Gathering Graces 12/16/2017

*I realized at the end of today that I have not been out of the house since last Wednesday morning, when I went to work.  Wow!!  The plan is to get out and do some things tomorrow.
*My energy level had increased quite a bit today, and Paul and I were a flurry of activity, two little elves making things look a little more Christmasy around here.  It was nice having Paul around to help decorate this year.  Some years it is only me, and that isn’t quite as fun as when someone helps me.  We got the tree decorated and the living room decorated, and also worked on the basement. 
*This is the first year I have decided to decorate the basement for Christmas.  We put up the girl’s three Christmas trees, and got two of them decorated.  I also got out Mom’s nativity scene, and the tears started to flow.  My first thought as I started unwrapping the figures was how last Christmas was the last time this would have been displayed in Mom’s house, and the last time her hands carefully wrapped things and put them back in the box.  But I also received an unexpected surprise.  There were more than just Joseph, Mary, Jesus, a Shepherd and three wise men wrapped up in her nativity box.  There was also a whole heavenly host of angels as well.  Each year Mom had all kinds of little angle figurines surround her nativity, and now they surround them once again in our basement.
*While working in the basement I popped in the Muppet Christmas Carol dvd.  It is one of my favorite Christmas movies.  Later in the evening, Paul and I started watching White Christmas, another of my favorites.
*Tomorrow at church we are doing our annual Christmas music Sunday.  Paul and I went through some of the Christmas songs we have sung in the past.  I had to choose a couple that seemed low enough to sing.  I hope I can make it through them without going into a coughing spasm.
*This morning our Advent reading was about Patience in Prayer.  It focused on the passage James 5:13-20, that talks about praying for all kinds of reasons.  Then N.T. Wright says the following about prayer:
Prayer isn’t just me calling out in the dark to a distant or unknown God.  It means what it means and does what it does because God is, as James promised, very near to those who draw near to him.  Heaven and earth meet when, in the spirit, someone calls on the name of the Lord.  And it means what it means and does what it does because God’s new time has broken into the continuing time of this sad old world, so that the person praying stands with one foot in the place of trouble, sickness and sin and with the other foot in the place of healing, forgiveness and hope.  Prayer then brings the latter to bear on the former.
At the end of the passage, we were ask to reflect on this question, “Can you think of times when prayer felt like an empty activity?”  I felt like my answer was no.  Sure, I have not had prayers answered, or not answered in the way I wanted.  But I always felt like praying was doing something.  Maybe it is because I understand that, as Wright shared as well, “Maybe these are the two things(forgiveness and healing) which push to the fore when we take our stand in the place where prayer makes sense, at the place where heaven and earth overlap, and at the place where our own present time and God’s future time overlap.”  When I pray, I have the opportunity to talk to the Creator of All Things.  I find that awe-inspiring, miraculous and very humbling.

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