I suppose the days of Christmas Week could seem like any other days. Ours have been COLD - and WHITE. So "beginning to look a lot like Christmas!"
But, in my spirit at least, there seems a difference. People ask each other about Christmas. Are you going away for Christmas, or will you be home?
I've been saying, "I'm already having a wonderful Christmas." There is the mysterious early coming in the dark, of my friends for Advent Bible Study. All about how God planned to bring RECONCILIATION to the world. So surprising. Stars in the skies, men of wisdom watching, deciding to follow. Shepherds in fields. The heavenly Host. Something strange. A GREAT SURPRISE.
A baby. A king. A prophet. A life come to the earth. Something new. A power for change. For hearts changing. By love. The Great Gift.
Then, there's Sunday, Christmas Day. And preaching. Telling the story. So exciting for me - I read the message over, each day, trying to get it in my heart.
There's a real waiting for me - an expectation. A journey for me. To Jesus. I need that journey. I need that Jesus. Child, yes. But standing, leading man. The cross-bound man. Slowly, He's making me ready.
Written on December 15
Today is "Blue Christmas" in some churches. While "Holly, Jolly Christmas" music is playing in the stores, many people are sad, bearing burdens of life that are overwhelming them. Someone's died who was dear, and near to them. So the season for them, is not so jolly. They feel the dark of the year.
So, some churches are having Blue Christmas services in the week or so before Christmas. And, my Molly, is preaching at one of those services, through a door opened for her by our daughter, the minister.
And, little Molly, this wise, old, experienced, deeply-believing woman is speaking of hope today, speaking of the grounds we have for joy in this world - for recognizing that, in spite of all, we're to be glad that we "got into life." That we were born into this world, that is not a desert - but is our earthly home. And that each of us is a chosen one, with God.
Isn't that a hopeful word, something to give a person reason for living, and being thankful and glad with hope in their hearts?
Bless you, out there! Let's live, with joy - in Jesus.
The Christmas music has come on at my favorite Starbucks. My friend Heidi, the manager, has just brought me a full glass of water, noting my chronic cough.
"I'm just trying to be a good human being," she said, when I likened her to a visiting angel, in relation to her kindly act.
She is the most successful manger in the whole region of Iowa and Minnesota. Because she cares. She is everywhere loudly cheering on and ecouraging her young baristas. She sees everything, attending to details everywhere. Yesterday, she also brought a glass of water, saying, "Arthur, you know we care about you here."
I know that. I feel it. That I am welcome, and can return again.
I do not know Heidi well, except at her store. We are not pals around town. I have never met her husband. But, she is my friend. "We stand for the same things," she says to me.
A friend said the other day that a friendship of 30 years had ended because of our recent election. Because a friend
had rooted differently, a 3-decades friend, bitter and enraged at the result, walked out of the life of someone she'd cared about. She'll never know Donald Trump. She'll live in his country, but because he won the election from her candidate, she can't bear to see her friend any longer.
Jesus places friendship as a value of great price. "I have called you friends," He said to His followers...because I've told you everything." Then He added, "Just remember you didn't choose me, I chose you...Greater love has no-one than this that "a person lay down his life for his friend."
Friendship is the gift of a heart, a life. Surely, true friendship is worth more than a political election, in a country like ours, for we as citizens are meant to be friends and neighbors to each other. People who care down the street and around the corner. A relatinship local, and personal, and permanent, given us by the greatest friend any of us will have.
Arthur A Rouner, Jr -
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ARTHUR ROUNER MINISTRIES