How is your January coming? Have you noticed that it takes a certain amount of leisure to be meditative and creative? I have to confess that between all the marvelous company (beginning November 21 and lasting into January, which made me extremely happy but exhausted) and a strangling cold that wouldn’t relinquish its grip until Alan and I went on a two-week cruise through the Panama Canal (where we rested in healing, sunny, 82° sea breezes)…until these past two months came and went, I’ve been so focused on living that there’s been precious little time for meditative reflection or writing. Have you also noticed how valuable it is to take a step back from your daily routines every once in a while to gain perspective and recalibrate your spirit? During our break, I was encouraged by these words from Leonardo da Vinci: “Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer, since to remain constantly at work will cause you to lose power of judgment…Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at a glance, and lack of harmony or proportion is more readily seen.”* Isn’t that the truth…not only for the creative genius of a Renaissance man, but for the creative art of making our lives a work of beauty and goodness? I’m well, refreshed and ready to begin anew. Here is my first offering…a little poem that came to me while enjoying this peaceful Pacific sunrise last week:
I long to write a poem:
Filled with God.
Even more, I long to be a poem:
So filled with light that all are drawn to the Light.
So beautiful that those who draw near are also warmed and filled.
So deep that even eternity will not end our unity.
“If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”
(1 John 1:7)
Jesus prayed, “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me” (John 17:23).
(*The three middle photos weren’t taken in Central America but from a different vacation, with our two youngest sons, while visiting da Vinci’s residence in Amboise, France known as Clos Lucé.)
Ever since Donald Gardner was wishing for “two front teeth” when he composed “All I Want for Christmas” back in 1944, the idea of thinking about what we personally want for Christmas has been a popular part of America’s Christmas culture. When our children were young we used to have a music ministry, and I think the broadest smiles we ever got from an audience occurred when our youngest—who was indeed missing his two front teeth that Christmas—sang the song as a solo. What do you want for Christmas?
If you could reduce all your hopes and dreams to one big wish, what would it be? I noticed that over the past thirty-two years, the name “All I Want for Christmas” has generated more Christmas movies than any other single topic. In 1982, a Happy Days episode told the story of a little girl who wished for her mother to make up with the girl’s estranged grandmother. In the 1991 movie by the same name, a brother and sister’s ardent wish (and plot) was to get their divorced parents back together. In the 2007 version, a little boy enters a national “All I want for Christmas” video contest in the hopes of finding a new husband for his widowed mother. (We watched this one, and it’s really cute! In fact, if you’re looking for a sweet, romantic comedy this December, I think this one is a family-friendly winner!)In the 2013 version, All I want for Christmas is a playful tale about a lovely young lady who meets Santa’s helper, “St. Nick.” You might be able to guess what she wishes for… The 2014 All I Want for Christmas features a young boy who wishes for a different set of parents…and learns that money isn’t everything! This year’s edition (2017) is about a little girl who wants a pet dog. All this to say, although people may sing about wanting two front teeth for Christmas, the enduring theme over the years concerning what people really want revolves around relationships, restoration, reconciliation…about loving and being loved. After all, isn’t that what all of us want all the time? But, isn’t Christmas supposed to be about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ? Shouldn’t we be giving birthday gifts to him? What do you suppose Jesus wants? The Bible teaches us that Jesus wants the same thing all of us want: Love, reconciliation, and unity. He wants us to love God and be loved by him! God began by loving us. He sent his son Jesus to earth to live a perfect life and die in our place so that we can be forgiven for our sins, be reconciled to God, receive eternal life, and have a wonderful love relationship with him. This Christmas, can you give Jesus the gift he’s longing for? He wants you! He wants you to believe in Him, to love him, and to trust Him always. In the last prayer recorded before his death, Jesus expressed his heart’s desire: “I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me” (John 17:23, ESV). If you want to give Jesus a gift this Christmas, how about giving him the gift of your love and devotion? By the way, have you heard that God also has a gift for you? If you feel estranged from God, please know that he’s offering you a chance to reconcile: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). If you haven’t received his gift yet, it is my prayer that this Christmas you will!