Words

I learned a new word this week. Lagomorphs are the classification for rabbits, hares and pikas. It just sounds like a great name, doesn’t it? Lagomorph. Like a Harry Potter villain with long ears and a pointy, whiskery snout. I like a good word. Borborygmus is another one of my favourites. (I’ll let you look it up on your own… increase your knowledge and everything… way to keep learning 🙂 ) Words are cool. Ha! Even as I proofread this post I am looking at the word “word”… make your lips say it…”word”, w’s are funny sounds. English sounds are odd. Words are still cool.

This cute little guy is a pika of the classification “lagomorph” Photo By: Karunakar Rayker – originally posted to Flickr as The Pika

I was musing about words this week… words, writing, books, literature. As you know, our first born is preparing to enter in to her very own space at the end of this month, and her biggest collection to move? Her books. She’s been an avid reader since day one and loves a good collection of stories. And yes, she buys the whole collection. And keeps it forever. I guess there could be worse things to collect than books. She’s among good company, though. Here are some other people who had (or have?) some large collections: Michael Jackson was apparently a big poetry fan and had a stash of over 10 000 books at the Neverland Ranch. Ernest Hemingway always had a few hundred books in his stash as he travelled, with over 9 000 in the full collection. Thomas Jefferson apparently sold a large pile to the Library of Congress, twice, to pay off some debts. (hint, hint, dear firstborn….). Oprah’s book club turned her into a top collector, as well. I hear Bill Gates reads a book a week and has someone in charge of switching up his weekly “book bag”. The largest private collection of books belongs to John Q. Benham of Avoca, Indiana, USA. Guinness world records clocks him with over 1.5 million! Wouldn’t want to move that guy.

It’s interesting to me to see who reads what. And how their vocabulary is influenced. I have a friend who is an avid reader and edits for a living. I love to hear her talk. Her words are eloquent. My Covid kids can now quote various movie reels. Books? Not so much. Perhaps we are loosing out on some of that in this “age of screen”. My own fault as parent, I guess. Noted to self. Literature is so rich, and we should be blessed and thankful we have access to it. Do you agree? What’s your favourite read? Are you a writer? I don’t think of myself as a writer, despite a weekly blog that somehow comes together from the thoughts in my head. I like words though. And good calligraphy makes words look even better… but I digress.

Photo by Prateek Katyal on Unsplash

I heard an interesting discussion this week about the authors of the Gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Each describing the life and story of Jesus according to their own idiosyncrasies and distinct personalities. Each used their own choices of words and phrases to describe a certain story or parable. Each Jesus quote may actually be different depending on the gospel you are reading. Skeptics may point to the differences in the Gospels as proof that the Bible is false…but most scholars agree to the exact opposite: the discrepancies actually give credit to the story’s truth. Too much of the “same” would indicate that the writers were trying to make up a story, as opposed to tell the true story as they remember it. Interesting to see how a doctor, like Luke, writes his account compared to John, Jesus’s bestie.

We often talk about the Bible as the God-breathed word, and it is. But it is also a very diverse piece of literature, written by human authors. An anthology if you will. (Another great vocab word!) It spans generations in time, and is targeted for different ethnic groups and diverse cultures. Not to mention poetry, prose and history lessons. Even futuristic tales, I suppose! Each time I read it, something new seems to come from it. I’m sure you have felt the same. The beauty of words, yet not just words. Words shared by people to tell a story, the same story, yet a story unique to each person on the planet. That, my friend, is the power of the Word.

Another Advent

There’s not much been going on over here this week… we are all waiting for Covid-19 to be over and life to get back to some semblance of “normal”. And yet, all this waiting reminded me of advent and the whole idea of anticipation. So, this week you get a throwback to post published a while ago on Advent and the idea of waiting. Enjoy.

image by Kelly Sikkema (unsplash)

I hate waiting.  I hate waiting in line, I hate waiting for my food to be cooked, I hate waiting for the kids to get out of school.  I just don’t like sitting around with nothing to do when something else should be happening.  I bring books or snacks or my phone or a crochet project on long car rides because my hands need to be doing something (or else I crash into a nap… which is a whole other story).

So, when I discovered that the real meaning of Advent was anticipatory waiting… I wasn’t too keen.  I don’t think many of us are good at waiting.  Have you noticed that radio stations are playing Christmas music already?!  The stores have been in Christmas mode since the day after Halloween!  The marketers out there certainly don’t like waiting!  They want us to be spending our dough faster and faster these days… no waiting!  Order now!  Direct ship!  Buy online!  Available 24 hours, seven days a week!  

Let’s step back for a minute. In case you are not familiar with the term “advent”… it is a traditional practice of the Christian church to anticipate the coming of Christ at Christmas, and then, in turn, His final return to earth.  Similar to the practice of Lent before Easter, it gives us a chance to slow down, to think and ponder, and to hope for the future.  It’s something I have to work on… this waiting.

My first exposure to advent was those cardboard chocolate calendars.

My first exposure to advent was those cardboard chocolate calendars.  The ones with the little doors you would open every day from December first until the 25th.  Back then, I didn’t understand what it meant… I simply enjoyed the treats everyday!  Later, we began to celebrate the four Sundays of advent at our church.  It was then, that I understood the symbolism, the tradition, and the true meaning of the practice.   It is something I have come to cherish as an adult.  It’s a discipline that that reminds me to slow down, to appreciate my family, to encourage my church family, and to rejoice in the season — and not to be so caught up in the rush of the “stuff”.  It forces me to focus each week on learning to wait.  To anticipate.  To revel in the beauty of hope.

