Monday, December 31, 2012

It's the best thought for the new year. 
After we hoped, waited, anticipated, longed for Christmas presents, they are unwrapped and are no longer new.  The sparkle is gone. The Princess Barbies lie naked alongside the old Barbies, the batteries are used up on the electronics, and the sweater is getting fuzz balls. Hope does not live in things which cannot satisfy. 
"As an anchor thrown to the bottom of the sea holds the ship fast amid storms and tempests;
so the Christian's hope penetrates the waves of this troublesome world,
 and reaches the eternal shore, holding fast his soul amid the waves of sin." 
"Hope takes fast hold of heaven itself. (T. Brooks)
 "Faith is the perceiving, hope the anticipating ....
Faith, hath respect to the truth of the word; hope, to its fulfilment. 
Faith lays hold of that end of the promise which is nearest to us, even in the divine book;
 hope, of that end of the promise which is fastened to the mercy-seat within the veil...
Faith is founded on what is in the Bible; hope on what is in heaven."(C. Stanford.)
"Hope is an active grace: it is called a lively hope..
.Hope of a crop makes the husbandman sow his seed;
 hope of a victory makes the soldier fight;
and a true hope of glory makes a Christian vigorously pursue glory." (T. Watson)  
"I hope in Thee, O Lord..." Psalm 38:15

"How wise, as well as how pleasant, it is to hope...
the hopeful are the wisest as well as the happiest of this mortal congregation.
In the cheerful, faithful spirit of those who can hope
has the promise of this life as well as that which is to come."
"Sometimes God lets you hit rock bottom so that you will discover
that He is the rock at the bottom."
Hope looks up.
"But now abide faith, hope, and love, these three..."
I Corinthians 13:13

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude: don't-give-up-ism.  I used to tell people that I had the most disciplined kids I knew, it just didn't take.  I tried to be consistant, went through lots of wooden spoons and had a ping-pong-paddle just for the car.  Rest stops were known as "spanking stations."  Then we sucessfully transitioned into no spankings.  I trained my self to say, "I will discipline you if you don't..."  I tried star charts, reward systems, and restrictions.  If I put my eldest in his room, he tore up his favorite books and toys and would dangerously scale the furniture teetoring on the brink of destruction.  On trips, we would stop the car and make them walk alongside the road (supervised) for awhile.  Hmm, sounds like God and His kids.  He is faithfully consistent with His warnings and carrying through with the consequences of disobedience.  Sin has pleasure for a moment, but always comes back to bite.  He also has the ultimatum of all ultimatums: eternity: "For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries." Hebrews 10:26-27.  That is why we dedicate our children to God, because we do all we can but it is never enough.   It is a recognition that they truly belong to Him, and we need His help.  He helps us to never give up; as long as it is called day, we have hope. Don't give up.  Like Abraham, we say, "God will provide," even up to the last moment.

"Do not mistake my silence for ignorance,
My calmness for acceptance,
And my kindness for weakness."
"God's grace is immeasurable,
His mercy is inexhaustible,
His peace is inexpressible."
"'My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
Nor faint when you are reproved by Him;
For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines,
And He scourges every son whom He receives.' 
It is for discipline that you endure;
God deals with you as as with sons;
for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
...Furthermore, we had eartly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them;
...For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them,
but He disciplines us for our good,
that we may share His holiness.
All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful,
but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it,
afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness."
Hebrews 12:5-11
Attitude of Gratitude: poetry of Christmas.  I wasn't ready for Christmas to be over before Christmas, but I am looking forward to bringing order to my clutter for the new year.  However, I want to leave you with one last Christmas post...One of my favorite Victorian poets is Christina Rossetti.  She was born in 1830 to an Italian family who sought refuge in London, England, one of four siblings.  All were writers and her brother Dante a well-known artist who often used his beautiful sister as a subject.  Depression ran through her family which she suffered as well while battling ill health.  Her father was a teacher at Kings College until his health failed.  Christina and her mother tried to run a school in their home, which they soon gave up.  Her mother secured a teaching job, and her sister became a governess, while her brothers found other work along with their artistic endeavors.  Christina was the most frail and wrote at home as part of an artists' circle which included Whistler and Lewis Carol, friends of her brother's.  She was engaged three times but broke it off due to religious reasons.  Christina was an evangelical Anglican and refused to marry a Catholic or non-Christian..  Her sister became an Anglican nun. Christina volunteered at Charity House which helped former prostitutes.  She was an advocate for underaged girls caught up in the trade.  Many of her writings were for children.  Here is one of my favorite Christmas carols of one of her poems set to music. 

In the bleak midwinter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter
Long ago.
Our God, heav'n cannot hold him
Nor earth sustain;
Heav'n and earth shall flee away
When he comes to reign;
In the bleak midwinter
A stableplace sufficed
The Lord God Almighty
Jesus Christ.
Enough for him, whom cherubim
Worship night and day,
Breastful of milk,
And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for him, whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Which adore.
Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherumbim and seraphim
Thronged the air:
Only his mother
In her maiden bliss
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss.
What can I give him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb;
If I were a wise man
I would do my part;
Yet what can I give him
Give my heart.
"Because of the tender mercy of our God
With which the Sunrise from on high shall visit us."
Luke 1:78
"Art matters.  It is not simply a leisure activity for the priviledged or a hobby for the eccentric.  It is a practical good for the world.  The work of an artist is an expression of hope--it is homage to the value of human life, and is vital to society."
"The Crowd, The Critic, and The Muse," by Michael Gungor
(Gungor, "He Makes Beautiful Things Out of Dust."
"The earth has music for those who listen."

