The Master’s Voice

Little lambs are so soft, cuddly and cute! In my mid teens, my siblings and I were given a lamb which I promptly named “Lambie.” Very original, huh?! It was only intended until something better came to mind, but nothing ever did. She was a twin, abandoned by her mother and given to us by our cousin, Robert, from his flock. I don’t know the breed, but she had light gray wool with a black face and black legs.

As Lambie’s main caretaker, I took responsibility to make sure she was fed. Following my Dad’s directions, I made a gruel with oatmeal, water and evaporated milk, feeding it to her in a glass bottle which had one of my brother’s bottle nipples attached – we were good at making do. And I loved to watch her little tail go “ninety miles an hour” while she drank!

Lambie was small, not very old, so we kept her in a box near the old-fashioned wood-burning kitchen stove to keep her warm. It was too cold to put her out in the barn all by herself without her mama. Even our mutt, Pepsi, of terrier and other unknown parentage, liked nothing better than to jump into Lambie’s box to check out this new arrival to our menagerie. And, I’m sure Pepsi wondered why this little one said “baaaa” and didn’t whimper like a puppy, but she contentedly mothered her adopted baby anyway!

Eventually, Lambie went to her pen in the barn, and followed me wherever I went. It was fun to watch her spring up and down as she played and ran about the yard and nibbled on the grass. Occasionally, she tried to wander beyond her guardian’s protection until called back to my side. Though I never considered myself her “shepherd,” in reality I was. I provided food and water for her, protected her and kept her from harm… until the vet diagnosed her with Listeriosis, or circling disease. Nothing could be done for her and we had to put her down. Crying so hard I could barely see, I insisted to my Dad that I would dig the grave at the edge of the raspberry patch and bury little Lambie by myself.

Such were the thoughts that came to mind after writing the poem below which is based on Jesus’ parable found in John 10:1-21. Here, we read that the Good Shepherd knows each one of his sheep, and He calls them by name. But, the sheep also know their shepherd, recognize his voice, and follow wherever he leads them. Should a stranger enter the fold, the sheep will not follow him… instead, they will run around wildly or just run away en masse, simply because they aren’t familiar with the stranger’s voice.

Perhaps, under cover, a thief may come near the flock, pretending to be their shepherd. He may disguise himself and draw a few young, inexperienced sheep away who think they’re following their shepherd. Or, a predator may sneak up on an unsuspecting lamb and lead it astray. Disoriented and lost, the lamb follows the predator to supposed safety. Soon it becomes obvious that the predator is not its shepherd… but by then it’s too late.

Except, the true shepherd with his trained eye realizes what’s happened. Like another of Jesus’ parables in Luke 15:3-6, He seeks out His precious lamb and brings it back, or willingly fights off the predator to rescue his little lost lamb. Listening to its Master’s voice, the lamb turns around and joyfully runs back to the safety of the flock… and there it stays, feeling content and peaceful under the watchful eye of its protective shepherd.

And I thought, how like those sheep we are… As Isaiah 53:6 says, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” We have a tendency at times to follow what sounds and looks so good, what seems so right… only to realize later that we’ve been duped… we were on the wrong track… and we need someone to save us.

That someone, the Master, the Good Shepherd, would do anything for us, His sheep… especially those who have wandered off or been drawn away by a predator. Not so the hireling who doesn’t care much about someone else’s sheep. With only a little provocation, he’d as soon run away than fight for the lives of those sheep. Just as my heart ached and cried for the loss of my lamb, so the Good Shepherd of our story aches for the lost, and would lay down His own life to protect and save His precious sheep from harm.

