It’s New Years Day

1 01 2018

As promised, the Song to usher in 2018. It is from Bon Jovi and is entitled, New Year’s Day.

It bids us to sing Hallelujah and Sha, la, la. For those out who are still celebrating Christmas,  the birth of a Christ child and angels’ singing,  it is a reminder of the wonder and hope of Christmas as we stand in the doorway of 2018.

Someone asked me what were my plans for 2018. What were my resolutions? What did I want to do?  What were the goals? My answer was a response that on the surface might sound a bit bland.  No set number of books to read. No itinerary for travel. Nothing worth putting in granite.

Rather, my response was to have a clean white board. I am looking forward to a New Year that has nothing written on it on January 1. 2018.  Let me explain. The obvious is that I may seem like a ship with out a sense of direction. Quite the contrary.

I am acknowledging that like a ship, someone else must set the sails so the wind might fill them and other hand will steer. It is to acknowledge that the ocean on which I sail will have calm and rough seas but the One who is at the helm can negotiate and navigate the journey and my small ship will arrive safely in the harbor.. Another hand is on the wheel, to quote Carrie Underwood.

It is also to say that the ship has been unloaded of the baggage of past voyages. I know there may be some duffel bags hidden in the crevices of the hull.  A rat or two might be stowing under a loose plank in the belly of the vessel. And yes, a crate or two that were too heavy to move alone will no doubt shift on perilous seas but the old cargo will need to stay on the shore for an effective and  healthy bon voyage.

So, what not join me in this New Year as we set sail. Unload that old dirty and musty baggage. Sing,  “Hallelujah”. Say, ” Amen”. Sing, ” Sha, la, la.” Sing and live Carpe’ Diem!! It’s New Year’s Day.

The tide is right, the winds are picking up and the Captain is on board. Time to cast off and set sail!!

Agape’,

Rob

 

 

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Elf on a Shelf and Baby in Box

1 12 2015

When I was growing up I heard, ” You better watch out, you better not cry….He knows when you’ve been bad or good…” He, Santa, was the Christmas version of the All Seeing Eye! Now Santa needs some help.

For more than a decade a new twist has emerged. It  seems that Santa is sending Elves to spy in the homes of little boys and girls.

According to Wikipedia, the source of all things true on the internet from Thanksgiving to Christmas, Santa has scout Elves, AKA an Elf on a Shelf,  who watch in homes to report back to Santa. At the end of the day, when children are asleep, these Elves fly back to give their summary to Santa and then return before the children wake. To make their spying more effective they hide in a different place upon their return. The challenge is for the children to find them. The logic is that when not seen the less-than-good deeds go unrecorded. Well, it’s really just a game.

To be honest, it seems a great idea to sell toys but a poor attempt to improve on Santa’s spying abilities. Surely someone who could find boys and girls all around the world in a sleigh powered by reindeer, all in one night,  could do better! So, hold  your hats. I am here to break a HUGE story.

It seems that the Black Ops Division of the North Pole has installed wireless cameras in the homes of citizens of planet Earth. They have an unlimited battery life, like reindeer on Christmas Eve.  “Santy Cams“, were placed in the homes of the boys and girls as they were sleeping and without the presence or knowledge of the Scout Elves. The first install began on December 26, 2014 and began full operational status on USA’s Independence Day, July 4, 2015. Sprinkled with pixie dust, they are invisible to the human eye, especially adults. On this past Thanksgiving Day the Scout Elves discovered them. They were not happy.

These automated cyber sleuths report back to the North Pole Command Center in real-time, day and night.  This has proven a more effective method of information gathering since they run 24/7/365 instead of between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The software and firmware  are updated on February 29. This obvious flaw allows that one day every 4 years could potentially wreak havoc on global childhood behavior. Tech support pledges, “We will fix this.”

A spokesperson for S.C. reports that the cost of world-wide installation will  be recouped by the  savings from the Good Little Boy and Girl Production Area in one fiscal year. However, opponents from the Elves Union argue that increased capital outlay for expansion and production  demands of the Bad Little Boys and Girls Area will be through the roof. The local 999 of the PACS, Production of Ashes, Coal and Switches, Union is threatening a walk out on December 1 as increased production has brought environmental and workplace hazards. The snow around the naughty area is no longer bright and glistening. Eye witnesses describe it as  winter grey. When pressed for clarification , the witness said, “Have you ever seen U.S. Northeastern Interstate Highway slush ?!”

The next phase of Santa’s Cyber Surveillance is in beta testing  and will be operational  by mid-December. The Surveillance Division and the Aero-Toys Division have  cooperated  to produce a drone designed to observe and report behavior. Citing a huge information gap when children leave home, this Ubiquitous Air-Cam, also made invisible by pixie dust, will also report back to Command Central in real-time. New software has eliminated the leap year flaw in the Santy Cam.

Sales and Marketing reports that non Santa-grade drones without reporting software or pixie dust are flying off of the shelves by shoppers seeking the latest in trending technology.  Software Development is exploring a means of activating these ‘passive’ drones to ‘active’ reporters at a future date. Shoppers report,  “They are more fun than model airplanes. ” One purchaser shouted, ” These are Sick!”

