31 December 2013

The Real Twelve Days of Christmas – New Year’s Eve

Merry Christmas Dear Reader,

My younger Son, Bezel likes to joke about us celebrating Christ’s birth later than it should be celebrated.  I find that humorous but I also think that if we celebrated as we should that Jesus would not care when we did it.  We talk about the fixing of the date around the solstice for the purpose of syncretization and that is partially true.  What we do not consider is that when this is done it includes two weeks of time off and daily celebrations.  I would trade the actual day of my birth for a two week celebration any time.   

Part of that celebration is the closing of the year.  In our culture Christmas is over and we are on to the next year.  Those who know me well can tell you that I see it as only 358 more sleeps until Christmas.  How much of the year is too much to spend pondering peace, love, and good will toward men?  Why do we not celebrate as long as possible instead of putting a moratorium on the celebration?

As my family and friends go out to celebrate the end of the year I will spend it quietly with my Grandsons.  I will use tonight as another chance to give.  Whenever I give from the heart I extend Christmas a little further.  That is what brings me joy.  I know that not everyone thinks like I do on this matter but it is the spirit of celebrating Christ that I want to embrace every day.

Instead of resolutions and hangovers I hope that the world finds a way to see the hope that should be carried over into the next year.  I find wisdom in having the celebration of Christmas transcend the calendar year.  It is not the days and season that govern my faith and following. 

So as the year closes I do wish you, Dear Reader a Joyous New Year.  I hope that you celebrate and are celebrated well.  I will raise a glass in your honor and a prayer of hope for you to find all that you need for the journey.


The Closing of the Year – Wendy and Lisa

If I cannot bring you comfort
Then at least I bring you hope
For nothing is more precious
Than the time we have and so

We all must learn from small misfortune
Count the blessings that are real
Let the bells ring out for Christmas
At the closing of the year
Let the bells ring out for Christmas
at the closing of the year

All for the needs of a Sergeant Major,
Ride through the woods with the wind in your hair,
Silver bells on the snow white reindeer
As we race to the castle over there

If I cannot bring you comfort
Then at least I bring you hope

Now all the winter bells are ringing
Hear them echo through the snow
And the children's voices singing
on the streets so far below

This is a time to be together
And the truth is somewhere here
Within our love: all people
At the closing of the year

We'll walk in the sun
With all of the faith
And all of the Patience
All of the way
With all of us right
And all of us saying
"Love one another"
We'll fly in the arms of time
Walk in the waves, never fall
Don't fall (at the closing of the year)
At the closing of the year

If I cannot bring you comfort
Then at least I bring you hope

Then at least I bring you hope

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store."


Closing of the Year - long loop version

30 December 2013

The Real Twelve Days of Christmas – The Holy Family

Merry Christmas Dear Reader,

I have much pondered the family of Jesus.  As I celebrate the sixth day of Christmas my family is traveling back from being away.  I love my Sons so dearly and every time I think about Joseph and Mary I ponder what it must be like to know that your Son is the one on whom all the hope of humankind rests.  I realize that some of you will shake your head at my quaint theology but it is my theology.

Still to have traveled so far in such dangerous times when you are supposed to be birthing the Son of God seems so harsh.  At the heart of angelic announcements and cosmic portents is still the need to believe.  One must act in faith or the burden seems too great to carry.  How often did this couple need to reassure each other that what they believed was real and happening to them? 

In my mind I picture the three traveling in the wide world and the lack of understanding that world has.  It drives me to remember them daily.  I have a small pewter nativity that remains at my writing desk all year round.  I do not love Christmas because of the gifts and trappings.  I do enjoy those things.  My heart, however, finds compassion and hope in the faithfulness of this small family.

A carpenter and his betrothed, both descendants of David carried the promise in their hearts and then in their arms.  They were the ones who live the pinch in the hour glass.  They were the ones who risked everything from family rejection to political assassination to bring us the Son.  These were to people who accepted by faith that this baby had a destiny that all hoped for and feared. 

I agonize when my children feel hurt or frustrated.  I know that I love them with a fierce and terrible love.  I cannot begin to imagine how difficult it must have been for Joseph and Mary to know that their Son would face the ultimate pain of paying the price for the sins of us all.  I do not think I could have carried the burden and remained faithful to it.  On this sixth day of Christmas my thoughts are for this small family that is about to venture onto the world stage and the gratitude I have for their faith and obedience.

A Pauper’s Hymn – Aramis and Avalon

Trav'ling hard before a Sabbath sunset,
Cold the woman great with child.
Lonely taxed from Naz’reth wand' ring,
O’re Judea’s barren wild.
Homeless in a stable came the birth that night.
What could this weary woman bring?
Nothing less on earth than Heaven's Best;
A Savior, Redeemer, King

Men of the East with wisdom following
The star that heralds heaven's own
Christ the Savior come to ransom
Those who would choose Him to disown
Warned of the madness of a puppet king,
The child is safe in Egypt as he grows,
But in David's City the children die.
Rachel weeps for those she'll never know.

The decades pass,
The boy a man,
Condemned by hope and a lie,
Hanging cold upon a wind-swept hill,
Suspended between the worlds to die.
How long will you wait to embrace His gift?
Where else will you find harbor for your soul?
Than in the out-stretched arms of the Christmas babe,
Who ransomed your eternal soul.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store."

