1438. We look into the reverse end of the kaleidoscope of human events and see, mostly, confusion and discord; while God beholds harmony from the divine end. ~James Lendall Basford

We hear the beating
of wings over Bethlehem
and a light that is not of the sun
or of the stars shines in the midnight sky.
The message of Christmas is that
the material world is bound to
the invisible spiritual world.
~Author Unknown

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The dictionary defines relationship as a connection to or an involvement with another, and what happened in a Bethlehem manger over 2,000 years ago was the Breath of Heaven reaching out to touch and begin a relationship with the material world. Christmas then is not an event; it is instead the beginning of a relationship. What God gave the world in the beginning was physical light, but it was His son, the Messiah, who brought salvation and the spiritual light that illuminates the face of God and opens the door to an intimate involvement with Him. To achieve that divine destiny Jesus came into our world, walked among us, and left a continuing legacy of ways to remain connected to and in relationship with the Creator. That relationship can only come into its fullness by walking with the Creator, talking with Him, and devoting time to the Lover of our souls. It’s like when a man or woman marry. They don’t just celebrate and spend time with each other on that one day of the year. It has to be a day to day, minute to minute commitment if the relationship is to grow and blossom into greater goodness.

When I saw others straining toward God,
I did not understand it, for though,
I may have had Him less than they did,
there was no one blocking the way
between Him and me,
and I could reach His heart easily.
It is up to Him, after all, to have us;
our part consists of almost solely
of letting Him grasp us.
~Ranier Maria Rilke

May the Lord our God be with us as he was with our ancestors; may he never leave us nor forsake us. ~1 Kings 8:57 ✝

**Inages found on the Internet; collage by Natalie

1435. Every happening, great and small, is a parable whereby God speaks to us. ~Malcolm Muggeridge

Remember this. When people choose
to withdraw far from a fire,
the fire continues to give warmth,
but they grow cold.
When people choose to
withdraw
far from light,
the light continues 
to be bright in itself
but they are in darkness.
This is also the case when 
people
withdraw from God.
~Augustine

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Try as some may, purporting that life is “a tale told by an idiot signifying nothing” or that it’s merely the result of events that can be explained through science or reason falls terribly short of reality. Nothing in these assumptions explains the existence of or need for compassion, grace, love, or mercy. Nor do they explain the compulsion in the human heart for expressions of such. If mortals were simply intellectual beings, they’d not emote, express feelings, or commit loving acts that are seemingly inspired in some inscrutable place within their physical being. These things, like all happenings in Creation, are indeed symbolic narratives designed to teach or illustrate truths about the Ancient of Days who created and wired into humans the capacity to feel, express emotions, and extend kindnesses to one another. It’s also true, as Muggeridge suggests, that the Author of light and life wrote into the fabric of Creation parables for His children and that getting the gist of them is an art, an art mastered not only by looking carefully at the apparent and outward realities of Creation but also by peering into its inward and inner realities. The sacred isn’t merely above us but forever within us and the entire body of Creation. Discovering the sacrosanct in all that Yahweh made can’t help but stir in the descendants of Adam a sense of connection and belonging to a higher Power. The resources and bounty of planet earth alone give us plenteous reasons to sense the presence of a Holy Benefactor and to feel His gracious, creative, and loving hands in our lives. What sparks a real desire within the human heart to seek Him is the “getting the message” within all the happenings of that which He has made. However, in case Creation’s parables are too puzzling, over 2,000 years ago God expanded the narrative and clearly revealed Himself when He sent His Son to be our Savior. Jesus is our memory, and in coming to offer us salvation, He reminds us of who we are and to whom we belong. As we prepare to celebrate the Messiah’s birth this weekend, I wish all of you a very blessed Christmas. As a very familiar yuletide song says, “O come let us adore Him!” And as we do, I pray that we create a compelling testimony to others of the Lord’s very real presence in our midst.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. ~Romans 1:20 ✝

**Image via the Internet

1431. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… ~Excerpt from lyrics written by Meredith Willson

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**The Root of Jesse or the Tree of Jesse is an iconographic depiction of the Ancestors of Christ. It shows in a tree which rises from Jesse of Bethlehem, the father of King David. It originates in a passage in the Biblical Book of Isaiah which describes metaphorically the descent of the Messiah, and is accepted by Orthodoxy as referring to Jesus Christ.

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. ~Isaiah 11:1 ✝

**Image found on Pinterest; text added by Natalie

 

1319. We have to go into the despair and go beyond it, by working and doing for somebody else, by using it for something else. ~Elie Wiesel

One wants to believe that there’s one relationship
in life that’s beyond betrayal. A relationship that’s beyond
that kind of hurt. And there isn’t.
~Edited quote by Caleb Carr

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There is a brokenness
out of which comes the unbroken,
a shatteredness
out of which blooms the unshatterable.
There is a sorrow
beyond all grief which leads to joy
and a fragility
out of whose depths emerges strength.
There is a hollow space
too vast for words
through which we pass with each loss,
out of whose darkness
we are sanctioned into being.
There is a cry deeper than all sound
whose serrated edges cut the heart
as we break open to the place inside
which is unbreakable and whole,
while learning to sing.
~Rashani Réa

