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Joy to the World!

The other day I pulled out my beloved study Bible to do some work on the message. I turned to the back, where Revelation is supposed to be, only to find it was missing. In fact, my New Testament ended with Jesus' appearance to Mary at the tomb-- the end of the Gospel of John. I suppose if the rest of the New Testament is lost, that's as good as any for a new, climatic ending! In a panic, I found the remainder of the New Testament with my other books. Now it's back where it belongs, but not permanently-- it could be lost at any time. This is very troubling to me, as I bought this Bible when I first began seminary in 1995. It has countless post-it notes, handwritten comments in the margins, and highlights. I treasure it.

This is not the first time this has happened. Ten years ago, when Christy and I served in England, the original binding of the Bible began to fall apart. I asked Ray, our church steward, if he could help-- he was a retired book publisher. He took my Bible and after several months returned it to me (those intervening months were very traumatic for me!) completely and beautifully rebound. Ray would be thrilled to know his re-binding lasted a full decade, as opposed to Harper-Collins' 4 1/2 years. Ray passed away a few years ago. I miss him very much.

I will figure out a way to save my Bible-- I have to-- but in the meantime it works as an interesting metaphor. Do you ever feel like things are falling apart? Out of order? Essential parts missing? I certainly do. Over the next 72 hours, I will sing Sinatra for the seniors, have a wedding rehearsal and dinner, men's breakfast, 2010 planning, wedding and reception, and preach three services. Am I feeling a little disjointed? Yes. Do things feel like they are falling apart? Yup. Will that be the end of the story? Absolutely not. Ol' Blue Eyes may spin in his grave tonight, and there's always the risk of forgetting names in a wedding ceremony, but the odds are fairly good that everything will be fine, and if there are a few mistakes here and there few will notice. Ray used to put signs up in front of the church, hoping to attract folk to worship. One I remember said: "Do your best, and God will do the rest." Thanks, Ray.

If things feel more out of place at Christmas, that's not so unusual. I'm sure Mary and Joseph felt the same way! After finding a place to settle, giving birth, and hosting lots of visitors, there was still enough joy and hope to share with the world for the rest of time. Our lives can become disjointed and feel as though they are falling apart. Sometimes that happens because of tragedy or bad luck. Other times we make poor choices and need to rethink our priorities. Paul wrote these words to his friends at Philippi-- they work well for us too:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:4-7).


Anonymous said…
Thanks Frank.

David printed it out and gave it to Doris yesterday.

I hope you and all the family have a lovely Christmas.

Best wishes,

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