Christmas

a children's Christmas book

'Twas the Evening of Christmas, written by Glenys Nellist and illustrated by Elena Selivanova, written for children, aged 4-8 years old.

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This story shows (haha, see what I did there? Show don't tell) the birth of Jesus. It is written in poetry reminiscent of the rhythm of Dr. Clement C. Moore's, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. 

It's a beautiful book. I highly recommend it. 

Joy amid troubles

I don't know about you but I am troubled by the news surrounding our president-elect--who he is picking for his cabinet and now the fact that Russia may have undermined the integrity of our election process. 

I did not vote for him. His statements about people of color, Muslims, Hispanics, and women do not jive at all with my values. I serve a congregation that is a mix of white people and people of color and there are many wonderful relationships of trust within our church. But I have beloved family members who, I'm assuming, did vote for our incoming president-elect.

Part of the trouble is, who has news that is accurate? Fox slants right, Huffington Post slants left. Facebook has several "news sources" that are shared and are so inflammatory in language, stirring our anger up against the other.  I found one source that listed Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, and The Economist as offering balanced, in-depth news. Other sources of news this source listed as minimal partisan bias: ABC news, NBC news, Washington Post, The New York Times, NPR, and BBC.  

We have work to do as we seek out reliable news sources online and on television as we educate ourselves and keep ourselves accurately updated on the latest news.

 

But, be that as it may, this is a week of Joy for Christians. During the four Sundays before Christmas, Christians light a candle on a wreath. Each Sunday the candles represent different moods. Usually, week 1 is hope, week 2 is peace, week 3 is joy, and week 4 is love.

 And the Scripture reading focus for Joy is on the story of Mary, the mother of Jesus. It is about her consent to God's call to her and her joy in meeting with her cousin who is also pregnant in her late age. And we read Mary's song from the Gospel of Luke as she praises God:

The starving poor sat down to a banquet; the callous rich were left out in the cold. God embraced his chosen child, Israel; he remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high.
— Luke 1: 53-54

Whenever we find the world too troubling, we can always choose our attitude, our behavior. Mary lived in a time when the Jewish people, the Jewish nation were colonized by the Roman government. But people of faith, people with faith persisted in living out their faith, working as best as they were able to bring about goodness on earth for all of God's diversity--of creation and of people. 

Discovering stories

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On Saturday, my sister and her oldest daughter, and I gathered at Mom and Dad's home for our annual Christmas goodie baking. The above pic of frosted sugar cookies is a sample of the detail work my niece enjoyed.

And on Sunday, I remembered a discovery I made when I flew back to Scotland after celebrating Thanksgiving with my family. 

At the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport, I stood in line to check my luggage. With no direct routes to Glasgow, Scotland, I was flying through the Reykjavik-Keflavik airport. I'd flown Icelandair before.

But this time, not only was there a long line of people waiting in front of me to check in. They all had carts loaded with cardboard boxes. Some of the boxes were huge. I tried to think what might be going on that 15-25 people would each be carting all these boxes.

Was someone moving overseas?

Were the boxes filled with special items to aid victims of a catastrophe?

It wasn't until I boarded the plane and found it filled with Christmas holiday cheer (in spite of delays due to icy rain) that I found out what was happening.

My seatmate explained it to me.

Many of the people on the plane were from Iceland. They had just spent Thanksgiving weekend in the Twin Cities. Their reason? To purchase Christmas gifts, on sale, through the Mall of America. It was cheaper to fly to Minnesota, stay overnight, buy Christmas gifts during the Black Friday sales then it was to simply buy gifts at home.

That evening's flight, in the midst of missing home and family already, I realized how intricately our world is bound together. Change one strand and the whole fabric of community, of the earth is affected.