Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

It's the last day of 2011 and here is my hope for all of us in 2012:  that we would see the hand of God move in the circumstances of our lives; that we would know He has great plans for us; and that we would have the desires of our hearts. Sounds heavy, doesn't it? It sounds almost ominous and frought with responsibility. But wouldn't it be wonderful to hand it all over to the God who made you and to realize he wants only good for you? That He actually has a purpose for you? That he wants to give you your heart's desires?

In the last years, I have become increasingly convinced that the Lord is good, and only good. Because He is love and His motivation is love, He is for me, and is good to me. I know the Bible says it, and now, in my heart, I believe it. In the midst of trials and tribulations, when the world throws dung from every side, God is there, "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." (Psalm 46:1) So I look for His hand.

We are here by God's choice. He loves us and reveals His plan for us as we look at Him: "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11) Again, He is good. So I ask Him what He wants for me.

Like a joyful Father, and He is a joyful Father, He loves to give gifts to His children. "Delight yourself also in the LORD,  And He shall give you the desires of your heart."  (Psalm 37:4) He places His desires in our hearts and He fulfills them in His time. These desires fulfilled bring the greatest joy. So I pray and ask for those desires to be reached. And I thank Him for all He is and does.

Happy New Year. Happy New Day...full of His mercy and love.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

     It’s early Christmas morning and it’s quiet. In the last days, in a flurry of running and wrapping, shopping and smiling, it’s been hard to schedule in a time just to breathe. But now, I ignore the ticking clock on the mantle and, I sit and reflect.
     Yesterday I had an almost two-hour car ride to pick up my son. Listening to various radio programs, I had the realization that the non-Christian world, right here in our country, doesn’t know what to do with “Christmas.” They appear confused or pressured to lean to one side or the other. There’s the long-standing back and forth on whether or not to say the words, “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” by shop-keepers and bank tellers. But yesterday on a program on CBC, I heard the epitome. On a show where people were telling “holiday” stories, (none of which had one iota to do with Christmas as a celebration), the announcer said, “Happy December 25th Day, everyone.” That one really made me sad. It felt as though the person who said it was as lost as one could possibly be.
     On that same station and in malls everywhere, there are potent, life-giving hymns being played. In public places, traditional Christmas hymns such as, “Silent Night”, “Joy to the World” and “O Holy Night” make their way onto song lists. The message is there: Jesus was born and He had a purpose in mind:

“Peace on Earth and mercy mild - God and sinners reconciled!”
“Born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth.”
(Hark the Herald Angels Sing)

What child is this who, laid to rest
On Mary's lap is sleeping? …
Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.
(What Child is This)

The French version of “O Holy Night” brings light and understanding:

Minuit, chrétiens, c’est l’heure solennelle
Où l’Homme-Dieu descendit jusqu’à nous,
Pour effacer la tache originelle,
Et de son Père arrêter le courroux.
Le monde entier tressaille d’espérance,
À cette nuit qui lui donne un Sauveur.
Peuple, à genoux, attends ta délivrance
C’est pour nous tous qu’il naît, qu’il souffre et meurt.
Peuple, debout! Chante ta délivrance.
Noël! Noël! Chantons le Rédempteur!

Midnight, Christians, it is the solemn hour
When God as man descended among us
To expunge the stain of original sin
And to put an end to the wrath of his father.
The entire world thrills with hope
On this night which gives us a savior.
People, on your knees, attend your deliverance.
It is for us all that he was born, that he suffered and died.
People, stand up, sing your deliverance!
Christmas! Christmas! Let us sing the Redeemer!

These songs, and so many others reflect what’s written in the gospels. He is what we’re celebrating. His purpose, His goodness, His love. His message is simple, yet profound: He loves us. He loved us enough to set aside his throne and live among us and to provide an eternity with Him.
Merry Christmas! 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Tis the Season

     My beloved grade five/six class joined the rest of our little private school in visiting the local seniors home to perform our Christmas concert. School uniforms pressed and tucked, the classes lined up in the halls to enter the great room. I looked around and saw dozens of seniors, dressed immaculately, their walkers parked close by their wingback chairs. Camera in hand, I scanned the faces of young and old. As each class stepped in to perform, our enthusiastic music teacher created a bridge between both groups who timidly faced each other. The carols brought smiles and no doubt reflection - our older friends remembering the past and our young students anticipating their futures. I felt caught in the middle somehow and felt tears roll in hearing songs about the Saviour of all. "Let every heart prepare Him room..." Indeed...let every heart prepare room for Him. There's no time like the present. He waits with arms wide open.

Carravagio Nativity

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Mother

        Early on a turning day, the quiet veranda beckoned. Out of the mist, the day unhurriedly dawned. With the azure sea waiting, Martha slipped on her down vest, picked up her coffee cup and navigated her way hip-first through the screen door, carefully, so as not to let it slam and waken the twins. She was jealously guarding that quiet half hour before the riotous demands for breakfast began.

       Settling in the rickety wooden deckchair, she took a deep breath and made a firm decision: for the next 30 minutes, she would quiet the loud lists forming her day and just be.
       Past the salt-scraped floor-boards, she let her gaze fall on the dewy garden. Oak leaves and acorns were starting to scatter to fill in the blanks between the last remaining cosmos and cleome. The rockery, guarded by still-blooming marigolds and copious hens and chicks would soon be joined by the wild mushrooms - boletus and the little browns - the camel-colored, earthy ones. But today, there was still the promise of warmth in the air. The fall sun was doing its best to warm the swelling sea.

        Autumn had long since been Martha’s favourite season, her internal clock tuned to the new beginnings the school year offered. But today, well into October, a deep melancholy threatened to overtake her as she thought of them - her boys. It was their last year of high school. Where had the time gone? Why was it moving ever-faster at break-neck speed? They were no longer those tawny-haired, sweaty boys tearing up and down the beach, delighted in the simple things - the cast-off crab shell, the deep blue sea glass or the intact bivalves washing up on the shore. They had run from tide-pools to her lap for quick kisses, snacks and explanations to beach questions, only to fade into their bunks at day’s end to dream blue in quiet exhaustion.

        Now her sons needed her less. Their eyes betrayed their hearts - they already had one foot out the door. As much as she told herself that it would be tragic if they forever stayed within her reach, she longed for more days when they saw her as someone with something of value to impart.
       “Enough!” Martha said aloud, “Enough.” Taking a sip of her coffee, and struggling out of her chair, she watched the ‘V’ of geese flying high overhead and heard a stirring in the kitchen.
       “Mom!” she heard and she smiled to herself.