This Christmas

This Christmas

by:Joan Meyler

“Oh, Ms.Joan, it co’lmaa” “Christmas breeze da blow” “Ms. Joan yu want a blanket fu yu bed?” These are some of the phrases I hear as the weather tries to make up its mind.
With rainy season over, the temperature fluctuating between mid 70’s and mid 80’s, cloudy and sunny days, it’s anybody’s guess what each day will be like. Welcome to “winter” in Belize.

The school term ended on November 14th and end of term exams followed close on its heels.  December saw students fervently preparing for Christmas pageants and fundraising turkey dinners prior to the end of the term in mid-month. The requests began at the end of the school term, “Gran, when are we putting up the tree?” My host’s grand-daughter implored every few days.

Finally, one day I opened the door to a smiling face which almost outshone the lights on the Christmas tree. The end of term and ensuing days made for a quiet time for me, so I busied myself in other ways. One of which was to assist with the National Resource Center for Inclusive Education’s (NARCIE)Christmas party. I made individualized Christmas ornaments for each participant.  All 38 special needs participant were very happy to receive their very own ornament.

The party was exciting. There was a horse-drawn carriage and a bouncy house both of which tested the children’s patience as they all wanted to bounce and ride at the same time. Musical chairs was hilarious! I danced my way around the chairs with the children until the end when I was left standing and they sitting laughing at me.

May the hope, peace, joy and love that this season represents be manifest in your life.

 

As for Me and My House

As for Me and My House

by: Joan Meyler

I have been thinking about Mrs. Lot recently.  You know, Lot’s wife who turned into a pillar of salt? Her. The same one. Like us. She didn’t know the twists and turns her life would take.

As a child her every need was catered to. Decisions made for her. Her parents even selected her husband. They chose a man of good reputation, handsome, a man from a wealthy family and with the ability of creating yet more wealth, ensuring her every want would be met.

In due time, they got married. What a celebration that must have been! Weeks of singing, dancing, feasting. A wedding to be envied!

After the celebrations, life began anew for Mr. and Mrs Lot. Alone together, they came face to face with themselves and each other. Two strangers who thought they knew the other. Afraid of the vulnerability demanded in the union called marriage, they retreated into the design society had created; no, demanded.  Was it the one God intended? Was there the unity, vulnerability, unconditional love demanded when “two become one”? Or did they live together, each pursuing their own needs, wants, desires under the guise of making a better life?

Like Mr. and Mrs. Lot, there comes a time of decision making.  The decision made is reflective on how the life has been lived up to that point. Loving unconditionally, there is only one decision. Conditional love demands that the ego be satisfied.  The spirit is left out of that decision.  Yet it is the most vital part of any decision making. The ego is never satisfied always wanting more, setting more conditions.

As we contemplate this season of waiting, deciding, will you, me, be like Mrs. Lot, unable to release that which cannot co-exist with the direction God is taking us? Or will we grasp the Spirit’s hand as we are led into becoming God’s unconditional love in expression?

May His kingdom be manifest in you.

Seekers

By: Joan Meyler

I have three suitcases packed. There are books, clothing, miscellaneous items scattered over every available piece of furniture in my bedroom. As I survey the chaotic scene in front of me, I realize something is missing. I struggle to recall everything I have packed. Yet, I know something is missing. I just cannot think of what it could be. Hurriedly, I create a clear space on my bed, grabbed suitcase number one, and struggled to get it on the bed. I unzip it and dump its contents unceremoniously in the cleared space. I glance at my typed packing list, “Nope, not there,” I say to the room before meticulously repacking number one. “Move on to number two,” I say aloud, even though I’m by myself.

Number two is even heavier than number one. “What do you have in there?” screams my arms as I lift the behemoth. “Be in here!” I say to the object of my desire. I take a little more time unpacking number two, checking every item against the three-page packing list.

Again, my search leaves me unfulfilled. Sighing, I am a little more deliberate with repacking as I ponder each item returning to the now empty suitcase. Somethings didn’t make back.  They lay forlornly on the bed as if pleading to rejoin their friends in suitcase number two. Surely it MUST be in suitcase number three, the beautiful black weekend bag I planned to keep close to me while numbers one and two travelled with the checked bags of my fellow travelers.

As I removed things I thought vital to my survival, my thoughts turned to the way we sometimes address our life. How many times do we go through life attempting to find or obtain something we know is missing? Looking at packing lists of jobs, churches, friends, etc. to fill the void in our heart. Unlike the widow in Luke 15:8-10, we don’t know what we are looking for. We just know there is an emptiness that needs to be filled. Jacob, in Genesis 32 had a void he did not recognize yet had spent his life trying to fill. It was not until he wrestled with the God at Peniel that he realized that there was something he did not have – the true blessing that comes from a relationship with God expressed through honest relationships with others. We fill our lives with things and label ourselves Christians, Disciples of Christ, etc. outwardly yet we remain unfulfilled.

