They Say It’s Christmas
Dec 24th, 2008 by Sonja

LightGirl HappyIt’s been an odd year, or I should say an odd Advent season.  We haven’t done anything really Advent-y.  I feel cheated somehow.  It’s no one’s fault, but I missed somehow.

We were late with everything.  We didn’t get our tree til the tree people were nearly gone.  We just decorated last night.  I haven’t waited that late in the season to decorate since I was a kid.

We’ve had a lot of fun.  I made a lot of gifts.  Not all of them are finished.  Some still have to get into the mail (LightMom and BostonAunt).

I’ve gotten a couple of early gifts that are wonderful.  One I have to wait til Epiphany to tell you about.  The other came in the mail about a week ago.  It arrived in an inconspicuous box from BostonAunt.  She e-mailed me with a note saying to open it … it was NOT for Christmas.  So I did.  Inside was a treasure.  On top was a packet of my letters to my grandmother spanning about 2 decades that she’d saved.  It was funny to read the old me.

Underneath the packet was an old Bible.  It had belonged to my great uncle.  He died at the age of 98, in 1996, in Woodstock, NB, Canada.  He’d lived most of his life in Maine and served as an itinerant Sunday School teacher.  That was his ministry.  Apparently, he’d also been a Gideon as this is a Gideon Bible from the 1940’s.  In the frontispiece is a note which says “Dad’s last verse Deut. 33:25.”  There are a couple of other notes in his cramped old-style hand.  There are notes here and there throughout.  But the best thing about this Bible are the bookmarks.  They span decades; from the 1930’s through the 1980’s.  There is a ribbon which he wore identifying him as a worker at a Billy Graham crusade in 1953.  There is a ribbon which he got as a singer in a choral society in 1930s.  There are multiple tiny newspaper cutouts; obituary’s, articles, church announcements, etc.  The bookmarks are absolutely fascinating.  Finding and deciphering what he was reading when he marked his spot is engrossing.  The Bible is, of course, King James and is a self-pronouncing version.  That is, there are diacritical marks over all the names.  Even simple names such as Moses and for some reason I find that vastly amusing.  Yet of all the things that could be done to make the Bible approachable, why not?  Why not make it so that those funny names are easy to say and not intimidating?

I think the Gideons were on to something with this version of the Bible.  I’m not a huge fan of the King James, although I’ve been known to read it for fun sometimes.  When I’m reading for context, I’ll go for NIV or the Message or NASB.  But even in those versions, the names can still be sticky, foreign and difficult for those who are not familiar with them.  What a great way to bring the whole thing to people who might not be ready …

Now that has a familiar ring to it.  Bringing a new thing to people who weren’t quite ready for it.  That’s what Christmas is all about after all.

May the incarnational hope, grace and peace that are the tidings of Christmas be yours in the New Year and beyond.  From the LightFamily to yours …

Best of 2007 – My Personal Favorites
Jan 1st, 2008 by Sonja

Today is LightGirl’s 14th birthday. I write that in a much more understated manner than I feel. What the h e double hockeysticks happened? Where did the time go? How did thirteen whole years go by so fast? Why is she wearing so much makeup? So many, many questions with no answers. I feel all gulpy inside. Some days I want to hold her close and make certain that nothing bad ever happens. Most days I know that’s not possible; I have to know that she has a good head on her shoulders, a sprout of faith, and the best I can do as her mom is to prepare her to handle life with grace and aplomb. The rest is up to her. But I still feel all gulpy inside.

So … in order to deal with that feeling of gulpyness here is a list of my personal favorites from last year. These are not necessarily the posts that got the most hits (in fact some of them barely got any), or the most comments (again, most of them got zero), but they are my favorites because they are the posts that I still think about. I may revisit these ideas this year in other forms, you never know …

On The Ways of Geese – perspectives on leadership
Losing Ground – decision making
My Vision – for faith communities
Shavuot-The Feast of Pentecost the Megillah of Ruth
Slice It, Dice It, Anyway You Want It … social, cultural constructs for looking at the Bible
Book Review – Organic Community – surprise! A book review.
Christendom? Post-Christendom? – a look at labels.
Critique, Criticism and the Gong Show – what’s love got to do with it?
On Creating Space – what do hockey and church have in common?
Living Within The System and Non-Violence – a look at living in the world but not being of it.
Good Gifts – every parent desires to give good gifts, but what are they?

Highway to Holiness
Dec 18th, 2007 by Sonja

8 And a highway will be there;
it will be called the Way of Holiness.
The unclean will not journey on it;
it will be for those who walk in that Way;
wicked fools will not go about on it.

