Yesterday I was watching a clip from a Christmas show of the Honeymooners with Jackie Gleason and the rest of the cast. His character, Ralph Kramden, was pontificating on the mood of Christmas with his wife, Alice, and at the end of the show, he kissed her and in an unusual move, they broke out of character to introduce the other major stars of the show, the Nortons…
It was a great look behind the curtain of the obvious friendship that these four friends had and it reminded me of Ralph’s comments at the end of the skit about how people hustle and bustle around town near Christmas, but it is usually a kinder, gentler interaction with others as Christmas Day approaches. I’ve been thinking about that skit and I must say that I have not experienced the same peace and quiet of the season.
Last night, after Janet and I attended church and a quick dinner, we headed out to the grocery store. It must be a sign of our age that Saturday night is spent rolling a cart down the aisles of the local Kroger store choosing items for the week and starting to prepare for the holiday celebrations. Well, to make a long story short, Janet and I forgot several items and so this morning, bright and early, I returned to the store to pick up the items we neglected to get last night.
Mind you, this wasn’t a big list. Several cans of soup and a donation to help feed the hungry this month. As I was checking out, the lady behind me must have been suffering some anxiety. She kept pushing me and before the young man even gave me my total, she was shoving items across the scanner with the cost getting added to my ticket. The employee of the store was quite upset with her and had to remove an item or two from my total.
I was trying to help out by putting my items in a bag and then attempting to place the change in my pocket. The lady behind me actually reached around me to grab her items, threw them in a bag and was literally out the store before I was. Unbelievable!
Then at dinner Thursday night, there was the lady who parked in a restricted zone – not a parking space – and she was so close to our car that I couldn’t even open Janet’s door to let her in. I mentioned to the woman, who had just returned, that she was not parked in a spot and that it made it difficult to even get in our car. She was somewhat brief in her response to me, but the bottom line was that she had been late and didn’t care where she put her car – so she could get in the restaurant for her party! Then she drove away – period.
I could mention many other examples of things I have experienced the last several days that weren’t consistent with how we should be acting over the Christmas season. Maybe I have overreacted to all this, but I find myself going the other way – chillin’ out. I have spent enough years hardly slowing down to smell the roses and I’m trying to develop new habits. In fact, remember the guy behind the counter at the Kroger store? Well, one of his co-workers actually stopped me on the way out of the store, thanked me for my patience and said he wished that more of their customers would exhibit the Christmas Spirit – YES!
One small win – but a win nonetheless. And I have even been speaking with Janet about reordering our lives in such a way as to slow down a bit and live life more fully – not necessarily faster… and let’s face it, life seems to be passing by faster and faster every year. The verse for this evening has to do with the love of God and how His ways can help direct our steps.
We are told, in Zeph. 3:17, “The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” What a wonderful thought! That God will provide a type of peace, a quiet peace, and that we will experience His love. It seems to me that nothing could be more affirming than this. After all, what’s the rush when God is delighting in you?
My encouragement tonight is that we can all do much better when we are in the presence of God. And when that happens, something comes over us and time can stand still – at least it slows down. My prayer is that during the next week, we will all take a step back and revel in the miracle of the Christ child coming to earth to live among us. Furthermore, that we can reduce the hustle and bustle and just enjoy the magnificence of the season. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…