Monday, February 17, 2014

An Invitation

Reading: "Jesus replied, 'A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, 'Come, for everything is ready'" (Luke 14:16).

I've been writing out invitations today for a birthday party for my mother-in-law. I'm making sure to include all the needed details. As I look at it, I play detective and look at those details. Is everything included? Time? Location? Date? All the necessary information that can make or break a successful gathering. No one wants to show up at the wrong location, on the wrong day, or at the wrong time. That would be a disaster indeed.

Throughout the Bible and in various hymns, we are invited to share the love of God through acceptance of Christ as our Savior. The invitations come to us often; we are asked, not commanded with threats, to join the banquet for eternity. We are very clearly informed about the time and the place. We need not travel great distances to come to the banquet--it's found within each of us.  Nor do we need to have great wealth or prestige to be a welcomed member of the great banquet. Even the poorest of the poor and the most lowly of our planet are given the same invitation as the richest and most well-bred.

Perhaps one of the most beautiful hymns of invitation is "Just As I Am". This hymn contains two particularly fitting verses:
"Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind; sight, riches, healing of the mind, yea, all I need in thee to find, O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
"Just as I am, thou wilt receive, wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve; because thy promise I believe, O Lamb of God, I come, I come."

This invitation is the best one we will ever receive; the chance of a lifetime (and beyond) to join the greatest celebration known to man. Don't miss the chance to attend.

Peace be with you.

*Just As I Am, Charlotte Elliott--1835.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Cabin Fever

Matthew 18:20--"For where two or three have come together in my name, I will be with them."

"We gather together to ask the Lord's blessing, He chastens and hastens His will to make known; the wicked oppressing, now cease from distressing, sing praises to His name, He forgets not His own."--Gedneckledck and Kremser; translated by Baker.

I have to admit it--I've had my fill of winter. I smiled through December and enjoyed that first big snowfall and frigid weather that kept us housebound and I used the term "cozy". I, like everyone else, soldiered through January with the expectation of snow, bone-chilling winds, and slippery spots everywhere. And, even though February is obviously deeply imbedded into our winter months, the over-all lack of being able to carry on with normal routines due to not even being able to safely leave the driveway is beginning to wear a little thin. 

I guess I have succumbed to a bit of cabin fever.  

I know I'm not alone. 

Frankly, we need fellowship; there are always things that can be done at home and done by ourselves, but God created us to need one another. I can tell I need fellowship when Tom is away working long hours, and I get anxious knowing that going down that stretch of our ice-rink driveway is out of the question. I stay busy with cooking, cleaning, sewing, planning gardens, reading, writing...but it's just not the same as getting "aired out" as we say around here. It's good to hear a voice other than one's own.

 I read a friend's post on Facebook earlier this morning that said a great deal in few words. It simply stated that "I want to go to church. I miss it." That speaks volumes. We need to "gather together to ask the Lord's blessing" as the hymn says.    

Matthew 18:20 also tells us that we are to meet together in groups...even with just one other person. It will strengthen us. As the old saying goes, "Two heads are better than one." Contemporary research shows us that being with others in relaxed settings will help our emotional states--even with just one other person. We have less time to dwell on ourselves. We have less time to ruminate on things that are happening, or, worse yet, might happen. If we find ourselves alone, even picking up the phone and talking with someone helps a great deal. We make the connections. 

We can all revive our spirits in knowing that the sun will shine brightly again, we will feel its warming rays, and the spring fresh air will return. Each day gets a little more daylight; we are heading in the right direction. Nevertheless, it's good to remember to give ourselves some "together time" with our loved ones, friends, and maybe even discovering a new friend in a former stranger. Our cabin fever will break, and we will be once again refreshed. 

Peace be with you. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Comfort and Joy

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future'" (Jeremiah 29:11).

Today I'm making a little comforter for a baby. Seems there was a little mix-up with some nice ladies on a mission trip to Jamaica and, through some misunderstanding, some baby blankets didn't find their way to some sweet babies in that desperate country. The original request was a quilt, but I don't quilt, so I'll be making a comforter.

I like comforters. For those of you a bit unfamiliar with the type of blanket it is, comforters are the less glamorous cousin of the quilt. Comforters are normally made from the scraps of other projects.  Textile leftovers--not a very elegant beginning. But that's where the comforter gets its character. It has no pretense--it has no other purpose in life other than to create warmth and, well, comfort for anyone who is fortunate enough to receive one. 

The stitching on a comforter is also non-descript. No painstaking hand or machined designs. With a comforter, just getting the blocks as straight as possible is pretty much good enough. There are no stitches that even show, other than the straight stitching on the edging. 

The "glue" that holds the comforter together is called tacking. It's heavy thread that is looped through just enough of the blocks to sufficiently attach the layers of material and lining. That, combined with the edging or the "frame" of the comforter keeps everything together. I guess this is when the comforter moves from a noun to a verb and it comes into its true reason for existence.

It comforts. 

And that's what this willy-nilly mix of scraps joined together with a couple of bed sheets and some edging and heavy thread will do once it's complete. It will travel to somewhere in the states and then continue on to its journey to Jamaica. From there it will have the precious duty of comforting a baby that has little other earthly comfort. I know it will serve its purpose.

Every day we are comforted not only by these trusty blankets, but also by the "blanket" of God's precious love. Jeremiah 29:11 gives us the warmth of God's words. The hymn below, "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen", further illustrates God's unending commitment to give us true comfort and joy.

"God rest ye merry gentlemen,
let nothing you dismay;
Remember Christ our Saviour
was born on Christmas day
To save us all from Satan's power
when we were gone astray
O, tidings of comfort and joy,
comfort and joy,
O, tidings of comfort and joy" 
(author unknown, pub. by William B. Sandys 1833)

Peace be with you.