Of course, all of this is fictional and not intended to disillusion or disturb the child in any of us. But it does cause me to wonder just how far we are willing to allow ‘make believe’ to color our ‘real’ lives.

In saw a Facebook post from the original page, Mommy Made, (not to be confused with http://www.mommymade.com, the web page of the creator of Baby Einstein), It read, ” Santa is the magic and love and spirit of giving to others…What it does do is teach children to believe in something they cannot see or touch….” She concludes this belief in Santa will allow belief in, among other things,God.

As you might guess, I beg to differ not from an expertise in child psychology but from a place of faith. Santa is not the source, motivation or inspiration of loving, giving or belief in the unseen. The Salvation Army kettles are not red because of Santa’s suit. Volunteers don’t ring those bells to be Santa’s heralds. Folks don’t reach in their pockets so Rudolph has enough feed for the winter. The  toys, coats, shoes and a host of other gifts are not collected  to make a sleigh full of gifts for the round mound from the frozen ground. Homeless Shelters and Food Pantries don’t say, “Santa made me do it”. WWSD won’t catch on.

Some might point to an innate goodness within us to move us to action. Maybe. Many claim a humanitarian, Spiritual, religious or faith-based inspiration. But for those us who came to believe in something we could not see or touch; it is because someone shared a story of God’s intimate coming in real-time and space through a Baby in a Box. This wooden crate was  made for feeding animals and wound up cradling the Bread of Heaven.  Such is an immediate and personal expression of love. As Christina Rosetti penned,    ” Love Came Down at Christmas.”

It is good to know the difference between  magic and mystery, pretend and promise. Magic is an illusion. Mystery tells of truth. Pretend is a distraction. Promise sees what will be. To quote Michael Card, ” That’s What Faith Must Be.”  ( Excuse, Skip or listen to the ad, to is up to you.)

Have a little fun with Elves on Shelves, Drones in the Darkness and Santa’s Cyber Sleuths. But know the difference in imagination and inspiration. Teach the little ones the same.   I believe the Baby in the Box is the reason we love, we live and we give. We love because He first loved us. We give because he first gave to us. Love is our plea, our token, our gift,  our sign.

And about this naughty or nice thing…The switches were woven into a crown of thorns. I understand He is not looking to punish but to give His best. .Isn’t that Good News!!

It is a mystery but such is Love.

 

 

 





A Different Date and Place

6 07 2014

Note: Written on the third of July but posted on the fifth.  Just letting it simmer for a few days…

Tomorrow will be July 4. In the United States celebrations will be ongoing. Flags of red, white and blue will adorn homes and yards around this nation. Grills will cook hot dogs and no doubt an occasional apple pie will be served à la mode. What is more  American than a  flag,  hot dogs and apple pie? Add a baseball game and let the fireworks begin.

Our corner of the globe and citizens of the U.S. around the globe will pause to pay homage to those who have provided and are providing for our nation’s freedom. We might even hoist up a chorus of God Bless America or America the Beautiful.

Fast forward two days. The date will be the sixth and the day is Sunday. Many citizens of the US and globally will gather for another celebration. The Christian Church will gather to celebrate freedom. A different kind of freedom.

This freedom  is not borne out of the resolve of a colonial people or 2 centuries of sacrifice but of a loving God who came to redeem the world. The blood shed for this independence was not on the battlefield of Concord but  Calvary.

Last May several churches in our community hosted Lyra, a Russian quartet, who sang Russian folk songs and Orthodox Church music. Because of their need to have room for singing and movement we removed all the  furniture customarily at the front of the sanctuary to make a stage, so to speak.

As our focus was on making a place for the singers, we left other  things in place. I did not notice how it might look to those in the congregation as they sat and listened to Christians from another part of the globe sing the songs of their faith in their language.

As I was listening to these singers share their, no our faith, I saw the flag of our nation beside of a fellow believer, Christian from another part of the globe. The Crimean crisis was in full bloom as were the Easter lilies heralding the victory of Christ. Many thoughts and emotions filled me.

So, why venture into this mine field? I tread lightly here because I need to be reminded of my primary allegiance. Maybe you might join me in that need?

Keeping first things first is the number one Commandment of ten; “You shall have no other Gods before me”. Psalm 146  cautions us not to put trust in princes.

It was Jesus who told us to give unto the government what is due that authority and to God what is due the Ultimate authority. He cautioned us we can not serve two masters.

When I try to find my place in all of this it seems my best and most faithful response is to let those National holidays be what they are and to let God’s Holy Day be what it is.

As scripture also reminds us there is a time and place under heaven for everything; a time for flags  and fireworks and a time for all who bear on our brow the seal of him who died, uniting in praise and worship of our Sovereign Lord – looking only to banner of the cross, Christ and His Church.

I hope all enjoyed the festivities of the fourth and I look forward to our shared faithful worship  of the Savior on the sixth.

Here’s to celebrations!!!