Good morning. It is Saturday, Decmeber 21, 2013. First day of Winter. It’s 41 degrees and raining, here.
Today is “Humbug Day.” Awww. . . If you’re stressed out and struggling with all this “Christmas Spirit,” let it out today. Try to get it out of your system, then enjoy the last four days of the season.
Here’s something that might help. I found this adorable video on You Tube, made by a Grade Six International Class somewhere, set to the music of Sufjan Stevens’s “Come On! Let’s Boogey to the Elf Dance!” This song is on a five disc set called Songs for Christmas. The album includes traditional songs, such as “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” and “Lo! How A Rose E’er Blooming,” as well as more quirky tunes like the one above.
Yesterday was a pretty good day. The work day went fine, as we had only one truck to load. At around 12:30-1:00pm, our manager arrived with lunch, and we all enjoyed barbecue from Bodacious. It was pretty good stuff. I had stopped at Walgreen’s on the way to work and picked up a small box of candy for each of the guys, and I surprised them with that gift during lunch. I got to leave work around 4pm to start the weekend. I work Monday, and that’s my last work day for the year.
Christi worked from home, and had a pretty good day, but a somewhat hectic morning. She has been busy, though, as Christmas presents abound in our living room! None of them are on the floor under the tree, however. They are all on the piano and the nearby desk. Trixie, the cat, would have a field day with presents on the floor!
Today, we will probably get our grocery shopping done. We have to make a trip to the local liquor store (gasp), because Christi needs some more Kahlua for her most excellent recipe of Kahlua fudge! Plus I need a little “something” for the eggnog, right? Found an article that highly suggests brandy. Never thought of that.
Anyway. . . we have our usual church service at 5:45pm today. Looks like I’m leading three of the songs this evening. So I’ll need to get some practice in at some point. Then I’m leading the Christmas Eve service on Tuesday evening, just me and my guitar. I might oughta put some new strings on my guitar.
Today’s birthdays are Thomas Beckett, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1117, Roger Williams (the English theologian and colonist), 1603, Benjamin Disraeli, British Prime Minister, 1804, Josh Gibson, pro baseball player, the “Negro Babe Ruth,” who allegedly hit over 800 home runs, 1911, Phil Donahue, talk show host, 1935, Jane Fonda, actress and fitness guru, 1937, Frank Zappa, rock musician, 1940, Carl Wilson, Beach Boys, 1946, Samuel L. Jackson, actor, 1948, Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of Dreamworks, 1950, Chris Evert, tennis player, 1954. Lee Parnell, country singer, 1956, and Ray Romano, actor, 1957.
Frank Zappa was an innovative rock musician, always known for doing strange and unique things in his compositions. In this You Tube clip, he shows Steve Allen how to play the bicycle.
Third Week of Advent
Micah 4:2 “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.”
Psalm 80:1 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock. You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth.
Psalm 18:46 The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation.
Psalm 75:2 “At the set time that I appoint I will judge with equity.”
Mic 5:2-5a But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth; then the rest of his brothers shall return to the people of Israel. And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth. And he shall be their peace.
“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.” (The Divine Hours)
Today, in A Year With God, I begin reading the section on the final discipline, Celebration. Celebration is defined as, “Utter delight and joy in ourselves, our life, and our world as a result of our faith and confidence in God’s greatness, beauty, and goodness.”
It is said that, “Celebration is perhaps the most overlooked discipline.” I tend to agree with this. Many Christian people look at celebration as being a bit hedonistic. Of course, anyone who loves and follows the writings of John Piper knows that he uses the word “hedonism” in his description of the Christian life. I know many who are made very uncomfortable by that. I, for one, think it’s great. Hedonism simply means that pleasure or happiness is the most important goal in life. While we, as Christians, may not agree with that 100%, if we alter the idea to include that our pleasure and happiness in God is the most important goal in life, then it fits. God calls his people to celebrate. There are festivals all over the Old Testament, as well as spontaneous and joyful praise. When the Bible depicts the woman dancing through the streets, singing, “Saul has slain his thousands, but David his tens of thousands,” I have a mental image of wild dancing and tambourines! It’s a celebration. When the ark returned to Jerusalem, David danced so hard he exposed himself! The book that is in the middle of the Bible (also my favorite book of the Bible) is filled with praise and celebration (along with some not-so-celebratory stuff). Jesus celebrated more calmly (perhaps. . . we really don’t know) when he attended a wedding in Cana and “performed the ultimate party trick of turning water into wine.”
For us, celebration is simply enjoying God. John Piper reworded the Westminster Confession by saying, “The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying him forever.” Dallas willard says, “We engage in celebration when we enjoy ourselves, our life, our world, in conjunction with our faith and confidence in God’s greatness, beauty, and goodness. We concentrate on our life and world as God’s work and as God’s gift to us.” In this way, celebration is linked with worship. At this point I note that, for as long as we have been attending worship at The Exchange, the worship time has been called a “Worship Celebration.” Willard continues by describing celebration as, “The completion of worship, for it dwells on the greatness of God as shown in his goodness to us.”
The central emotion involved in celebration is joy. Jesus spoke of one of the purposes of his teachings in John 15:11: These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.
The first reading in this discipline is called “Singing to the Lord a New Song.” The scripture reading is Exodus 15:1-2, 20.
Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the LORD, saying, “I will sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea. The LORD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women went out after her with tambourines and dancing.
This is only one of the many accounts in the Bible where we see God’s people reacting with joyful singing and celebration. There is usually an account of reciting his mighty deeds and remembering how marvelous he is. The festivals that they observed each centered around a specific event in their history. Sometimes there is just a spontaneous recitation of his deeds in their lives.
The ten day challenge is to write down a list of things to praise God for, reading or singing the list aloud in celebration. Then add more to the list each day, perhaps expanding the scope. This has potential to be a very joyful exercise, doesn’t it?
Father, I am so very thankful for the many blessings that you have given me and my family over the years. As I work on this challenge, I pray that you open my mind to remember specific instances of great blessing in my life, and that I might sing aloud your praises as I think upon these things. May the next ten days be a joyful celebration of the blessings that you have given me!
I pray for this day. I ask that we can get our errands done in a timely manner, and that you keep us safe as we drive around today, especially in the rain. May we be people of peace as we encounter others during this day, and especially over the next several days, as Christmas approaches. Of all people, Father, your people should be most joyous at this time of year. Let us not express grumpiness, rudeness, or impatience toward anyone during these days (or any other day for that matter).
May we celebrate with joyfulness during our worship celebration tonight. Teach us your ways from your word. Show us the beauty of the season that we might truly celebrate your grace.
I would encourage you who read this to enter into this challenge, as well. Make a list of things you are thankful for. Even if you don’t believe as I do, there is surely something in your life that you are thankful to have.
Grace and peace, friends.