Thursday, December 27, 2007

In Trouble Over Slow Posting

I got in trouble Christmas.
I was told that it shouldn't take 6 months between posts on the story of Billy.
At least I know someone was reading it!

For the one or two of you who might be interested --
I'm working on it.
I will try to post another section of it within the next few days.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Birth - With Interpretive Commentary

From Luke, Chapter 2:

1In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3And everyone went to his own town to register.
4So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
16So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Now, a more interpretive version:

Way back in the early days the Emperor of Rome, Caesar Augustus, became so full of himself that he thought it would be interesting to see how many people were subject to him so he decided to count them. He sent out an announcement that everyone should travel to their hometown and be counted.

So Joe and his girl Mary headed for Bethlehem to be counted. Joe was kin to King David who claimed Bethlehem as his home. Mary went with him because she was pregnant and Joe was the only one who would take care of her. She was in a tough situation because she had agreed to marry Joe before she got pregnant. Joe, being the good guy that he was, decided to go through with the marriage so Mary wouldn't get kicked out on the street.

When they got to Bethlehem they couldn't find a place to stay. Mary was going into labor and so Joe, in desperation, begged an Innkeeper to give them a place for shelter. The Innkeeper didn't have a room but sent them to the cow shed where Mary gave birth to a boy. They wrapped him in cloths and put him in the feed trough where the hay would be soft and keep him warm.

While all this was happening to Joe and Mary, an angel appeared to a bunch of sheepherders who were in a field nearby. They were just minding their business and taking care of the flock so no predators or thieves could get them. But, the angel showed up and about scared them out of their skin before saying, "Chill dudes! I'm bringing good news. You should be happy. Your Savior has just been born over in Bethlehem. Get up and go over there. He's lying in a feed trough in the stable."

When the angel had finished saying this, a whole bunch of his buddies showed up and started singing, "Glory to God in the highest! Peace y'all." And with that, they disappeared.

So, the sheepherders discussed it among themselves and decided they should head into Bethlehem to see if there really was a baby lying in a feed trough. They were having a hard time believing what they just saw and wanted proof.

Well, they went and saw him all right. It was just like the angel said. When they started telling what happened, everyone looked at them like they were crazy. But, Mary and Joe knew. In fact Mary, like most women, remembered the event in detail and verified their presence when this story all got written down.

It didn't matter to the sheepherders that no one believed them. They kept telling the story anyway. It was all so crazy it had to be true.

There are several reasons that I have re-written the story of the birth of Jesus in more common language. The first is this: It hopefully makes one think a little bit about the true conditions surrounding the event. 1) Mary was a pregnant, unwed teenager who was taken in by a good friend. 2) She rode a donkey a pretty good distance while on the verge of giving birth -- I suspect it might have hurried the process. 3) Even heartless people (the Innkeeper) occasionally show a little compassion. 4) People can be resourceful when they have to be (having a baby in a barn, wrapping him in rags, using hay to keep warm). 5) Abortion wasn't an option even for this young, teenage, unwed girl (the course of history would have changed). 6) Common people are often involved in uncommon events (Mary and Joseph, the shepherds).

The second reason is this: If you're having a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit, think about this first Christmas. Things didn't quite go like Joseph had planned. 1) I suspect he planned on staying with relatives or at the Inn. For whatever reason, it didn't work out. 2) I suspect he didn't plan on the baby being born in Bethlehem. The donkey ride probably sped up the process. 3) Joseph most likely would have preferred better conditions for Mary when the baby was born -- at least somewhere other than a barn.

The third reason is this: Miracles, belief in God, acceptance of Jesus as Savior and Messiah, will always be ridiculed -- just as the shepherds were ridiculed for their wild tale. We all should have their attitude of "so what, we believe it and we're telling it just like it happened" anyway!

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Perfect Gift

Drives my shopping.
I am not one
Who feels like dropping
In favor of a trip
To the store.
I put it off.

Informs my choice
Of that perfect gift
That the commercials tell us
"Says I love you."
It just isn't in me
To express my feelings
With an object.
I prefer deed.

Describes my feelings
As the day approaches
For which I am
After weeks
Of procrastination
And indecision
Driven shopping.
I am still at loss.

Therefore I settle for less
Than truly expresses
The agonizing desire to please
That has driven me to mental gridlock
And disappointment rather than
Met expectations
Of surprise and pleasure.
It's the thought that counts --

Thursday, December 13, 2007

It's That Time of Year

Hustle and bustle,
It's that time of year
When the holiday spirit is free.
We hang up a wreath
And set candles out
Then place presents under a tree.

There's hurry and worry
And shopping to do
With lists that we have to make.
There's all sorts of things
Like candy and pie
And cookies that we need to bake.

We invite over friends
To drink some egg nogg
And talk and laugh by the fire.
But all of this cheer
Just can't do the trick
Of filling our heart's desire.

Love is the thing
That brings us the joy
Of being with family so dear.
And sometimes there's tears
For the ones who are missed
At this special time of year.

In all of our haste
To get everything done
We must not forget the reason.
It is God's only Son
Who came to earth as a babe
That's cause for celebrating the season.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Patient Persistence

Patient persistence
Leads to progress
While others in a hurry
Temporarily leap ahead
Before being sidelined for their folly

The lesson could be applied
To business
But I'm talking about
Interstate 40
And a sheet of ice.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


Alone with my thoughts
I think of the day
And the choices made
Along the way.

Some I know
Were the right ones to make
While other results
Some time will take.

So many choices
Result in mistake
But I can't let the past
Cause me to hesitate.

I just keep on choosing
As at the moment seems right
While keeping my goals
Plainly in sight.

Success can be measured
By results good and bad
That come from the making
Of choices we had.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Winter Night Sky

Cold and clear
I walk into the night
Thinking hurry
To the task
For it is cold
And I seek the warmth inside
When suddenly
The quietness,

The blackness,

The brilliance,

Of stars twinkling
Captures me
And stillness

Replaces hurry
With the realization
That I miss the show
While snug within my cave.
It is only when I venture into the cold
That I experience
This gift.