Posted in Book Review

A Reading Slump

Mission accomplished. After a long dry reading spell in which the only literature I’ve read since Christmas is my grad school textbooks or sophomore English novels, I have finally read a book, erm play or essay or short story thing. To make it simple, I read Silas House’s The Hurting Part which is a short story turned play turned essay set in 1960 America.

In the story, a young couple leaves all they know in Kentucky, including their daughter, and move to Ohio in an attempt to earn some money. The plan is to save money and return to Kentucky eventually. Centered around Christmas, the play showcases the sorrows of four individuals who left their homes to move to Ohio. Beautifully written, the play easily moves between the present and past with the use of dual stages.

The script is written so well that I could imagine the scenes playing out. I only wish I could see this play in person.

Now that I have broken my slump, I think I’ll stay in the Appalachian genre by re-reading The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver.

Posted in Monologues from the Manger

Monologues from the Manger: Cathy

Christmas is here, and as I think back upon Christmases past and the marvel of the first Christmas, I am humbled by all the ways God has blessed me.

That first Christmas was enough of a blessing for any of us. There were so many factors working against God’s plan, but because he’s God, everything worked perfectly. A tiny baby with a big mission was born. That tiny baby grew into a perfect man who gave his life at a young age for a crime he never committed, so I could have a relationship with his Father. Wow what a major blessing!

I don’t need any more than that, but God has given me more than that at Christmas. Every Christmas we gather at my grandparent’s house for food, games, and just being together. As a kid I remember playing upstairs with my brothers until my Grandy woke up. The upstairs used to have a vent that connects to the bottom floor. One year my brother and I dropped army men through that floor. Needless to say my Papaw plugged that hole.

Another great memory was the mashed potato mountain. My Papaw had two favorite foods: mashed potatoes and ice cream. That one year he was in charge of making the taters. My family is small, but he made a mountain of potatoes. To make it more festive he put a candy cane in the top. He may be in heaven now, but that memory lives on.

Finally, I’ve been blessed with many memories of games played, won and lost. Those moments have taught me that losing is okay because the true reason for Christmas is being together. 

This year I’m thankful for God’s wonderful plan, his many blessings, and the opportunities he provides. This Christmas I hope you know Jesus and strive to be obedient to his call. Be thankful for the opportunities he gives you, marvel at his awesomeness, and trust his perfect plan. Finally, just take time to slow down and enjoy the season.

Merry Christmas!

Posted in Monologues from the Manger

Monologues from the Manger: the innkeeper

Well hello. Welcome to Bethlehem Inn. It seems odd that you would stop here on your journey through that first Christmas, but it was the setting of a miracle, even if I didn’t realize what was happening. Pull up a chair here, and I’ll tell you what I know. 

That night was one that I regret, but it was just so busy that I got caught up in the moment. When the young man and his very pregnant wife came to my door, I had no rooms left. It had been a long night full of weary travellers and needy customers. Had I known who these people were I might have given them my room, but they just looked like any other weary traveller. 

I did offer them space in the barn, which was warm albeit a bit stinky. What I learned the next morning astounded me. Not only had a baby been born in my barn, but it was the son of God. 

As you continue on your journey toward Christmas, I plead with you to slow down. If I hadn’t been so caught up in the busy, I might have known what miracle was taking place in my barn. Take time to really talk with people, whether it’s your grandmother whom you see every year, your coworker whom you talk to daily, or the sales clerk while you buy gifts. 

Posted in Monologues from the Manger

Monologues from the Manger: Shepherds

Woah. That was one crazy, awesome night. I mean the night the sheep ran away and we had to chase them for miles was exciting, but this particular night was exhilarating. What night are we discussing? Let us tell you!

We were out with the sheep just like any other night. Some of us are dozing while others chatted about our lives and dreams. Then BOOM! Bright light. It was as if six Suns lit up the sky. Dude, we were terrified. 

When our eyes adjusted somewhat, there were these majestic creatures with swords and wings. Dude, these were not there little cherubim with the arrows that you see on Valentine’s Day cards. These guys had a presence. We covered our eyes and shook in our sandals.

They told us to not be afraid. Okay sure. Big guys in a bright light appear in the dark of night and say don’t be afraid. Yeah, we still shivered even though the night was warm. 

The angels went on to tell us that there was a very special baby being born in Bethlehem, and we should go visit. Uh sure! We immediately said, “let’s go” because it’s pretty rare we get invited to see anyone, much less a very special baby.

