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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Eve Luke 2:1-4 Year B

Today my family & I delivered groceries, something we do once a month with the local Catholic worker house. It is a chaotic sort of crazy event, esp. the Christmas delivery. About 30 people fill over 200 bags of groceries & then we divide up and deliver them all over the city.

We are given lists of people who have requested food. Today we approaced a door that had a padlock on the outside. The mail was overflowing from the mailbox. Obviously there was no one home. What to do? The next delivery was a duplex. I knocked on the wrong door. "They are over there." She pointed. Four tiny children ran outside, one a 3 year old boy in only a shirt & underwear. It was 38oF. I asked her if she needed food. She said yes. We brought the bags we had left.

The grateful thank yous from the children break my heart. Last month some kids came screaming to the door when we delivered, so glad to see us.

Our leader calls this organized anarchy. It's called Food Equality and redistribution. Whatever it is, it feeds hungry children at Christmas.

So different, the two views I've had this weekend. Last night I shopped at SuperTarget with the rest of the city. Lots of last minute runs for toys and stocking stuffers. I saw no tree or lights at the house where the hungry children lived.

I ask, which is closer to the stable where Jesus was born? What child understands Christmas better, the one receiving food in their hungry belly, or the one seeing a pile of gifts under a fancy tree? Don't get me wrong, I love giving & receiving gifts...but my heart is breaking today. Because I saw Jesus with a runny nose and bare legs run out in the cold, so glad to get a box of Rice Krispies 5 days before Christmas.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Advent 4B Luke 1:26-38

"For nothing will be impossible with God." This is the message of Advent. I have witnessed a true miracle this week. A situation that looked hopeless, God worked. He set someone free who was in chains.
Sure it's a miracle that God's son came to earth...that he lived inside a girl's womb for 9 months and came screaming into a cruel world, represented by a dirty stable and a feeding trough. We hear it every year and we don't get it.
Do you get it? God came screaming into the world through a peasant girl! God crashed into an occupied land where his own people were being oppressed! God can break chains and make highways in the wilderness!
I was at ToysRUs last night and found empty shelves everywhere. Apparently the whole city had been Christmas shopping. Sure we want to make sure our kids find toys under the tree. But let's make sure they find peace on earth too.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Great Place to Be

Tonight was the annual staff Christmas party for our church. Can I say I am so glad to be a part of great team of pastors!!! I LOVE IT!! I admire my sisters who are out the solo pastoring. I did it. But I love being part of a team.

"Just Because it is doesn't mean it should be."

I saw the movie "Australia" last night. What a statement against racisim. LOVED IT. "Just because it is doesn't mean it should be" is my new favorite quote. It also explores the importance of song and story in creating a culture and a people. I am so full of new sermon illustrations I may have to write a sermon.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

What I want for Christmas

1. No more hurting children. When will adults learn that children are the most treasured gift anyone could ever receive? When will we learn to treat children as people with feelings? When will we learn to take our children to church when they wake up and cry Sunday morning to go to Sunday School?
2. No more hatred. Jesus talked about murder beginning in the heart with hatred. If people learn to forgive and control their feelings by giving them to God, there would be no more violence.
3. No more hunger. According to the United Nations World Hunger Program, every 3.6 seconds someone in the world dies of starvation. I see my Christmas wish coming true when I see a community willing to help its hungry people.
4. No more gossip. Nothing can be more destructive to a church or community than idle words that spread like wildfire. This Christmas have a deaf ear and a mute mouth. If you don’t hear it you can’t spread it. If you do hear it, don’t spread it. If you hear an item of concern about an individual, ask that person, not everyone else in town. Give people the benefit of the doubt.
5. No more alcoholism.
Don’t buy the liquor this Christmas. You might drink too much, get angry, hurt someone you love—even your child or your spouse. It’s not worth it. Drunk driving accidents go way up around the holidays. We don’t want anymore tragedy. Leave the alcohol alone.
6. True Peace. The biblical idea of peace is found in the Old Testament concept of shalom. Much more than an absence of war, this peace permeates into the very heart of humanity. It means more than serenity, more than calmness, more than safety. It is the idea of complete harmony between God and humanity that leads to complete harmony within oneself, with creation, and with others. As we continue to read the Bible, we find the only way to shalom is through God’s Christmas gift to the world, his Son Jesus Christ. If you search for this peace, ask Jesus to forgive you of all wrong and to come into your life. Contact a local pastor for spiritual guidance.
7. An optimism of grace. This optimism tells me that my list is not just idle wishes, it is the hope of Christmas, the desire of a God who sent his only begotten Son into the world to make all these wishes come true.