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just another christmas?

My dear sister Rose (Jon’s mom) recently sent this to me.  It was a mass email I sent to my people back in 2007.  I had forgotten about it.  I think it still works, so I’ve left it mostly intact and here it is.  Hope someone gets something out of it!   -MDP-

Good morning.  I’ve been up since 3:30am.  This is the third morning in a row that I’ve had the coffee on and brewing before 4:00am.  That’s too early….even for me!  Jimmy is preaching this morning, Paul next week, so I have some vacancy in my spirit which allows me the freedom to muse a bit.  Having a word to give away on Sunday can absolutely take up most of the bed you sleep in…if you get my point.  If you’re reading this, just know that I deem you an important and precious piece of fabric that God weaves in the tapestry of my life.  So today, I journal, out loud, to you.  I don’t expect this to flow.  Just go with the bounce would ya?  Oh, and by the way, Merry Christmas!

I preached two weeks ago out of Luke 1.  We scream through the historical birth story like a NASCAR pit stop.  With tires smoking and a pit crew juiced on Red Bull, we pull over to pause and reflect on the “wonder” of those events in a very packed slot of time we called Christmas.  I love the words of the text… “To give to His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise from on high will visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” That kind of gets to “it” for me but, I’m a bottom-line guy.  This is the place I try to reside at Christmas, or at least visit at some point in December.  Traditions blow like a tornado out there.  Not the tradition of this text…but the tradition of our “Christmastide” culture.  I do not want to digress into a tirade of verbiage against the American commercialization of Christmas.  I could, but I will not.  Of course we see it.  Of course we’re caught up in it.  Of course!  But really, if we can keep the red letters above bouncing around in our heart, it takes us to another place in our spirit man.

I have rich memories as a kid around Christmas.  My parents and grandparents always lost their minds when it came to spending at Christmas.  It was nothing for me “alone” to get more in one Christmas than what my dad would have gotten combined in all of his Christmases until he was 20 years old!  It was craziness!  Patti and I also loose our minds at Christmas with the gift giving.  And, I can already see the writing on the walls, my kids have already shown their genetic and experiential leanings and are probably going to do the same thing to my grandchildren!  If we look at the stuff we give and the stuff we get, that’s exactly what it is:  “stuff”.  But, we do it anyway and if it really comes wrapped in “love” and not “obligation”, it’s all good!   Nothing worse than “having” to give a “special” Walmart gift set of fake perfume to someone you don’t  really know, don’t really like and really hope doesn’t have your own name for the workplace gift exchange.  Frikk’n torture!  “Where the heck is the real eggnog?  More Jack please!”

I stopped by the local BBQ joint Friday for a takeout lunch.  A woman was waiting for her order and her daughter (about 4 yrs old) was sitting next to her with a piece of paper and a marker pen.  She was putting the finishing touches on her letter to Santa.  This kid was absolutely beautiful!  Black skin, green eyes, and a very tight weave on top of her head.  So I started asking her about her list.  It was just little girl stuff and no biggie really, but then I ask her how she thought she was going to get what she was asking for?  When she looked up at me, her face looked like an angel.  Her eyes were absolutely on fire!  It took my breath really.  She said, “Santa is coming see me!”  Well, I’ve heard that before…in fact, that was the message I expected to get.  But, the fire in her eyes was a pure and innocent “faith” that had the essence of His mustard seed that can move a mountain.  In that moment, if felt holy to me that she genuinely “believed” in anything!   She could have said “Donald Duck” and it wouldn’t have made any difference.  Time will take care of the Santa thing for her, but the fact that she can and does believe; that is what our wind chapped world so desperately needs.  I pull back to the previous red letter words: “…because of the tender mercy of our God…” The Godhead determined that He would come solely for “our” benefit.  HE PERFECTLY DEMONSTRATED THAT HIS LIFE WAS NOT ABOUT HIMSELF! The Apostle Paul said it perfectly…

Phil 2:6-11 “…although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, {and} being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!”  (NAS)

He made His own life about you and about me.   How much better would our life be if we really could move to and live in the Kingdom village with a lifestyle of : “It really is NOT about me”? It’s not easy to get there, especially when most everyone around you isn’t geared up to go there.

