Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Thoughts on Christmas Kitsch

I sat at the table for five hours watching people walk by. Every now and then someone would stop and pick up one of my books. I’d chat with them, telling them the book was a collection of devotionals. Sometimes I’d share how the Lord had used it to make a change in someone’s life. Usually they’d smile and move on. They’d move on to buy trinkets at other tables loaded with kitsch – painted plastic santas, crocheted snowflakes, angels made of dishtowels, and snowmen made of styrofoam.

As the day wore on I got a little discouraged. And, as discouragement often does, it started to move into bitterness tinged with anger. Why were these people so eager to grab things that had so little value and would last for such a short time? Why weren’t they more interested in buying something that could nourish their souls? It made me want to scream, but I kept quiet and tried to keep smiling when someone glanced my way.

As I drove home later that day I ruminated. I love that word – it means to turn over and over, as in a cow chewing her cud. And that’s what it felt like as I drove along – my stomach was churning; I was stewing over what had happened, and I wasn’t being very complimentary to those people who had not bought my books.

Then that still small voice whispered from somewhere beyond – “And what about you?”
Me, Lord? Um … What do you mean?

I didn’t really have to ask. I knew what He meant. I too make choices every day, choices that are just like those kitsch-hunters. I choose things that are of little value and momentary pleasure over the riches and everlasting joys of Christ. Every day. I was humbled there in my car, and had to do an attitude adjustment. I had to ask God to forgive me for my “holier than thou” thoughts. I had to thank Him for those who did buy my books and thank Him for what he was going to do in their lives through my mere words. And I had to ask Him to forgive me for all those times I’ve chosen the kitsch of the world over Him.

The verses in Deuteronomy filled my mind - “Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life…” (Deut.30:19-20).

There’s an awful lot of kitsch in this world, especially at this time of year. It’s tempting to allow ourselves to be distracted from the real story of Christmas. As the season unfolds, may we all avoid running after what cannot satisfy. May we all choose life.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Birds in the field

It was a grey, misty morning last Sunday. And my mood was a bit like the day. I had a lot to take to the church - a dish for pot-luck, my Bible, binder and other paraphenalia for my Jr. High Sunday school class, and a few shoeboxes for the Samaritan's Purse Christmas Child project. So I was kind of growly because I had all this stuff to hawl in and my husband wasn't there to help. My youngest daughter, Meagan took one load but then disappeared, leaving me to make two more trips.
On the second trip I heard the familiar sound of geese, but the fog was so dense I couldn't see them. It sounded like they were very low. I made the second trip about half an hour later and either some of the fog had burned off, or I was just more attentive because I immediately caught sight of a small group of geese about to land in the field that boarders the church. Then I blinked. That field was moving.
I stood still and watched two more flocks land, joining what must have been hundreds, maybe thousands.
As I said, geese are a common thing here - but there was something stunning about seeing them, the mist slipping around them, making their long necks seem disengaged from their bodies. And the noise was amazing. For some reason I thought of the pot-luck lunch that would follow the service and that made me laugh out loud. The sound was similar to what our fellowship hall sounds like during pot lucks.
Anyway, it was a blessing from the Lord that lifted my spirits above the fog - or maybe I should say through it.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Fighting the Frets

My daughter is in Asia now, trying to cope with culture shock and begin to do the job she went there to do. Her emails sound good, though I can read between the lines a bit and know that she has many moments of wondering what on earth she has done. She said she dreamed about us the other night and then when she woke up didn't know where she was.
I had a similar experience in Papua New Guinea. We were at 'jungle camp' - our orientation time before going on to the place where we lived for that year - I was dreaming about snow - and as I woke up thought I heard sleigh-bells. Then I thought, if it's winter, why am I so hot? When I was finally conscious i realized the sleighbell sound was the incessant insect noises in the jungle - cicadas etc. Made me laugh out loud. :)
Part of me is still fretting for Laura - the 'what ifs' keep rearing their heads - but I'm fighting it with prayer and reminding myself that she has the best companion anyone could hope for - Jesus Himself.