By Joel A. Hess

Lions don’t make good pets. Every year we read a story about some poor fool who wanted to have a wild animal as a pet. A couple of years ago, a woman’s monkey mauled her friend. I remember trying to have a raccoon as a pet. It didn’t work out for either of us. Then, of course, there are pythons sneaking in the neighbor’s bushes, alligators in New York sewers, and from time to time a Lion leaping over his owner’s fence and rambling down Highway 131. Wild animals don’t make good pets. Yet we can’t help trying to domesticate them.

By Paul Koch

My arrival at her home was announced long before I rang the doorbell. Two little dogs proclaimed the approach a visitor by the time I started down the driveway. I was going to visit a dear old member of my congregation. I had been to her home many times before, and each time began the same way: with the hushing of yapping dogs and clearing off a place to sit.

By Joel A. Hess

Bath night. I still remember my mom announcing it after dinner. “Before anyone watches Happy Days, you have to get cleaned up.” I was fortunate. If I remember right, I got to take a bath first. Nice clear, warm water was waiting for me. But when I was done, the next kid got in. Why waste water? Each kid would take their turn. By the time the last one got in, that water wasn’t so clean looking. But it did the trick. My parents probably realized that the older the kid the more she would hesitate about getting in gray water. Who knows what was in that water by the time my youngest sister hopped in? Or more importantly, who knows what the youngest might leave in that water? Gross! This didn’t work as we got older. We knew better. No way am I going to get in the bath after my brother.

By Cindy Koch

She smiled as great grandpa offered his hands to hold the squirming little baby boy. Not just because he had become antsy after 45 minutes of a traditional church service where she did everything to keep her 8-month old quiet through reading and sermons and prayers. No, now she smiled because her son was clenched in the strong arms of the faithful who sat steadfast beside her.

By Paul Koch

Today we arrive at the twelfth day of Christmas. On the first day of Christmas, we celebrated the arrival of our Lord Jesus Christ, a partridge in a pear tree, born of Mary in the little town of Bethlehem. He came with the herald of God’s angels, appearing to shepherds tending their flocks by night. God had come to his people, and his people worshiped him. This was the long-awaited Messiah, and as we learn from the story of Simeon in the temple, the arrival of Jesus was the arrival of the consolation of Israel. Here was hope and assurance, comfort and promise. However, on the twelfth day of Christmas, we recall another group that came to worship our Lord, a band of unlikely guests that search him out and bring their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

By Paul Koch

When I was a child, I disliked clothes shopping. You remember the days when mom would hold up outfit after outfit and have you try them on one after another to try to get the perfect size (which was usually just a little too big so that you had room to grow). Getting new clothes back then was necessary, but it wasn’t all that memorable. However, these days, getting new clothes is a lot of fun. While it’s been a while since I’ve bought a new suit, there is an awesome feeling when you wear a new outfit. The clothes can actually make you feel better. Perhaps they make you feel more accomplished or more respectable. You can buy clothes that make you feel more free or spontaneous. Clothes go far beyond being practical and protective. They can make a statement or even help you achieve your goals. There is truth in that old saying that you should dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that clothes are the driving force in your life, but they aren’t impartial to who you are or what you want to be, or at least they can be.