Friday, December 31, 2010

It's worth 10 minutes...

I know New Year's eve is today and the focus is and should be on Drinking and driving...we all know what can happen when you get behind the wheel impaired...it's not worth it. Get a designated driver, call a cab, catch a bus, call a friend, parent or family member...get a hotel room! Don't drink and drive!

In the same light, AT&T recently launched a campaign about texting and driving...it's a little long, but worth your time...share it with your friends, your family but most importantly, take it's message to heart! It's just NOT worth it...

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Another unique performance...

I posted something similar last year...but that time it was in a controlled environment...a church...

Behold the "Hallelujah Chorus" from the 5th graders of Kuinerrarmint Elitnaurviat School and many of the townsfolk from Quinhagak, Alaska...Somehow I can imagine God smiling at their efforts!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

An unusual story...

about a Hollywood heavyweight...

A story that makes you feel good about one of the most superficial industries in the world. That's the sad part...with the "power" that Hollywood has to shape and mold young people these days, it's a shame that this is an "unusual" story.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Time is Short

Dear Friends,
You who are letting miserable misunderstandings run on from year to year, meaning to clear them up some day...You who are passing man sullenly upon the street, not speaking out of some silly spite, and yet knowing that it would fill you with remorse if you heard that one of these men were dead tomorrow morning; you who are...letting your friend's heart ache for a word of appreciation or sympathy, which you mean to give him some day---if you could know...that "the time is short", how it would break the spell! How you would go instantly and do the thing which you might never have another chance to do.

Phillip Brooks

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Celebrate the Birth!

"Vergine Madre, figlia del tuo Figlio"


Raffel


Merry Christmas!



FIFTH CANDLE – (white) “CHRIST CANDLE”
– The white candle reminds us that Jesus is the spotless lamb of God, sent to wash away our sins! His birth was for his death, his death was for our birth! “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!‘” (John 1:29)

“Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, ‘Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.’ In reply Jesus declared, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.’ ‘How can a man be born when he is old?’ Nicodemus asked. ‘Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.‘” (John 3:1-8)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A thought...

There is a new movement afoot...Redefining Christmas....perhaps it is something you've been hearing in your heart but didn't know how to go about it...maybe it's just an idea at this point...

As in many of the "Flash Mobs" that spring up this time of year (people breaking out into the Hallelujah Chorus in random public places)...check this video...



It's up to you to decide...

Most interesting video...

I am not a Catholic and have struggled with their view of Mary for many years. Not that I would deny her the place she should have...I just have not understood the why's and wherefore's...although this video does not answer all questions, it does offer much food for thought for those of us who have not had the same teaching...It is a little long, but worth the while of those who question...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Pick me, Pick me...

Sorry everyone, this is a shameless attempt to win a new printer from The Pioneer Woman...try visiting her for a few giggles...she really has a great blog!

Joseph

The most famous view of Joseph, the earthly father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is in the manger scene. We see a man...strong, supportive, humble...but he is also silent (he is not quoted in Scripture). Although he does not utter a word for us to hear, we can get a beautiful picture of a righteous man from his actions.

God sent an angel to visit the mother of His Son and they spoke face to face. The same angel spoke to Joseph, but in a dream. God chose Mary and with much less fanfare, Joseph too.

How would you describe him? He was betrothed but then finds that his fiancee has “betrayed” him (or so he thought). Even though the law would have allowed him to divorce her (and even have her stoned) with no questions asked, he planned to put her away quietly...so as to not add to her shame. After the angel's visit, he carried through with the marriage even though he still faced public humiliation. Given all this, he was still more than willing to stay in the background. In those days the man was the absolute ruler of the household and the family. And although I am sure Mary was a dutiful and submissive wife, Joseph understood she was the more important of the two...she was the Vessel. He loved his wife and his God to the point of foregoing one of his rights as a husband until after the Child was born and Mary healed. He knew there was a greater purpose to be served here.

He must have felt fear and anxiety...at first for the perceived betrayal by Mary and then later at the thought of raising the Son of God! Not only was he to be responsible for the most important child ever to be born, he faced the daily issues all poor men of that time faced. Caring for and supporting a family, providing for their needs, paying taxes. There were also much graver responsibilities in their lives...like protecting his defenseless (in mortal terms) child from a ruthless tyrant and becoming refugees in a strange land.

