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Archive for December, 2014

As Howard Thurman wrote in his eloquent book of meditations The Mood of Christmas & Other Celebrations, “the work of Christmas” now begins.

But I’m sure His Greatness Thurman would have agreed that “the work of Christmas” never ends, being the endless “labor of love” that it is.

One of the eloquent books of the Rev. Dr. Howard Thurman.

One of the eloquent books of the Rev. Dr. Howard Thurman.

I posted the following blurb on my Facebook page on Christmas Eve and I’m sharing it here since it garnered a considerable number of Facebook “likes” and “shares”:

    Mother Teresa said:

    “We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty.”

    By Mother’s measure, a lot of people are living in poverty who are by no means hungry or clothed in somebody’s thrown-away threads or living in cars.

    Rather than fretting over a media-manufactured “War on Christmas,” try doing this to observe Christmas in the remainder of the Christmas season:

    Just go out and be Christmas!

    That is, get out of the house and the mall and go be the SPIRIT of Christmas–which is to be the Spirit of Christ–by going to see someone who feels unwanted, unloved or uncared for.

    Call, or better yet call and then go by and see those who suffered losses of their loved ones this year (or last year for that matter, as grief has no time limit), and just let them know you are thinking of them and that you know it must be hard for them at this time of year. And then just be quietly present with them, without trying to lift them up or make them feel good if they’re not feeling so joyous right now. (Trying to “rescue” someone from their grief by trying to make them happy is seldom an effective way of helping someone in grief anyway, no matter how good the intention.)

    But to “be Christmas,” you might also take some of that leftover food you’ll cram into the fridge tonight to people who indeed are hungry and cold and feeling unwanted in a nation that can be nothing short of hostile to those who are in fact hungry, naked and homeless.

    Go into the world nearest you and just make someone feel loved, wanted and cared for. Go and feed someone; go and be with the sick and grieving; start ASAP to know a prisoner on a personal level and show him or her what “the love that came down at Christmas” looks like and acts like.

    That’s what “being” Christmas is about.

So that’s what I posted on Christmas Eve. Then today on Facebook, a friend and colleague in ministry posted the following wisdom from Howard Thurman, he who was one of the greatest of preachers and peacemakers in the last century:

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The exhausting, consumer-driven, Dec. 25th Christmas that most people of all faiths and no faiths observe to some extent in wealthy countries is over (and none too soon).

Now comes the sometimes difficult challenge for devout followers of Christ to live out Christmas–to keep the faith and live the “Good News” in the ordinary days that fill the calendar. As Thurman put it, “the work of Christmas” begins. And that sacrificial work can be a difficult challenge indeed.

And yet as difficult as “the work” of Christian living can be–and anything of value requires hard work and all the blood, sweat and sacrifice that goes with it–the difficulty or challenge of Christian labor, of living out the birth as well as the life, ministry, sacrifice and resurrection of Christ day in and day out, turns out to be its own reward.

The joy of the secular-driven Christmas runs a mile wide and an inch deep. The truest joy in life is sustained by the living waters drawn daily–365 days a year–from the deep wells of salvation. (See “the Christmas Prophet” Isaiah, Isa. 12: 3.)

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"The angel said to them ... 'This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.'"

“The angel said to them … ‘This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.'”

The gospel famously tells us that there was no room for the baby Jesus in the inn, which raises some questions that challenge our faith and devotion:

Am I making any room for Jesus in my life?

If so, am I providing so little room that I’m sort of squeezing him in and squeezing him out? Is he able to comfortably dwell in me? to live and breathe in me?

Am I providing a hospitable and comfortable zone for those who come into my own “inn”? That is–those who come into my presence?

Am I feeding and nurturing others in the loving way that Jesus feeds and nourishes me (or at least desires to feed and nurture me)?

Is there yet room at the inn?

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Longtimers here at the Cult of the Jitterbug know that “O Holy Night” is far and away your favorite blawger’s favorite Christmastime holy song.

Mariah Carey did enormous justice to it–a song that requires some serious chops to hit the high note–in a Harlem church, twenty years ago.

Merry Christmas and may God richly bless you and keep you.

El Greco's "The Nativity"

El Greco’s “The Nativity”

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And in the immortal words of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young . . . a word about love.

