Sunday, January 22, 2012

Tinsel Revelation ~ BY HEATHER CLEMMER

As I hung our children’s home made Christmas ornaments on our freshly cut tree, stories in the media and Facebook comments blinked in and out of my mind like our tree lights.  Do I truly believe others are taking away my Christmas?  Are they taking away Jesus?  Does it matter if my Christmas tree is called a Christmas tree or holiday tree?  People’s anger and negative comments hurt my heart more, WHY?
It hit me hard one day before Christmas while I worked.  As I finished folding a report and slid it into the envelope a mother and her son just finishing their appointment grabbed their coats off the metal coat stand.  I wheeled my chair to a clearing where I could see the little boy and mom and said, “You are welcome to grab one little gift off the Christmas tree.  There is a company each year that donates gifts for the children.”  The mom replied, “We are Jehovah witness and don’t believe in Christmas but thank you so much.” And off they went.

This little boy didn’t take a gift.  Christmas is about giving.  Giving what?  Due to the nature of where I worked what did it mean to that company that EACH child got a gift?  Does it matter he didn’t get a gift?  To my heart it did matter because to me Christmas is about giving to everyone in all circumstances.  Right?  That is what Jesus did and last time I checked I am following Him not a tradition of a tree.  My heart started pumping excitedly as I walked back to where co-workers were and asked, “Is it ok if I take some of the little gifts and put them in a different pile away from the tree?” I then explained about the little boy.  “No the gifts are for the tree, for Christmas and that is their choice they don’t take one,” unfortunately sums up the response I tried to allow to rip through my ears and block from my heart.

So let me ask, as Christians we so badly need our “Christmas” tree and how dare someone tell us not to call it that, are they really taking CHRISTmas? Are we so angry that that little boy couldn’t have been giving a gift just because it was for a special child and he needs to feel loved at a special time for us?  The revelation hit!  The prickly stump can be called a Holiday tree or a Christmas tree.  I could have one or not have one.  My house will have Jesus at Christmas; no one can ever take that away, no one. So let them take away the name of the tree I will actually even let them take the tree.

As they pack up my tree I cry as visibly in its place is the cross.  A child like moment after where I laugh and say, “Na Na Na boo boo you can take the tree because it doesn’t take Christmas.”  Under that cross are gifts that are mine and even the gift to still love those who don’t celebrate Jesus.  Picking up the pine needles and tinsel left behind I put the pieces to the cross and pray, “Thank you papa that as people take away our tree you were there, you are there, you will always be there.  I see even more now Lord Christmas is not about a tree or worldly traditions. Also Father thanks that now we don’t have to worry about getting rid of a tree. AMEN”

Friday, January 13, 2012

Amazing Grace

From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another.  For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.         John 1: 16-17
            I thought librarians were kind, bespectacled people; quiet and demure, always ready to toss in an extra day or two of grace for those forgetful souls who neglect to check the due dates on their borrowed books. 
            Last week I came close to being photographed and fingerprinted.  I got off lightly with a reprimand, public humiliation and a psychological tarring and feathering instead.  I had one overdue book.  Well…there may have been one or two unpaid fines showing up on the computer, too.  But did she have to be so loud?
I had finally made the effort to venture out to return two bags of well-read books.  Once I arrived at the library turnstile, I slid the pile of books into the ‘return here’ slot and made my merry way into the library in search of more reading material.   
              The librarian smiled as I plopped my new books on the counter.   She tried to zap my library card with her technologically correct magic wand.  Nothing. Her computer jammed.  Her smile slipped away.  She eyed me suspiciously and in a megaphone-like voice said, “Your library card privileges have been suspended.  Come over to the other side of the desk.”
            “Uh…” I glanced around feeling a multitude of eyes upon me as I meekly followed the sergeant-major librarian to the guilty section.
            Beads of perspiration formed on my forehead.  “Why…uh…can’t I use my…uh…library card?”  I smiled a sickly grin.  “Just a minute!” she hollered.  “I’ll check on this computer to see what the problem is.  Aha!” she cried, managing to attract everyone in earshot.  “You owe us money.  You have an overdue book out.”  She continued to speak in shrill tones.  I suddenly recalled a notification I received earlier that week.  “Dr. Seuss!” she screamed.  “You have a Dr. Seuss book out.”  I felt a fool.  I wanted to scream out, “It was a biography of Dr. Seuss - not Green Eggs and Ham!” to all the now tuned-in patrons who were pretending to browse amid the nearby books.
“It’s in the book depository,” I whimpered.  “Wait here!  I’ll check,” she ordered.  I saluted and stood to attention.  Moments later she returned clutching the delinquent book.  “You owe us sixteen dollars and forty-five cents!”  “Sixteen dollars and forty-five cents?”  I gasped, feeling a little like green eggs and ham, myself.  I thought it a bit of a stiff fine for one overdue book.  “The computer is showing fines dating back to last November and December,” she wiggled her finger at the flashing screen  “Oh…uh…yes…well, okay…I remember now.”
My face was crimson and my salivary glands felt paralyzed.  “Would you like me to pay?”   The sergeant major only raised her eyebrows and punched a few computer keys.  “Will you take a check?”  I inquired, fumbling through coins and coupons.  “Yes!  We’ll take a check.  Your fines amount to sixteen dollars and forty-five cents,” she repeated once more with emphasis.
            I gave her my check and, without uttering a word, she signed out my new reading material.  I thanked her and she dismissed me. 
Slump-shouldered, I trudged my guilt-ridden body to the car and thought about the grace of God.  Thank goodness His grace comes without strings.
  When I trudge my guilt-ridden body to fall at the foot of the cross, no computer print out of blunders stops God from loving me. When He showers me with blessings I know I am far from deserving, yet He continues to show mercy.
My patient Lord tells me I am His own (Romans 8:16) and he longs for me to be with him in paradise (2 Peter 3:9).   I am comforted knowing that his gift of grace is real and it is for little ol’ unworthy me!  Now that is amazing!