And isn’t that what our Lord, our Good Shepherd, our Master, has done for us? May we always hear the love in our Master’s voice within our heart and follow His leading…
The Master’s Voice
Linda A. Roorda
Like gentle sheep we’re prone to wander
Easily enticed by things of this world
But at the sound of our Master’s voice
Will we then heed or continue headstrong?
The Master’s words will not lead astray
Seeking the ones who meander off
Softly calling each one by name
With tender words of comfort and peace.
When storms arrive and release their fury
The shepherd guides his flock to safety.
How like our Master who longs to embrace
And bring us home to rest in His arms.
When wolves appear like gentle sheep clothed
With flattery smooth they strike unannounced
Their intention dark, the naïve to deceive
Serving their needs, the meek to destroy.
Then words of wisdom are soon directed
At wandering lambs who have left the fold
Calling them back to a sheltered life
Protected under the Master’s great love.
Unlike the hireling, He lays down His life
Whatever it takes to gather His own
Take heed to His call and flee from the foe
Lean into His arms of mercy and grace.
Like a good Shepherd is our Savior Lord
With care He protects each sheep in His fold
It matters to Him whose words we follow
The call of folly or the Master’s voice.
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Oh that we lived in a perfect world – but we don’t, on this side of Heaven anyway.  Not everything goes our way, but our response can make a difference.  So, why am I hesitant to express my opinion? There’s a place for respectful disagreements, including of each other’s faith, a lack thereof recently espoused by Joy Behar of The View and many who admire her.  I happen to agree with Vice President Mike Pence on expressing his Christian faith.  I, too, have heard the “voice” of God… sometimes loud and clear as if someone stood next to me uttering the words, other times nothing more than a gentle nudge in my soul.

But, in re: recent school shootings, Ed and I have long felt there’s something eating away at society, like a cancer.  I question if more gun laws will make a big difference in overall statistics of violence, though I do believe some laws strengthened may be more of a deterrent than others.  I’ve also felt that the gun-purchase age should be 21, and heard that’s under consideration.   Except, our young men and women can join the military and go off to war at 18.  So the age for gun purchase is not necessarily the answer either.

My Dad’s guns were freely available to me and my brothers as teens, after training in respectful use, and we never considered using them wrongly.  We can argue gun crime stats till the cows come home, but I don’t believe access to guns by teens is our main issue – any manner of weapon can be used, even a rock by Cain to kill his brother Abel in a fit of jealous rage.  It’s a lack of respect… for the worth of another human being… with an increase in bullying and anger-management issues.  Many at-risk youths have not learned how to appropriately redirect their losses, upsets or anger other than to lash out at those around them – especially when adults use violence to release their own anger.  There seems to be a lack of discipline – kids know what they can get away with, or report their parents or teachers for.  And, sometimes, kids lack appropriate role models as we adults can be poor examples at times.

Amidst the violence, angry rhetoric, and sexual harassment and misconduct in our society, something seems to be missing.  And I wonder, what happened to the respect we once showed each other?

Showing courtesy, consideration and honor to others fit together under one term – respect.  Displaying an attitude of humility with respect shows the depth of our own character and integrity.  Yet, it seems mocking or hateful vitriol is the language preferred from many directions.  Like you, I find it appalling.

Too often we feel free to disparage and mock the opposition of our dearly-held beliefs, yet we’re appalled if our own perspectives are attacked.  Once upon a time, we honored each other… despite our differences.  Once upon a time, we agreed to disagree.  We were able to debate and argue our points in a respectful manner, but now it seems that mocking, hate-filled rhetoric, and even violence is “de rigueur.”  Why?

I’ve pondered the societal denigration which brought about the November 2008 Black Friday shopping stampede.  The epitome of greed fed that mad rush, pushing and shoving throughout the crowd, just to satisfy selfish desires… for Christmas gifts no less… resulting in the trampling death of a Wal-Mart employee.  I remember hearing this story on the news then, and being saddened and appalled that such a tragedy could have even happened.

But, isn’t it greed and selfishness which results in any crime, whether it be robbery or murder?  We’re jealous.  We dislike.  And we allow minor slights to fester.  We have our rights, hold grudges, and can’t forgive.  Someone has what we want so we take it to satisfy our pleasure, or destroy the ones who own it.  How unutterably sad that society has stooped to this level.  Yet, there’s nothing new under the sun, as Solomon once said.  (Ecclesiastes 1:9)  Even Adam and Eve’s son Cain killed his brother, Abel, out of jealousy that festered and grew into a murderous hatred.  (Genesis 4:4-12)

These thoughts reminded me of the vitriol espoused by and against various public officials, particularly during election time.  It’s a hatred of those holding and expressing their Christian biblical values.  Venting in a despicable manner is so unbecoming.  Whether by, or against, the president of our nation or any of our local officials, including law enforcement officers, such words seem to be the norm lately.  With a hatred fueled perhaps by others’ rhetoric, and a loathing of that with which we disagree, passions are fed and all manner of evil erupts from the human heart… rather than allowing the opposition their time in the spotlight.

In the Summer of 2017, many thought it was “the right thing to do” by taking down statues erected in memory of our nation’s historical past.  We cannot rewrite history by destroying that with which we disagree, and are instead setting a dangerous precedent.  In removing what is considered a negative, perhaps we miss the opportunity to learn from past mistakes… personal and collective, national and international.  Perhaps there are teachable moments that would draw our divergent beliefs together in common ground.  In the slippery progression to remove more and more references to our historical past, what’s next?  Think long and hard of the consequences…

Yet, a contrast to such rhetoric and violence can be found in Jesus’ teachings that we call The Beatitudes, especially one simple phrase we all know as the Golden Rule.  “So, in everything, do to others what you would have them to do you…” (Matthew 7:12 NIV)  What better way to love our neighbor… even our enemy!  What better way to show Christ’s love to others than by lending a helping hand with courtesy… while respecting our differences.

When an expert in the old Jewish law asked, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  (Matthew 22:36-39 NIV)

Wow!  What a depth of perfect wisdom we find in Jesus’ words!  In taking them to heart, there’d be no more abuse, petty fights or squabbles among us, or even great wars.  We’d be so in tune to each other’s needs that our selfish ego and desires would vanish.  All out of a simple respect for each other.  May God bless each of us as we practice that kind of true humility.


Linda A. Roorda

It seems we’ve mislaid respect and value.

We want what we want, and deserve it now!

We’ll step on your toes, fight and destroy

Not caring to pause and treasure your worth.


Entitled am I, my wants come first

I rush and push, and trample on through.

How dare you think that I could be wrong

I have my rights!  Get out of my way!


Oh, to our shame, what have we done…

We once shared love but now foster hate,

We once treasured folks for who they are

And valued their rights as much as our own.


Common courtesy, we salute your ways

 With manners polite and outstretched arms

Welcoming others with civility’s mores

Regarding humility as our tone of grace.


With deference and honor we highly esteem

Others before self with gratitude’s praise

Rendering tribute where homage is due

Tactful and kind, we respect you for you.


02/21/17 – 06/19/17

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Oh God! The Pain Out There…

Here we go again… another killing rampage leaving behind dead and wounded, with families devastated and torn apart.  How sad.  How tragically sad for everyone involved, including the family of the man pulling the trigger.  My thoughts and prayers go out to all involved for their peace amidst the utter senselessness of it all.

At a time like this, we often ask “Why?” None of these recent killing sprees makes any sense – including the young men who beat to death a WWII vet with their flashlights in Washington state; the young black men who shot to death the white Australian tourist in Colorado because, in their own words, they were bored; the brothers who unleashed mayhem and murder with homemade bombs upon those at the Boston Marathon; the lone killer of the elementary school children in Connecticut, and the list goes on.  And now in Broward County, Florida.  And again we ask, “Why?”

At some point, it seems to me, when one becomes desensitized to destruction in moral decay within society by the incessant evil and violence on TV, in movies, and in video/computer games, life is cheapened to a meaningless and worthless entity, and we bully and kill to get our way.  The weapons themselves are only the instruments.  We can ban every possible weapon we can think of; but, then, we remember that once upon a time Cain killed his brother Abel with a rock.  The evil lies in the human heart and the thought behind the weapon’s use.

Perhaps we might look back and see a shift in culture – away from moral absolutes, away from a lack of respect, away from a lack of responsibility to each other, away from discipline, away from a love of those around us, and, perhaps the key to them all, away from a relationship with God, our Creator.  These principles are not inherently within us from birth; they must be modeled and taught.  And I would prefer to see how God can work in my life and use me, you, each of us, to reach out to another in need…

Oh God! The Pain Out There…

Linda A. Roorda

Oh God!

The pain out there

Alive in this world

Is so immeasurably deep

It sears, it burns, it weeps.


