A Note from Jessie – Covenant Newsletter, May 2020

Four people, in four different flavors of the same bad mood, zoom down a Tennessee highway inside a shared white car. There is no destination in mind, but perhaps each is quietly searching for something.

One is anxious, one is frustrated, one is in the depth of the moody blues, and one Cannot. Stop. Whining. Each gray cloud adds fuel to the other within the confines of four closed windows, yet outside, the car passes smoothly underneath a clear, bluebird sky.

“To dos” and “what ifs” buzz silently around the mind of the anxious one.

Dashed expectations hum inside the chest of the frustrated one.

Boredom and loneliness tug at Mr. Moody Blues’ tender heart in the back seat.

And poor Little Miss Whiny feels powerless and terribly misunderstood as she gazes out her smudged rear window.

And yet, from the perspective of the red-tailed hawk who swoops and floats overhead, there is only the white flash of a fast-moving car, passing more swiftly than the spring breeze, momentarily muting the songbirds’ calls before it rises over a slanting curve then dips out of sight. Peace returns to the roadside fields. Only the slow sway of a low hanging branch holds the fading proof that visitors ever slid beneath its glossy green leaves.

Some invisible urge nudges the anxious driver to roll down his window. To breathe in the cool air wafting up from someone’s freshly mowed farmland. He notices the careful maintenance of an old barn, surely centuries-old but lovingly repainted and dutifully kept over the generations. An unnameable appreciation for a hard-working farmer he will never know settles over him warmly, something close to nostalgia.

Through the now open windows, silos and hay bales and rolling hills slowly lull the frustration from the previously discontented passenger, too, as her eyes land on the flowing manes and swishing tails of horses in the near distance. One old horse is close enough to the field’s split rail fence that the passenger can observe the chestnut colored sheen of its coat and almost detect the knowing gleam of its dark eye. The horse knows nothing of petty disappointments, expects so little beyond its basic needs. A grounded steadiness returns to the passenger’s perspective as she watches the horses diminish from her rear view mirror.

Suddenly, the formerly moody boy with the big blue-green eyes spots an upended tree, toppled over by the powerful gusts the night before. He exclaims out loud about the size of its complex roots! The wide reach of its crown! The sheer magnitude that so narrowly missed the tin roof of a small house! The wind whips his hair as he cranes his neck for a better look. He thinks of all the trees and heavy limbs that could have caused so much more damage to his own home, and he is left breathless, awe-struck, and grateful.

Her brother’s words have shaken some of the gloom out of the littlest passenger’s spirits and helped her forget the “whys” of her whines. She spies her own treasure, waiting up ahead outside her open window. It’s a patch of buttercups, she sees them up close enough now to identify them as such, and eureka! She has made a discovery that it is indeed the buttercup flower— one of her very favorites— that has colored the hillsides in that brilliant yellow! Like an offering, here is the answer to a question that stumped her mere minutes before. This solved mystery makes her feel strong and connected, and soon she is dancing through fields of buttercups in her mind’s eye.

Moods shift as quickly as the car itself. Thank the good Lord for the grace in that. New realities, unexpected scenes, novel ideas, staggering beauty, widening perspectives, and deepening understandings present themselves at every turn. And what a beautiful gift from God above that not one thing is permanent outside of his love. He alone is eternal and unchanging. Nothing else lasts. There is wild freedom in that.

And as our broken, flawed, and utterly human foursome heads home, westward into the dazzling setting of the rose colored sun, a new joy rises in the hearts of four people, experiencing four different flavors of the same restorative grace.

A Note from Jessie – Covenant Newsletter, April 2020

I must admit that I did not immediately comply when my young son, bright-eyed from the outdoors, came bursting through the front door with the breathless request, “Mama! Close your eyes and stick out your hand!”

Um, no thanks.

You see, through the weeks upon weeks of this quarantine, there has been a seemingly endless menagerie of creatures that have haplessly found their ways into that little boy’s hands. Garter snakes, salamanders, tadpoles, frogs, fish, unidentifiable insects and eggs and…

No, I politely (and understandably?) declined the request to blindly offer an open hand.

Having spent weeks upon weeks in such close proximity, however, the boy was now intuitively perceptive of my hesitation. In fact, it was soon clear that he had predicted my untrusting lack of cooperation as he seamlessly followed up with an earnest addendum, “I promise this is a surprise that will make your heart so happy!”

