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Friday, December 23, 2011

Ready Or Not, Here It Comes...

The presents are wrapped, the refrigerator is full, the lights twinkle on the tree and excitement abounds! It's almost Christmas.

Every night, 5-year old Sam studies the Nativity in the library and asks questions. Last night, he kept examining "the players..." and his little eyebrows kept knitting together ... he was perplexed. "Where is God? Is that God," he asked looking at Joseph. We explained, "No, that is Jesus' father, Joseph." We also told him that the woman in the Nativity was Jesus' mother Mary. "Hmm, I didn't know Jesus had a mother, he says."

He continued, "God isn't here, He's in heaven." I tried to explain to Sam that God is with us in our hearts, just like when he's not at home, he loves his Dad and holds him in his heart. To which he responded, "If you don't have God in your heart, you go down to be with the devil." He's trying really hard to understand how all of this "stuff" fits together.

In the Bible, the book of Colossians states, that there are mysteries of God that we, as rational human beings just won't understand, until we find ourselves in heaven. The Christmas story is not "rational," it's a miracle. Jesus is fully God, but He chose to come to earth as a baby, through the virgin Mary, to save us. So, yes, Jesus is both God and man.

My husband, Paul, has been teaching Sam a little science that we may have to use to explain God. Water exist in three states, a liquid, a solid and a gas ... water, ice and steam, but in any form, it's still water. In many ways, God is like a family with a father, mother and child - three persons, one family. Much like water, ice and steam, God exists in three persons: God, the father, God, the Son and God, the Holy Spirit ... still all very much God.

As we celebrate Christmas, we celebrate, God the Son ... Jesus. It's time to set aside our rational "selves" and embrace the miracle that came in the form of a birth and the fact Jesus came willingly as a babe to save us from our sins. What a tragedy if the "story" had ended differently.

Merry Christmas from the Canelos Family and remember to revel in the birth of our Savior this Christmas season.

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Journey of Service

Thanksgiving is a memory and we look forward to the celebration of Christ's birth. I seem to become more emotional and a little bit sentimental, AND, realizing I haven't been a kid for a very long time, I think about the past and all of the changes since those growing up years.

We were recently invited to celebrate the 30th anniversay of the church in which I grew up. In his sermon, Pastor Mike discussed the church and what it really means when you say the word "church." In most mind, it conjurs the image of a building. However, no where in scripture does God use the word "church" to descibe a building. It's the people. When I look back at my childhood, my church was "the people." And they weren't just "the church." They were/are family.

While we are not with them regularly, what a fitting time of year to visit these people ... the church. It is like "going home"... to family. I can't imagine where I would be if God had not brought that group of people together to serve God and each other ... and be His church. I am convinced my life would have turned out very differently ... I would not be the same person.

Our church lost a dear friend early in 2011. And when I think about her role in my life and in the church, it was all about service. I know her family and friends miss her, especially during holiday season. But I also rejoice in my heart for her ... what must it be like to celebrate Christmas in heaven ... with Jesus?!

In heaven, there is no worry about putting on a few pounds from the Christmas ham or picking just the right outfit for the Christmas party ... no worry about selecting the perfect gift. HE IS the perfect gift.

My kids look at me like I am crazy when they ask me what I would like for Christmas and my answer is, "I don't need a thing." I have the perfect gift ... Jesus ... and, while God's plan was put into action long ago in a small church in southern Iowa, I am still on a journey of service for my King.