Oh God!

Look into the heart

Of each hurting soul

And let them see

The love You hold for each.


Oh God!

Let me be your eyes

To see the many needs

Of those surrounding me

As we travel this road together.


Oh God!

Share glimpses with me

Into your heart of peace

So with arms of comfort

A life I may bless upon the way.

~ 2013 ~

Your Love is a Light

In a sense, our celebration of Valentine’s Day is but a small example of Christ’s love for us.  As we shower each other with loving words and gifts on a special day like this, we bring the light of love to our family and friends.  Yet, this love and appreciation we have for each other is also shown in a myriad of ways throughout the year to the world around us in a never-ending circle.

As we think about expressing a deep love for our spouse or significant other in special ways, we’re reminded of similarities to the love our Lord has shown us.  Coming to the humbling realization that God’s love is so much greater than anything we might experience amongst ourselves, our faith is deepened.  Such an incomparable love might be compared to a light that shines upon us and through us.  As the light of God’s great love draws us closer to Himself, it washes over us with a comforting peace, and His wisdom permeates our hearts that we may grow in grace… and so shine His light and love on those around us… a never-ending circle, for His love is like no other.

In I Corinthians 13, we see an apt description of what a loving relationship with each other looks like.  But, it also portrays the epitome of Christ’s sacrificial love for us.  His Holy word, His wisdom, embodies His light illuminating our heart as we eagerly reach for Him.  In daily reading and studying the messages He has for us, we can’t help but learn and mature as we live out our faith.  And, as the light of His word penetrates deeply into our soul, we become more like Him in our daily walk.  For when our hearts are open and receptive, the light we find in God nourishes us… like a plant that grows best under the warm rays of bright sunshine.

As John recorded for us, Jesus told the Pharisees who were questioning him, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)  Jesus made many other comments referring to Himself as the light of the world.  In teaching the great crowds in His sermon on the mount, Jesus expounded on our being shining examples of His light:  “You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”  (Matthew 5:14-16 NIV)

May the light of God’s love, His greatest gift, shine upon us, into our hearts, and through us as we shine His love out into the world!

Your Love is a Light

Linda A. Roorda

Your love is a light upon a dark hill

Its beams extending over all the earth.

Within its rays is Your peace divine

That covers my soul with a heavenly glow.


It saved me from destruction’s pit

From the grip of sin You pried me free.

How can I not but thank You ever

As mercy and grace shine down on my soul.


It’s a wisdom gained upon this path

By learning to face the trials and pain.

It lightens the load of burdens and cares

And seeks to open doors closed by injustice.


It beckons and draws the soul that is lost

To hands that created and long to enfold,

The hands holding joy and comforting peace,

When humbly we turn in faith to our Lord.


For we yearn to hear Your voice among us

Where Your presence lies in the face of need.

And may we then share Your matchless grace

With a world that seeks to fill a dark void.


Forever Your light will brightly glow

Drawing us out to heights of devotion

That as we shine Your love from our soul

Praises burst forth to our God of all light.


January 20, 2015

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Letters to You

I’m sure it doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone, but we don’t write letters like we used to. I know I don’t. We phone, email, text, tweet, IM, or whatever it takes to converse in an instant…

There was a time I regularly wrote letters to friends, and to my grandmother. Every week Grammy heard all about my growing pains and insecurities as a teen, all about adventures in my marriage as a farmer’s wife – gardening, learning to can and freeze food for the winter assisted by the gift of her invaluable book, “Rodale’s Organic Gardening”, and extensive sewing for my family. She heard all about my babies, her great-grands, as they grew up, always sending some small picture from a magazine or the front of a greeting card so that my “little ones” would have something special from her in the mail, too. I miss my grandmother… her Dutch accent coming through a mixture of English and Dutch words, but I especially miss her insight and wisdom filling those letters. I always looked forward to them, and I often wish I could reread the treasures of her letters just once more.

I’ve read letters from the slower-paced Colonial and Victorian eras on through the modern 20th century – from friend to friend, farmer diaries while researching my genealogy, tender voices in love, those written during war from the battlefield to the family back home, or from the home fires bringing cheer to a weary soldier… each carrying messages from the heart.

