Sunday, December 13, 2015

Celebrating Christmas

"She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."
Matthew 1:21

"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord'"
Luke 2:11

"for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel."
Luke 2:30-32

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth."
John 1:14

"But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons."
Galatians 4:4-5

"But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed."
Isaiah 53:5

This is the story of Christmas.  A reason for thankfulness and joy. Jesus was born to die that we might be reconciled to God. 

Somehow the season has become cluttered with Santa Claus, Rudolph, Frosty, and the Elf on the Shelf, among other things . Many hours and dollars are spent shopping for gifts. These things can obscure the real story of Christmas. Jesus has become a part of the holiday rather than the rightful focus.

This year, as always, we will buy a tree and Julie will do a great job decorating it. I love the smell of a real tree and the beauty of one tastefully lit and ornamented. We will watch White Christmas and Holiday Inn.  Julie will bake some really awesome desserts. But over the last few years we have reconsidered how we spend our time, energy, and money during the Christmas season and we've made some changes. Last year was the most relaxed,  enjoyable Christmas season I can remember.  It wasn't simply the act of eliminating things, but that the changes allowed my mind and heart to give more thought to and meditation on the birth of Jesus. Time spent with family was more about people and less about things. 

What will your Christmas look like this year?  This is where I could go on a lengthy rant about all that is wrong about how Christmas is celebrated these days, and I would be justified in doing so.
But I would ask you to simply and quietly reflect on the Scriptures above and close with one more:

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon is shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
Isaiah 9:6

Now that is something to celebrate.  Every day of the year.

Monday, May 18, 2015

My "Generation"

Tin soldiers and Nixon coming,
We're finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drumming,
Four dead in Ohio.
                                              "Ohio" by Neil Young

On May 4, 1970 four students were killed and nine wounded by National Guardsmen at Kent State University in Ohio during a protest against the Vietnam War.  The war was already a hotly debated topic and the incident further polarized public opinion. I was nine years old at the time and didn't understand what the war was about or why we were a part of it. I only wondered if America's involvement would drag on until I was old enough to face the military draft. The previous decade had already been a time of upheaval and uncertainty in America  and the 1970s apparently would provide more of the same. 

I was born October 5, 1960. By the time I was 14 years old our nation had witnessed the following events:  President John F. Kennedy, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, and civil rights activists Medgar Evers, Malcolm X,  and Martin Luther King Jr. were assassinated. The Beatles came to  the U.S. and the British Invasion began.  The Civil Rights Act of 1964 became law.  Men walked on the moon. Woodstock brought attention to peace and music.  Entertainers Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, and Cass Elliott had untimely deaths. Music artists Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin died of drug related causes and Sam Cook was murdered.  The 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution allowed 18 year olds to vote.  The advertising of cigarettes was banned from television and radio. The attempted assassination of Alabama governor George Wallace left him in a wheelchair.  Vice President Spiro T. Agnew  resigned  due to criminal charges. President Richard Nixon made a historic visit to China and later resigned due to the Watergate scandal.   Actress Sharon Tate and six others were murdered by Charles Manson and his "family".   The Supreme Court's decision on Roe v. Wade ruled that the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution extended to a woman's decision to have an abortion.  Skylab was launched as the United State's first space station.  Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth's home run record.  That is just a sampling. 
These were the formative years of my generation.  Of course a "generation" can't be precisely defined and any time period you might choose would have it's own memorable happenings and changes.
What are some of yours?  How do you think about them now? 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Am I Old?

When I was a kid the year 2000 seemed a lifetime away.  I would be 40 years old and I couldn't imagine what it would be like to be grown up.  Forty seemed old to me. Well, I'm almost 15 years past that now. Turning 40 was no big deal for me and 50 wasn't either.  The only extraordinary thing about turning 55 will be some senior discounts I'll be able to take advantage of.  

Am I old?  A very vocal young man in West Nashville who didn't care for my driving recently called me an old fart and also informed me that I was a dumbass.  The truth is that he didn't understand the concept of right-of-way.  I was more entertained than offended by his insults.  Age has never been a point of worry for me and I don't feel old, but over the past year I've been much more aware that I am in fact getting older.

Am I grown up?  Sometimes I'm not sure what that even means.  I've found that responsibilities change with time.  For example, since last fall my wife Julie and I have helped my aunt in Kentucky through hospitalization, rehabilitation, and now into assisted living.  Some things are very different.  At times it has been unpleasant and stressful.  Comfort zones are a moving target.  This is life.

As I've become more reflective about my life I've realized that it has been made up of thousands of choices and moments that have been woven together like a tapestry.  It is not like anything I would have expected at various points in time.  I'd like to share some of my choices and moments with you through this blog in future posts.  There is one thread running through the tapestry of my life that holds everything together: the faithfulness of God. It's best expressed by David in Psalm 37:25:  "I have been young, and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread."