Sunday, December 24, 2006

Corinthians Christmas

Kajiji Girls,
As you celebrate the holidays this weekend, keep in mind the first gift given - that of true Love.

First Corinthians 13 - Christmas Version

If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows,
strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls,
but do not show love to my family,
I'm just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen,
baking dozens of Christmas cookies,
preparing gourmet meals and arranging
a beautifully adorned table at mealtime,
I'm just another cook.

If I work at a soup kitchen,
carol in the nursing home,
and give all that I have to charity
but do not show love to my family,
it profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels
and crocheted snowflakes,
attend a myriad of holiday parties
and sing in the choir's cantata
but do not focus on Christ,
I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child.
Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the spouse.
Love is kind, though harried and tired.
Love does not envy another's home
that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.
Love does not yell at the kids to get out of the way
but is thankful they are there to be in the way.
Love does not give only to those who are able
to give in return but rejoices in giving
to those who cannot.

Love bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things, and endures all things.
Love never fails.

Video games will break,
pearl necklaces will be lost,
golf clubs will rust,
but giving the gift of love will endure.

Thinking of you on His birthday,

1 Author Unknown – taken from “The Old Schoolhouse” email newsletter

Thursday, December 21, 2006

His Birthday Celebration

Last week at Caroline’s was good fun and great conversation. Thanks, Caroline! We discussed how we can celebrate Jesus’ birthday in tangible ways. Here are some online ideas:

Happy Birthday, Jesus1

Offer Jesus a symbolic gift in honor of his birthday. Give him an area of your life you desire to change—an emotion, an activity, or a relationship—and physically wrap a box to represent it. Do this individually or as a family. Create a family present to display every year by painting an unfinished wooden box and tying it with a silk ribbon.

Guest of Honor

Set a place of honor for Jesus at your Christmas dinner table as a reminder of his presence.

Bake a Birthday Cake for Jesus2
Let your children help you make a special cake ahead of time and share it with friends and family on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day:
Make a white, round cake to remind your family of Jesus' purity and his eternal reign. Use 20 candles to represent the 20 centuries since Christ's birth. You can use red candles as a symbol of the blood Jesus shed for us and for Christmas joy. Tell your children that the candlelight reminds us that Jesus is the Light of the World. Place a silver star in the center of the cake to represent the star of Bethlehem. You can make a star with silver candles or by covering cardboard with aluminum foil. Before you sing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus and blow out the candles, explain the symbolism to your children.

We also discussed the possibility of celebrating the Day of Epiphany – January 6th (more on that in a future email). And Shawna brought a book by John Piper (Future Grace? I think it was) who wrote a chapter in his book about our indebtedness to God and what we do with that feeling of indebtedness. It was a very interesting read, and I wish I had it in front of me to quote for you. But if I remember correctly, it was focused on our getting rid of our feeling of “IOU” to God and instead asking Him for more – more of Him, more of everything He has to offer us, etc. God delights in us and doesn’t want us operating from a feeling of indebtedness to Him – He just wants us to love Him and want to know Him more. Thank you, Shawna for bringing your book.

We will not be meeting tomorrow or next week and will resume our gatherings on January 5th. Anyone willing to host in the coming weeks, please let me know. Thanks! Have a wonderful Christmas and birthday celebration!

Three Wise Women would have…
Asked directions,
Arrived on time,
Helped deliver the baby,
Cleaned the stable,
Made a casserole,
Brought practical gifts and
There would be
Peace on Earth.

:-) Crystal

1, 2, 3 – All of these were found on the internet, but I misplaced the information of where they were from. Sorry!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Perfect Holiday

Kajijis Girls,
How are your Christmas preparations coming along? Is everything just about all set? Your tree up and decorated? Your presents shopped for and wrapped? Your grocery list in order? Plans for your house to be thoroughly cleaned? No, me neither. :-) If nothing else, we’ve imagined everything to be pretty, festive, joyful and perfect, right? I imagine that Mary also had many hopes amidst her fears that things would go perfectly for her son’s birth. Philip Yancey compares the possible scenarios between John the Baptist’s birth and Jesus’ birth:

“…the birth of John the Baptist took place amid great fanfare, complete with midwives, doting relatives, and the traditional village chorus celebrating the birth of a Jewish male. Six months later, Jesus was born far from home, with no midwife, extended family, or village chorus present.”

Knowing something of the environment where Christ was born, we could assume the typical fanfare of the arrival of a baby would have been extravagant compared to the circumstances and company with which Mary and Joseph found themselves. The stable animals would have lent their body heat as well as their feeding trough but no jubilant songs or deep praises. Can you just picture the visions Mary had of herself giving birth to a King, the Messiah, the Savior of her people? Don’t you think that maybe, just for a moment, Mary thought the birth of her Christ-child would be a little bit more perfect?

Let us cast off our visions of a perfect holiday and instead open our minds and hearts to the plans God would have for us on this, His birthday. Perfect, in our world, means stress, worry, and frustration – an unattainable goal. Perfect, in God’s world, means peace, joy and unconditional love – completely possible with Him. Perfect is quite simply a babe in a manger and nothing else.

The Child we seek
doesn’t need our gold.
On love, on love alone
he will build his kingdom.
His pierced hand will hold no scepter,
his haloed head will wear no crown;
his might will not be built
on your toil.
Swifter than lightning
he will soon walk among us.
He will bring us new life
and receive our death,
and the keys to his city
belong to the poor.
~Gian Carlo Menotti

How do we celebrate Christmas as a bona fide birthday party for Christ? What gifts do we actually give to the Christ-child? Please come with your ideas, whether you’ve tried them or not. Hope to see you this Friday around 10am – please RSVP if you can come. Thanks!


Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Christmas Pledge

"And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!
"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store.
Maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more!"

Last week our discussion centered on simpler gift-giving. Many ideas came from an article found at such as gifts of service, gift certificates, annual memberships, outings, homemade gifts, etc. There are many great ideas to be found on the web at places such as (I even downloaded an entire brochure called “Simplify the Holidays” here) or I also came across a few organizations online that may aid you in donating to some great causes. I have not had the time to research any of these in detail so I cannot personally endorse them, however if you have the desire to search out some great causes to support, they may help you. Besides the ones mentioned in last week’s email, there are:

We’ll be collecting our Peace Paks for ChildVoice International this Friday, so please bring your boxes of items donated to our next meeting. If you need a copy of the PeacePak flyer again that lists the items needed, just let me know and I’ll forward you the document. I’m not sure if any of you have heard of the book, Unplug the Christmas Machine. If you have it, I would love to borrow it as it sounds really good. Here is a “pledge” I found from the book that speaks to the need for simplifying Christmas:

The Christmas Pledge2
Believing in the beauty and simplicity of Christmas, I commit myself to the following:
1. To remember those people who truly need my gifts.
2. To express my love for family and friends in more direct ways than presents.
3. To rededicate myself to the spiritual growth of my family.
4. To examine my holiday activities in light of the true spirit of Christmas.
5. To initiate one act of peacemaking within my circle of family and friends.

As we continue preparing for the holidays, one of the questions that we started to explore last week and I’d like to explore more this week is, how do we celebrate Christmas as a bona fide birthday party for Christ? I would love to know how you celebrate Jesus. What gifts do we actually give to the Christ-child? Please come with your ideas, whether you’ve tried them or not. I would be grateful for new traditions in celebrating the “Birthday Boy”!


1 From How The Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Suess
2 From
Unplug the Christmas Machine , by Jo Robinson and Jean Coppock Staehe
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