Nowadays, life is so hectic for all of us. It seems I’m always on the go, cramming work, appointments, hobbies, household chores, and so much more into 16-18 hour days. It’s a different kind of busy from when our children were growing up. We have all our modern conveniences, but do we really get more done? Sometimes, slowing down a pace, and taking time to keep in touch with our friends and loved ones adds a bit more meaning to our busy days.

Letters or cards that we write or receive, or even an email with a personal touch, bring a smile to brighten someone’s day. There’s a special meaning conveyed in the written word when we take pen in hand, or type an email. Sharing kindness by simply taking the time to express our personal thoughts is to know how deeply we can touch a heart… especially when illness or a few too many miles separate us.

For there’s something we cherish about a personal handwritten letter that carries the fingerprint of joy as we hold the tangible evidence of love in our hands… from one heart to another. Now… where’s that pen?
Letters To You
Linda A. Roorda
Letters written from my heart to yours
Thoughts of the past, reflections of life
Conveying a love enriched by words
With comfort and peace midst turmoil and din.
Taking the time to contemplate worth
Words begin flight, your heart to touch,
A tribute preserved forever in ink
With treasured purpose in message borne.
Through words expressed we feel the love
When distance claims your presence afar
As swirling ideas echo in thoughts
To find release through pen in hand.
They speak of days now long forgotten
Reminding of trials we somehow overcame.
They pause to reflect on issues of the day
Leading the way to cathartic journey.
In letters written as the heart pours out
Joy is expressed to bless another,
Testament is given of God’s tender care
That others may know encouragement’s voice.
For by our words we unveil our soul
Our deepest thoughts midst fears and blessings,
A sharing of self that entwines our lives
In letters written from my heart to yours.
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A New Year’s Resolution

It’s that time again!  Time to make our New Year’s resolutions!  Every year, many of us contemplate where we’ve been and where we’re going, and what to do about it.  We make our New Year’s resolutions with every best intention, but all too often the determination fades as enthusiasm wanes.  As we head into a future of unknowns, we like to exchange some of our old habits for new, whether they be simple mundane issues of life or more serious life-changing alterations.  Yet, there’s one resolution that’s always in vogue.

Not in the habit of making an annual list, I’ve been confronted over many years with seeking and extending forgiveness.  Pressing on my heart were ways I had offended others.  Regretting foolish words I’d said in younger days, I set about attempting to make amends with heart-felt apologies.  Though apprehensive at how my messages would be perceived, writing them brought tears in admitting my wrongs, with relief for doing the right thing by apologizing.  And then came joy and gratitude with the blessing of generous forgiving responses.

We’ve all been hurt and wounded by the words or actions of another.  We can be so hard on each other in this world, intentionally or not.  Once we’ve been hurt, it doesn’t take much to be wounded even deeper.  And we hold onto those grudges.  We have a right!  I know… I’ve been there… coming from a dysfunctional family, a difficult thing to admit.  Writing a poem for my Dad, removing all trace of negativity by wording it in positives, we were especially close with forgiving hearts during his last years.  Forgiving my mother and making her a quilt brought us a closeness we’d never had before.  I even got to hear both my parents echo my “I love you” at every encounter, words I’d not heard while growing up.

In the long run, grudges don’t do anyone any good… including, and especially, ourselves.  They erode our joy from the inside.  They take away our ability to see the blessings in someone else’s life. Sometimes we want revenge because of the pain we’ve allowed to fester.  But, carrying a grudge for any length of time damages us, not the person we hold it against.  They might not even know what they’ve done!  Go to the person, explain the problem, and attempt to make amends.

We also feel a release as we forgive the offender even if they don’t apologize or realize that their actions were wrong and hurtful… even when no one else understands what really happened.  Releasing the hurt through prayer allows God to take care of the situation.  Our forgiveness of the offender’s injustice sets us free to love more fully… just as God loves us, because we sure aren’t perfect.

