|Great Bend First United Methodist Church|
It would be easy to think that's what the Nativity is all about ... beauty, perfection, peace. It's Advent. At our church, we pull out the perfectly-white porcelain Nativity scene and light the candles.
|Nativity made by Dorothy Newell, Stafford UMC|
In another church, the glow of stained glass catches the light of gold threads which run through the elaborate clothing garbing Mary, Joseph and the angel.
|Trinity UMC, Great Bend|
|Holy Cross Catholic Church, Hutchinson, KS|
Mary was a young, unwed mother. She had just had her first baby - not in a well-appointed delivery room - but in a stable with animals all around. She laid Him in a manger filled with straw, not a crib with sheets that match a nursery theme. It wasn't all that pretty.
Jesus was born to a family that possessed little and worked hard to make ends meet.
How can we, in the midst of our culture's conspicuous consumption and demand for perfection, turn our focus on the Child who was born into poverty as a sign of hope and salvation for a broken world? While it may seem the world demands perfection, the Gospel message demands nothing from us. Rather, God invites us to gather around the manger just as we are: unfinished lists, burnt pies and all. No matter our imperfections, great or small, God invites us to peek into the manger and gaze at the real Christmas message: That Christ came for us all to be a beacon of hope for the hopeless and to bring peace.
Rev. Amy Slater, Stafford UMC newsletter, Christmas 2012
So, when the list seems overwhelming ... and the oven timer is ringing at the same time the dryer bell is sounding ... and there's too much to do in too little time: Remember it's not about perfection. It's about grace. And, like teenage Mary, listening for God's voice in our lives, then obeying.
***Gifts don't have to cost a lot of money to be meaningful. I enjoy giving gifts from the kitchen to family, friends, the mailman, the choir director ... the list goes on!
Snack mixes don't take much time to make, but they can be something that your gift recipient can use for unexpected guests or their own family gatherings. And, kind of like stained glass windows, the bits and pieces come together to make a delicious whole! Here are a few tried-and-true recipes that we enjoy at our house and I've given as gifts. Click on the links for the recipes and ENJOY!
***This is my December post from Lovely Branches Ministries. Click on this link to read my friend, Suzanne's, ideas for simplifying Christmas.
***I'm linked today to Michelle DeRusha's Hear It On Sunday, Use It On Monday. Check out what other bloggers of faith are saying today by clicking on the link.