Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Reflections on Advent – II

I suppose we’ll soon read about retail stores prohibiting employees from saying “Merry Christmas” and about Christians wanting to boycott those stores. I don’t get it; I don’t mean I don’t get the stores’ policy – though I do think it ill considered; I mean I don’t get the Christians.

Firstly, patrons can always wish the employees and management a Merry Christmas…and just maybe they could use some holiday cheer. Or could it be that we’re too timid to say “Merry Christmas” in what we perceive to be a hostile environment? I’ve had many a retail employee respond with a smile to a heartfelt “Merry Christmas”.

Secondly, the world is the world is the world, so what exactly do we expect from the world? Do we believe what the Bible teaches about the world system or not?

Thirdly, why promulgate a negative witness? That is, why use our energy as being against the policies of retail stores when we could be engaged in sharing the Great News of the birth of Jesus? Do we really think that if a commercial enterprise permits its employees to say, “Merry Christmas”, that it is acknowledging the birth of Jesus Christ?

Fourthly, syncretistic civil religion is more dangerous to us than corporate America’s stance on Christmas/holiday greetings. If Christians think that changing a firm’s policy on Christmas greetings is vital then I suggest we’ve been seduced by the idea that the Biblical church and the nation can be philosophically and functionally the same; they cannot be the same. The last time I checked the person who said, “My kingdom is not of this world,” is Jesus Christ.   

Remember that I said at the top that I think corporate policies ill considered that prohibit “Merry Christmas”. I do indeed think such policies ill advised; but I think it is more important to be gracious and winsome witnesses for Jesus Christ in a generation, and in a church, that really seems to have no idea what transpired in Bethlehem some two thousand years ago, than to engage in battles of questionable worth. Better for people to know what we are for (Jesus) than to know what we are against.

When is the last time you shared the news of Advent with someone who doesn’t know Jesus?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Reflections on Advent – I

I wasn’t raised with the word “Advent” – I was raised with the word “Christmas”. I think they are both fine words. I recall seeing the designation “XMass” as a lad, I didn’t know what it meant beyond being an abbreviation for Christmas. Later I considered the “X” as a negative substitution for Christ; still later I realized that the “X” is a designation for Christ – the X being the first letter of the term Christ in Greek. Of course most people don’t know that, even as I didn’t know that – which once again points to the fact that I don’t know much, including much of what I do know.

Brucie and I were talking the other day that when we were young men we thought we knew things; now that we’re older men we know that we don’t know much. When we were young we thought we were men; now that we’re old we realize we’re children. I said to Brucie, “I used to want to know the answers to a lot of things; now with most questions I say, ‘I can wait on that, it won’t be long before I’ll find out.’” But I digress, back to Advent.

I like the word Advent because it specifically speaks to the birth of Jesus Christ. XMass can be misinterpreted, as can Christmas, but I think the word Advent is a bit harder to pass by, to treat as a bit of holiday verbal filler.

When saying “Christmas” perhaps we could pronounce it, “Christ-mas”, with an emphasis on the first syllable? That way our hearer’s attention might be drawn to the Christ in Christmas. What do you think?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Route 307

Last Saturday we visited our daughter Sarah and her family in Rustburg, VA. We took Route 360 to Route 307 to Route 460 and then turned off 460 at Concord for Rustburg.
            Route 307 is a two-lane nine-mile connector between heavily traveled routes 360 and 460 and consists of hills, hills, and more hills. It may take 15 minutes to traverse Route 307, or it may take 20 – 25 minutes; it depends on whether there is a truck carrying bales of hay in front of you.
            There are few places to pass on Route 7, and even fewer places that I would consider passing for there are too many blind spots and too many hills…why take a chance, even a slight chance?
            Some folks drive too fast on this road – let ‘em go – what’s the point?
            On the 360 end of Route 307 is a Tyson’s Chicken facility – I think it’s a hatchery. When you’re driving from 460 to 360 the facility is a welcome sight for it lets you know you’re at 360. Also on the 360 end, not far from the chicken facility, is a home on the right (heading toward 460) that sells vegetables during the spring, summer, and fall. I’ve never stopped there, I don’t know the name of the family, but it is a fixture on Route 307.
            Yesterday I mentioned to Vickie that I am going to petition VDOT to shorten Route 307, even if they’d take two miles off the road it would be helpful. If a significant number of people drive on 307 to connect with either 360 0r 460 then why make them drive nine miles to do so? Why not shorten 307 to seven miles? Why not try to shorten it to five miles?
            It doesn’t appear as if the folks that live on 307 use all of their land; the houses are spread out and there are whole tracts of land with thickly-wooded areas – surely a contraction wouldn’t inconvenience the residents along 307. Plus, surely the folks who live on 307 work elsewhere, so a road contraction would shorten their commute, saving time and gas and money – I can’t see an argument against my request to VDOT.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Christmas Cactus

Well it's time to bring the plants in from outdoors. Here's a Christmas Cactus in our dinning room. It started out as a little plant in a little pot.

Here's another Christmas Cactus, this one is in our living room. It also was once a little plant in a little pot. We kept both of these plants on our screened-in porch during the spring and summer - looks like being outside agreed with them.