Some 2013 Maybes

by Sarah Langness

The first few week of January is probably one of my least favorite times of year. Christmas is officially over. Stores have already clearanced all things Christmas to make room for Valentine’s decor; the radio stations no longer play music celebrating the Savior’s birth or anticipating the arrival of Santa Claus; and life has simply returned to normal. Relatives return home. Classes resume. Life goes on. And while returning to the routine of life is good, I miss the joy, the awe, the wonder, the fun that Christmas brings.

As I moped over the fact that Christmas has indeed come to a close this past week, I spent some solid time considering what exactly it is about Christmas that I love so much. Here’s what I came up with:

  • The music. I love the hymns we sing in church, going caroling, and playing Christmas music while I bake or sip some coffee. Sure there is great “non-Christmas” music; but you’ve got to admit with me that there is something great about Christmas albums, no?
  • Everyone seems happier. Sure, there’s still a Grinch or two or three out there, but there seems to be this joy that is contagious wherever I go. I like that.
  • People seem less selfish. Yeah, there’s a bounty of selfishness at Christmas time as we focus on ourselves, what we want to get. But for some, there’s a focus on “What can I give to show my family/friends how much I love them? how much I appreciate them?”
  • The beautiful lights, trees and other decorations. Christmas lights on a dark night reflecting off the snow? Absolutely beautiful. Christmas trees? They seem to hold a certain fascinating beauty too.
  • Seeing family. Although 500 plus miles separate us from Jordan and I’s families, we still had an opportunity to see them during the Christmas season. I am so blessed by each and every one of them.
  • Having our mailbox stocked full of Christmas cards and letters from loved ones rather than bills, ads, and junk mail. This is the one time of year that it seems we are remembered by more than Chase, MDU, and the City of Beulah.
After making this list, I decided that most of those things I can do — I should do — every month of the year. Sure, I might not want to listen to “Let it Snow” in July, but why not something like “O Come All Ye Faithful”? And although  Christmas lights and trees are indeed beautiful, there is other beauty around me that I consistently take for granted. Like the bright beauty of the moon on a clear night or the awe-striking colors in the sunrise.
And why, oh why, does it take a holiday for me to think about something to give my loved ones? Why do I spend days, even weeks, pondering what to give my husband for Christmas when I should be giving to him daily? Maybe not buying an expensive or elaborate gift for him each day – but shouldn’t I always be thinking of him before myself? How I can put his needs above my own. How I can serve him with love and respect. How I can support him best in his ministry. And why does that stop with family? How can I bless my neighbors? The clerks at the store? My church family?

“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” –
Galatians 6:9-10

I’m not one for New Year’s Resolutions. But I think this year I’ll try and keep the spirit of Christmas alive despite the coming of January. Maybe that means I’ll be listening to Kenny G in April. Maybe that means I’ll take time to soak up the beauty of the Lord’s creation when I would otherwise complain about the heat in August. Maybe it means your mailbox will be hearing from me more often throughout the year. Maybe I’ll begin to focus less on my self every day and more on those around me.

Who’s with me?

Merry Christmas!

by Velma Amundson

Editor’s Note:  In the AFLC, we celebrate the Christmas Season from Christmas Day up until January 5th, then we celebrate the coming of the Magi on January 6th which we call Epiphany.  So, I am really only a couple of days late with this post! 🙂  All of us here on this blog pray you had a blessed Christmas and that you will have an awesome New Year in 2013!

Our youth group led the Christmas eve worship service again this year…we had “smelly” shepherds and angels roaming the congregation during the sermon. Not exactly what you would have expected. But it fit perfectly.

I have to tell you about this group. We’re very proud of them. Every year the youth group asks for a family in the Abused Resource Center to go shopping for. They raise money through the year so that they have enough to go shopping. Then they go shopping during the first couple weeks of December. The youth themselves pick out the gifts, wrap them and one of the adults delivers them to the Resource center. They never see the family they’ve shopped for, but they are very enthusiastic about what they do. This year they went shopping for a family that consists of a single mother and her 7 plus (one due any day) children. They had so much fun wrapping the gifts and showing them off to anyone willing to look. This is the same group that keeps inviting their friends to come to Confirmation with them. (And their friends do, and tend to stay!)

Our youth show us the Spirit of CHRISTmas by what they do, with their willingness and enthusiasm for helping others, by sharing the message of the Gospel with their friends, and by doing any task we throw at them.  They make sharing the Gospel look easy.  They just do it.

I pray that in the coming year, this same Spirit will dwell within you. That you would be enthusiastic for Christ. I pray that God would richly bless you.