Humble Dogs

That they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts. Matthew 13:15b

Archive for the category “Christmas”

Clean Fridge – Clean Faith

The proverb “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” a common theme of the Bible although not a direct quotation.
We cleaned our fridge this morning, – so big deal, it’s a standard chore for every household.

After 3 months of collecting all the crumbs, drips and spills of everyday use, our fridge was a mess. What looked like dried milk or juice had become encrusted into shelf crevices after they became coated with crumbly bits of something. Could barely see through the glass shelving, the top of the shelves is self evident but, how stuff gets stuck to the underside –. The bottom crisper drawer we use for meats, if left any longer would have looked like a slaughterhouse floor. It is amazing how dried blood sticks to plastic. It takes a lot of soaking before coming loose.

Somehow, our regular cleaning plan had become disrupted. The fridge should have been cleaned at the end of November, but with an earlier snow that month and Christmas coming on and through December, things just got put off and fridge cleaning was one of them. We left this job to near the end of January knowing that the fridge would have the least contents at this time.

Just to empty out the fridge, where to put all the stuff. Got to realize how short of counter space there is in our kitchen. Some stuff that came out of the fridge, I don’t even remember when we last used that ingredient or that it was even in there. Surprising what can hide in plain sight. Was it worth keeping the dregs of the salad dressing? Who knew that hot-dog mustard separates in the container when not used since our last barbeque some 4 months ago or more?

The inside of the fridge is a chore in itself. Since the fridge is empty, why not pull it out and clean the back, sides and the floor underneath? Tell me, does the top of the fridge become everyone’s favorite utility shelf? There is no order to what is placed on this convenience. The box of Christmas cards we didn’t send. wrapping paper. scissors, pencil, scotch tape, 2011 calendar, ooh, so that’s were that bill got misplaced. A pair of gloves, container of brown sugar – and dust – yes dust. In winter?. Don’t you ever clean up here?

Now it is rather obvious that manufacturers don’t make fridges to roll forward. Wiggle, wiggle, jostle, jostle, back and forth until finally, get enough grip and leverage to yard the beast from its lair. OOH NO. How did all that crap and crud get under there? Why is it always a surprise? It’s the same old crap that was there last year when you pulled the fridge out.

Now that the fridge has been cleaned and some of the old contents have been turfed, everything gets put back in orderly fashion. It will stay that way through the weekend until Tuesday, pension cheque day which is the next time we get to cram that cooler with a fresh load of edibles.

I was contemplating on fridge cleaning. What is the lesson for cleaning out the dregs of secular society that get entangled into our walk with Christ? Especially over the Christmas season just past. All the trappings associated with ‘Xmas’, from Santa Claus, secular carols, compulsion to overspend, the busy-ness. All the decorations of the season are designed to distract us from Christ and celebrate the holiday instead. Too often we allow the “gods of Xmas” into our homes and lives. We all need a good cleaning out. How much have we unknowingly allowed our faith to become tarnished?

How many Christians found the Christmas season tiring rather than a rejuvenating of faith? Has Christmas left you exhausted, feeling like you’re going nowhere, out of routine, need to re-energize? Perhaps we all need a sabbatical. I know I do. “Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy,” The only one of the Ten Commandments that tells us to “Remember”. God knew His people will forget. Most of us even forget to take a day from our regular routines and we treat our Sabbath day as though it is just as any other. The pressures from society all too often don’t allow us to “Rest” in Christ so we can “cleanse our faith“.

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Best after Christmas

I enjoy the week following Christmas Day for several reasons.

The radio and malls have stopped playing all that seasonal Xmas music. Most have nothing to do with Christ.
Everyone is generally in a pleasant mood. The hype of Christmas day and Boxing day is over.
This is sales week. Everything you bought before Christmas is now reduced in price even further.

Since Christmas Day is not the actual day of Christ’s birth, only chosen by the church in opposing the cult celebrations of the equinox. Jesus really don’t mind which day we mass in memory of his birth. Chistians should allow the secular hype of Xmas subside and celebrate Christ’s birth on January 5. Many Orthodox Churches already have January 6th as Christmas Day. Perhaps this could allow the true meaning of the season to shine through. Christians could also take better advantage of the lower price sales for buying their gifts.

