Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Emmanuel--God With Us

Lots of Operation Christmas Child questions swirl in my head on this Christmas  Eve morning but I'm trying to put them aside for awhile.

I've been staring at the lighted Christmas tree, pondering what it meant for Jesus to become Emmanuel--God with us.

Are you having family problems this Christmas?  --  Jesus knows about that.  His family thought He was insane.

Are you having leadership problems this Christmas?  --  Jesus knows about that.  His team of twelve had a hard time following Him.  They often didn't understand the crucial concepts He tried to teach them and in His hour of greatest need they abandoned Him.

Are you having financial problems this Christmas?  --  Jesus knows about that.  He didn't have worldly wealth, didn't have a home, didn't have a budget for His ministry.  Yet He understood the sufficiency of full dependence on the Father.

He always had enough.

Emmanuel.  Enough.

Thursday, December 19, 2013


As we gear up for our big family Christmas celebration this weekend, I know time will fly by over the next few days.  My daughters are coming from New York City, Chicago, and the Pittsburgh area to be home for a short holiday visit.

When they leave the actual days of Christmas will be pretty quiet, I think.  My plan is to spend more time reflecting on the incarnation--God becoming man.

A friend reminded me of a poem I wrote a few years ago.  I can't remember exactly when.  I dug it out and wanted to share it with you.


Just six or seven pounds of baby flesh
Rests whimpering in swaddling clothes this night.
Who could have guessed his wrinkled skin would mesh
Majestic God with frail mankind's plight
Embodied in that tiny God-man there
With pursed lips searching, looking now to feed.
Sufficiency released, He grasps for care
Identifying with our human need.
The voice that first spoke breath into a soul
Now gurgles, swallows with contented sighs.
Almighty, awesome, ageless One still whole
Empties Himself, obediently lies
In human arms, His flesh to ours pressed tight.
Emmanuel--our God with us tonight.

--Kathy Schriefer

Monday, December 9, 2013

Ho, Ho, How?

Tonight we had a meeting of the team that spearheaded our large NWPA Community-Wide Operation Christmas Child Packing Party.

This was the 5th year for our packing party and as we debriefed the event we talked about how each year brings new challenges.  We can make notes about ways to improve for next year and then when next year comes we find out things have changed--different boxes, different items, different volunteers.

So we sat and casually planned a date for next year's party--tentatively October 4, 2014.  We added up the total of boxes packed over the past five years (77,989) and realized that if we pack just 22,011 more we will go over 100,000.

Yet at this point our storage container is nearly empty.  There are some leftover cartons of paddleball games and a few cases of pencils.  Oh, and there are 39 cases of donated paper.

Still, the thought of collecting enough items for 22,011 boxes sounds a bit daunting.  As we looked back over the last five years tonight we saw the changes and the challenges but we focused on the one thing we KNOW.

The only thing we know is that our omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God NEVER changes.  He is always good, always faithful, always enough.

He has the next 22,011 boxes already packed.  He knows how.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

13 for More Than Luck

Last week was quite a ride!  We had our Operation Christmas Child celebration on Monday night at Chick-fil-A but our total was only tentative.  As I related in my previous blog we left there on Monday to go receive more boxes at the collection center.

As I was doing my Bible reading on Tuesday morning I began to think about the fact that the truck wasn't pulled yet and that some boxes were still being delivered from an outlying relay center that morning.  Then I thought about some extra shoe box items that had just been donated.  Then I decided to get up and try to fill some more boxes.

I had a half hour before I had to leave for school so I had to move quickly.  I started with 9 boxes and then decided to do 4 more.  And, of course, I had just enough of everything.  Every item I had was used to pack into those boxes.

This year, more than any I can remember in recent history, I feel like I "left it all on the field" when it came to packing boxes.   Every box that could have been made by Tuesday morning was made.  We have lots of paddleball games and pencils left in the container but that's about it, and for that I'm grateful.

I dropped those 13 boxes outside the collection center on my way to work on Tuesday morning.  One of those "drop and run" folks you hate.

It was Wednesday before I got our final total this week.  And the final total is--


We prayed all year for 45,000 and God gave us 47,604.  Just because He can.  This is 7,228 more than last year and a 17.5% increase.

I had some family obligations this year that kept me from giving OCC my full attention.  I don't know if I did all I could have or should have this year in leading our team.

But this I know.  

God is good.  God answers prayer.  God can use us in spite of ourselves.

No luck needed.