Mark's Memos

Bird's Eye View 

December 22, 2019

A woman and her son prepared to go to the Christmas Eve worship at their church.  The husband, as usual, decided that he would stay home, sit in his easy chair and enjoy the evening unencumbered by "church stuff."  As he watched his family leave in the car, he could see that it was starting to snow.

While reading the newspaper, the man thought he heard some knocking at the window, but then decided that he was hearing things.  But then there was some more knocking, some pecking.

He opened the curtains, and he could see that the snow had intensified and that the wind had picked up.  Then ... then he could see a bird, no, a whole flock of birds in his lawn.  A few had flown into his window, perhaps to seek shelter from the storm.  It was as if they were disoriented. He could see that they would be in trouble if they did not find shelter, so he thought he would scare them away by flicking the porch light on and off.  But they would not go.  So, the man went out on the porch and caused a tremendous racket, hoping that they would fly off to safety.  But they still would not go.

Then the man thought, "I have a barn that might offer them shelter from the storm."  So, he put on his jacket, went outside, pulled the barn doors wide open and put on a light, hoping to attract the birds inside to safety.  But they would not come.  They huddled on the ground, sometimes flying into the window of his home.

"Food. Food will bring them into the barn," thought the man.  So, he went inside, took some bread, went again outside and tossed breadcrumbs in a path that would lead them to the barn.

Still, the birds would not come.

"Oh," said the man out loud, "I wish that I could become a bird, if only for a short while, so that I could show them how much I care for them and that I mean to offer them life."

Just then, in the distance, the church bells rang, announcing the birth of the Savior.

This is one of my favorite stories for any season, but especially in Advent.  This is our final week in our Advent preaching series titled, “What Would Jesus Want for Christmas?”.   This week we explore relationship which is the one thing Jesus, and the entire history of the God/human dance has been about since the beginning of time.  Jesus is the gift that God sent, and Jesus wants for us and from us this season. 

I hope you will join me this week in worship or online as we seek to give Jesus the relationship he wants for Christmas and every day of us as his followers.

 

Grace & Peace,

Mark

No Room...

December 15, 2019

I have begun to think that in one sense, the manger is a very small place. There is not room in there for all the baggage we carry around with us.


There is no room at the manger for our pious pride and self-righteousness.

There is no room in the manger for our human power and prestige.

There is no room at the manger for the baggage of past failure and unforgiven sin.

There is no room at the manger for our prejudice, bigotry and jingoistic national pride.

There is no room for bitterness and greed.

There is no room at the manger for anything other than the absolute reality of who and what we really are: very human, very real, very fragile, very vulnerable human beings who desperately need the gift of love and grace which God so powerfully desires to give.

This week our Advent preaching series continues to explore "What Would Jesus Want for Christmas?”.   Realization might be on Jesus' list. Realization of what has been given to us through the birth of the Christ child and his appearance in a humble manger.  

I hope you will join me this week in worship or online as we seek to give Jesus what he wants for Christmas and to live into that realization every day as his followers.

 

Grace & Peace,

Mark

You Snooze, You Lose

December 1, 2019

Beep, beep, beep.  Nothing pushes my buttons quite like that irritating sound coming from a bedside alarm clock in the morning.  Luckily, my ticker comes with a snooze feature.  Just one tap and I buy myself another nine minutes of slumber.

The rumor: Slapping the snooze button actually makes you more sleepy.

I have always assumed that those extra snooze-induced minutes of rest are good for me.  But recently I have heard they are not helpful -- in fact, it is said hitting the snooze button can actually make me more tired throughout the day.  Is it true?

The verdict: If you hit snooze, you may lose (productivity, that is).

When you doze off after your alarm wakes you in the morning, you're actually setting yourself up to feel less alert and productive later in the day.

"When you hit the snooze button repeatedly, you are doing two negative things to yourself," says Robert S. Rosenberg, medical director of the Sleep Disorders Centers of Prescott Valley and Flagstaff, Arizona. "First, you're fragmenting what little extra sleep you are getting so it is of poor quality.  Second, you are starting to put yourself through a new sleep cycle that you are not giving yourself enough time to finish.  This can result in persistent grogginess throughout the day."

Scientists have identified the culprit behind this stupor that's brought on by a too-brief slumber: sleep inertia.  The National Sleep Foundation defines this state as "the feeling of grogginess and disorientation that can come from awakening from a deep sleep."

It slows down your decision-making abilities, impairs your memory and hurts your general performance once you do get out of bed.  Even worse, coffee and a cold shower cannot combat it: It can take up to an hour and a half to shake off sleep-inertia grogginess.

According to Rosenberg, that is because the snooze button messes with your brain hormones. "You are throwing off your circadian cycle," he says.  Disrupting the circadian cycle can impair your ability to feel awake during the day and sleepy at night.

We find our renewal by honoring the natural cycles of life whether we are talking about sleep or our Christian faith.  We are entering into the season of the Christian life call Advent it is a season of preparation for Christ’s birth, Christmas.  We begin an Advent preaching series this week titled, What Would Jesus Want for Christmas?.   This week we explore renewal as that which Jesus wants for us and from us this season. 

I hope you will join me this week in worship or online as we seek to give Jesus what he wants for Christmas and every day of us as his followers.

 

Grace & Peace,

Mark

Rev. Mark Jardine is the Senior Pastor at Chapel Hill United Methodist Church. Born and raised in Bartlesville, he is a graduate of Oklahoma City University and hold his Master in Divinity from the Candler School of Theology of Emory University.
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