Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas 2011

My memory is such that I do not remember what we did for Christmas last year. So, I journal blog here that this year was a very quiet day. We went to the 10am service which smelled of cinnamon rolls Donna baked in the church kitchen. The service was on the history of the Christmas songs interrupted by singing some of them led by the teen. Our "lead" guitar soloist/leader was not raised on hymns. And had not bothered to practice. His crew tried to help carry him. He even apologized after the first flub, but flubbed again. And by the third song, the tired drummer and tired guitar leader played musical chairs with one of the gals leaving her standing. This distracting drama raged right behind the pastor...and I was tempted to take said chairless a chair, but my dragging it 10 feet across the stage would have been more distracting than the bad manners exhibited.

We came home and ate leftovers. Done cleaning the kitchen by noon. Spent a quiet afternoon. Skyped with James and Amber and found out they were coming the next day instead of the day after. yay. Had fun contemplating playing with the baby grandson. Bob vacuumed and babyproofed on Monday while I headed to the chiropractor and Walmart for more victuals.

Excitement reined when said grandson arrived with his big smile of cuteness. Seems he likes forward facing carseatedness.

It is strange how most places close for Christmas. We knew of 2 McDonalds open in the area. Which is somehow comforting. But, I found a cute 4 episode series to show to Bob, Lost in Austen, as in Jane Austen. You tube to the rescue to finish the final two shows.

This year I had this desire to concentrate more on Christ's birth. And contrast how Egypt was a place of refuge in Jesus day. Now, Egypt is in full revolt, and anti-Israel and Christian. Egypt will turn back to God when Jesus comes back. So there must be a remnant there. Israel will be surrounded, outnumbered, devistated and looking bleak when Jesus rescues them in a very obvious regathering and renewal. ALL eyes will see, ALL knees will bow.

The sad part of the story jumped out at me, too. Parents of two year olds and younger in the Bethlehem and surroundind districts lost their babies. Evil king herod murdered them. To hold a precious baby grandson, and know hundreds were slaughtered is too sad to take in. A whole generation wiped out. Rachel weeping for her children.

And I never really noticed before (even though the Bible is plainly marked) that the story starts in Nazareth and ends in Nazareth. Joseph considered relocating...but when he heard which evil son of herod's ruled, reconsidered, and then received another dream.

Angel Gabriel appears face to face with Zacharias, in a voice/quiet presence with Mary, and in dreams to Joseph. Another set of threes. And emphasis on the individual needs? How many of us trust our dreams? And yet others were so living their lives on the faith in God keeping His promises to them---Simeon, and the old widow at the temple.

And what of the wise men? Bringing all creation into the story? The stars, and the angels say HE shall be for all people. The Jews are the keepers, the spotlighted ones trusted to keep God's specific instructions down through the ages. And Jesus sneaks into the enemy's camp, and starts taking victories. From fulfilment of the prophecies, to the flight to Egypt, to His earthly ministry, Jesus takes ground. Victory on the Cross and Resurrection with a promise to come back in God's Perfect Time to set everything right, and rule from Israel...oh happy day. There will be no more tears, sin, traffic, violence, injustice...there will be the earth ruled as God designed originally. The Garden revisited. A new heaven and new earth.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus

Oh, for courage.

But, what is my motivation? Is this anger? Am I taking it out in the right place, as if I have a right to take it out at all??

We "like" our church.

We especially love the Bible Study on Wednesday night, because God's Word is opened, and read, and pondered, and studied. We encourage each other. We go away amazed. Amazed at the God we serve.

Most Sunday sermons are good, for example, our pastor has been plowing through Judges...and while I noticed he artfully skipped that plow to other furrows in dicey passages, who am I to question what God the Holy Spirit instructed him to serve?


And our church holds all their little cutsey Christmas parties on other nights to acommodate people. convenience. The big "play/musical" is scheduled for the 18th, a week before Christmas, which makes me suspicious that they are going to cancel church Sunday, the 25th. (they did this last time the calendars were thusly aligned, much to my shock).

I don't like nor appreciate the plays, musicals, and/or dog and pony shows. I ususally do not attend those. That is polite. I do not make a fuss. I just don't "play". I don't see them as worship, let alone sturdy teaching tools.

