An Early Christmas

I am republishing this blog from last year. It reminds me to enjoy the Holy Day Season before it slips away.

A Hallmark display at a local store caught my eye. The sign above the holiday greeting cards declared, “Christmas is December 25th.” Huh. Good to know!

Many bemoan how the holidays arrive earlier each year. Retailers anxious for Christmas sales begin Black Friday sales on July 4th. Costco erected a winter wonderland of snowmen and penguins in September. XM Radio premiered their holiday stations on November 1.

And Hobby Lobby . . . well, the home goods store celebrates three seasons: Last Christmas, This Christmas, and Next Christmas.

I’ve always resisted the Hallowthankmas holiday madness, choosing to observe the day after Thanksgiving as my personal advent of the holidays. However, I’ve experienced a Dicken’s-like change of heart.

December days rush by so quickly with over-committed calendars and hectic schedules. December 26th always dawns with an awareness that I never accomplished everything hoped for or planned during the holiday rush.

Therefore, this year I’m celebrating an early Christmas.

I’m decking the halls, listening to Christmas music, and singing “The Twelve,” well, I draw the line at singing “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”

Seven Nativity Scenes adorn my office. A candle ornament plugged into an outlet bubbles merrily away. I’ve been sipping egg nog since mid-November. If I had some chestnuts, they would be roasting on an open fire. 

Oh, I fight the occasional urge to say, “Bah, humbug.” I’m a recovering Scrooge with occasional lapses. However, life’s too short to miss the advent of the Holy Day Season.

Christmas is December 25th this year. But why wait? Start celebrating an early Christmas today!

A Psalm of Thanksgiving

Psalm 100

A psalm. For giving grateful praise.

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
    Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his[a];
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.

BEEPING Smoke Detector

Our bedroom’s smoke detector began chirping in the middle of the night. The device insisted the backup battery needed replacement NOW. I covered my head with a pillow, but the eardrum-piercing shriek pierced the down filling.

I grumbled out of the bed and stumbled into the garage. Banging shins and walls with a stepladder, I placed it under the offending detector. A glance revealed that the twelve-foot tall ceiling measured six feet higher than the ladder.

Male bravado overcame common sense. I perched on the penultimate rung and stretched to reach the ceiling. The ladder swayed like a sapling in the wind. My fingers brushed the plastic shell, and I twisted the cover. The entire assembly tumbled out of the drywall, dangling on electrical wires.

The next step in my brilliant plan involved balancing on top of the ladder while inserting a battery into the detector. My longsuffering wife mentioned my advanced age and diminished sense. She expressed a strong aversion to calling 911 in the middle of the night.

Abandoning my machismo midway between floor and ceiling, I reluctantly descended the ladder. My antics somehow jostled the dangling smoke detector into temporary silence, which I assured my spouse was the master plan all along.

Mischief managed, crisis averted, and manhood restored.

The church’s building director brought a 10-foot tall stepladder to the parsonage the following morning. I supervised from floor level as he replaced the battery. Informed knowhow and proper equipment quickly completed the project, but I assured myself that the scene didn’t provide the death-defying entertainment of my previous night’s escapades.

Follow me for more home maintenance tips!

About Time

A church leader introduced me to the Franklin Covey Day-Timer in the 1990s. The paper-based planning system appealed to my sense of discipline and order. The daily planner incorporates prioritized tasks, daily notes, monthly calendars, personalized sections, and address books. The leather binder contains a significant portion of my world!

My work with large staffs eventually caused me to adopt an Outlook calendar. It syncs with my phone to constantly update my schedule. The share feature enables people to coordinate meetings and to send reminders.

Time management experts encourage the use of a single calendar. Despite technological advances, I remain an analog native in a digital world. I enjoy opening the leather binder and viewing an entire month. The two-page daily calendar provides space for daily tasks and notes. Checking “Done” on the “To Do” list grants an endorphin high!  

Last month I received the 2023 refill pack, which includes a two-page, monthly calendar for the coming year. The white pages gleamed without mar or mark. I envisioned a world with no obligations, responsibilities, or appointments. Then reality reasserted itself.

Next year’s calendar already bears the marks of pencil, pen, and marker. Sometimes it feels overwhelming; but I realize what ties us down also frees us up for God’s work.

A critic gave this review to a mediocre play, “A great way to kill time for those wishing it dead!”

We receive each day as a gift from God’s gracious hand. Therefore, seize the day and redeem the time. We don’t have a second to waste.  


Paul encouraged the church in Romans 12:12, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” The verse has inspired my devotional life in 2022.  

“Rejoice in hope.” Paul reveals a vital connection between the attributes of joy and hope. Christians rejoice in the present because of our hope for the future. The Holy Spirit exhorts my soul with a two-word refrain, “Choose joy!” Christians possess an eternal perspective that enables us to claim Frederick Buechner’s reminder, “Resurrection means that the worst thing is never the last thing.”

“Be patient in tribulation.” A meme on a clergy site declared, ‘Being a pastor is easy. It’s like riding a bike. Except the bike is on fire. You are on fire. And the committee for fire suppression needs a quorum!” Everyone faces troubles and trials. Patience recognizes that this too shall pass.  In the interim, we listen for God’s voice in the midst of the storm and in the aftermath of the stillness.

“Be constant in prayer.” Constancy means spending specific times and all times in God’s presence. Devotional discipline sets aside daily times and places for divine appointments. However, sanctified spirits experience the Holy Spirit’s presence in every time and place.

Join me in committing Romans 12:12 to memory. Recite the verse as a devotional aid. Repeat the words as a breath prayer. Claim the passage every moment of the day and night.  

Joy. Hope. Patience. Tribulation. Constancy. Prayer. Here, we find God, and God finds us.