Well, what choice did I have after that?

I closed my eyes. I stuck out my hand.

The sensation of something small, light, plant-like (I was praying not insect-like?) passed between his dusty hand and mine.

When I opened my eyes, I discovered not one, but two, perfectly formed—if not a tad withered from the hand-held excitement— four leaf clovers. I stared silently for a beat, mouth ajar, before exclaiming, “what?!”

His excitement now spilled over in one long stream of explanation: “Well, Daddy and I remembered that today is the anniversary of the day when your daddy went to heaven, and we figured you might need something really special to cheer you up if you were feeling a little sad or missing him or anything, so we went on a hunt for something reallyamazing and can you believe that when we spent enough time looking we BOTH found four leaf clovers for the first time EVER?! Now Daddy says we can dry them and press them in a book and frame them and know that there are hidden gifts everywhere if you just look long enough!”

Well, what choice did I have after that?

I hugged that sun-kissed head with all my might then got busy following orders, pulling from the highest shelf two thick books that were suitable for pressing and preserving these most precious of gifts.

You may even stop believing me now when I tell you that my husband and daughter entered the scene soon thereafter with not one (I am not kidding you) but two more four leaf clovers. I quickly learned that my little girl was hard-bent on joining in the festivities, and with the determination that is surely particular only to a younger sister of an adventurous older brother, she stayed the course in that sweeping stretch of green until she found her very own four leaf clover offerings alongside her patient, eagle-eyed daddy.

And thus began the full family pilgrimage, with even the dog in tow, to support me in my dreams of joining the ranks that afternoon of “expert four leaf clover discoverers extraordinaire.” And for the very first time in my 39 years of life, and countless prior attempts, I spotted my own treasure— four perfectly formed heart-shaped leaves attached to a slender green stem. Our fifth and final impossible gift of the day.

I am still gleaning all the goodness out of this already treasured memory, but one thought keeps floating up to the top:

There truly are gifts hidden everywhere, if only we take the time to find them. In the midst of pain, alongside suffering, tucked into uncertainty, and smack dab in the middle of anxiety and disappointment, God offers us treasure upon treasure. He gives us love. He grants us forgiveness and pours grace over our weary heads. He fills up our hearts with hope and peace that passes understanding. He lays out a creation that is infinitely more beautiful than our often-hurried minds can comprehend. Sometimes it just takes a forceable nudge or a world-halting pandemic to see the beauty with ready eyes and open hearts.

On that day, I felt seen, too. My watchful people saw me. And they didn’t look to find goodness or kindness or productivity. They took the time to see me in the sadness and brokenness that I was trying to brush away and hide from view.

What if the one treasure we all take away from these unusual weeks upon weeks of quarantine is the chance to see the world, each other, and even ourselves as precious gifts from a loving Father who so longs for us to pause and open our eyes?

Amen.

A Note from Josh – College & Center Newsletters, March 2020

A prayer for a time such as these:

God of creation, you made all things good.

You have intimately stitched the fabric of our existence together in ways that can overwhelm and comfort us all in the same moment.

Lord, we come before you in a time of sickness and uncertainty.

If the right words even exist to pray during this time, we welcome those. For now we will offer you what we have; we will offer what the prophets, martyrs, and saints of the faith have offered you all before.

Lord, we offer you our fear that comes with this sort of sickness. May you redeem our anxiety for the purposes of your Kingdom. We offer you our optimism that delicately stands on our own comprehension. Grow this optimism into a hope that rests on your eternal promises. We offer you our judgment for those that seem too concerned. Transform our judgment into compassion for those who are scared. We offer you our arrogance, which attempts to convince us we won’t be affected. Redeem our unprecedented confidence into bold humility that accepts the Lenten truth, from ash we come and to ash we will return. Lord, convert our annoyance into a sweet sense of concern for our world, nation, and community.

From the womb of uncertainty, may you birth faith in us this day, that we may hold fast to the truth that we do not know what the future holds, but we do know who holds the future. In the name of the one who makes all things new, Jesus our Savior, amen.

A Note from Jessie – Covenant Newsletter, March 2020

He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.