29 December 2013

The Real Twelve Days of Christmas – Thomas of Canterbury

Merry Christmas Dear Reader,

On this day in 1170 Archbishop Thomas was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral by four knights.  Whether King Henry II wished him dead or not is unclear but the knights who did so thought they were acting on the wishes of the king. 

It is the death of anyone who would further the cause of Christ that occupies my mind today.  The problems that Thomas had with the church were political and I am not sure who was correct.  It does not really matter.  What matters is that I remember that still today people are killed because of their faith.

The church universal has done some terrible things during its history.  This does not diminish that people should not be killed because of what they believe.  We have somehow as humans made a false connection that if one believes differently from another that enmity must follow.

I am capable of thinking that someone is completely wrong and still loving that person.  This is a primary tenant of the Gospel.  There is no room in following Christ for hating or killing someone who disagrees with me.  It seems, however, that we have equated disagreement with hatred.  This leads down a most dangerous path.

As long as there is evil in the world those who have faith will be killed for that faith.  This is not true for everyone but it is still true.  I live in a very safe world compared to others.  My brother shared a story just last week concerning the killing of Christ followers in another country.  The power I wield is love.  If I wield it well and in the spirit of Christ then it will yield both love returned and hatred.  True evil cannot abide the love of God.

My responsibility to Christ is love.  I must remember those who die for that love or I cannot truly celebrate Christ.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store."

28 December 2013

The Real Twelve Days of Christmas – Innocents

Merry Christmas Dear Reader,

Today is the day we honor those killed by Herod in Bethlehem.  The story is well known but little regarded in our modern era.  Many work to discount its veracity.  I cover it from a fictional perspective in my novel The Foster Father of God.  The point is that children are to be cherished no matter what station of life they hold. 

We live in a world where they seem more political fodder to many that precious lives that we should nurture and love.  Here is an excerpt from the book.

 A syphilis maddened king sits upon his cold marble throne waiting, watching, wondering when the Magi will return with the location of his enemy.  By the time he realizes that the seekers of the new king are not returning, the Son is safe in Egypt.  The family makes their way through the desert and settles in Memphis, a city large enough to provide work and anonymity.  Joseph easily finds a small house in which to set up a carpentry shop.  Though there is some resistance to a Jew in the community, his skill with the chisel and hammer soon have him working enough to meet the family needs.  After a harried journey, things begin to unfold quietly for the carpenter.  This is not so in Bethlehem.

Micah, surprised to find his tenant gone, assumes that he has journeyed to Jerusalem to present the Son at the temple.  Although he sees this as an unnecessary waste of time, he is thankful for the consistent flow of free goat’s milk provided by Jared’s faithful care for Mary’s small flock.  A month passes before Micah listens to Jared’s concern for the family’s lateness in returning.  Naomi enters the house to find that all of the personal possessions are gone and a note left for Micah and Naomi.  It simply states that they are not sure when they can return.  Some coins are on the table, intended to settle any debt that Micah feels Joseph owes to him.  Naomi pockets the coins and chooses to convince Micah to keep the home open for a while in the event of their return.

Unknown to Joseph, his friend Longinus, newly reassigned to lead Herod’s palace guard, rides to Bethlehem.  Unknown to Longinus, he seeks the life of Joseph’s Son.  In his madness Herod has surmised that the only way rid himself of the King is to kill all the children in Bethlehem and the surrounding community under two years old.  Longinus and forty men ride into Bethlehem at sunset two months after Joseph leaves.  The men bunk at the garrison but Longinus and Patrius spend the night in comfort at the inn on the edge of town.  They both note the skill and craftsmanship that are in its design.  They also note that the innkeeper has a young child, obviously under the age of two.

The following morning, before sunrise, the wailing cry of their Son awakens Joseph and Mary with a start.  For all their efforts, they cannot comfort him as he kicks and cries.  The Son refuses to nurse and even when he becomes exhausted from crying he whimpers fitfully throughout the day.  With no sign of illness or fever, the parents are perplexed as to what action will calm their Son.  They take turns holding and comforting him throughout the day.  By late afternoon, he succumbs to a fitful sleep marked by whimpers and the occasional cry.

The cries in Bethlehem will go on for days.  As was planned, the soldiers begin their task at first light.  Staging themselves on the outskirts of Bethlehem, they work systematically inward, going from house to house, searching for children under the age of two.  Soldiers like Patrius, however, are too enamored of the killing to remember the task.  Parents resisting the soldiers fall to their swords as well.  Late afternoon arrives before the soldiers, bloodied and weary begin to reach the center of town.  Patrius last act for the day is to visit the inn, collect his belongings, and kill the innkeeper’s youngest child.

The soldiers, including Longinus and Patrius go to the garrison where they will soak away the day’s work in the hot bath prepared for them by the local servants.  While the steam and water leach away the weariness and bloodstains, Longinus discusses the work with the local captain.
The captain offers, “This is the second time in the last few months we have had excitement here.”

Longinus stretches out in the hot water.  “What do you mean second time?  Has there been an uprising or some other event that set Herod off in this way?
The captain looks confused.  “No, but I thought you would know about all the noise over your father’s friend.  He came here for the registration and his wife gave birth.  All the locals talked about Messiah this and Messiah that.  There were bright lights and singing and people went on about if for days.”

