A Tale of Two Christmases

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." So wrote Charles Dickens in 1859 - 155 years ago. He continued "in short, the period was so far like the present period. that some if its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only." Take away some of the flowery language and this could have been written today by one of our prolific authors of the day, Stephen King or maybe Neil Gaiman.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’

— Luke 2: 8-12

I can't help but be drawn to Dickens around Christmas time though - so much of my memories of this season are made up of scenes from A Christmas Carol and Oliver Twist. I am a sucker for redemption stories and there are none better than those penned by Dickens (and Victor Hugo, and of course those directed by Frank Capra but I digress). 

We are experiencing untold success in fighting the war on dirty water but we are still just scratching the surface. We are standing together to fight injustice, slavery and intolerance yet there are oceans between the fulfillment of the promise of true peace. Christmas 2014 - it is the best of times yet still seems like the worst of times, at times. 

This year as we sit in comfort and eat our Christmas dinners please say a prayer for those that do not have the ability to do so. Pray for peace, for joy, for love, for understanding. Pray for single mothers, single fathers, children of broken homes. Pray for those that are marginalized, sick, hungry. Pray for those in prison, their families. Pray for our caregivers, pastors, teachers, doctors, nurses, all those that nurture our bodies and souls. 

I want to thank you - all of you - for making 2014 an incredible one for us. We have been blessed to meet so many people and inspired by all of your hard work and dedication. It is an honor and a pleasure to work to change the world with you - one bottle at a time, one loan at a time, one meal at a time, one child at a time. 

If you want to say thanks, here is a great way to do it. Visit one of our charities and make a donation. You will change the life of an individual, a family, maybe even an entire community.

World Vision Micro
St. Francis Breadline
Urban Impact
Elijah's Promise

Merry Christmas!

Bob

Christmas Music Rant...

For anyone that reads this far...I wanted to vent a little. Just a little. I love Christmas music. I really do. The story of the birth of Christ, the profoundness of it, the joy, the simplicity, the majesty - it's all captured in the songs of Christmas. In so many ways though, radio stations have ruined Christmas music for me.  It used to be some Christmas music mixed in with 'regular' programming and that was great. Recently "24 hours of Christmas" has been replaced by "24 days of Christmas" with non-stop walks in winter-wonderland and sightings of Rudolf, melting of Frosty and rocking around Christmas trees.

The strangest thing to me though is that by 6PM on Christmas day, all the Christmas music stops and we won't hear it again until the day after Thanksgiving. We are all so sick of listening that we can't wait for it to stop. We are so sick of the constant bombardment of Christmas music that we don't even want to hear it on Christmas day!

All that said, I still love Christmas music. Here are some of my all-time favorite songs that help me 'get in the mood' to welcome Christ into my life and renew my commitment each Christmas. I don't like "country" music so not sure how so many country artists make my top 7!

Mary Did You Know performed by the Pentatonics
Breath of Heaven performed by Amy Grant 
Joseph's Lullaby performed by MercyMe
All is Well, performed by Michael W. Smith and Carrie Underwood
Silent Night performed by Kelly Clarkson, Tricia Yearwood & Reba McIntire
O Holy Night performed by Josh Groban
Joy to the World (Joy, Unspeakable Joy) performed by Chris Tomlin

Thanks for allowing me to rant. Peace, joy and Merry Christmas!