Intersecting Life and Faith

Tag: Jesus (Page 1 of 4)

The Aromas of Christmas

Today while flipping through Instagram I saw a post on how to make your house smell like the holidays. A mix of citrus, vanilla, cinnamon, star anise and cloves put in a pan and heated on the stove would create the smells we often associate with this time of year.
And I thought…are those really the aromas of Christmas? And why and when did the mixture of citrus, spice and pine become the scent of the season?
Now lest you think we are Gates Grinches, let me reassure you we celebrate the season with music (started before Thanksgving this year) a Christmas tree( put up the day after Thanksgiving) and all the decorations, a nativity(with a donkey that has no ears), baking, and gift giving. But I think of the reason for our celebrations, the arrival of the messiah. I think of Mary riding on a donkey,great with child. Barnyard animals have a scent all their own, and it’s not anything close to the sweetness of pine and spice. As she and Joseph entered the bustling city of Bethlehem, the sights, sounds and smells would have been mingled with the dusty roads of the city as a census was in progress, and there was no room for them in the inn.
While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. Then she gave birth to her firstborn Son, and she wrapped him tightly in cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:7
The smells of a cave like barn would not have been sweet either. Cows and sheep munching on hay and straw, smacking their lips as they finish their meal. And you know cows have four stomachs, so they chew, chew and chew some more. Can you imagine the arrival of your child in the midst of cows, pigs, hay and straw? Not the ideal way to welcome a child. But a child had indeed been born,  a Savior who is Chris the Lord. (Luke 2:11)
Well, I’m off to the kitchen to look for oranges, vanilla beans and star anise to simmer on the stove while celebrating the birthday of the Newborn King, thinking of all the aromas of Christmas.

Missing The Point

Come December our thoughts turn to Christmas. If you live at the Gates house, we love to celebrate and typically begin Christmas music around Thanksgiving. This year it was a week before…for me anyway. Some, whom I will not name, have been known to have it on in July.  Our celebration of the newborn King include decorations, a white Christmas tree which you have to see to believe. The neighbors who drive by and can see it glowing in our picture window have commented it is very pretty. You’re welcome to come see for yourself!!  I love to bake, mostly to give away to friends and neighbors, and we love to buy gifts for our family. Please stop by and enjoy our tree, there might even be some baked goods waiting for you!!!

The past several years my mind has turned to Mary, the mother of Jesus. Much has been written about her, who she was, why it was prophesied she would be a virgin and how old she might have been and where she gave birth. I was researching her again this year and was reminded how easy it is to become so focused on the minor points of her life and forget the most important point of the Christmas story.

Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, became a descendant of Adam so that He could ultimately go to the Cross and die in our place. Now the descendants of Adam can be saved from an eternity of separation from their Creator. God gave His Son to this world, which is the greatest gift that could ever be given. Let us celebrate this truth and tell the world about God’s amazing love. Tim Chaffey(Answers in Genesis)

How easy it is to get caught up in the rush of the holidays that I do not take the time to sit down, read the Word of God that was written to me and remember why God gave the Greatest Gift. He gave so I could be rescued from the domain of darkness; apart from Christ I am completely destitute. (Colossians 1:13) If that isn’t the best present ever then I don’t know what is. God loved me so much He gave, He loved, He loves lavishly. (1 John 3:1)

I also do not want to miss the point of who Mary was. Luke 1:28 says she was “favored by God”.  The Message says it best

Good morning! You’re beautiful with God’s beauty, Beautiful inside and out! God be with you.

What To Do With Grief

Because I am in a unique position of pastor’s wife, I see and experience so much joy, blessings, and sorrow. The reason the past couple of weeks, and since Christmas, have been so painful is because I attempt to live life to the fullest and embrace people and try to love well.But those I love and embrace will die, and they have, but I cannot keep people at arm’s length, what fun is that? When life is lived filled to the brim and overflowing, there will be so much joy…but there will also be much sadness and grief. I am finding I process grief through writing. Which is how Confessions of A Farmer’s Daughter was birthed. Shortly after my dad passed away over seven years ago, I was determined to write the book I had begun so many years ago, and it took over six to complete. Yes, it is still available!! I hope you will hang with me as I process again.

We all grieve differently. Scores of books have been written on the subject. There are grief groups, and grief seminars, etc. So much information on the subject, but what do I do when faced with someone who has just lost a loved one, be it suddenly or after a long illness? I’ve asked those questions myself. What do I say? How do I act? Will I say the wrong thing?  I asked my mom several years ago to talk to me about what happens when the funeral is over, the dinner has been eaten and the flowers disbursed, and the family members have gone back to their own lives before it was forever changed. Her wisdom, along with a few ways I am adding, follow on how to help those who are grieving 

  • It’s ok to weep with those who weep. Don’t be ashamed or afraid of tears. 
  • Call. Don’t know what to say? Simply,’Hi, just calling to see how you are doing today. Would you like to go out for coffee, lunch or dinner’ Better yet, invite them to your home or ask if you can bring a meal and eat with them. 
  • Be there to listen and offer practical help. Don’t say–call me if you need something, offer to help with something specifically. Does the widow need help with her car, the house or navigating finances? Does the widower know how to cook? Does he need help with keeping the house cleaned up? We are all different in what we want help with, but don’t neglect, offer specific help, they will tell you if they want your help in that area. 
  • Don’t avoid those who have lost a spouse. Yes, this happens. The two are now one, and to even write that sentence brings sadness, but embrace those who are grieving. They don’t need our words of wisdom, they need to know they can count on us to walk with them. My knee jerk reaction is to want to do everything I can to lessen the pain. But, I can’t. They will eventually have to be alone, will have to learn to navigate a different life and I can’t do that, I wish I could. But Jesus is in the darkness and he holds onto us no matter what. 

Our dear Pastor Brian spoke during the Sunday morning service last week. His words were simple and to the point. He is leaning hard on God and is stayed by the promises of God. He said he doesn’t know how he would have gotten through this sudden loss of his wife without the family of God surrounding him and helping him get through these initial days. He can count on this community of believers to love him, ask him how he is today, because everyday will be different. He knows God is sovereign, His God loves Him, and that is how he faces tomorrow. 

May we all love, because God first loved us.

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