Friday, December 28, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude:  truth or dare.  I never played it in my life: it isn't because I mind telling the truth, I see no sense in being bound to a silly dare.  Having lived the last 35 yrs in a "fishbowl" as a pastor's wife and having had my house inspected several times as a foster parent or day care provider, my life is an open book.  I hope to always walk in truth.  A dare would be like tugging on Superman's Cape, or spitting into the wind. Some people think they can dare God and mess with Him.  That should be called "truth or consequences." (Did you know there is a town, "Truth or Consequences" in Arizona?)   The Bible calls it "speaking the truth in love," letting people know the consequences of their actions. (Ephesians 4:15)

"Whenever I see that human beings do act up as fully as they can to all the laws of their Maker,
I shall be prepared to admire misery, agony, sickness, and all tortures of mind or body as excellent devices of the Deity, expressly appointed for our benefit (consequences); but while I see obvious and abundant natural causes for them in our disobedience to His laws, I shall scarce come to that conclusion, in spite of all the good which He makes for us out of our evil.  I know we must sin, but we sin more than we must; and I know we must suffer, but we suffer more than we must do so..."

Fortunately we have a merciful God.  "Mercy is entering into the chaos of another."  That's what Jesus did for us.  Sometimes the most merciful thing we can do is telling someone the truth.

"Always pray to have
Eyes that see the best in people,
A heart that forgives the worst,
A mind that forgets the bad,
And a soul that never loses faith in God." 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Four more have been born since this picture!
Attitude of Gratitude: Christmas leftovers.  I'm not talking about food, even though those are tasty.  I mean happy thoughts like how Addie was screaming and sobbing, beside herself with overwhelming joy at the huge Minnie & Micky she and Ezra got: by the time she arrived at Grandma's, all she wanted to play with were some pine cones she found...Or, Ella and Avery's bliss with vintage American Girl Dolls and kaboodles...Or, Laura hugging her stuffed animal kitty, simple pleasures...Or the huge basketball hoop that Jimmy put together in their living room...Or, the beautiful mirror that my daughters got me which was the one item I had seen in a store that I had liked better than anything else--which they didn't know, but knew my taste and selected it for me...Or, little Oliver on his moose rocker...Or the video of Zane in his underware playing his drum set...Or Grace's delight at a gift of a Pegasus, of all things...Or my boys eyes lighting up at their big present...Or the precious gift of our Saviour which I can't wait in coming years to celebrate again and again.  There are mean and nasty grinches in this sinful world that try to steal our joy, but nothing can snatch it away because it truly isn't about things: it's about love that is given regardless of our worthiness or reciprical appreciation.  How are your leftovers?

Mother's Rocking Hymn

"When God with us was dwelling here,
In little babes He took delight:
Such innocents as thou, my dear,
Are ever precious in His sight.
Sweet baby, then forebear to weep;
Be still, my babe; sweet baby sleep."

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude: sons.  I realize that I say, "Good boy," mostly to my dog, and "No!" to my sons.  I need to work on that.  God said at Jesus' baptism, "This is my Son in whom I am well pleased."  Mary had His Son.  There were threats against her life and thus, her unborn son's since she appeared to be pregnant out of wedlock, and Jewish law said she could be stoned to death.  Herod, the evil ruler, sought to kill Him as an infant, but an angel warned Joseph to escape to Egypt.  Her Son was finally killed when He was thirty while she watched Him suffer.  We have an enemy of our soul who is out to steal,  kill and destroy.  First he wants to steal our life in Christ, then kill us for eternity, destroying hope.  Like the Israelites in Egypt, where Joseph sought refuge, the blood over the doorpost was necessary or the angel of death passing over would not spare the first boy son.  I pray the blood over the doorpost for my sons knowing Jesus came as a vulnerable babe to destroy the works of Satan.

"The Saviour's Work"
"The babe in Bethlem's manger laid
In humble form so low;
By wond'ring angels is surveyed
Through all his scenes of woe:
Nowell Nowell, now sing a Saviour's birth,
All hail his coming down to earth
Who raises us to heav'n!
A Saviour! sinners all around
Sing, shout the wondrous word;
Let ev'ry bosom hail the sound,
A Saviour! Christ the Lord: (Nowell chorus)
For not to sit on David's throne
With wordly pomp and joy,
He came on earth for sin to atone,
And Satan to destroy: (Nowell chorus)
To preach the word of life divine,
And feed with living bread,
To heal the sick with hand benign,
And raise to life the dead: (Nowell chorus)
He preached, he suffered, bled and died,
Uplift 'twixt earth and skies;
In sinners' stead was crucified,
For sin a sacrifice: (Nowell chorus)
Well may we sing a Saviour's birth,
Who need the grace so given,
And hail his coming down to earth,
Who raises us to heaven: (Nowell chorus)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude: wildest imagination.  Children know how to do it, to live in the land of  make-believe, to fly with the wings of imagination.  That's why the big guy in the red suit gets his superpowers from a humble beginning in the fourth century from a Saint named Nicholas.  This afternoon our neighbor boy wanted to know how Jesus got His "Powers."  I explained the incarnation, the virgin birth, fully God & fully man, and said, "But I know it's hard to comprehend."  He simply said, "I understand."

 "The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us,
and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father,
full of grace and truth."
John 1:14
So many people did not accept Jesus as the Messiah because
 His coming was beyond their wildest imagination.
  Have you beheld His glory full of grace and truth?

"Each of us is an innkeeper who decides if there is room for Jesus."
Neal Maxwell.
Once the Christmas story has been read, the presents opened, and good food has filled our tummies, take some time in front of the fire and read.  I hope you got a good book for Christmas.
Books I have read recently in front of the fire, in my car waiting, in line at the store..."Home Again" and "The Elect Lady" by George MacDonald, "When I Lay My Isaac Down" by Carol Kent, and "The Crowd, the Critic and the Muse, A Book for Creators" by Michael Gungor ("He Makes Everything Out of Dust") "The Scandal-Monger" (eigthteen century weird events), "American Indian Myths & Mysteries," and "Once Upon a Christmas" by Lauraine Snelling & Lenora Worth ("Christian" fiction fluff.) +  I'm on my third book on Kindle!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude: being a grandparent.  How sweet love is. I have the most beautiful grandchildren in the world, and the smartest and most talented brag, just fact.  "Children are often spoiled because no one will spank Grandma."  What else are grandmas for?  Addie melted my heart sitting in front of a Christmas tree patting a space of 8" for me to sit in calling, "Ceeja."  I sat on the more spacious other side of her.   Once when Robin was three she prayed for her Grandma to have a baby."  Does God answer prayer?  Fortunately, He did not answer that one or there might have been another biblical story like Sarah & Abraham or Elizabeth & Zacharias. How do you know you are a grandparent?  Because whenever you put the grandchildren down for a nap, you need one yourself.  Or, you can say, "When I was your age, Pluto was a planet...and we had Twinkies." 