(Psalm 40:2)

My husband, Steele, receives a daily Bible verse from his phone to start each day. Perhaps many of you do, as well. Because his early morning work schedule draws him out of bed before the sun (and certainly before the rest of his sleeping family), I like to imagine the quiet moment he takes to read scripture in the predawn darkness. His first words to his *very* slow-to-rise wife each morning are often a recounting of the beautiful and helpful words he reads. The above scripture from the 40th Psalm that greeted him last week felt especially poignant and divinely timed. 

Because what a week it was.

Nothing like a natural disaster and a virus outbreak to remind us quite how needy and out of control we really are. 

He lifted me out of the pit of despair…

How many people in our community are experiencing despair? Those who have lost loved ones, beloved homes, businesses they have built from the ground up— not to mention  priceless pictures and irreplaceable heirlooms— learned all too well last week about pits of despair. Those who cry out for their community, eager to help yet bewildered over where to start, search their dear city and find themselves surrounded instead by rubble and chaos, by the mud and the mire. 

Frightened parents, filled with their natural instincts to protect their families, watch the newscasters’ increasing concerns over a spreading virus and struggle to discern the right course of action, unsure of what is solid ground. 

Lord, lift me out! 

The psalmist’s words echo through time and space. We long for steady ground and sure footing. We pray for safety and reassurance. We need help.

And tucked like a gift into one of my morning routines last week was a reassuring reminder about God’s unfailing love and everlasting help for His people. I was listening to Ian Cron, author, counselor, priest, and host of the podcast Typology, when he relayed an anecdote of pure hope that cut through my anxiety-riddled morning like a radiating beam of sunlight. Again, divine timing in the every day. Here is a paraphrase of what I heard Cron share:

There was a renowned scholar named Huston Smith who recently died at the age of 97. He spent 70 years of his life studying faith traditions from all over the world and devoted his life to teaching religious studies. Shortly before he died, Smith was asked if he could sum up all that he had learned. If there was a condensed truth he could share. And the old man paused, smiled, and said five simple words: “We are in good hands.”

We are in good hands, friends. Even when the world outside feels a whole lot like a pit of despair, God will lift us up, out of the mud and mire. He will set our feet on solid ground once again and steady us as we walk along. 

For He is good. 

And He’s got this. 

Amen.

A Note from Josh – College & Center Newsletters, February 2020

Do you know the story of Lazarus? John writes about Lazarus in his gospel (chapter 11). Lazarus is sick. Some people tell Jesus, and instead of rushing to save him, Jesus waits around, and Lazarus dies. When Jesus doesn’t show up, both of Lazarus’ sisters tell Jesus, “If you would have been here, our brother wouldn’t have died.” How many of us can relate to that sentiment? “God, if you would have been here, this terrible thing couldn’t have happened.” That is a topic for another time . . . Jesus gets emotional at the scene. Jesus cries. Then, he has the stone rolled away from the tomb and calls Lazarus from his grave to life. Lazarus walks out with the linen clothes still on him. It is one wild story.

Have you ever wondered why Jesus would raise Lazarus from the dead? Assuming that guy isn’t still walking around this world 2000 plus years later, he must have died again. That would have been quite the death, or second death I suppose. Once you invite this sort of thought around Jesus’ miracles, you can start to wonder about other miracles. Like, why did Jesus feed the 5,000? It was only one meal, surely they would have gotten hungry again. This thought makes me want to ask Jesus if he is familiar with a sustainable ministry model. These questions make me want to ask Jesus, “Don’t you know that it’s better to teach someone how to fish so they can feed themselves for a lifetime?”

Andy Root, a guy I met in seminary, speaks to these questions by saying, “The point isn’t that Lazarus was resurrected, but what his resurrection means. His resurrection is the puncturing of this reality of death with a sign of the coming of God’s new reality, the coming of God’s kingdom.” Root goes on to explain that Jesus wants his disciples to experience the act of Lazarus’ resurrection so that they might believe. Not that he wants them to ascend to some cognitive understanding, but to “taste the new reality, to recognize that as Jesus’ disciples they were participating in the very action of God to bring forth the future of God. Jesus wants them to taste so they might believe, might trust, in God’s action to bring forth the new reality.” By being part of this resurrection moment, the disciples participate in God’s Kingdom come.

This is why we participate in one off opportunities. This is why we might give someone on the street our leftovers. This is why we go to places like Panther, West Virginia for one week in the summer. This is why when we get the opportunity, if only for a moment, week, or season, we participate in God’s Kingdom. Because we get a chance to participate in God’s new reality, now, as one day it shall be. We don’t waste those opportunities. Amen? Amen.

