My M&M friend wanted to take a selfie. I had to help him.

Do you know what this is?

Photo credit: Dave Knickerbocker (as you could probably guess by the lack of quality)

This little guy looks pretty good for being around for so long.  He’s an M&M (duh) from the Christmas tree lights I insisted on buying. It was for our first Christmas tree after getting engaged over 17 years ago. He’s been through a lot. For the first couple years, at the end of the season I would meticulously re-insert green and the colorful friends from his light strip neighborhood into the plastic case they had come in. My hope was that they would remain in mint condition for years.

Then the kids started coming. When Jess got tall enough to be able to liberate them from their coniferous cage to live out the rest of their days with Barney and a few Disney princesses, I was forced to adjust. I reassigned the plastic candy that hadn’t been claimed by a Knickerbocker toddler to the top of our plastic tree. Also, with more kids came more decorations and more frustration packing and repacking them every year. It took several years, but eventually I resorted to winding them up like any other set of lights and tossing them in the box.

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A nuance to nostalgia

A Norwegian Christmas, 1846 painting by Adolph...

A Norwegian Christmas, 1846 painting by Adolph Tidemand. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jesus, I’m sorry.  I’m sorry because I continually make the same mistake in my spiritual journey – and it throws me off.  But it’s so easy to do!  Especially during the Christmas season.

Sadly, nostalgia is waning in this great country. But Christmas has remained a great theater for remembrances of the good ol’ days. Is that by your design? We are drawn to Christmas, perhaps subtly, by more than an excuse for extravagant spending. I think that maybe adults still have a child in them who desires, whether they know it or not, for these great gifts than only you can give to them.

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God the Jokester

Zechariah meets an angel, Fordham

Zechariah meets an angel, Fordham (Photo credit: TheRevSteve)

I love scaring my kids. Creeping ninja-like to avoid the sound of creaky floorboards . . . waiting in silence for several minutes at just the right spot, and then . . . “Raaaaaaa!”  Recently, my daughter Jess jumped and threw all of her laundry in the air, and she and her accouterments fell to the floor. I’ve taken to getting video records of their reactions (which are hilarious), but I won’t share them with the world so as to avoid expensive therapy.

Zechariah, who would become the father of John the Baptist, was performing his priestly duty when an angel crept up on him in Luke 1. It was his turn to offer incense before the Lord alongside the daily sacrifice.  It’s an honor that priests had only once a lifetime, if they had a chance at all.

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Silly Black Friday

English: Oven roasted turkey, common fare for ...

English: Oven roasted turkey, common fare for Christmas and Thanksgiving celebrations. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s a thought my daughter Jessica brought home from school a couple of weeks ago. It goes something like this: Only in America do we take a day off to thank God for all that he’s given to us and then take the next day off to fight each other to get more.

Of course, that must have been written before this year.  Like that old movie The Blob, Christmas has been surrounding and absorbing its lesser celebrated holiday neighbor for some time now.

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Have you ever been aMaZeD by God? Lynda has.

Evangel's Christmas shop! (that's Lynda and Sheryl in the background)

Evangel’s Christmas shop! (that’s Lynda and Sheryl in the background)

My good friend Lynda Hawkins took a chance, and it paid off in a big way.  She asked people to help and was, as she put it, “aMaZeD” (she works with kids, so you can understand her penchant for fancy word art) at how people responded with donations to help our church help people in need at Thanksgiving.

So she did it again.

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Here’s the gift that is the greatest reflection of me!

Have you ever done a white elephant gift exchange?

It’s basically this: take something from your home that you don’t use or want . . . and you get to unload it on your friends.  No purchasing of gifts allowed. Wrap it and bring it to the party.  We did this for our young adult Christmas party from church.  Each person is instructed to choose a number out of a hat.  Whoever chooses number one goes to the table with the gifts first, chooses one, and unwraps it.  The person with number 2 can then either steal what number 1 has or open another gift from the table.  Number 3 can steal either from number one or number two, and so on.

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How was Mary so poised when her unexpected visitors showed up?

English: - santons featuring the adoration by ...

English: – santons featuring the adoration by the shepherds. Français : Crèche de Noël – santons représentant l’adoration des bergers. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s great taking a fresh look at something you know so well.  In our Sunday School class yesterday we looked at the familiar Christmas story passage in Luke 2.  The direction of the discussion led us to consider the scene in a new way, and from two different perspectives.

The shepherds had been sitting out in the fields, bored to the very core of their souls, and angels popped into their presence from out of nowhere. You can be sure that they didn’t see that one coming. Of course, there was the obligatory fear that grips anyone who finds themselves in the presence of those who are regularly in the presence of the Almighty.  As the holy choir danced off to praise God in heaven, the shepherds ran across town to praise him on earth.

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You can’t understand Christmas more than this guy

Christmas at Rockefeller Center, located in Ne...

Christmas at Rockefeller Center, located in New York City, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was a member of The Salvation Army for most of my life, so the Christmas season had often left my ears ringing weeks into the New Year.  It wasn’t as bad for me as it was for some because I would play carols on my cornet (very similar to a trumpet) too.  During the 1998 season I was primarily in Manhattan near Rockefeller Center for the Red Kettle Campaign. One day I was at the main entrance of Saks 5th Avenue, in the middle of the block.  This picture is the view I had looking across the street from the store.

A man in a wheelchair rolled up to the corner and began soliciting donations for himself.  His tin can advertised his status as a veteran in need.  One of his legs was missing below the knee.  He had on an ancient woolly hat that was more holes than fabric.  His coat was adorned with electrical tape placed over tears to keep the insulation from escaping.  One of the lenses of his glasses made his eye look twice as large through the many scratches.  White tape and cotton balls covered the other eye.  While singing to the tunes I was playing he would shake the can and, with raised brow, invite people to help alleviate his situation.

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Crazy Jesus question #1 – “At what age did you know you are God?”

Thinker

Thinker (Photo credit: paukrus)

Our young adult group had an interesting discussion last night. I gave each person a blank piece of paper and asked them a series of nine questions about Christmas and Jesus’ life. I instructed them to write the answer to each question, fold the paper just enough to cover their answers, and pass the paper to the right for the next question. It’s a great way to have people answer honestly because of the safety of anonymity.

We ended with a question that got great responses: “If you had one question that Jesus would answer for you – absolutely anything – what would it be?”

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What do Justin Bieber and Egg and cheese sandwiches have in common?

Pork Roll, Egg & Cheese Race

Pork Roll, Egg & Cheese Race (Photo credit: tedkerwin)

Jessica is my 14-year-old daughter. As I am addicted to cookies, she is addicted to egg and cheese sandwiches (and Justin Bieber). There are less healthy things to be addicted to. So it’s not a problem for us, except for the time it takes to make them for her while trying to get everyone out the door in the morning. And, I’m a big proponent of training kids to take on responsibility commensurate with their ages.

My suggestion to Vanda, my wife, was that Jessica learn to do some things for herself – like making her own breakfast. After all, I was making my own when I was 2 1/2, like everyone else born before the Ford presidency. (We actually walked 2 miles to school in 3 feet of snow during winters in Syracuse, NY). So this didn’t seem like a huge task to me.

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