Archives For holidays

On Thursday, we will spend time with family.

We will eat a lot of food.

We will watch football and parades.

And we will be thankful.

Or will we? I’m completely certain of the first three things. I’m not so sure of the last.

People complain about how the retailers have completely overshadowed Thanksgiving with their Black Friday sales. It’s true, but I don’t blame the retailers. I cannot blame the retailers for the fact that there are, apparently, people willing to camp out for two weeks for a cheap television. It is not the fault of the retailers that those people probably never did the math to figure out how much they are losing in lost wages verses how much they will save on such a television.

No, I don’t blame the retailers for giving people an opportunity to show what is already in their hearts. If people did not want to spend their Novembers this way, it would not work as a business model.

I don’t think the American church has done anything about it, either, with our massively consumeristic church culture that has been built.

And so, as we near Thanksgiving, I am left with one conclusion…

That we are not thankful.

Because I have to believe that the foundation of gratitude is contentment. If people were content, they would see no need to bust down doors at Wal-Mart. They would know that they have enough.

I am not sure that enough is in our vocabulary anymore. And so, I have to go to the wisdom of a different culture and faith, a faith that never knew the joys of Black Friday…

enough

If we only brought back the word “enough” into our vocabulary, it would change everything. It would change the way we do business. It would change the way we raise our kids. It would change the way we worship. Enough makes people happy. More always leaves people wanting.

You have enough.

You are enough.

This Sunday is Mother’s Day.images

The day when we all think of the women who gave us life, who nurtured us and raised us.

And plenty of you ladies who are still raising children will be celebrated. Maybe your kids will make you breakfast in bed. Maybe the word “breakfast” will stretch the definition a bit. But it will be served to you in bed.

Maybe your husbands will bring you flowers.

Maybe your gift will be that the family just leaves you alone for the day.

And all of you who go to church on Sunday are sure to be honored. Maybe your pastors will have you stand up and be recognized. Maybe someone will give you a carnation, which is a nice old-fashioned Mother’s Day thing to do.

If you would, please take a moment on Mother’s Day to do just one thing. It’s not very big, and you can get right back to your special day.

Please remember your childless friends. Continue Reading…

Of course, today is Good Friday.good-friday-india

Of course, the day we commemorate was not originally called good. There was very little good which anyone could fathom coming out of such a day.

Good Friday was a day on which not only a man died, but dreams died with him. Jesus’ disciples had “hoped that he would be the messiah who would redeem Israel.”

Good Friday was full of anguish, pain, tears and disappointment. And it took several days for people to understand the good which God was working that day. All they knew on Friday was what they could see and hear and feel.

I am afraid that we humans have not changed much. Not that anyone was supposed to get what Jesus’ crucifixion was about that day. But we humans often let the good slide right under our noses, unnoticed. We do not see how things worked in our favor until after the fact. We do not feel the joy or love that we often feel we we look nostalgically at a time. Instead, we just grind through a stage of our lives, groaning about our lot in life. And it isn’t until years later that we look back and say that those times were the best, or the most fruitful, or the most fun.

There are people who have terrible things happen to them – they get cancer or a tragedy strikes them, or they lose their loved ones. And those of us on the outside can never understand how they can find redemption or hope or, yes, even good in their circumstances. But somehow, they do. I do know that my wife and I have been trying to have a child for four years now, a trial that most people just want to get over with. But I cannot tell you how fruitful, how enriching how good this trial has been for our marriage and our spirits.

Good often disguises itself as pain, or disappointment or loss. And we just try to fast-forward through all those parts so we can get to what we think will be the “good” parts – the easy parts, the planned-out parts, however we define “good.”

Maybe on Good Friday, we can learn to see “good” in all its disguises.

Have a happy Easter, friends.

Did you know that there are people who make a living by cuddling strangers?download

Yes, professional cuddlers.  People who snuggle with perfect strangers for money.  It’s like a massage or a therapy session.

Or maybe it’s like prostitution, except, you know…platonic.

Yes, I know this sounds almost unbelievable, but the Sunday Morning Show ran a story last weekend about just such a phenomenon.  I would not have believed it if I had not seen it.  You can check it out for yourself if you do not believe me.  People spend up to 120 dollars for an hour or so of snuggling.  It might start with a standing hug.  Then a hug lingers into an embrace.  Then it moves to the couch or a bed.  But nothing sexual.  Just prolonged human touch.  Even Mo Rocca who was doing the report seemed incredulous.

And by the laws of supply and demand, since there is a supply of professional cuddlers, then there is some contingent of customers demanding professional cuddling.

And on this day, just before the national celebration of love, what does it say about us that professional snuggling is a thing in today’s America?

Continue Reading…

You know I love sweet little baby Jesus.babyjesus

Sweet little eight pound, six ounce, newborn baby Jesus.

And that little baby in the manger is the reason for Christmas, right?

Well, here’s the thing.  I love Christmas.  I love baby Jesus.  But I’ve rediscovered something recently, through conversations with friends and singing old songs and revisiting well-worn stories.  Sure, Christmas isn’t just about shopping and toys and eggnog.  But Christmas also isn’t just about a baby in a manger, arms outstretched like he’s in a classical painting.  It isn’t just about a mom looking reverently at her baby, looking positively divine, mere moments after giving birth.

What if even our Nativity scenes and songs about that baby even missed the point of Christmas?  What if we’ve managed to turn sweet little baby Jesus into an eight pound idol?

I think I’ve relearned something that just might save my Christmas this year…

Continue Reading…

I genuinely love Christmas…

I feel your pain, buddy.

I feel your pain, buddy.

Well, I try to love Christmas.  I try really hard.

Because between the decorations that have been on display at Home Depot since Halloween and the Black Thursday insanity and the stress of shopping and social events, I have a love-hate relationship with the holiday now.  Christmas has become hard to love.

Of course, there are a lot of people who are trying to combat the disease that plagues Christmas by waging a war on Jesus’ behalf.  There are signs in my neighborhood yards now that say:

“Merry Christmas! (Happy Birthday, Jesus!)”

Yeah, if you didn’t catch the “Christ” in bold, they spell it out for you by wishing Jesus a happy birthday.

And of course, there is the annual tradition of demanding that store clerks wish us “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays.”  After all, Jesus said, “Why do you wish each other Happy Holidays?  Do not even the pagans do that?”

It’s all in the name of “keeping Christ in Christmas.”

But I ask you: does Christ even want to be kept in Christmas?  Did we ask him in the first place?

Maybe it would be best if we just left Jesus out of the whole thing altogether.

Continue Reading…