All posts in “Christmas”

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A Christmas Homily: 2013

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Christmas comes at a time of year where we, perforce, count our blessings, tally our losses and generally reflect on the year past. We find this action common across national boundaries and racial divides and, all too commonly, it ends there. The accountant’s take of the past year and if the blessings outweigh the losses, then it was a good year and we can celebrate and be joyful.

For that is the spirit of the season, right? We raise a toast, pause (ever so briefly) to recall those less fortunate and get on with the business of unwrapping gifts, breaking our fasts (such as they may be) and settle in for whatever entertainment is provided to us. Some of that may include songs of the season – “carols” as known by some. We dutifully (and at times, atonally) mix Rudolph, Santa and desires for front teeth with angels and a baby while wishing for “peace on earth.” For most of us, the story behind some of those carols are shrouded in the mists of history, their quaint language, un-afflicted as yet by a modern re-write, twisting our tongues and puzzling our minds over what they mean – but it passes. Soon, we are into the New Year, deep into the distractions of the various sporting events and planning for the months to come. And so it is that another Christmas passes with maybe one or two things remembered until we repeat the cycle at the end of the next year.

My intention here is to hit the “stop” button and offer some points to ponder and reflect upon this Christmastide. There is a story I would like to relate about one of those carols, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Morn” and how something written 150 years ago can have relevance today.

The carol is an 1872 adoption of a poem written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow – which itself, was written during a time of deep despair and loss on the part of Longfellow…

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet

The words repeat

Of peace on earth, good will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

December of 1863 found Longfellow a desperately heartsick man. Two years earlier, the love of his life – his wife of 18 years, Francis Appleton and mother of their children, died of severe burns when the dress she was wearing caught fire. Despite his own efforts to extinguish the flames (and suffering burns on his face – leading to the now trademark beard), Francis suffered burns over most of her body and died the following morning.

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The Carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said;
‘For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!’

Still grieving the loss of his wife two years later, another matter weighed heavily on his heart – the status of his oldest son, Charles. When the Civil War began (the same year Francis died), Charley initially resisted the impulse to join the Army. Henry, a strict abolitionist, had tried to dissuade his son from joining as well, but by early 1863, Charley could resist no more and sought to join the fight.

Offered a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the 1st Massachusetts Cavalry, he accepted and was commissioned on March 27, 1863. Charley entered on his new duties with enthusiasm and was assigned to Company “G” of the 1st Massachusetts. From thence he saw action first at Chancellorsville and then Culpepper (having missed Gettysburg while recovering from typhoid fever and malaria). On November 27, as part of the Mine Run Campaign, while in a skirmish during the battle of New Hope Church, Virginia, Charley was shot through the left shoulder. The bullet traveled across his back, nicked his spine, and exited under his right shoulder. He missed being paralyzed by less than an inch. He was carried into the church and then by ambulance to the Rapidan River. On December 1, 1863, word was received at the Longfellow home in Cambridge of Charles serious injury. Henry and his younger son, Ernest, left at once for Washington, D.C. where they finally met up with Charley and brought him home. They reached Cambridge on December 8 and Charles Appleton Longfellow began the slow process of recovering. In fact, so serious were his injuries that this Christmas morn, his recovery was still in doubt. Indeed, throughout the land, the course of the war and fate of the nation was still believed to be in doubt, despite turning back Lee’s forces at Gettysburg.

And so it was, this New England Christmas morning, when in the depths of despair that he heard the bells ringing through the Bostonian streets – hearkening to that glorious proclamation in Luke:

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
(Luke 2: 13-14, KJV)

But each peal of the bells only seemed to highlight the disparity between the biblical proclamation of joy and the ever grim news on earth – of no peace, no joy.

Taking up pen and paper, his last refuge in a world of despairingly ill news, he began to write. And when he wrote challengingly of the mockery of peace by hate – of the power of the canon over the carol, he answered with heaven-sent grace, of hope born on the knowledge of a future certainty:

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
‘God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!’

Despite his despair, despite all the trappings of gloom and fear, Henry’s faith in the power of God and man to join and transcend the horrors of war gave birth to this song, inspired by his hearing the ringing out of the Christmas bells.

Now on this Christmas Eve I ask – do you hear the bells? The promise of peace, real peace the Savior’s birth portends? That in the midst of wars and rumors of wars, of earthquakes and pestilence and the evil man is able to heap upon man that there is one whose birth, life and yes, death and ultimate resurrection was as a sacrifice for you and I that we might come to know peace — real peace? Why not take a break in the hustle and flow of the secular part of the holiday and ponder for a while on the spirit? John 3:1-21 is as good a place as any to start.

Stop, pause, ponder, and marvel at the real gift of the season – it was offered, after all, free for you and I.

 

Submitted with All Our Wishes for a Blessed Christmas.

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PACIFIC OCEAN--

Holiday Lights – of a Different Kind

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While stationed in Norfolk (on active duty) one of our family traditions come Christmas was to head up to the Naval base after Christmas Eve service and take in the sights of the ships dressed out in holiday lighting.  From sub to destroyer and big deck amphib and carrier, almost all were dressed out in one form or another – some to such an extent that it rivaled the nearby skyline for wattage.  One thing, however, was always foremost on our minds as a family – of those who were over the horizon, on deployment that wouldn’t be home this holiday.  As a family, we were pretty sensitive to it given the number of Christmases (and anniversaries, birthdays, etc.) I’d been deployed and so we always kept them in our thoughts and prayers every holiday season.

Underway OperationsPACIFIC OCEAN--

Including even now, as a retiree …

 “O  Eternal Lord God, who alone spreadest out the heavens and rulest the raging of the sea; vouchsafe to take into Thy almighty and most gracious protection our country’s Navy and all who serve therein.  Preserve them from the dangers of the sea and from the violence of the enemy; that they may be a safeguard unto the United States of America and a security for such as pass on the seas upon their lawful occasions; that the inhabitants of our land may in peace and quietness serve Thee our God to the glory of Thy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

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A Christmas Homily: 2012

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Christmas comes at a time of year where we, perforce, count our blessings, tally our losses and generally reflect on the year past. We find this action common across national boundaries and racial divides and, all too commonly, it ends there. The accountant’s take of the past year and if the blessings outweigh the losses, then it was a good year and we can celebrate and be joyful.

For that is the spirit of the season, right? We raise a toast, pause (ever so briefly) to recall those less fortunate and get on with the business of unwrapping gifts, breaking our fasts (such as they may be) and settle in for whatever entertainment is provided to us. Some of that may include songs of the season – “carols” as known by some. We dutifully (and at times, atonally) mix Rudolph, Santa and desires for front teeth with angels and a baby while wishing for “peace on earth.” For most of us, the story behind some of those carols are shrouded in the mists of history, their quaint language, un-afflicted as yet by a modern re-write, twisting our tongues and puzzling our minds over what they mean – but it passes. Soon, we are into the New Year, deep into the distractions of the various sporting events and planning for the months to come. And so it is that another Christmas passes with maybe one or two things remembered until we repeat the cycle at the end of the next year.

My intention here is to hit the “stop” button and offer some points to ponder and reflect upon this Christmastide. There is a story I would like to relate about one of those carols, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Morn” and how something written almost 150 years ago can have relevance today.

The carol is an 1872 adoption of a poem written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow – which itself, was written during a time of deep despair and loss on the part of Longfellow…

 

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet

The words repeat

Of peace on earth, good will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

December of 1863 found Longfellow a desperately heartsick man. Two years earlier, the love of his life – his wife of 18 years, Francis Appleton and mother of their children, died of severe burns when the dress she was wearing caught fire. Despite his own efforts to extinguish the flames (and suffering burns on his face – leading to the now trademark beard), Francis suffered burns over most of her body and died the following morning.

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The Carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said;
‘For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!’

Still grieving the loss of his wife two years later, another matter weighed heavily on his heart – the status of his oldest son, Charles. When the Civil War began (the same year Francis died), Charley initially resisted the impulse to join the Army. Henry, a strict abolitionist, had tried to dissuade his son from joining as well, but by early 1863, Charley could resist no more and sought to join the fight.

Offered a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the 1st Massachusetts Cavalry, he accepted and was commissioned on March 27, 1863. Charley entered on his new duties with enthusiasm and was assigned to Company “G” of the 1st Massachusetts. From thence he saw action first at Chancellorsville and then Culpepper (having missed Gettysburg while recovering from typhoid fever and malaria). On November 27, as part of the Mine Run Campaign, while in a skirmish during the battle of New Hope Church, Virginia, Charley was shot through the left shoulder. The bullet traveled across his back, nicked his spine, and exited under his right shoulder. He missed being paralyzed by less than an inch. He was carried into the church and then by ambulance to the Rapidan River. On December 1, 1863, word was received at the Longfellow home in Cambridge of Charles serious injury. Henry and his younger son, Ernest, left at once for Washington, D.C. where they finally met up with Charley and brought him home. They reached Cambridge on December 8 and Charles Appleton Longfellow began the slow process of recovering. In fact, so serious were his injuries that this Christmas morn, his recovery was still in doubt. Indeed, throughout the land, the course of the war and fate of the nation was still believed to be in doubt, despite turning back Lee’s forces at Gettysburg.