This is my last little rambling paragraph, I promise…I think.  Ha!  I’ve wondered why Christmastime holds us the way it does.  It has to be more than the manger that does that to us.   I’m not saying that isn’t valid truth.   I’m saying, we take about 30 days and totally restructure our lives around themes of Christmas that produces flood after flood of emotional and sentimental actions that are tied to our past and entwined with our today.  Great themes of family, friends, love, and security give us all kinds of warm and pleasant feelings.  I’m not saying that any of that is wrong.  I’m not saying that we are being 100% honest in that either.  It is what it is.  Even the staunchest Grinch will give a try to meeting people halfway in reconciling some issues, especially around Christmastime.  But, I do pray that I really see beyond the sea of pretty paper and twinkling lights and sentimental “Christmas Cheer”.  The real truth, that never goes away, people are lost, people reside in the dark shadows, and people are hurting deeply.  There is some pain, that people carry, that actually increases during Christmastime!  A guy came into my office yesterday, sat down and cried like a baby.  This guy doesn’t show emotion of any kind, so I know the current of pain rages internally.  His teenage daughter, who died 7 months ago, won’t be at the table this year or forever more on Christmas Day.  In fact, another buddy used to tell me that when he lived in the shadows before he met the Lord, all holidays were a tormenting hell for him.  Even genuine acts of love extended to him felt like plastic hugs.   There was never enough Old Milwaukee to kill the empty pain and lostness he felt, while all along he lived totally surrounded by people who loved him.  Only God knows the real intent in our heart, but some how, some way, there is only One present that will satisfy what mankind really longs for.  Until they see it, until they receive it, I want to move to a place of “more grace” with where and how they live.  No one can see in darkness.  It doesn’t help them for me to cluck my tongue and point out their blindness!  Why the fat do I do that?  Jesus didn’t do that to me.  Even now, when I mess up, Father God doesn’t yell at me, cuss me, hit me or definitely doesn’t shame me.  He holds me!  Like a helpless baby He holds me, changes my diaper, bandages my wounds, and accepts me back in the very arms that I pushed myself out of!  Who else does that for us?  And yes…my sick little episodes may disappoint others and create all kinds of issues for me to live with, but God receives me right back into his bosom….again…and again….and again.  I think all I’m saying is this:  in a few days, the magical hold of “Christmas” will have lifted once more.  Will I, will you, come out of it empty, exhausted, and broke?  ; )  Or will I, will you, come out of it fully alive and freshly filled again with the magnificent wonder and awe that God “came” for each and every one us?  That is a sustaining truth that should rock our world 24/7/365!  Have a Merry Merry Christmas!

You’ve probably already viewed this video, but let me encourage you to take a couple minutes and see a real Xmas experience.  Watch it again…it’s worth it!!!: OTTO’S GIFT


Categories: Uncategorized
  1. November 26, 2010 at 7:09 am

    Thanks Mike this is great look forward to seeing you next week.

  2. November 26, 2010 at 10:21 am

    Love it and so true. The ministry of reconciliation is a life-long pursuit. Thanks for the “ramblings” that seem to pack so much wisdom and truth.

    PS. Thanks for the publicity of our carousel photo HA.

  3. Joyce Bentch
    November 26, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    Seeing Christmas through the eyes of our little 2 year old grandson, Emmanuel, makes it newly fresh for me. He has Sickle Cell Disease and hurts every day. But his eyes still shine in expectancy at the twinkling Christmas tree in our living room. I talk to him about Christmas and Jesus coming and that we are going to celebrate Jesus birthday. We are going to give Jesus the present of our hearts.

    He doesn’t really understand that yet, but he gets excited because I am excited. Aren’t kids just the best?

  4. Bethany
    November 26, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    i love you papa mike!

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