Notes from Jan

Bethlehem Bound

November 29, 2022

Oh, to be sure, I still have some leftover turkey to eat and words of gratitude to express. But Thanksgiving, as an official day, is over until next year. So are Black Friday and Cyber Monday, thankfully. And while I love Thanksgiving, I’m so ready for Advent. But not the ‘holiday” rush that rattles nerves, and depletes financial, physical and emotional resources. It’s the season of Advent, I need, a time filled with wonder and anticipation of some One, not some thing.

This year the First Sunday of Advent slipped in between the two biggest shopping days of the year. Kinda like a couple of thousand years ago when God showed up in a barn in Bethlehem. The innkeeper pointed to the NO VACANCY sign and suggested they head to the shed. He’d provide clean hay for a nominal fee, of course. So it came to pass …well, you know the rest of the story.

Last night after lighting Advent candles and reading the Bible passage from Luke 1:26-55, I sang, O Little Town of Bethlehem. Just me. And yet, maybe not. God only knows who sings along, prays with and for us, then cheers us on from heaven’s porch. Still, it’s those familiar words that catch in my throat. “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”

Fear’s rampant. It’s easier to fear, than hope, for most of us. But yesterday as I set up a small nativity scene, I chose hope. The washing machine sloshed, the dryer pinged when time for me to fold another load, and into the stuff of an ordinary Monday God showed up in a simple creche. One teenage mama, seated beside a manger, where the Messiah slept. Joseph stood nearby, while some animals stared at something unusual in their feeding trough. God’s risky choice to enter this fear-filled, messy world as a baby. As Buechner described, ” a baby about the size of a loaf of bread.” Manna for the masses. Hope for our deepest dreads, sensed or sung reminders to “Fear not.”

And then Annie Willis, the other grandmother in the Carlberg-Willis family, sent me an email. She ended with, “turning my face towards Bethlehem.”

Bethlehem bound.

What’s there to lose?

Or gain?


O come to us, abide with us, Our Lord Emanuel.”

This story has been viewed 0 times

0 Be the first to HEART this story
Notes from Jan

Here Be God

Let me explain. The title comes from a reflection by the Petersens in their One Year Book of Psalms. The entry for November 16th focused on Psalm 139:7-12, which is one of my favorite psalms. ” I can never escape from your spirit. I…

November 20, 2022
Notes from Jan

Mending Ways

Duty called but I resisted. Finally, I gave in, headed to the garage to sort through some boxes. The garage needed to be cleared for its original purpose, a place to park a car in winter. Lily’s. Mine prefers the outdoors. Truthfully, I never…

November 14, 2022
Notes from Jan

Is The Church in the USA on the Ballot?

For starters, I’ll state the obvious. No system is perfect, nor any political party or candidate. But still, VOTE. It’s a right and a privilege. And it matters. Especially, when both extremes question the viability of our democratic form of government. Consequently, extremes remind…

November 7, 2022
Notes from Jan

Nothing Ordinary About Any Of Us

This was a week to consider saints. Obvious ones like Saints Peter and Julian of Norwich. But also ones who lived among us but are now dead to this world, yet alive in another. That word dead always lands with a thud, even when…

November 3, 2022
Notes from Jan

Alternate Commandments

Well, this was the week to catch-up on things left undone due to Covid and my need for frequent naps. So, I took my twelve year old Prius to renew its inspection sticker before November first. The car did great but the one doing…

October 29, 2022
Notes from Jan

High Expectations

Saints below, that’s how I saw them, maneuvered the unique wheelchair, customized for the man’s small frame. A pair of child-sized sneakers, too clean, sat on the footrest. A blanket tucked around him left me puzzling about his ability to move without assistance. But…

October 19, 2022
Notes from Jan

Windows on the World

Good morning. It feels good to be feeling better. And, thanks to my good neighbors, to catch the sun’s rays and seascape through clean windows. Our three units combine to hire pros to wash away the blurs and blotches that come from living near…

October 13, 2022
Notes from Jan

Postcards Can Wait

So, what does that mean? It means while I was away in France and Italy, I purchased a lot of postcards. My intention was to use them. But, I might add, I’m grateful it was hard to find post offices. Which means, I’m also…

October 8, 2022
Notes from Jan

Seeds for Thought

My mind said, “Steamed fish with butter and herbs” but my heart (emotional not physical) cried, “Steak and potatoes.” Steak won. One deep breath and taste transported me to DeKalb, Illinois, age nine. It happened Sundays after church. We walked into the parsonage and…

September 29, 2022