They will probably just slip it in the bulletin. But, if they make an announcement-----which they would do on the 18th when I was not there anyway, to the effect that there would be no church services on Sunday, December 25th, "so that memembers could spend time with their families..." if they said it out loud, in front of me, I would like to make a fuss.

1. What does it look like to the community (as we are called Arlington Community Church) that we are dark and silent on Christmas morning??

2. If one of my children got sick, and our DIL is having health issues, I'd be gone in a heartbeat. (and we have stayed home from church all week, with coughs)

3. If we are putting families above Jesus, then what, praytell does that teach our children??

4. If we are cancelling Jesus' birthday, will we celebrate it in April?? He was probably born in the spring, although Scripture is not specific.

5. Think about the Christians in China---they risk their lives to attend church, what would they think of us shuttering our doors for "convenience"??

6. Why not celebrate Jesus' birthday because that is what it is all about? Not a bunch of loud music, not a bunch of "actors".

7. Why not a simple service where we talk about Jesus??

8. or at least allow our church to be rented out to Mars Hill and show their service on the big screen??

There. I feel better. Do I send a nasty email to the pastor? copy and paste this list?

No. As Christians, especially women, we are to keep silent IN CHURCH. It says to ask your husband at home. Oh, goody. repectfully. peacefully. gently.

And pray. What would God have us do? We celebrate Jesus' birth, life, death, and Resurrection every day. On Easter---the much bigger holiday for Christians, we are especially excited, and thankful.

Mostly, this drives me to study the story again alone. And marvel afresh at the magic, the wise men, the star, the elements in primitive conditions...where God promised, and fulfilled His Promise to come and live with us. Immanuel. He came stealthily. Angels sang to shepherds...not in a church building.




A baby was born with doctors, without technology that saved mine.

A baby was born into a poor family, without conveniences like refrigeration and plumbing, and in comparison, we live like kings and queens.

The kings and queens of the story were bad. Babies died because the king perceived a threat from a promise.

Lord, guard my lips from sarcasm. We get so caught up in the gift things other people do not want, in fact, stuff that will end up in a garage sale unless it is edible.

Lord, point us to how to celebrate Your Birthday. Not for our convenience, not for our benefit, but to stop and pause and remember the miracle of Your coming into this world, marveling at Your Plan to save us all. We do not earn nor deserve the Gift that is You. The commercialism bombards us on TV, movies, even at the stores. We are so blessed. We are so rich. Toys for each child?? Those toys break, and are quickly disgarded. Please help us give our children and grandchildren Your Truth that lasts and lasts. Please help us to honor and encourage each other. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Bribing God with what He has given us

It struck me that Benito's giving me one of the flowers from our yard is like our pitiful tithe to God.

I think I have blogged about Benito before. He is eight or nine years old. He has lived next door since he was born. I remember him bundled up in blankets sitting out in the stroller. He was that toddler that chased our kitty in our yard, and peeked into our garage.

We could not even talk to him until he started school and learned English. But, as a little kid, being bored, he would throw rocks into the street, and lob them onto our cars parked in our drive. I used to provide him balls, nerf balls, and bribed him not to throw rocks at our cars.

He became friends, but more like a surrogate grandson. He would show up to visit, and asked only for drawing materials.

For a while, he would "trade" me a flower---roses he got from his aunt or someone in his house, and we would give him a box of juice, a piece of candy, some chips. Then, lately, the flower was a weed culled from our side yard, and now our Wandering Jew plant that is flourishing by the sidewalk. When we were out of town last week, we came home to picked flowers on the brick ledge by the front door.

But, it struck me, that anything we give back to God is something that came from Him in the first place. We are merely facilitators. We can give of our time, money, energy, but these are small, pitiful things compared to what we are given. So, maybe Benito is to keep me humble.

Blasphemy with TSSB (our national anthem)

Or, having fun with the subject line in emails to my sweetie

One morning last month, October 15th, to be exact, we had slept with the windows open. Bob had left for work and James and Amber had gone home after a four day weekend. For some odd reason, James had set the possom trap before he left. He did not bait the thing. He just set it. I noticed that he also likes to close doors and adjust things. For example, to keep the computer cool, I let the door behind the computer stay open. James probably had not guessed why the door was left ajar, and closed it. So, why he opened the door to the trap and set it, is still a mystery to me.

