18  12 2007

Life that is truly Life

While decorating our home for the Christmas holidays, I realized I couldn’t find baby Jesus from one of our nativity sets.

He was there last year. After Christmas, I packed him up carefully knowing I’d want to know right where to find him when I set out my collection of nativity sets (does 4 make a collection? Max has collected 13 webkinz and Zach 11, now those are collections. Maybe I have a group.) Anyway, the last set was missing baby Jesus. For days I’d walk by the piano where they all were set up and every time I’d say, “ugh” where is baby Jesus?” And yes, I’ll admit I do find myself praying to the infant Jesus during this season (8 pound 6 ounce or otherwise.) As I continued decorating, I began the search through every box of ornaments, “now baby Jesus, OK, if you know me you know that I lose things, but this is it.” I mean really, Celia. Finally 8 hours later in the bottom of the last box upside down, beside a cotton ball angel, there he was. What a relief! I laughed about it and knew I wanted to share my mishap with you.

The more I thought about this devotion and about losing and finding Jesus, I recalled a sermon I heard recently. While attending Calvary Community Church in Westlake, California I got the chance to hear a guest preacher Pastor Bill Hybels, the founding pastor of Willow Creek Community Church. He preached about Jesus and the poor. When I tell you that I was moved, those words do fall short. I heard the sermon three times (once on Saturday night and twice on Sunday morning.) During the second service, I was wrecked. I began to cry and to feel God’s Spirit move over me. I could barely sit in my seat. I have sung at Calvary several times and always find it warm and inspiring, but this week was different. Friday evening, I spoke and sang at their women’s tea with 450 incredible women. Now that I think about it, I can’t think of a group I’ve spoken to that I wasn’t drawn to and afterwards felt like I’ve been with old friends. Our good friends on staff, Rex and Andrea asked us if we’d extend our visit through the weekend and I’m so glad we did. Bill’s sermon was about those times in journey as Christ-followers when we have had a “I just got my world rocked” moment.

Along my way in life, these are a few of my aha moments in life and faith.:

  • Discovering a heart for missions and service from a few youth workers who nurtured that in me.
  • Realizing at my first teaching appointment situated in an low income neighborhood that we must do more to be inclusive. Everyone is God’s child. We can all encourage and inspire.
  • During the deaths of several family members–my sister, my mother and fathers death. I became profoundly aware that we are not alone. God is in the midst of our suffering. Friends are family and the local church have opportunities daily to be Christ’s hands and feet.
  • Through sponsoring a child, if I only change one child’s life, that’s enough.
  • From college days traveling the world, when need each other and we have more in common that we think.
  • From recent news from around the world and driven home by the movie Hotel Rwanda I was reminded who my neighbor is. Moved to tears I remember feeling the same about the Holocaust museum in DC. We may be the only ones who can help and if we don’t, those in need will perish.
  • Having Max and Zach I discovered how few things are eternal.

Bill Hybels spoke of his own expereinces and passion for the poor. He asked us to reflect on a simple question. “When others speak your name, do they say of you, ‘she has a heart for the poor’?” I sat there and thought about what others would say. Obviously I have a heart for music, a heart for the church, I love others. I think I live for others, within reach, but what about those I’ll never reach or meet? What about those in need every day from gut wrenching hunger, lack of shelter, medicine, education, employment? I should be on my knees everyday saying, “Lord, thank you help me not turn a blind eye to those who need me the most.” Where would Jesus be if he were here today? My best guess is that he would be on the streets with those in need. Bill mentioned a phrase from scripture, “life, that is truly life.” He told of helping a woman in Africa to her hut with a bag of food and praying with her. In that moment he had a “rock your world” moment. Life that was truly life, was crystal clear.

As I write this, I am remembering a song writing appointment two weeks ago with two of my favorite song writers. One told of a woman in a friend’s neighborhood who was experiencing hard times. Her husband had left her with two small children and she was barely getting by. She was a young mom alone and a gentleman in his eighties who had always been kind to her, saw her struggle and came to her aid. He had been her neighbor for years and he knew her story. He walked with a coffee can door to door to his neighbors, pointed to her house and said, “see that house, that women in there is hurtin’, she needs some help. What can you do to help her?” Then he went to her home and piled up the money on the table and said, “I hope that helps.” Whew, that’s the good news. That’s the kind of love that doesn’t care how it looks. It is not always wrapped in pretty paper with a neat bow. It might look like a rusted old coffee can.

I know what this season brings. Many of us are busy, treading the waters of the commercialism of the holidays, squeezed (I just cannot bring myself to spend $80 on a sherbert bunny webkinz for Max’s collection), stressed over money or over time, or over our loved ones or sad (if we’ve lost someone) or maybe a strained relationship with someone we’re going to have to be with in a week. All the while I’m wondering what have we done with Jesus. I know this is what I need to be reminded of. To have a heart like Christ we must have a heart for what Christ had a heart for. That’s my prayer this year. “Baby Jesus be born in my heart once again. Wreck me today for what matters to you. Use me to bring your goodness here on earth, that we might find you and know life that is truly life.”

I love you all and thank God for you in my life. You are a blessing Merry Christmas!

Celia

P.S. I hope you get the easy bake oven and moon boots this year or whatever is on your list


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