The last time Joseph is mentioned is when Jesus is 12 and at the Temple. Through it all we see a righteous man, a loving man, a strong, supportive man...the portrait of a man who puts his absolute and complete trust in God. It's no wonder he too was chosen.

Prayer...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Snow Flakes

Many of us are "enjoying" winter weather much earlier than usual...snow in the mid-South in early December? Who ever heard of such! They say no two are the same...Behold the beauty of a snowflake by checking here







Digital Nativity

The way the story is delivered may change, but the story itself remains the same...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Cards

How do you choose your Christmas cards? Do you stand in the card aisle and take time to see which one "fits" you? Do you grab the first box you see? Do you pick a card and then have your names printed inside? Do you take time to sign each one and perhaps put in a note as well? Do you make your own cards?

Seems the Pope picks his own cards and decides what they will say...


I'm sure I'm not on the Pope's mailing list but that's okay, he's not on mine either.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

I'm fascinated...

What can I say? I am fascinated with the way they make the lights flash in time with the music. Some would say it doesn't take much to entertain me...but then again, this cannot be easy. Dancing Christmas lights along with one of my most favorite songs ever...it's bound to be a hit!

Advent Week 4



FOURTH CANDLE – (purple) THE ANGEL CANDLE or THE CANDLE OF LOVE
– The angels announced the good news of a Savior. God sent his only Son to earth to save us, because he loves us! “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16-17)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Fun with Christmas lights!

A Martha Christmas?

Luke 10:38-42
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[f] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”


So which are you at Christmas? Mary or Martha? Do you rush hither and tither making preparations for everyone else to enjoy the day or do you prepare yourself for the day?

Are you up cooking, cleaning, decorating and wrapping or do you sit "at the feet" of Jesus? It doesn't have to be silent...if everyone else in the house is going about their business, this doesn't have to interfere with you. Jesus can speak to you in the midst of noise. If He is truly the Shepherd of your life, you will hear His voice.

During this time when we're all surrounded by presents, it is a good thing to give money to charities or to your church. But is that the best gift you can give the Christ Child? What do you think Jesus Himself desires from you? Sure He wants us to see others less fortunate and help ease their burdens but He wants your time. Being available to open your heart to Him is to have a Mary Christmas.

How much of your celebration is secular? There is an over abundance of Christmas songs and we're meant to enjoy them...but are they all about "Let it snow, Let it snow" or "Rudolph the Red nosed Reindeer" or "Up on the house top"? Do you also incorporate "Hark the Herald angels" or "What Child is this" or "In the Bleak Midwinter"? We all decorate with trees and snowmen and Christmas stockings but do you also include a star? An Advent wreath? Angels?

Jesus is the reason for the season...let's keep Him in the midst of the celebration.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Remebering those who paid the price...

A story worth telling of honoring the sacrifice...

Merrily!

To add a little joy to your day! The composer is unknown but the carol is reputed to be French from the 16th century...



Ding dong merrily on high,
In heav'n the bells are ringing:
Ding dong! verily the sky
Is riv'n with angel singing.
Gloria, Hosanna in excelsis!

E'en so here below, below,
Let steeple bells be swungen,
And "Io, io, io!"
By priest and people sungen.
Gloria, Hosanna in excelsis!

Pray you, dutifully prime
Your matin chime, ye ringers;
May you beautifully rime
Your evetime song, ye singers.
Gloria, Hosanna in excelsis!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Logos (the Word of God)



In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
(John 1:1 NIV) In Greek, "word" is "Logos" which also means wisdom or reason.

"The Word was with God, and the Word was God..."
In Genesis, God created the universe...by speaking the Word. As He created each part, He said "Let there be...". The important part is that He "said" it...He spoke it all into being. The Word of God is Omnipotent (All powerful).

If there was any doubt who or what the "Word of God" was, the birth of the Christ child removed it. When the Apostle John states, "14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14 NIV), he is identifying Jesus as an incarnation of the divine Logos that formed the universe.

