“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmastime.” – Laura Ingalls Wilder
“The baby, the star, and the wise men: a story of gifts and radical gratitude. Joy to the world!”― Diana Butler Bass, Grateful: The Transformative Power of Giving Thanks
May the true meaning of home
Be yours today and each day
May the story of Christmas be given and received by all
May we carry on changed, renewed and filled with a peace that passes understanding.
“The overarching narrative of the Bible is that of humanity searching for home.”― Diana Butler Bass, Grounded: Finding God in the World. A Spiritual Revolution
“There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of each man which cannot be satisfied by any created thing but only by God the Creator, made know through Jesus Christ.”― Pascal
“Sometimes religion gets in the way of God.”― Bono
Suspend judgment, knowing, rightness.
No religion or rules.
Lectures or proclamations.
Ego or smallness.
Enter possibility, wonder and inquiry.
Crack the door just a bit to allow a sliver of light in.
Ponder the story.
A young woman pregnant, cast out.
A husband, not the father, who’s trying to find shelter.
A barn filled with animals and “blue-collar” shepherds not kings.
Witnessing and partaking in the birth of a baby, who happens to be the Savior of the world.
Who would believe it?
The footprints and fingerprints of God becoming human to enter our story.
To understand our struggles and be able to say “I know where you’ve been and I’m walking with you now.”
It’s ridiculous, beyond imagination and comprehension.
Pure unconditional love entering a world that would crucify Him, and still do to this day.
Any yet, and yet, it is not an old story that’s over, but one that continues to this very day.
Born again and again in our hearts, in nature, in the petal of a flower, in the smile of a stranger, in an embrace of a broken relationship being mended, in resentments melted by forgiveness.
If we could only accept the invitation to grace, hope, joy, mercy, peace.
Before you say no, ponder if not for 24 hours, for 24 minutes, even 24 seconds.
Create room in the Inn of your heart.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukah, Happy Kwanzaa, Merry Open Heart. In whatever you celebrate that brings you beyond earthly bonds to touch the hem of heaven and return ready to take the action of love without condition.
“We must abandon the external height images in which the theistic God has historically been perceived and replace them with internal depth images of a deity who is not apart from us, but who is the very core and ground of all that is.” —Paul Tillich
“Ring the bells that still can ring Forget your perfect offering There is a crack in everything That’s how the light gets in.”― Leonard Cohen
“Empathy is the most mysterious transaction that the human soul can have, and it’s accessible to all of us, but we have to give ourselves the opportunity to identify, to plunge ourselves in a story where we see the world from the bottom up or through another’s eyes or heart.” – Sue Monk Kidd
The holiday season triggers a slew of emotions.
Loss of a loved one(s), recent or years ago, yet still ever present.
Childhood memories – both wonderful and difficult.
Family dynamics, fractured relationships, and the dreaded political pontifications.
We can keep going through the same door and write off the next six weeks. Endure.
OR, we can find the wonder woven in the season of hope and light.
Receiving and giving the gift of grace, kindness, empathy, forgiveness, making way for laughter, joy and peace.
Invite and allow a new story to born within this year.
One seed, one day at a time.
May this season feed and fill your heart with the healing power of love.
Plant hope, cast light.
“You will learn a lot about yourself if you stretch in the direction of goodness, of bigness, of kindness, of forgiveness, of emotional bravery. Be a warrior for love.”― Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar
“Today the Magi gaze in deep wonder at what they see: heaven on earth, earth in heaven, man in God, God in man, one whom the whole universe cannot contain now enclosed in a tiny body. As they look, they believe and do not question, as their symbolic gifts bear witness: incense for God, gold for a king, myrrh for one who is to die.”— Peter Chrysologus
The Epiphany – the culmination and destination of Advent and Christmas.
Unfathomable, transformational, relevant, meaningful, vibrant, alive and available to all to this very day.
Not history or fable, but past, present and future.
Ponder, seek, expand, allow awe and wonder in.
In the unknowing, mystery, beneath, above, around and beyond understanding, the Epiphany calls, invites and welcomes all in to be held, changed and made new.
