Just A Piece of Paper?

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We were in-town visiting my in-laws in mid-December. There was an appointment to take my mother-in-law to and preparations to be made for a family Christmas party a few days later. We sat down to a Costco dinner when I saw the slip of paper on the kitchen table. It would have been easy to miss in the menagerie of food, dishes, papers, and medicine bottles scattered in front of me.

It was just a slip of paper announcing an “Advent Spiral Walk” for that very night in less than an hour. The title caught my eye because I had never heard of an Advent Spiral Walk. I suggested that we check it out. My mother-in-law did not want to go if it was held outside in the cold. I wasn’t sure about driving in the dark in an unfamiliar town. Wouldn’t I rather just stay put and unwind in front of the television for the evening? Still, something tugged at me to go, if simply for the fact that it was nearby and free. Curiosity won out.

My in-laws’ church is small, but big on ideas for fresh ways to encounter Jesus. I didn’t know what to expect, but I felt twinges of excitement and anticipation. We entered the church and were greeted by angels. They were the human kind with white robes, tinsel halos and genuine smiles. An angel led us into the sanctuary decked out with greenery, red bows, and lit candles everywhere. A Christmas tree towered over us as the sentinel for the ceramic nativity scene. The Christ family was huddled together in the stable on one side of the room. The wise men were travelling from afar on the opposite side of the sanctuary.

The crowd was sparse as the pianist played Christmas carols and the audience sang along. It was the perfect atmosphere to be still and let the rich words of well-known and new-to-me Christmas songs settle deep in my soul. After a while, the angel invited us to the Advent Spiral Walk held in a different part of the church. We walked into a darkened room with the flicker of candlelight outlining the spiral and edges of the room.  Pine branches comprised the spiral and beckoned us in.

We were given an unlit candle to carry as we began our journey. The Advent Walk was designed to be savored, not rushed. Candlelight guided our path as our eyes, minds, and hearts were illuminated. Each step and each candle were a reminder that Jesus is the Light of the world and in the dark recesses of our hearts. In the center of the spiral, an angel lit our candles and instructed us to place our light on the path. Future spiral-walkers would follow our light just as we were guided by the light of others before us.

Just a slip of paper? My answer is no. That piece of paper was an invitation to remember the reason for the season. It was my permission slip to slow down and enjoy the moments leading up to Christmas. It was an opportunity to reflect and prepare my heart in the midst of a very busy month. The paper was a reminder to experience Christ as I celebrate Christmas.

Jesus’s light shouldn’t be obscured by the busyness, presents, baked goodies, cards, shopping, parties, and distractions of achieving that perfect Christmas. Jesus is the perfect gift and the perfect Christmas. Jesus is the Son of God who became flesh so we can personally receive God’s gift of extreme love.

Seek the light, be the light, and share the light this Christmas season!

John 8:12

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Acts 13:47

For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”

Psalm 119:105

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

 

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A Chocolate Connoisseur, I Am Not!

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Although I didn’t have any plans to travel out of the country for Christmas, I bought a passport. A chocolate passport. It was advertised as a chocolate adventure for the taste buds. Ten bars of dark chocolate, single sourced from localities around the world. The descriptions were inviting with lines like, “Deep chocolate aroma with floral and fruit notes,” and, “Marked fruity taste with a touch of spice.” Teasers that filled me with anticipation. And oh the chocolate was wonderful. I savored each bite and concentrated on the undertones, the notes and the touches, but I didn’t get it. Maybe I am just a chocolate lover and not a chocolate connoisseur. It was not the first time that the finer things of life were lost on me. I remember when I first became interested in the Bible as an adult seeker. As with any good book, I started at the beginning. It was an exciting read with many story lines in Genesis and Exodus. Then I reached Leviticus with all the laws foreign to my senses. I was thrown for a loop as I simply didn’t get it. Fast-forward ten years in my relationship with the Lord. Now those same passages spoke volumes to my heart. I loved the foreshadowing of Jesus in the Old Testament. The connections between the Old and New Testaments reinforced God’s plan for mankind and for me. The difference was that I had the Holy Spirit inside of me. The Spirit that reveals the deeper truths. The Spirit that expresses faith with nuances. The Spirit that proves over and over how sweet our life is in God’s hands. .

Psalm 34:8

Taste and see that the LORD is good, blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.

Psalm 119:103

How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!