Jacob had sent his family, servants and the display of his wealth ahead leaving him alone with himself. It was in this time of aloneness and silence that he came to see himself as he was and recognized his need for a deeper more satisfying relationship with God. It was then that he pleaded with God to fill the void of his life.  Might I suggest that you (and I) dear friend look belong our possessions, jobs, relationships and tenaciously seek God in the silence of our soul and allow Him to make us a visible expression of the fulfillment that comes from His relationship with us.

For Such a Time as This

by: Joan Meyler

Are you born for such a time as this? That was the question Esther had to answer at a most inconvenient time.  Its answer could have her killed yet answer it she must. The book of Esther tells us that Esther’s people, generations before her had been taken captive in war and moved from their homeland.

In their new home they were forbidden to speak their original language or practice their religion.  Over the ensuing years, the Jews had just about given up on God as each generation moved further away from their religion accepting instead the behaviors of those they lived among.  They were remembered by their racial identity not their religious beliefs or practices and in time, they eventually forgot who they were.  Except that is, a few faithful souls.

Esther’s family was among the faithful. Esther was an orphan. As was customary during that time, she was adopted by her uncle who raised her and taught her who she was.  Esther came to the king’s attention as he sought to replace the previous queen, Vashti. Vashti had defied the king when he, drunk after extensive partying, had called her to present herself to be admired by his friends.  Vashti, not wanting to be paraded naked before these drunk men had refused. The king in his embarrassment and anger decreed that she should be “put away” and be replaced by a new queen. This decree led to Esther’s introduction to life in the palace and she was soon made queen.

Esther was a Jew. A descendant of immigrants, a people who had been forcibly removed from their homeland. A queen.

The culture she lived in had no love for either Jews or descendants of immigrants.  Over time, those who had the king’s ear had convinced him that these persons were no longer of value to the kingdom and needed to be removed (killed) and all their possessions taken. Living in the palace, Esther thought she could, would, escape this destruction until she was reminded that God knew who she was and so did she.

We live in a time not much different from Esther’s time.  Some of us have become complacent; worldly, forgotten God. Until we are faced with crisis of some kind. Even then, we think these challenges belong to other people.  We pretend not to see the homeless person begging on the street; we step pass the mentally ill on our way to satisfy our ego; social injustice we often think affects others. Yet God in His infinite wisdom uses these moments of crises to remind us that if we are who we say we are and respond to these challenging times with the tools He has given us, He will hear, and He will answer (2 chronicles 7:14).

Just as Esther denied her ego and submitted to the Spirit of God and in so doing, kept her people from being destroyed, we too are being called upon to experience the fresh wind of God’s spirit as we become who we are intended to be. (Philippians 2:15).  Is God whispering in your ear that it is time for you to break your silence?  Were you born for such a time as this?

From Resurrection to Empowerment

By: Joan Meyler

For some, change is painful, unwanted; yet others welcome even embrace it.  Our experiences all point to change.  A new life. Not turn back the clock; but use our disappointment and pain to move the hands forward past the hurts. We try ways to turn the scars into a soothing balm.  Nothing works, the pain persists. We long for the place where we can emerge fresh, clean, wise and free of the pain of our past.  Jesus’s disciples believed they knew all there was to know about him. They had spent three action-packed years in intense training, having their understanding and knowledge of what they knew and thought they knew stretched beyond recognition. Then He had the audacity to die a criminal!  Their hopes, dreams, expectations dashed beyond recognition.

Jesus and a lady

The disappointment in His death, the pain and grief of loss ringing in their ears and hearts as the tomb was sealed; their hopes seemed dashed. But, ever faithful, Jesus kept his promise of resurrection and brought change to their lives. Once again, He proved himself to be who he said he was.  When we accept Christ as our savior, we also experience change.  There is a death that takes place within us and while we rejoice in our salvation, there is the dispelling of beliefs and practices which must be released before resurrection can take place. For forty days following his resurrection, Jesus continued to teach the disciples.  In secret! No one knows exactly what He taught them, but we can speculate that the lessons involved a review of what they already knew but had yet to practice.

Like toddlers on wobbly legs, we begin our new life seeking the Kingdom. Struggling against our old way of life, gaining trust and confidence as Jesus reveals truth to us. After the resurrection, the disciples felt joy, but they were also afraid. They, too, walked on wobbly legs. They also had to gain trust and confidence; have their faith increased.  Can you imagine the look on their faces when Jesus told them he would leave once more? It’s the same look on your face when you learn salvation is not the end, but the beginning. How blessed we are, that Jesus did not leave us without guidance.  The disciples did not wait idly for the coming of the Holy Spirit, they waited faithfully, prayerfully, trusting yet were surprised with the power trusted to them with His coming. This same power is available to us as we also faithfully, prayerfully, trustingly open ourselves to the introduction of the Holy Spirit; the one who walks alongside and teaches us all things.

Luke 24:49, John 14:26