“What are you doing, O Magi? Do you adore a little Babe, in a wretched hovel, wrapped in miserable rags? Can this Child be truly God? … Are you become foolish, O Wise Men … Yes, these Wise Men have become fools that they may be wise.”— Saint Bernard of Clairvaux
A woman who said “yes” without hesitation, with unshakeable trust ushers the Savior in. Let the light in to your routine and daily life, be upended, turned up and around. Cast Light.
“Truth, by which the world is held together, has sprung from the earth, in order to be carried in a woman’s arms.”— St Augustine
“The earth has grown old with its burden of care, but at Christmas it always is young, the heart of the jewel burns lustrous and fair, and its soul full of music breaks the air, when the song of angels is sung.” – Phillips Brooks
“All thoughts, all passions, all delights Whatever stirs this mortal frame All are but ministers of Love And feed His sacred flame.” – Samuel Taylor Coleridge
In a world that yells you’re not enough, not welcome, don’t belong, Christmas marks the end of isolation, aloneness, unworthiness, the beginning of acceptance, joy and love. Rejected from the start, no room at the Inn, Jesus comes to walk the same earth, experience the same judgment and though innocent, bears our own sins on the Cross to save the world. Fierce, reckless, unbelievable, undeserving love, grace and mercy.
Put down your rules, assumptions, opinions, ego, religion, judgment, comparison and flat familiar narratives for a moment. Open up to mere consideration of this fierce reckless love. Be held in the invitation, the welcoming, the homecoming, where nothing makes sense yet possibility lingers in inquiry, in imagination.
Change your answer, say yes and “make room at the Inn.” Don’t follow the crowd, break the rules, go off trail. Crack the door, open the window to wonder, contentment, delight, mystery, magnificence. Rest in the blessed assurance that you are never alone, never have been, nor will be.
That’s the message of Christmas – belonging, not just some, but all. Christmas demands more, gives more and transforms if we allow. Accept the invitation in your heart to come home where the hem of heaven kisses the earth this morning and each day going forward. Offered to each without reserve or measure.
Merry, Merry Christmas.
“There are four questions of value in life, Don Octavio. What is sacred? Of what is the spirit made? What is worth living for and what is worth dying for? The answer to each is the same. Only love.” – Lord Byron
“God is in the details.” – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
“Expectancy is the atmosphere for miracles.” – Edwin Louis Cole
In these last hours of Advent, prepare to enter Christmas through eyes and heart of a child. The waiting is over and the gift is arriving yet again to change the story, the trajectory, the future.
In wonder, love and joy, never miss the chance to pause from skating to plop down to make snow angels. To delight in the season and to carry it forward into the world. Generosity, kindness, compassion, understanding, inquiry, surprise, transformation, wanderlust, reverence, laughter, dancing, hope, singing, faith, color, trust, mystery, connection, snow angels. All gifts of this season. Open, invite it all in and in turn, give them all away freely. Be held and hold.
Merry Christmas. May we carry it forward when we return to ordinary days to transform them into extraordinary days.
“The Gospel comes in power and the Holy Spirit, with much assurance. If you call upon the name of the Lord, God will transform you on the inside, give you the shock of your life, and give you everlasting life on top of that.” – Ray Comfort
“The most valuable possession you can own is an open heart. The most powerful weapon you can be is an instrument of peace.” – Carlos Santana
“Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca
As the waiting, preparation and anticipation of Advent comes to its last few days, may Christmas be born in all hearts and poured out in actions. Love yourself so you can properly love others. Without condition, counting or delay, start from a place of love and be an instrument that builds, creates, enlivens and carries kindness and light into a chaotic undeserving world. In little things, great things bloom. Plant seeds of peace and love, grow joy and awe.
Prayer of St. Francis
“Lord make Me an instrument of Your peace
Where there is hatred let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness joy.
O Divine master grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand.
To be loved. as to love
For it’s in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born…
To eternal life.”
Peace. Love. Pardon. Faith. Hope. Light. Joy.
To you today and in the magical miraculous days ahead as Christmas comes to change our hearts and, in turn, the world.
An instrument of peace. A powerful weapon.