"Dutch Carol"
"A child is born in Bethlehem:
Awaiteth him all Jerusalem.
Amor, amor,
Amor, amor, amor!
Dulcis est amour!
(Love, how sweet is love.)
The Son took upon him humanity,
That to the Father thus draws nigh:
Amor, amor...
The angels above were singing then,
Below were rejoicing the shepherd men.
Amor, amor...
Now let us all with the angels sing,
Yea, now let our hearts for gladness spring.
Amor, amor..."

Merry Christmas Eve!
a little shephard wardrobe malfunction!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude: camels.  Did you know that there were camels in California?  They were brought to the top of the Grapevine at the fort in the late 1800's .  It didn't catch on, I'm afraid.  Other than animal parks and zoos, they are rather rare this side of the pond.   Unless you are crossing a desert, horses are so much more pleasant: they won't spit at you.  This week Noah was waiting in the car for his dad to get coffee at 7/11, when he read a sign to his mom,  "Hey, that's a good deal!  You can buy Camels for only $2.75!"  I don't think camels parallel parked in front of the place where Jesus lay was an everyday occurance.  The star guiding the Wise Men certainly was a once and only once upon a time in history.   No wonder Mary pondered these things in heart.  She had barely gotten over the shepherds and the angels.  Following Starlight, makes me think how God knows exactly where we live and what we need, even if it takes horsepower rather than a camel to get there.

"Stars can't shine without darkness."
"Why wish upon a star when you can pray to the One who created it."
"...and lo, the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them, until it came and stood over where the Child was.  And when they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy."
Matthew 2:9-10

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude: the Comforter.  We had a lovely time of fellowship at our Ladies
Christmas Party.  However at prayer time, it became evident so many are hurting and grieving this time of year.  Loss.  The Lizardo family is missing Julian.  Caitlin's husband Matt's family is missing his mother.  Three of Andru's school mates died of heart attacks this year while in their thirties leaving their widows and young children, Gayle's mother in law is spending her first Christmas without her husband, Sandy Hook, and the list goes on...There's more than one kind of loss.  There's the loss of health, the loss through divorce, and the loss of dreams.  We hang onto our faith and hope because we are so in need of the Saviour who came.  It is not the tinsle and present kind of celebration, but the dig in the fingernails, thankful for the knot in the rope from which to dangle.
Even though we buried my parents one year ago, I do not grieve because I know they are celebrating with Him in person and are free from the terrible condition they suffered with.  We had so many happy times in beautiful Colorado at Christmas with them, but they are reflected in my home with its many memories of them.  I will see them again someday.  Jesus said that in this world we would have trouble: just look at the troubles He came to suffer. In the meanwhile, He said He would not leave us, nor forsake us, but would send the Comforter to be with us. (John 16:5-7)  Handel's "Messiah" sings

"'Comfort, O Comfort My people,'
says your God."
Isaiah 40:1
"Sorrow and sighing will flee away.
I, even I, am He who comforts you..."
Isaiah 51:11-12
"The prettiest smiles hide the deepest secrets,
The prettiest eyes have cried the most tears,
and the kindest hearts have felt the most pain."
"Of Grief"
"There are some griefs so loud
They could bring down the sky,
And there are griefs so still
No one knows how deep they lie,
Endured, never expended.
There are old griefs so proud
They never speak a word.
They never can be mended
And these nourish the will
And keep it iron-hard."
May Sarton

Friday, December 21, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude: Christmas presents.  When someone asks me, "What do you want for Christmas?" I have brain freeze.  I can't think of one single itty, bitty thing.  I feel like a queen who has everything anyone could ever want and more.  I am so blessed. Then as the day progresses a lightbulb goes on: I want a broom, one of those cute ones with the pretty printed handle.  My old one is so curled up, it's beginning to look like a poodle.  I wish I could sweep away the dirt in everyone's life.  There's an old saying, "The old broom knows where the dirt is": some days I need a new broom and a new attitude.  Today I looked up and saw my ceiling fan draped in so many delicate cobwebs that it looked like a chandelier, only not so shiny.  Next thing I know it was raining dust bunnies as the old broom went to work.  Most of the time I am content to sit under the hanging dirt and not look up.  It fit the haunted house Halloween look, but Christmas, not so much.  We are like that with God.  He wants to show us things to clean up in our lives, but we prefer the cobwebs: we think we are okay as long as we don't look up to see the dirt in our lives from His perspective.  His Christmas present to us was His Son so that we can pray,

"Create in me a clean heart, O God..."
Psalm 51:10

My constant prayer for myself and others is from the Christmas Carol "Away in a Manger,"
"Fit us for heaven to live with thee there."

Hymn in the Holy Nativity.
"Gloomy night embraced the place
Where the noble infant lay;
The babe looked up and showed his face,
In spite of darkness it was day!
It was thy day, sweet, and did rise,
Not from the East, but from thine eyes
Great little one!
Whose all-embracing birth
Lifts earth
 to heaven,
Stoops heaven to earth."
Cranshaw, 1648

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude: the most unlikely characters...Thinking over the Christmas play, isn't it amazing that all these centuries since Augustine began the live nativity reinactments that our celebration has centered on an unwed mother whose child was born in a barn, a carpenter, shepherds, and wisemen?  Mix in a few angels and lousy government officials and you have the makings of a bizarre, but wonderful story.  A church is like that: a strange assortment of people from all walks of life coming together to worship the Savior who have little else in common except that we still have lousy government officials.  Our angels are our most innocent, our little children who help to show us the way.

