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Once again this year, TBS is running back to back showings of “A Christmas Story” all the way from 8pm on Christmas Eve until 8pm on Christmas Night.

I love that movie.

I think my favorite part is when the father gets his “major award” in the great big box.  He reads the word “fragile”, stamped across the front, as if it were something exotic, written in Italian.

“Frageelay”, he exclaims in awe, forever changing the way I pronounce that word.

Indeed, as gifts go it was pretty exotic and pretty fragile. It was, of course, the infamous leg lamp.

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It looked glorious, shining there in the living room.

When I think of fragile things, I’m reminded of another Christmas story.  The first one.

The first Christmas gift was fragile, too.

Two fragile little legs (not just one).

Two arms, two hands.  Eyes and nose.  Hands and feet.

Tiny, vulnerable.  Frageelay.

Strange, isn’t it?  God sends a savior who is so tiny and weak.  Barely able to lift his head up.

The Son of God, come to save us, yet so easily broken.

Why? Why send such a fragile gift?

Well, there is a certain kind of excitement and gentleness that comes with fragile things.

A reminder to handle with care.

In the movie “A Christmas Story”, the lamp was eventually broken, shining no more.

As for the real Christmas story?

It turns out that Jesus was, indeed, fragile.

He was broken for us

But MERRY CHRISTMAS friends,

because the light of Christ shines FOREVER!

Merry Christmas,

Mitch

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In Car Nation

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Did you know that over the Christmas/New Year holiday, long distance traffic jumps up 23% across the U.S.?

Yep.  Lots of people traveling in their cars.

This year, I’ll be one of them.

I’ll be traveling 612 miles due east, from Kansas City to Dayton, Ohio.

I certainly don’t mind the road trip–Christmas music blasting, singing, laughing, relaxing–as long as the roads are clear.

10 hours in a car is such a small price to pay to see my family face to face.

It occurs to me how much traveling was involved in the first Christmas:

Mary and Joseph? About 99 miles, from Nazareth to Bethlehem.
At 5 miles per hour on a Donkey, no less!
I could drive to Ohio and back in the same amount of time.

The Shepherds? Well, just a few miles, probably, down from the hills.
But they had all those sheep to deal with.

The Wise Men? They came from the East.  Persia, maybe?
Nobody knows for sure.  Certainly, it would have been a long journey.

But not the longest.

The distance between Heaven and Earth is quite immeasurable, don’t you think?

But still, Christ made the trip.

To be Emmanuel, God with us.

To become The Incarnation for us.

How about that?

I guess all that distance

was such a small price to pay

to see humanity…

face to face.

Have a great week,

Mitch

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Merry Christmas, Miley Cyrus.

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You know who’s name I’d like to draw for Christmas this year?

MILEY CYRUS.

You bet.  She’d be so easy to get a gift for, because it’s so obvious what she wants.

ATTENTION!!!

Yes indeed, if I had Miley’s name I’d just post a big picture of her on my devotion, (which I just did) and mention her name a couple times (which I just did), and quicker than a hummingbird trying to twerk, my gift giving would be all done.

(I can’t believe I just wrote the word “twerk” in one of my devotions)

Okay, Miley’s easy to figure out because she’s such an attention hound.  But think about it:

Isn’t attention a gift you could give anybody?

I mean, some people (like Miley) seem to have made a career out of asking for it.  And honestly, that kind of publicity seeking can really turn me off.

But even quiet, shy, aloof people want and need some degree of attention.

There are folks who require attention: Medical attention, or nutrition, or counseling, or shelter, or safety.

But there are other, no less important kinds of attention, too:  Friendship, affirmation, support.

Everybody needs that kind of attention.  (Even if they act like they don’t).

You need it too.

During Advent and Christmas we celebrate the attention God paid to us.  The gift of Jesus was given to a world that was desperately in need of attention, and still is.

You can be part of that Christmas celebration by paying a little extra attention to the folks who seem to need it the most.

Send an email.  Write a Facebook post.  Call someone up on the phone.

By giving somebody a ring, you’ll be a Joyful Jingle Bell!

(Which is much better than a wrecking ball).

Have a great week,

Mitch

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Christmas Has Issues

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POP QUIZ:

What does this mean?

ISSUE     ISSUE
ISSUE     ISSUE
ISSUE     ISSUE
ISSUE     ISSUE
ISSUE     ISSUE

[The correct answer is at the end*]

But if you also thought:  “Wow, that’s a lot of issues”, you’re also right.

I notice the issues piling up especially this time of year.  I get inundated with various charities and organizations, all asking that I make their issues a priority at Christmas. Everything from mosquito nets for  people with Malaria, to AIDS work in Africa, to farm animals for poor families, to MicroLoans, to homemade crafts made by local at-risk kids, to…

(And none of that includes gift-giving for family members, for neighbors and co-workers, who have their own issues!)

There are too many issues out there!  I want to address them all, but I can’t.

And so I pray for direction:  “God, out of all these issues, where should I direct my giving this year?”

And very clearly I hear God respond:  “There is only one issue.  And only one gift.”

Of course, God’s right.  How did I forget?

There is only one issue:  LOVE

There is only one gift:  LOVE EXPRESSED

That’s all God desires, that we express God’s love with some semblance of the same passion and sacrifice that brought Jesus to our world.

Whatever that truly means to you will be pleasing to God.

So sift through the issues, friend, and choose with your heart, knowing that the burden for all the world’s problems doesn’t fall to you alone.

There are billions of people expressing their love, too.

The love of Christ.  Love Expressed.

Let’s make LOVE EXPRESSED our one and only Christmas Issue,

and share it however we can.

Have a great week,

Mitch

(P.S. How much love could you

share with those in need for the

price of a pair of tennis shoes?*)

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