Christmas is a season that starts on December 25th eve and lasts for 12 days ending on the 5th of January. Traditionally, one would give a small gift on the first day and a gift each day up to the 12th day which would be the Grand Gift. Hence, the song “the Twelve Days of Christmas”. This is the Yuletide as mentioned in “Deck the Halls”.

The actual Liturgical Christmas season starts with the Feast of the Nativity celebrating God’s precious gift of the Savior and continues until the Feast of the Baptism of Christ, which in the present form of the Rites is celebrated on the Sunday after the 6th of January.

Just a quick note on music for the season. My wish is that singers would quit producing Christmas Albums which the radio stations are forced to play. For most singers, carols are completely apart from their genre and they only make a hash of them. As for songs like “Dreaming of a White Christmas”, “Winter Wonderland” and others, the originals were much better. So please give us a break, especially all you country artists, cease and desist with the Christmas Albums.

It’s Sunday, off to sing some carols.

Question on Gambling

This is Christmas, day 3 in the Church calendar. Yesterday my topic was Of Jesus Birth, where I was attempting to explain by scripture of Christ Jesus being the first and last, The Alpha and Omega, of creation, Revelation 1:8:
“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, says the Lord, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”

We know by the prologue that this is Christ speaking Rev: 1 v1, “The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place.” There can be no confusion over Christ and God Himself being one and the same.

Aramaic Bible, translated says:
“I am The Alap and The Tau, says THE LORD JEHOVAH God, he who is and has been and is coming, The Almighty”.

We are told that Christ came into the world to save sinners, 1 Timothy 1:15. I alluded to that perhaps the reason that the last act of creation was to create a new world because mankind has failed God, to be blunt – un-repentantly sinned against God. I read an excellent analogy of sin and our attitudes toward sin posted by a reader called; Playing With Killer Whales.

I wonder, what is the church’s attitudes toward sin? How many pastors are willing to preach frankly on sin?

Let’s look at Gambling. While there is no passage that states directly, “Thou shalt not gamble”, is not gambling covetousness? The Tenth Commandment admonishes us not to covet. Coveting, greed, and selfishness are the base emotions that entice people, including many Christians, to gamble. Does not gambling distract us from the lesson in Jesus preaching to trust in the Father for all our needs? If gambling were a sin, how many pastors would refuse a gift of monies obtained from the proceeds of gambling?

The question becomes: Is gambling sin? Can a Christian gamble and not sin/covet? Why then is he gambling? Is casino gambling different from playing the lottery?

Let us say then, hypothetically, that a church condemns gambling and its members refrain from doing so. Knowing that the proceeds from gambling support many institutions within the community, do the members of the church continue to avail themselves of those services supported by gambling; children’s hospitals, sports for kids, cancer research, art foundations, etc.?

Knowing that the proceeds from gambling go to support many worthwhile institutions that otherwise would not receive funding and in knowledge that an individuals chances of winning a lottery is infinitesimally small, is not playing the lottery then in reality just a voluntary tax?

Should we be thankful for those who do play the lottery because by doing so they support the many institutions within the community that otherwise would receive less funding?

Of Jesus Birth

Of Jesus Birth – A Christmas Story

Traditionally the Christmas Story begins with the angel Gabriel’s Announcement to Mary: Luke 1:26-38. that she will bear a son.

Perhaps the earlier prophesy:

Isaiah 9:5-6;
6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
or

Isaiah 11:1-5, 10; and Jeremiah 23:5-6

“5 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. 6 In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord Our Righteousness.”

In the tradition of Advent, these passages are included to show the events that are coming. In scripture the presence of Christ was in the beginning. God’s very first act when he said, “Let there be Light”. Genesis 1: 3 God was saying, “Let my whole being and nature be revealed”.

Genesis 1: 1-5

“1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

Perhaps I am taking a little latitude here in my interpretation of the Genesis accounts of creation.

Verse 1 is meant to stand alone. It is and was God who is solely responsible for all of creation both heavenly and earthly, the seen and the unseen, the spiritual and the physical. God made it and apart from God nothing is made that was made. That is the first and final word on the subject. In reporting terms, this is the subject or headline of the creation story.

Scripture then goes on to explain the why, who, how, where and when of creation.

