It was Spence Ver Meer’s idea to get all of the men from Union Street Player’s production of “A Christmas Carol” together for a photograph in costume. I’m glad he did because they turned out to be fun photographs. I set up my trip-pod and remote control before Sunday afternoon’s closing matinee for this group shot. I used Snapseed to rough it up and give it a vintage, old photograph feel.
I captured one of my favorite moments from this past weekend’s production of “A Christmas Carol.” Scrooge (expertly performed [and I don’t use those words lightly] by Lonnie Appleby) arrives at his home unknowing that he stands on the threshold of a fateful night filled with four visitors. As Ebenezer approaches his door (complete with an amazing gargoyle-like, lion’s head door knocker painted by set designer Mat Kelly), the ghost of Marley (hauntingly performed by Pat Moriarity) appears in a apparition and foreshadowing of things to come.
I loved standing outside the theatre during performances to hear the gasp of both children and adults as they found themselves as surprised as Scrooge himself. I love the magic, live moments that theatre creates.
“Is not your wickedness great?
Are not your sins endless?”
Job 22:5 (NIV)
Along my life’s journey I have bumped into a few individuals who seem convinced that they hold the office of Special Prosecutor of the Almighty. Their mission, it appears, is to charge me (and others, to be sure) with my many sins and shortcomings. Job’s so-called friend, Eliphaz, now reveals himself to be one of these junior prosecutors.
In today’s chapter, Eli’s argument takes a decidedly prosecutorial bent. Not only is Eli convinced that Job is suffering for his many sins, he is now going to write an indictment and list the specific sins that surely must have precipitated such divine retribution as Job is clearly suffering. With Special Prosecutor Eliphaz, justice works in reverse. He first looks upon what he deems to be divine punishment and then decides what laws must have been broken to deserve such a sentence. Eliphaz comes up with quite a list. In fact, as I read it on this chilly December morning it sounds a lot like Ebenezer Scrooge:
“You demanded security from your relatives for no reason;
you stripped people of their clothing, leaving them naked.
You gave no water to the weary
and you withheld food from the hungry,
though you were a powerful man, owning land—
an honored man, living on it.
And you sent widows away empty-handed
and broke the strength of the fatherless.”
Bah. Humbug. It seems to me that Eliphaz reveals himself to be the one being miserly with wisdom, love and compassion.
Here are three problems I have with individuals like Eliphaz who wish to indict me of all my sins and shortcomings:
- Believe me, it is not necessary for anyone to convince me of my failures. I know them all too well.
- At least half (probably more) of the things you charge me with are simply not true.
- You don’t know nearly half of the things of which I am truly guilty.
Jesus was pretty adamant that “special prosecutor” was not part of the job description for those who wish to follow him. Love is at the top of the list. Forgiveness is up there too, along with compassion and kindness. We’re supposed to lift up those who are down, not stand over them and convince them why they fell.
Chapter-a-Day Psalm 68
God places the lonely in families;
he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.
Psalm 68:6a (NLT)
“Christmas is such a happy time of year,” Wendy said to me as we drove to rehearsal the other night. The Christmas lights on the businesses along Franklin Street were shining bright in the crisp night air and the Vermeer Windmill was decked out with all of its holiday decorations.
I wasn’t trying to be a Scrooge, but the first thought that came to my mind and my response to Wendy was “It’s not a happy time of year for everyone.” I know that the holidays can be incredibly stressful for some. For those who have lost loved ones or who struggle with loneliness, the holidays can be a time of increased anxiety and depression.
I can tell in the quiet this morning that my heart and mind have made the turn toward Advent. Advent comes from the latin term meaning “revealing.” It is traditionally the season followers of Jesus prepare their hearts each year to celebrate the birth of our Jesus on Christmas Day. Psalm 68 is a song of procession and was meant to be sung as people paraded to the temple to worship. It made me think about all of us who are making a procession towards Christmas. As I read the lyrics of the opening stanza of Psalm 68, I found it interesting those whom it describes in this processional to praise:
How appropriate, I think, for the downhearted to be called out for this parade. The whole reason for Christ to come as a baby, to live among us, to die for our sins, and to be raised back to life, is that which is broken in all of us might be healed. Consider that in His first public message, Jesus proclaimed his personal mission statement when He quoted these words:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
This morning I’m thinking about the upcoming Christmas holiday in relation to the downhearted, the lonely, the grieving, those in bondage to their destructive thoughts and behaviors, and those who are suffering emotionally and physically. As we proceed toward Christmas, I’m praying that those of us who are suffering. Instead of experiencing increased levels of loneliness, isolation, anxiety and pain, I’m praying for us all – myself absolutely included – to find the healing and hope which can be found wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
- Eco-Friendly Holiday Decorating (thehealthyhousewives.wordpress.com)
- 12 Dates of Christmas (aplacetodwell.wordpress.com)
- Advent… A Pilgrimage of the Soul (walkingwithbenedict.wordpress.com)
- Advent is Coming! Advent is Coming! (That’s Redundant Redundancy!) (cakeyhankerson.com)
- How Advent Can Be Much More Than “The Christmas Season” (glennpackiam.typepad.com)