The color drains from Longinus face so rapidly that the captain thinks him ill and calls for wine.  Longinus stops him and stepping out of the bath speaks, his voice trembling.  “You will not speak of this to any of my men.  Neither are you to tell anyone of our conversation.  Our loyalty is to Rome and this king of the Jews, Herod, is not long for life.  I have done as ordered.  All that I require of you is that you tell me where Joseph is and that you keep silence concerning your knowledge of him.  That same order applies to all your men as well.”

The captain, certain that he understands none of this, answers.  “We have not seen Joseph in two months.  He was to journey to Jerusalem for some ceremony then return.  Your father had warned him of Zealot activity in Nazareth and so Joseph had planned to stay here for some time. A rumor said that they departed with a caravan from the east.  That is all I know and I will obey your order of silence.”

Guilt and uncertainty grapple for control of Longinus.  He leaves the bath and secludes himself in borrowed officer’s quarters.   Physically he is clean but he still feels innocent blood on his hands.  For the third time in a year his path and Joseph’s have crossed and for the third time the ground has tasted blood for it.  Both this man and his wife have given the soldier friendship and trust.  The politics surrounding them has brought nothing but cruelty and death, first to his own men, then Joseph’s father, and now, unwitting innocents who were simply in the wrong town.  Rage and remorse course through the soldier who once took up his sword to defend the ideals of a noble state.  He signed on to serve for honor and a republic not the whims of a maddened puppet king.  He wonders how he drifted so far from his ideals that he did not even question the order to kill hundreds of innocent children.

The centurion eats his dinner alone and will see none of his men.  As he turns in for the night, he is certain that he can hear a sound carried throughout Bethlehem on the dessert wind.  The sound will haunt his dreams for the next three decades.  Night after night when Longinus is on the edge of sleep, he will hear the mournful wail of a woman weeping for her children who are no more.

Far away in Memphis, Joseph prepares to turn in for the night as well.  Exhausted from the day’s ordeal, Mary and Jesus are both already asleep.  When he first hears the crying, he thinks that it is his bride and goes to her, but she rests soundly, her breathing even and soft.  It becomes obvious that the weeping, carried on the night wind, comes form outside their home.  The carpenter offers a silent prayer for the unknown woman who sends her sorrow into the night, asking God to comfort her in her anguish.  The carpenter drifts off to sleep not knowing that there is no comfort for the land that wails from the pain of being gorged with so much innocent blood.


Lully, lullay, Thou little tiny Child,
By, by, lully, lullay.
Lullay, thou little tiny Child,
By, by, lully, lullay.

O sisters too, how may we do,
For to preserve this day
This poor youngling for whom we do sing
By, by, lully, lullay.

Herod, the king, in his raging,
Charged he hath this day
His men of might, in his own sight,
All children young to slay

Then, woe is me, poor Child for Thee!
And ever mourn and sigh
For thy parting neither say nor sing,
By, by, lully, lullay.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store."

27 December 2013

The Real Twelve Days of Christmas – Jesus’ Best Friend

Merry Christmas Dear Reader,

The third day of Christmas is the celebration of the Apostle John.  He was it seems closest to Jesus of all the apostles.  He gave us the most tender of the Gospels and focuses on the love of Christ so richly in it and in his letters.  I am sure he would be saddened by the misuse of his writings in Revelation. 

The list of those that God calls his friends is short in the Bible.  What a beautiful thing it seems to me that one could pursue Christ enough to be his friend.  I know how much I value genuine friendship.  I have friends that I love dearly.  I do not see them or spend time with them as often as I should. 

One of the things that we can do is reach out to friends when we have down time.  I have had several communicate with me over the last week and it spurs me to do the same. 

Another aspect of following Christ for me is to assure that I am friendly to everyone.  This is not the same as true friendship but it equates with kindness that we are bound to share with everyone.  I can be a friend to complete strangers when they have need.  I must be willing to show that kindness and love that are so seminal to the Gospel. 

I do not need to venerate John by praying to him or lighting candles for him.  I can honor him by being kind to others and good to my friends.  I can follow the example he shared in his Gospel by being a friend to the Son.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store."

26 December 2013

Second Thoughts – Meditation in a Mall

Greetings Dear Reader,

Sometimes I will end the day with thoughts that are important to get out.  Usually I just write them and put them in my journal folder.  I have chosen that on occasion I will share them with you Dear Reader.

I rarely visit a mall anymore.  I find them discomforting.  They seem too much like shrines to self-centeredness.  I went to one today out of necessity.  I was reminded why I stay away.

Meditation in a Mall the day after Christmas
By Aramis Thorn
October 9, 1995

I walk among the hurried returners, burdened, 
Snatches of conversation filter through my brain.
People speaking their hearts in a crowd,
Because they assume, that they are alone again.

One woman complains about the gift her husband gave.
A child whines that the toys do not meet his liking.
A teenage daughter exchanges all the wrong clothes for the right ones.
None of them are aware of the Gift that is there for the taking.

The Salvation Army lady still rings her bell,
But it tolls not the message of the King, and why he came
Instead its asks a lost world to give life out of its death,
And thanks them for their contribution as the move along, unchanged.

In the midst of this bedlam, I would be a beacon of hope and peace,
But there are so many and I am only a man with things to do.
Heart failing, I sit to rest, on the bench next to me, a voice asks,
“Could you tell me? What does Christmas really mean to you?”

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store."

