Monday, December 24, 2018

Christmas Thoughts

Gifts 2011 - Alisa sm

Christmas is my favorite time of the year. This year while writing Christmas cards I was moved as I remembered all the acts of kindness and selfless service performed by my friends for myself and others. Some of these acts will likely not be recognized directly in this life. They are the quiet gifts given to others by generous souls. They can however be life altering, both to giver and the knowing or unknowing recipient.

I can remember few if any Christmas gifts I received growing up but I have many vivid memories of reluctant service performed (with the encouragement of my father) for those in need during the cold wet Christmas season in the Pacific Northwest. These now warm my heart half a century later.

I love the thoughts expressed by William George Jordan in his short essay entitled, "No Room For Them in the Inn."

No room in the inn 2Truth must ever walk alone in its Gethsemane. Justice must bravely face its Calvary if it would still live in triumph after all efforts to slay it. Love must ever, in the end, burst forth in its splendour from the dark clouds of hate and discord that seek to obscure it. These great truths must be born in the manger of poverty, or pain, or trial, or suffering, finding no room at the inn until at last by entering it in triumph they honour the inn that never honoured them in their hours of need, of struggle or of darkness.

… [I]t is the chorus of the song of every great human effort, it is the secret of the loneliest hours of supreme aspiration, it epitomizes the whole life of Christ. As a babe—there was no room for Him in the inn; as a boy—there was no room for Him in Israel; as a man, condemned by Pilate—there was no room for Him in all the world. His life seemed a failure, the results poor and barren, yet today the world has thousands of churches, spiritual inns, built in His memory. The glory of the end makes trials along the way seem—nothing. …

True living brings peace to the soul, fibre to character, kingship over self, inspiration to others, but not necessarily—money and material prosperity. These are surely pleasing to possess; few people are trying very energetically to dodge them. They have their proper place in the scheme of life but they are not—supreme. If they were highest, candidates for the choicest seats in heaven could be selected purely by double “A” Bradstreet ratings; they would be taken ever from the crowded inn—not the lonely manger. At the inn they inquire: “Will it pay? Is it popular? Is it successful?” At the manger they ask: “Is it right? Is it true? Is it helpful?”

I find inspiration in Neil L. Andersen's words on finding peace and happiness in this world in his recent address "Wounded"

We search for happiness. We long for peace. We hope for love. And the Lord showers us with an amazing abundance of blessings. But intermingled with the joy and happiness, one thing is certain: there will be moments, hours, days, sometimes years when your soul will be wounded.

We each understand that difficulties are part of life, but when they come to us personally, they can take our breath away. Without being alarmed, we need to be ready. The Apostle Peter said, “Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you.” Along with the bright colors of happiness and joy, the darker-colored threads of trial and tragedy are woven deeply into the fabric of our Father’s plan. These struggles, although difficult, often become our greatest teachers. …

[T]he Healer of our souls, in His time and His way, will heal all your wounds. No injustice, no persecution, no trial, no sadness, no heartache, no suffering, no wound—however deep, however wide, however painful—will be excluded from the comfort, peace, and lasting hope of Him whose open arms and whose wounded hands will welcome us back into His presence.

Let the Little Children Come unto Jesus by Carl Bloch

I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and hope you spend a few minutes contemplating the many gifts you have received from family, friends, and even strangers as well as from a God who loves you. May the peace that comes from doing good be with you now and always.

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