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Monday, 27 October 2014

Glitter and Christmas

All that glitters is not gold, but most of it is Christmas.

Not even through October yet, another two months to go before the big indulgence, and yet the shops are twinkling bright with neon reindeer and tinsel Santas. 

The big Christmas extravaganza is underway again and once again, the Son of God is likely to get lost in the wrappings. Indeed, in some places he has been thrown out of the festivities altogether, deemed too divisive to be celebrated on his own birthday.

Maybe we should call this time of year the Big T. The Big Temptation. For it is very tempting to over-indulge in food and drink, to over-spend on gifts and party paraphernalia. 

I’ve heard of a family who give their presents on St Nicholas Day, which is at the beginning of December, and then spend Christmas giving themselves to others in acts of selfless kindness. 

Now that is a more suitable way for us to indulge ourselves on the birthday of the Saviour who gave up everything – more than we can imagine – so that we might step into his Kingdom as free men and women. 

He didn’t come with tinsel, reindeer or elves. 

His birth was announced by a host of angels lighting up the midnight sky, though. Kind of puts our twinkling lights in the shadow.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Red Squirrel Alert

Hanging out the washing, I was startled by a light thump and rustle in the autumn leaves behind me and turned. There, just a metre away from me, a red squirrel paused briefly and then leapt away round the house and into the vegetable garden.

What a gift, to see this increasingly rare rodent right there in our garden. We knew they lived in the woods nearby, but have never seen any in our garden. Certainly not so close.

Nature has a way of surprising us with sudden flashes of beauty, and this was one such unexpected gift. My prayer now is that the cats don’t find this little gift as it goes about getting ready for the winter to come.

The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it. May we take better care of it than we are doing right now.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Fascinating Face

Why do I find it so fascinating to stare at the beautiful face of my sleeping 4-week-old granddaughter? Delighting in every flicker of a gassy smile. Wondering at every frown that etches lines on that young forehead. Dreams? Discomfort? 

Everyone says how awesome it is to be a grandparent, and now I understand. 

So I spent a fun four hours helping her mum get out and about and accomplish some errands which took time and energy. And then we stopped for a coffee. 

I am very grateful to be able to help. To live so close that I can get there in half an hour and just cuddle and rock to my heart’s content. My mother was denied that opportunity, as I live so far away. 

The Bible says we are grafted into the family of God. Adopted in through our faith in Jesus our brother. God is our almighty Father. And he gazes with that same degree of love that have as we gaze at our granddaughter, and used to show as we gazed at our own children.

Fascinated by the frowns. Delighted with the smiles. Excited when we look at Him with as much love as he shows when he looks at us. 

Felicity is still too young to smile. Too young to register recognition of her gramma or anyone else. 

But it won’t be long. And once she starts, I know – or I can imagine – how incredible it will feel to have her look at me and smile with reflected love. 

Gratitude to God for my life is a first step, which opens the door for the flood of love for One who would lay down his life for me.

I want to meet his loving gaze.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Eyes Wide Open

Sporadically over the past few months, I’ve been searching for the musical mobile with dangling ducks which hung over our children’s cots when they were babies. I was sure I’d kept it and wanted it for our new granddaughter.

Couldn’t find it. Looked in all the probable places, then a few of the possible places, then gave up. 

Today as I looked for something else in the cupboard where I had always thought it was, I saw it, sitting neatly packed in a wee cardboard box.

It had always been there. I just hadn’t seen it.

God is always there. We just don’t always see him. 

Jesus tells a story or three which reveal that God has the kind of personality who never gives up. When someone or something is lost, he keeps hunting until the lost is found.

Be it a sheep, a coin, or a son (or daughter). 

That is so reassuring, because I know I for one have had my moments of wandering off. Unlike me with the musical mobile, though, God didn’t give up looking for me and then just happen to find me one day.

His search for me was deliberate and constant, and when he found me – or maybe more accurately when I recognised he was there for me – there was real jubilation in heaven and in my heart.

Thank goodness he never gave up.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Evocative Smells

Smells are so evocative.

This afternoon I was ironing some curtains I just made before hanging them. The smell of the hot iron on the cotton lining took me back fifty years, to a time when my mother, my sister and I made all of our clothes. 

It was a time when it didn’t matter who made a garment as long as the garment looked good and suited you. Nobody wanted to wear a shirt with a logo from the manufacturer displayed on the chest. The idea seemed odd and even preposterous. We wanted to wear something unique to us.

The creativity of choosing a dress pattern and matching it with an appropriate fabric and then spending hours cutting and sewing and ironing was satisfying. My sister and I had such fun sharing time together sewing and listening to the latest records on our little transistor radios. Yes, I am that old.

I iron all the time, sheets for the B&B mostly, but the smell of ironing new cotton is different, and takes me back all those years to those happy hours spent perched on my parents’ bed, leaning over an old Singer sewing machine and dreaming of how great this new creation would look when it was finished.

Some may have looked great. Many probably looked not so great. But they were all unique, one of a kind outfits. No danger of arriving at a party or at school in the same dress as someone else.

The smell of the iron on cotton is so distinctive, and that reminds me of the distinctive aroma we as Christians have in the world. Paul writes that we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ. The pleasing aroma of Christ. 

It doesn’t say that when we do good things or live perfect lives we are the pleasing aroma of Christ. Just by believing in Jesus as our Saviour and Lord, we are the pleasing aroma of Christ. We are not perfect, but he is, and I am sure that the aroma is way better even than Chanel or Dioror Estee Lauder. It is perfect, like He is.

May you spread the fragrance of Christ wherever you go today, confident that the beautiful smell is unique to Jesus and doesn’t depend on your goodness, but his.