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Sunday, December 16, 2012


Pen and ink sketch, by Stu Mendelson

Quite a few years ago, Stu and I  chose this image and quote for our yearly holiday greeting.   Not what you might expect in your mailbox----we commented even then that you don't usually get a picture of a guy wading through the sewers of Paris carrying an injured man on his back as a Christmas card.  But you know, as the years have unfolded, the thought expressed here resonates.  In light of Stu's stroke, it is even more poignant.  So I share it with you this season, by Stu's request.

I'm grateful for this blog, where I jot down all the ups and downs of our story as we go along-------this holiday season, for me,  has been full of baking and gift-making and celebrating with friends and family.   At the same time, I am never far from remembering the paradoxical truth, that there is light to be found, even in dark places.  I recently received this reminder from a writer I admire, David Roper, (it was actually written by his wife, Carolyn.  Both of them have been an encouragement to me through their writing)  and I pass it along to you here:
Carolyn wrote this as one of her "Morning by Morning" meditations. Thought you'd appreciate it…

Morning by Morning
An Exceptionally Good Christmas

"I think we're going to have an exceptionally good Christmas."

If I had written these words I would probably have been thinking that our family would all be together for a white Christmas. I would probably imagine that well ahead of time all the cards had been mailed, all the preparations made and everything would be "just so." We would have a brightly lit tree and lovely red and green decorations, filling my heart with good memories. There would be the just-right presents to bring delight and joy to each one. There would be singing and laughing, playing games and a festive meal, with everyone decked out in their Christmas finery and caring for one another.  And I would find a fresh way to present the Christmas story at just the right time, which would be meaningful to all. There would be no worries, no loneliness, no health issues, no one missing from our family circle, either spacially or emotionally. At our house Evie would be singing "Come On Ring Those Bells" to welcome everyone in!

"I think we're going to have an exceptionally good Christmas."

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote those words to his fiancée while he was isolated in a dark, cruel Germany prison as World War 2 was raging. He went on to explain:

"The very fact that every outward circumstance precludes our making provision for it will show whether we can be content with what is truly essential. I used to be very fond of thinking up and buying presents, but now that we have nothing to give, the gift God gave us in the birth of Christ will seem all the more glorious, the emptier our hands, the better we understand what Luther meant by his dying words: "We're beggars: it's true." The poorer our quarters, the more clearly we perceive that our hearts should be Christ's home on earth."
Letter to fiancée Maria von Wedemeyer, December 1, 1943

Because of God's priceless gift of His Son, may each of us have an exceptionally good Christmas, content with what is truly essential. Content whatever our Christmas looks like this year.

Carolyn Roper

The selection from Bonhoeffer comes from the work, God Is in the MangerReflections on Advent and Christmas; compiled by Jana Riess.

Finally, friends, just to complete the paradoxical theme, I include this fun photo of Stu
May your Christmas season be full of the joy that Christ brings!

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