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Savoring My Passage - the monthly journal of A. C. Gray

Christmas/December 2010

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Blue Ridge Mountains Sunset

     Blue Ridge Mountains  December 2010

 

So hastens to its end another decade in the new century.  Recently, our Sunday school class pondered the 90th Psalm, and the thoughts of our limited fragile days upon the earth were sobering. “So, teach us to measure our days…”.   These thoughts summon my perception of Christmas 2010 as the calendar will soon turn to a new decade.  That Jesus the Son of God left heaven and came to Bethlehem to establish His kingdom just as the prophets had foretold has greater meaning for me, ever stronger year after year,  when I look back and recognize His faithfulness through all my human failures and crucibles, through all my passages and all the millions of miles of my journey.  Never before, on reflection, have I been more grateful than now.  The lyrics of that song resound deep in my soul:  “He’s been faithful, faithful to me.”

 

 In my moments of fear

Through every pain and every tear

There's a God whose been faithful to me

When my strength was all gone

 And when my heart had no song

 Still He was faithful to me.

 Every word He promised is true.

 And what I thought was impossible…

I’ve seen my God do.

He’s been faithful, faithful to me. 

                                Lyrics by Carol Cymbala

 

I have felt the wind blow  Whispering your name

I have seen your tears fall,  When I watch the rain.

How could I say there is no God?

When all around creation calls!!

A singing bird, a mighty tree -The vast expanse of open sea

Gazing at a bird in flight,  Soaring through the air.

Lying down beneath the stars I feel your presence there.

I love to stand at ocean shore

And feel the thundering breakers roar

To walk through golden fields of grain

With endless bloom horizons fray.

Listening to a river run Watering the Earth.

Fragrance of a rose in bloom  A newborn’s cry at birth.

I believe, I believe, I believe , I believe, I believe…

I believe… just like a child…I believe..

 Lyrics from Creation Calls by Brian Doerksen

 

 

I sometimes think we expect too much of Christmas Day. We try to crowd into it the long arrears of kindliness and humanity of the whole year. As for me, I like to take my Christmas a little at a time, all through the year. And thus I drift along into the holidays--let them overtake me unexpectedly--waking up some fine morning and suddenly saying to myself: 'Why this is Christmas Day!'" David Grayson

 

This is the message of Christmas: We are never alone." ~ Taylor Caldwell

 

      

 

The spirit of Christmas needs to be superceded by the Spirit of Christ. The spirit of Christmas is annual; the Spirit of Christ is eternal. The spirit of Christmas is sentimental; the Spirit of Christ is supernatural. The spirit of Christmas is a human product; the Spirit of Christ is a divine person. That makes all the difference in the world. ~ Stuart Briscoe

 

       

 

 .... The astounding word of the Christmas story is that God is present precisely where it does not appear that way, precisely when we do not feel it so. Present and powerful in a world where the Herod's slaughter and reign, and where poor peasants are pushed around and left adrift in the dark and cold, where shepherds find themseives ostracized and stigmatized. And if we trust the story, counter-intuitive as it may sound, we begin to find it true in our own  ...

            I have a ciipping that I treasure. I hope someday I shall be able to breathe its spirit. I do not even know who wrote it: "As the years have passed,' have found my mind from time to time turning to the thought of death. It has not become a morbid obsession and'i have not been afraid of it, but in the past I have begrudged the passing of the years. I have loved life so much. Nowa strange thing has happened. Since I have been told by my doctors that my own expectation of life is probably shorter than I had always hoped, I have ceased to worry about what happens and about the passage of time. This does not mean that I have ceased to value time. It is just that beyond my disappointment at not living forever, I have learned at last to enjoy what I do receive with each new day as a gift of a loving God. Because of the presence of Jesus in our world, I am learning to trust both my life and my death into His hands. Before, I had presumed upon the march of days and weeks. Now I accept the happiness which each day brings without deploring that I may not be able to enjoy the pleasures which I always expected the years had in store for me. I do that bit of my task which is within my power today without worrying about whether I shall be able to finish it. And' leave it in God's good hands to make what use of it He can, trusting that whatever the days bring of good or ill, expected or unexpected, as my days so shall my strength be, and He will always be there."

            There's one who has learned to know God present in disappointments as well as dreams, who has learned to live by the Christmas word that God is with us and for us, not only in our fun and festival, but in our failures and our fears. While shepherds watched their flocks by night, He visited us. And that is still the way it is. It is still a very dark world, in some ways darker than ever before, but the darkness is different because He came. The threat of our own deaths. The broken marriage. The child in pain. The lost chance. But those who have learned to trust the story find He is right there in all these. It is in the dark of our failures and our fears where He seems to visit us most often, granting us the forgiveness and strength to get on with life. You shall call His name Immanuel, which means "God is with us." He really is. From a sermon “End of our Exile” by Gilbert Bowen,

 

But the greatest thing of all is this, that when you see this compassionate Christ, you are seeing God. This is the comfort which the Advent tidings bring - and it is all in that one word Immanuel: for Immanuel means "God with us," with us in Jesus, God going through the darkness with you, God saying, "My friend, you must not carry the trouble alone any longer - cast it down at My feet: I will take it and carry it, and the hardest part shall be My part!" The word Immanuel means that where we, with all our poor human words of comfort, break down utterly, God begins. Immanuel means that when youfeel nobody wants you, God does. Immanuel means that when your heart is crying to every would-be comforter, "Ah, you don't understand, you can't see things from my side of them, you are outside" -Immanuel means that God is right inside. Immanuel means God with you and in you, God making the pain a sacrament, the conflict a crusade, and the broken dream a ladder up to heaven. And so, through Christ, God speaks home to the heart of Jerusalem. James Stewart, In a sermon, 0 Came, 0

Come, Immanuel.

There is no greater drama in the human record than the sight of a few Christians, scorned or oppressed by a succession of emperors, bearing all trials with a fierce tenacity, multiplying quietly, building order while their enemies generated chaos, fighting the sword with the Word, brutality with hope, and at last defeating the strongest state that history has known. Caesar and Christ had met in the arena, and Christ had won.               Will Durant, The Story of Civilization    

 

 

Cold and Snowy