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A Piece of Christmas

Read Luke 2:8-20 Luke 2:17 " When they (the shepherds) saw this (Jesus), they made known what had been told them about this child;..." (NRSV) Hans Vaxby, from Helsinki, Finland, used to work at the local telegraph office in his hometown, long before email or video conferencing. For several years, he delivered telegrams on Christmas Eve to families whose husbands and sons were away from home. Many times, after receiving a telegram, people would say, "Wait, we can't let you go just like that, without a little piece of our Christmas!" Then they would give him an apple, an orange, or some sweets. At that time, Christmas was a personal family holiday. After a brief visit to church, the family wo

Eating Rocks?

Read Psalm 37: 1-9 Song of Solomon 2:4 "He brought me to the banqueting house, and his intention toward me was love." (NRSV) Christie Thomas tells of an incident when she found her toddler sitting on the stairs, contentedly shoving rocks into his mouth. She fished out the rocks and carried him to the table to eat dessert. Frustrated at being torn away from his treasure, he screamed and flailed until he saw the chocolate cake at the table. He stopped all his noise and his eyes widened with joy. The adults at the table laughed, because who would be willing to choose rocks over chocolate cake? But don't we all do the same thing every day? Aren't we content with the meaningless activities and th

Under the Broom Tree

Sleep doesn't always come to me as easily as it once did. As I have gotten older, I am sometimes wide awake in my chair until the wee hours of the morning. For me, a sleepless night is usually accompanied by a good deal of anxiety. Concerns that don't bother me much in the daytime grow inordinately large by night. When these combine with my overactive imagination, I am done for. As someone who has trouble sleeping, I am drawn to 1 Kings 19 where the prophet Elijah found rest and respite under a broom tree. At the beginning of Chapter 19, Elijah was having a terrible time. Fearing for his life and fleeing to Horeb, he was all ready to give up, Scripture says, "{Elijah} came to a broom tress,

Love

If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid boxes, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another decorator. If I slave away in the kitchen baking dozens of cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautiful adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing. If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in nursing homes and give all that I have to charity, but do not focus, I have missed the point. Love stops the cooking to hug a child, steps aside from the decorating to kiss the spouse, is kind, though harried and tired. Love doesn't envy another's house that has coordinated holiday china and table linens. Do

Your Gift

1 Peter 4:10 "Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received." (NRSV) Some churches have a tradition where they pray a prayer of confession during worship each week as a way of acknowledging our humanity and reconciling with God. The prayer might go something like this, "Merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone." The words "what we have left undone" may weigh the heaviest. While we act in ways that are hurtful to others, we can usually name those and work to make amends. But things "Left undone" could be anything. Perhaps we put off

Search for Me

Jeremiah 29:11-13 "For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me, if you seek me with all your heart,..." (NRSV) As I have gotten older, my prayer life has shifted. I have learned to pray while doing simple chores or while driving the car. Prayers range from needs of others to my own needs. "Watch over me and keep me safe." while driving, is one. Sometimes it is "Help!" Whatever it is, God has heard each one of them. Even simple prayers are powerful because God meets us where we are. You can see thi

In the Silence

1 Kings 19:11-13 "He said, 'Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.' Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, 'What are you doing here, Elijah?' " (NRSV) How do you expect God to speak to you; in a loud voice or i

Why?

Job 42:1-5 " Then Job answered the Lord: 'I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge? Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Hear, And I will speak; I will question you, and you declare to me. I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.' (NRSV)". We have all experience stress at some point in our lives. These are usually difficult times to say the least. Steve McIntosh was going thru an especially stressful time, and found himself waking up in the early hours

First United Methodist Church

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First United Methodist Church, Gulfport, Florida