Boy was that baby special. He was born in a barn, but he turned out to be the son of God. We sure hope you know him personally because he’s a dude to know. 

Posted in Monologues from the Manger

Monologues from the Manger: Elizabeth

Hello there! I’m Elizabeth. Maybe you remember me, or maybe you know my son John. Better yet, I hope you know my cousin’s child, Jesus. Yeah, Mary, Jesus’ mother, is my cousin. In fact, I was one of the first people Mary came to see when she discovered she was pregnant. Oh that was a sweet time. My little one simply leaped with joy. I just knew there was something special about these two babies who were soon to be born. 

Well, my baby was special simply because he was a true miracle from God. My husband and I trusted God’s plan, but we were always a bit saddened my the fact that we didn’t have any children. You can’t really blame my husband for doubting the angel when he was told we would have a child. We were quite advanced in our age. He paid for his disbelief though with silence until the baby was born. It sure was quiet during those months. 

Sure enough, though, God followed through on his plan. We had a son who came to be the one who preached about Jesus. We were so proud of him. 

As you heard my story, I hope you remember that God’s plan is perfect. We had to wait a long time, but because we were faithful, God gave us a child who had a great role in God’s plan. We thank God for the opportunity to be part of his plan of salvation. 

Posted in Monologues from the Cross

Monologues from the Manger: Joseph

My name is Joseph. You may have already heard my name mentioned in my wife’s story, but she probably didn’t mention my moments of indecision. She’s kind, so she has forgiven my fear when I first learned of her situation. I’m getting ahead of myself though.

I was engaged to this wonderful young girl named Mary when the rumors started flying. People were saying that she was pregnant, and when I went to confront her she didn’t deny it. I didn’t wish her any more shame than she was currently in, so I decided I’d just divorce her quietly. I couldn’t marry someone who had obviously cheated on me!

Then I had the most bizarre dream. An angel told me in my dream to have no fear because Mary’s story about God giving her this child as a virgin was true. Any other time I would have blown such a dream off, but there was something so urgent about the dream. I went forward with the marriage, and boy was I glad too. I now have the most wonderful wife, and I was able to act as a father to God’s son. 

This wasn’t the only instance during this time that I was glad I listened to God. After the wisemen visited us, I had another angel dream that caused me to flee with my family to Egypt. Good thing too because Herod was on a mission to kill my son. Because I was obedient, Jesus was able to live his full life, and many prophesies were fulfilled. God rewards us when we are obedient.

Posted in Monologues from the Manger

Monologues from the Manger: Mary

I am Mary, and many years back my life changed dramatically. You’ve probably heard my name and seen my picture in the manger scenes, but I want to take a moment to share something that even I still don’t understand.

When I was young, I was engaged to Joseph. One night an angel came to me and called me favored. This confused and frightened me because I’ve always been one to blend into my surroundings. The angel told me I had found favor with God, and that I had been chosen to give birth to his son. My initial reaction was, “woah, show down there angel! I’m engaged, but I haven’t broken any rules with Joseph. God surely knows this, so how am I about to have a baby?” 

The angel had an answer for that: the Holy Spirit would provide that. He also informed me that my cousin Elizabeth would have a baby soon as well. The only was I could think to respond was to submit to the plan God was enacting. 

Later, I visited my cousin Elizabeth and sure enough, she was pregnant. All I could think was “my soul magnifies the Lord, and my Spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46-47). God was doing something magnificent, and I just felt humbled to be part of it.
My baby’s birth was even dramatic and God-led. We had to go to Bethlehem for the census. Traveling that distance while pregnant wasn’t easy, but Joseph was so good to me. There also wasn’t room in any inns, but we found a warm barn. That night I gave birth to my son, God’s son, Jesus. 

At first I thought our lives would be quiet after such a humble birth place, but it wasn’t long before we had visitors. Shepherds visited and they sang. Supposedly they’d been visited by an angel as well. Later my son would be called a lamb as well as a shepherd, so I guess it’s fitting that shepherds were his first visitors.

Later we had some wisemen visit. They had followed a star all the way to our house. God was spreading the word far and wide. These wisemen worshipped Jesus as they would a king because they recognized his power even while he was a child. If only others would worship him like these first visitors. 

I still can’t fathom why God chose me, but I’m glad he did. As you ponder my story with me, remember how eloquently God orchestrated his son’s arrival on Earth and for the purpose of allowing us all to know God more closely. Please take time to get to know my son, Jesus.