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An ex-student of mine posted a letter on Facebook today in which she asked us all to remember that for a variety of reasons not everyone will have or is having a wonderful Christmas time. And so today, I’ve given thought to things that break and shatter us at times. No one is exempt from sorrow and grief in this world. And though we must and should allow ourselves time to “hold” onto and weep over the “dark nights of our souls,” it seems to me that we also have to leave each and every heartbreak at some point in time in the past and then seek and use the “lessons” that the gouging of the soul has shed light upon.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. ~Psalm 34:18  ✝

**Images via the Internet; collage at top created by Natalie

1014. I love at least one night by the Christmas tree to sing and feel the quiet holiness of that time that’s set apart to celebrate love, friendship, and God’s gift of the Christ child. ~Amy Grant

Christmas in Bethlehem. The ancient dream:
a cold, clear night made brilliant by a glorious star,
the smell of incense, shepherds and wise men
falling to their knees in adoration of the sweet baby,
the incarnation of perfect love.
~Lucinda Franks

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When everyone had gone
I sat in the library
With the small silent tree,
She and I alone.
How softly she shone!

And for the first time then
For the first time this year,
I felt reborn again,
I knew love’s presence near.
Love distant, love detached,

And strangely without weight,
Was with me in the night
When everyone had gone
And the garland of pure light
Stayed on, stayed on.
~May Sarton

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” ~Luke 2:8-11  ✝

**Image found on Pinterest

1011. It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas when its mighty Founder was a child Himself. ~Charles Dickens

Were I a philosopher, I should write a philosophy of toys,
showing that nothing else in life need be taken seriously,
and that Christmas Day in the company of children is one
of the few occasions in which men become entirely alive.
~Robert Lynd

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Life grew very hard for me in my late 30‘s, and the difficulties spilled over well into my forties. As a result I was becoming more and more cynical about “life, love, and the pursuit of happiness.” Those circumstances were made worse by the 20 year derailment in my faith journey and both were aiding and abetting a steady, downward spiral into the “black abyss” of hopelessness. So my doctor recommended that I go see a counselor, and I did, but reluctantly at first. Though it wasn’t long before I warmed to her, it took a while longer before I started really opening up about the burdensome issues that had brought me to her door. Then one afternoon as the session was about to end, she said, “I want you to imagine that you are a 4 year old child.” I replied, “Okay,” and then she asked, “If you were that 4 year old, what would want to do right this very minute?” Without too much consideration, I blurted out, “go get a chocolate ice-cream cone.” After hearing my response she immediately stood up, smiled, and said, “All right. I shall see you next week and TODAY on the way home I want you to stop and have a chocolate ice cream cone.” When I started to ask why, she quickly replied, “Just do it. I’ll explain next time.” So I stopped and got the chocolate ice cream cone, and I do have to say that it might possibly have been the very best ice cream cone I’ve ever had. The point was and is that the child in all of us doesn’t die. It’s simply that the accumulating years of growing and changing cover over him or her as happens with a path no longer traveled. And so it was that miraculously after clearing the way with one weekly ice cream cone after the other, the healing of my brokenness got under way, the getting back on track with my faith journey got under way, and the nourishing of my starving inner child, who was essential in restoring joy, hopefulness, and a sense of wonder, also got under way. Praise the Lord!

Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands of miles away, back to his own fire-side and his quiet home! ~Charles Dickens 

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people.” ~Luke 2:10  ✝

**Image found on Pinterest

 

1010. He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree. ~Roy L. Smith

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Everywhere you go;
There’s a tree in the Grand Hotel, one in the park as well,
The sturdy kind that doesn’t mind the snow.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas;
Soon the bells will start,
And the thing that will make them ring is the carol that you sing
Right within your heart!

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The wartime Christmas years introduced classic Christmas songs to the culture. The song White Christmas first debuted in 1942 in the Movie Holiday Inn. Sung by Bing Crosby it became an instant hit as its peaceful feeling hit home with both those on the home front and those on the battle front. Another Christmas standard I’ll Be Home for Christmas made its debut in 1943. The words touched the hearts of separated loved ones as the song speaks of yearning to be home at Christmas even “if only in my dreams.”

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My parents were married in 1942, and soon afterwards my dad was drafted into the Army. Following that he was coincidentally ordered to leave for basic training the day I was born, October 17, 1942. Because mom wanted dad to be able to spend a little time with me before he was sent over seas, she and I traveled by train from California to Florida when I was six weeks old. Then, when he was moved to Mississippi for his training as a medic, she and I followed him again and remained there until he departed for North Africa. After Dad shipped out, she and I left Mississippi, and as she was pregnant with my middle sister, she decided we would stay with family in Texas until Kathleen was born in December of 1943. Thinking about it now I believe Dad must have missed two Christmases with us before he was wounded and sent back home in 1945. As a young girl I remember hearing these two songs on the radio every Christmas and eventually came to know how much “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” meant to my parents. Perhaps that’s why I never hear it without tears of remembrance wetting my cheeks.

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“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David…” ~Luke 1:68-69 ✝