Archives for the month of: December, 2014

Newborn baby

We lived in a  tiny town in Tennessee when our first child was born. I remember that long night in the labor room of that little hospital with my wife. Waiting. Worrying. Wondering Then they took my wife into the delivery room and sent me outside to wait.

After a while a nurse come by with what I thought was dirty linen. I didn’t know that she had our new baby wrapped in those cloths. A few minutes later she came and asked if I wanted to see my son.

I couldn’t believe it was over- or had just begun. The months of anticipation and preparation had ended and now the exciting and frightening journey of parenthood was underway.

In a couple of days we brought our firstborn home to the tiny apartment where we lived while I was in college. Several hundred miles from home. No family nearby. Scared. Excited. What were we supposed to do with this newborn baby? We had no clue.

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Twenty centuries earlier another young couple had a baby in a small out of the way place. Away from home and family. Little resources. Less than desirable circumstances. I wonder if Mary and Joseph had some of the same fears and concerns as we had at the arrival of their firstborn.

It has been forty three years since the birth of our oldest child and I realize that we were not really alone when he was born. God was with us. And through the years as he grew and we tried to guide and guard him, we were not alone. Our efforts at parenting, as inadequate as they were, were complemented by the One who created all of us.

Things have not always gone as we planned. There have been moments of exhilaration and despair. Mountain tops and deep valleys. Things we hoped for have not always been realized and other things we never dreamed of have occurred. Over the course of more than four decades of parenthood I have often asked why. Much that has occurred, both pleasing and puzzling, has left me wondering how it happened this way. Yet through it all I believe God has been with us and with our children.

Parenthood

There have been times that I wished things had taken a different turn and other times I have marveled at the wonderful outcome. But through it all I have trusted that our Heavenly Father watches over us.

I wonder if Mary and Joseph experienced the same kind of emotions as their son grew. How did they feel when the path that they had planned for him was not followed? When he was praised and when he was persecuted? Did they have questions and doubts?

The birth of our first child, and the later births of two other children, changed the course of our lives forever. The birth of Mary and Joseph’s boy not only brought changes to the two of them but ultimately every human being since then.

Thank God for our children. And especially the Child of Bethlehem named Jesus! Merry Christmas!

Jamie Jenkins

Aaron Copeland music quote

I am not a musician and I have no formal musical training but I do enjoy and value a variety of music. Martin Luther and I agree, “Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world.”

A few years ago USA Today included Peachtree Road United Methodist Church in a list of “10 great places to be enthralled by heavenly music.” The people that filled the church sanctuary last Sunday night would agree with that claim. The 75 voice Chancel Choir accompanied by a 35 piece orchestra and 27 members of the Georgia Boy Choir offered the 25th Anniversary presentation of The Many Moods of Christmas, a spectacular program of Christmas music.

Tonight my wife and I plan to join friends to “celebrate the season through song” at a Coffee House Concert. I am looking forward to enjoying the coffee and desserts along with friends and members of the community where I live.

Then tomorrow night my wife and I will attend “Jesus and Aretha: The King and Queen of Soul” at Inman Park United Methodist Church. Publicity for this event cautions that we should not “expect the usual Christmas pageant. It’s more meaningful that Hallmark-y, more rock-and-roll than church-y, and lots of fun!” I can hardly wait.

Then on Saturday night we plan to attend the Georgia Boy Choir concert featuring all five levels of boys, a full orchestra, and lots of audience participation including Atlanta’s largest “Twelve Days of Christmas Sing-along.” And next Monday we hope to be present at the Red Clay Theater for Joe Gransden’s Big Band Holiday Show with special guest, Francine Reed.

These events complement what I hear everywhere during this season of the year and affirms Edgar Winter’s assertion that “music is very spiritual, it has the power to bring people together.” Music gives wings to the soul and teaches it to fly. And especially Christmas music.

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The sacred songs of the season are especially meaningful but who doesn’t love to hear and sing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer or Frosty the Snowman. The peppy tunes of Here Comes Santa Claus and Jingle Bells bring a smile to your face and you can’t keep from patting your feet. And you cannot help but become a bit nostalgic when you hear the smooth sounds of White Christmas.

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Friedrich Nietzsche said “without music, life would be a mistake.” I agree but I must admit that when I hear “Rocking around the Christmas tree, have a happy holiday” on the radio or in a shopping mall for what seems like the 10,000th time, I cringe and wonder if life is really any better because of that song.

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The legendary musician, Ray Charles, said **Music is like breathing. I don’t get tired of breathing and I don’t get tired of music.” Neither do I, Ray. And especially Christmas music.

Jamie Jenkins

Last Sunday I saw a friend that I had not seen for a long time. He was an energetic young adult with a pleasant and positive personality Then he had an accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down. The accident changed his body but it has not changed his upbeat attitude. He is a loving husband and father who has a deep faith in God.

This amazing young man told me that he had recently been on a couple of work missions. One of them was to the Gulf Coast to help people whose homes had been flooded. One house had to have the lower four feet of drywall removed due to water damage. He was excited that he had been able to replace the sheetrock because he could work at that level from his wheelchair.

Another project in his own community afforded him the opportunity to build a wheelchair ramp for an older resident. He smiled as he told me he had never built a ramp before so he gave it a test run to be sure it could accommodate the older woman who would use it.