A Note from Jessie – Covenant Newsletter, February 2020

Here in the dreary doldrums of winter, I love to recall this famous line from the British novelist, William Thackery:

“A good laugh is sunshine in the house.” 

Well, isn’t that the truth? 

There is something powerfully transformative about laughter. It can change the mood of a whole house, bring levity to the air of a room, and perceptively alter the atmospheric quality of any given space. Laughing with another person can heal a heart, rescue an embarrassing moment, bond a new friendship, offer grace to a child, bridge a language gap, and restore hope even in the grimmest of circumstances. And of course we have all heard that on a scientific level, laughing is beneficial for the body by releasing endorphins, decreasing stress hormones, and even boosting the immune system. 

Plain and simple: laughter is a gift.

I think laughter has especially been on my mind recently for two reasons. First of all, when the aforementioned dark, rainy, winter days start seeping into my psyche, threatening my patience and dimming my perspective, I tend to take myself a bit too seriously. Everything seems a little harder, a little heavier, and let’s be honest, that mindset can make us all feel a tad too self-important or self-focused. No thanks. When I feel myself (all too regularly) slipping in that direction, I try to remember the wisdom of that age-old Proverb 17:22: “a joyful heart is good medicine.” And then I stop, and I pray. I have to ask God for help in refocusing, for help in sifting through the thick layers of frustration to discover small glimmers of joy. And if not joy, then at least humor, which can slowly blossom into joy. I pray for that kind of help all the time, but those prayer requests seem to hit a record volume here in February!

Secondly, the ministry of laughter has also been on my mind because I have been over-hearing the most inspiring quotations about laughing all around our church. Here are a few as of late…

“I can always find my wife in a crowd by following the sound of her laughter.” 

Ryan Walker walking into our Family Fellowship class before sitting down next to a giggling Elizabeth.

“Oh, I needed that laugh!” 

– One of the young moms wiping a happy tear away as she chopped vegetables at ME Mornings last week. 

“A big sign as to the health of a church or family is how well they laugh and play together.” 

-Dr. Ryan V. Moore in the most thoughtful note to a young congregant. 

“I am thankful for laughter as well as tears, for without sadness we cannot fully appreciate joy.” 

-Ginny Barber sharing during a gratitude exercise led by Sarah Bird.

How beautiful to be part of a church family who recognizes and cherishes the importance of laughing! Truly, there is something special about God’s gift of laughter in our lives. 

So, with an aim to nurture that gift in your life today, here are some questions that I invite you to pause and consider for a moment, in hopes that doing so will bring a smile to your face and plant at least a small seed of joy in your heart:

What makes you laugh out loud?

Who makes you laugh the hardest? 

Whose laughter is a contagious sound, and whose peals of laughter warm your heart? 

When is the last time you good-naturedly laughed at yourself?

Can you recall the details of a time when you belly-laughed so hard you could barely breathe?

Are you smiling right now thinking about laughter like I am? Even if smiling on the inside?

So now the question is, how do we spread, inspire, and participate in this ministry of laughter? 

Perhaps it begins with leaning into our faith a little more by surrendering our misguided self-importance at God’s holy feet. Humility grants us that liberty to unburden ourselves of our own weighty agendas so that we might feel light enough to laugh readily at our own human foibles. Stronger dependence on God’s will— and not on our own— frees up space in our hearts for delight to rush in, enabling us to discover hidden treasures of humor in the people and situations all around us.

May this week bring you moments of unexpected laughter, may God’s grace shine down upon your head and out into the world through your smile, and may we all remember that our Heavenly Father rejoices in the loving laughter we share with one another. 

Finally, through literal and figurative seasons of darkness, and in the depths of true hardship, may we remember that each tear that cleanses our cheeks now will create even greater capacities for grateful laughter in the future, for Christ promises, “your grief will be turned into joy” (John 16:20).

A heart-felt thanks to all who share life-affirming joy throughout our church and to all who leave a wide wake of good humor in this and every space. Your laughter is like sunshine in my life indeed.

