24 November 2008

Christmas On All Souls Day (part the third)

Greetings Dear Reader,

As we approach Thanksgiving and the first real snows fall on the town where I live I wonder at the completeness of commercial America’s transition into full Christmas mode. Not only is it Christmas town in all our local shops, but Christmas music is piping from overhead speakers everywhere. I LOVE IT.

I overheard two co-workers speaking of this on Friday. The attitude of one of them was amazing. She went on about how much she loved Christmas and liked the idea of extending the whole season. I agree with her but I am also holding on to some old traditions. I will not put up the tree until Thanksgiving weekend. I won’t wear my Christmas bandanna until then either. I will do my best to forgive anyone against whom I am carrying a grudge.

This last bit is very important. A couple dozen years ago I realized that celebrating the birth of Christ without forgiving those who have hurt us or wronged us is a contradiction. The birth of Christ is all about forgiveness. It is about a God who could destroy us with a thought, and rightfully so, choosing to become one of us and die for us instead. To set up a manger without an eye to the cross is a vast error. Christmas is about forgiveness and redemption.

I have never told my children this but each year when I sit and go over my Christmas lists I include one of people I need to forgive for one reason or another. It is true. I keep a gift list, shopping list for an open house, and the forgive them list. This year is harder than ever. You see I believe in real forgiveness not just lip service to it.

Forgiveness is not just that I stop feeling bad or being angry about something. I have to quit making the individual pay for their offense. I have to restore them to a proper relationship with me. In Christ’s model prayer he asks the Father to forgive us in the manner in which we forgive others. If I say I have forgiven someone and do not restore her to her proper place in my life, then I have not forgiven her. Forgiveness is not easy but so necessary.

So I challenge you to make another Christmas list. A list of gifts you can give that only cost faith, pain, and pride. I promise that this is hard for me this year but I will not harden my heart by ignoring it. How about you? It is gift giving season. Whom will you forgive? If you have questions about this I will try to answer them, but it really comes down to this. Christ died to forgive you. Why not celebrate Christ’s birth by honoring his purpose in having one.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

17 November 2008

Christmas Trees on All Souls Day (part the second)

Greetings Dear Readers,

I am wondering when you start your Christmas Shopping. My children joke that I start the day after Christmas. The big secret is that I actually start on Christmas Day. For me it is the joy of watching others open gifts, see delight in their eyes, and learn what pleases their hearts. I study what other like and enjoy so that as I begin searching for gifts they are based on the person and not the "duty" of gift giving.

I never give gifts out of duty or pressure to find a gift for someone. I would give the entire world a Christmas gift if I could. By starting my shopping as soon as possible I am usually done by the end of November. This leaves me free to do things like Bell Ring for the Salvation Army. For Christmas to work the giving of gifts must be motivated by the joy of giving. That comes from an understanding of why we even give gifts.

I seek to be excellent at giving thoughtful, appropriate, and loving gifts so that perhaps it will open the door to giving the best gift there is. I seek for others to see Christ in my gift giving. I want others to know they are loved and to see that the love I have for them comes from my love of Christ. Hopefully as I celebrate those I love I do so in a way that celebrated Christ. Perhaps you too can wander the malls and shops as you complete your Christmas list thinking of the gift of Christ and how others can benefit from seeing him in your giving.

If you are going to make that change this year, then it may be good that there were Christmas trees on All Souls Day. This means you have more time. If you try it out, let me know how you fared.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

13 November 2008

Christmas Trees on All Souls Day (part the first)

Greetings Dear Readers,

As those of you who know me well may recall, I love Christmas. Christmas seems to have started November 2nd this year. And I love it. It is not the commercialism I love, but rather it is Christ and his advent, or arrival to the world as the God-man who would redeem our souls. Whether you share my faith or not, you must admit that the story is awesome.

Consider it for a moment. The very essence of all that exists and all that will ever exist creates us so that He may have a relationship with us. He sets up rules for that relationship that are in line with his nature. We violate those rules, reject him, and force him to place summary judgment on our species.

At this point we see why I am not a god. Were I in this situation I would just scrap the human experiment and start over. Instead God chooses to do something that I would not conceive. He comes to live among us and die for us. He pays the debt for our sin and asks that we only accept him on faith so that we can restore our relationship to him.

That in a nutshell is why we even have Christmas. So back to my original thought here; and that is that I feel that I am winning. You see I am free to talk about Christmas now. Many will complain and bluster that “Christmas starts earlier every year.” I do not think they are saying that we should not celebrate the advent of Christ only in December, but rather that they already feel the pressure to spend and get that has overtaken this most Holy of Days (holiday).

On the other hand, I get to meet those feelings of curmudgeonly humbug with joy, mirth, and anticipation. Avalon’s actions in our lives have made the financial side of Christmas almost untenable this year. I am determined, however, to participate in every available moment of Christmas joy by finding ways to celebrate Christ and those I love in ways that will be financially inexpensive and spiritually profound. In a perfect world it would be always Christmas and briefly winter. Perhaps the materials world’s march toward this truth can allow those of us who celebrate the advent of Christ daily to feel free to do so allowed all year long.

Wishing you joy in the journey and Happy Christmas,

Aramis Thorn.

04 November 2008

A Stack of Books and A Leap of Faith

Greetings Dear Readers,

Very often we want things for a good reason. Sometimes, along the way the wanting of the thing takes the place of the reason that we want it. For years I have wanted set of books that I only used briefly in the mid 80's. Over the years of wanting them the depth of my understanding of their purpose gave way to just wanting to possess them.

As my beloved wife Avalon leaves me for what she thinks is a better life, I have asked the same question of my feelings for her. Do I really love her or am I just trying to hold onto something I want having forgotten what it truly is? The true and harsh answer is both. I want MY WIFE. I do not want to go through the rejection, betrayal, violation of promises, and pain involved in a woman who vowed to stay with me for life deciding she does not have to abide by that promise. The last I checked I am not dead.

On the other hand, I truly do love her and know the meaning of that love. I have listened to others, as I go through this process, say things about Avalon that they would not say while she was in my life. The hard part is that the things that are being said are true. They are not pretty nor are they things I would allow myself to think about her. As I admit that there are some very unlovely things that are true about my departing spouse, I also realize that beyond on them I truly love her. It was an error to blind myself to those things and to not seek Christ's healing of my fears and her flaws in our marriage. It is necessary to never stop loving her, to see her as she is and constantly remember why I loved her from the beginning.

It is also necessary, for the sake of my own healing, to see her as she is, warts and all. I have done a good job of owning my own sin and failures. I have not been willing to remember that she is just as fallen as I am and that she has chosen a path contrary to the expressed desires of Christ. I must love her even though she rends me. I must remember the real reasons I loved her from the beginning and no matter what she does, see her as she is and continue to lover her.

I recently bought the books I spoke of earlier. I can see them from where I sit. I have delved deeply into them and remembered why I love them so much. They have something to teach me on every page. I bought them to remind me that you do not go into things so that you can blind yourself to what they are, but rather in faith see things as they are and work to make them more as God intended. Each time I study from my new books I intend to check on my faithfulness to seeing things as they are and not as I imagine or wish them to be. I will still look toward what they can become in Christ, but will do my best not to be blind to the wounds that need healing first. I failed Avalon in not seeing what she needed and I failed my sons in not seeing how those needs effected them and my relationship with them.
Wishing you joy in the journey,
Aramis Thorn