"Because of the tender mercy of our God,
With which the Sunrise from on high shall visit us,
To shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,
To guide our feet into the way of peace."
Luke 1:78-79 
"Christmas is just plain weird.  What other time of the year
do you sit in front of a dead tree in the living room and eat candy out of your sock?"

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude: willing participants...In sixth grade I had the leading role, Grizelda in Rumplestiltskin.  I had to pretend to cry and in the end get a peck on the cheek by the Prince Charming.  I hated it with a passion, begged my teacher to get out of it, and swore off drama from that point on.  If it weren't for the absolutely beautiful gown from the Pasadena Theater's deep closet, I don't know if I would have gone through with it in spite of my teacher's pleading.  I have sympathy with those who want to beg off of Sunday School productions, including my own children all the way into church.  But the show must go on.  I appreciate those who participated in Sunday's play, each and every one.  The older they get, the less enthusiasm and volunteers.  It is usually the littlest who steal the show, like little Oliver the tiny shepherd, or sweet Hannah as Mary or angelic Jane, or a wee Wise Man, Ezra.  Innocence is charming.  We need to come to worship our Lord with willing hearts.  The ones on the platform every Sunday play only a small part: the congregation must take an active role in worshipping.  Are you a leading lady?  In the final pagent, we will get to wear a beautiful, shining white gown that will be heavenly.

"To us in Bethlem city
Was born a little son;
In him all gentle graces
Were gathered into one. 
Eia, eia,
Were gathered into one.
And all our love and fortune
Lie in his mighty hands;
Our sorrows, joys, and failures,
He sees and understands,
Eia, eia,
He sees and understands,
O Shepherd, ever near us,
We'll go where thou dost lead;
No matter where the pasture,
With thee at hand to feed,
Eia, eia,
With thee at hand to feed.
No grief shall part us from thee,
However sharp the edge;
We'll serve, and do thy bidding--
Take our hearts in pledge!
Eia, eia
Take thou our hearts in pledge!"
Colner Psalter, 1638
Oxford Carols

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude: leaving the lights on...The Hallmark movie last night was about how a town rallied to have Christmas in November for a little cancer patient they did not think would last until December.  The whole town was lit up a month early.  It is the opposite picture of Newtown, Conneticut, where the tragedy has caused much of the town to pull down their Christmas lights.  I sympathize with their response to an overwhelming horrific event.  However, I am glad that the Light of the World has come to dispell the darkness. 

"Violence will not be heard again in your land,
Nor devastation or destruction within your borders...
No longer will you have the sun for light by day,
Nor for brightness will the moon give you light;
But you will have the Lord for an everlasting light,
And your God for your glory.
Your sun will set no more,
Neither will your moon wane;
for you will have the Lord for an everlasting light,
And the days of your mourning will be finished."
Isaiah 60:18-20

"O Little One"
German, S. Scheidt, 1650

"O little one sweet, O little one mild,
Thy Father's purpose thou hast fulfilled;
Thou cam'st from heav'n to mortal ken,
Equal to be with us poor men,
O little one sweet, O little one mild.

O little one sweet, O little one mild,
With joy thou hast the whole world filled;
Thou camest here from heav'n' domain,
To bring men comfort in their pain,
O little one sweet, O little one mild.

O little one sweet, O little one mild,
In thee love's beauties are all distilled;
Then light in us thy love's bright flame,
That we may give thee back the same,
O little one sweet, O little One mild.

 Oxford Book of Carols


Monday, December 17, 2012

Caitlin has that classic beauty, like my image of Mary.
Attitude of Gratitude: Romance.  First comes love then comes marriage. Have you noticed that most fiction is centered on that short time of boy-meets girl, they fall in love, work through the complications, and get married.  Living happily ever after seems to be a given. Notice I said "fiction" because real life is a little harder than that.  Yet, God uses this as a symbol of His love for us: there is a universal longing to be fulfilled in that One True Love.  Betrothed means to be promised, engaged to be married.  "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows.  When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit." (Matthew 1:18)  There never has been such an engagement as this.  What seemed to be sin, unfaithfulness, a broken betrothal, was told by an angel to Joseph that this child, "is He who will save His people from their sins"   It was the opposite of what it appeared. God's purpose was to promise His love and faithfulness to us, "And I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in lovingkindness and in compassion, And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness."  Hosea 2:19-20.  Have you made that commitment of an eternity of romance with your One True Love, who is the fulfillment of the longing of the ages?  The groom will make a grand entrance: "And I saw the heaven opened and behold, a white horse and He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True."  He is our knight in shining armor who will keep His promise, His betrothal to you.  We celebrate the love child of God at Christmas, but the romance is just begun.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude: missing pieces.  When I grow up, I won't have to do puzzles.  Oh, I am grown up! I will now sing the Hallelujah Chorus.  Puzzles in my family were part of our Christmas activities.  I always thought, "Why?"  I'm not big on crossword puzzles either. (In fact I quit playing board games when I was trying to play and quiet colicy babies at the same time.)  Puzzles were the worst part of teaching preschool: do you know the shame when a toddler can put one of those clunky wooden ones together faster than you?  And then, puzzles seem to always have a missing piece.  My job at the puzzle table was to crawl around under it to look for the piece that went astray when soon it became evident that it was the one that got away.   

God's love was so immense that it stretched from heaven to earth to place a bebe into human arms.  Heart strings hurt when stretched so far.  Do you know what it meant for Jesus' place to be empty in heaven?  It was because we have a God-size void in our lives.  Missing pieces. 

"In French, you don't really say,
'I miss you.'
You say,
'tu me manques'
which means
'you are missing from me'
I love that."
(Tongue in Cheek blog from France)
"I have been looking for you ever since I heard my first fairy tale."
"Let us rejoice and be glad and give glory to Him,
for the marriage of Lamb has come
and His bride has made herself ready."
Our soul mate is God,
He is our missing piece,
our missing peace.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Sorrow in need of a Saviour. 
How horrific were the events in Conneticut!  It can't get much worse than to commit such a violent crime against innocent little ones.  Unfortunately, it is not new...