9 No lion will be there,
nor will any ferocious beast get up on it;
they will not be found there.
But only the redeemed will walk there,

10 and the ransomed of the LORD will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, we did lectio divina the other night with 7 children and 5 adults. There were varying reactions. LightBoy recognized elements of the Psalms in this reading which cheered his mother’s heart greatly.

It was very interesting to me that verse 8 rang out to me and LightHusband and LightGirl, but for different reasons and in different ways, but when we put all of our parts together the story became complete. LightGirl heard a command to holiness and was offended because no one can be completely holy in this life, so who could walk on this highway? I heard a promise that all will be kept safe from highway men and beasts. LightHusband heard a prophecy fulfilled in that we live after Jesus in a time and place when there are no unclean, and the lions and ferocious beasts are penned. We have been redeemed and walk in freedom.

Not all who live in the world are so blessed I reminded LightHusband. Those who live in the land where these words were originally spoken might disagree that they have been fulfilled. Then one of the other children wanted to know where they had been spoken, so we talked about that for a little.

This Highway … it made quite an impression on me. I’ve been pondering it. Isaiah’s prophecy is rich in description here. I went looking for his timeline and place. Isaiah is dated to sometime towards the trickly end of the Assyrian Empire, he did some of his prophesying during the reign of King Hezekiah of Judah. This puts him close to 700 BCE and makes the capital of the Assyrian Empire, Nineveh. Ohhh … where have we heard about that city before? I wanted to know where Nineveh is/was. It’s about 2/3 of the way up the Tigris river in what is modern day Iraq. The ancient ruins were completely looted in 2003 and much of our common history was lost.

I found a map ..
… of the Assyrian Empire.

Now, if you look at that map, the red line indicates the path that the Hebrew exiles took out of Israel when the Assyrians overran them. Take a moment and ponder the idea of exile in 722 BCE. Let the stink and sweat of fear, loss, hunger and death permeate your bones for a few minutes as you consider a forced march and endless footsteps of dry, dusty desert to slavery.

Read Isaiah’s prophecy again. Read what he has to tell those Hebrew men and women about what God has in store for them. Wait, he says, wait. God’s road back will be filled with water, and safety and clean clothes, and good food to eat and there will be joy and singing at the end. You will come home. You will come home. And we will have a party. What faith. What hope.

Can we too hang on? Can we remember this? This road back to God … She promises it will be filled with good food and water and there is going to be a party at the end. We’ll be safe too. We just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other, with our eyes on Him.

Dec 17th, 2007 by Sonja

I haven’t posted in a while. I think it might be the longest while ever. This is not a good record to break. But I suspect that all will live and probably thrive. I finally gave up and just marked “all as read,” in my Googlereader. Some of you will go unread into the dustbin of history. I feel really badly about that … I really do. But I was overwhelmed. Completely. Still … all will live and probably thrive. Such is the stuff of life.

Some really good things have happened lately. My blog, that would be this very blog that you have cast your eyes up now, was accepted into The Daily Scribe. It happened several weeks ago and you may have noticed the shiny new logo in my sidebar. I try to keep it gleaming and crisp because I’ve still got a shine on too about the whole thing. Wander on over to the village square and check them out … what a bunch of fabulous writers and thinkers are gathered there.

We’ve managed to have a few gatherings in our home to celebrate Advent. This has been wonderful and gentle and most of all expectant. The most amazing thing was being able to pray through Isaiah 35:1-10 using lectio divina with 7 children ranging in age from 8 to 14 last evening … and only 5 adults. And, both children and adults got something out of it. I’m still amazed. The kids are loving it too. This is even more amazing. I love watching God at play among the people.

This weekend was so hectic. Four hockey games, a hockey party (for LightGirl’s team), Advent gathering and yes, we squoze in time to breath and eat. The party for LightGirl’s team was so much fun. We had it here at the house. 11 girls, 2 boys and assorted parents. I planned lunch, a couple of activities and lots of time for talking and giggling. One of the activities was building gingerbread houses with ye olde standby … the trusty graham cracker. I didn’t think the girls would buy into it. But it was their favorite thing. They begged to get started and were completely into it. Much more than I anticipated 12, 13 and 14 yo girls would be. I still have their creations proudly displayed on the breakfast bar. I don’t have the heart to properly dispose of them. They are beautiful. LightBoy and his friend made gingerbread tanks (of course!) … after doing the appropriate research! Hilarious.


LightBoy is feeling the tension of not playing the war games, but is being good. He did, however, get a war movie at Blockbuster the other day. He couldn’t help it he said and swatted his eyelashes at me. Today at lunch I joined in mid-conversation when I overheard his father exclaim, “What are you going to do? Behead them and blow them up?”

“What?! Behead and blow what up?”

“No, Mom … I want to get Barbies at the Dollar Store to make angel Christmas ornaments.”

