Monthly Archives: December 2012

Christmas Decorations

My wife wants to make everything beautiful. That’s her goal.

Why have a kitchen when in her mind it can be a rooster themed kitchen with a blend of new decorating taste and country charm. She can take an antique coffee grinder, place it on a piece of cloth with some fake greenery and BLAMO! Beauty erupts.

She doesn’t make just cupcakes. They must be cupcakes in shiny foil with holiday themed icing and the right amount of sprinkles.

I don’t say this because she will be reading my blog; but I think she is talented at decorating stuff. I however, am not. I hang pictures too high (because I’m tall) pay little attention to theme or color and usually the decorations I love are out of date or what my wife calls, “gaudy”.

So when it comes time for her all day epic of Christmas decorating, I have mixed feelings.

I believe each Christmas decorator has their own process; this is ours. First is the parade of boxes. We must unearth all of the Christmas decorations we’ve amassed through 13 years of marriage. We have amassed much.

Then comes the décor explosion that you see in the picture here as she unpacks each box. My wife thoughtfully plans each Christmas scene based on focal points of the rooms and thematic material (nativity, snowmen, Santa etc.)

Decorating happens.

Then she repacks the boxes of unused decorations (because I’ve learned not all decorations are useful every year) and I carry the boxes back to the storage location somewhere in the basement. The process is long, arduous and painstaking for my wife, but she’s committed and focused.

Meanwhile my job is to maintain equilibrium in the household. I fix food for the children, keep them out of certain decorations and include them in selected decoration activities pre-arranged by my wife. I keep the kids busy, healthy, with homework done. I perform duties when I am called upon (i.e. “Can you put a nail right, there?”).

I wish I could say that I am a joyful and responsive husband through the process of Christmas decorating. That isn’t the truth. I grump, I gripe, I hide, I ask why, OH WHY!, do we have all this “stuff”. Because all this stuff isn’t about Jesus anyway, right? I detest the house being out of order, (the irony is that with four kids, it’s out of order most of the time). I end up staying away from the decorating site as much as I can, which not surprisingly is okay with my wife.

When the last box is closed, the final knick knack adjusted to the right (not left) and the kids are in bed, the reason I love Christmas decorations (not decorating) becomes clear. The finished product is worth the process to get there because of the meaning that now fills the rooms.My wife and I sit, in a finished room in relative silence. She asks what I think and I tell her. Not grumpy, no complaining; just enjoyment and peace. I tell her she did a great job. She loves that and asks if I really mean it. I tell her I do.

I realize sitting there that under the pile of stuff we attached to Christmas is a heartbeat of meaning that we must struggle to hold onto.

Decorations alone have little to do with the source of joy, hope, peace, love and wonder we feel at Christmas. I lose when I miss the point of Christmas décor thinking it’s some way for us to spend more money and time we don’t have. When my wife and I sit together, I remember there is significance to each decoration.

Maybe it’s an ornament one of the kids made at school.

It could be that a snowman reminds us of a winter when we had enough snow to build one together in the yard.

Or that a Santa Clause figurine tells the story of the Christian Bishop of Myra from the 3rd and 4th Centuries who’s giving and miracles became legendary.

Our culture searches each year for the “true meaning” of Christmas. Is it shopping? Christmas parties? Cookies? I believe when we excavate the meaning of the décor and spectacle we find the significance of family in our loving Father who gave His Son to die for us; we find hope in a Child who’s light will lead us out of darkness, joy at the arrival of the most precious baby the world has ever known and the overpowering love of a God who cares so much that He became one of us.

I think it’s all there, if we look. It’s richer than a shopping season, a slew of Christmas parties or a day of decorating. (Whether you’re the grumpy spouse or the chief decorator of the household)

RCC Sunday Bible Study “God Creates His Church with Diversity in Unity”

I feel that our Sunday morning study group at RCC has great Bible based conversations each week. I know not everyone can make it to take part, so I will do a blog post periodically to unpack some of the material we cover in our Sunday morning group. You’ll get the most from these posts by checking out the links to scripture and reading the other links as well.

The Theory

The message in worship on November 25th wrapped up the “Creation Series”. We examined Ephesians 4:1-16 in the final message. The Apostle Paul wrote to early Christians about the kind of Godly humility, gentleness, patience and love it takes for a Church to become a fully mature and healthy community. All people in the Church are growing toward becoming a family where people are built up into Christ’s image and not torn down. Paul teaches the Ephesians that a life which lives up to the greatness of Jesus protects the unity of God’s people by maintaining peace amongst the believers. The Church is called to be one in hope, in faith and in baptism as we are partakers of a God that is one: Father, Son & Holy Spirit.

Then in the same Ephesians passage, Paul contrasts the call to unity with the understanding that each individual believer has been given grace in variety from Christ. (Verse 4:7) This is the truth that in salvation Jesus gives each believer a role to play in the Church. He gives the depiction that Christ actually designs diversity into Church leaders to teach and guide believers in becoming more spiritually mature. We see in 1 Corinthians that Christ designs diversity into the Church itself. (1 Cor. 12:14-20) Jesus uses all Christians in unique ways for His purpose in building the community surrounding Him. It’s a beautiful picture of what Church is supposed to be: Unified yet diversified.

The Reality

I love theory, and the Ephesians passage is a great one which proposes the ideal outcome. It proposes a Church where there are no divisions, no arguments and no factions of people who seek their own interests. However, practice proves the worth of all theories. When we study the books of 1 & 2 Corinthians we learn about the difficulties in unity and diversity in the Church at Corinth. While Paul gives the Ephesian Church the “formula” for Christian harmony in the reference above; his writing to the Christians at Corinth show their Church to be experiencing great trouble with unity and diversity in actual Church life.

Paul shows part of his eyewitness to the division in the Corinthian Church in 1 Corinthians 3:1-17. He finds at least three groups of people who have committed themselves to three different men as “the revelator” of the faith. Instead of these “people-praisers” saying, “I follow Christ” they were saying “I follow Paul”, or “I follow Peter”. Paul rejects the notion that he or any other teachers are follow-able over Christ. When the sole interpretation of the faith is attributed to one preacher, pastor or teacher, Paul says those following them are immature in the faith and in need of being re-taught the basic tenets of being Christian. The truth; a preacher, pastor or teacher is nothing more than a called servant of Christ in the Lord’s quest to bring the world to himself. Paul says any leader who founds faith or Church on anything other than Christ will see that foundation crumble when tested. The Corinthian Church had great potential to crumble.

The Resolution

The teaching in the book of Ephesians exists because of the reality we see in the books of 1 & 2 Corinthians. Most likely the Ephesians experienced similar struggles with harmony in varying degrees. (Ephesians 4:1) Sometimes we are led to believe that Christianity is an attempt at perfection; ultimately it is. Except any semblance of perfection in Christianity is only gained through accepting and following Jesus Christ. (Philippians 3:12)

I love theories because they are clean, logical and sensible. You can hypothetically see how a theory works. Unfortunately people (all of us) happen to struggle with messiness, irrationality and foolishness. The general sense amongst the Sunday morning group was that we never arrive at the “perfect” representation of Church that Paul described in Ephesians 4:1-16. “Attaining the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” is a process we as Christian communities engage on this side of Heaven and realize fully on the other side. (Ephesians 4:13) Absolutely essential is Christ’s humility, gentleness, patience and love which Paul talks about in Ephesians 4:2. It is the prescription for unity and diversity to the Corinthians, Ephesians and the post-modern Church of the new millennia.

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