"Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse." (Henry Van Dyke) What impulses have you been acting on lately? I really dislike being anywhere close to the shopping malls during this time of the year, so that probably accounts for my frequent deliveries from the guy who works for Amazon! It isn't that I don't like people - I just don't like some of the impulses they act upon during this rushed and frenzied time of year. It seems that some of the most common acts of courtesy and kindness just fly out the window for some, while others take this season of sharing as a way to be a blessing to someone they don't even know. As we were at a local vendor a few days ago, mom wanted to purchase a small gift for one of the grandsons and something for my son-in-law. As we stood at the checkout counter, a woman of retirement age approached us and asked if she could pay for mom's purchases. Although mom reassured her that she was able to do so herself, the woman insisted. The blessing she was attempting to give was explained as, "I just want to do it for my late husband who passed seven years ago." The super-special blessing attempt was only foiled by her having taken the package right up along with hers and leaving the store with them! There mom was, holding the receipt for what she did not purchase, watching as the woman left with the two small gifts. I wonder what she will do with a matchbox car and some chili spice seasonings for grilling?
As we have looked at the birth of Christ, we have considered the fact he was born of a virgin, with an earthly father so willing to honor God with his life that he married a woman who was already pregnant. In that day and time, a very taboo thing. We also saw how the mother of Christ was chosen by God and given the dramatic news that she would carry the Son of God. Imagine her awe, but also see her tremendous amount of fear as she would have received this announcement, knowing all she knew about the time in which she lived about how a woman out of wedlock showing up pregnant would be treated. We also explored the lowly birth of Jesus in a stable of sorts, surrounded by animals, visited by shepherds, and then honored by magi from afar. The announcement of his birth was by angels - start to finish. Mary heard from an angel (a messenger from God), while Joseph was set at ease by a messenger from God on another occasion - assuring him the thing he was about to do in marrying Mary wa