Hello, hello. Is this thing on? [Tap, tap.] Can anybody hear me? Hello?
Oh, good. Some of you are still out there, waiting for me to return to the blogosphere. Well, I'm back. My house is sold, I'm moved into my new one, I'm all unpacked ... and most of my curtain rods are up. Most, not all.
Curtain rods are the bane of my existence. I only put them up every few years, and in between these events, I completely forget how to use my drill. Like, that I have a reversible drill and using it in the proper direction is crucial. Or that you need drill bits before you try to muscle the screw into the wall. Stuff like that. So right now, I have a carnival exhibit going on in one of my rooms. I invite any and all dinner guests to play along. It's called, "Hey, Can You Figure Out Why I Can't Get This Curtain Rod Installed Over This Window?!" The ladder, drill, drill bits, level, hammer, etc., are all waiting for the latest players. It's really, really fun. Provides hours of entertainment.
Curtain rods aside, now that the all-consuming move is over, I find it's time to prep for the holidays.
Perhaps some of you have noticed the intense push for retail sales this year. Black Friday started an entire week early among certain retailers. At the same time, nonprofits are getting the word out that they really need donations because demands for their services is up. In other words, it's all about the wallet. While that is important on some level, it's not the sum total of what this holiday season is about -- especially not for Christians.
I'm starting a little late this year because of my domestic upheaval, but right now I'm trying to plan ahead for several aspects of the upcoming holidays:
1) New recipes for Thanksgiving;
2) Ways to get to know my new neighbors around Christmas;
3) What to give or make for Christmas gifts;
4) When to decorate for Christmas and host holiday hospitalities;
and, most importantly of all:
5) What to study or contemplate over the next six weeks for spiritual edification.
While gift-giving is wonderful, I'm at that stage in life where the gift of someone's time is more precious to me than another item. Especially after all I had to purge in my recent move.
My pastor, Eric Simmons, really brought that point home in his message yesterday from Titus chapter 3. One of his takeaway points was that we have "to be ready for every good work" (v. 1). In our busy culture, that means we need to prepare our hearts, our wallets, and our calendars in order to be available when God puts people and needs in our paths. So often we skip serving others or doing good works because we don't want to (our hearts), we're too busy (our calendars), or we've spent all of our money on ourselves and have nothing prepared to give to others in need (our wallets). A good work only glorifies God if it is done in faith toward Him and for His glory, but we need to be eagerly anticipating that the Lord will use us if we are prepared.
"I want you to see your kitchen tables as a base camp for outreach in our church," he said. "We are reaching the city one dinner at a time. There's no agenda, no program." Whoot! That might seem kinda slacker for some areas, but here in D.C., everything is driven by agenda. Hanging with people just because you enjoy them or want to get to know them, with no other agenda in mind, is truly counter-cultural here.
So over the remaining weeks of 2010, I will be looking at different topics that revolve around this idea of being "ready for every good work," as we prepare to celebrate the only good work that ensures salvation: the birth, sinless life, and atoning death of Jesus Christ, our Savior.