Why?
In verse 2 we read that the earth was not formed as yet, there was nothing there. Outside of God was only darkness, a deep, a separation from God as waters. We learn in later scripture that the jews had a fear of the ‘waters’, this separation from life as in the story of Jonah. This is the place of death. God was in consideration or dilliberation of His actions in doing away with any sense of evil, or what could be considered as being outside of His presence. His decision was to “Bring all things unto himself” – even death.

God intends to bring His entire creation into perfect harmony with Himself. God intends to restore all things to Himself. Every enemy will be defeated, the final enemy being death, and Jesus will sit at the right hand, be the active authority of the Father until every enemy is defeated.

Psalms 8:6-9 KJV
“Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:”
Acts 3:19-21 KJV
“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”
Colossians 1:20 KJV
“And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.”
Philippians 3:21 KJV
“Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”
Ephesians 1:10 KJV
“That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:”

Who?
3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
This Light, this Life, Truth, Way. this is who will bring all things unto Himself. This Immanuel, God with us.
John 8:12 KJV
12 “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
John 14:6 KJV
6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
This can be none other than Christ Jesus.
Colossians 1:15
“Who (Christ) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation,”

4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.
That those things which God brings unto Himself shall have no sign of death or evil within. And that is surely good.
Mark 10:17-18 KJV
“Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”. And this is Jesus’ answer: “Why do you call me good? No one is good-except God alone”
1 John 1:5 KJV
5 “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”

This then is the start of the Christmas story, The first act of creation.

5″ God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.”

To signify that this is a unique part in the creation story the writer defines it as a day, or a single and separate event. Not a day as we have come to understand a 24 hour period for the sun which defines our day is not yet created. That won’t happen until the fourth day in the creation story. In the second chapter of Genesis the writer calls the events of creation – generations. 4 “These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created,”

Genesis 1:14-19
“14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.”

Mankind is the second to last act in this creation story.

Genesis 1: 26-28 KJV
“26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth”.

It is interesting that the very first order or commandment given to mankind is to be God’s agent on earth and to tend, use and look after all He has created. That is the meaning of dominion, a regency of the kingdom. Mankind are regents of God’s Kingdom on earth. God has asked us to be conservationists, environmentalists, ecologists and take care of this earth. Perhaps it is our failure to look after this earth that the final act of the creation story is to create a new earth, one fit for His Holy Kingdom.

“31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.”

Genesis 2: 1-4
“1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.
3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.
4 These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens,”

We are told that God created the whole of creation in six days and then rested. Is God resting? No. He still is involved; He still heals, He still comforts, He is still performing miracles, He still blesses, He still forgives. Is it not obvious then that we are living in the sixth day, generation, of creation?

I will close with a traditional Christmas benediction:

“May you be filled with the wonder of Mary, the obedience of Joseph, the joy of the angels, the eagerness of the shepherds, the determination of the magi, and the peace of the Christ child. Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit bless you now and forever. Amen.”

9:00 AM Christmas Morning

It is 9:00 AM Christmas morning, been up for 2 hours, fed the dog and let him out for a run, made a pot of coffee, have a short prayer time, not that much different than any other morning. Other than exchange gifts with the wife (a new pair of slippers). I suppose that is what Christmas day comes to when your retired and the children and grandchildren live an hour or so away.

We have always been a boxing day get-to-gether family ever since our children were very young. It always seemed easier to let the kids have Christmas at home and ware off some of the new toy excitement before venturing out for an hours drive to visit Granny, whos house was always full with the children of my brother and sister and their spouses. Some traditions stick. Tomorrow the house will see some activity.

I feel compelled to write something witty or thought provoking but, alas, this Christmas morning in our house is just another day. I am wondering what Christmas day is for other people. I recall the busyness of this day. After attending midnight mass and losing two hours of sleep because the kids woke up early. The excitement of children as they discovered new treasure. The constant pickup of strewn wrappings and ribbons. The phone calls to relatives, each child in turn telling granny their Christmas story. The preparation of continuous snacks and then the preparation of the feast. It definitely was a full day, punctuated with happiness, excitement and at the end, a feeling of relief it was over. Oh, no, we have to do it all over again at grannies house tomorrow.

Was it all worth the effort? An absolute and positive – YES!! Now its time to make breakfast.

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