“The magnificent cosmos is a palace that has the sun and the moon as its lamps and the stars as its candles; time is like a rope or ribbon hung within it, on to which the Glorious Creator each year threads a new world.” – Said Nursi
“Darkness comes. In the middle of it, the future looks blank. The temptation to quit is huge. Don’t. You are in good company… You will argue with yourself that there is no way forward. But with God, nothing is impossible. He has more ropes and ladders and tunnels out of pits than you can conceive. Wait. Pray without ceasing. Hope.” – John Piper
You can be both optimistic and realistic.
Seeking, hunting without ceasing for light in the darkness.
Flowers and weeds.
As we begin the last month of the year and begin to make “plans” for 2022, do not forego these final days.
Do not forgo any days of the year.
This time of Advent to Christmas holds both celebration and struggle.
Amidst all of the seasons of Advent in life, there is joy to be found in the waiting, wandering and wondering.
And in the searching and seeking, the finding begins in the process itself, not in the arrival.
Take hold of the ropes, ladders and tunnels.
Protest for hope.
Light remains so seek it and allow it to come to and through you.
You may be the rope, ladder or tunnel someone needs today.
“o God, these are darkening days, with little hope in sight. o God, help us in our fear and desperation. anchor us in hope!
‘let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.’ —John 14:1
blessed are we with eyes open to see the accumulated suffering of danger, sickness and loneliness,
the injustice of racial oppression, the unimpeded greed and misuse of power, violence, intimidation, and use of dominance for its own sake,
the mockery of truth, and disdain for weakness or vulnerability—and worse the seeming powerlessness of anyone trying to stop it.
blessed are we who ask: where are you God? and where are Your people— the smart and sensible ones who fight for good and have the power to make it stick?
blessed are we who cry out: o God, why does the bad always seem to win? when will good prevail? o God we trust You, for we know You and love You.
for You o Lord, are the One who seeks out the helpless, lifts them on Your shoulders, and carries them home no matter how broken they are, or what wrong they have done.
o God, seek us out, and find us, we your helpless people, and lead us out to where hope lies where your kingdom will come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. for You are the anchor dropped into the future —our future.
open your hands as you release your prayers. then take hold of hope. as protest.”
“A merry heart does good like medicine.” – Proverbs 17:22
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” – James 1:17
On a quiet Christmas morning, we were greeted with a fresh blanket of snow on our daily trip to the dog park. The new snow creates a challenge for ball chasing if you don’t keep your eye on the ball. If Abby looked too far ahead or back in anticipation, she missed the ball when it went deep in the snow. She searched with intent and focus to look for the lost ball.
This season is a time to reflect on and celebrate the birth of Jesus who entered a broken world in a stable filled with animals and ordinary people. The promise and gift is that He remains with us each day on our imperfect, beautiful and flawed journey. He searches for our time and attention to lighten our days and create meaning from the journey.
The Christmas story is not one of the past but of what’s present and available to us now. Today and every day, heaven comes to earth to save us from ourselves. Accept this incomprehensible, undeserved gift of peace, grace, mercy, light and love. It’s as real today as it was that cold, lonely, miraculous day in a stable for there was no room at the Inn. Make room at your “Inn” for God to participate in your life.
Not too far back or ahead, keep your eye on the ball. Merry Christmas.
“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” – 2 Corinthians 9:15
Today, the most sacred of days for Christians, we celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ, a baby born in a barn, rejected from the beginning. As I savored Celine Dion’s renditions of Oh Come All Ye Faithful and Oh Holy Night, it occurred to me that we are called to invite not only the faithful, but the faithless, hopeless and lost into the miracle of today.
No religion or denomination owns today or fully comprehends the grace, love and mercy that is given without condition. It is a celebration for all humankind – the hurting, the struggling and the imperfect.
And those of us who believe in the birth, crucifixion and resurrection are expected to share the love, kindness and awe born on this day. Less talking, more showing in how we live it out each day. It requires humility, forgiveness, acceptance and a big dose of joy.
Today and each day ahead, a weary world rejoices. Join us in unexplainable hope, faith, love and light. We are the imperfect, the faithful that falter and the found who go astray. There’s plenty of room at the table. Oh holy night indeed.