The Real Twelve Days of Christmas – Good Kings and Martyrs

Merry Christmas Dear Reader,

There are two things of note about this day.  This is the day we venerate the man who is called the first martyr.  The fact that he died because of the Gospel was new but unfortunately not unique.  This puts me in mind of those who die in our modern era for the same cause.  There are still places where it is deadly to follow Christ.  I am thankful that it is only unpopular where I live. 

I also love that this is the day where we commemorate King Wenceslas.  He was also murdered for his faith.  He is the source of the Czech legend of the King Under the Mountain.   

What is most valuable to me about this is the legendary nature of his generosity.  We sing the song at Christmas without knowing the legend behind it.  So much of following Christ is understanding being generous to others. 

Here we see two men who gave everything for the Gospel.  Christ did the same.  I must be willing to give all and that must start with understanding how much I have.  If I do not freely give from the blessings I have then I am missing the point of those blessings.  If I do not keep in mind those who have less than they need then I am not truly following Christ.  Enjoy the song.  Perhaps instead of turtle doves one can ponder the poor and their needs.  Perhaps I can find another way to be generous.

Good King Wenceslas – Performed by Loreena McKennitt

Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the feast of Stephen
When the snow lay round about
Deep and crisp and even
Brightly shone the moon that night
Though the frost was cruel
When a poor man came in sight
Gath'ring winter fuel

"Hither, page, and stand by me
If thou know'st it, telling
Yonder peasant, who is he?
Where and what his dwelling?"
"Sire, he lives a good league hence
Underneath the mountain
Right against the forest fence
By Saint Agnes' fountain."

"Bring me flesh and bring me wine
Bring me pine logs hither
Thou and I will see him dine
When we bear him thither."
Page and monarch forth they went
Forth they went together
Through the rude wind's wild lament
And the bitter weather

"Sire, the night is darker now
And the wind blows stronger
Fails my heart, I know not how,
I can go no longer."
"Mark my footsteps, my good page
Tread thou in them boldly
Thou shalt find the winter's rage
Freeze thy blood less coldly."

In his master's steps he trod
Where the snow lay dinted
Heat was in the very sod
Which the Saint had printed
Therefore, Christian men, be sure
Wealth or rank possessing
Ye who now will bless the poor
Shall yourselves find blessing


Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store."

25 December 2013

The Real Twelve Days of Christmas – Christmas Day

Merry Christmas Dear Reader,

A friend posted his opposition to song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” and he seemed quite miffed about the whole idea.  It was interesting that I had intended to delve into the customs that led to the song being created at all.  Lost to history and liturgy are the reasons why we have a twelve day celebration of the season.

Truly I believe that we should celebrate in this way so as to detract from the commercialism that the aforementioned song suggests.  Ben I hope that you will benefit from this more than you did the song. 

The first day of the celebration is obvious.  It is the celebration of the Nativity.  It is our opportunity to recognize that Christ came in human form for the express purpose of redeeming humans to himself.  It is this great expression of love that we are to celebrate.

It takes effort to keep Christ central in the day.  For most of those who celebrate it has become about family and gifts.  If one is not vigilant Christ becomes lost in the other trappings of the season.  There is even an effort by some to push Christ out of the Christmas altogether. 

I intend to work my way back to a longer celebration of Christ in this season; perhaps even some time off for good behaviour.  I work to celebrate him daily anyway and since my joy in it is natural perhaps I can extend it without pretense.  It would make the journey much sweeter.


Got a birthday card at Christmas... it made me think of Jesus Christ.
It said, "I love you" in small letters. I simply had to read it twice.
Wood smoke curled from blackened chimneys. The smell of frost was in the air.
Pole star hovered in the blackness. I looked again... it wasn't there.

People have showered me with presents. While their minds were fixed on other things.
Sleigh bells, bearded red suit uncles. Pointy trees and angel wings.
I am the shadow in your Christmas. I am the corner of your smile.
Perfunctory in celebration. You offer content but no style.

That little baby Jesus... he got a birthday card or three.
Gold trinkets and cheap frankincense. Some penny baubles for his tree.
Have some time off for good behaviour. Forty days, give or take a few.
Hey there, sweet baby Jesus... Let's share a birthday card with you.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store."

24 December 2013

Advent – A Week of Sundays – Waiting for the Son – Mary’s Song

Greetings Dear Reader,

So much of what I do to celebrate Christmas is the journey to the stable.  I think about all that must be for that moment to be realized.  Mary lived in a world where it was a death sentence to be pregnant and unmarried.  We know nothing of the relationship outside of the fact that Joseph did not want her to be killed.  We know her parents sent her away for a time to live with Elizabeth. 

In all of that Mary knew that God had chosen her to bring the Messiah.  In the nine months from the announcement to the birth Mary did a great deal of traveling.  She traveled from Nazareth to Judah and the town of Ein Karem.  This is about 145 km.  She then travels back to Nazareth at three months pregnant; another 145 km.  She then journeys with Joseph to Bethlehem.  This is another 158 km journey.  Walking these distances takes a total of twelve days.

During all this time there is the birth of John the Baptist, the conflict with Joseph over her pregnancy, and a Roman world taxing the Jewish world.  All of this surrounds a mother waiting for her Son.  She is waiting for the Son.  We are waiting aging.  The world is tumultuous again.

