Advent, Christmas, and Hopefully a Happy New Year

Dec 8, 2016 by

Advent, Christmas, and Hopefully a Happy New Year

Now that the Advent season has begun, I am beginning to be more hopeful with each passing day. This year has been a tough one for me. I was hospitalized three times this year with heart problems. Prior to this year I had only been in the hospital twice in my life.  I spent a good portion of the year grieving over the death of my beloved dog Max. Max had been my constant companion and great source of love and happiness for 12 years. His death left a gaping hole in my heart and life. Max kept me busy.  I took him for a walk every morning and almost daily we took a ride to one of the nearby parks for another walk. His absence left me with a lot of time that I suddenly had no way to fill. I never really descended into depression, but I did find myself crying much too often. I have yet to scatter his ashes, I’m waiting for December 23rd, the day Max died, to do that.

So being festive, joyful, and happy, with Christmas this year being so close to the anniversary of Max’s death, has been something I didn’t think I would be. But strangely I am feeling the Holiday spirit in a way I never thought I would again. I have been Christmas shopping, and enjoying it, and decorating the church for Advent. While I don’t have a tree to put up myself, I have helped my friend Teresa decorate hers. While picking up poinsettia’s for church at the local nursery I really enjoyed the winter wonderland that the nursery had setup. I enjoyed last Christmas season right up until the day Max died so suddenly. I am finding that I am enjoying this one almost as much.

I am looking forward to seeing the train display that a local church is sponsoring, and looking forward to seeing my son Jason and my family for Christmas breakfast December 17th. While I still don’t have plans for Christmas day yet, I expect to have a wonderful Christmas. Max will always be a part of my Christmas, even though he is no longer with me. I choose to remember only the joy and happiness Max blessed me with, and will put away my grief as best I can.

Christmas season is by far the best season of all. The anticipation of celebrating the birth of my Savior, the Christmas  music, Christmas lights and decorations, seeing family, food, and just the very special feeling that comes only with Christmas has lifted my spirits to the highest they have been in this difficult year. I find myself busy with a myriad of things now, when for the first few months of the year I had lost interest in doing just about everything, I had put on weight because I was not taking walks with Max anymore. But now I am taking courses on Gimp2, and Adobe Lightroom through Udemy.com. I am back out taking photographs again, as well as reading books and taking little excursions. I find myself pressed for time to do all the things I want to do where earlier in the year the days stretched emptily.

So I am thinking the New Year will be a good one. I have a new dog, Cali, a treeing walker coonhound, to keep me company as well as occupied. My days will hopefully be filled with new and exciting things to do. I plan on spending much more time reading the Bible, in prayer, and doing church business. I hope to get back to exercising more, and maybe even take a vacation somewhere exotic, or as exotic as a 67 year old man can stand. I am both thankful and hopeful.

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Merry Christmas to OPEC

Dec 25, 2008 by

From a Fox News article.

NEW YORK — Crude-oil futures fell for a third session Wednesday, tumbling 9.3% to close at their lowest level since April 2004, as government data showed inventories at a key delivery point hit a record. Crude for February delivery dropped $3.63 to end at $35.35 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Crude inventories at Cushing, Okla., the delivery point for Nymex crude futures contracts, reached 28.7 million barrels in the week ended Dec. 19, the Energy Information Administration reported. It was the highest since at least April 2004, when the government started collecting Cushing data.

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Eight Ways to Ruin Christmas

Dec 22, 2008 by

CNN is running a story titled “Seven Ways to Ruin Christmas” that originally appeared on MyHomeIdeas.com. The story lists some of the things that can get in the way of enjoying Christmas. The list of seven things covers budgets, busy schedules, guests, shopping for gifts, who to give gifts to and other things that can sap the joy out of the Christmas season.

I have added an eighth way to ruin your Christmas and that is forgetting what Christmas is all about. Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. While Christmas is also celebrated by many non-Christians as a secular, cultural festival oftentimes even Christians sometimes overlook the real significance of the holiday.

The best expression of the true meaning of Christmas comes from an unknown author. The story tells of Santa explaining to a parent how to teach the children the old meaning of Christmas. It goes like this.

Teach the children that the pure green color of the stately fir tree remains green all year round, representing the everlasting hope of mankind, all the needles point heavenward, making it a symbol of man’s thoughts turning toward heaven.

Teach the children that the star was the heavenly sign of promises long ago. God promised a Savior for the world, and the star was the sign of fulfillment of His promise.

Teach the children that the candle symbolizes that Christ is the light of the world, and when we see this great light we are reminded of Jesus who fills our lives with light.

