Creatively Responsive

Good morning. It is Saturday, December 20, 2014. Only five more days until Christmas!

Today’s Word of the Day is “nurture.” Nurture is a fairly well-known word. It has several meanings, though. 1. “To supply with nourishment.” 2. “To educate.” 3. “To further the development of” or “foster.”

Today is Sangria Day. Sangria can come in a lot of forms, but it is basically a fruity wine that originated in Spain. The historical origins seem to have to do with the time when Romans inhabited the area, around 2000 years ago, and put all kinds of things (along with alcohol) in the water to make it safe to drink. The name comes from sangre, or blood, due to the original color of the drink that resembles fruit punch more than wine. This reminded me of this old song by Jerry Jeff Walker.

We had a very busy day, yesterday. And we didn’t quite get everything finished, either. One thing that took a bit of time, that was not originally planned, was me getting a new phone. I had been thinking about this, on and off, for a few months. My previous phone was a Samsung Galaxy 4S. For the most part, I have been happy with this phone. However, there were occasional issues with its connection to the bluetooth in my car, and being able to make calls to Christi and Stephanie (or, I guess, anyone else). Several times, I was knocked off of the bluetooth connection when merging calls, and there were frequent times when I simply could not hear the person on the other end, and they could not hear me, either. At those times, I would wind up having to completely restart the phone. I don’t know if this was an issue with my individual phone, or with the Galaxy in general. At any rate, both Christi and Stephanie still have iPhones, so I elected to switch back. On the “Next” plan, the payment for the iPhone 6 was only a dollar more than the payment for the iPhone 5s, so I went ahead and got the newer model. So, now, I’m having to relearn all the operating nuances of the iPhone.

We went ahead and did our grocery shopping yesterday, both for our weekly needs, and for the Christmas dinners we will be preparing for Wednesday and Thursday. We also picked up some gifts for relatives, as well. By the time we got all the groceries, picked up our ubiquitous Sonic drinks, and got home to unload all the groceries, it was after 4:00 PM. As soon as we got everything put away, we headed across the street to Fogata’s for “lunch/dinner.” (Why is there a word for “breakfast/lunch” but not for “lunch/dinner??” “Linner?” “Dunch?”) After that, we went to the mall (*gasp*) and got a case for my new phone, as well as a new screen protector for Christi’s phone. Oh, and a new car charger, since the one in my car only fits Samsung phones. Of course, we had to buy cookies while we were at the mall.

Today, we still need to go out and hit the dollar store for stocking stuffers, and I think, after that, we are done with Christmas shopping! Oh, and I still haven’t gotten that oil change. Tonight, as is our custom, we will have our prayer gathering at 4:45, followed by our worship service at 5:45. As always, I would welcome anyone who is in the area to visit us. We are The Exchange.

Tomorrow, we just might go bowling again. 🙂

(Source: This Day In History)

It was on this date in 1597 (mistake point out . . . that should be 1957) received his draft notice for the U.S. Army. Elvis was spending Christmas at Graceland when he received the notification. By that time, he had a run of gold records, including “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Hound Dog,” and “Don’t Be Cruel,” as well as a hit movie, Love Me Tender. Elvis was at the peak of his career, and here he was, getting a notification that he would be required to serve for two years in the Army. Thousands, nay, tens of thousands of letters were sent to the Army, begging that he be excused, but the King of Rock and Roll would have none of that. He willingly served, after receiving a one year deferment to finish work on his movie, King Creole. Elvis was sworn in as a private in Memphis, on March 24, 1958, eleven days after I was born.

Today’s birthdays include Jonah Hill, JoJo, Peter Criss, David Cook, Chris Robinson, Branch Rickey, Harvey Firestone, James Shields, John Hillerman, Alan Parsons, and Aubrey Huff.

Alan Parsons is a musician and producer of great fame. He began his career at the age of 18, as the assistant engineer for the Beatles album, Abbey Road. He received his first Grammy award nomination for engineering Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side Of the Moon. He also engineered five albums by The Hollies, including their hits, “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother,” and “The Air That I Breathe.” In 1975, rather than return to work on Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here, he started work on his own project, The Alan Parsons Project, with songwriter and singer Eric Woolfson. He is 66 years old today. Here is my favorite song by the Project, “Old and Wise,” featuring Colin Blunstone on lead vocals.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From The Divine Hours)

Third Week of Advent

“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.”
Micah 4:2
Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock. You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth.
Psalm 80:1
The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation—
Psalm 18:46
“At the set time that I appoint I will judge with equity.”
Psalm 75:2
I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.
One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.
On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness.
They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.
The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.
All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD, and all your saints shall bless you!
They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power,
to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations.

Psalm 145:1-13
The Prayer Appointed for the Week
Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are
sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and
deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit,
be honor and glory now and for ever. Amen.
The Concluding Prayer of the Church
O God, the source of eternal light: Shed forth your unending day upon all of us who watch
for you, that our lips may praise you, our lives may bless you, and our worship may give
you glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Today’s Gospel Reading

And as they went out of Jericho, a great crowd followed him. And behold, there were two blind men sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent, but they cried out all the more, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” And stopping, Jesus called them and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him.
Matthew 20:29-34

“What do you want me to do for you?” That is the question that Jesus asked these two men. What would I say, if he asked me that today? My response might be exactly the same as those two. “Lord, let my eyes be opened.”

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “The Kingdom of Liberty.”

“Jesus calls us at Christmas to enter the Kingdom of Liberty, to be set free by his Father’s love.” His unexpected birth in Bethlehem creates a “longing to be free from self and free other others.” Perhaps it even creates in us a desire to look for “intelligent and imaginative ways to celebrate an unconventional Christmas.”

God’s Word is fresh and alive, and Christmas bears witness to this. Our God is not one who defends the old, that which is settled or familiar. “The God we encounter in Jesus is free from preoccupation with his own glory, free to be for us, free to be gracious, free to love and let be.”

This same God might well expect us to be “creatively responsive” this Christmas. “Indeed, he might call us to set free captives bound by loneliness and isolation, to share our hope with prisoners of gloom and despair, to invite the unlovely to our table, to celebrate our freedom in forgetfulness about our comfort and convenience, to cry the gospel by ministering to widows and orphans, to be the Church by bringing soup to the poor, to ignore conventional expectations, to call his Son out of Egypt once more.”

He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward,
since he himself is beset with weakness.

Hebrews 5:2

Father, I pray for the desire to be creatively responsive this Christmas. I’ve acknowledged that I’m feeling a little more joy this season than in seasons past, although, this particular day, I’m struggling with feelings of failure, as I have, once again, allowed my selfishness and insistence on not having my routine disturbed to cause disharmony. I certainly need your Spirit to speak in me that I might forget about my own comfort and convenience, in order to help someone else who is in need. May your mercy flow through us, this Christmas, as we encounter needs for encouragement and ministry.

I pray for this day, that we might finish up things that need finishing. I pray that Rachel will make her flight on time, so she can be with her friend in Virginia, for the wedding she is attending. Give us wisdom and patience, as well, as we work through the details of car repair or replacement and insurance stuff. May your grace prevail in us. I pray for this evening’s prayer and worship time, that your name will be lifted high and glorified. Help me get my heart into things the way it should be.

Indeed, Christ calls us to be “creatively responsive” as we celebrate Christmas. May we find ways to do that, this season.

Grace and peace, friends.

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