As I ponder Christmas Eve my heart is filled with joy and anticipation of the time with my Children and Grand Children.  The corner of my smile, however, considers the difficulties this young family faced in bringing us the Son.  How I celebrate Christmas must include a heart that cherishes what both Mary and Joseph did to make the Advent a reality. 

As I conclude my heart preparation and turn the corner to celebration I do so knowing that this family risked much to make the birth of Christ a reality.  Everything about Christmas is anchored in the birth.  I must continue to wait for the second Advent of the Son even whilst I celebrate the first one.  I cannot celebrate the lights of Christmas without seeing in their shadows the cross.

I join in both journeys; the one to Bethlehem and the one to the cross with a clear realization that my celebration had a price for many others.  It does not diminish my joy but it does remind me that we pay for the party with our dearest blood.

Mary’s Song - Petra

Hold that blanket closer, Mary dear
All the world waits with You for Your day
But for now, the wind is cold and it's drear
And Bethlehem's still so far away

Do you remember the way you felt back then?
Joy and wonder filled your soul
And when the angel slipped away
You knew your life would never be the same

But now, you’re travelin', travelin' on a road
To Bethlehem, wanderin' thoughts fly away
If you knew the road that lay ahead of Him
Would you break down and cry?
Your child is born to die

Feel that hand of strength upon your own
A husband's love that guides along the way
And as his understanding has grown
His hopes too are centered on that day

For do you remember the way he looked back then
Pain and sorrow filled his eyes
'Til when the angel came to say
The Savior's birth was meant to be this way

But now, you’re travelin', travelin' on a road
To Bethlehem, wanderin' thoughts fly away
If you knew the road that lay ahead of Him
Would you break down and cry?
Your child is born to die

Think back on that promise you received
For Him, whom the prophets long believed
Now, belongs to You, You've been chosen to
But He's the one who's gonna shine

We call His name Jesus, Immanuel
He'll save His people from sin and hell
And of His kingdom there will be no end

But now, you’re travelin', travelin' on a road
To Bethlehem, wanderin' thoughts fly away
If you knew the road that lay ahead of Him
Would you break down and cry?
Your child is born to die

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store."

23 December 2013

Advent – A Week of Sundays – Waiting for the Son

Greetings Dear Reader,

I have a box on my shelf of things that are very precious to me.  They mostly mean nothing to anyone else.  There are two pieces of granite, a snake skin, and a note from my then seven year old son Maxim.  It is a simple note.  In the note he asks that I pray that he finds a friend.

Even then people mattered to him more than anything.  We had conversations about what it was like to have friends and be a friend to others.  Maxim is excellent at being good to others.  He often reminded me when he was little that the friend that was most important to us is Jesus.

Christ did not just come to deal with our sin issue.  He came to establish a relationship with us.  He seeks to turn every enemy to a friend.  My Grandfather always treated Jesus as both Lord and friend.  He would remind me when I was sad that I had a friend who understood it all.

He wishes to carry us through the hard times.  He wants to be that friend that we depend on when things are hard.  When we fail to acknowledge the friendship of Christ we deprive our lives of the richness that he offers. We carry pain that we can share with a friend.  We prolong the solitude of our burdens and grief.

We wait for the return of a dear friend when wait for the Son.  He cares about every sorrow we have and only wishes the best for us.  That is the Son we await at Advent. 

What a Friend We Have in Jesus – Joseph M. Scriven

What a Friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden,
cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge,
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield you;
you will find a solace there.

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised
Thou wilt all our burdens bear
May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to
Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded there
will be no need for prayer
Rapture, praise and endless worship
will be our sweet portion there.
  
Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store."

22 December 2013

Advent – A Week of Sundays – Waiting for the Son

Greetings Dear Reader,

As we light the fourth candle of Advent we acknowledge all the others things we have pondered in our waiting for the candle.  Faith means waiting.  If I have faith that God is moving all things toward redemption, reclamation, and re-creation then waiting for the Son is an act of joy.

The world is filled with the scars of our sin and failure to embrace the Son.  All will be forgiven and made My Grown Up Christmas List.  As I think through my heart’s desire this song captures much of it. 
new.  So as I look toward the Advent of the Son for the second time by celebrating the first one I ponder what I really wish to see.  As I was ruminating over what I really want I was reminded of a song,

The first thing I would wish for is “no more lives torn apart”.  This will be fulfilled when the Son returns all things to that state in which he intended them to exist.  I wait for a Son who does not hate or reject.  He accepts everyone where he or she is and offers so much more.  Christ promises to make all things new and good.  When the Second Advent of the Son arrives there will be no more lives torn apart.

If I am to follow Christ I must work toward the reclamation and healing of all lives.  It must be in my heart every day to see that there are hurting human souls that need love, kindness, and generosity.  Mankind must be my wish list.  My driving desire must be for every man and woman to know the love, forgiveness, and care that is in Christ.  Everything else is subtext.

So as I prepare to give gifts and celebrate with a family I love so dearly I ponder my grown up Christmas list.  I want every life to be filled with the joy of Christ.  I do not want to judge and condemn.  I want everyone to have what I have in Christ.  I want them to see pas my failures and flaws to the one who will mend the tears and dry the tears.  I wish for all things to be made new.

