Archive for December, 2015
by Stephanie Wickham, Drama Teacher
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” proclaims the ornament sitting above my fireplace. I love Christmas! Everything about this holiday makes me warm up inside! I guess it could just be the Carmel Brule latte from Starbucks I have in my hand, but I know there is more to it than that.
I’m sure you have read the blog posts or seen the dozens of Christmas movies that remind us the season is more than just giving presents. They tell us that it’s also a time of celebration and love. Some go a little deeper and take you back to the night in Bethlehem when Jesus Christ was born in a manger. I welcome these reminders of the true meaning of Christmas and wish we would take their lessons to heart more often than we do.
My question today, however, is this: What do you really want this year? I’m not talking about the iPhone 6s or any other trendy item that will be marketed as one of the most desired gifts this Christmas season. I’m asking, when it comes down to it, what do you most care about receiving this year?
I believe it’s the memories we make, weather good or bad, that we will look back on each year. I don’t remember many gifts I received when I was younger, but I do remember sitting between my parents, listening to my dad read an Advent devotional and staring at the tree, its lights the only glow coming from the house.
I think many of us would agree that we desire a Christmas where there is laughter, joy, friendship, and family. We want to feel like we belong, that we are surrounded by people who care and celebrate simply being there with us. I find it interesting that we are so aware of this basic human need to belong on this particular holiday. I think that we are always searching for belonging, but because of the celebrations and family gatherings, we become more sensitive towards how we feel when we suddenly find ourselves surrounded by the people we believe should be fulfilling this need.
There may be many other things affecting your Christmas spirit this year; the loss of a child or parent, divorce papers, financial setbacks, or any of the other difficulties we face as humans in a messed up world. Yet when we are facing these issues, we still want to be comforted and loved by friends and family no matter how much we may deny it. We all lose the magic of Christmas as we grow. It turns into another day with garland and lights. How do we find the magic we believed in as children?
Dream with me: You wake up early on December 25th. The rest of your family has not yet woken up, but you glance out the window to see that there is snow falling gently to the ground. You get up to take a closer look at the world of white, noting that the rising sun is just catching the snow so it glitters. Thank you for snow, Lord—an amazing picture of how you cover the ugly things with a purifying beauty. You shuffle downstairs in your pajamas to make a pot of coffee. While you wait, you turn on the tree lights and open your Bible, remembering God’s gift to the world. Then you pour your first cup of coffee, thinking about the day ahead. When your family wakes up, you will all enjoy watching each other discover the gifts under the tree. Your thoughts move on to the meal you will share with your family and friends. It will take some work, but it will also be worth it when everyone is enjoying the meal together. Your thoughts are broken as you hear another door open in the house. Here comes the family! This is my version of a perfect Christmas morning, though yours may look different.
I want to leave you with one last thought: we all have a vision of a happy Christmas. The memories are much dearer to us than anything we receive. Our desires to be loved and provide love are the deepest gifts we hope to exchange with each other. Jesus provided a picture of that love as He became a baby who would one day cleanse the world of death. He accepts you as you are; all He asks is that you come to Him and belong to Him. That baby in the manger really did come, and He really was God. When you choose to fill your life with Him, you find a joy beyond comparison no matter where you are this Christmas season. I promise that He will be the renewed Christmas spirit you are searching for. Now that is what I call a Happy Christmas!
by Christine Humphrey, Science Teacher
Ask my husband or my son, and they will both tell you I am a big murder mystery fan; have been since my early teen years. Two weeks ago, we went to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science on a Sunday afternoon, and I couldn’t believe my good fortune- they had an exhibit on “The Power of Poison”. Well, I certainly had to drag them both through that, and yes I did buy a book on The Poisons of Agatha Christie: A is for Arsenic by Kathryn Harkup. Although I am only up to Hemlock, it has been a fascinating read.
So, why am I talking about poisons when this is a blog for a Christian school? My mind sometimes makes strange connections, and as I sat pondering the series our pastor has been doing at church “Conduct becoming a Christian” the connection between my conduct and the mode of operation of several of the poisons I read about struck me.
C is for Cyanide. According to Harkup, the way that Cyanide kills is by its interaction with a specific enzyme, namely cytochrome c oxidase. This “enzyme is the final step in the cascade of the reactions of respiration. An atom of iron lies at the active site of cytochrome c oxidase, and it is here that an oxygen molecule normally binds…cyanide readily takes the place of oxygen” (p.79) binding irreversibly to the iron and stopping the chemical reactions short. (Note: if you are a biology student reading this- remember why we need Oxygen??? Yes- to pull those electrons through the ETC and ultimately enable the production of ATP- the energy currency molecule of the cell). No ATP, no energy for reactions and you won’t live very long!
C is for conduct. Since September, our Pastor has been speaking on the topic of Conduct becoming a believer. He defined conduct this way “Conduct is our life, our living behavior. But more than that, it speaks to our passions and our internal spirit.” (Craig, Sept. 13). Throughout his sermons he focused on different areas of our conduct: my speech (Eph 4:29 “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouth but only such as is good for building up”; my interactions with others in terms of caring for others (I Timothy 5), particularly those of the “household of faith” as we are the living example that many non-believers will see; and my treatment of others when there are disagreements: where sin is involved (go in private 1st– in other words, don’t gossip, deal with disagreements in a Biblical fashion); and disagreements where no sin is not involved: “why not rather be wronged…” (I Cor. 7:6b).
C is for Christian. He closed his last message on the topic with a reflection on the passage in Matthew 18 with the parable of the man who had been forgiven much, who then turned around and would not forgive a small debt that was “owed him”. He prefaced this passage with the statement: “Not everything is worth dying for!” Christ used this story as an analogy for the great debt we each have been forgiven, and His command that followed was that we are to forgive others. This has been a convicting series for me in many regards. As I have sat in church on different Sundays, the Holy Spirit brought to mind times where my conduct was not becoming a Christian: To my family, to my church family, and to others. This morning, I thought about how, with my conduct, I have the ability to help bring life to others or to cause decay (i.e. poison others).
May my Conduct not be like Cyanide. So, that brings me back to poisons. Although I enjoy reading murder mysteries and have found the book by Harkup fascinating, I am praying that my conduct does not act like these poisons I have been reading about, directly or indirectly. My words and actions can directly rob someone of the energy that they need to live (like the poison Cyanide does), or they can indirectly poison others. As a parent, I am often taken aback when I see behavior in my child that I don’t like only to realize that I modeled that same behavior for him. God’s Word reminds me that through the Holy Spirit’s enabling, I can choose that which will be life giving to others, over that which will not. I may not always see the direct result of my conduct- good or bad, but there is One who does see, the same One who came to give Life to me.