A Note from Josh – College & Center Newsletters, January 2020

My wife continues to invite me into things I don’t think I can do. In college she asked me, “Do you want to run a half-marathon?” I said yes, but I was pretty certain I wouldn’t have to keep good on my response. However, a few months later, I ran my first half-marathon. Another time she asked me to keep a budget, and only spend money we had previously dedicated towards particular categories. I had never been that intentional with my money. However, at the end of my seminary career, we had learned how to survive on a household income of less than $30,000. In December, my wife asked me if I wanted to do Whole30. Again, I said yes, but I was fairly confident I wouldn’t actually begin the diet. However, as I write this blog entry I am 13 days into 30 days of a healthier diet. My wife consistently invites me into things I don’t think I can do, and though annoying as it may be at times, it inspires me, helps me be curious – to wonder about who I am capable of being in this world. She invites me to live out my full potential. The Gospel can have the same place in our lives.

Marriage isn’t always talked about as a source of inspiration. Neither is parenting. I am reading a book right now that is just bludgeoning people with the message, “Parenting is hard and you will find out how terrible you are once you have a child.” I have read a number of books on marriage that promote the same logic. To be honest, I suppose this message is widely used in the Christian world, “Come to Jesus and learn what a sinner you are.” It is a tried, and somewhat true, approach to life and faith, but I think it paints an incomplete picture of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. It doesn’t get at our full potential. God wants to do more than just convince us that we are sinners. Jesus says that he came so that we may have life to the full.

In the book of Exodus, God gives the Israelites the 10 Commandments. Jesus gave his first followers The Sermon on the Mount. Both of these teachings helped people understand that they are sinners. The Heidelberg Catechism, in question three, referencing Romans 3:20, “for through the law comes the knowledge of sin.” asks the question, “How do you come to know your misery?” The response is, “The Law of God tells me.” I agree with this catechism, and our longstanding tradition on this matter. However, I want to lift up what I believe is needed to fill out the picture of our faith more fully. God’s law , Jesus’ teachings, and the whole of the gospel, teach us not just that we are sinners, but what we are capable of in this world. Without the Word of God we wouldn’t know that we were able to have no other gods before our God or that we were able to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. God makes a consistent effort to help us understand our potential in this world.

My hope and prayer for our community this year is that we would be aware of our shortcomings AND that we would allow the Word of God to inspire us to be everything we were created to be. Whether that comes from an encouraging wife, the 10 Commandments, Jesus’ teachings, or another mouthpiece of God’s Kingdom come. May we enter into 2020 with a willingness to be aware of and live into our God given potential in the world. Amen? Amen.

A Note from Jessie – Covenant Newsletter, January 2020

Romans 7:18-

For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 

Same here, Paul. Same. Here.

Somehow it is comforting to know that Paul the Apostle, even after his conversion, struggled to make good choices. In the midst of his prolific and profound letters that seem to contain as much encouragement as admonishment, it always surprises me to find this humble concession.

For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.

Paul goes on to write, 

For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. (Romans 7:19)

Such an honest, confessional sentiment resonates with so many of us this time of year as we attempt to wrap our minds around lofty resolutions for 2020. We have wonderful— maybe even righteous— intentions for the new decade, but often in the very moment of hopefully creating goals for ourselves, we hear that internally doubting whisper that we will most likely not succeed. Sound familiar?

Why then do we even go through the pantomime and pony show of making a list of New Year’s Resolutions if we know how likely we are to fail? Is it all for naught? Some years, I will admit, I have subscribed to this jaded view and shunned resolutions altogether, accepting defeat and admitting that no, I will most likely NOT be able to maintain a healthy schedule of consistent exercising and daily Bible-reading and thoughtful note-writing and positive attitude-keeping, etc etc. Ugh.

Yet, I just as often return to this thought: the very fact that the desire to do better determinedly bubbles up out of the muck and mire of doubt suggests to me that there is indeed a God-given capacity, as well as a God-issued invitation, for growth. The creeping hope that maybe this will be the year I grow into a better version of myself somehow reveals that there is indeed more to life than that which I can perceive with my limited sight and meager understanding. The buoyant prayer that consistently swims back up to the surface of my mind and asks God for help in forging onward in this lifelong work of self-improvement tells me that He has not given up on me. He cannot be jaded, will never be defeated, and loves us not because we are good but because He is so good. And that, my friends, is as encouraging a notion as I can conceive.

May you also be comforted by Paul’s utterly human admissions, as well as emboldened by God’s undeterred tugging at your heart during this season of renewal. We may be painfully aware of our faults, shortcomings, and lack of follow through, but in gratitude for all He has given us… we keep trying. 