My Grown Up Christmas List – Written by David Foster, Performed by Michael Buble

Do you remember me? I sat upon your knee
I wrote to you with childhood fantasies
Well, I'm all grown up now and still need help somehow
I'm not a child but my heart still can dream

So here's my lifelong wish
My grown up Christmas list
Not for myself
But for a world in need

No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts

And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end, no
This is my grown up Christmas list

As children we believe
The grandest sight to see
Was something lovely
Wrapped beneath a tree

But heaven surely knows
That packages and bows
Can never heal a hurting human soul

No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts

And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end, no
This is my grown up Christmas list

What is this illusion
Called the innocence of youth
Maybe only in our blind belief
Can we ever find the truth

No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts

Everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end

This is my grown up Christmas list
This is my only lifelong wish
This is my grown up Christmas list

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store."

21 December 2013

Second Thoughts - Another View

Greetings Dear Reader,

Sometimes I will end the day with thoughts that are important to get out.  Usually I just write them and put them in my journal folder.  I have chosen that on occasion I will share them with you Dear Reader.

I offer for you Dear Reader a little levity by way of another view of the 12 days of Christmas.

Another View
By Aramis Thorn
Christmas 1996

The partridge perched upon the pear to sing his cockle song,

And merrily proclaim the day to all the gathered throng.
“Bob-white” he called a midst the branches of the potted pear,
My true love had tied his leg, so he was stranded there.
“Bob-white” again he issued forth all throughout the eve
The first day of Christmas had my guests all fit to leave.

Morning smiled the second day, as I greeted my true love,
As in each hand there was perched a cooing turtledove.
“Their wings are clipped, they will not fly.”  She cooed reassuringly,
So, she propped them with the Partridge in the potted tree.
“Bob-white, coo-coo. Bob-white, coo-coo” they called to and fro,
I spent most of Christmas day the second, seeking solitude in snow.

The noise had quelled on day three, and peace I thought I’d found,
‘Til from the breakfast pantry rose a murderous cackling sound.
Armed with broom, to the kitchen I rushed, to face the denizens,
Instead of monsters or cockatrice, I found three French hens.
My true love smiled so warmly as she presented them to me,
I took them in their cages, and placed them 'neath the pear tree.

Day four saw me besieged by “cackle, coo, bob-white,”
I surmised to roast them all, but my true love I would not spite.
As evening came, my calm returned and the wild life seemed to quiet,
Until my love presented me with a brand new form of riot.
For in choosing a fourth gift, she had hit on the absurd
In that she presented me with four squawking calling birds.

The fifth day hardened fright and fear with “bob-white, cackle, squawk, and coo.”
For I was intrepidly bemused at what my true love next would do.
The pear tree looked so burdened with its zoo of noisome birds,
Were she to add five to the flock of ten, I could not contain harsh words.
At dinnertime, she presented me with a box battered and old,
To my delight my true love gave to me, five SILENT rings of gold.

Optimism held me in its grasp as day six broke cold and snowing,
I gazed upon my golden rings, admiring silent warmth a-glowing,
Down to breakfast I trotted, to my true love, with triumph in my breast,
Only to find her in the kitchen, with six geese upon six nests.
I sat upon the kitchen hearth and dwelt on roasted geese,
To my horror I realized each had eggs, three or four apiece. 

To the hot tub on the winter porch I went, to soak away day seven
The silence and the steamy bath promised to resemble heaven.
I’d just relaxed in the warm pool, when I was set upon,
By the paddling and pecking of seven swimming swans.
Enough I screamed of feather and foul, I don’t want flocking gifts,
“Very well.”  My true love sadly said.  The day ended in a tiff.

The eighth day of Christmas dawned with a fresh snow falling.
My true love woke me from my slumber by gently, sweetly calling.
She suggested that I quickly join her by the stable, near the shed,
With trust that no bird would brave the cold, I trundled out of bed.
What met me at our barn brought forth oaths and shrieks and vows,
For there upon eight stools sat eight maidens milking cows.

Day nine came, and I thought, my mind was coming loose,
But I was, at lunch, satiated by feasting on beef and goose.
Dinnertime tempted me to dine on both partridge and hen,
But the thoughts were interrupted by my true love once again.
The view within the parlor set my wits to madly prancing,
For my true love had hired nine ladies who were dancing.

Madness seized me on day ten, and I would not leave my room.
I met each cajoling of my love with bitterness and gloom.
Around eight in the evening time, a clamor filled the house,
Pushing me to investigate so I sneaked out like a mouse.
I perched upon the staircase and downward started creeping,
And was horrified to find the hall filled with ten lords a leaping.

I barely slept throughout the night a midst the noise of birds and cows,
I was glad my true love leaned toward the kosher, or I might have gotten sows.
Sunrise came early on day eleven, and I thought to sneak to town,
For no new terror-gift would I find, if I were not around.
But my true love laughed as she realized my victory she was swiping,
For in the driveway at the dawn, were eleven pipers piping.

The Twelfth Day of Christmas had arrived with our house quite full,
But no one for a hundred miles could say that it was dull.
I’d grown accustomed to the noise, dodging leaping lords, and ladies dancing, 
I’d even realized that dairy cows, my larder were enhancing.
My true love sat with me by the fire, holding my hand and humming,
As I tried to grow accustomed to twelve incessant drummers drumming.

Day thirteen has come and gone, and fourteen was quite peaceful.
I realize now that my true love intended no malice, harm, or evil.
As peace and quiet reclaim my home and I see where I was wrong,
I'll transform my true love’s gift parade into a Christmas Song.
Many will sing of my adventure and never know its pains and ills,
I'll even leave out day 24: the arrival of, the postman with the bills.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store."

