Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Greetings

Christmas 2007

Reflected in our living room window just below the icicle lights hanging from the eave is our lighted Christmas tree. Did you know reflections in double pane windows produce twice as many lights so the tree looks even brighter? Just past the tree I can see our neighbor’s lawn covered in wet snow. Bellevue received three quick inches this afternoon, and now as usual, rain is expected to wash away our first snow of the season by tomorrow. But as the first flakes fell this afternoon Carol, Jonathan and I grabbed our coats and sped off to the Ace Hardware neighborhood forest to select our tree. While Carol paid for the tree I rushed over to Bartell's to buy a few extra strings of lights. The teller looked out the window and remarked, "It's not sticking too much is it?" Unfortunately, that’s usually the case in Bellevue. I shook my head, “No” and she remarked, "I like when it sticks; it makes everything so quiet." I smiled an, "I know" and rushed out the door.

It's snowing big wet flakes again; I'm sitting by the fire; and the Hallelujah Chorus is playing. Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth, good will toward men. Snow really puts me in the mood for Christmas. Right after we picked up the tree and before the roads got slick, we made a quick stop at the grocery store just in case we got “snowed in”. In Seattle, “snowed in” means avoiding all the crazy drivers who for some reason stop at the bottom of a snow covered street and wonder why they can't get started again. On our way into the QFC we were welcomed by a Salvation Army bell ringer. "Merry Christmas,” was her greeting. I'm glad she said, “Merry Christmas,” instead of, “Happy Holiday.” Jonathan and I split up to get the half dozen staples we needed, and Carol was off to buy cinnamon rolls at Cobs Bakery. We self-scanned and paid for our groceries. Self-checkout is one example that technology is really changing things. But we still have Salvation Army bell ringers, a tradition I hope sticks around for years to come. We received another "Merry Christmas" on our way out of the store. I wonder if technology will change what Christmas trees will be like in fifty years.

In Bellevue it is not often we have to brush snow off a Christmas tree before bringing it into the house, but having to do so will be a special memory for me this advent season. This year’s tree has more limbs and is heavier than our past firs, and I'm glad Jonathan is still at home so he could help me squeeze it into the house. So the tree is up, and the lights are on. Blessing and honor glory and power be unto Him is on the stereo now. Stereo, now there’s an old word. Today’s music plays via IPods and CDs.

Brian, now 25, came over after working out this afternoon. He slipped and slid his way up the last hill to our house. (At least he didn't stop at the bottom of the hill.) So, the four of us were able to have dinner together. We are very fortunate to have our small family together so much of the time. I jumped in the pickup to get Chinese takeout, and we sat around the table eating and talking. Carol suggested our small family of four ends the meal and conversation by praying together. We did so without hesitation partly because the tree, the fire, and the snow mysteriously reminded us of what was playing in the background. Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given and his name will be called wonderful, counselor, prince of peace. Carol asked how we should pray for one another. I'll use our answers to bring you up to date on our most important news.

Jonathan, almost 22, asked we pray that his re-entry into a college routine will go well. He will start taking classes at Bellevue Community College in January. He recently quit a construction job he has had for nearly a year and a half. His long term dream is still to become a fireman, and his passion is to parachute out of airplanes which he did last year almost a dozen times.

Brian asked we pray that his relationship with Marilyn will continue to grow. He got to know Marilyn in December last year while she was student teaching on Mercer Island where Carol works. She is a great gal and is currently studying to earn a master’s degree in oboe performance at Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, which makes dating a challenge. Brian continues to work in a small Raymond James financial advising company. He likes his work and co-workers and is living in an apartment in downtown Bellevue with two high school buddies. He comes over as often as he can for free food.

Carol asked that we pray that Christ will be evident in her work life. This is her third year away from teaching at Bellevue Christian. She loves her job at Islander Middle School, but the public school environment doesn't afford her the opportunity to share her faith quite so openly. In fact, “Merry Christmas” is not a greeting she may use there.

As for me, this is a year of 30's. I have been in the education business for 30 years; this is our 30th year of marriage (I have the most amazing wife in the world); and we've been attending Mercer Island Covenant Church for 30 years. I'm not sure of the significance of the number 30 except I am feeling a bit restless. My prayer for 2008 is that God will show me his plan, and I will make it my own. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together - the mouth of the lord has spoken it.

Well, the snow has stopped except for a few very large, wet flakes. The music has finished, and it is time to tend the fire. Snow is so peaceful. The reason snow gets me in the mood for Christmas is how it brings peace into a frantic, noisy life. Even a little bit around the city slows everyone down. It reminds me of peace on earth, goodwill toward men.

Hallelujah, for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth, Hallelujah! The Kingdom of this world is become the Kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever, Hallelujah! King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, and He shall reign for ever and ever, Hallelujah!

Merry Christmas