Further Up, Further In • Advent 2022

December 25th, 2022

Friends, I pray you each had a beautiful holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus, our reason for celebrating Christmas. I am not so naïve to believe that everyone’s prayer were answered today, as if God were a genie granting wishes or that Jesus is like Santa delivering gifts. Holidays can be difficult for many people for a variety of reasons, but we always have HOPE. Hope is Jesus and the promise to be with Him in eternity. I have a friend that had planned for all her children to be with her and her husband this Christmas and unfortunately because of Winter Storm Elliott, their daughter’s flight was cancelled. What a bummer! They were disappointed but these things do happen and it did to several people this holiday traveling season. Disappointments, yes…thankful to be safe and loved is precious. And, another friend of mine is most likely celebrating Christmas with her father for the last time this side of heaven. Knowing that all involved are believers, helps and with the joys of being present with one another, a sense of sadness may also be casting a shadow or chill. The birth of Jesus is our gift from God, knowing we will always be loved and beloved by Him. This earthly life because of sin, will have its measures of pain, of sorrows and of grief, but because of a baby born in Bethlehem laying in a manger, these are all temporary. Our real home is not here, it is “Further Up, Further In.”

The Last Battle (Chronicles of Narnia)

I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now…Come further up, come further in!

— C.S. Lewis

If you have never read “The Chronicles of Narnia,” I highly recommend them to both children and adults. I recently re-read them all and now I’m reading “Finding God in Narnia,” also a great book, the writer takes you on a beautiful trip weaving you through Narnia and the Bible.

The Last Battle (Chronicles of Narnia)

“The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning.” (Meaning: They had arrived in heaven).

— C.S. Lewis

The Last Battle (Chronicles of Narnia)

Further up and further in

— C.S. Lewis

The Magi Visit The Messiah

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;for out of you will come a rulerwho will shepherd my people Israel.’” Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

— Matthew 2:1-12

The Birth of Jesus

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. So 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. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven,and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” When 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.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.

- Luke 2:1-21

Thank you so much for journeying with me through Advent. I am thankful for each one of you and I am grateful for your support and encouragement. Much love, peace, hope and joy to you.

~Charlotte, Seeker of unexpected Comfort, Happiness, Joy and Patience.

Christmas Eve Prayer • Advent 2022

December 24, 2022

Mary & Joseph Travel to Bethlehem

“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. So 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. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,”

DAILY MEDITATION | DECEMBER 24, 2022

A Prayer

O Lord,

How hard it is to accept your way. You come to me as a small, powerless child born away from home. You live for me as a stranger in your own land. You die for me as a criminal outside the walls of the city, rejected by your own people, misunderstood by your friends, and feeling abandoned by your God.

As I prepare to celebrate your birth, I am trying to feel loved, accepted, and at home in this world, and I am trying to overcome the feelings of alienation and separation that continue to assail me. But I wonder now if my deep sense of homelessness does not bring me closer to you than my occasional feelings of belonging. Where do I truly celebrate your birth: in a cozy home or in an unfamiliar house, among welcoming friends or among unknown strangers, with feelings of well-being or with feelings of loneliness?

I do not have to run away from those experiences that are closest to yours. Just as you do not belong to this world, so I do not belong to this world. Every time I feel this way I have an occasion to be grateful and to embrace you better and taste more fully your joy and peace.

Come, Lord Jesus, and be with me where I feel poorest. I trust that this is the place where you will find your manger and bring your light. Come, Lord Jesus, come.

Amen.

My dear lovely friends, I wish each of you a very Merry Christmas. I so appreciate your love, encouragement and support.

~Charlotte, Seeker of unexpected Comfort, Happiness, Joy and Patience.

References:

https://www.biblegateway.com/

Christmas Adam • Christmas Eve Eve • Advent 2022

December 23rd, 2022

Christmas Adam is a colloquialism for the day before Christmas Eve or December 23rd. It is a rather new term. An online slang dictionary created a listing for it only nine years ago. Christmas Adam is not listed in any formal dictionaries and we had a hard time finding formal writing examples of its use.  

The general consensus of the origin of the name is that in anticipation for Christmas to come, people were looking for a name for the day before Christmas Eve. Some were calling the 23rd Christmas Eve Eve. Then someone (or more likely several someones) realized that in Christian mythology God created Adam before he created Eve, so the day before Christmas Eve would be Christmas Adam.

It is hard to tell if this term has traveled outside of the United States, since it is too colloquial to be used in most writing. However, if you do intend to use it as a greeting, pair it with the appropriate adjective (e.g., Merry Christmas Adam in the United States and Happy Christmas Adam in other countries.)

- Grammarist
https://grammarist.com/words/christmas-adam/

God Created Man and Woman

“Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image,in the image of God he created them;male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.”

— Genesis 1: 26-31

The Word Became Flesh

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

— John 1:1-5

The Birth of Jesus

“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

— Luke 2:11-12

Friends, this is the season of JOY, PEACE, LOVE and HOPE because of Gods great love for mankind. I pray for you this day, may the God of the universe bless you and keep you for evermore. ✝️💟🛐

~Charlotte, Seeker of unexpected Comfort, Happiness, Joy and Patience.

References:

https://grammarist.com/words/christmas-adam/

https://www.biblegateway.com/

Hope Recognized • Advent 2022

December 22nd, 2022

True Hope comes from God

“A wonderful result of hope is delivered by the Holy Spirit of God. He gives us the power to hope and that is a demonstration of God’s love for us. Hope given by him works together to give us confidence, joy, peace, power and love. That is a true gift!”