Advent – A Week of Sundays – Joy

Greetings Dear Reader,

I realize that this is Sunday school like and a bit puerile.  It is also simple and true.  Joy is available to everyone who chooses to live this way.

Jesus
Others
Yourself

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store."

20 December 2013

Advent – A Week of Sundays – Things Done in Secret

Greetings Dear Reader,

This may be one of the very best parts of this season for me.  I love being sneaky.  I find great joy in doing things for others that they do not know that I have done.  It is one of my Advent joys that I practice all year round.

I do not need to say much about this except to point out that this is one of the most vital aspects of giving.  When we do good in secret we get the opportunity to allow only God to reward us.  It fills me with great joy to see someone get a need met and not know how it was done.

This practice constantly reminds me that giving must come from the heart.  It must be out of joy and not obligation.  I have had several opportunities to do this in a big way this year and the moments are precious to me.

I want to challenge you Dear Reader to give it a try.  A giving spirit that is generous and selfless can fill one with an unspeakable joy that is anchored in the very heart of following Christ.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store."

19 December 2013

Advent – A Week of Sundays – My Enemy, My Friend

Greetings Dear Reader,

Since one of the ultimate goals of the incarnation of Christ is God’s desire for peace one cannot ponder the joy of Advent without pondering one’s enemies.  God is clear that we are to love our enemies.  I try to have as few of them as possible.  Loving those who are considered an enemy is the first step toward peace on earth.

In A Little Book of Christmas Joys number 209 simply states “Make a friend of an enemy this Christmas.”  Imagine if we made the effort to do this.  What a difference we could make in the world if we simple chose to love our enemies.  Everything about the incarnation is God seeking to reconcile us to a sound relationship with him.  He loves us even though we created the enmity that exists between us.

I know that when I create peace with someone who views me as an enemy it gives me great joy.  Someone has to make the first move.  It is clear that the move is put squarely on the shoulders of those who wish to follow Christ.   I must love my enemy.  This is not a passive thing.  It is a required action that must be bathed in the hope of reconciliation of things to God.

“Peach on earth and good will toward men” are not just great words for a Christmas card.  They are a call to act.  They are the good tidings of great joy that we need to embrace.  I must act to nullify the enemies I have by loving them and making peace with them.  This is at the heart of seeing the joy that is present in the Advent of Christ.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store."



18 December 2013

Advent – A Week of Sundays – Joy in the Sorrow

Greetings Dear Reader,

I do not wish for anyone to think that I do not understand that for many there is sorrow during Advent.  People have needs.  People suffer loss.  Families struggle with so many difficulties.  There are those who are spending a first Christmas with the loss of a loved one.

There are days when it is hard to find joy in the journey.  It is, however, there if we allow it.  Even in my days of deepest loss or greatest pain there is the one thing that can provide joy.  It is I that must look for it.  It is I that must remember that in the darkest times that I must remember that we have joy always because there is hope.

One of the things that the Advent of Christ provides in buckets is hope.  The reconciliation of our relationship to God is anchored in this moment in time when Christ became like us.  We sorrow but not as those without hope.  Sorrow is part of the journey.  Sorrow is something unavoidable.  For me, however, my faith must inform that sorrow.  I can feel loss but not hopelessness. 

As I find joy in the season I must honestly see and have compassion for the loss and need of others. I must also realize that the Advent of Christ offers “good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people.”  I must do what I can to lessen the loss and sorrow of others so that they can find hope.  In that hope joy can be found in the journey.

I do not pretend to think that everyone should “feel” joy at all times.  I care deeply for the genuine pain of need and loss especially during festive seasons of the year.  It is why compassion and generosity are so vital for my journey in following Christ.  If I forget the needs of others in my pursuit of joy then my joy will be tainted and my pursuit a vanity.

It is to mitigate sorrow that Christ comes to be with us.  It is to give hope that man is given this gift of the Son.  It is so that eventually our joy can be complete.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store."

17 December 2013

Advent – A Week of Sundays – Be First

Greetings Dear Reader,

I realize that for a Christ follower to say to be first is out of sorts.  This is one of those things at which I strive to be first.  In every encounter I try to be the first to be kind and spread some joy to others.

If I truly see the joy in following Christ I will wish to share it with others.  I am not talking about creating discomfort by insinuating a discussion of Christ in every conversation.  It is rather that I spread joy to others by treating them well.  My Christmas spirit must reflect the joy that is part of being a Christ follower.

This is so easy to do in a practical hands and feet way.  Overt tip and be nice to your waitress.  She is a person with a life and needs.  Thank the person who rings up your purchases for being there.  Make eye contact with people and smile.  If we truly believe that we have Christ and all that he promises then we must reach into the lives of others with kindness and joy.

