Someone Needs A Blanket

When the poor one called out, God heard,
and from all his distress God saved him.

Psalm 34:7

Every year, my husband begins our Christmas Tree decorating by trimming its trunk and securing it in its stand. For a day or two afterward, I string the lights and hang ornaments. While I work, my husband contemplates the tree’s lowest branches and the area beneath the tree. With great care, Mike plans the village which will fill that space. I offer meager assistance by unpacking numerous little houses, tiny trees and our crèche. I admit that I delay a bit as I unpack the stable and figures which will be the focal point of our little town of Bethlehem. Though I love the little structures which resemble the buildings of Jesus’ day, I pour over the tiny figures far longer.

I fully expect these tiny figures to answer when I ask what they were feeling back then. Though I can imagine what Mary and Joseph might say, I puzzle over the baby. “How aware where you that day? Were you planning out your life with that first cry in the night or where you simply protesting the cold? ‘Where’s my blanket?’ you might have wailed.” In the midst of my musing, the baby who rests in that tiny manger seems to ask that I leave him to his rest. He sends me off to bring blankets to those who need them far more than he.

As I reflect upon the miracle of God Among Us, I consider who it is who might need a blanket to ease his cold or to comfort her aching soul. That Bethlehem Baby seems insistent that it is up to me to do what I can to provide what is needed.

Loving God, your invitation to love one another sets the tone of every new day. Help me to respond as you would.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Room In The Inn

“For my house shall be called
a house of prayer for all peoples.”

Isaiah 56:7

With just a few days left until Christmas, my husband confirmed the church decorating plan with all concerned. When he was assured all was well, we laughed over our annual futile attempts to provide seating for everyone who will come to worship on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Though such discussions might include comments about the “Christmas Birds” and “Easter Birds” whose only appearances for worship occur on these two holy days, this wasn’t the case. Mike and I take seriously the quote from Isaiah which I cite above. So it is that we will come up with more ingenious ways to squeeze in as many chairs as possible. We will make all of God’s children welcome as best we can. If we do a good enough job, perhaps some of our semi-annual visitors will feel welcome to join us more often!

In the mean time, all concerned work extremely hard to prepare our beautifully adorned church, amazing music and engaging liturgy. Everyone from our youngest parish children to our devoted seniors is involved. Yes, we’re making our church welcoming to everyone. After all, it’s God’s house and it’s Christmas!

Loving God, you open your house to all who come to your door. Help us to echo your welcome in all that we say and do.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Gifts of Hope and Joy

The cow and the bear shall be neighbors,
together their young shall rest…

From Isaiah 11:7

My husband and I sometimes grow weary of our full schedules. This is the reason we have happily curtailed our Christmas preparations this year. The truth is that we both enjoy our traditions. As a result, we haven’t “curtailed” our activities as much as we’ve organized our efforts. Preparing our home -both inside and out- for our family and friends is symbolic of our love for each one of them. Giving up any of this would dampen our experience of Christmas. Advent 2017 will lose its luster if we don’t prepare as is our custom. You see, our busyness during the days before Christmas keeps us focused on poor Mary and Joseph as they scrambled to prepare for Jesus’ birth so long ago. It also keeps us focused on the reasons we do what we do for others.

I’m happy to share that we have started our decorating and shopping early. This timing has energized us enough to attend to our “full schedules” with joy rather than angst. Though the phone continues to ring, our good will remains intact. Perhaps this is the reason Jesus ministered so generously to the needy souls who came his way. In offering others hope, Jesus found joy.

I know. I seem to be in a rut with all of this organizing for Advent and Christmas. I have reason for this. My hope is to inspire you to do the same. Enjoy!

Loving God, thank you for the moments of joy that come in the midst of our efforts to care for one another.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Blankets For Everyone

When the poor one called out, the Lord heard,
and from all his distress he save him.

Psalm 34:7

Every year, my husband begins our Christmas Tree decorating by trimming its trunk and securing it in its stand. For a day or two afterward, I string the lights and hang ornaments. While I work, my husband contemplates the tree’s lowest branches and the area beneath the tree. With great care, Mike plans the village which will fill that space. I offer meager assistance by unpacking numerous little houses, tiny trees and our crèche. I admit that I delay a bit as I unpack the stable and figures which will be the focal point of our little town of Bethlehem. Though I love the little structures which resemble the buildings of Jesus’ day, I pour over the tiny figures far longer.

I fully expect them to answer when I ask what they were feeling back then. Though I can imagine what Mary and Joseph might say, I puzzle over the baby. “How aware where you that day? Were you planning out your life with that first cry in the night or where you simply protesting the cold? ‘Where’s my blanket?’ you might have cried.” In the midst of my musing, the Baby who rests in our tiny stable seems to ask that I leave him to his rest. He sends me off to bring blankets to those who need them far more than he.

As I reflect on the miracle of God Among Us, I also consider who needs a blanket to ease his cold or to comfort her aching soul. That Bethlehem Baby seems insistent that it is up to me to do what I can.

Loving God, your invitation to love and care for one another sets the tone of this season and of every new day. Help me to respond as you would.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Ignite Hope and Find Joy

Large crowds of people came to him bringing with them cripples,
the deformed, the blind, the mute, and many others besides.
They laid them at his feet and he cured them.

Matthew 15:30

My husband and I sometimes grow weary of our full schedules. It was in the midst of one such bout of fatigue that I suggested that we curtail our Christmas decorating this year. After giving this urging a bit of thought, my husband responded with a suggestion of his own. “Why don’t we just get a head start on it?” he asked. The truth is that we both enjoy this tradition. Preparing our home -both inside and out- for our family and friends is symbolic of our love for each one of them. Giving up any of this would dampen our experience of Christmas. Advent 2015 would have lost its luster as well. Somehow, our busyness these days before Christmas keeps us focused on poor Mary and Joseph as they scrambled to prepare for Jesus’ birth so long ago. It also keeps us focused on the reasons we do what we do for others.

In the end, I agreed with my husband. We started our decorating and shopping early. Amazingly enough, this timing has energized us enough to attend to those “full schedules” with joy rather than angst. Though the phone has continued to ring, our good will remains intact. Perhaps this is the reason Jesus ministered so generously to the needy souls who came his way. In offering others hope, Jesus found joy.

Loving God, thank you for the moments of giving in which we ignite hope in others and find the joy you intend for us all.

©2015 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved