Monday, November 12, 2007

Shepherds in shades

Grand Sweep Daily Reading: Romans 12, 13, 14

Romans 12:9-21 (NIV)

9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge; my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written, “It is mine to avenge, I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Good morning!

I had a little taste of Christmas cheer yesterday. Jesus Break, our children’s Sunday school, had a dress rehearsal for the Christmas pageant scheduled for the second Sunday in December at Faith Church. Miss Cindy arranged to have a petting zoo visit Faith Church. Outside, in the makeshift stable, I was delighted to find baby goats, two really cute but persnickety donkeys, a baby calf, and even a spitting llama. They were a noisy bunch, especially as the children converged to pet and love on them a little bit. Our wee ones dressed up in Christmas finery, colorful robes and scarves, custom made by our choir director. We had little shepherds and angels running around everywhere! Mary and Joseph looked absolutely radiant, holding the newborn King, while being photographed in the stable surrounded by animals. I love listening to the children, as they reacted to their surroundings. This truly was the most fun I had all weekend!

I’ve often heard that llamas can be really nasty, especially when they spit. This llama was spitting out the wrong end and, let me tell you, it was gross! God knew it was a spiritual stretch for me to stand in the stable, holding the tether of a very restless donkey in my hands. As I stood there smiling, I was praying fervently for grace and peace. I heard during the covered dish dinner that my New Testament professor is planning to bring one of his precious pets to class on Thursday. Thank God we have charge conference at the church! I just don’t know if I have enough spiritual strength to handle a donkey and a snake all in one week. Lord, have mercy!

Even the adults got into the spirit of the season, as they dawned their regal crowns and robes of fine purple. The shepherds arrived in groups of three, carrying their staff in hand. The shepherds wore shades! It was one class act, those wise guys, kneeling before the tiny infant King, in their turbans and sunglasses. How often do we shade our eyes from the Lord? Sometimes, the truth is so piercing that we react by putting our blinders on. Maybe if we just don’t look too hard or too long, we won’t have to really see the truth, because, if we understood it completely, we might have to make a change in the way we live our life! Oh, there was a sermon just waiting to be birthed behind those shades. Yes, indeed.

The children told the nativity story with sincere and loving hearts. Do we tell others about the life of Christ with sincere and loving hearts? Do we show honor and respect for one another, even when they may not be very respectful of us? Jesus’ poured out his entire earthly life as a love offering for the lost and the lame ones, like you and me. He forgave us over and over again. The compassion in his eyes could not be dismissed. It is the same compassion with which we seek to love each other. On a scale of one to ten, how are we doing in the area of sincere and loving hearts?

Maybe the llama said it best when he spit. Oh Lord, help us learn to sincerely love each other. For it is only in sincere, brotherly, love, that your heart is revealed in the world. Come Lord Jesus, be our guest.

Grace and peace,

Deb Spaulding

Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO

Pray for: sincere love to become a way of life. Take your shades off today and dare to look full into the face of Jesus Christ. He can teach us how to love each other, if we will simply let Him. Christmas is coming! Can you see the signs?


© Copyright 2007, Deb Spaulding

All rights reserved

Articles may not be printed in any “for profit” publication without further permission by the author. Articles may be freely distributed via e-mail, reprinted in church bulletins or in other non-profit publications without further permission. Please keep this copyright and Web Site information intact with copied articles. Articles are sent originally to subscribers only. You may have received a forwarded or reprinted copy.