 "...for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him...Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its environs, from two years old and under..."
"A voice was heard in Ramah,
Weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children;
And she refused to be comforted,
Because they were no more."
Matthew 1:13, 16, &18
These words are some of the opening lines of the New Testament.  Along with the telling of the Christmas story, of the giving us our Saviour, God reminds us how much we need Him in this evil world.  He broke all the laws of the universe for God to become a man, or rather a baby, so that He might save us from our sin.
Sin doesn't wrap up prettily to be tied with a bow.  It is ugly right smack dab in the middle of the Christmas story. 
Here is an encouraging word for the season: The Salvation Army Center  here had a little three year old visitor.  She was clutching something tightly in her hand.  Her daddy said she found something  and wanted to give it away to someone in need.  She held in her tight fist a twenty dollar bill they had found on the street.  Her daddy said, "She wanted to give it away, so we came here, and hope it will help someone hurting this Christmas.  This child brought joy.  True Story.   

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1864

"And in despair I bowed my head. 'There is no peace on earth,' I said,
For hate is strong, and mocks the song of peace on earth, goodwill toward men.'
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: 'God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth, goodwill to men.'"

Friday, December 14, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude:  "A little child shall lead them..." (Isaiah 11:6)  When I fail as a grandmother to understand the little one's request, they take my hand as if I am too simple and lead me to where they want me to go on a quest for the request.  In a mysterious way, God sent a baby to lead us to Himself: we are to take His nail pierced hand to go to the Father even though we cannot begin to understand everything that has been told us.

I have not read "Silas Marner," but now I want to..."One of the great passages in English literature occurs in George Eliot's : "Silas Marner."  Because his life had been framed by evil circumstances Silas Marner had become a thoroughly selfish man.  In his loneliness and humiliation hoarding gold was the only pleasure he had left.  Then one winter night a lovely child found her way to his fireside.  And looking into Eppie's eyes he behold such beauty and wonder as he had never seen before.  He was shaken out of his selfishness and pride.  Nothing else had ever been able to destroy his selfishness, but a little child captured his heart and took away all the possessiveness and self-concern.  George Eliot writes of the transformation in these words: 'In the old days there were angels who came and took men by the hand and led them away from the city of destruction.  We see no white-winged angels now.  But yet men are led away from threatening destruction: a hand is put into theirs, which leads them forth gently toward a calm and bright land, so that they look no more backward; and the hand may be a little child's.'  With what better words could we describe the meaning of the birth at Bethlehem?  In Bethlehem a hand was put into ours, to lead us forth toward a brighter land, so that we look no more backward.  It was the hand of a little child." (The Light of Christmas")

"And he who gives a child a treat
Makes joy-bells ring in Heaven's street.
And he who gives a child a home
Builds palaces in Kingdom Come.
And she who gives a baby birth,
Brings Saviour Christ again to earth..."
John Masefield
When my husband went on a trip to the Holy Land, they were unable to enter Bethlehem because a little boy had been killed there the day before, and tensions were running too high in the Israeli-Arab conflict.  When evil Herod felt challenged by the birth of Jesus, he had every male child in Bethlehem and its surroundings two years old and younger murdered.  Bethlehem was a dangerous place for little boys. (Matthew 2:16)  As always the choice is ours to be a part of a society which sees a child as a threat to our manner of living, and thus to be destroyed, or as a gift to show us the way to Love and away from destruction.

Our prayers go out to the families who are suffering unimaginable loss today.
Attitude of Gratitude: boys.  You know you have boys when there's more skateboards, scooters, and bikes than Christmas decorations in the front yard.  You know you have boys when the Wii controller is on the mantel next to your favorite fragile nativity figures.  You know you have boys when you have to pick up their dirty underwear and socks off the bathroom floor while they sleep or the dog will eat the savory things by morning as if they were left on a plate for Santa.  You know you have boys when they prefer to eat hot sauce and chips instead of Christmas cookies for bedtime snack.  You know you have boys when there's a plastic gun on the rocker and a wooden toy rifle on the kitchen counter while "Peace on Earth" is playing on the CD.  You know you have boys when you have to settle arguments over whether Batman has superpowers and the CD of "Good Will Toward Men" is still playing.  Mary had a boy.  Did He make bows and arrows out of sticks and leather thongs and leave them lying around the house with his slingshot or leave his sandles out to be chewed on by the dog.  Did He argue with His brothers over His superpowers?  Mary, did you know?
"The Cradle"
He smiles within his cradle,
A babe with face so bright
It beams most like a mirror
Against a blaze of light;
This babe so burning bright.
This babe we now declare to you
Is Jesus Christ our Lord;
He brings both peace and heartiness:
Haste, haste with one accord
To feast with Christ our Lord.
And who would rock the cradle
Wherein this infant lies,
Must rock with easy motion
And watch with humble eyes.
Like Mary pure and wise.
O Jesus, dearest babe of all
And dearest babe of mine,
Thy love is great, thy limbs are small.
O, flood this heart of mine
With overflow from thine!

"And she will bear a Son."
Matthew 1:21
Mary did not even need an ultrasound to find out what she was having! 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude: Christmas Carols of old...When Laura was not quite three, she barely remembered the previous Christmas and I heard her singing, "Jumble bells..."  Her memories of Christmas were jumbled at best.  I love to discover ancient carols almost forgotten.

 "The Snow Lies Thick"

"But see, but see! the child's awake! 
His pretty hands stretch out to take...
the simple gifts we bring--
Yea, he forgets for very love--
The glory of his home above,
Nor cares but only this to prove,
He's come for our salvation. 
I hear sweet Mary sing to rest 
  The little one against her breast...
We'll make soft music round them;
For gentle as a breeze in June
 Must tonight our carol's tune,
 Lest we awake the babe too soon
  That's born for our salvation...
Then let us great, and let us small,
 And young and old, and one and all,
With dance and song draw hither! 
 Bring boughs of holly green and red
  To deck about his little bed,
 This very God who lays his head
 So low for our salvation."