Even when I do not feel joy to the depth I wish to feel it I can give it to others.  I can put others in the place of being the one to whom I give kindness, gratitude, and love.  It is up to me to be the one doing the acting.  It is up to Christ to manage the results.  You see all I have to do is be the first to spread the joy.  It is Christ who manages the impact in the lives of others.  Christmas after all has promises to keep…


Promises to Keep – Trans-Siberian Orchestra

The most magical thing about this night we will now reiterate
No matter where you are in life it is not too late

Christmas time
On a cold December morning
All is calm
And the world is still asleep
Christmas lights
That have been caught without warning
Gently glitter on
Stars to wish upon
All the world is at peace

Christmas time and the year will soon be leaving
Cloaked in time till it's just a memory
Christmas stays if we don't forget its meaning
Days go quickly by
Years they multiply
And we go searching for thee

And the dream is still alive
From that first December morning
And it always will survive
As long as we can see
That the dreams we find in life
Are the dreams we tend to seek
And Christmas has its promises to keep

Christmas time
And the moments just beginning
From last night
When we'd wished upon a star

If our kindness
This day is just pretending
If we pretend long enough
Never giving up
It just might be who we are


Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store."

16 December 2013

Advent – A Week of Sundays – Giving

Greetings Dear Reader,

We have all heard that it is better to give than to receive.  No matter how vast or thin our finances we can find ways to give to others.  No matter the whether we know someone or not we can find a way to give.  There are so many tiny ways we spread joy to others through giving.

I rarely just give lists but I think some examples may serve best here.

  • There is the Salvation Army kettle.  I never pass one without giving something.  Every penny matters.
  • When I see a mother with children loading her car I offer to take the shopping cart so she does not have to leave the children alone or keep the child in the cart and carry said child back to the car.
  • I remain flexible with family in my time expectations.  It is the ones with toddlers who need the consideration not me.
  • I go through my closet and box up things I have not worn in a year or so and donate them.


Everything about the practice of tiny giving is cumulative.  Every time we purpose to give in small ways we increase our own joy.  We must give freely without expectation of return.  In doing this we emulate Christ.

When I am unhappy about something this is one of the ways in which I pull out of it.  Giving to others and seeing them feel joy fills my spirit with joy as well.  Does not Christ make his joy complete by giving himself for us?

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store."

15 December 2013

Second Thoughts – A House Filled with Laughter

Greetings Dear Reader,

Sometimes I will end the day with thoughts that are important to get out.  Usually I just write them and put them in my journal folder.  I have chosen that on occasion I will share them with you Dear Reader.

Yesterday we hosted our annual Christmas Open House.  We were blessed to have a home filled with friends, family, and a few new faces.  The youngest was barely eighteen months and the eldest in his seventies.  People from all of our circles of life were present.  I was filled with joy to see coworkers, church family, and just friends.  My Daughter Christmas brought her coworkers as well.  My Sons had both friends and coworkers present.  My Grandsons delighted everyone.
 
What stays with me was the hours of laughter.  People actually stood for hours around our kitchen table just talking and laughing.  Friends from different circles met and mingled.  The food was enough.  The hearts were merry.  I learned more about people I know and love.  I learned new things about people I will grow to know and love. 

Some people dear to me were absent.  At the end of the evening before I went to bed I poured toddy and lifted my glass to my absent friends.  The joy was great and the day full.  It is never just one more thing for me.  I see all my friends and family in my home and I get to wish them great Christmas joy.

I am reminded of Fezziwig in A Christmas Carol.  Dickens describes him thus:  “He has the power to render us happy or unhappy; to make our service light or burdensome; a pleasure or a toil. Say that his power lies in words and looks; in things so slight and insignificant that it is impossible to add and count them up: what then? The happiness he gives, is quite as great as if it cost a fortune.”

It takes so little to be good to others.  The prep for the party is easy and routine after so many years.  As people arrive Christmas shows them around if they have not been here before.  Someone always comments on the bubble lights.  I made some new dishes and some standards.  A friend brought the best cinnamon rolls I have ever had.

All told I was filled with joy to host these people who interact with so much of our lives.  To each of them, to those who were absent, and to you Dear Reader I wish the greatest joy possible in this season of joy. 

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store."


Advent – A Week of Sundays – Joy

Greetings Dear Reader,

As we light the third Advent candle we ponder what joy it is to have Christ.  It is one of the things that drive me on my journey.  People ponder happiness but very seldom realize that what they need is true joy. 

We so seldom talk about joy and what it brings us.  It brings me joy to be good to others.  I find my Christmas joy not in the gifts I get but in finding ways to instill joy in others.  It is one of the ways that I carry Christmas in my heart all the year. 

There is so much in the world that is counter to joy.  So much of life is about getting things done.  So much of our energy goes toward work, schedules, and obligations.  If we do not make the effort we will miss the joy in life.

As we ponder joy this week I will be referring to The Little Book of Christmas Joys by H. Jackson Brown, Jr. Many years ago someone gave me this as a gift.  I read through it often so that I am reminded of ways in which I can share joy with others.  I will include something from it in each post this week. 

Each evening from December to December as I drift away for sleep I ask myself a question.  It comes directly from the aforementioned book.   I ask myself, “Whose life have I made brighter today?” 

Although I try to invest in others daily with this thought the true benefit is mine.  After practicing this for so long it fills me with great joy to brighten the day of another person.  It is also very easy.  It merely takes seeing others and their needs instead of focusing on my own.

Is this not what Advent is about?  Christ focused on our need for redemption.  He came to bring us hope and that is a source of great joy.  When I focus on making the lives of others better I find great joy.  I forget my own worries and troubles.  I can focus on Christ and the true spirit of the season.  I can find more joy in the journey.

Joy to the World – Written by Isaac Watts, Performed by Faith Hill

Joy to the world! the Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the world! the Saviour reigns;
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.



Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store."