December 20, 2006

The Scents of the Season

(Here is an edited edition of our current Family Christmas Letter...
again - minus the family info!)

Mmm - the scents & sounds of Christmas… - it seems that they are all around me
- wherever I go. In fact, I believe they were ‘out & about’ even before Thanksgiving?!
It seems we go from one holiday to the next with little time to rest & recuperate!
I must admit, I have been putting this letter off now for about a week. I kept thinking of it, praying a bit, then putting it aside. I don’t know about you, but it seems nearly everyone
I have talked with lately has had a harder time feeling festive & excited about all the
coming Holiday Hoopla this year! It is so easy for us to not slow down & focus the way we
really want to. We have the best of intentions, but often times we find ourselves exhausted,
& feeling ’behind’ instead of relaxed!

I love Christmas! I love all the sights & sounds, the smells & rituals of the holidays!
This year, though, somehow it hasn’t flowed so smoothly from
Thanksgiving to Christmas for me.
I’ve been praying about why this is.
I was relieved to find out others had been struggling a bit as well.
(It was not just me!) As much as I love routine & tradition - sometimes I think God is
trying to break us free from some of our ‘normal’ lives & we can tend to fight against Him, unaware! Maybe our Christmas spirit has been tainted by the tragedies of the past few years - from tsunami’s to hurricanes, to earthquakes, wars & rumors of wars, etc.
Maybe we have forgotten that we are not a people without Hope!
We are called to Hope. Maybe we have shrunk away from the childlike excitement of
Hoping, expecting, anticipating! However, we celebrate Christmas - much like Thanksgiving - because of those blessings that we DO have - already!
Sure - the presents & stockings & gift giving is all part of our tradition.
But - at the heart of our celebrations, should be Love.
Love given, Love received, Love shared…, Love made manifest!
All that we do & all that we are, is - or should be - founded on & steeped in Love!
“For God so loved the world…“
I think of the song that is playing on the radio now by Sanctus Real, “The Face of Love”.
The chorus sings out, “The face of love. The face of love. You look more like Love everyday!” Jesus is the face of Love, & we are called to let Him shine through us!
In our rush to beat the holiday crowds & get the good deals, buy the gifts,
write the cards, attend the parties, are we allowing His love to be seen through us?
I want others to see the face of love - Jesus - when they look at me.
That is the desire of my heart - to allow Him to shine & flow through me in such a way
that others SEE Him - really SEE Him! Not in a religious way - but in a real way!

As I was praying & unpacking ornaments, candle holders, & Christmas towels,
I got a whiff of my Christmas candles & that got me to thinking about the Scents of Christmas! Mmm - Cinnamon, Nog, Frankincense, Fresh Pine, etc.
I guess I am very in tune to my senses, because I can get real nostalgic at the simple
thought of a childhood smell or the scent of Grandma’s kitchen.
We used to have a fresh cut Douglas Fir tree every year - & the smell of pine
would fill the house &, I realize now, THAT was the scent of Christmas for me.
We went years without a tree, & now we have an artificial one.
But that is still one of my strongest memories/senses tied to the Holidays!
Another smell that captures my attention - Fresh Baked Bread. Christmas or anytime!
What is it about Fresh baked bread that can stir up a hunger that you didn’t even HAVE
a few moments before? That is when it hit me, we are not only called to Love, & to Hope,
we are called to be the Fragrance of God (2 Cor.2:14-15)
Jesus also said that He is the Bread of Life.
If others around us can smell Him in us - they will hunger for what only He can give!
When we ‘decorate’ our hearts & homes with Him, & our priorities in order - He promises in Psalm 19 that He will give us great rewards - one version says, “Hidden Treasures.“ This season is not all about the gifts, the presents & the hoopla! We all tell our kids that... & we mean it! But who doesn't love that perfect, thoughtful, gift!? Who doesn't desire a Great Reward - that was personally picked out for us? Isn’t it great that God has done that for each of us? He hand picks gifts to give us all the time. He gave His best, many years ago - & as if that were not enough - He just keeps on giving! I pray that in the midst of the busyness of the season - you will find Hope in your heart, Love overflowing, and the Fragrance of God surrounding you.
You see, in the midst of our Traditions of Man & all the lists of things to do & gifts to buy,
our Fragrant Lord awaits! He is patient, loving & kind... He is with us - wherever we go
& whatever we’re doing. He desires us, more than anything we can do FOR Him!
He calls us to Him in the midst of this season
& asks not for us to do MORE...
but to simply BE with Him!
He may be interrupting your ‘normal’ life
& drawing you to not do more this year - but less.
He may be waiting for you to run to Him
& catch a scent of His Fragrant Love!
Great Rewards? Oh yes!
Hidden treasures? I know it is so!
I pray that in the midst of all your running around,
all your serving & shopping...
I pray you will take a moment here & there,
close your eyes, stop & pray, worship Him...
“O, Come let us adore Him“
...meditate, think...
I am praying that you will be able to smell
His Heavenly Fragrance of Hope, of Joy, of Love,
& know that He is Emmanuel - God WITH YOU.

May you enjoy the sights & sounds of the Season
& smell the scent of His Love that He lavishes upon you!

With Love & Blessings, Merry Christmas!

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