On this, the last Sunday of 2008, we observed the Sabbath by going to church. We attend a little country church, people of all means attend and everyone is welcome. Our choir is whoever wants to leave their pew and our songs are whatever we decide as we’re lead by the Spirit.
The text today was John 1 and fitting as we’ve just completed another Christmas with the Babe who left the comforts and glories of heaven to reside among the swill of humankind. People have wondered why Christ’s ministry was so short, only three years, but I think it’s because three years is all He could stand of us, His Father’s creation. In the Garden of Eden I feel quite sure we shone with the Shekinah glory of God but after the Fall we reflected the deception of evil and, until that star bright night a couple of thousand years ago, had little to recommend us save the sacrifice of turtle doves, a ram, an ox or the like.
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2The same was in the beginning with God.
3All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
4In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
5And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
I enjoy reading, perhaps too much, but there are three books that are currently pulling at my heart. Joyce Meyer is a prolific writer and I’m enjoying, very much, 100 Ways to Simplify Your Life. Her suggestions shatter some well accepted myths I/we, probably, don’t want to let go. For example, she admonishes -in chapter one no less!- ‘Do One Thing at a Time’. For a lot of us…most of us???…women especially, this is sacrilege as we tend to take pride…perhaps false pride???…in the numbers of things we can do at once.
Let’s see…talk on the phone while surfing on the computer while jotting notes on our to-do list while knitting a few stitches on a scarf we intend as a gift… You get the drift. Are you as guilty as I?
She quotes Eric Hoffer, “The feeling of being hurried is not usually the result of living a full life and having no time. It is, on the contrary, born of a vague fear that we are wasting our life. When we do not do the one thing we ought to do, we have no time for anything else-we are the busiest people in the world.”
I’m ashamed to say, I often read my Bible with a notepad at hand, just in case my mind remembers something I absolutely NEED to do later that day. Oh yes, my mind is wonderfully adept at coming up with things to do in order to get my mind off the task at hand…reading God’s word. So, rather than try to do many things at once, in other words multitask, I’m going to focus on doing one thing at a time most excellently. Yes, I’ll fail but in my failure I’ll find success because I will strive to return, again and again and again if necessary, to focus on doing one thing at a time most excellently.
Another book I’ve just started is Six Qualities of Women of Character by Debra Evans. Evans uses Biblical women, as well as modern day women, to “encourage spiritual endurance”. As St. John Chrysostom once wrote, “The ashes of martyrs drive away demons” and so it is with reading of bygone saints. As Hebrews 12 puts it, “we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses” and those witnesses are to give us hope, to bolster our faith, to encourage us and to give us courage in our Christian walk. John Donne said in Meditation XVII,
“All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated…As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all: but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness….No man is an island, entire of itself…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”
Neither is any woman an island. We have a rich legacy and heritage and would do well to tap into those who have gone on before so that we are assured “every sinner has a past but every saint has a future.”
The final book I’m reading is The Woman’s Study Bible, New King James Version by Thomas Nelson Publisher. Mother and Daddy both read the Bible every year and each have their own way of accomplishing this task. Mother reads it as a study guide, using concordances and other texts to help her understand and comprehend what she’s reading. Daddy starts on 1 January and reads five chapters a day, every day, until he finishes by his birthday in mid-September. For some years I’ve used Daddy’s method but wanted/needed a change. This past year I used a Bible that was written as Biblical events unfolded…a time line, so to speak. There’s a name for this Bible but it’s downstairs and I’m upstairs so will have to check later. Anyway, I find this is an interesting, but difficult, way to read the Bible. I’m used to reading all of a book at once, not jumping around to what else was going on at the time. Still and all, I did enjoy it but was ready, again, for a change.
The Woman’s Study Bible is that change. It’s a fascinating Bible, giving a woman’s perspective as it pertains in a historical venue and features study articles, annotations, dozens of profiles of Biblical women, introductions and outlines and much, much more. It’s what I’ve been looking for as it ‘fleshes out’ the Bible and gives it an immediate intimacy that brings me closer to God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit. It makes ancient history real and explains how Old Testament Hebrew law affects society today. I’m sure this Bible will serve me in good stead for many, many years to come.
I do read other books…for pleasure, for fun, for entertainment…but find if I don’t put “good stuff” into my head, my head will soften and become flabby. Thus, the materials above will serve me over the next few weeks and, in the case of the Bible, for decades to come. It’s my way of taking Christmas with me and keeping Christ in me. I don’t know about you but I need all the help I can get; it’s a frosty old world and I want to walk out the door prepared, wearing a warm cloak, so to speak, that will protect me from ill winds. How about you? How do you take Christmas with you?
Blessings ~ a little country church ~ Christmas ~ good books ~ Christian authors ~ a great cloud of witnesses ~ Bibles ~