Teach the children that the wreath symbolizes the real nature of love. Real love never ceases, like Gods love which has no beginning or end.

Teach the children that I, Santa Clause, symbolize the generosity and kindness we feel during the month of December.

Teach the children that the holly plant represents immortality. It represents the crown of thorns worn by our Savior. The red holly represents the blood shed by Him.

Santa then pulled a gift out of his bag and said. Teach the children that God so loved the world that He gave us His only Son. We thank God for His very special gift.

Teach the children that the wise men bowed before the Holy Baby and gave Him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. We should always give gifts in the same spirit of the wise men.

Santa then reached into his bag and pulled out a sugar cane and hung it on the tree. Teach the children that the sugar cane represents the shepherd’s crook. The crook on the staff helps to bring back lost sheep to the flock.

He  reached in again and pulled out an Angel. Teach the children that it was the angles that announced the glorious news of the Savior’s birth. The angels sang ‘Glory God in the highest, on earth peace and good will toward men.’

Santa then pulled a tinkling bell from his bag. Teach the children that as the lost sheep are found by the sound of the bell, it should ring to guide us to God. The bell symbolizes guidance and return. It reminds us that we are all precious in the eyes of God.

Santa then said. Remember, teach the children the true meaning of Christmas and do not put me in the center, for I am but a humble servant of the One that is, and I bow down to worship Him, our Lord, our God.

So for everyone, Christian or non-Christian, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

nativity scene

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The Spirit of Advent

Dec 12, 2008 by

The word advent means “coming” or “arrival.” The focus of the entire season is the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ. Advent is the beginning of the church year for most churches in the Western tradition. It begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day. Advent is marked by a spirit of expectation, of anticipation, of preparation, of longing. There is a yearning for deliverance from the evils of the world, first expressed by Israelite slaves in Egypt as they cried out from their bitter oppression. It is the cry of those who have experienced the tyranny of injustice in a world under the curse of sin, and yet who have hope of deliverance by a God who has heard the cries of oppressed slaves and brought deliverance.

One of my favorite Advent scripture readings is Luke 1:67-80

The dawn from on high will break upon us,

to give light to those who sit in darkness

and in the shadow of death,

to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Edmund H. Sears, a Unitarian parish minister and author is best know for his composition of the quintessentially Unitarian Christmas carol, “It Came upon the Midnight Clear.”  Some of the lyrics from that carol convey the essence of Advent and what it means to Christians.

For lo! the days are hastening on,

by prophet seen of old,

when with the ever-circling years

shall come the time foretold

when peace shall over all the earth

its ancient splendors fling,

and the whole world send back the song

which now the angles sing.

(Edmund H. Sears, 1849)

As a Christian, Advent and the birth of Jesus Christ are the most joyous occasions of the year. This is the time of the year when the spirit of the Lord is strongest in me. It is a time of great joy and rejoicing. It is the time when I am most optimistic about the world and mankind. Am I excited about the Christmas gifts that I will be opening Christmas Day? Yes. But that excitement is nothing compared to the joy and wonder that the birth of Jesus Christ fills me with. Now if we could just get a little snow on the ground before Christmas…..

advent00

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Use of phrase ‘Holiday Decorations’ is really stupid

Dec 11, 2008 by

I just watched a Lowe’s commercial which used the phrase Holiday Decorations instead of Christmas Decorations. Many stores and business have started to use this politically correct phrase. My problem with this phrase is that it is not only stupid but inaccurate. I know that Hanukkah is an 8 day Jewish holiday that is celebrated at roughly the same time as Christmas. I also know that Kwanzaa is a week long holiday that is celebrated from December 26th to January 1st of every year. As far as I know there are no Muslim holidays that are celebrated during the same time frame as Christmas celebrations.

The holiday decorations that Lowe’s and other stores and businesses refer to are primarily Christmas tree ornaments, Christmas tree lights, Christmas wreathes, Christmas garlands and assorted other Christmas decorations. Note the use of the word Christmas to describe all of these decorations. None of these holiday decorations are used by Jews to celebrate Hanukkah, African-Americans to celebrate Kwanzaa, or Muslims to celebrate the New Year.

So let me make the outlandish suggestion that since none of these ‘Holiday Decorations’ are used to celebrate anything other than Christmas, they should  correctly be called ‘Christmas Decorations.’ I fail to see how anyone can be offended by calling something by its correct and proper name. The use of the phrase ‘Holiday Decorations’ is neither offensive to anyone nor politically incorrect. It is just plain stupid.

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