And so it was, this New England Christmas morning, when in the depths of despair that he heard the bells ringing through the Bostonian streets – hearkening to that glorious proclamation in Luke:

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
(Luke 2: 13-14, KJV)

But each peal of the bells only seemed to highlight the disparity between the biblical proclamation of joy and the ever grim news on earth – of no peace, no joy.

Taking up pen and paper, his last refuge in a world of despairingly ill news, he began to write. And when he wrote challengingly of the mockery of peace by hate – of the power of the canon over the carol, he answered with heaven-sent grace, of hope born on the knowledge of a future certainty:

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
‘God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!’

Despite his despair, despite all the trappings of gloom and fear, Henry’s faith in the power of God and man to join and transcend the horrors of war gave birth to this song, inspired by his hearing the ringing out of the Christmas bells.

Now on this Christmas Eve I ask – do you hear the bells? The promise of peace, real peace the Savior’s birth portends? That in the midst of wars and rumors of wars, of earthquakes and pestilence and the evil man is able to heap upon man that there is one whose birth, life and yes, death and ultimate resurrection was as a sacrifice for you and I that we might come to know peace — real peace? Why not take a break in the hustle and flow of the secular part of the holiday and ponder for a while on the spirit? John 3:1-21 is as good a place as any to start.

Stop, pause, ponder, and marvel at the real gift of the season – it was offered, after all, free for you and I.

 

Submitted with All Our Wishes for a Blessed Christmas.

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A Christmas Homily: 2011

2 The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light:
they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.

6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:
and the government shall be upon his shoulder:
and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. — Isaiah 9:2, 6 (KJV)

It is no secret this past year has been one fraught with disappointment, challenge and loss.  Many of you whom I commune with either in real life or via a shared virtual front porch have been touched in one way or another along these lines.  Some lost a job or are standing on the precipice; others find themselves relocated to distant shores, in new surroundings and few if any friends or family near; others face debilitating disease and a long haul to recovery and still others lost loved ones – parents, spouses, children or siblings.  All trying enough in normal times, doubly so in times like these.

As we enter this Christmastide, I know these and other concerns press close aboard,  and please know you all – by name or by reference, are in our thoughts and fervent prayers.  All of us in this house pray that you come into the peace and joy of the Christmas message and carry that into the new year.

May your Christmas be a blessed one and the new year bring peace and prosperity to you and your household.

w/r, SJS

A Christmas Homily – 2010

Christmas comes at a time of year where we, perforce, count our blessings, tally our losses and generally reflect on the year past. We find this action common across national boundaries and racial divides and, all too commonly, it ends there. The accountant’s take of the past year and if the blessings outweigh the losses, then it was a good year and we can celebrate and be joyful.

For that is the spirit of the season, right? We raise a toast, pause (ever so briefly) to recall those less fortunate and get on with the business of unwrapping gifts, breaking our fasts (such as they may be) and settle in for whatever entertainment is provided to us. Some of that may include songs of the season – “carols” as known by some. We dutifully (and at times, atonally) mix Rudolph, Santa and desires for front teeth with angels and a baby while wishing for “peace on earth.” For most of us, the story behind some of those carols are shrouded in the mists of history, their quaint language, un-afflicted as yet by a modern re-write, twisting our tongues and puzzling our minds over what they mean – but it passes. Soon, we are into the New Year, deep into the distractions of the various sporting events and planning for the months to come. And so it is that another Christmas passes with maybe one or two things remembered until we repeat the cycle at the end of the next year.

My intention here is to hit the “stop” button and offer some points to ponder and reflect upon this Christmastide. There is a story I would like to relate about one of those carols, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Morn” and how something written almost 150 years ago can have relevance today.

The carol is an 1872 adoption of a poem written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow – which itself, was written during a time of deep despair and loss on the part of Longfellow…

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet

The words repeat

Of peace on earth, good will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

December of 1863 found Longfellow a desperately heartsick man. Two years earlier, the love of his life – his wife of 18 years, Francis Appleton and mother of their children, died of severe burns when the dress she was wearing caught fire. Despite his own efforts to extinguish the flames (and suffering burns on his face – leading to the now trademark beard), Francis suffered burns over most of her body and died the following morning.

