Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Miracle Eve

It is Christmas Eve, 2008. This last year has been awfully challenging for millions of people, including us. The world is full of hopelessness and panic pushers. But we have a hope that pierces through the blackest headlines. We have eternity in our souls. We have Jesus, the light of the world and the Master of Miracles.
The original Christmas Eve was a hopeless time for the world, too. God had promised a savior and redeemer, but that was seven hundred years earlier. Do you suppose the Israelites wondered if Isaiah had made the whole thing up? Where was this redeemer who would rescue them from the tyranny of a godless government? Why was God taking so long? Didn’t He care?
Then, in the swiftness of a baby’s first wail, God came to earth. Light was embodied. Hope was born. The world has never been the same.
We all have prayers we are waiting for God to answer. We know His word promises us certain things, and we don’t understand why He takes so long in fulfilling His promises. Did we misunderstand His word to us? Does He really care about our plight? We have the same questions the Jewish nation had just before Jesus came.

One of my favoriter preachers, Joyce Meyer, likes to say: "faith requires unanswered questions." If we knew what God was going to do ahead of time, it would not be faith for us to believe His love and goodness, and rejoice in Him in the darkness.
Let’s not give up on God. He may be planning the greatest miracle we’ve ever experienced. He may be staging our rescue this very moment. The blackest picture can transform to a lovely, light-filled landscape with one word from Him. He is still the Master of Miracles. Let’s hang on just a little while longer, and believe that He will come through. Any night just might be our Miracle Eve. --- Jen

Monday, December 15, 2008

Imposed Reverence

Imposed Reverence

Last Sunday afternoon we attended an eye-misting, heart stirring Christmas musical performed by an all-church community choir and several instrumental groups. Some of the music was classical, some traditional, and I was amazed at the talent and creativity in our little town, stuck away in the middle of Eastern Illinois. “My heart rejoiced in God my Savior” as Jesus' mother, Mary said. I even got goose bumps from the sheer joy of knowing this God-become-man, and His eternal love for me.
But, I left the church with it’s exquisite stained-glass windows less than elated. Instead of my joy remaining and spilling into the coming days, I was disappointed, sad and angry. Why?
Because some zealous soul got the idea that reverence equals silence.
Printed in the bulletin for this glorious, Godly music was a request to not applaud, either during or after the program. We, the audience had to bottle and cork our thanks and exultation as we stoically, politely listened to the story of the God of eternity stripping off His robe of glory to become a man. I was tortured.
Praise was shooting out my ears, oozing out my eyeballs and dripping from my hands, but I was not allowed to express it. I felt like a frog at a sitting convention, or a jumping bean in a straightjacket! It was all so frustrating. The beauty and magnificence of the music was squelched by the rule of silence.
I understand that when some people are moved by beauty and awe, they are silent. I have experienced that myself in the presence of God as I’ve prayed or worshipped my Lord and Master. But to impose it on all in the audience because it is one person’s or one group’s idea of reverence, is criminal. I felt cheated out of the blessing of giving my whole self to the One I owe everything to. I needed to clap! I needed to shout “Hallelujah, Jesus is real!” “God is good!” to fully enter into worship (I did sneak in a few ‘amen’s that only Kevin could hear, but that didn’t satisfy my ‘praise’ appetite). I needed to be allowed to express my gratitude to the Savior of my soul, who bought my life from satan and freed me from hell. But, I was obedient during the program, sitting in silence. Later on the rocks and I cried out in praise to Jesus.
Sadly, I won't return to this program next year. Not because the artists didn’t do a splendid job of glorifying God and His majesty. But because they were the only ones allowed to do so.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Moon Shines Down book review

The Moon Shines Down
By Margaret Wise Brown

This beautifully illustrated children’s picture book was lost for over fifty years, and recently discovered in a Vermont barn. The original manuscript was written by Margaret Wise Brown, but since the manuscript was too short, it was added to by Laura Minchew, a children’s book publisher and a fan of Brown.
It’s singsong style and bold, colorful illustrations are endearing. However, the rhymes that did not rhyme grated on my nerves. Some examples are “asleep” and “country”; “East,” “sleep,” and “speak”; “dream” and “things.” Either make a rhyming book or just write prose. Don’t say it’s a rhyming book if it doesn’t truly rhyme!
Another factor I questioned was the use of the word “kids” in place of children. Because Margaret Wise Brown lived from 1910 to 1952, I doubt she used the word “kids” in her writing. In trying to appeal to modern readers, I think the newer text lost the flavor of Brown’s original writing.
Different cultures of the world are wonderfully represented in both the manuscript and illustrations by Linda Bleck, an award winning artist. From Holland to Japan, from Africa to Australia, the moon shines down on each boy and girl. Every poem ends with the familiar and comforting, “I see the moon and the moon sees me. God bless the moon and God bless me.”
In spite of my two little issues, I would recommend this book for young children. They will enjoy the vibrant colors and the cadence of the rhymes.

-- Jeanette Levellie