Hope from Lowly Times

nativity scene table decor

Here we are at the end of December.  The decade is over and the new year brings promise as well as a darkness of what at times feels like uncharted waters.  Life is fast.  Moving at speeds that we could never have conceived when we were young.  Technology, globalization, a society that seems to care less about each other than about fighting over differences.  A great country, lost in an identity crisis.  But, throughout history, one constant has existed.  The promise of salvation, God’s grace and divine guidance.  But the world has seemingly discarded this great gift.  We, like in the times of Christ’s birth, have become fragmented.   Government grows larger and more controlling, and we go through the motions of our lives without much hope of change.  Don’t say Merry Christmas because you might offend someone.  Assimilate to cultural pressures or be ostracized.   Life appears to be headed to the abyss.

But there is a glorious hope.  A spirit of strength.  A freely given gift from our Creator.  In a broken world, full of sin, hatred, jealousy and lust is the hope of forgiveness, unconditional love and eternal life.  This hope was born in a lowly community, in times of distress, government control and discord.   People were searching for the promised Messiah.  The One God had foretold of throughout the Old Testament.   We have the pure blessing of knowing that our Savior has been sent.  Forgiveness and love assured.

In these times of great upheaval, just like the time when Christ came into the world, we have the choice to turn from the hatred and head to the Light of the World.  The story, passed down for generations, prophesied in the Old Testament and came to pass some 2,000+ years ago is a simple and straight forward message.  All it takes is the faith the size of a mustard seed.  Seems easy.  I encourage you to find the faith to seek out the true meaning of this Christmas time of year.  Head into the next decade with peace.

Don’t just wait for it, Observe it

God’s miracles are happening at lightning speed everyday, in every way; small, large and in between. Yet we make the mistake of dwelling on a past experience we cannot change or fear of a future that has not yet occurred and we miss most of the daily miracles that are showered upon us. Be present today. If you look for them with an open heart and mind, you will be overwhelmed by the flood of God’s daily miracles.


What is Christmas to me?

What is Christmas to me? Christmas evolves its face and form as the years go by. When I was young, it was an anticipation of a traditional trip to either Underwood North Dakota or Hannibal Missouri. It was memories of my grandparents, the baking, the trips to the farm, the local cafe and seeing cousins that were at times like siblings and others times like strangers. It was the smell of pipe smoke, fishing in private ponds and Huck Finn.
As I grew older Christmas became school Christmas service, Christmas Eve with my parents and sister, Christmas morning of the anticipated Santa surprise.
As I started my own family, it was the new uncharted era of balancing our Christmas, my parents Christmas and the In-laws Christmas. It was a time of anxiety about the snails pace of business during the holidays, the giving to employees, friends and a bit of anticipation for it to be over.
The middle age years were a new balance. A balance of a Christmas schedule, trying to please everyone and in the end pleasing no one. Especially me.
Then the move to my next phase of life, Arizona. For a time, Christmas was a trip up to Minnesota, exhausting, fight the balancing act of family interface, guilt of not making it all the way I perceived it was suppose to be and a flight back to dive back into the fast paced life I have created.
Today, after much personal grow work, truer faith in God’s plan and a new or higher awareness of what Christmas truly means, a peace I have not ever experienced. No fast flight to MN, no balancing of the 8 different schedules; Christmas on my terms, or I believe on God’s terms.
You see, in all the craziness, people pleasing, expected gift exchanging, what is lost, so apparent as I pause and look around, is the true gift of Christmas. It is the hope for mankind. The promise of saving Grace. The absolute unwarranted gift of our all powerful God, the gift of our Savior. The gift of forgiveness, the washing away of our sins, and the prospects of eternal life. This message, lost in the worry of not offending anyone, lost in online sales, black friday, cyber monday, last minute shopping, spending beyond our means and stress and anxiety about meeting warranted expectations.
This Christmas, I enjoy my cup of coffee. I rejoice that I am saved from my sinful nature. I am proud that my children are on their way in life and doing exceptionally well making their own way through the battles of life.
Today my vision of Christmas is about the miracle that occurred 2,000+ years ago, promised to our forefathers since the days of Adam and Eve, the most magnificent gift of all, if only we accept it with open hearts, minds and souls, the gift of our Savior and God’s unmatched generosity and love in Salvation and eternal life.
I pray all of you have the merriest of Christmas’ and a Happy New year knowing that this miracle is the true meaning of today.