A Week So Wild

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Christmas is a feast for the senses. For example:

Pine
Pecan pie
Bells
Wrapping paper
Snow
A baby’s cry
Carolers
Cookies in the oven
A candle

I could go on!

There are few seasons of the year that evoke such an immersion into our senses.

That’s a very good thing, although it’s possible to overload or saturate.

If the sights, sounds, and scents of Christmas leave you feeling maxed out, try this:

Find a calm space and read Luke 2:8-15:

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”  When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

Talk about an overload of sight and sound! (And I can’t point to any scripture that says this, but I think Angels must smell like potpourri)

It must have been beautiful, but overwhelming.  A feast for the senses.

Did you notice?  All the fanfare of the angelic chorus was not the big event.  It was the overture pointing towards “this thing that has happened.”

The thing that had happened, while beautiful to behold, was nothing like the overwhelming bombardment that lead up to it.

At the center of Christmas is the simplicity and stillness of a sleeping child.

So…

As this holiday journey reaches this week so wild…

let every heart prepare room for something

a little more

meek and mild.

 

Merry Christmas

Mitch

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Advent Psalm

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Oh Jesus,

I know why you were born 2000 years ago, instead of today.

Things were simpler then.

 

No cell phones distracting conversations.

No media spinning things left or right.

The whole world was just a few hundred miles long.

You came to a world that rejected you, but at least you could get a word in.

 

Oh, we’re just as stubborn, but also fragmented and polarized.

Oh, we still have poverty — we pretend not to see it.

Oh, we still have illnesses — and we still have outcasts.

We still have passion — greatly outweighed by our apathy.

 

 

Oh Jesus,

If you came today I fear your voice would be lost.

Your miracles would be pooh-poohed.

And your leadership would be questioned.

Or maybe what I really fear is that the

IMMORTAL AND LOVE GIVING POWER OF THE UNIVERSE

might not cut it in today’s broken mess.

Which is silly.

Just because I cannot picture a God powerful enough to enter into this world does not make it impossible.

It makes it miraculous.

 

Surprise me, then, God of Advent.

Do your very best.  And I will remain in awe

that some 2000 years after your incarnation

you can work another Christmas miracle

For We. Here. Now.

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No Peaking!!!

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Show of hands:

How many of you have sneaked an early peek at a Christmas present?

Maybe you’ve come across the secret stash and couldn’t help but look. Maybe you could “accidentally” make out what the box says beneath the wrapping paper.

Maybe the suspense was just too much and an opportunity presented itself, and before you knew what you’re doing…you took a look.

Well stop it!

You’re messing up the best part of gift receiving.  The anticipation.

A wrapped gift appears beneath the tree. Excitement and mystery begin to build.

What could it be?  Will I love it? Is it what I think it is?

That’s the best part, but if you’re not careful you can take all the fun out of it by peeking.

Now, another show of hands:

Who thinks I’ve misspelled the title of this devotion?

I swear haven’t! I really do mean “peaking” (as opposed to “peeking”).  Here’s why:

Just as Christmas gifts are more fun when you let the excitement continue to build, Christmas has more meaning when you let it build, too.

The truth is, Christmas Eve is not meant to be the peak.  Nor is Christmas Day.

All the waiting and anticipation of Advent does lead to Christmas morning, but some people build their whole lives towards that explosion around the tree, or that family dinner, as if it is the peak of human experience.

And it’s not! There’s more to come.

Christmas is a day to celebrate Christ with us. He came, and he will come again!  And the Spirit of Christmas is the same Holy Spirit that we celebrate on Epiphany and Pentecost and every other day of our lives.

If you focus too much on one 24-hour period of celebration and adoration, you run the risk of peaking too early.

You’ve got a whole year ahead of you.

Why not think about Christmas as an energizer, a motivator, a celebration of Jesus who has come to be the life of this and every party?  Even in March.  Or August.

Can you imagine it?  A life of faith without peaking!

So there you have it.  Two Christmas rules that sound just alike:

No peeking, and no peaking.

Resisting the urge is guaranteed to make you merrier.

 

Have a great week,

Mitch

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It’s GIVING TUESDAY!

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UMC #GivingTuesday 2015

Activate Love. Transform Lives. Change the World.

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On Dec. 1, United Methodists will once again come together to support the work of Advance projects and missionaries on UMC #GivingTuesday. And once again, every gift made online through The Advance at http://www.umcmission.org/give on Dec. 1, 2015 will be matched up to $1 million.*

This year consider creating your own team to support a project that is working in a area you care about, such as Hunger and Poverty, Education, or Social Justice. For a complete list of projects you and your team can support, visit The Advance. (www.umcmission.org/advance)

We would love to hear about creative ways in which you are raising awareness and money for mission — especially what you are planning for UMC #GivingTuesday. Thank you for your passion as we live out God’s mission together. Should you have any questions about UMC #GivingTuesday, please contact advance@umcmission.org.

Resources

Find UMC #Giving Tuesday Banners/Ads, FAQs, impact stories, and links to videos and other resources to help you participate in the campaign.

Give

Use this link (www.umcmission.org/give) to make your donation on Dec. 1.  Please note that donations made between 12:00 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. Central Time (CT) could receive matching funds.

* Global Ministries will allocate matching funds dollar for dollar up to the first $1 million in gifts to Advance projects received online on Dec. 1, 2015, between 12:00 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. CT. A maximum of $2,500 per individual gift to a project will be dispersed as matching funds. A project may receive a maximum of $25,000 in matching funds.

– See more at: http://www.umcmission.org/Giving-Tuesday#sthash.0a9nK8cb.dpuf