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Birth of Jesus. Detail from the side facing the apse of the so-called “
Sarcofago di Stilicone” (”Stilicho’s sarcophagus”), an Ancient Roman christian sarcophagus dating from the 4th century. It is preserved beneath the pulpit of Sant’Ambrogio basilica in Milan, Italy. Picture by Giovanni Dall’Orto, April 25 2007.

Oh my!  An update!

Save for some shingles and all from Mother’s roof in Indiana (yes, Indiana), my family got through Hurricane Ike unscathed, thanks be to God.  That and a bunch of other things have prevented my posting here since Willy Wonka-knows-when.  My new Dell Inspiron 530 (Apple still too expensive) is doing quite well, and we shall see how things with www.transposemysong.com fare in 2009.

Has my life gone as I had originally planned?  Not quite.  But could my life had gone far worse than it has?  Yes.   Has it gone that worse?  Definitely not.  Am I thankful?  You bet I am.  Do I feel for those who have not been so lucky as I?  If I don’t, there is with me something very, very wrong.

I am thankful that God has seen fit to keep me out of a lot of the ’stuff’ of life good Pastor Turner used to speak of at South Main Baptist Church.  And I am quite thankful for the huge bevy of friends I’ve found and kept up with on Facebook: Marion, Kurt, Dan (look forward to meeting him in-person at some point), Harry Potter/Snapecast people, yelp.com buds, Palmer and South Main pals, Alief school friends, HBU friends, etc., etc., etc. as well as the good number of cousins I’ve found.  Indeed on 27 December, some school chums and I will be putting on a reunion in Houston.  Should be quite fun - while it’s no substitute for in-person interaction, internet social networking is very, very cool.

As for the Great and Profound Thing to come out of my spiritual journey this year, that’s an easy one: I’ve learned more and more to separate Jesus from ‘religion’ (don’t get me started on the doctrine of the Trinity - we worship one God and one God only — don’t worry).  And I’ve also come to empathize (if that’s a good term) with those who one might call “Cresters”: those who show up at church only at Christmas and Easter.  These good souls are also derisively called “hatch-match-dispatch” — why is it the best socials are always at weddings, funerals, and (to a lesser extent) baptisms?

I’ve come more and more to realize most “Cresters” have not rejected God or his love.  Some have simply rejected to one degree or another the idea that the conventional and traditional institutions (aka church) are good messengers and that regular attendance on Sundays (or whenever) can lead to a better walk with the Divine.  Others still look to those institutions as good messengers, but have lost connection or never had a real connection with what church life is or at least what it should be: a community of faith and love rooted in Divine grace. These good folks, it seems to me, have a lot to teach us: how to indeed separate the Divine from ‘religion’.

And what, pray tell, is “Divine”?  It’s the one proof I have that there is a Man upstairs: in my own life, it showed up most clearly some years ago in the grocery store during a somewhat tumultuous time in my life.  As I’m shopping for apple juice, a quiet feeling came over me, as though my late grandmother were tucking me in bed, that everything was going to be all-right.  I felt as though I were bathing in a shower of light.  Sounds new-agey and dorky, eh?  Sure does!  But I have felt that sort of presence more than the once, but not nearly often enough.

Most likely because I have all-too-often been too obstinate to let God come in the door…Happily, he is a being of grace and mercy who became a baby, child, and then a man and who walked alongside us.  God-with-us.

Merry Christmas!

Jeff


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