And in the immortal words of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young . . . a word about love.

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Listen to what the silence in the forests and mountains have to say: you might hear the small, still voice of God.

Listen to what the silence in the forests and mountains have to say: you might hear the small, still voice of God. (Pictured: Forests and mountains along Hummingbird Highway after a rain in Belize)

A poem about the power of . . . nothing.
(From Parabola Magazine)

    “Curious and Rich”
    By Linda Ann Suddarth

    When I walk past
    the fragrant forest
    after heavy rain,
    which smells like
    the freshest salad
    you ever ate,
    some vegetation
    from Otherworld
    that when eaten
    makes you feel alive,

    then I listen, listen
    and there is
    nothing, nothing but.

    When it is almost dusk
    and the horizon is tinged
    with the most delicate
    hint of lavender,
    against it dark
    silhouettes of tiny
    fruit-tree branches,

    I listen, listen
    there is nothing, nothing but.

    When I pass the small mountain
    rising like a god
    impressing the night
    and the still liquid sky,

    I listen, listen
    and there is nothing, nothing.

    But nothing is something
    curious and rich,
    and I have heard it.

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When I find myself in times of trouble,

“Mother Mary comes to me,

“Speaking words of wisdom . . .

“Let it be, let it be.”

— Paul McCartney and the Beatles

Mother Megan and babe.

Mother Megan and babe.

I’ve been reading and mulling on the life and the story of Mary the Mother of Jesus this week, influenced as I’ve been by the presence of my daughter and her newborn babe.

The story of Mary is the story of the ultimate in a loving and nurturing mother, of course. But of course it’s also the story of the ultimate woman of God, devoted to service to God and others.

Note how Mary is always thinking of others as when she goes to see her cousin Elizabeth (Luke 1: 39); how she worries over her son lost on a pilgrimage (Luke 2: 43); how she considers the others who have no wine at the wedding at Cana, where her son performed his first miracle (John 2:3).

Jesus’s homeboys all tucked tail and ran when the going got excruciating for Jesus, but it was Mary (and other women, of course) who stayed in full, loving connection with him.

The story of Mary as the ultimate mother is a story of ultimate service to God and all God’s children. She’s the bright, shining star who guides all, male and female, through the ages.

Let it be.

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Here’s a hodgepodge of “Summa This & Summa That” items that I’ve saved in the photo files which I’m cleaning out while I sit here procrastinating when I should be packing for the night flight to Texas Our Texas . . .

"A Star Is Born": Logan Joy Bidelman, b. Dec. 4

“A Star Is Born”:
Logan Joy Bidelman, b. Dec. 4

Today’s thought from the “I hate when dat happens” files:

When I feel the overwhelming urge to sneeze real big with a mouthful of food.

Today's "Big Amen of the Day" to that!

Today’s “Big Amen of the Day” to that!

An old quote from Her Greatness the gritty, truth teller of a Christian writer Anne Lamott

An old quote from Her Greatness the gritty, truth teller of a Christian writer Anne Lamott, who has a new books out

And this ancient mosaic was under water, no less!

And this ancient mosaic was under water, no less!


From the “Stories that make you go wow!” Div.

This kind of discovery from antiquity fascinates me to no end. The story is from the “Twisted Sifter” web site, one of the coolest sites I’ve come across in a while.

What great advice for healthy living.

Great advice.

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From the “Bloggers We Love: Christian Div.” files.

Rachel Held Evans is right on here about the ludicrous “War on Christmas” nonsense.

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Methinks 2,000 years of Christianity will prevail if some overworked retail store clerk says "Happy Holidays" to you I wish Fox would spend as much energy, time and money shining a light on poverty and homelessness stories (what Jesus would do) in this Christmas season as they do trying to preserve the secular Christmas culture..

And now for the meme and thought for the month: Methinks 2,000 years of Christianity will prevail if some overworked retail store clerk says “Happy Holidays” to you. It’s no more secular a greeting than “Merry Christmas is. What a more spiritual “Reason For the Season” time we might all have if self-appointed “cultural warriors” spent as much energy, time and money shining a light on poverty and homelessness stories (what Jesus would prefer?) in this Christmas season as they do trying to preserve the secular Christmas culture…

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