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Life in Greencastle - Merry Christmas

Way back when we were still wishing that the heat of summer would relent for awhile, my wife was planning to create something for these colder days of December. Anna had determined that this would be the year that she would create an Advent calendar and thereby give our kids a way to experience the gift of Jesus' coming in a whole new way. So, little by little, she began to make preparations. She was going to make a quilt, a quilt of several fabrics that would create a tapestry of days. And on each day there would be a tiny pocket that would become a type of daily stocking - delivering to Wyatt and Elise some gift or plan or project. They would have the chance to make treats for the birds one day. On another, they could make a popcorn string. On another still, they would read the second chapter of Luke. All of it was intended to help give life to the days we call Advent - the same Advent that gets dismissed about as easily as those poor misfit toys that Rudolph stumbled upon near the North Pole.

By fall, Anna had begun to select the fabric to make the quilt and to cut the pieces. As the leaves continued to fall outside, I would find her on the couch with needle and thread - sewing and binding. And with just a few days left in November, the Advent calendar finally came together, just in time for all of us to start remembering that long ago God did something very special in these days of long night and colder breezes.

I know that some of you have other practices to guide you towards Christmas. I know that Susan Lorimer also shepherds her children along by placing Advent bags for the children to discover daily gifts and to get the teasers that something truly grand is before them. I know that others begin to mark these days by the family gatherings that were long ago set on the calendar, by the trips to the airport to pick up loved ones, even - perhaps - by the personal moments of devotion and worship that can turn these cold winter days into nothing but peace and a glowing joy in ones own heart. But, whatever your practice may be, I am hoping now that God is inviting you into a deeper awareness of His love for you and for the world. I hope and pray that especially for those whose real calendar has been full or draining. I hope and pray, too, for those of you whose days have been marked lately not so much by promises, but by problems ... and for those whose experience of Christmas is about loss and loneliness, not fulfillment and friendship. I trust that God sent Christ to be the child who would comfort especially those who are poor and in need of help.

Last night, after my kids had already retrieved the little slip of paper for December 22nd, Wyatt said to me, "Two more days. Two more days, Dad." Yes, indeed. It is coming. Something that we call Christmas. Something that has come to mean so many things. Something, though, that for me has come to mean the best thing all over again: God-with-us, God willingly coming to support and share and love and free and give and teach and lead.

Friends, I hope to see you tomorrow evening as we give glory to God for God's great love for us. But, even if I do not see you then, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas. I wish it openly and joyfully.

May God be with you,



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