7th Day of Christmas – The Gift of Memory

(I’m following these prompts for the 12 Days of Christmas)

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

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The banners in church serve to remind me where I need to place my hope.

6th Day of Christmas – The Gift of Celebrating

(I’m following these prompts for the 12 Days of Christmas)

Psalm 100

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
    Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.

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After a cold, cloudy day yesterday, just at sunset, the clouds cleared and Mt Rainier was visible for a while. Give thanks to the Lord, for the Lord is good. (I didn’t Photoshop this picture at all, except to tone down the brightness a little so you could see the mountain.)

5th Day of Christmas – The Gift of Sharing

(I’m following these prompts for the 12 Days of Christmas)

John 6:1-14

Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Festival was near.

When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”

Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.

When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.”

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This is one of the sumptuous spreads the Turkish Community in Dallas shared with us and many more of our Christian and Jewish friends. Their tradition of sharing food was one of the main reasons they were able to befriend those of us who were, to them, “the other”. It’s said the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach – Jesus knew that one of the ways to anyone’s heart is through feeding them. It’s hard to listen to a lesson or appreciate those around you when your stomach is growling. That’s why I support hunger programs in Tacoma, like Fish Food Bank and Nativity House, and also Bread for the World.

4th Day of Christmas – The Gift of God’s Presence

(I’m following these prompts for the 12 Days of Christmas)

Psalm 139:1-12

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

X-Sunlight breaking through

There are times when I would just as soon NOT have God so present in my life (times when, like Paul, “I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do” Romans 7:19). But God is there – all the time. And God is good – all the time.

3rd Day of Christmas – The Gift of Thankfulness

(I’m following these prompts for the 12 Days of Christmas)

Psalm 136:1-9

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.

to him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.
who by his understanding made the heavens,
His love endures forever.
who spread out the earth upon the waters,
His love endures forever.
who made the great lights—
His love endures forever.
the sun to govern the day,
His love endures forever.
the moon and stars to govern the night;
His love endures forever.

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I’m in such awe of the whole of creation. Thank you, God, for the wonderful world you have given us.

2nd Day of Christmas – The Gift of Creation

(I’m following these prompts for the 12 Days of Christmas)

Luke 2:8-20

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.

Sock sale beginning

This is my feeble attempt at creation. I knit socks. I like using “color-way” yarn (aka self-striping sock yarn). The socks appear – almost by magic – as I knit; the patterns are always a surprise. Someone else has taken the time and effort to dye the yarn so that the lovely patterns work out perfectly. ME – I just knit. But I take real satisfaction in the creation of something warm and cozy and woolly and beautiful. I obviously can’t personally use all the socks I knit (this tableful is about 3 months worth of knitting in the evening), so I give them to the homeless shelter, or I sell them for cost.