just what a gift that 24 hours of rest was from our God – Emmanuel, God with us. 

Maybe one of the ways we keep the Christmas spirit alive all year is to observe the Sabbath, take Sabbath moments and remember the one whose birth the angels sang about and like Mary, ponder it in our hearts, as we treasure all the gifts of God for the people of God.Christmas Angel

“Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth peace to all on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2.14

Blessings

Nancy

How Silently, How Silently

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

red bellsThe Christmas carols are playing everywhere you go these days except in many churches.  Church-goers complain mightily that the hymns during this time of the year are not Christmas carols and not ones they enjoy singing.  The reason for this, as many a pastor will tell you, is that this is Advent.  We haven’t reached Christmas and its season of celebration yet.  Advent is a time of waiting and quietly reflecting on the light that this world so desperately needs to see.  However, waiting, being quiet and reflecting on what we really need does not suit the bottom line of stores who are eager to begin racking up Christmas sales in October. 

So every store we walk into is blaring Joy to the World or Silent Night while there seems to be anything but around us.  If Santa Claus brings enough toys to put sales in the black and make all the little boys and girls happy, then we will be joyful and finally take a long winter’s rest. 

Or will we?

We know in our heart of hearts that joy doesn’t come in a jolly old elf with a round little belly.  Joy comes in the muck and mud of a homeless, unwed couple tucked away in a dirty barn or cave awaiting the birth of their baby who will come amid blood, sweat and tears.  No wonder we had to pretty it up and add a dash of red, reindeer and romance combined with holiday parties, presents and procrastination.  christmas preparation blog

And exhaustion.

Advent is the antidote to that exhaustion if we are wise enough to embrace it. The carol, “O, Little Town of Bethlehem” reminds us:

          “How silently, how silently the wondrous gift is given!

          So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of his heaven.”

It is in the silence that the gift is given and if we aren’t silent, then how will we know when the gift has arrived.  Advent and Sabbath are both times of stopping to listen for the gift that God wants to impart to us – time to reflect on what is really important – a life in God’s care. 

Advent is almost over and the Christmas celebration will officially begin but there are still 52 Sabbath opportunities every year to stop, rest, reflect and listen for the blessing of heaven that God sends to us. 

May the season of light and love fill your hearts and minds with the power of God’s peace and joy.   iStock_000027543299XSmall

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to all who make Sabbath a priority in their lives. 

“But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.” Habakkuk 2.20

Blessings,

Nancy       

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