— Blog from the Billy Graham Library

Friends, we are just a few days until we celebrate Jesus’ birth. The HOPE that had been prophesied centuries ago by prophets of God, was fulfilled over a two thousand years ago and we too will celebrate God becoming flesh. Our HOPE is the same HOPE that was upon the hearts of Mary, Joseph, the Shepards and the Wisemen way back when.

The Word Became Flesh

John 1:1-18

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

— John 1:14 (NIV)

Believe me, HOPE can sometimes be blurred from our vision when we are faced with life’s challenges; it is in our most difficult circumstances we must place our trust, our HOPE in Jesus, in our Heaven Father. God has promised to never leave us.

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

— Deuteronomy 31:8

We see the signs

but cannot always

divine their meanings.

You call us to move forward

not always knowing

whether what we grasp

in our hands

will prove to be

a seed of hope

or a thorn in our flesh.

Train our fingers,

that what brings life

we may with persistence hold,

and that which wastes

our souls

we may with grace release.

- Jan Richardson

Hope is more easily seen when we learn that it rarely comes from outside sources. Hope often rises within us, our soul (Holy Spirit) speaks to us. It is in these moments, we can see more clearly the longings and fears that we have kept silenced for far too long. HOPE is real, Jesus is our HOPE and with His grace, love and forgiveness we can look to the horizon and see a sky filled with possibilities. May you be blessed today and always~ much love to you! 💟

~Charlotte, Seeker of unexpected Comfort, Happiness, Joy and Patience.

References:

https://billygrahamlibrary.org/blog-5-things-the-bible-says-about-hope/

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deut.31.8&version=NIV

Blue Christmas • Advent 2022

December 21st, 2022

The winter solstice is the longest night of the year, falls on December 21 or 22 in the Northern Hemisphere and June 20 or 21 in the Southern. The winter solstice/the longest day of the year is also a service held at many churches on December 21st called Blue Christmas. This services is about comforting fellow Christians who are grieving and struggling to find joy and hope during the holiday season. The service provides a quiet and contemplative worship service honoring individuals who are experiencing grief and struggling with loss. These services usually draw relatively small, intimate crowds with soft lighting, calm soothing music, scripture readings and prayers.

Psalm 13

Prayers for Deliverance from Enemies

“How long, O Lord? Wilt thou forget me for ever? How long wilt thou hide thy face from me? How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; lighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him”; lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken. But I have trusted in thy steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.”

Psalm 23

The Divine Shepherd

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want; he makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies; thou anointest my head with oil, my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”

Psalm 61

Assurance of God’s Protection

“Hear my cry, O God,listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to thee, when my heart is faint. Lead thou me to the rock that is higher than I; for thou art my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. Let me dwell in thy tent for ever! Oh to be safe under the shelter of thy wings! For thou, O God, hast heard my vows, thou hast given me the heritage of those who fear thy name. Prolong the life of the king; may his years endure to all generations! May he be enthroned for ever before God; bid steadfast love and faithfulness watch over him! So will I ever sing praises to thy name, as I pay my vows day after day.”

Psalm 62

Song of Trust in God Alone

“For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly moved. How long will you set upon a man to shatter him, all of you, like a leaning wall, a tottering fence? They only plan to thrust him down from his eminence. They take pleasure in falsehood. They bless with their mouths, but inwardly they curse. For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my deliverance and my honor; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Men of low estate are but a breath, men of high estate are a delusion; in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than a breath. Put no confidence in extortion, set no vain hopes on robbery; if riches increase, set not your heart on them. Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God; and that to thee, O Lord, belongs steadfast love. For thou dost requite a man according to his work.”

Psalm 139

The Inescapable God

“O Lord, thou hast searched me and known me! Thou knowest when I sit down and when I rise up; thou discernest my thoughts from afar. Thou searchest out my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether. Thou dost beset me behind and before, and layest thy hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it. Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend to heaven, thou art there! If I make my bed in Sheol, thou art there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there thy hand shall lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Let only darkness cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to thee, the night is bright as the day; for darkness is as light with thee. For thou didst form my inward parts, thou didst knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise thee, for thou art fearful and wonderful. Wonderful are thy works! Thou knowest me right well; my frame was not hidden from thee, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth. Thy eyes beheld my unformed substance; in thy book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are thy thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. When I awake, I am still with thee. O that thou wouldst slay the wicked, O God, and that men of blood would depart from me, men who maliciously defy thee, who lift themselves up against thee for evil! Do I not hate them that hate thee, O Lord? And do I not loathe them that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred; I count them my enemies. Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”

Winter Solstice: Blessing for the Longest Night

All throughout these months
as the shadows
have lengthened,
this blessing has been
gathering itself,
making ready,
preparing for
this night.

It has practiced
walking in the dark,
traveling with
its eyes closed,
feeling its way
by memory
by touch
by the pull of the moon
even as it wanes.

So believe me
when I tell you
this blessing will
reach you
even if you
have not light enough
to read it;
it will find you
even though you cannot
see it coming.

You will know
the moment of its
arriving
by your release
of the breath
you have held
so long;
a loosening
of the clenching
in your hands,
of the clutch
around your heart;
a thinning
of the darkness
that had drawn itself
around you.

This blessing
does not mean
to take the night away
but it knows
its hidden roads,
knows the resting spots
along the path,
knows what it means
to travel
in the company
of a friend.

So when
this blessing comes,
take its hand.
Get up.
Set out on the road
you cannot see.

This is the night
when you can trust
that any direction
you go,
you will be walking
toward the dawn.

—Jan Richardson
from The Cure for Sorrow: A Book of Blessings for Times of Grief

~Charlotte, Seeker of unexpected Comfort, Happiness, Joy and Patience.