Just now (yes, JUST now!) the doorbell rings and I hear terrible shouting. My husband is yelling something I can't understand but it sounds like a crisis. Fire? Flood? It's 9 am and still dark . ... what could have happened? I come running downstairs and---it's my son, who isn't coming home for Christmas. Standing there! Who has been traveling in Europe and who was going to spend the holidays with his girlfriend's family (Ahh, that was all a trick!) He's here!! In the flesh! Smiling, grinning, while we dance around him with joy.
This is one way to save Christmas. This is not what I planned to write this morning. I wish I could send a beloved son or daughter to every door!! I know how many are alone over the holidays, how many children don't come home (my daughter will be in El Salvador)---at all. How far-flung families are . .. how many relationships are jagged and bleeding, and homecomings are far far off . ...
I can't send anyone else's long gone son or daughter to your door---but there IS something I can bring to your door today, now. Three other ways to save Christmas.
(Do I need to explain why holidays need saving? SO many reasons! Here's just one: I think I should be more holy, more spiritual during these days, but ironically, I'm so busy I spend less time in prayer and worship. Maybe the same happens to you.)
I want to share with you now 3 things that have opened my heart and saved my Christmas this year.
*Give your Ears Song
Leonard Cohen's haunting "Hallelujah" has entranced the world. But this version celebrates not brokenness and disillusion, but Christmas healing.
Words and music by Cloverton.
(with a few adaptions by Leslie [poetry+grammar police]))
I‘ve heard about this baby boy
Who’s come to earth to bring us joy
And I just want to sing that song to you.
It goes like this, the fourth the fifth,
the minor fall, the major lift,
With every breath I’m singing hallelujah.
The couple came to bethlehem
Expecting child, they searched the inn
To find a place for you were coming soon.
There was no room for them to stay,
So in a manger filled with hay
God’s only son was born, O hallelujah!
The shepherds left their flocks by night
To see this baby wrapped in light
The host of angels led them all to you.
It was just as the angel said,
You’ll find him in a manger bed,
Immanuel Our savior, hallelujah!
A star shone bright up in the east.
To Bethlehem, the wise men three
Came many miles and journeyed long for you.
They found the place where you were.
Their frankincense, gold and myrrh
They gave to you and cried out Hallelujah!
I know you came to rescue me
This baby boy would grow to be
A man who’d one day die for me and you
My sins would drive the nails in you
That rugged cross was my cross too
Still every breath you drew was Hallelujah!
*Give your Heart Fresh Astonishment:
Let the Stable Still Astonish
Let the stable still astonish:
Straw-dirt floor, dull eyes,
Dusty flanks of donkeys, oxen;
Crumbling, crooked walls;
No bed to carry that pain,
And then, the child,
Rag-wrapped, laid to cry
In a trough.
Who would have chosen this?
Who would have said: "Yes,
Let the God of all the heavens and earth
be born here, in this place." ?
Who but the same God
Who stands in the darker, fouler rooms of our hearts
and says, "Yes, let the God
of Heaven and Earth
be born here ----
in this place."
-----Leslie Leyland Fields
*Give Your Prayers to the Persecuted
It is never enough for us to receive. We aren't whole and complete without giving, without lightening another person's load. It's what we all want to do---but we falter, hesitate. How to do this? Here is one simple life-changing way. Pray for the persecuted. In this new year, go to I Commit to Pray once a week, (more if you can or are able) and post prayers for those who are suffering for their faith in Christ. Read prayers from people all over the world. Just words? Are words enough? You KNOW how God answers prayers on your behalf. He will do the same with our prayers for others. The God who Speaks has asked us this, to "Remember the prisoners as though in prison with them and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body. (Heb. 13:3)
Who knows where this will lead? We may be astonished at what God will do for our brothers and sisters---and for us.
Thank you all for your presence here. You bless me every week. You astonish me every week.
* * * * * *
Here, at the last, another way my Christmas is saved: Sending out stuff to wonderful readers.
For Christianity Today (I've written some by email. I'm hoping to reach the rest of you here!) If your name is here, would you contact me with your mailing address+email? Send by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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