Christmas with a Cat? Being Kind, Helping Out.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, December 25, 2014

photo credit, girltravelfactor.blogspot.com 2012/12/merry-christmas-from-cat.html

photo credit, girltravelfactor.blogspot.com
2012/12/merry-christmas-from-cat.html

Christmas with a Cat? Being Kind, Helping Out.

Three services in the past four days? Check, check, and check. Sunday worship, the last Sunday of Advent. The Blue Christmas service on Monday. And, Christmas Eve service last night. Other pastors at other churches have as heavy a schedule, if not more so. But since this was my first year in a parish setting in a pastoral role, everything was more hectic than I would like.

After a number of days with a good deal of activity—and the prayer, planning and forethought that went into each worship service—I had a much needed rest today. A true day of rest. A Sabbath. A day to rest and recoup. What more blessed day to rest than the day we have set aside to celebrate the birth of the Baby in Bethlehem?

I did not do a great deal all day. Of course, there was present-opening around the Christmas tree this morning. My daughter and I went out to get some late lunch, mid-afternoon. (There is a wonderful Middle Eastern restaurant about two miles or so from our house. Kifta! Shawarma! Falafel! And of course, good rice!) No huge Christmas dinner for me, this year. Truth to tell, I preferred it that way.

However, I think I can speak for my husband, daughter and I when I say that one of the highlights of our quiet, low-key Christmas was going over to another daughter’s apartment to check up on her cat. Toby is very sweet. She really enjoyed our visit. Toby even got rambunctious. My husband took some string and was playing with her for a bit. Her tail whipping to and fro, pouncing on the string, or on my husband’s outstretched hand and drumming fingers.

Isn’t it fascinating how much enjoyment can be found in simple things? Things like visiting with a cat, lively conversation and laughter at the cat’s antics. I made sure Toby’s physical needs were met, too. Food, water, litter box. And, I enjoyed visiting her, very much. I always like it, even though I do have cat allergies. (Which did become more obvious today, since one of my eyes became red, swollen, and extremely itchy. I must have touched my face near my eye with a hand covered with cat dander. Alas.)

Nevertheless, it was a good day. A day to be kind, and be helpful to a sweet cat. Toby cat.

@chaplaineliza

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Where I am of Service on Christmas Eve

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas-Candles-and holly

Where I am of Service on Christmas Eve

I planned a Christmas Eve service for tonight. A candle-lighting service. A service where we sang Christmas carols, read from the Bible, and—lit candles.

I know how special a Christmas Eve service is, for many people. Accordingly, I made a particular effort to do my very best planning for this service. I was at my friend’s Christmas open house a week and a half ago. Her son was home from college. He is a baritone, a music major (vocal performance emphasis). I had the brain storm to ask him to sing some special music for this Christmas Eve service. Of course, he said! (His mother assured me he would be there. And, he was!)

I prepared a short message. More of a meditation than a sermon. I laid it out, in clear fashion. I mean, why Jesus was born in Bethlehem. I tried to make it straight-forward.

Here’s the situation. I’ll state it in plain words. Humanity was in a mess. (Still is, without God.) I mean, people going this way and that, doing what they want, not acting or thinking in a way that is pleasing to God, or living the way God wants them to live. Like the prophet said in Isaiah 53:6, “All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned, every one, to his own way.”

But God didn’t want humanity to be left out in the cold, or separated from God for eternity. There was no way for me or for you to get back to God, on our own. We were separated by sin. What could we do? Left all by ourselves, we were in a terrible situation, a horrible mess!

But, God.

God loved us. God wanted to reach out. To bring us back to God. But, not in a mean or angry way! Not in a fearful way, either. Instead, God wanted to reach down to earth in love. And how better to communicate to earth than to become one of the frail human beings God intended to reach? Yes, that same God wanted to reach to earth—reach to each of us, to all of us, in love. With love. Through love.

That was an important point I wanted to get across this evening, when I preached. After church, one of the people who attended the service told me that they had never quite understood why Jesus became a baby—until tonight.

God, I have a feeling I know at least one reason why You wanted me to say what I did tonight. Thank God for the leading and prompting I had as I prepared the service and my message. And thank God for the Baby born in Bethlehem.

@chaplaineliza

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(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com