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Fireside chat

by davesandel on January 4th, 2017

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Fireside chat

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Tenth Day of Christmas

1 John 3:7

Children, let no one deceive you.

James Whitcomb Riley inscribed his poem “Little Orphant Annie” “to all the little children: — the happy ones and sad ones; the sober and the silent ones; the boisterous and glad ones; the good ones — yes, the good ones, too; and all the lovely bad ones.”

She was a busy young woman, Little Orphant Annie:

… shoo the chickens off the porch, an’ dust the hearth, an’ sweep,

An’ make the fire, an’ bake the bread, an’ earn her board-an’-keep;

An’ all us other childern, when the supper-things is done,

We set around the kitchen fire an’ has the mostest fun

A-list’nin’ to the witch-tales ‘at Annie tells about,

An’ the Gobble-uns ‘at gits you

Ef you




But be not deceived.  Orphant Annie loved those little chilluns, and so did the poet who created her.  The kiddos loved being scared.  Do it again, do it again!

Deception isn’t so easy to decipher.  It’s about evil, not good.  Surprises are often not deceptive, but loving.  White lies might be evil but usually aren’t; why else call them white?

What especially is not deception is the touch of Jesus.  There’s no need to ask whether he’s God or not, and no reason to ask whether he’s the devil.  No goblins here.  Jesus is just Jesus, and his touch is what tells me what that means.  I don’t need no theology to learn about his love for me.

Annie had a moral for her children:

… churish them ‘at loves you, an’ dry the orphant’s tear,

An’ he’p the pore an’ needy ones ‘at clusters all about,

Er the Gobble-uns ‘ll git you

Ef you




When I think of Jesus in Annie’s place I remember how he handled the dirty old Hebrew men and the prostitute.  “Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone.”  And then when they’d all left he said to her, “Does no remain to accuse you?  Well then neither do I.  Go and sin no more.”

I like Jesus’ fireside stories even better than Annie’s.  It is good to be not deceived, free to believe the glass is not just half full, but full up all the way.  This kind of freedom comes quickly in the evening, listening to Jesus’ stories, knowing he’ll be with us always.  Can I get there in my imagination and my life?  Jesus tells me, “Yes.  Come.  Follow me.”

These stories we tell each other about you, Jesus, warm our hearts.  Who wants to share?  What story’s next?  When we listen to you and to each other, the old frozen dead lies all fall away.  In your presence, Jesus, truth rises like the sun.  Peace comes inside our souls.

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