Tuesday, December 1, 2015


The approach of the Christmas season is a time when the yearly routine of life often changes. Even before Thanksgiving is past, we begin to see signs of the approaching holiday. It is interesting to remember that the term "holiday" has its origin in "holy day." A basic meaning of holy is that which is set apart; that which is different from the ordinary. Thus, a holy day or "holiday" is meant to be a time set apart for a specific remembrance or celebration...

Christmas, however, is more than a day; it is a season. The season before the day is called "Advent." This is a religious term that refers to having a season of preparation for a special, holy day. Therefore, the time prior to the actual day of Christmas has become the season that is filled with special meaning; not the least of which is the symbolism of Christmas...

Too often we look at things and fail to think about what they can mean to us. Life is full of symbols... The more we understand the symbolic meanings, the more we will be able to strengthen ourselves, and others, in the faith.

In 1906, Helen Keller was quoted in the December issue of Ladies' Home Journal as saying, "The only real blind person at Christmas is he who has not Christmas in his heart."

-- Rev. Kenneth A. Mortonson in the introduction to The Advent Instructor: Reflections on Christmas Symbolism


Monday, November 30, 2015


Teresa of Avila reminds us in the opening pages of her autobiography that the best way to know and love God is to live in the company of God's friends. Those who have befriended God through the centuries have much to teach us about Jesus Christ. Their view of history is rooted in the conviction that the true turning point of time is the birth and life of Jesus Christ, and that life in every age can be understood only from the perspective of Emmanuel -- God is with us, now and forever.

In the two thousand years since Bethlehem, the presence of the living Christ has transformed human lives and transformed history. The same Christ is now transforming us and our time.

-- Janice T. Grana, adapted from 2000 Years Since Bethlehem


Wednesday, November 25, 2015


"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."  (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NRSV)

Be thankful that you don't already have everything you desire. If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don't know something. For it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times. During those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations. Because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge. Because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes. They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you're tired and weary. It means you've made a difference. 

It's easy to be thankful for the good things. A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are also thankful for the setbacks. Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive. Find a way to be thankful for your troubles and they can become your blessings. 

-- Unknown 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


"The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving."  (Psalm 28:7 NLT)

To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant,

to enact gratitude is generous and noble,

but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven.

-- Johannes A. Gaertner 


Friday, November 20, 2015


When it comes to prayer, despair makes one eloquent… Sometimes our prayers lack eloquence because prayer seems to us, in truth, to be rather incidental, or perhaps a kind of convenience.  After all, if prayer doesn't work we can always invest more of our hopes in those remedies that money can buy, or that logic can contrive.  I hate to say it, but our comparative abundance may get in the way of greater skill in our native tongue, prayer.  Mind you, despair and faith are not the same, but sometimes despair impels our search for faith.

I want so much for you and me to understand the importance of being bilingual.  I want us to realize that a person who can talk only in the dialects of business, sports, sex, literature, philosophy, and the news of the day is fatally disadvantaged.  Because you and I must eventually, some day, do business with God -- in this world, and in the world to come.  How pathetic to think that we might have to stand before God, eloquent in business, sports, and gossip, and babbling like an infant when it comes to the divine tongue!

Here's the good news -- Divine eloquence is within every person's reach, because it involves the language all of us are equipped to speak.  But -- as with any other language -- you have to care enough to spend some time learning the fundamentals of the language and then expanding your vocabulary and your ease of expression.

Now is the time to be at it.  Not when you're facing surgery the next day, or when your family is falling apart, and certainly not when you're dying.  Now is the time, the ideal time, to become eloquent in our native tongue.  Prayer -- the language that works in both time and eternity.

-- J. Ellsworth Kalas in New Testament Stories from the Back Side