I was waiting for the dawns early light so that I could see into the back yard, as it sounded like something was in the trap. And as it reminded me of The Star Spangled Banner line, "by the dawn's early light..." I put that into he subject line to Bob in an email. Thus began an exchange of emails where I used lines from our national anthem in the subject line to describe the situation of a possom caught in the trap that had not even been baited. (we have since tried to leave it thataway again, but no possom had wandered into the trap again, so we closed it before heading out to see grandkids before Thanksgiving. we did not want to come home to a very stinky "caught" possom.)

Here, copied and pasted, for your enjoyment, is that exchange of emails. As you know, you have to read from the bottom up to get the full effect. At one point, Bob was stumped by my subject line renderings, so his wit is hitherto exposed:

Tue, November 15, 2011 3:55:19 PMRE: (James' possom) catches the gleam...on the stream
From: "Williamson, Bob"
To: Joyce Williamson


Ahhh! I should have recognized it. I know the first and last stanzas, but you had me stumped with that those two lines about the hireling and slave.

From: Joyce Williamson
Sent: Tuesday, November 15, 2011 3:11 PM
To: Williamson, Bob
Subject: (James' possom) catches the gleam...on the stream

it is more of the Star Spangled Banner... and have you noticed that if obama knew the last verse, he would not have been stumped about what our national motto is??

O, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand,
Between their lov'd homes and the war's desolation;
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserv'd us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust"
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

anyway, the city came and picked out James' patriotic possom, so:

Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream:

(James' possom will catch the gleam of the morning's first beam from a park, hopefully that has a stream...)

I know it is probably blasphemous to compare James' possom to our flag...but, I just started the first email to you by the dawns early light, and could not let go. Love, Joyceeeeee


From: "Williamson, Bob"
To: Joyce Williamson
Sent: Tue, November 15, 2011 1:07:19 PM
Subject: RE: No refuge could save the hireling and slave

My thoughts exactly. (Sorry, you have me stumped.)

From: Joyce Williamson
Sent: Tuesday, November 15, 2011 11:59 AM
To: Williamson, Bob
Subject: No refuge could save the hireling and slave

No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave


From: "Williamson, Bob"
To: Joyce Williamson
Sent: Tue, November 15, 2011 11:28:24 AM
Subject: RE: at the twilight's last gleeming??

I’ve used a shovel to club a possum before, but that would just deprive some fox or cougar of a good meal. If the city dawdles, I’ll just take him up to the Trinity River when I get home.

From: Joyce Williamson
Sent: Tuesday, November 15, 2011 11:21 AM
To: Williamson, Bob
Subject: at the twilight's last gleeming??

well, the city ain't picked it up yet. poor thang is gettin' frantic. how do we propose we do the deed??


From: "Williamson, Bob"
To: Joyce Williamson
Sent: Tue, November 15, 2011 7:52:54 AM
Subject: RE: by the dawns early light...

Them possums ain’t the brightest of critters, is they? Maybe if we baited the trap, we’d have caught three of them. (Such a shame you called the city already; this could have solved our dilemma of what to add to the Thanksgiving dinner at James and Amber’s.)

From: Joyce Williamson
Sent: Tuesday, November 15, 2011 7:35 AM
To: Williamson, Bob
Subject: by the dawns early light...

I heard noises in the backyard but I had to wait for the sky to get light...

and lo, James' possom. James set the trap for some strange reason when he was here. I noticed that James likes things closed. set. He kept closing the door between this room and the spare room. I keep it open so I can see the pictures, and to give us a few more inches with the rocker in the doorway. But, James kept closing doors. we keep the door behind the computer open to keep it cool, but James did not know that. funny.

I called the city animal control and left a message. and unlocked the gate.

it is a pretty big possom. big head. talk about stupid...there was no food in the trap. why wander into an empty trap when there is a whole yard of seeds upon which to dine??

Ah, James' possom just yawned. too funny.

Love, Joyce

Did you start here??

Did it make sense?

I did a google search on our national anthem, and pondered the verses we have not sung in ages. Yikes. Deep stuff there. When was the last time you read all four verses? When was the last time you either sang or heard them all ???