Archive for December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

    Have you made your list of resolutions for the New Year? Maybe the following list can give you some ideas.

1.    Listen. Quiet your mind and take in what other people are saying as they tell their story. Listen to their words and to their heart. Listen to their body language. Seek to understand before you answer or contribute.
2.    Keep the storms in perspective. Struggles are going to come. Jesus promised, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). He also said, “Take heart for I have over come the world.” Practice a non-anxious presence. When you walk with God you cannot ultimately fail.

3.    Be gentle and passionate. Paul said, “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” (Phil 4:5). Wherever you go, in whatever situation you find yourself, God is near. Being awareness of this will keep you gentle, truthful, and hopeful.
4.    When you wake in the morning, say to yourself, “I am baptized.” Paul speaks to the church saying, “We died to sin. How can we live in it any longer?” (Romans 6:2). Your intention for the day is to do what is right in the sight of God.

5.    Give yourself away. The pattern of the life of Christ is one of self-sacrifice. The blessings that you receive are not to dead-end with you. The goodness that you receive is not something to exploit for your own benefit. Rejoice and create opportunities for joy in others.
6.    Extend the grace of God. As you have received freely and fully from God, so extend to those who need grace. Forgive others just as God in Christ has forgiven you (Colossians 3:13).

7.    Remember that it is not your job to set everybody straight. Choose your challenges with prayer and wisdom.
8.    Look for opportunities to encourage a child, to love a stranger, and to do something good for someone you don’t like. Do something good for someone who doesn’t like you.

9.    Love your family by making happy memories this year. Run in the rain, play in the snow, be spontaneous, and give them gifts at unexpected times.
10.    Love your friends with gifts of time and attention.

11.    Be a good student. Read the newspaper. Read as many books as possible. Watch less television.
12.    Do unto others what God would have you do.

13.    Take a Sabbath. One day out of the week the world can turn without your work.
14.    Be affectionate.

15.    Be daring. Take risks for goodness sake. Use your talents with gusto!
16.    Watch for answers to prayer and give God the glory. Give thanks for his love for you exhibited by his rich providence.

17.    Don’t eat until you are hungry. Stop eating at the first sign of fullness.
18.    Lean into life and be excellent.

19.    Tell the story of God’s great grace. “Christ died for sins, once for all the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God” (1 Peter 3:18).

Wishing you all: Peace & A Blessed New Year   

‘Twas the Beginning of Advent

‘Twas the beginning of Advent and all through the Church
Our hope was all dying– we’d given up on the search.
It wasn’t so much that Christ wasn’t invited,
But after 2,000 plus years we were no longer excited.
Oh, we knew what was coming– no doubt about that.
And that was the trouble– it was all “old hat.”

November brought the first of an unending series of pains
With carefully orchestrated advertising campaigns.
There were gadgets and dolls and all sorts of toys.
Enough to seduce even the most devout girls and boys.
Unfortunately, it seemed, no one was completely exempt
From this seasonal virus that did all of us tempt.

The priests and prophets and certainly the kings
Were all so consumed with the desire for “things!”
It was rare, if at all, that you’d hear of the reason
For the origin of this whole holy-day season.
A baby, it seems, once had been born
In the mid-east somewhere on that first holy-day morn.

But what does that mean for folks like us,
Who’ve lost ourselves in the hoopla and fuss?
Can we re-learn the art of wondering and waiting,
Of hoping and praying, and anticipating?
Can we let go of all the things and the stuff?
Can we open our hands and our hearts long enough?

Can we open our eyes and open our ears?
Can we find him again after all of these years?
Will this year be different from all the rest?
Will we be able to offer him all of our best?
So many questions, unanswered thus far,
As wisemen seeking the home of the star.

Where do we begin– how do we start
To make for the child a place in our heart?
Perhaps we begin by letting go
Of our limits on hope, and of the stuff that we know.
Let go of the shopping, of the chaos and fuss,
Let go of the searching, let Christmas find us.

We open our hearts, our hands and our eyes,
To see the king coming in our own neighbors’ cries.
We look without seeking what we think we’ve earned,
But rather we’re looking for relationships spurned.
With him he brings wholeness and newness of life
For brother and sister, for husband and wife.

The Christ-child comes not by our skill,
But rather he comes by his own Father’s will.
We can’t make him come with parties and bright trees,
But only by getting down on our knees.
He’ll come if we wait amidst our affliction,
Coming in spite of, not by our restriction.

His coming will happen– of this there’s no doubt.
The question is whether we’ll be in or out.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock.”
Do you have the courage to peer through the lock?
A basket on your porch, a child in your reach.
A baby to love, to feed and to teach.

He’ll grow in wisdom as God’s only Son.
How far will we follow this radical one?
He’ll lead us to challenge the way that things are.
He’ll lead us to follow a single bright star.
But that will come later if we’re still around.
The question for now: Is the child to be found?

Can we block out commercials, the hype and the malls?
Can we find solitude in our holy halls?
Can we keep alert, keep hope, stay awake?
Can we receive the child for ours and God’s sake?
From on high with the caroling host as he sees us,
He yearns to read on our lips the prayer: Come Lord Jesus!

As Advent begins all these questions make plea.
The only true answer: We will see, we will see.

By J. Todd Jenkins