The Middle Child of Holidays

Face it.  Thanksgiving is the middle child of the holiday season.

People make a great fuss about Halloween.  Of course they do; it’s the holiday first-born.  First-borns make us “parents for the first time.”  Duh! Your other children wonder why you don’t affirm that obvious piece of information about them.  After all, they made you parents for the second and fifth time.  

Likewise, Halloween inaugurates the holiday season, and its popularity seems to have grown over recent years.  It’s like National Blueberry Popsicle Month doesn’t even exist.  

Spooky costumes and candy corn have this strange way of prepping us for Christmas.

And Christmas can do no wrong.  Obviously!  The baby of the family gets away with everything.  You don’t have to have a baby sibling to know that.  Just watch Ferris Bueller’s Day Off again.  

Everyone thinks the babies are so cute.  By the way, that drives older siblings crazy because they (we) know better.  If you don’t think that applies to Christmas, ask yourself why we sing Away in the Manger so many times before and after December 25th.  I wasn’t there, but I’m guessing fleeing from an imperial killer and having a stable-birth wasn’t that cutesy.

In the middle of the excitement of Monster Mash and Charlie Brown’s tree creeps in Thanksgiving.  Sure, we knew it was there all along.  We love it unconditionally.  We don’t mean for it to appear like we forgot about it. We just wanted to start decorating for something else, 2 months early.

When T-day comes we’ll do what it takes to make it perfect.  In the mean time, we’re still regretting the Halloween pounds and beginning to stress about that fact that Christmas is almost here. Six-month countdowns will do that to you.

Middle children understand.  They’ve heard it all before.

I think it’s time we realize how much we’ve neglected our holiday middle child.

Considering all that God has done for us, giving thanks is a meaningful part of life and faith.  Undoubtedly, someone will remind you that is something we do everyday and not just on one holiday.  

It may be annoying when they say it, but they are right.  “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.  His love endures forever” (Psalm 107:1).  God’s faithfulness lasts forever.  So, our thanksgiving should endure more than the last Thursday of November.  

But maybe that one day can teach us something important so that we can learn to give thanks more often. You may have to put a little effort into it.  There’s only so much football and overeating can teach an American, after all.

Find/make/renew a tradition to make thanksgiving the meaning of Thanksgiving.

Just know, however, that people tend to wait until after Halloween to ask if you’re getting ready for Christmas.  Thanksgiving gets no such R-E-S-P-E-C-T.   But you’ve got thanksgiving on your mind.  

So, when they do ask about Christmas before Advent (don’t even get me started),  you just ask them what they have against your middle child.

In all, wow can you make Thanksgiving (the holiday) more meaningful, and thanksgiving (lower case t, the way of life) more frequent?

Stay blessed…john

Peace to a chaotic world

I guess you could call me a disciple of RVL.

I’ve made use all of his That the World May Know studies either in church or for personal study. Multiple times, too.

His approach to reading scripture, which I know is not unique to him, changed completely both the way I read the Bible and the love I have for God’s word.

This weekend, Gloria and are attending a seminar he is hosting. This will be the second time I’ve seen him teach in person. I made every effort to see him in NY a few months back. This is a shorter trip!

Here’s a recent interview with him. See if a fire doesn’t ignite within you.

#SpeakFreelyNotFluently

One of the most frustrating things about having a child with a stutter is the reaction from adults. Here’s something my wife and I have heard repeated so often: But she’s so smart.

Friends, having a stutter impacts your speech. It has no bearing on your intelligence or life potential.

One of my children has a stutter. She has taught me a lot about persistence and courage. Don’t be surprised that she is an A-honor roll student or was a part of the Texas All-State choir (with the possibility of doing it again).

Don’t be surprised that people who stutter are great athletes or fabulous chefs.

And don’t finish their sentences!

#SpeakFreelyNotFluently

Living up to expectations

When it comes to being a pastor of a church, I’m used to being the odd man out. That is, for whatever reasons, I tend to be the one that people remember because he was that different.

You might think that works to my advantage. Not usually.

As a result, I’ve learned if you don’t fit people’s expectations, they will not listen to you.

That’s okay. They were only going to listen to their expectations anyway.

Stay blessed…john

To Children’s Church or not to Children’s Church

I wholeheartedly disagree with the concept of completely removing children from “regular” worship. It’s a stupid, modern idea that perpetuates what’s wrong with our sense of worship.

What’s wrong with our sense of worship?

By and large, we speak of worship in terms of what it means to us. Going to church makes me feel good. It reenergizes me, gets me ready for the week.

That’s why we argue about worship styles and formats.

We’ve made worship about us. Worship is all about God.

Keeping fidgety children out of worship helps me focus more. Friend, if you can’t focus on God when you’re in a sanctuary, it’s not that child’s fault. How are you going to focus on God outside of the sanctuary?

Of course, we won’t say it’s because they’re disruptive. It’s to help them learn about Jesus. If that we’re true, you’d have brought them to Sunday School.

Now, again, having a complete worship “experience” just for children bothers me. What I wrestle with is whether there are moments or times when it’s good to allow children a time for themselves. My inclination is no. But I’ve always been a little flexible.

What’s your take on Children’s Church?

Stay blessed…john