Heading home one November evening, I pass the yard with the purple flashing lights of a Halloween skeleton which had been left up. As I turn into my driveway, I see that my neighbor has set out his Santa figure and manger scene. Have you noticed a trend too? As the seasons move forward towards year’s end, decorations are being put out earlier and left up longer. Halloween. Thanksgiving. Christmas…
There is a positive hope in these simple and familiar decorations, despite the challenges our world is facing and adjustments to a “new normal.” They reflect a strength of spirit and make room for happier times. I love the positive celebration of life! This time-of-year is a good opportunity to offer encouragement to others, to realize anew the value of family, community, work, church, giving to others…
As we go about our daily routines, what are we doing to strengthen and help each other? Everyone appreciates encouragement and recognition, or a listening ear. The lighted decorations make me think of the verse that says, “Let light shine out of darkness” (*2 Corinthians 4:6). Think of all the workers, the medical community, educators, transport services, and more who have struggled to keep things running. They have truly been a source of light. How are we impacting others and how have we been impacted by loss and a changing economy? How are we celebrating the good and coming together in our shared humanity?
May the flashing lights of the seasons’ decorations or the quiet humble manger scene be reminders. See through the darkness, give thanks for what we have, and remember the Christ child come to earth. In this journey I pray that we will grow stronger, wiser, more caring… trusting and serving God. May His light shine through each of us.
“I’ll be back in a little while,” my mom would say, as she headed out the door to check on some neighbor. They would often call on “Ms. Marge” with questions or concerns about their health, perhaps needing their blood pressure checked, and my mother was always attentive. With her nursing background, we sometimes referred to her as “the neighborhood nurse.” She would make sure they were alright or encourage them to get to the doctor’s office, often taking them herself. My mom was a very caring and giving person.
We are each a part of “community,” and it is by reaching out to each other, using our unique abilities or interests to support and encourage, that we find fulfillment. Whether in times of unrest and difficulty or in everyday routines, how will we rise to the opportunities that we encounter? How will we give and receive care, and so allow God’s light to shine?
In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, he spoke of his own ministry. “…But we were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children. So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.”
I think of my family, friends, and church who have offered their presence, resources, fellowship, practical help, and prayers. What an encouragement! How overwhelmed, humbled, and thankful I have been for them. In big and small ways, we care for each other. It can be hard not to compare ourselves to what others are able to do, can’t it? I’m glad to be able to offer what I can and to express my gratitude when that care is offered to me.
Paul, this time to the Galatians, reminds us, “So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all…” May our words and our actions speak God’s voice, and may we receive and offer grace when we fall short.
My prayer is that we do not miss those opportunities amid the rush and whirl of our daily activities… God bless. Be content.
“Rumble-rumble, screech, thump!” My mom cocked her head toward the ceiling as she listened to the sounds of my room-cleaning upstairs. I loved to re-arrange my furniture! I well remember our regular Saturday cleaning routine, a requirement before we could pursue other interests, and especially the more thorough spring or fall cleanings.
Howevermuch we may grumble about the cleaning process, or perhaps like some of us who enjoy it, there is great satisfaction in a job completed. Something accomplished!
For everyday cleaning, it’s amazing what even a few minutes of straightening or putting away things can do. Lost or misplaced items are re-discovered, and we no longer have to hunt for them. Dirty clothes in the hamper. Clean dishes put up. A spot of clutter removed. Trash carried out…
Then there is the deep cleaning, removing accumulated dust and grim of everyday living and use. It requires more effort and intentional planning. Neglecting the everyday or more frequent cleaning can make that job a lot harder too!
This makes me think of “heart cleaning.” Am I as conscious of the condition of my heart, such as my thoughts and intentions or faith, as I am of my home or other surroundings? The psalmist pled, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.” * Clean or pure; not polluted or filthy. He knew that this was a “deep cleaning” job! This was going to require a lot of help!
It’s so easy to let things accumulate isn’t it? Just like dust or clutter can build up in our home, it can also build up within us. That dissatisfaction or irritation. A wayward word. An apology never offered. An unhealthy thought or grudge. The list can be long!
Just like the everyday cleaning of our home or other places, caring for our daily heart cleaning is a positive step and builds our relationship with God, who knows us best. Paul called attention to our need for the day’s accounting when he cautioned us to not let the sun go down on our anger. *
It’s hard for me to turn loose of things sometimes. When things do accumulate or bowl us over, and they will at times, and when those seasons arrive for the deep cleaning, we don’t have to go it alone. God hears our call and pulls out the heavy-duty cleaners, creating “a new and right spirit” within. My prayer and anticipation for us is that we will invite Him to come on in, and so welcome a new season.