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The Carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said;
‘For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!’

Still grieving the loss of his wife two years later, another matter weighed heavily on his heart – the status of his oldest son, Charles. When the Civil War began (the same year Francis died), Charley initially resisted the impulse to join the Army. Henry, a strict abolitionist, had tried to dissuade his son from joining as well, but by early 1863, Charley could resist no more and sought to join the fight.

Offered a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the 1st Massachusetts Cavalry, he accepted and was commissioned on March 27, 1863. Charley entered on his new duties with enthusiasm and was assigned to Company “G” of the 1st Massachusetts. From thence he saw action first at Chancellorsville and then Culpepper (having missed Gettysburg while recovering from typhoid fever and malaria). On November 27, as part of the Mine Run Campaign, while in a skirmish during the battle of New Hope Church, Virginia, Charley was shot through the left shoulder. The bullet traveled across his back, nicked his spine, and exited under his right shoulder. He missed being paralyzed by less than an inch. He was carried into the church and then by ambulance to the Rapidan River. On December 1, 1863, word was received at the Longfellow home in Cambridge of Charles serious injury. Henry and his younger son, Ernest, left at once for Washington, D.C. where they finally met up with Charley and brought him home. They reached Cambridge on December 8 and Charles Appleton Longfellow began the slow process of recovering. In fact, so serious were his injuries that this Christmas morn, his recovery was still in doubt. Indeed, throughout the land, the course of the war and fate of the nation was still believed to be in doubt, despite turning back Lee’s forces at Gettysburg.

And so it was, this New England Christmas morning, when in the depths of despair that he heard the bells ringing through the Bostonian streets – hearkening to that glorious proclamation in Luke:

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
(Luke 2: 13-14, KJV)

But each peal of the bells only seemed to highlight the disparity between the biblical proclamation of joy and the ever grim news on earth – of no peace, no joy.

Taking up pen and paper, his last refuge in a world of despairingly ill news, he began to write. And when he wrote challengingly of the mockery of peace by hate – of the power of the canon over the carol, he answered with heaven-sent grace, of hope born on the knowledge of a future certainty:

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
‘God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!’

Despite his despair, despite all the trappings of gloom and fear, Henry’s faith in the power of God and man to join and transcend the horrors of war gave birth to this song, inspired by his hearing the ringing out of the Christmas bells.

Now on this Christmas Eve I ask – do you hear the bells? The promise of peace, real peace the Savior’s birth portends? That in the midst of wars and rumors of wars, of earthquakes and pestilence and the evil man is able to heap upon man that there is one whose birth, life and yes, death and ultimate resurrection was as a sacrifice for you and I that we might come to know peace — real peace? Why not take a break in the hustle and flow of the secular part of the holiday and ponder for a while on the spirit? John 3:1-21 is as good a place as any to start.

Stop, pause, ponder, and marvel at the real gift of the season – it was offered, after all, free for you and I.

Submitted with All Our Wishes for a Blessed Christmas.

- SJS

A Christmas Homily

Christmas comes at a time of year where we, perforce, count our blessings, tally our losses and generally reflect on the year past.  We find this action common across national boundaries and racial divides and, all too commonly, it ends there.  The accountant’s take of the past year and if the blessings outweigh the losses, then it was a good year and we can celebrate and be joyful.

For that is the spirit of the season, right?   We raise a toast, pause (ever so briefly) to recall those less fortunate and get on with the business of unwrapping gifts, breaking our fasts (such as they may be) and settle in for whatever entertainment is provided to us.  Some of that may include songs of the season – “carols” as known by some.  We dutifully (and at times, atonally) mix Rudolph, Santa and desires for front teeth with angels, a baby while wishing for “peace on earth.”  For most of us, the story behind some of those carols are shrouded in the mists of history, their quaint language, un-afflicted as yet by a modern re-write, twisting our tongues and puzzling our minds over what they mean – but it passes. Soon, we are into the New Year, deep into the distractions of the various sporting events and planning for the months to come.  And so it is that another Christmas passes with maybe one or two things remembered until we repeat the cycle at the end of the next year.

My intention here is to hit the “stop” button and offer some points to ponder and reflect upon this Christmastide.  There is a story I would like to relate about one of those carols, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Morn” and how something written almost 150 years ago can have relevance today.

