Gathering Graces 12/27/2017

*Today was my brother Bill’s 64th birthday. We gathered together at our house for the celebration. Debbie made Gloria’s black bean soup, adding to it from our Cuban meal the other night. She also made some cornbread muffins and a wonderful tossed salad. Christy made the Cinnamon birthday cake. I provided the drinks, and made a new batch of Tom and Jerry batter for people to enjoy after a warm drink after dinner. It was a wonderful time.
*Christy asked the girls and I to put on the cowls Debbie had knitted for us for Christmas so we could take a photograph of the five of us. We all love hand knitted cowls!! And she also put special pins on each of the cowls, too. I had a pin with two cats...perfect!!
*Earlier in the day, I watched the movie Rocky. You can watch it for free on Amazon Prime videos. What a great movie! And yes, I cried at the end.
*I headed uptown in the early afternoon to get my hair cut and colored. I like how it turned out.
*When I got home, I went outside in the falling snow to play with Archie a bit, and take a video of him playing in the snow with a deflated basketball, and sent the video to Christina. I try to keep her up on how he is doing.
*It was nice to have another relaxing day. That is what I have liked about this week. We haven’t had a lot going on, or had to go and do a lot of things. We have been able to mostly be at home and enjoy being together as a family, and I am really enjoying that. And I hope to continue this more laid back, not so busy lifestyle as we ring in the New Year.
*Paul and I are continuing to read our advent devotional each day, and today’s was based on the verses in Philippians 4:2-8, where it talks about Celebration in the Lord. But N.T. Wright looked at the verses and showed how a celebration in the Lord should be both joyful and gentle. Here are some of his thoughts I enjoyed reading today:
At the same time, it’s interesting that Paul at once says that the public image of the Christian church should be of a gentle, gracious community (verse 5). Exuberance must not turn into mere extrovert enthusiasm which squashes sensitive souls and offends those who are by nature quiet and reserved.
The three main things that will come into line of the celebration is both joyful and gentle are the prayer which overcomes anxiety (verses 6-7); the patterns of thought which celebrate God’s goodness throughout creation (verse 8); and the style of life which embodies the gospel (verse 9).
Anxiety was a way of life for many in the ancient pagan world. With so many gods and goddesses, all of them potentially out to get you for some offence you mightn’t even know about, you never knew whether something bad was waiting for you just round the corner. With the God who had now revealed himself in Jesus, there was no guarantee (as we’ve seen) against suffering, but there was the certainty that this God was ultimately in control and that he would always hear and answer prayers on any topic whatever.
(This is the paragraph that really spoke to me. It made me ask myself, what is my focus each day?)
The command in verse 8, to think about all the wonderful and lovely things listed here, runs directly opposite to the habits of minds instilled by the modern media. Read the newspapers: their stock-in-trade is anything that is untrue, unholy, unjust, impure, ugly, of ill repute, vicious and blameworthy. Is that a true representation of God’s good and beautiful world? You are never going to celebrate the goodness of the creator if you feed your mind only on the places in the world which humans have made ugly. Instead, fill your mind with all the things that God has given us to be legitimately pleased with--and enjoy!

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