The Shipwrecked At the Stable

“But in this weakness and poverty the shipwrecked at the stable would come to know the love of God.”~~Brennan Manning

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Good morning. It is Tuesday, December 23, 2014. Christmas Eve Eve!

Today’s Word of the Day is “zaibatsu.” A zaibatsu is a “powerful financial and industrial conglomerate of Japan.”

Today is Roots Day, a day that encourages us to explore our family ancestries. The fact that it comes right before Christmas emphasizes the importance of family during the Christmas season.

We had a very interesting night last night. Which may be the understatement of the year. After working about an hour late, due to high volumes, I got home, and we began discussing what was for dinner. I, for some reason, had an inexplicable desire for Mexican food, but something different than Fogata’s, for a change. We decided to try a little restaurant that we had seen in a shopping center in North Richland Hills, called Malli’s. Someone whom I know (I can’t remember who), had said that it was good. Stephanie, of course, did not want to go, so we agreed to bring something home for her. It was just okay, not great. Their queso and salsa were both very delicious, I will say that. There were aspects of the meal that were quite good, but others that weren’t good at all. Their nachos, for example, had very little cheese (???) on them, and were made with small pieces of fajita meat, rather than seasoned ground beef. The flautas were extremely dry. The quesadillas, on the other hand, were very good, as were their gorditas. So it was a mixed bag. I doubt we will go back, though. We got Stephanie some cheese enchiladas, rice, and queso sauce. I don’t know if she liked them, as we went to bed pretty soon after we got home.

I was awakened around 12:30 AM by Christi, who said that Rachel was stuck at the car rental place at DFW. She had returned from her trip to Virginia, and had arranged a rental car to drive home. If you recall, from a couple days ago, she had had an accident in hers (turns out it’s totaled). She had turned in the Enterprise car Saturday morning, and booked one from Advantage for the return last night, and was planning to turn it in today, when Christi was going to meet here there and take her home (or, perhaps shopping for a new car). Well, it turns out Advantage at DFW will not rent “locally!” Why they did not inform Rachel of that small detail when she booked the car, I have no clue! So Christi drove to DFW to rescue Rachel, brought her back to our house, and I think Rachel took Christi’s car back home to Denton. Christi will take the day off today, as she has no car to drive. Thanks a lot, Advantage. I guess we should have just kept the Enterprise car and paid a couple more days of rental, plus airport parking. Hopefully, this will all be over soon, as they may have already found a good car to replace the wrecked one. The payout from insurance, by the way, will be a little more than $100 more than what we owe on it, so that’s a bonus.

I will likely have to work late today, too. Since we are off the next two days, we have to stay until everything is finished tonight. Plus, we are three people short, because “it’s going to slow down in December,” so the company lets people wait until the end of the year to take all their vacation. I may jump on that bandwagon, next year, and just save all three weeks until December. πŸ˜› Not really. I couldn’t stand to do that. I need time off during the year.

Also, I should not forget to make note of the fact that the rock and roll world lost a legend, yesterday. Mr. Joe Cocker passed away, yesterday, at the age of 70. I’m not sure what caused his death. I was surprised and saddened to hear of this, though, yesterday afternoon.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From The Divine Hours)

Fourth Week of Advent

Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul.
Psalm 66:16
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah.
that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations.

Psalm 67:1-2
Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my sojourning.
Psalm 119:54
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
Psalm 51:10
Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer;
from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I,
for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.
Let me dwell in your tent forever! Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings! Selah.
For you, O God, have heard my vows; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.

Psalm 61:1-5
The Prayer Appointed for the Week
Purify my conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ,
at his coming, may find in me a mansion prepared for himself;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Today’s Gospel Reading

In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once. When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?” And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”
Matthew 21:18-22

First of all, it should terrify every single Christian that Jesus has the power to do this! If we are not bearing fruit, like this fig tree, he can, apparently, say the word, and we will wither to the point of never bearing fruit again. Now, perhaps, I am “over-interpreting” this, and it simply applies to the upcoming destruction of Israel. I think it should still motivate us to be fruit-bearing.

The other incredible statement in this passage is regarding faith. Once again, Jesus describes what can be done with faith, without doubting. If we have faith, he says, we will receive whatever we ask in prayer. That should also motivate us to better, stronger faith.

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “The Infant Jesus.”

Those “disciples” who seek a “triumphant Savior and a prosperity gospel” will forever be scandalized by the “Bethlehem mystery.” The fact is, we truly do not know exactly where Jesus was born! Yes, it was Bethlehem, and yes, it was in a stable, but that’s it. That’s all we know. The circumstances surrounding Jesus’s birth were pretty unremarkable (excepting, of course, the horde of angels that appeared to the shepherds, and that star that lead the “wise men”). Jesus’s parents were really of no significant social consequence. In fact, based on the offering they gave after he was born, they were pretty poor. His “welcoming committee” (at least at the stable) was a bunch of dirty shepherds. “But in this weakness and poverty the shipwrecked at the stable would come to know the love of God.”

My, how we have “prettified” the birth of Christ. We have turned something that we were never commanded to do in the first place into something glorious and majestic. “Pious imagination and nostalgic music rob Christmas of its shock value, while some scholars reduce the crib to a tame theological symbol.”

“But the shipwrecked at the stable tremble in adoration of the Christ child and quake at the inbreak of God almighty. Because all the Santa Clauses and red-nosed reindeer, fifty-foot trees, and thundering church bells put together create less pandemonium than the infant Jesus when, instead of remaining a statue in a crib, he comes alive and delivers us over to the fire that he came to light.”

By myself I have sworn;
from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return:
‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.’

Isaiah 45:23

Father, I pray to be one of the shipwrecked at the stable. Let me never feel like my life is so good that I don’t need to be bowing down to Jesus in abject poverty. May I celebrate the poverty with which he appeared in this world, and the amazing power and majesty that this event brought to us. May I truly appreciate the pandemonium that this event brought to the world. Help me to see through all the trappings and finery of the Christmas season, through the pageantry and beautiful music, through the Santas and the reindeer and Frosty the snowmen . . . through all of these to the infant in the manger that grew up to die for us. May I be filled with joy this Christmas, Father; joy for the Savior who came as an infant in a stable, born to parents no more significant than I. Hallelujah!

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

I pray for this day. I pray for safe travel this morning, as it appears to be raining outside. I pray that our work load today will be smaller than yesterday’s, and that we will not have to stay terribly late tonight. These are selfish things, I know, but preparations must be made for family Christmas celebrations. I pray that we can remember the true meaning of what we are celebrating as we gather together. I pray for Stephanie, that you would reveal to her the true meaning, and that she would grasp it. I pray for Rachel, that you would give her something positive over the next few days. She needs something good. Fill her with your grace and help her find joy.

I pray for two of Christi’s work associates, who both lost parents on the same day. May your comfort be with them.

Help us find your grace, this Christmas.

Grace and peace, friends.

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