Monday, December 26, 2005

The humble improve

A business meeting I went to last week closed with an inspirational quote. The woman next to me read it from her Starbuck’s cup:

"The humble improve"
--Wynton Marsalis, Jazz musician

Yesterday, Christmas, had a bit of the humbling in it for me. We didn’t have any family plans because we’re celebrating tomorrow due to differing schedules. But I did go to church to teach Sunday School. The lone student who made it in and I discussed what Christmas really means to us.

The question we posed was, What if we stripped away all the cultural traditions and just had to come up with the best way to celebrate Jesus’ birthday? And it would be bringing gifts to him, now wouldn’t it? Like the Magi, and like every other birthday party we’ve ever gone to.

So then we turned to the wall, where we have posted the key concepts from the Sermon on the Mount. You know, Love your enemies, Turn the other cheek, etc. But in the light of our typical Christmas celebrating, some seemed very hard. Like Beware of false prophets (which to me suddenly meant gadgets and trinkets that promise to make you happier) or If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out (which meant to me, given the context, don’t put yourself in the path of temptation). And of course, Pray in secret, and God will reward you openly. How much of Christmas involves praying in public? And then rewarding each other, rather than letting God do it?

This was just food for thought yesterday. And it was a heavy meal. My student talked about the relatively simple gifts he’d received, and internally I compared them sheepishly to the paean of consumerism currently under our tree. I mean, I’m happy about the stuff, but stuff isn’t the only or best way to express love. Time together is more important, why do we feel the need to run up our credit cards to show love?

Anyway, in recent months I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be a Christian. Aside from theological points, which we could argue about ad nauseum, what does the Christian walk look like?

¶ Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Where is my treasure this Christmas?

“The humble improve.” Can we ever be humble enough to improve as we ought?

Few understand or adhere to Jesus' divine precepts for living and healing. Why? Because his precepts require the disciple to cut off the right hand and pluck out the right eye, — that is, to set aside even the most cherished beliefs and practices, to leave all for Christ.

Your ideas and inspiration are welcome! Please comment below or Contact Laura.
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At 12/26/2005 08:14:00 PM, Anonymous Franklin said...


You are correct.

I believe the reason there is so very little power, if any at all, in the "church" is the lack of knowledge, understanding and living wholeheartedly the basic principles and spiritual lifestyle as described and demonstrated by Jesus and others.

There has to be more personal inspection instead of judging others and mere church activities.

At 12/26/2005 10:04:00 PM, Blogger karen gsteiger said...

Hi Laura,

Just wanted to say hi and happy holidays! I hope you're having a wonderful time. 2005 hasn't exactly been the easiest year for me, but at least things feel more peaceful now, and I'm feeling optimistic for the future!

Take care!



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