However, forgiveness does not always mean restoration of a prior relationship. We need to set appropriate boundaries of respect.  Forgiving someone does not mean they are given an open door to resume their old ways… especially if they continue to lie or refuse to believe they did anything wrong.  When you have tried repeatedly to reconcile and discuss the situation, and no conciliatory effort is shown to understand how they offended you, nor a willingness to apologize and truly make amends… it may be time to walk away, for trust and respect are earned.  We can try to cover up our guilt with a façade of innocence, hiding our wrongs from others, but God knows the truth.

As Desmond Tutu wrote, “Forgiveness does not relieve someone of responsibility for what they have done.  Forgiveness does not erase accountability.  It is not about turning a blind eye or even turning the other cheek.  It is not about letting someone off the hook or saying it is okay to do something monstrous.  Forgiveness is simply about understanding that every one of us is both inherently good and inherently flawed.  Within every hopeless situation and every seemingly hopeless person lies the possibility of transformation.”*

Tutu went on to say, “Forgiving and being reconciled to our enemies or our loved ones are not about pretending that things are other than they are.  It is not about patting one another on the back and turning a blind eye to the wrong.  True reconciliation exposes the awfulness, the abuse, the hurt, the truth.  It could even sometimes make things worse.  It is a risky undertaking; but, in the end it is worthwhile, because in the end only an honest confrontation with reality can bring real healing.”**

As the old saying goes, hope springs eternal, and there is always hope that, in time, restoration will happen between you and another.  For there is a much better path found in forgiveness… that of peace and joy.  It happens when we each admit our errors, our faults, our sins… and apologize and seek forgiveness from the one we’ve offended, and from our Lord, as we live out the change in our heart.  In this is found true peace… a joy-filled contentment that no one can take away.

The disciple Peter asked our Lord how many times he should forgive his brother who had sinned against him.  Jesus replied that he should forgive “seventy times seven” – in other words, endlessly.  (Matthew 18:22)   That’s a tough one, isn’t it?!  Yet, as C. S. Lewis wrote, “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”  Oh, how true!

The apostle Paul also reminds us to “…clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love [and] let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.  And be thankful.”  (Colossians 3:12-14)

Forgiveness… it may be the last thing we want to do for someone who hurt us deeply… but, when we forgive, it leaves us feeling washed clean and ready for a new start.  And, our heart is filled with a renewed sense of love to readily share with others.  What a great resolution to start a new year!

Wishing you a very Happy and Blessed New Year!


Linda A. Roorda

Hurts of the heart that abound in life

The pain inflicted, the soul that’s wounded

The careless words and endless strife

Erode our spirit and remove our joy.


Raging battlefield within our mind

Waging havoc amid destruction

Erecting walls with blinded eyes

That limit our world and destroy us inside.


Offender at times, tossing outward darts

Offended the next with indignation

We each share blame for wrongs committed

As we nurse our wounds or savor victory.


Then my soul pours out transgressions I’ve made

For You know my heart, my thoughts and my deeds

Nothing is hidden, repentant I am

As humbly I pray with face turned to You.


Your wisdom alone has pierced my heart

You’ve caused me to see the wrong of my ways

For within Your Word are Truths that shed light

As I walk this path that draws me to You.


To cleanse my soul, forgiveness I seek

To redeem the gift You’ve given for me

Your life on a cross that I might be free

The depth of Your love I cannot repay.


Then go and seek the one you’ve offended

Make right the path you both must walk

Follow the lead of our Lord above

Lay down your pride, release your burden.


Forgiveness like oil my soul You anoint

In comforting peace with mercy and grace

Your blessings of love now cover my heart

Redeemed am I, Your praises to sing.


For there is no peace like to that above

When forgiveness reigns in our tender hearts

Compassion to share as blessings abound

Bring heaven’s joy to shine brightly down.


04/09/14 – 08/03/14

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* Desmond Tutu, “The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World”

** Desmond Tutu, Greater Good Magazine, 10/01/04, “Truth and Reconciliation”


Gift Wrapped

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!”*  We love that old song and the memories it stirs.  But what does Christmas look like?  Along with hopes for the proverbial white Christmas, we each have special ways to remember and celebrate this joyous holiday.

Lights are strung to outline houses, bushes and trees, and even vehicles!  Christmas trees of real or faux evergreen in varying sizes are put up inside the house.  Then we choose white lights, mixed colors, or a single-color theme. And we add decorations and bows, candles, poinsettias and more to bring a festive holiday look to our homes.  There are as many ways to decorate as we are different and unique!

