Merry Christmas 2018

 

Merry Christmas….

I never imagined I’d get to a time when people consider the phrase divisive, controversial, offensive. How strange.

For all the good it’s done through the centuries, (and it has) I also realize religion has been twisted. Weaponized. As someone whose life was transformed by faith in Jesus and who has been on the receiving end of religion’s misuse, I feel the need to reaffirm that the real Christmas story is about Hope.

It’s about redemption and transcendence. It’s about justice and love. It’s not a case for ignorance, elitism or retribution. It’s the Eternal reaching into our lives at the point of greatest need and offering help, mercy, and  forgiveness.

Have a Merry Christmas. May God draw you to himself and flood your life with courage and grace, inspiration and gratitude in 2019.

Let the Stable Still Astonish!

by Leslie Leyland Fields

Let the stable still astonish:
Straw-dirt floor, dull eyes,
Dusty flanks of donkeys, oxen;
Crumbling, crooked walls;
No bed to carry that pain,
And then, the child, rag-wrapped laid to cry
In a trough.
Who would have chosen this?
Who would have said:
“Yes, Let the God of Heaven and Earth be born in this place.”

Who but the same God
Who stands in the darker, fouler rooms of our hearts
And says,
“Yes, let the God of Heaven and Earth be born in THIS place.”

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

 

2cfcbf3ec20cf2cfcd18a79615eb16b0-christmas-nativity-christmas-time

LET THE STABLE STILL ASTONISH

Let the stable still astonish:
Straw-dirt floor, dull eyes,
Dusty flanks of donkeys, oxen;
Crumbling, crooked walls;
No bed to carry that pain,
And then, the child–
Rag-wrapped, laid to cry
In a trough.
Who would have chosen this?
Who would have said,
“Yes, let the God of Heaven and Earth
Be born in this place”?
Who but the same God
Who stands in the darker, fouler rooms
Of our hearts
And says,
“Yes, let the God of Heaven and Earth
Be born in this place.”

–  Leslie Leyland Fields
***
I post this every Christmas for lots of reasons, my faith being the main one. 32 years following after Him, I still believe Jesus’ birth was critically important and that despite the dysfunction of organized religion, His  life and words are worth serious consideration.
I also appreciate this little poem because it takes the manger away from being a seasonal Disney-fied religious scene and brings it back to earth. It presents Jesus not as some magical, special ingredient to smooth life’s bitterness and edge – like flavored coffee creamer – but as a real solution to my deepest needs. It speaks of a God who knows and loves me despite myself. It points to transcendent mystery intervening in the sordid particulars of the sad, strange mess of human history. It speaks of intention, of hope, of grace.
And for that, I am truly grateful.
Merry Christmas to you and yours. May the next year be filled with happiness, health, courage, and compassion.
I have come that they may have life, and have it in all its fullness.
 – Jesus of Nazareth Jn. 10:10b
*yes, I know the wise guys weren’t in Bethlehem but showed up quite a bit later with their gifts. I just like the picture.

Let the Stable still Astonish

manger

 

Let the stable still astonish:
Straw-dirt floor, dull eyes,
Dusty flanks of donkeys, oxen;
Crumbling, crooked walls;
No bed to carry that pain,
And then, the child–
Rag-wrapped, laid to cry
In a trough.
Who would have chosen this?
Who would have said,
“Yes, let the God of Heaven and Earth
Be born in this place”?
Who but the same God
Who stands in the darker, fouler rooms
Of our hearts
And says,
“Yes, let the God of Heaven and Earth
Be born in this place.”

–  Leslie Leyland Fields
***
I post this every Christmas for lots of reasons, my faith being the main one. Yes, I believe Jesus’ birth was critically important and that despite the dysfunction of organized religion, His  life and words are worth serious consideration.
I also appreciate this little poem because it takes the manger away from being a seasonal Disney-fied religious scene and brings it back to earth. It presents Jesus not as some magical, special ingredient to make my life life better – like flavored coffee creamer – but as a real solution to my deepest needs. It speaks of a God who knows and loves me despite myself. Of transcendent mystery intervening in the sordid particulars of the sad, strange mess of human history. It speaks of intention, of hope, of grace.
And for that, I am truly grateful.
Merry Christmas to you and yours. May 2017 be filled with happiness, health, courage, and compassion.
I have come that they may have life, and have it in all its fullness.
 – Jesus of Nazareth Jn. 10:10b