Hope springs eternally out of God’s everlasting love for us, his flawed, beloved children. And as we realize that we are surrounded by the grace of that love, we don’t give up. We set our intentions and walk humbly ahead into the new year, our hearts full of thanks, courage, and wonder. Amen.

A Note from Jessie-Covenant Newsletter, December 2019

His voice was kind, earnest, and brimming with emotion. “I do,” Steele said.

Her voice was bold and joyous. “Congratulations, you are hired!” the Head of School boomed.

His voice was joking and tender and full of love. “YOU are going to be a mama?!” my dad laughed.

Her voice was quiet, clear, and desperately sad. “Your dad died,” my mom whispered into the phone.

His voice was soft and round as his small, rosy cheek. “Ma Ma,” Vaughan cooed for the first time.

Her voice was clinical and distant. “It’s a girl,” the nurse stated. And I burst into grateful tears.

There are certain voices from my past that still float through my mind, as fresh and close as if my ears just received their messages a moment before. If I close my eyes and concentrate, I can hear the intonation, the vocal quality, the volume of each word. I open my eyes and am surprised to find the slight wetness of new tears.

So many world-altering words spoken and heard over a person’s lifetime. They seem to take on an additional dimension beyond time and space, don’t they?

As we enter this time of Advent, remembering the angel’s surprising appearances and revelations, I cannot help but wonder about Mary… How many times did she replay Gabriel’s voice in her mind throughout her precious life? How often did she return to the angel’s words and ponder the vast difference between the before and the after of that moment’s message? And I also cannot help but wonder, more literally, what did Gabriel’s voice sound like when he announced that world-altering, life-changing, earth-shattering news? How did those words meet Mary’s ears and nestle into her heart?

When you stop to think about words that have changed your life, what comes to mind? I’d be willing to bet there are at least a few that still pack an emotional punch when you pause to recall them in specific detail. And perhaps there are other words from your past, not necessarily connected to a major life milestone, that are evocative all the same… Unexpected praise? Crushing critique? Inspiring encouragement? A witty remark that someone spoke decades ago that still brings a smile to your face?

And have you ever stopped to consider whether or not any of your words have made a lasting impact on others? If others perhaps replay your voice in their minds throughout their precious lives?

As the only category of God’s creation with the gift of speech, how do we use our language to help or to hinder? To praise God or to promote ourselves? To raise up or tear down? To communicate love or give voice to condemnation? Words are so very, very powerful.

God, please help me use my words in a way that pleases you. Moreover, please help me keep my ears keenly tuned in to your voice above all the other noise I encounter each day. Help prepare my heart to receive your messages of peace, love, and hope throughout this season of Advent so that I may in turn share them with others.

After all, who knows what life-altering words await each of us, but if we hold fast to Gabriel’s message, we indeed have nothing to fear:

“With God, you see, nothing is impossible.”

Luke 1:37

A Note from Josh – College & Center Newsletters, December 2019

I have been reading How the Grinch Stole Christmas to my son this year nearly every night. He really likes the book, and he has a lot of the book memorized. He is only four. He must get his memory from his mother, because I don’t have that kind of memory. I was familiar with the story before this year of course. There is a green guy, who doesn’t like Christmas, but he happens to live in a neighborhood where everyone LOVES Christmas. He devised a plan to thwart the whole thing by dressing up like Santa and taking everything. Not a bad plan, so far as plans go. But to his surprise, the Whos celebrate on Christmas morning without any of the stuff that the Grinch stole. This of course throws the Grinch into quite the tizzy, and he begins to puzzle over the matter. He has the revelation that reads like this, “He puzzled and puzzled til his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more!”

Theodor Geisel’s book was published in 1957, but that little lesson about Christmas is still applicable. Sure, there are good things about buying gifts for people to show them you care. However, in our current context, which over consumes on every level, Christmas can quickly become just another expression of our society’s gluttonous guise. So, this Christmas season, don’t do that. Take Mr. Geisel’s lesson seriously, and consider how a Christian may celebrate that little bit more by naming Jesus’ birth in this world. Consider, what does it mean that God took on flesh and dwelt among us through the birth of a virgin? How does the fact that our savior was nursed in this world through infancy affect how we observe this season of life? May we not settle for the narrative that proclaims the news that Christmas comes from a store. May we live as faithful disciples who celebrate the gift of our savior in the most joyful way. Amen? Amen.

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