I’ll have *Achoo* Christmas

I’m sick.

Not super sick, but that kind of cloggy, sneezy, coughy stuff that makes it hard to function.

So, I’ve propped myself up with 5 pillows, and I’m swimming in vitamin C, and I’m working from home today, all in the hopes that I won’t be sick come Christmas.

I think my chances of recovery are good. After all, it’s just a little cold. But it gets me thinking…

There will be a lot of people who are sick on Christmas.

People who have incurable diseases. People who deal with chronic pain on a daily basis. People who are suffering from malnutrition.

And not just physical sickness. There will be a lot of people who’s hearts are heavy. People mired in depression. People who are at the end of their rope. People who have lost their way.

You know, my whole life I haven’t been able to shake the notion that Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are somehow magical days when, for a moment, everything is supposed to be perfect.

But that’s just not true, is it?

The world doesn’t stop suffering just because you and I sing Silent Night. The sick don’t find themselves magically healed. The problems of our country don’t vanish.

What does happen is that all at once a great many people acknowledge Perfect Love in their midst. The truth is that Love was there on the ’23rd and it will be there on the ’26th.  But on this momentus occasion, we recognize the Love of God, come to earth in Christ. And it has the power to change us.

This Perfect Love did not come to instantly right all wrongs or cure all ills. It came as an arrow, pointing towards a path of life that runs deeper than any illness and more powerful than any pain.  A path of compassion, faith, hope, justice, peace.

It doesn’t matter if you’re sick or healthy, lost or lazy.  It doesn’t matter in what condition Christmas finds you, only that it finds you. Then, no matter the conditions of your life, you have the opportunity to make Christ’s path your path.

So. Will I see you there? Services are likely to be crowded, so come early. If you’re worried about catching something, there’s no need to shake hands.

A simple “Merry Christmas” will do…

Or even a joyful *Achoo*!

Have a great couple weeks!

Mitch

Stunned Silence

But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him!  — Habakkuk 2:20

Maybe “Silent Night” will strike a chord on Christmas Eve, but lately, I’ve been all “Jingle Bells”.

The truth is, I have been avoiding silence.

I seek out music. Noise. Entertainment. Conversation. Even my own inner thoughts.  I figure, if I just stay busy enough, distracted enough, I can ride the waves of activity all the way to January. And along the way I’ll do my best to Be Of Good Cheer.

Isn’t that enough?

No, it’s not. The truth is, I’m nervous. A little scared, even. There’s something there, in the quiet, that unsettles me.

Listen…

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth
Our full homage to demand.

That verse is from a 4th century Greek hymn, based on the line from Habakuk, above.  This is a song that is sung during Advent. No Christmas trees. No cute little babies in a manger. This is a song about INCARNATION. God coming to Earth. It’s not something to be taken lightly.

It’s something so important, so overwhelming, that our response might involve fear and trembling!

We should behold. Pay homage. We should allow ourselves to be overwhelmed.

Stunned, in fact, to the point of silence.

That’s not easy for me.

The HUGENESS of God’s love for us requires a response of stunned silence.  A sharp intake of breath. A deep pondering of what God-With-Us truly means.

For us to clutter up our Decembers with too much “jingling” means we might be drowning out the sound of Love’s divine invasion.

And what does that sound like?

Listen…

Origin Stories

Someone asked me to write a devotion about dinosaurs and creation.

And I thought, “they must have it in for me!” No matter what I’d say, I’d be destined to get somebody upset.

So I decided not to do it.

But then, I realized something. When I think about dinosaurs, I think about God. And when I think about the creation story, I think about God. What is a devotion if not an opportunity to think about God?

So let me think:

I was 8 years old when I saw my first dinosaur skeleton, at the Museum of Natural History in Chicago. It was awe inspiring to me, this ancient creature that walked the earth millions and millions of years ago. I believed God created them. Still do.

I also remember, about that age, learning the creation story in the Bible. A whole universe created in 6 days, with a day left over to rest. Again, awe inspiring.

When I was 23, I saw the movie Jurassic Park and told my wife, “It’s just like being there!”

When I was 24, I went to seminary and delved deeper into the story of creation. I told my wife, “It’s just like being there!”

Some folks have trouble reconciling the ancient presence of dinosaurs and the creation stories in the Bible. Not me.

For many people, the whole issue of our origin is a big area of contention. To be honest, I’ve never had trouble reconciling our scriptures and science. The concepts of evolution and creation seem, to me, to go hand in hand.

I suppose the problem comes when people take either the creation stories of the Bible or the Origin of Species as fully complete “origin” stories. I don’t believe either were intended to be so.

Darwin’s Theory of Evolution is just that, a theory. There’s lots of evidence and conjecture to back up the idea of natural selection, but there is no scientific theory in existence that can fully explain where we come from, and why. There’s more to the story.

Similarly, the Creation story in the Bible tells us who created the world, and quite a bit about why. The “how” part, it seems to me, is an outline designed to engage our creative imaginations so that we can comprehend God’s amazing work. Again, there’s more to the story.

If you’re still reading, (thank you) then chances are you may exist where I do, in the area where our religious teaching and our scientific learning overlaps. Why should we have to choose? I can believe in a Big Bang and Intelligent Design. I can believe in dinosaurs and Neanderthals and a God who made us in God’s image.

John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, drew upon Reason (science) as one of the four main sources of his faith.  I can do no less. So as I think about our origins, I hold Scripture in one hand, and Reason (science)in the other.

Actually, I hold Tradition in my third hand, and Experience in my fourth.

I’m just evolved that way.

Have a Great Week,

Mitch

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