Merry Christmas 2015

Let the Stable Still Astonish

manger
Let the stable still astonish:
Straw-dirt floor, dull eyes,
Dusty flanks of donkeys, oxen;
Crumbling, crooked walls;
No bed to carry that pain,
And then, the child–
Rag-wrapped, laid to cry
In a trough.
Who would have chosen this?
Who would have said,
“Yes, let the God of Heaven and Earth
Be born in this place”?
Who but the same God
Who stands in the darker, fouler rooms
Of our hearts
And says,
“Yes, let the God of Heaven and Earth
Be born in this place.”
–  Leslie Leyland Fields
***
I post this every Christmas for lots of reasons, my faith being the main one. Yes, I believe Jesus’ birth was critically important and that despite the dysfunction of religion, his  life and words are worth serious consideration.
I also appreciate this little poem in that it takes the manger away from being a seasonal Disney-fied religious scene and brings it back to earth. That it presents Jesus not as some special ingredient to make my life life better – like flavored coffee creamer – but as a real solution to my deepest needs. It speaks of a God who knows and loves me despite myself. Of transcendent mystery intervening with a plan in the sordid particulars of the sad, strange mess of human history. Of hope.
And for that, I am truly grateful.
Merry Christmas to you and yours. May 2016 be filled with God’s peace, courage, compassion, and creative power.
I have come that they may have life, and have it in all its fullness.
 – Jesus of Nazareth Jn. 10:10b

Merry Christmas


I post this poem every year because I believe it captures the essence of the incarnation and redemption offered in Jesus Christ. Christmas is about God’s gift of Himself to us, not just for religious spit-and-polish or pious moralizing mixed with creeds and rituals, but God coming to us at the very place of our need. In Jesus Christ is forgiveness of sins, transformation of heart, redemption at the very core of who and what we are. It’s a relationship with God forever. It’s eternal life.

Genuinely accepting God’s love means change – sometimes confusing, uncomfortable, inconvenient change – but most what is most remarkable is that it’s real And free. Jesus is alive and He loves you. Really.

Here’s the poem.

Let the Stable Still Astonish

Let the stable still astonish:
Straw- dirt floor, dull eyes, dusty flanks of donkeys, oxen;
Crumbling, crooked walls; No bed to carry that pain.

And then the child –
Rag-wrapped, laid to cry in a trough.
Who would have chosen this?
Who would have said:
“Yes, Let the God of all
the heavens and earth
be born here, in this place”?

Who but the same God who stands in the darker, fouler rooms of our hearts and says,
“Yes, Let the God of Heaven and Earth be born here – in this place.

May you come to trust in Jesus Christ as Redeemer. I pray God bless you all and keeps in health and peace in the new year. May God be real to you and in you, and express His Courage, Compassion, and Grace through you.

Just my .02

Preachers often rail against the lure and message of Hollywood and there’s something to be said there in certain instances. But Life and the world being what they are, is it any wonder people seek escapism?

In my experience, ministers called to declare ‘the greatest story ever told’ often fail to make it captivating, fail to engage the audience. Can you really fault them when the wonder of an Almighty God, His everlasting kingdom, the mystery and promise of redemption, get replaced by insipid platitudes or petty indignations? If those are the proposed alternatives, is it any wonder people prefer to spend time with Tolkien’s Bilbo rather than their Jesus?

Don’t blame Hollywood – they are who they are, doing their job. Nature abhors a vacuum – sometimes the empty seats are on you, reverend.

At Christmas


I post this poem every year because in my mind it best describes the reason Jesus came. This celebration is about God’s gift of Himself to us; about the child that grew to manhood, willingly gave his life in our place, then rose from the dead to demonstrate he’d defeated not only sin but death itself.

Christianity isn’t self-help, moralizing, or perfunctory piety. (Yes, people reduce it to that, but those are parodies.) In Jesus Christ is forgiveness of sins, transformation of heart, redemption of the very core of who and what you are. It’s life. Eternal life.

Accepting it is radical. It means change – sometimes confusing, uncomfortable, inconvenient change – but most remarkable of all is that it’s real and it’s free. Jesus lives.

And He loves you. Really.

Let the Stable Still Astonish

Let the stable still astonish:
Straw- dirt floor, dull eyes, dusty flanks of donkeys, oxen;
Crumbling, crooked walls; No bed to carry that pain.

And then the child –
Rag-wrapped, laid to cry in a trough.
Who would have chosen this?
Who would have said:
“Yes, Let the God of all
the heavens and earth
be born here, in this place”?

Who but the same God who stands in the darker, fouler rooms of our hearts and says,
“Yes, Let the God of Heaven and Earth be born here – in this place.

May God bless you and keep you all in the new year, and make you an instrument of His Courage, Compassion, and Grace.