The days blur together and the blessed night finally comes. The night children look forward to all year long: Christmas Eve. I’m twenty now, and somehow it doesn’t seem so magical. The family traditions have been forgotten, I don’t even stay up as late as I can so I’ll be tired and immediately fall asleep. Now I have other things on my mind, other worries, other concerns, other joys. The ripping of wrapping paper doesn’t bring monumental change.
So what does the future hold, Lord? Tonight Santa rides the clouds, satisfying wants across the country. In another week the tension will build as we all find out if there’s any reason Y2Kare. Then the holiday season ends, and it’s back to the usual. I know that He holds all in his hands, and I have nothing to fear. But you can’t help wondering. How’s it all going to work out.
And I’ve noticed from skipping these thoughts the past several days, my thoughts don’t quite pull together as nicely as they used to. I answered an email today, telling the person my one desire is to make him think. Perhaps I need to do more of that myself. Now that I’m home for break, I don’t have my roommate pestering me to write my daily thoughts. He’ll be glad to know he’s influential.
I do know the one thing I want for Christmas. I’ll probably be disappointed. But I want a white Christmas. I want lots of snow. Maybe I’ll get it before the year’s end.
Merry Christmas. And to all, a good night.
Your mother tells you not to cross the street. An elderly neighbor across the street tumbles to the ground, and desperately needs help. Although you’re only seven, you’re the only person around. Do you disobey your mother, and cross the street to help the old person. Or do you obey your mother and let the old person struggle to get up?
Do you follow the letter of the law, or the spirit? Your mother most likely told you not to cross the street out of concern for your safety. You’re usually too excited to look both ways, and she doesn’t want you to get run over. At the same time, your mother has also taught you to be kind to others, and to help you neighbors.
Scenario 1: You wave at the old man, explaining that you’re not allowed to cross the street. The old man curses and fumbles around for twenty minutes before finally getting to his feet.
Scenario 2: You look both ways and carefully cross the street and help your neighbor to his feet. He kindly thanks you and smiles as you skip back across the street.
So what do you believe? What’s your answer to life? And do you have anything backing up that answer? Sometimes that’s a difficult question to ask. Most of the time it’s an even more difficult question to answer. I claim to know the answer. But do I live it? Is it evident? Sometimes I really have to struggle with my answer. I have apathetic urges that tell me it’s worthless and that I’m nothing. Sometimes you just have to suck it up through those times. What am I saying? Am I saying Christianity is a sham and you have to do it all yourself? No. I’m saying Christianity isn’t easy. It’s not a walk in the park. It’s difficult. It can hurt. Sometimes it feels like you’re all alone. You want God to reach out and save you, you want the light to shine down from heaven. But sometimes it stays silent. Sometimes it stays dark. God doesn’t follow scripted plots and sitcom resolutions. But he is always there for you. He gives us so much more than life.
I still don’t quite understand Christmas. We run around the malls, scouring the stores looking for the perfect gift for everyone on our list. Half the time we get them something they really don’t need, sometimes something they don’t even want. And half the time we do it out of a sense of duty. It just doesn’t seem right.
When I was a little kid Christmas was always the best time of the year, because from Christmas morning on, the world seemed different. I had a whole new set of toys to play with. Nothing would be the same again. As I grew up, this feeling came less and less, as I realized that receiving toys and gifts isn’t a life changing event. In essence, I was greedily looking forward to the new toys I could play with, never quite content with what I had.
I can’t help but wonder how much of this stuff we really need. How many of this year’s presents will be collecting dust in the basement in a few years? This year’s fad, next year’s garage sale item. Isn’t my desk cluttered with enough stuff? Sometimes I just have to wonder.
Finals week. Stress pours out in strange forms. Five friends spent three hours sitting around talking about eunuchs and Unix, trying to knock decks of cards over with their noses. They sit in the dining center making balloons screech and trying to fashion a sling shot from plastic knives and popped balloon pieces. Suddenly time has no meaning. All that matters is what you have left to do before the moment of glorious freedom.
What a strange breed.
The alarm went off this morning, and I really wanted to shut it off. I hit the snooze instead, and pushed the decision nine full minutes away. It screamed again, and I smacked it–this time forced to make the decision. Do I sleep in on a Sunday morning, or do I get up and go to church? I’d already made the choice to sleep through Sunday School. Now I was flirting with skipping the whole thing. But I got up. I wiped the crud from my eyes and took a long shower. It’s funny how long, hot showers are the worst thing you can do when you’re getting up way too early.
Continue reading Why I Get Up For Church
Sometimes I sit in my seat and wonder at it all. The tiny blue dot, chockfull of six billion people, floating through the unending empty blackness of space with no particular place to go. Six billion people, all with their own agendas, their own lives, their own worries, their own dreams–all hoping in someone or something, or maybe even in nothing at all. They are a speck of sand on the beach, unnoticed by the other 5,999,999,999 people and completely insignificant in the limitlessness of space. They each have their own goals. They put their hope in friends or money or power. Some search for good times, ultimate thrills, or a cozy place. Some look for acceptance, love, belonging. Some just sit quietly in the dirt, content with their lot, waiting for time to pass and life to finally leave them. Some have big plans that never really amount to anything, inflated dreams that simply float away, never realized, never actualized, never attained. Some just save themselves the trouble and don’t bother dreaming. Some would rather stay safely at home, where things never change, never get old, and never have to readjust. Some look to the stars, and some look to technology. Some look to themselves, and some look to others. But in this cosmic search of life, it seems odd to me that so few come to understand their futile hunt–they journey their entire lives and never really get anywhere. It’s just one rite of passage after another and life continues on, hardly even interrupted, hardly noticing the change, hardly noticing that what once the goal is now fleeting, and that a new, even more unattainable goal has taken its place. The journey is circular. Around and around in a downward spiral, falling farther and farther into the great unknown. People have a deep desire within them to find something. They usually don’t know what they’re looking for, but they keep looking anyway. If only they could stop. Realize the answers to their questions. Enjoy new life, and new hope.
You gotta love kids. They have this carefree attitude and can let it all go. Today in chapel a mass of 50 toddlers and pre-school age children put on a Christmas play for us. They wiggled, they danced, they laughed. With 2000 college students (and parents) watching with glee. It puts a smile on your face.
Some days I like to dream. I like to dream about interesting ideas, histories that might have been, and future possibilities. What would the world be like if we actually valued nature over dollars and cents? Will the American love affair with the automobile ever end, or will it continue to be the epitome of consumerism and individualism. Is space man’s new territory to explore and colonize? What will life be like with colonies on the moon and Mars? Will famine, poverty and war still exist? What about my future? Will I follow the rank and file? Or will I step out and be someone different? Will I walk to work through the blowing piles of snow because of my value system? Crunch crunch, crunch crunch, crunch crunch. Something about that appeals to me. Some days you just need to ask what if, and ponder the possibilities.
A yard full of bright flashy lights, hollow plastic characters, and more Christmas kitsch than anyone could ever handle. I saw the house from the freeway, and just had to drive by. Messages were spelled out in lights. Santa could be seen in six different places. Some gingerbread men were playing on the seesaw. Reindeer, snowmen, elves, candy canes and more. A wreath at the top of the house kept flashing “Happy Birthday Jesus.” The front yard was lit up like the inside of their house. As we drove by several cars pulled over and their joyful occupants flooded the street for a better view. I drove away shaking my head.
Continue reading The Haze of Christmas Lights