Saturday, November 27, 2010

Where IS Christmas ??

Tis the Season.
To shop.
To spend.
To travel.
To forget our lives of quiet desperation.

Mr. Thoreau searched diligently for hope, yet it is said he believed that most men go to the grave without ever finding their song.

But, even old, worn-out Santa Claus brought hope and fun to a war-ravaged world in the 1940’s. Our family had almost NO “purchased-in-a-store” presents, but the junk bicycle Daddy found and restored for my 10th Christmas was better than gold to me. Mother always told us that “Santa Claus is the spirit of Christmas and love.” Hummm. Sounds okay to me!

Regardless of serpents and lies and a fallen world, I happen to know that HOPE lives.

Hope. And Love. Forgiveness. Absolute completeness. Our Song of songs is alive and well today.

Because on that holy and glorious morning of mornings, Jesus Christ gave HOPE and LIFE to a lost and hopeless world when He became man and lived among us.

AND, without CHRISTmas and the birth of the Son of Man, there would be no Easter morning.

I am tired this year…physically. It’s been a difficult year. Not bad, just difficult. Yet, because the Messiah came, we MUST celebrate.

Christmas is in my heart.
Christmas is on our hill.
Christmas is on this blog.

      So far as I can tell, Truth has not been totally eradicated and most churches continue to remember the birth of the Savior in special events and celebrations and children’s pageants and Advent candles during December each year. We, as God’s wayward children will continue to shout Alleluias and Hosanna in the Highest and Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD.
      For a few days during December, these pages will also shout the news that Jesus Christ was born in a stable. For a few days, we will prepare our hearts anew to welcome the birth of the King of kings and the Lord of lords. We will pray for each other and for our communities and for our nation. We will seek God’s face and we will BE love to each other. We will be a witness for the King.

Please join me for a few minutes during this hectic and sometimes hopeless season –
To find a quiet place in our hearts
To worship our high and Holy Father
To renew our joy
To prepare ONCE AGAIN, to welcome His Advent
To celebrate HOPE.

   Merry Christmas,

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sheep in our Hay Field

Our adult Sunday School class has been studying Isaiah. Due to miscellaneous "stuff," Dear Heart and I have missed about every other class so God continues to find ways to drop His prophet right in my path! [see Gratitude Attitude post :-)]
     Yesterday afternoon I grabbed my camera to prove what I saw right in our own front yard:

     I had big plans for yesterday, the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Quiet, worshipful, and restful. None of them included chasing sheep; I just wanted to prepare my heart so I could tackle the Thanksgiving things in the kitchen that sometimes make me forget to be thankful. Mid-afternoon, our not-yet-adjusted two-year-old Lab, Ava, paced the floor but refused (!) to go outside by herself. (well, she's a rescue with an unknown history and I'm an easy mark). Since the November weather was unseasonably beautiful, sunny, and warm, I went to the back porch with Ava and my book. NICE !! I thought, Why don't I do this more often?
     Then Ava barked--a lot--at something going on in the hay field. I saw nothing but a neat row of round hay bales our nephew had stacked along the side fence. Uh, wait! Ava and I walked over the the fence for a closer look.
     Yes. It was SHEEP. Inside our pasture. A bunch. (s'cuse me: a FLOCK) Actually, about three rams, four ewes, and a few lambkins.
     I've never discovered sheep wandering any of the pastures around our farm neighborhood so I ran to the house, grabbed my camera, zoomed in real close, and began shooting digitals as the sheep ambled across our side yard toward the main road.
     They trotted along in a line, blindly following one another. The ewes seemed to lead the flock with their young lambs close by, and the rams brought up the rear. (please.. let's not go into a discussion about women leading guys down a hopeless path!!)
Nevertheless. When the flock got to our fence at the road...

 ....not one of the sheep attempted to search for a way out. As one, the flock turned and trotted back up the path from whence they had come and disappeared from sight.
     We made some phone calls with no results but on our way to a Community Thanksgiving Worship, we stopped at one farm someone had suggested might be the owners.
Nobody at home!
     Later, heading home from church, the Sheriff was on the road in a ginormous truck with a gazillion lights flashing. No sign of the sheep so we assumed the brave deputies had handled the lost flock. At home, our phone was ringing off the wall. The Sheriff's office asked if WE knew who owned the sheep wandering the road and being a menace. How and why did they call me? Nope, not a sheep-herder in the family.
     This morning, various neighbors  reported sheep sightings up and down our road. The Sheriff's guys returned with reinforcements and apparently herded the sheep into a nearby field leased by a local vet.
Wrong again.
     On my way to town after lunch, the by-this-time-FAMOUS flock of sheep was in another pasture. When I returned home an hour later on the same road and passed the same pastures, all fields were void of ANY sheep. EMPTY.
     But, as I pondered the wanderings, an ancient memory surfaced. I've walked with my Lord over sixty years, and suddenly today I saw the prophet Isaiah's message in chapter 53, verse 6 in a completely new light.
     Long, long, VERY long ago (before most of my readers were born), I memorized that passage from the King James Version of the Holy Bible. ("All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.") I assumed I understood the meaning of that passage but I went to Bible Gateway to compare different translations. After  closely observing those real-live sheep wander around, lost, thirsty, and hungry, in a strange countryside for more than thirty hours, I meditated a long while on Isaiah 53:6 from The Message. 
     The phone interrupted my meditation and as I scurried back to real life, a peace that passes all my understanding settled over me as I flitted from one crisis to another.
      We still don't know what happened to the flock of lost sheep but my kitchen is ready for Thanksgiving and my heart overflows with a fresh love for my Lord Jesus.
     Thank You, Holy Father, for sending lost sheep to show me a clear view.

"...we looked down on him, thought he was scum. But the fact is, it was our pains he carried...he took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through his bruises we get healed. We're all like sheep who've wandered off and gotten lost. We've all done our own thing, gone our own way. And God has piled all our sins, everything we've done wrong, on him... on HIM."
   Some of Isaiah 53-6 from "The Message." friend Dennis in our chiropractor's office, gave me the website for accuracy in describing the lost animals. Check out Did you know that a bunch of Camels is also a FLOCK??  


P.S. As an six-year-old Sunbeam in Mrs. Pennington's class, I had no idea that I had no idea what "iniquity" meant.