Saturday, December 26, 2015

Two days of Christmas

Glory to God in the Highest: Lessons and Carols
from King's College in Cambridge UK
Wednesday, December 23
The kitchen sink is piled with dishes from last night's Christmas party. I am so grateful for a helper who washes and puts them away while we pack for our Christmas trip.

The walking group sends a WhatsApp: do we want to meet for brunch at Warung Ethnic? Sure! and we're there by 10:30. I order a cup of tea before walking home. Merry Christmas, ladies!

Lunch? I've been invited to a neighbor's - and Dr W picks me up at our gate. It turns out to be a reception after a little boy's circumcision: so Dr W scoots back home for an envelope with a gift for him from both of us.

Delicious lunch at the neighbor's
The little guy's grandma is a great cook. She's made a big meal. Oh yum. (She also teaches foreigners to cook Sunda food - when I have time, I hope to have her teach me a few dishes.)

W, K and I are on the train to Jakarta by late afternoon. What a beautiful trip, through valleys and along mountainsides and rice paddies. It's about 100 miles between cities. Some drivers are in their cars on the toll road from Bandung to Jakarta for over 10 hours. Traffic is practically at a standstill. We're glad to be on the train, which takes 3 hours ... plus 3-4 getting to and from the station on either end.

Rice paddies terraced beside the railway

Thursday: Happy Christmas Eve! 

Hand-tied belts
Kenneys loan us a car to get to lunch in Chinatown. Sun City has best dim sum in town. The restaurant is decked for Christmas!

We walk to the main street and see a bizarre sight: 3 guys installing LED lighting onto the electric poles along the street. The worker at the top of the ladder braces the light between his thighs. Another man holds the ladder and still another pulls at a rope to raise the light.

We catch a taxi to the big market nearby. It's a 5-story bazaar: K finds a few belts and I indulge in a $1.10 (US) back massage (20 minutes). What a relief to unclench my shoulder muscles after the busy week of events and travel. There are extra security guards at every entry.

The footings for an enormous skyscraper
IESJakarta overlooks a building project that has been going since we arrived last year. It's fun to watch the progress in filling in the enormous hole below the offices.

A "real" piano on stage. WOW.
There are 3 Christmas Eve services. We enjoy the beautiful celebration of Christmas: music, an inspiring talk that encourages our hearts, and staff dinner and hangout between services.

Kamille plays peek-a-boo
while Kirsten and Kristi visit
Kirsten and I take a picture in the lobby under the Christmas tree. I suddenly realize that I'll be 60 in March. The picture confirms that I'm no spring chicken. (No surprise there.)

IES has 2 morning services. After the first, K and I enjoy the second one from the lobby before heading to Bintaro and the flat with Pastor Gigi. 

She stops at an expat store for her lunch order: she's preparing the Christmas dinner for 16 family and guests. Her gatherings always homey and gracious - she has the lovely gift of making people feel welcome. PD and Gigi's daughter is on Christmas break from USA university - what a treat to see her again.

Gracing the Christmas feast at the Kenneys'
After the food is cleared from the tables, we talk or play games. There's a noisy game of Yahoo, a tradition from which PD and Pastor Mike are barred: apparently they are almost telepathic and wipe out the competition when they work together.

In the evening, K and I are too wound up to sleep so we watch two episodes of a drama before crawling into bed. 

I watch the annual BBC program of Lessons and Carols online - from King's College Cambridge. The music and setting envelope me in beauty and gratitude. (We loved Evensong at Kings when we lived in Cambridge.) I listen to the whole thing and finally fall asleep at 2am.

Saturday: Christmas Day 2
It's a lazy and quiet morning. I wake at 7 to listen to scripture, read a novel for a few hours, and then snooze for 10 minutes. It's already such a meaningful season: my heart is full of thanks to God for the gift of Jesus, his Son.

We catch a taxi to Daniela and Mario's and arrive about noon. They take us to a Chinese / Indian / cafe - with fabulous food. It's so good that I keep forgetting to take pictures!

But on the way back to their house we snap a pictures of a monstrous house with statues, carvings, and lots and lots of pillars. We're not sure who built it, but every imaginable decoration from the Mediterranean has been crammed onto the facade or rooftop. Amazing.

Jakarta train station
In the late afternoon, we take an Uber cab to the train station. We wait for a few hours before an uneventful ride home. We pray for the families waiting with us. And what a beautiful skyline at sunset!

It's always nice to be back in Bandung. Our hearts are here, for sure. We happily miss the Saturday night traffic jam that happens soon after 10pm, when restaurants close. 

I don't bother to unpack my suitcase (a first this year?) but write and think until almost 1am.

What an impossible Story. 
What a generous God. 
What a creative and loving solution to our dilemma and separation from God: 

AMAZING. I can't comprehend it. But I am so grateful to be reconciled to God through Jesus.

Read more: (ESV)
*Even the stork in the heavens knows its times; and the turtle-dove, swallow, and crane observe the time of their coming; but my people do not know the ordinance of the Lord. Jeremiah 8:7

*David and all Israel were dancing before God with all their might, with song and lyres and harps and tambourines and cymbals and trumpets. 1 Chronicles 13:8

**And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

*The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. Luke 2:20

*(Simeon) took (Jesus) up in his arms and blessed God and said, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” Luke 2:28-32

*Therefore we must pay greater attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. Hebrews 2:1

Moravian Prayer: Loving Giver of life, receive our words and deeds of celebration as offerings of praise and thanksgiving for the magnificent gift of your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Please accept our undying gratitude for his life, death, and resurrection. 
Remind us that Christmas isn’t over! We know the story of Christ’s coming must not be packed away with the nativity figures. Help us stay focused on the message of salvation we are called to celebrate and share every day, all year long. Amen.

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