"With dance and song draw hither!"

"The word 'carol' has a dancing origin, and once meant to dance in a ring...The carol arose with the ballad in the fifteenth century."
"The Oxford Book of Carols"

"Let us rejoice and be glad."
Rev. 19:7

We learned in our Bible study with Beth Moore that the Greek word for "glad," is not passive but has the connotation of leaping and dancing with delight and the ectasy of joy."   Celebrate this Christmas with exhuberance and be glad.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude: baby thoughts.  The baby twins are sick and were calling out in the wee hours, one for their sister "Ella" and one for "Jesus."  Their mom said, "Who will I disappoint first?"  Nothing sadder than a sick baby, but there is nothing cuter than a baby chuckling in its sleep.  There is an old saying that when a baby smiles in its sleep, an angel has kissed it.  Haven't you wondered what a baby is dreaming about or thinking?  There is such a mystery about what thoughts that baby Jesus could have had.  Here is a George MacDonald poem from the late 1800's.

"See the countless angels hover!
See the mother bending over!
See the shepherds, kings and cow!
What is baby thinking now?

Oh, to think what baby thinks
Would be worth all holy inks!

But he smiles such lovingness,
That I will not fear to guess!--
'Father called; you would not come!
'Here I am to take you home!
'For the father feels the dearth
'Of his children round his hearth--
'Wants them round and on his knee--
'That's his throne for you and me!'
Something lovely like to this
Surely lights that look of bliss!
Or if something else be there,
Then 'tis something yet more fair;
For within the father's breast
Lies the whole world in its nest."
"He who overcomes,
I will grant to him to sit down with Me
on My throne..."
Rev. 3:21
God is patting the seat beside Him.  His throne is big enough to cuddle up beside our Abba.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude: "Smilings my favorite," says Elf.  Smiles make you "Be*YOU*tiful! For example, little three year old Jane came to church in the sunshine smiling under her pretty pink umbrella in her cowgirl boots.  "I like my brella," said she.  Friday we went to the funeral of one of our first board members, Leo Rhodes formerly of Weaverville.  He was ninety.  His smile, like that of the Chesshire Cat's, still lives after he has gone. We were blessed to serve under that smile.  Perhaps the most beautiful is smiling through tears, a most valuable smile that came at great cost. 

"My new word: 'Blesson' -
it's when you're able to view
painful lessons as blessing."
"We met for a reason,
either you're a blessing or a lesson."
"Sometimes smiling is the greatest act of defiance,
and sometimes asking for help is the most meaningful example of self-reliance.
Sometimes the best medicine is to just laugh until you cry,
and sometimes the greatest wisdom comes from accepting you will just never know why.
Sometimes just going to bed is the best antidote to trials and tribulations,
and sometimes just being blessed to get up again and face it all,
for one more day, is worthy of celebration."
A Smile
 "It is the color which love wears, and cheerfulness and joy, --
these three; it is the light in the window of the face,
 by which the heart signifies to father, husband, or friend
 that it is at home and waiting."
"She smiles at the future..."
Prov. 31:25
Mary, the mother of Jesus, was like that, smiling at the future no one could imagine.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Our dog says don't forget to get him a present too.
(my computor won't let me rotate pics)
Attitude of Gratitude: shopping.  I like to shop.  It is my alone time.  I rise up early and see to the ways of my household, especially around Christmas.  I'm on a big game hunt to find the trophey bargins for my fifteen grandchildren, my two boys at home and four other grown children & spouses.  There is a thrill in the hunt especially since most of my shopping is done in thrift stores.  I even find treasures for myself such as a hand-bound copy of a book by one of my favorite authors of the nineteenth century, George MacDonald, at the new Goodwill.  "You never know what you have until you clean your room." That is so true with Christmas presents spilling out of my closet: I have to bag my game and make sure I've got everything on my hunting license.  My lesson in children's church has to do with hiding a nativity behind a mound of presents.  We do that sometimes.  It is easy to lose sight of the reason for the season.  Think of the red ribbon on a package: it is shaped like a cross.  That should remind us of something too. 

"The only one who can truly satisfy the human heart
is the one who made it."
"God doesn't want something from us,
He simply wants us."
C.S. Lewis
"Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of lights..."
James 1:17

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude: keeping our eyes closed.  "Open your mouth and close your eyes, and you are in for a big surprise."  You have to really trust someone when they say that to you.  Closing our eyes doesn't change the reality of what is going on around us, but sometimes it helps us concentrate on something more precious than anything and everything that is bombarding us.

"Why do we close our eyes
when we pray, cry, kiss, dream?
Because the most beautiful things in life are not seen,
 but felt in the heart."
Isn't that beautiful! 
Angels are Unseen ministering spirits. 
 Children's guardian angels have God's special attention:
"See that you do not despise one of these litte ones,
for I say to you, that their angels in heaven
continually behold the face of My Father
who is in heaven."
Matthew 18:10
Think how much the angels hovered, seen and unseen,
over the baby away in a manger.
He was given
"In holy array, from the womb of the dawn."
Psalm 110:3
"Bless the Lord, you His angels,
Mighty in strength, who perform His word,
Obeying the voice of His word!"
Psalm 103:20
Sometimes looking around this ol' sinful world it makes you glad God has someone obeying His word.  Just close your eyes and join in with them singing,
"Holy, Holy, Holy..."
Isaiah 6:3

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude: apple,orange, and Christmas trees.  Similar but different.  One of the idiosyncracies of my grandson Ezra is that he likes bushes and trees. He's a Timothy Green. In the backyard he hides in them, he reclines against them, like he is at one with nature. On walks, he is fascinated with orange trees calling out "Apples, Apples!"  Then arrives the Christmas tree.  It is an "Apple tree."  He pulls up a doll chair and sits lost in wonder. He lays against it, he throws his toys into its mysterious branches adding to its decorations.  If you call Amy and ask what's she doing, she might answer, "Oh, just guarding the Christmas tree."  He may become a tree hugger when he grows up.  From the tasting of the forbidden fruit in the garden, the disobedience that cost Adam and Eve their membership in the Garden club, to the evergreen Christmas tree, the symbol of everlasting life, we come full circle.  The first Adam brought death.  The second Adam, Christ, brought eternal life. Have you hugged a tree today?