The carol is an 1872 adoption of a poem written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow – which itself, was written during a time of deep despair and loss on the part of Longfellow…

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet

The words repeat

Of peace on earth, good will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

December of 1863 found Longfellow a desperately heartsick man.  Two years earlier, the love of his life – his wife of 18 years, Francis Appleton and mother of their children, died of severe burns when the dress she was wearing caught fire.  Despite his own efforts to extinguish the flames (and suffering burns on his face – leading to the now trademark beard), Francis suffered burns over most of her body and died the following morning.

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The Carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said;
‘For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!’

Still grieving the loss of his wife two years later, another matter weighed heavily on his heart – the status of his oldest son, Charles.  When the Civil War began (the same year Francis died), Charley initially resisted the impulse to join the Army.  Henry, a strict abolitionist, had tried to dissuade his son from joining as well, but by early 1863, Charley could resist no more and sought to join the fight.

Offered a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the 1st Massachusetts Cavalry, he accepted and was commissioned on March 27, 1863. Charley entered on his new duties with enthusiasm and was assigned to Company “G” of the 1st Massachusetts.   From thence he saw action first at Chancellorsville and then Culpepper (having missed Gettysburg while recovering from typhoid fever and malaria).  On November 27, as part of the Mine Run Campaign, while in a skirmish during the battle of New Hope Church, Virginia, Charley was shot through the left shoulder. The bullet traveled across his back, nicked his spine, and exited under his right shoulder. He missed being paralyzed by less than an inch. He was carried into the church and then by ambulance to the Rapidan River. On December 1, 1863, word was received at the Longfellow home in Cambridge of Charles serious injury. Henry and his younger son, Ernest, left at once for Washington, D.C. where they finally met up with Charley and brought him home. They reached Cambridge on December 8 and Charles Appleton Longfellow began the slow process of recovering.  In fact, so serious were his injuries that this Christmas morn, his recovery was still in doubt.  Indeed, throughout the land, the course of the war and fate of the nation was still believed to be in doubt, despite turning back Lee’s forces at Gettysburg.

And so it was, this New England Christmas morning, when in the depths of despair that he heard the bells ringing through the Bostonian streets – hearkening to that glorious proclamation in Luke:

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
(Luke 2: 13-14, KJV)

But each peal of the bells only seemed to highlight the disparity between the biblical proclamation of joy and the ever grim news on earth – of no peace, no joy.

Taking up pen and paper, his last refuge in a world of despairingly ill news, he began to write.  And when he wrote challengingly of the mockery of peace by hate – of the power of the canon over the carol, he answered with heaven-sent grace, of hope born on the knowledge of a future certainty:

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
‘God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!’

Despite his despair, despite all the trappings of gloom and fear, Henry’s faith in the power of God and man to join and transcend the horrors of war gave birth to this song, inspired by his hearing the ringing out of the Christmas bells.

Now on this Christmas Eve I ask – do you hear the bells?  The promise of peace, real peace the Savior’s birth portends?  That in the midst of wars and rumors of wars, of earthquakes and pestilence and the evil man is able to heap upon man that there is one whose birth, life and yes, death and ultimate resurrection was as a sacrifice for you and I that we might come to know peace — real peace?  Why not take a break in the hustle and flow of the secular part of the holiday and ponder for a while on the spirit?  John 3:1-21 is as good a place as any to start.

Stop, pause, ponder, and marvel at the real gift of the season – it was offered, after all, free for you and I.


Submitted with All Our Wishes for a Blessed Christmas.

- SJS

Wise Men and Women Still Seek Him

Here is my wish for you and your loved ones – for a warm, Spirit-filled Christmastide; prayerful for our countrymen who go in harm’s way and for wisdom on the part of our leaders in their decisions. Hope for the year to come — hope for peace, salvation for the lost and safety and prosperity for all. - SJS

O Magnum Mysterium

His Birth Foretold

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
Isaiah 7:14 (King James Version)

The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined…For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:2, 6

The Birth (Luke 2:1-18)

1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

Continue Reading…

40 Years Ago Today: Apollo 8

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apollo-8-patchap8-ksc-68pc-329Forty years ago, man had slipped the gravitational pull that had kept him shackled  in orbit around his home planet, and boldly struck out for the Moon.  

Forty years ago, in a live broadcast on Christmas Eve  for the ages, he sent back stunning images of his world and our perspective was forever changed: 

William Anders:

“For all the people on Earth the crew of Apollo 8 has a message we would like to send you”.

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.
And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.”

Jim Lovell:

“And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.”

Frank Borman:

“And God said, Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.”

 

Borman then added, “And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you – all of you on the good Earth.”

To which all we would add is “Amen

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