"Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words." - St. Francis of Assisi

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas is over

Christmas is over. The lights are turned off, decorations packed up and heading back to the attic. We’re sick of turkey and dressing and casseroles. The kid’s gifts have begun to lose a little of their appeal and newness. The stores and traffic are slowly returning to normal. Kroger and Publix have their valentine candy and cards out. It’s almost as if Christmas never occurred. It’s over. Except that somewhere deep inside you feel like something just isn’t quite right. You might find yourself a bit snarkish with the family and friends when you don’t mean to be. It’s hard to sit and watch a television program, or read a book, without feeling like there is something you must be doing. You find yourself hungry a lot of the time, but nothing seems to be what you want. Yep, Christmas is over, but the hurriedness and busyness is still with us.

  “Be still, and know that I am God.”

  And….just as soon as Christmas is over we begin to realize how much weight we’ve gained, debt we have incurred, sleep we lost, how little time we spent with our family and friends AND how much time we spent at office parties, church events, neighborhood gatherings…..and we realize that something has to be done. Immediately. So, we launch into the whole New Year resolution mode to lose the weight and get into shape, pay off our credit cards and save money, catch up on our sleep and the family time we have lost.

  “Be still, and know that I am God.”

  I have attempted the above resolutions more times than I can remember. And many others that would also fall by the wayside before the first week in February. I have a violent opposition to exercise. I have an inborn inability to save money. I do have an addiction to sleeping, so that’s one resolution I have no problem in keeping. But, from what I hear, most people make resolutions that seem to be a problem to keep over time.

  “Be still, and know that I am God.”

  That’s why this year I’m going about it differently and I would like you to think about doing the same. I want my life to be simpler. Less hectic and cluttered and frantic. More peaceful and, well, happy. One thing I am going to do (and have already started) is to turn my television off its normal 24/7 mode and listen more to music. I’m going to read more and shop less. And, focus on doing more for others. I’m not going to feel in such an all-fired hurry to get somewhere and do something. In other words, I’m going to slow down my driving….and in turn, my life. Just as I’m not going to put a lot of junk into my mind, I’m not going to put a lot of junk (food) into my body. This is the only body I’ve got and I want to keep it going for many more years. I’m not going to let other people try to change me from who I am. They just don’t know.

  “Be still, and know that I am God.” 
  Mostly, I need to create within me a calm spirit and know that God is present in my life. To those who believe, there is nothing to equal the stillness and calmness that can flood your spirit as when you finally relax and let God flow in. Like a river of peace. I tend to forget that many times and that is when things spin out of control. And my number one resolution this year is to “be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10). All the time.

  As you come down from the stresses of Christmas, don’t forget the reason we celebrate the Day, but resolve to incorporate it into your daily life. And, be still.

  And for today my friends, this has been the gospel according to Jimmy.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Christmas is for people...and tattered little angels

Come back with me a few thousand years, or a few million years, if you will. God is sitting on his throne and has called all the hosts of heaven to gather. All the Archangels, the Seraphims, Cherubims, Cherubs and all the angels in the choirs and orchestras wait to hear what the Father God has to tell them. Excitement is in the air with the expectation of something wonderful. Then….silence falls. God is about to speak.

  He tells them His plan for His world starting….”in the beginning.” And then God tells them about how He is going to send a part of Him…His Son…to be born as a baby, live a life as a human being, and will eventually be tortured and killed. At this, the angels gasped at the horror, but were quickly shushed by Gabriel, Michael and the other leaders. “Let Him finish,” they said. “He has a Plan.” And God told them the rest of the story and the angels were happy and applauded with their holy, white wings. They were excited that the Father would be creating something He called “Man” and “Woman” and they would have a way to find their way to the heavens someday to sing and worship God forever.

  Skipping forward to the year 2013, my friend, Micheal Elliott, has his own personal Guardian Angel who visits him in the wee hours of the morning at times for counsel and guidance. Usually, he awakens and finds her sitting on the foot of his bed or, at times, she pops in on his beloved back deck located on Tybee. His angel has had a rough life, no doubt due to having to watch out for Micheal through his years of wild and raucous living, yet knowing that the God he preaches is watching over him and his family. Micheal’s angel has tattered and torn wings; her halo is bent, crooked and tarnished, she chain smokes, her language is coarse (even by sailor standards) and she has been known to share an alcoholic beverage with Micheal on occasion. But, as ticked off as she gets with him and his antics, she is always there…giving advice, lending some support and even berating him at times to get back to his business at hand of living a life of Love and Compassion toward those who need it most. The down and out. The hurting. The helpless. Those much like his Guardian Angel.

  Now, back to heaven. Way in the back of the angel crowd, an angel stood apart from the crowd and only gave a half-hearted clap when God made His announcement. Her thoughts?  “I’m sure God doesn’t really want me to be involved with this new plan. My robes are not pure white and my wings, well, they don’t completely unfold like they should. Plus, I really suck at harp playing and my singing voice is like a really sick camel. I don’t even know why He invited me here.”

  Then…a light beamed down on our little angel and a booming, yet gentle, voice said. “And you, my dear, will be very important in this plan. I want you to go with the choir to a hillside and tell a group of smelly, dirty shepherds about My Son coming. And I’m going to give you a special gift. A gift to tell others about me in a way they can understand. No pretty, prosy words like they use in the synagogues. Words that smelly, dirty people use. Words they can relate to. And, I want you to hang around the world and find those same kind of people for generations to come and give them Hope.”

  The little angel tried to stop Him with all the reasons she didn’t want to do that, but God held up a finger to stop her. “And, my little angel, you will have a rough time of it. You will be tattered and torn. Beat up and weary. You will lose faith and wonder what the point of life is. But, just remember that I love you. And my son, Jesus, will love you. And we will be with you always, no matter how much you don’t feel like it. Just take care of people. Those who need help. Those who are burnt out and in despair. Poke and prod them, if you must, but just protect them.” And the voice and light were gone. And our little angel stood there for a moment and thought a rather inappropriate thought, but then she realized this might be kinda cool. And that God Himself had picked her. And that He had a Plan for her.

  Just like us. Like me and you. And all those we come in contact with. So, as you go your way and feel like life is handing you a rough deal, just remember that a tattered, chainsmoking, drinking angel with an attitude and a tarnished halo is watching out for you…..when she isn’t occupied with Micheal. Which is pretty much a full-time job these days.

  And for today my friends, this has been the gospel according to Jimmy.