"Instead of the thorn bush
the cypress (evergreen) will come up;
And instead of the nettle
the myrtle will come up;
And it will be a memorial to the Lord,
For an everlasting sign which will not be cut off."
Isaiah 56:13

Friday, December 7, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude:  a little lost lamb..."What can I give him poor as I am?  If I were a shepherd, I'd give him a lamb."(Christina Rosetti)  Jesus gave us many stories of shepherds & sheep. The first description of His appearance was the angelic invitation to shepherds to come and see the newborn King in a stable.  Our Saviour's first scents were smells of hay and sheep handlers. He spoke of the Good Shepherd who laid down his life for his sheep, of the shepherd who would leave the ninety-nine and go find the lost sheep, of His disciples who were to tend His lambs.  Was a shepherd carrying a little lost lamb which he had found when the angels guided them to the little town of Bethlehem?  Was it bleating when he knelt before the King of Kings?  Did he offer it sacrificially to the needy couple?  Could the lamb be a pattern for us to follow?  We know what it is to be helpless, and lost before being found.  We find ourselves perfectly at home, like a lamb in a stable feeding at a manger.  We offer ourselves as living sacrifices, whole and acceptable, our reasonable service.  I'm practicing with the nineteen month old twins the song for the toddlers part in the the Christmas program and their eyes light up like I was a rock star singing, "Baa, Baa, Baa, I'm a little sheep.  Good Shepherd, I'll follow, follow you always...They really get into singing "Baa, Baa, Baa."

"We are His people,
The sheep of His pasture."
Psalm 100:3

"Loving Father help us remember the birth of Jesus,
 that we may share in the song of angels,
the gladness of the shepherds,
and the worship of the wise men.
Close the door of hate
and open the door of love all over the world.
Let kindness come with every gift
and good desires with every greeting.
Deliver us from evil
by the blessing which Christ brings
and teach us to be merry and have clean hearts.
May the Christmas morning make us happy to be Thy children,
and the Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts,
forgiving and forgiven
for Jesus sake.
Robert Louis Stevenson 
"And when they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child.  And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds."
Luke 2:17-18 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude: Mary thoughts...We do not worship Mary as some do, but we call her blessed.  Obviously, God thought highly of this young slip of a girl, chose her above any other, and she is worth pondering.  Older and wiser with years, Elizabeth cried out with a LOUD voice, "Blessed among women are you...And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord." (Luke 1:42,45)  Mary was humble yet strong enough to endure the scorn and misunderstanding of her family and village, her world, because she had simple faith to believe what the angel told her.  Unfortunately in our day, unwed mothers are not unusual.  However, Mary knew she was not an unwed mother: she was wed to God Almighty.  Her words poured forth, "My soul exalts the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.  For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave (female slave)...For the Mighty One has done great things for me; And holy is His name..." Luke 1:46-49

"A Virgin Most Pure"
An old Christmas Carol
"A virgin most pure, as the prophets do tell,
 Hath brought forth a baby, as it hath befel,
To be our Redeemer from death, hell, and sin,
 Which Adam's transgression hath wrapped us in:
And therefore be merry, set sorrows aside;
Christ Jesus our Saviour was born on this tide."
When my Laura was very young, she said, "Mom, I remember before I was born."
"Really?  What was it like?"  "It was dark and bumpy.  Up and down, up and down."
Hmm...Do you remember the dark and bumpy ride before you were born again?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude: "good news of great joy which shall be for ALL people." (Luke 2:10)  I awoke in the middle of last night with this announcement running through my head as if it were a Christmas ditty: "good news for ALL," resounding again and again. I thought, "What manner of salutation is this?"  I pondered this angelic greeting. Shepherds in Christmas plays are adorable. I remember how cute my brother was in our church play when we very little. I don't think any male in the past few generations of my family have escaped the bathrobe drama at Christmas.  However, if we were going to pick the least likely candidate for heaven in the time of Jesus' birth, it might have been shepherds.  They weren't allowed in church: too smelly, unclean, and known as thieves and liars.  Their word wasn't accepted in a court of law.  In God's selection to whom to bring the good news by way of angels, isn't it ironic he picked shepherds, the least likely to be believed?  Yet in God's good plan, perhaps the emphasis was if shepherds could receive the news of a Saviour, who would be excluded?  The good news is for ALL people, just like "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that WHOSOEVER believes in Him should not perish..." (John 3:16.)  A shepherd qualified for the "L" sign on the forehead for "loser," yet that is exactly who the Messiah came to save.  How could good news be for ALL people if only some are "elected"?  What part of ALL or WHOSOEVER is set apart for Calvinist's belief that some are predestined for hell?  That would not be very good news now, would it?  This theology has led to despair, for those who feel they are beyond forgiveness, thus not one of the elected with nothing they can do about it.  It would be the most diabolical cosmic joke if  Jesus offered the most wonderful gift to outstretched hands only to jerk it back, "Ha!  Your name's not on the gift tag!!  Too bad sucker!!!" The good news for ALL people is that "there is born for you a Savior who is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:11)  There is an urgency to come with haste to find Him.  Then I fell back to sleep.  Must have been counting the shepherds' sheep.

Wexford Carol

"Good people ALL, this Christmas time consider well and bear in mind
 What our good God has done in sending his beloved Son. 
With Mary holy we should pray to God with love this Christmas Day;
In Bethlehem upon that morn There was a blessed Messiah born...