“Oh … well … you can’t do that either. Barbies … whether they’re at the Dollar Store or elsewhere are made by slave girls in China and we can’t support that. So you can’t get a Barbie. Or a knockoff. You could just Google how to make an angel ornament and make one like that.”

My poor, deprived children. They get great, creative ideas and their deranged socially alert mother shoots ’em down and makes them create out of recycled soda bottles and tissue paper … it was the saddest angel ornament you ever saw. I think Sam the dog might “accidently” eat it. That would be a shame. Maybe I will give him a little bit of guidance tomorrow.

I spent today fighting with my blog to upgrade it. Tomorrow I can do fun things like make cookies and angel ornaments with my children. Today I had to fight with technology. Maybe tomorrow I will be in a better mood. Tomorrah is a bettah day, after all.

Advent = Waiting
Dec 11th, 2007 by Sonja

I know most people have heard the term, “ants in your pants,” and most of us have talked about being itchy for something. But I think I’ve taken the idea of being itchy and waiting too literally this year.

I cannot stop itching. I’ve had this rashy thing going on since early November. I had a brief respite last week through the wonders of pr*dnisone. So I have an appointment with a dermatologist today and an allergist tomorrow.

In the meantime I’m on my version of an allergy-free diet (I’m not allergic to meat, dairy, potatoes, apples, and spinach) and I’m waiting. The joke around the house has become that I can eat dirt. If it lives in the dirt, I can eat it. LightHusband (unwittingly) bought a nice pork butt for the crock pot today. I announced, as I put dinner together this morning, “Great! I’m now eating dirt and butt. What a wonderful life!” In true 10 year old fashion, LightBoy pounced on the idea of eating butt.

“Are we really eating butt?”

“Yes.” flat-eye look.

“Well. I hope they washed it first.” and he knocked himself over with his comic prowess.

Being itchy as I am has given me a weird dynamic to reflect on the waiting that we do and how we do it. I suppose I shouldn’t speak for everyone here, I can only really speak for myself. I’m not a very good wait-er. I don’t think our culture is very good at waiting. We want what we want when we want it. If it’s not given to us, then we go out and get it for ourselves somehow. We find ways around the rules. We don’t like change so much. Change requires that we live within the rules and work through them.

God requires that we wait. She sent a baby in response to several hundred years of waiting for a king. It was so upside down that no one saw what was happening. Despite the prophecy, they could not see it. I’ll bet none of us could have seen it. The Light came and the darkness didn’t know it.  History is always obvious once you know what is going to happen. But in the moment? Not so much. And no one took note of a poor Hebrew couple from a hick town who were so unorganized and disconnected they couldn’t even find a room for the night. It wasn’t the holiday season back then. It wasn’t cHannukah. It wasn’t anything. It was just mid-winter and a census. There was nothing going on … it was the long dry spell between the high holy days of Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret in the autumn and the Pesach holiday in the spring. Into that period of waiting and rest for the winter, Herod called a census.

So, the child/babe was born. We celebrate this every year. But here’s the thing. He had to grow up. More waiting. 30 years of it. For Mary, thirty years of clinging to a couple of sentences with an angel in a barn, sprinkled with a few incidents throughout Jesus’ young life. We throw around casual phrases, “Jesus was either a liar or a lunatic or Lord of all,” and think we’re cute. I wonder about how those paradigms played out for the waiting that Mary lived. Or Joseph. What is it like to have a 12 year old son break all the strict rules when you know in your heart He is the messiah? And very few others recognize that? Mary had a powerful, earthy faith in the Father that allowed her to continue on. We don’t know what questions her heart asked. But we do know that she kept on in the face of them.

How we wait and whether we wait, I’m coming to believe, is a reflection of our levels of faith, hope and peace. Waiting is difficult. Whether or not we can talk ourselves through it is a reflection of where our faith is, whether or not we have hope and what we think of of peace. Are we willing to wait on God and Her timing for a particular issue, or will we shoehorn our timing and plans in where they do not belong? Waiting is hard and discerning the difference between God’s plans and mine is even more difficult sometimes. It is very beguiling to think that because this or that appears to be working out, it must be within the Divine will. So, I must wait. Wait. And wait again. Even then I usually get it wrong. When we want something, that still small voice would appear to become smaller and even more still. This means we need to sit very, very quietly. Instead, what do we do?

When we are not hearing from God, when there is “an issue” looming large, bearing down on us … in our families, in our personal lives, in our communities. What do we do? Do we sit quietly and wait? Do we, in fact and deed, trust that God will come through for us? Or is our real bottom line that we think that God helps those who help themselves?

So, while you’re out shopping, prepping dinner, making cookies, whatever … think about how you wait and how you trust. What do those say about your faith?

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