Monday, December 28, 2009

It's December 28 and I'm ready for Christmas

Yesterday on the drive to church (Sunday, December 27) I saw a Christmas tree already tossed out on the sidewalk for the refuse workers to pick up. The pick-up schedule for yard waste is bright and early Monday morning. I suppose the tree owners had had enough of that tree and just couldn’t take it for one more day, let alone another week until the next pick-up.

It made me sigh a little to see that naked tree lying on the sidewalk. I just wasn’t ready for Christmas to be over yet.

Actually, I never achieved the “fully prepared” level before Christmas. We stayed busy doing all the things we do for the Christmas season. You know. Eating meals with groups of people we don’t normally eat meals with because special occasions dictate we need to have party.

Musical programs. Oh, the musical programs. There’s a separate one for every age group. I love them, but they do fill up the calendar, especially with all those extra rehearsals.

There’s decorating (Is it just me or was there an inordinate amount of glitter in all the decorations and cards this year? ) Oh, yes, the cards, and the packing and the shipping and all the other postal necessities.

Shopping, which I didn’t do much of this year.

Wrapping. Not much of that either.

And travelling. I honestly can’t remember the last time I woke up on Christmas morning (having to stay in town on Christmas Eve for the communion service at church) and didn’t have to travel several hours to get to any family. Christmas day means we get in the car and go somewhere else.

It’s all fun and I love the Christmas season.

Much of the preparations are so meaningful. I went caroling a couple of times and each time my heart was moved by how the people we sang to expressed their appreciation for our visits. The program the children presented at church was a clear offering of the gospel and was blessed by God like never before. I was so overwhelmed by it I hardly had any words afterwards. I received several Christmas cards with pictures of families I don’t ever get to see in person. I love those because for a few minutes I feel connected to all my long distance friends.

But does it have to be over so soon? We spend at least a good, solid month getting ready for Christmas. I think we should spend another month just enjoying it.

Or maybe we have it backwards. Maybe we should spend less time in preparation and more time just soaking it all in. After all that’s what the shepherds and the wise men did on the first Christmas. They didn’t spend a lot of time getting ready. They received an invitation and went straight to the Savior. They didn’t plan a party or send a card. They just went to see the Savior.

We were reminded of this yesterday in Sunday School:

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Matthew 2:9-11

They worshiped him.

I just want to do that little bit longer. I don’t want to be “getting ready” to do that. I just want to worship Him.

He’s coming again and when He does, I don’t want to be caught up in any excessive preparations. I want to save my energy and efforts for the praise and worship that will take place when He does come. All it takes to get ready is a prayer:

I know I’m a sinner and that I need a Savior. I believe You, Jesus, are the one and only born into this world to die for my sins and for that reason, I want You to be Lord of my life.
That’s all. No decorated trees that will be discarded to the sidewalk . No glitter. No extra rehearsals.

Get ready now. Then, O, Come, let us adore Him. Today.

Even if it is 3 days after, or 362 days until Christmas again.

When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. Luke 2:17-18

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Intentional Intentions

I've been intending to write this post since the weekend after Thanksgiving. That's at least how long I've been thinking about it. (I'm still trying to find my rhythm again, but working on it).

I intend to do a lot of things that I never get around to doing.

And you know what they say... the road to you-know-where is paved with lots of good intentions.

Then there are things that I do that have nothing to do with original intentions.

Like this, for example.
This is one of my precious Fiesta tumblers. The intention of its creation was to hold a fruity, breakfast beverage. I put pens and pencils in it.

There are other pieces in my Fiesta collection that also don't get used for the purpose they were intended. Like my pitchers. I couldn't find any pictures of my own pitchers (OK, I didn't really look very hard), but a quick Google image search tells me there are others who also misuse their pitchers.
Fiesta pitchers make very lovely vases. I think I've used my Fiesta pitchers as vases more often than I've used them for liquids. The only thing I really ever use a pitcher for is iced tea, and if you're going to make tea you need to make at least a gallon and Fiesta pitchers are just too small for that. So, in my house they hold flowers.

I looked around my computer desk and found a couple of other unintended things.

I've already admitted that I have a issue with pens (you can read about it here). That's another story. Today it's about the cups. And the pitchers. And all the other things not serving their original purpose because I've filled them up with something else. I fill them up and call it creativity and resourcefulness.

Like I said, I've been thinking about these intentions since the weekend after Thanksgiving. That's when we decorated our church sanctuary for Christmas. The people in charge of decorating the sanctuary for Christmas really take it seriously and it always turns out lovely.

The building structure is very traditional Baptist architecture built in the middle of the historical district of an Old South rural town. That's a blessing and a curse. It's a rectangular sanctuary with tall ceilings and large stained glass windows. There are wooden pews with dark red velvety cushions. The pews are in three sections with the center section being the widest. No center aisle. Up front on the altar/stage/I-never-know-what-to-call it section there is white, heavy, wooden pulpit furniture. There's a huge proscenium arch, behind which is a cove that houses a cranky, old pipe organ and some more wooden pews for the choir. Behind the choir pews and elevated above everything else is another recess - -the baptistry (spellcheck wants to make that baptistery, but that just doesn't look right to me).

The baptistry has tall, white, wooden doors. I'm not sure why. To keep people out? To keep people in? Well, back to that in a minute...

Here's a visual peak just to get some perspective. That's Rhonda back there standing behind the tree (and she's not a short person), just so you can see how large that evergreen is.

Now. Here's where the pens in the cups and tumblers come in. And the creativity and resourcefulness. I present to you, The Baptistry.

We close those doors, hang a 10 lb. wreath on them, cover the ledge with red, satiny cloth and holiday poinsettias. It's beautiful. And well done. That's the real thing too, no tacky plastic here. It's creative. And resourceful.

And not at all what it was intended for.

That's the part that makes my heart hurt.

We truly have paved the road to hell and shut the door to heaven with our good intentions and filled it up with our own creative and resourceful purposes. Those doors should be open. It should be filled with water. The water should be warm from the frequent use and cloudy from all the sins that have been washed away.

"For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." (Luke 19:10).

That is Christmas.

But Joseph said to them, "Don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. Genesis 50:19-20