Birthday Party

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I know it’s around here somewhere
Where could it be

Please read the note again for us
So we can check it out

We received the welcome message
Bright and clear for us to see

Made the preparations
And packed our many bags

The trip was long but we’ve arrived
Gifts ready and in hand

Where is that birthday party
The mother and the child

Oh look oh look do you see it now
The star that marks the spot

We brought these birthday presents
Chosen for a royal life

Giving of our best to you
New Prince of peace and King of kings

Celebrate

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That’s wonderful! Yay! Great! Congratulations! I’m so happy for you! You did it!

We enjoy celebrating those noteworthy moments in life. Whether it be the result of long hard work, another year of life, a special anniversary, or a new life born… times of celebration express joy and excitement.

I remember the celebration of my mother’s 80th birthday. Friends and family worked to make this a special surprise. The church secretary asked my mom to stop by to pick up something and the plot was sprung! What joy shone on my mother’s face as gathered family and friends all wished her a happy birthday and expressed our love for her, to one who was so giving and compassionate. I treasure that memory.

I celebrate too, the quiet satisfaction of accomplishment… perhaps a completed task for work, a finished piece of writing, simple tasks around the house, or doing something for family or friends. These daily celebrations are as important as the larger occasions and are a source of contentment and affirmation of life.

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the quiet of the night was awakened to joy-filled words of celebration! “Glory to God in the highest heaven,” the host of angels proclaimed, “and on earth peace…” When the shepherds found this newborn Son of God, they celebrated by spreading the news to all who would hear. * Can you imagine the amazement and excitement in the little town that night?

There were other celebrations in the coming days as well, the praise of Simeon when he recognized Christ and the thanks of Anna who shared the news of his birth to all of those who had been waiting for that day. *

When the wise men arrived at the home of the child Jesus, they celebrated through worship and through the giving of gifts. They too had been searching for the child who had been born to the world. *

Something which is especially meaningful to me is Mary’s quiet and strong celebration, simply stated in Luke 2:19. “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Her thoughts must have gone back to the earlier encounter with her cousin Elizabeth as they celebrated together. * After months of carrying this child, now came further affirmation. Imagine her awe and joy, and perhaps also the fear or questions about what this motherhood would bring in days and years to come. All the pain, discomfort, whispers, and exhaustion must have faded as she looked upon her son and saw the face of God.

As we travel through life, may we treasure those moments of celebrations. May we ponder deeply and long the greatest gift of all, Emmanuel, God with us!

* Luke 2:13-30 (Shepherd and Angels); Luke 2:25-28 (Simeon); Luke 2:36-38 (Anna);
Matthew 2:10-11 (Wise Men); Luke 1:39-56 (Elizabeth and Mary)

As a Star

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As a star once shone
Gazing down upon the earth
Dazzling companions
Gathered ‘round

Its light beamed softly
Gently touched a tiny face
Heaven stirred and sang
Come now come

As a star once shone
Guiding light to show the way
Wise magi followed
Bringing gifts

Sparkling diamond led
The travelers expectantly
New king to worship
Jesus child

As a star once shone
It revealed a precious gift
As God’s Son brought light
Savior born

Eyes to See You

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“Peek-a-Boo! I see you!!” Oh, the delight of a young child to play this simple, timeless game. Eyes widen in surprise, laughter, and self-discovery. Peering around objects or through fingers, we look into each other’s eyes. Mirrors are just right for that discovery and for making silly faces. Is that me?! I recognize ME. I see YOU too.

Like a child, we look into the eyes of God. “A-hah! I see you!” we say in those moments of recognition. But sometimes we struggle to recognize God and wonder if He sees us.

Shortly after Jesus’ resurrection, he walked with two men traveling on the road to Emmaus. They were prevented from recognizing Jesus as they spoke together of what had passed in Jerusalem. During the journey Jesus explained to them the true meaning of Messiah. Later, as Jesus shared a meal with them in their home, they saw him break bread and “then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.” *

The men from Emmaus recognized Jesus when their eyes were opened, but the breaking of the bread came first. Jesus revealed himself to them through this small act. Like a child I peer around the “stuff” of life, looking for God’s eyes. “Peek! Where are You?” I really want to see Jesus more clearly. I walk in conversation and discovery, like those who traveled with Jesus to Emmaus, through the passing of days and years. It is in the journey and during the times that I sit with God that He is revealed.

I like the way Paul spoke of “the eyes of your heart” in his letter to the church in Ephesus. He said, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you…” * Although our physical eyes may be dim, our heart can reach beyond their limits. May you find joy in that discovery. God delights in His children. I see you! I recognize you. You are of special value and joy, He says.


* Luke 24:13-16a, 31; Ephesians 1:18a

Cling

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“Ahhhh!” Tearing plastic wrap off to place over a plate of food takes a knack! Have you ever wrestled with it, only to end up with a wadded mess or pulling out half the roll in attempts to get off a small piece?! After carefully pulling the mess apart or taking the whole roll out of the box and rolling some of it back up, the job is finally done.

I am reminded of a young child fearfully clinging to a parent when faced with a new situation or new people. It may take time to calm those fears as hands pat, kisses convey love, or words explain. That clinging speaks of a trust and a need which is basic for us all.

The psalmist spoke of clinging to God. “Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your right hand upholds me.” Like the child clinging to that source of security, when we hold determinedly to our source of help and strength we are comforted.

Likewise, when I climbed the ladder to the roof of our house to clean out the gutters (Yes, I did that!) …I clung to the ladder and to the snow guards, secure as the work was done.

We have that same security in God as we cling to Him and to His words. Paul, in his letter to the Romans, said to “cling to what is good.” Sometimes things may seem to be a wadded-up mess, but when we stick with God, He helps us work through our difficulties. Our lives reflect His presence… Because He is our help, we can sing, confident that His hand holds us up.

Christmastide Journey

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Zechariah and Elizabeth upon the path
To them came joyful word
Rejoice, a son to fill their lives
Messenger to prepare the way

Mary and Joseph lead by God
Angel-greeted, faithful, and true
Rejoice, rejoice Messiah to come
Emmanuel, God is with us

Through Nazareth and Judean hills
Arrived at lowly stable
Rejoice, Bethlehem to see the child
Angel-announced and shepherd-followed

From eastern lands the wise men traveled
Followed a shining star of hope
Rejoice, rejoice a king is born
Gifts offered to humble home

To Egypt now, as former time
Now flee, oh flee far from
Earthly king 
blinded to good news
The story will continue 

Jerusalem upon the mountain
Journey on, journey true
Rejoice, oh people of faith
Step now, for Christmastide

Faithful comes a mighty God
Light shines to show the way 
Place of shelter, gift of grace
Worship now… u
pon this Christmastide journey

With the Joy of a Child

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When I waken
To morn’s cool breath
Quiet, peaceful
Night’s full rest
May I touch day’s promise
With the joy of a child

Day now greeted
By chirp and song
Honk and rumble
Whisper or shout
May I hear and listen
With the joy of a child

Food to nourish
Clothes to wear
Friends to help me
God to provide
May I step this day’s path
With the joy of a child

Heart now open
My eyes to see
Hands to offer
Words encourage
May I live day’s fullness
With the joy of a child