CARING PEOPLE CHANGE THE WORLD

I recently met a man who has established an ongoing mission in one of the poor communities in Nicaragua. While building much needed medical clinics in this rural area, he realized that many of the local young people were intelligent and industrious but could not afford to go to school. So he has created a fund to provide for the education of promising young people of that region with the expectation that their lives will be changed and they will in turn give themselves to improve the lives of others.

John Wesley said, “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.” He believed it was our responsibility to help change the world.

I am currently involved with Imagine No Malaria, an effort to end death and suffering from malaria. If you are thinking that malaria was eliminated in this country over 60 years ago, you are right. But this year over 650,000 people in Africa will die from malaria, more than Ebola and AIDs combined. Two-thirds of these deaths are children under the age of five and pregnant women. Although malaria is fully preventable and fully treatable, a child dies every 60 seconds from this killer disease.

The good news is we know how to stop death and suffering from malaria. In fact the death rate has been cut almost in half in the past 7 years. Imagine No Malaria provides insecticide treated bed nets, educates people on symptoms of the disease, the proper use of bed nets, and other preventive measures. In addition, early diagnostic kits as well as affordable and accessible medication and treatment in over 300 hospitals and clinics have made a very positive difference. And all of that can be provided for only $10. Only $10 to save a life!

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You can help save lives by texting MALARIA NGC to 27722 (be sure to leave a space before NGC) and $10 will be donated to Imagine No Malaria. Or you can send a check for any amount to Imagine No Malaria, North Georgia Conference, 4511 Jones Bridge Circle, Peachtree Corners, GA 30092. Learn more about Imagine No Malaria at http://www.imaginenomalaria.org.

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There are many ways for caring people to change the world. Imagine No Malaria is one effort that I have chosen to support. I invite you to join me in the fight against malaria. If this doesn’t strike a chord with you, I encourage you to find ways that you have passion for and give yourself to it.

Together we can do more than imagine no malaria. And we can do more than imagine a better world. Together we can make it a reality.

“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed that’s all who ever have.”

Jamie Jenkins

 

Change 4

I don’t like change.

I am comfortable starting my day pretty much the same way all the time, or at least most of the time. An occasional break from routine is good but before long I want things to get back to normal.

I know that change is sometimes necessary but most of the time I resist it. Once you find a way to do something, why change it. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Why mess with something that works? That is the way I am wired, but I realize that my way of doing things is not always the best or only way.

John F. Kennedy said, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” I understand that. It’s just that I am comfortable with most things the way they are. At the same time I understand that progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.

 

Change

Although I don’t like change, I am willing, with some reluctance, to alter my routine and try something new. After a while I can even embrace change but it is not easy.

I mentioned in one of my previous writings that I recently acquired an electric vehicle (EV). It is quite different from an internal combustion engine (ICE) automobile in many ways. I was a bit skeptical at first but after almost three months and 2400 miles (with no gasoline) I have been converted. I have come to really enjoy the quiet and comfortable ride. And contrary to what many people think, it is a real car with plenty “get-up-and-go.” I have also contributed to better air quality because it has no emissions.

For several years I have paid my bills electronically through the bank’s online bill pay service. No stamps or envelopes to buy. No checkbook. Beginning in 2015 my church pledge will be charged to my credit card.

In 1925 Mayor Walter A. Sims leased an abandoned auto racetrack and committed the city of Atlanta to develop it into an airfield. The 287 acres of land was renamed Candler Field after its former owner’s family, including Coca-Cola magnate Asa Candler. That was the first step that led to Atlanta becoming a major transportation hub. Today it is home to the world’s busiest airport.

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I am grateful for the ability to hop on an airplane in Atlanta and go just about anywhere in the world. How else could I visit my grandchildren, and their parents, on the other side of the globe.

My son reminds me that I once said we would never have a cell phone. Why did we need to be able to talk on the phone from anywhere at anytime. Later I succumbed to the advanced technology and purchased my first “bag phone” that was about the size of a small briefcase. And today I won’t leave home without my “smart phone” in my pocket.

Although most of my retail purchases are transacted in a brick and mortar business, I have done my share of shopping online. In fact, with the last four cars purchased I went to the automobile dealer’s showroom only to sign paperwork and pick up the vehicle. Research and negotiation was all done online or by phone.

Email, text messaging and webcams which are a regular part of my routine could hardly have been imagined when I bought my first computer, a Commodore 64. The first video game was Pong, a far cry for the realistic graphics in today’s video arcade.

Just last night I had a conversation with my thirty-two year old son about Roku, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire Stick, Apple TV, and Crackle. If I understood it , I would explain it to you. The digital age has transformed the way we work, play, and relate to each other. It offers far more than I can comprehend.

With all the advances in technology and the changes they bring to our everyday life, I am grateful for the words of the Statement of Faith of the United Church of Canada: “We are not alone, we live in God’s world. We believe in God who has created and is creating, who has come in Jesus, the Word made flesh, to reconcile and make new, who works in us and others by the Spirit. We trust in God.”

We are not alone. We live in God’s world. We trust in God the Creator and Sustainer of all that is good.

Change. Scary. Hopeful.

Jamie Jenkins