It is the Greatest Show on Earth; the people gathered by cords of love; the celebration focused on the unique and life giving union between a man and a woman.
"I bought a book," I said to my husband as I slit open the box. "I used my credit card points on it, so it's not like I spent any money."
"That's OK, Alliee," he responded. "You can buy a book."
My mother was an English teacher; my father a Philosophy professor. Add in three articulate, opinionated children, and you a lot of words flying around the house. I was thinking about this a few weeks ago while cruising Staples -- something I occassionally do when I have over-spent myself.
Reading Sue Miller's well written novel, THE DISTINGUISHED GUEST, I traipse past a line about Americans always needing to invent themselves. The line didn't stop me; it wasn't a delicious quote. Maybe the word was "re-invent themselves." I'm not going to sift through the story about an elderly, semi-famous woman's last weeks with her son's family, just to find the quote.
If you didn't get my newsletter last month, you were in good company. All the hotmail, sbcglobal, earthlink and a few other email addresses bounced. By the time I sorted everything out, it was mid January and sending a 12-Days of Christmas newsletter felt odd. If you're feeling left-out, you can still read it on the companyofsaints.com website. Click the Hot Reads button on the left. Meanwhile, if you'd rather not get this monthly letter in your email box, please hit return and let me know. Unsubscribing is easy; and better than languishing in junk mail.
In her book Leaving Church, Barbara Brown Taylor complained that there was no place in the church to be an adult. This is particularly interesting considering that she was one of the early female Episcopal Priests, got burned out after a number of years in parish ministry and then concluded with that statement.
A couple of days into Christmas I heard a few conversations about Christmas being over. The newspaper comics were full of people taking down their trees. What? Haven't these folk ever heard of the 12 days of Christmas? Five golden rings, leaping lords and pipers piping? How could you count all those weeks of preparation as CHRISTMAS and then just pack it in? What a waste!
In 1930 Glenn Clark, a literature professor and Presbyterian Sunday School teacher, held his first "Camp Farthest Out." A man of prayer and author of THE SOUL'S SINCERE DESIRE, he had been much in demand as a speaker at camps and conferences. His first camp spawned others--more than 100 still going on today--camps dedicated to "discovering the wholeness of that abundant life which Christ promised; that life which is our rightful heritage whenever we dedicate our body, mind and soul completely to God through play, work and worship."
He sat in the chair across from our desk, a grizzled old codger aglow with the Spirit. "I used to be in this little evangelical church," he explained. "It wasn't going anywhere and neither was I. In North Dakota," he added quickly with a wave of his arm as if to ward of the tentacles of gossip: What church? Where? What brand?
Thinking of Christ the King, I imagined a small hamlet hidden in the mountains; a young boy running through the village shouting, "the King is coming."
Thundering hooves, banners flying; a barefoot girl has only time to grab a handful of wildflowers and tuck a stray hair behind her ear. Will the King accept such a simple offering?
He's a good King, a wise King; not sitting afar off on a golden throne, but come to hear his people. Hay bales are arranged and draped with cloth. The king sits; the people gather...children, dogs and a stray chicken.
It happened again. Despite the press of Daily Life; the press of daily life augmented and magnified by Christmas Concerns; the shopping and cooking, decorating and wrapping, writing and lighting; Despite the hustle and bustle and hurry and flurry, not to even mention the harangues from various pulpits on how This Is Not What Jesus Wants (thanks a lot, guys); Despite the fact that this whole undertaking was undertook ON TOP OF various other crisis large and small (I mean it's not like everything else just STOPS because Christmas is coming); Even still, God Showed Up.
The New Testament shelf is packed. Fact is, believers rarely come in and buy a paperback N.T. Oh, they may on occasion want an Amplified, J.B. Philips, or Message Bible to get the shading of a different version. Or some stray person might notice the Serendipity N.T. with its questions for group studies. But the stacks of NIV KJV Living NE TE and NAS tend to just sit.
Unbelievers don't buy them either. I don't think I've ever had an unbeliever come in and say, "I've just never read the N.T., so I thought I'd give it a shot."