Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Wednesday Wisdom - Blessed are the Shepherds, for They Shall See Angels


"The First Noel the angel did say
Was to certain poor shepherds
in fields as they lay;
In fields as they lay, keeping their sheep,
On a cold winter's night that was so deep."

A lowly band of shepherds played a central role in St. Luke's account of the first Christmas.  

There were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

It was no accident or coincidence that humble shepherds were the first to learn of Christ's birth. It was not by chance that they "came with haste" to find the babe who would grow up to become "the Good Shepherd."  

It is in the nature of shepherds to love their sheep and to exhibit Christlike character as they minister to their flocks:
  • Shepherds succor the young, the ill, the aged, the hungry, the homeless, the handicapped.
  • Shepherds watch over the defenseless and the infirm through dark nights and dreary days.
  • Shepherds safeguard the lambs within the fold, then go in search of those who have wandered away from safety.
In today's world, very few people actually raise sheep, and fewer still tend them with a shepherd's care. But there are many who exhibit the biblical shepherds' character as they selflessly serve others. We know these modern-day "shepherds" by many names, including nurse, teacher, social worker, daycare attendant, mother, father, grandparent, friend, nursing home aide, minister, police officer, hospice worker, scout leader, homeless shelter attendant, EMT, godparent, doctor, and mental health counselor, to name a few.

I believe these caregivers who tend their "lambs" with love and tenderness will find peace on earth and good will, as promised by the heavenly host. I believe that in their labors these "shepherds" will be surrounded by angels - some of the heavenly variety and others in the form of the angelic young, ill, aged, hungry, homeless, and handicapped they care for.

I believe these present-day shepherds, like their ancient counterparts, will be led by their caring hearts and their kind, unheralded service to find the Christ Child, the Savior of the world. Did He not teach his disciples, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, ye have done it unto me"? Matthew 24: 40

During this celebratory season of the year, while the rest of us are "nestled all snug in [our] beds," let us not forget these modern-day shepherds, the caregivers and protectors who keep watch over their little flocks by night or day, who maintain their faithful vigil caring for the tender lambs and the vulnerable sheep.  

Thanks, you shepherds of today, for demonstrating Christlike love in your daily service. May His grace and blessings be upon you this Christmas season and always.

Merry Christmas from the Farnsworth Family and all of us at SunBridge and Personal Asset Advisors.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Wednesday Wisdom - My Christmas Wish List: Less Stress, Less Whining


"Many of our choices have led to the predicaments we are presently complaining about."
Monica Johnson

Why do we often turn the most joyful time of the year into the most stressful?

Christmas should be a time of great cheer. But if we're not careful, we can suck all the happiness out of the season with an inflated list of to-dos and bloated expectations.

This tendency to over-program the holidays is similar to the mistake many families make on vacation at Disney World, the so-called "happiest place on earth." Well-intended parents push so hard to "get their money's worth" that they make their children and themselves miserable. Trust me, there's nothing happy about dragging hot, exhausted youngsters to yet another ride or attraction when all they really want is to take a nap or go swimming in the hotel pool. I learned firsthand many years ago that relentlessly driving a bunch of whiney children to "see everything" is not the way to enjoy a Disney vacation.


In the same way, pushing ourselves to make the most of the Christmas season can make us tired, cranky, and ungrateful. For example, take the issue of shopping for presents. Gift-giving should fill our hearts with delight. But when we overdo it, we end up missing the whole point. We spend all our time stuck in traffic getting into or out of the mall. We race from store to store or website to website looking for "the perfect gift." We completely blow our budget and max out our credit cards. For many, gift-giving is a major source of stress - the relentless commercialism, the whining demands, the financial pressure.   

Consider the matter of holiday parties. What could be more fun than joining friends and family in light-hearted merriment?   That is, until we find practically every spare moment jam-packed with yet another event. What were we thinking when we accepted that invitation? I just want to stay home tonight. Do I have to go? Can I find a gracious way to back out?

Then there are the holiday decorations. Some folks act like they're in an arms race with the neighbors, throwing up more and more lights, wreaths, blow-up Santas and snowmen, and those green and red projector things that are all the rage now. And inside, every square inch is filled with all sorts of knick-knacks. These gung-ho, competitive holiday decorators are so exhausted when they finally get it all up, they collapse and can barely enjoy the view. They try not to think about the daunting task of later taking everything down and putting it away.

The most unfortunate part of the season is the people who have shopped or partied or decorated themselves into a frazzle and then go around complaining about how hard the holidays are. They gripe about how much they've spent or how their feet hurt or how they don't find the same enjoyment in Christmas as they used to. Puh-lease!  

Here's my advice: focus on quality, not quantity. Trim the size and cost of your gift list. Pare down the number of invitations you allow yourself to accept. Reduce the holiday decorating. Build some quiet time into your calendar. Reflect on the reason for the season. Sit a spell, share some stories, and enjoy the people in your life.

And whatever you do, if you do overdo it, please spare the rest of us all the whining.