Monday, December 8, 2008

Do you hear what I hear?

This is always a noisy time of year. Christmas advertising and merchandising starts ramping up even before Halloween has a chance to pass, and although the world seems to be counting pennies this year, the pleas from the retail industry are still resounding loud and strong. Traditions, songs, and happenings all beg for their turn in the spotlight. Work schedules get demanding as people prepare for a few days away from the office, and just to make thing interesting, social and family obligations pile up as well. It’s like we all collectively remember, “Hey, I haven’t seen them in forever, and I really happen to like them. We should get together! What a perfect time!”

So many voices: Did you get this done yet? Are those mailed? Is that written? Did I forget anyone? Am I busy that day? Did I call them back? What do I need to bring? Are travel plans complete? What’s the name of that song? Is this the recipe I used last year? Did it work out? Where are those ornaments? Oh look, another catalogue! ...How ironic is it that the season in which we celebrate peace’s arrival has become one of the busiest times of the year?

And yet somewhere amid the clang and commotion, an echo lingers from the angel chorus’ joyous cry: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Like the last note of a concert that hangs in the air, you can hear it… you just have a take a minute to tune out the rest of the cacophony.

Don’t get overwhelmed by the noise. There *is* such a thing as a happy din. I happen to love the white noise of a family gathering (and of course, family isn’t always defined by shared DNA). I love the conversation and sharing and laughter….

So I’m just trying to help defend the Christmas season from the clatter. I want to help protect (and project) the voice of that angel choir, and remember that we celebrate Christmas because of the hope and peace that Christ brought. It was no small miracle that took place in that stable in Bethlehem, and we give to each other because God first gave to us.

Wait…there it is again… Do you hear what I hear?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


I have been mulling over just how much time I spend laughing with those whom I hold dear. Whether it’s during book club, in the midst of a holiday dinner, while watching a movie, taking a drive, or just hanging out….laughter just seems to insert itself into the mix. And I love it. There is an oft quoted verse that states, “A merry heart does good like a medicine” (Prov 17:22). And it’s true. I deeply value the laughter shared between my loved ones.

I have realized that we are not shallow or uniformed or insensitive about the heaviness that is also in the world. But we can look at all of that through the lens and from the foundation of our shared faith and values. Beneath the laughter, there is something else: community and love. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that these people with whom I laugh, are also the ones with whom I can cry. They will be there. They’ll band together and give a different kind of support. (And of course, we’ll find a way to laugh about it later. *wink*)

So…laughter…something for which I am deeply grateful for during this season of remembering what makes family so fantastic -- both the family we were born into, and the family we choose.