Here’s what I have learned about the traditional advent symbolism:  it begins with an evergreen wreath… the symbol of a circle of eternity.  Our Christ is timeless.  He’s been around much longer than the babe in the manger.  Surrounding the wreath are four candles and one central candle.  Each candle is lit on the four Sundays of Advent, and culminate with the lighting of the white, central candle, which is lit on Christmas eve.  This central candle is sometimes referred to as the Christ candle… and represents His purity and the sacrifice He made for us on the cross.  

The first candle is purple.  It represents “hope” and the prophecies that Isaiah spoke about when He described the coming of our special Christmas baby.  The second purple candle represents love, and is sometimes referred to as the Bethlehem candle or the manger candle.  So much love happened in that lowly stable…. I imagine my own beloveds and how the whole world fell away the moment they were born and I saw them for the first time face to face.   Can you imagine Mary’s first glance at her special baby?  Yup, love for sure.  The next candle is pink… and represents joy.   It is the shepherd’s candle.  It embodies the joy and celebration the shepherds must have felt when they were given the good news that a Saviour had been born!  The last candle is also purple and reminds us to be peaceful.   This “angel” candle points us to worship, to reflection, and to remember that the season is not about gifts under a tree, but the ultimate gift given to us.  The One the angels were made for… simply to worship for eternity.  

So… as you prepare for your Christmas season, and you rush out here and there, be reminded of the advent tradition of waiting.  Take time to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas… Christ’s coming.  Anticipate through hope, love, joy and peace, and the pure and holy sacrifice that Christ paid for you.  May you be blessed, my beloveds, as we journey towards the holidays together.   Take time to rejoice in waiting.  Oh… it shall be no easy task!  Especially if there are Christmas cookies in the oven! But we can practice it together, shall we?

Want to learn more about Advent?  Check out my Pinterest Boards for more ideas on DIY calendars, symbols, studies and more!

Prison Break

I’m afraid this post is going to be heavy. Want to know what I have been musing about this week? Prison. Yeah. Lockdown. Behind bars. Chained up and the key thrown away. I’m not sure why this strange idea has been mulling around in my brain — but there ya have it. Perhaps because our city is back in lockdown again. Perhaps because our dog is struggling to be crated. Perhaps vegan promotional videos keep popping up on my feeds about animal torture. Perhaps because I’ve been looking at Daniel passages. Whatever the reason, prison has been on my mind.

Lock down.

According to Statistics Canada, in 2015–2016 there were a total of 40,147 adult offenders incarcerated in Canadian federal and provincial prisons on an average day for an incarceration rate of 139 per 100,000 population.[1] That’s a large number of people behind bars. Plus the folks under age, on house arrest, and serving their “time” in some other capacity. I don’t know about you, but it makes me sad. And question. Why? How? Did they all have a fair trial? Where were their mothers? How did life take such a wrong turn?I’m really not politically minded enough to delve into the justice system and all the ins and outs of how incarceration works… or if it works. Yet, it strikes me how sin natured the world is … and how violent or corrupt we can be when left to our own devices.

We’ve watched a few documentaries recently on ways people are gathering evidence about the African slave trade and links to the slave ships that have sunk to the bottom of the ocean… leaving their precious cargo to their unfortunate fates. I wonder how God feels when He sees what we do to each other. He was there when Nero orchestrated feeding the early Christians to the lions for sport. He was there when the slave ships were packed so tight there was inches between humans. He was there with Noah when the world was so bad He felt the need to start over and wipe the slate clean. And He’s here now in the middle of a virus that is killing people around the world. Now, I am not naive enough to think that our world is more “civilized” than in Noah’s day. We haven’t changed all that much. Human trafficking, kidnap, torture. It’s still out there. It may be buried behind closed doors or under the veil of the dollar amounts or hidden in cyberspace, but it’s there. And I am sure it still makes Heaven sad.

Photo by Szabu00f3 Viktor on Pexels.com

Now we can debate about free will, justice, judges and inequities, but opinions run high and frankly, I’m not equipped with enough knowledge to engage in those debates. Nonetheless, I am disappointed when the North American church claims persecution when our “rights” are infringed upon. I’m pretty sure we have no idea what real persecution is. Yes, my beliefs will be challenged, the Bible says so. Yes, I should be prepared to give an account for my faith. Yes, I should research and be aware of government rules and systems that go against my fundamental thinking and belief system. Yes, I should be willing to take a stand. Yet I am called to know my place in society and under the authority of my leaders who were placed there under God’s will. The devil is much more subtle in his ways here, and it is certainly no cause for complacency. But, for the moment, I can share in peace and relative comfort, compared to other believers in other parts of the world.

It’s been a heavy journey through this post. I’m not usually one for such topics, but sometimes you have to be in the darkness to see the light. And I’m sure many a survivor will attest to the fact that God is faithful… and fully just. Holiness is not always a bed of roses. Holiness and being “set apart” often comes with consequences. My thoughts and prayers are with those who are in the midst of the darkness because of their faith, today. Others who are lost in a system of hurt and wrong doings. God is good. And one day (soon!) our faith shall be made sight. Be blessed, my friends!