Near Bethlehem did shepherds keep
Their flocks of lambs and feeding sheep;
To whom God's angels did appear,
Which put the shepherds in great fear.
'Prepare and go', the angels said,
To Bethlehem, be not afraid;
For there you'll find, this happy morn,
A princely babe, sweet Jesus born.'
With thankful heart and joyful mind,
The shepherds went the babe to find,
And as God's angel had foretold,
They did our Saviour Christ behold.
Within a manger he was laid,
And by his side the virgin maid,
Attending on the Lord of life,
Who came on earth to end all strife..."

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Children's Christmas Program 2011
Attitude of Gratitude: Christmas music. I think I have permanent recliner hair reading, writing, and listening to Christmas music.  If you see me like this, know I don't tease the back of my hair: I just forgot to brush.  Since my grandchildren have noticed, I'm sure some of you have too.  Music can be so heavenly however that it can bring chills of delight, and bring tears to my eyes.  Growing up, Julie Andrews was my favorite Fireside Christmas record.  Listening to Charlotte Church, Josh Groban, Andre Bunicheli, and Celtic Women are my picks now for sure bliss.  Of course the Messiah is played several times.  Does Katherine McFee have a Christmas CD?  I even have retro Anne Murray, Nat King Cole, and the Carpenters Christmas CDs.  Stephen Curtis Chapmen and theWOW Christmas CDs are nice too.  I know there are new electronic ways to listen with the internet, but I'm just adjusting from records to CDs, thank you.  Gentle readers, what are your favorite Christmas recordings or songs?  "Greensleeves" or "What Child is This?" is my all-time favorite song as well as "Oh, Holy Night," or "Sweet Little Jesus Boy."  "Mary, Did You Know?" is one of my favorite contemporary ones. The last several years I feel like I was cheated, not getting to hear enough Christmas carols so this year, the TV and radio are off more and the Christmas songs have been playing since the election. I do not promise to stop until well into January.  There is something divine about the creativity of the nativity which has inspired artists and musicians for two thousand years.  Partake of the heavenly song begun by the angels.

"Sir Christemas"
the author, Richard Smart, 1435-1477
"Nowell, Nowell, Nowell,
Who is there singeth so, Nowell?
  I am here, Sir Christemas,
Welcome my lord Sir Christemas!
Welcome to us all both more and less!
Come near, Nowell.
Christ is now born of a pure maid;
In an ox stall he is laid.
The which causeth you for to sing: Nowell. 
Wherefore sing we all...
And sing with us now joyfully: Nowell.
"Good news of a great joy..."
Luke 2:10

Monday, December 3, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude: Christmas movies.  Yes, I've been watching them on the Hallmark Channel for days now.  Besides the love of romance, I have the slapstick gene that makes me laugh at "Elf," Mr. Bean, and "Ernest Saves Christmas."  As I think of the original Nativity, what if Joseph was more concerned with putting up Christmas lights in the stable, decorating a tree, wrapping present - you get the picture - while Mary was in labor...kinda like the father-to-be who watches a ballgame while his wife is having hard contractions. This image of a preoccupied Joseph is about as ridiculous as some of our overwhelming busyness of the season while it really is about a baby being born, the Gift of God, the Son of God.  Our Christmas Parade entry was to be  "A King Sized Bed: a manger."

Here is a Welsh Carol, "Poverty" (Nativity)
"All poor men and humble,  All lame men who stumble,
Come haste ye, nor feel ye afraid;
For Jesus, our treasure, With love past all measure,
In lowly poor manger was laid.
Though wise men who found him Laid rich gifts around him,
Yet oxen they gave him their hay:
And Jesus in beauty Accepted their duty;
Contented in manger he lay.
Then haste we to show him The praises we owe him;
Our service he ne'er can despise:
Whose love still is able to show us that stable
Where softly in manger he lies."
"And she gave birth to her first-born son; and she wrappd Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was not room for them in the inn."
Luke 2:7 
Are you ready to kneel before the Wonder in a manger?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude: lists..."He's making a list and checking it twice.  Gonna find out who's naughty and nice..."  This is perhaps the most famous list in song.  We went to a service for a dear friend who passed away last week.  The sweet thing had struggled under many challenges, mental and emotional as well as disease.  Her husband was faithful to support her and their handicapped daughter.  My friend liked to sit and daily journal making lists.  He read one at her memorial service.  It was random, but totally Jenny.  The list revealed her heart.  Buy a present for a loved one...drank a soda...prayed for my my sister...and so on.   What do your random and mundane thoughts reveal about you?  Jesus was born in the mundaneness of life: what is more random than a stable?  The New Testament begins with a long list, the geneology of Jesus.  Many would consider it boring except the mention of prostitutes and King David.  Random people, naughty and nice, woven together in prophecy to bring the very Presence of God to us.

"The Spirit of Christmas is not the presents but His Presence."
"One day during a Christmas season when our children were small, we were praying together.
In that prayer I thanked the Lord for His presence with us and said, 'amen.'
A split second after my 'amen,' our five year old daughter cried out, 'Presents?
Where are the presents?'
The prospects of His presence - Emmanuel, God with you - should excite us."
Howard Culbertson 
"Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Christ." (Matt. 1:17)  I'd say we're getting close to the last fourteen generations wouldn't you?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude: letters.  Isn't it interesting that the person who gets the most hand-written letters in the whole wide world, is make-believe?  Way to go Big Man!  Hank used a computer this year to write his list and printed it, then asked the question he asks every year, "Is there really a Santa Claus."  I answered like I have the last few years, "Saint Nick was a real person who we honor with the legend of Santa Claus."  After all, the boy is eleven.  It's time.  There's another who writes the most letters to dead people: God.  He writes to those who are dead in their sins.  Have you read His letters lately? 

"Sometimes I just look up and smile and say, 'I know that was you God!  Thanks."
"Write your troubles in sand,
And your blessings in stone."
"He is outside of everything, and alien everywhere.
He is an aesthetic solitary. 
 His beautiful, light imagination is the wing
that on the autumn evening just brushes the dusky window."
Henry James

"I adjure you by the Lord to have this letter read to all the brethren."
I Thessalonians 5:26