But then there’s the other part… shopping!  It can either be fun or a chore… yet, there’s something in the busy, frenzied pace that belies the true peace of Christmas.  I confess to not liking the commercialization that starts barely after Thanksgiving is over, if not earlier.  I don’t like hectic shopping, looking for just the right gift by trekking from store to store for hours on end, and waiting in long lines that go on forever.  And we especially don’t care to be among rushing crowds that push and shove and grab… we’ve all heard about those examples which, thankfully, I’ve not personally witnessed.  The deals may be hard to beat, but… that ambience leaves a bit to be desired.

I prefer leisurely shopping trips, listening to Christmas music playing in the background with list in hand because I’m not good at off-the-cuff gift decisions.  I enjoy gazing at the fancy decorations and gift ideas on display, giving smiles to other shoppers, and watching the faces of little kids light up at the sights.  But shh!!  I have to admit I’ve taken advantage of online shopping and actually prefer it now.  Yes, me!  Someone who could never imagine she’d ever do that, but who’s glad to get away from the crowds!

Oh, and let’s not forget the best part of Christmas… all those gift-wrapped packages under the tree!  They hold hidden treasures for loved ones and friends, secrets known only to the giver. Giving a gift is exciting, really the best part!  As the recipient unwraps their gift, they tend to take on the bright glow of joy… and treasure the gift wrapped with love from your heart to theirs.

I’m sure some of my other favorite Christmas memories are yours, too… like Christmas Eve candlelight services, caroling with friends to greet those who are housebound, memories of Christmas Day morning worship services of my childhood, and the happy gatherings of family and friends.

All of which brings me to contemplate the treasured gift we celebrate on this special day – a baby born a long time ago.  Seemingly no different than any other infant… except that this one was born in a stable, amongst the cattle, donkeys, cats and mice… a baby whose birth was announced by angels to lowly dirty shepherds living out in the fields… a baby whose life still holds special meaning for us today.

To an astonished young woman, the blessed virgin Mary, the angel Gabriel had appeared with this message: “’Greetings, you who are highly favored!  The Lord is with you.’  Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.  But the angel said to her, “’Do not be afraid, Mary. You have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.’”  Luke 1:29-32 NIV

In due time, Mary’s little baby was born… in a stable, there being no room in the inn at Bethlehem.  “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone ‘round about them, and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not!  For behold, I bring you tidings of great joy which will be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you.  You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger.’  And suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men.’”  Luke 2:8-14

That birth announcement must have been so exciting, yet very humbling, to have seen and heard!  How awesome to consider that God sent us His love as a tiny infant, gift wrapped in swaddling clothes.  The baby Jesus – Emmanuel, God with us… the one who walked this earth on His journey to a cross… He’s the gift of salvation for us to unwrap and treasure.  Yes, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Merry Christmas to each of you!

Gift Wrapped

Linda A. Roorda

In wintry stillness there’s a peace I find

While the world’s a’bustle with its fast-paced voice

Midst a din that beckons in all directions

To draw me away from peaceful reflection.


From frenzied crowds to pushy shoppers

There’s a greed we find in ego’s actions.

May we bless instead by giving of self

For within each heart we hold the treasure.


Yet it seems we rush from here to there

Exhaustion filling our stressed-out lives.

Did we accomplish what needed doing

Or merely deplete our dignity’s calm?


May even we with our lists so long

Take time to ponder and remember why

The reason for joy in this season of cheer

Is gift wrapped in peace and given with love.


In celebration our voices are joined

Recalling a birth from long, long ago

Announced to shepherds by angels on high

“Glory to God…and on earth peace to all.”


For with the birth of baby Jesus

We gaze in awe on the promised One

Messiah, Savior, and Light of the world

The Prince of Peace for our seeking hearts.


Most holy of nights when God came to earth

To share Himself, gift wrapped and swaddled

With an invitation that we would unwrap

His gift encased in salvation’s love.



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*Written by Meredith Willson in 1951, sung by many, hits by Perry Como and Bing Cosby