From N.T. Wright: When Pilate hears the word, says John, he is afraid, since the word in question is Jesus' reported claim to be the Son of God (John 19:8). Unless we recognize this strange, dark strand running through the Gospel, we will domesticate John's masterpiece (just as we're always in danger of domesticating Christmas) and think it's only about comfort and joy. In truth, it's also about incomprehension, rejection, darkness, denial, stopped ears, and judgment. Christmas is not about the living God coming to tell us everything's all right. John's Gospel isn't about Jesus speaking the truth and everyone saying "Of course! Why didn't we realize it before?" It is about God shining his clear, bright torch into the darkness of our world, our lives, our hearts, our imaginations—and the darkness not comprehending it. It's about God, God as a little child, speaking words of truth, and nobody knowing what he's talking about.

Giving in to the world...

We humans are such frail and fragile creatures. Physically it is amazing what the body can withstand but mentally we break easily.

Even though the Bible is filled with promises from God, we choose always to look on the dark side...to take events at face value without looking for God's hand. I'm sure it distresses Him for us to question and doubt. It is easy for us to look back at the Israelites thousands of years ago and say, "had I been there, I would have believed!" Angels appearing, prophets speaking, seas parting, walls tumbling, even the "still, small voice of God" and yet they turned away time and again. Why should we think we are any different?

In times of peace and tranquility, we are happy Christians...all is going our way! But let there be one pothole on the road and we question, doubt, even rail against God. "Why is He letting this happen to me?" Do we ever stop to think that perhaps things are happening because of choices we ourselves have made? Are we down because we "let" the world get the better of us rather than choosing to be joyful?

God expects a steadfast hope from us. After all, He has told us He will be with us always...to the end of the age. I say this as one who fails to live up to the expectations, who is quick to fall into depression. It's my prayer that I can turn to the one from Whom all Blessings flow and choose to live my life as one He loves.

Brave your storm with firm endeavor,
let your vain repinings go!
Hopeful hearts will find forever
roses underneath the snow.
George Cooper

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

O Come O Come Emmanuel

The haunting notes of a Hammered Dulcimer are a beautiful way to present this 15th century processional. Most of the text is taken from the prophecies in Isaiah...



O Come, O Come, Emmanuel


O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai's height,
In ancient times did'st give the Law,
In cloud, and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Live Nativity...

The children and youth will be performing next Sunday night...our play includes pigs, donkey, chicken, horse, mouse, cow, a lamb and (3) camels...fortunately for us, they will all be young people in masks. Now while they may miss a word or speak out of turn, there's not much chance of physical damage. Unlike poor Lula Bell's performance at First Baptist Church.



You can read the story here!

While my little make believe animals may get a little unruly during rehearsals...this probably won't happen to us!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Advent Week 3



THIRD CANDLE – (pink) THE SHEPHERD CANDLE or THE CANDLE OF JOY – The angels sang a message of JOY! “…and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’ When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” (Luke 2:7-15)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Immaculate Conception

By J. Peter Nixon

I’ve always sort of struggled with the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. Reading descriptions of its development is sort of like reading a very complicated legal brief. Lots of talk about the “imputed merits of Christ,” the theology of Duns Scotus, and all that. Most of the time, I enjoy that sort of thing. But not today.

Today I’m thinking about mothers. One of the reasons that Mary is so important is that, in some sense, she is the guarantor of the humanity of Jesus. Jesus had a mother, just like all of us. Much of what Jesus became as a human being, he became because of his mother.

If you met me and got to know me for a while, and then met my mother, you would immediately see some of the traits that she passed down to me. I suspect that those who got to know Jesus, and then met Mary, had the same experience. Maybe it was her smile, maybe certain turns of phrase. Maybe Jesus inherited his fiery passion, his fearlessness from her. She must have been a formidable woman!

One of the ongoing temptations in Christianity has been to deny, sometimes without even meaning to, the humanity of Christ. A lot of us are still carrying around a mental image of a fleshy “costume” animated by an all-knowing, all-seeing deity. The idea that Jesus could have been shaped in some fundamental way by his human environment sometimes seems threatening. But that is precisely why the Incarnation is so stunning.

It doesn’t seem completely unreasonable to me that if God was going to become incarnate in human flesh, that he would do a little advance planning. And perhaps one of the things He might be most concerned about is the woman who would bear Him, who would shape Him and guide him to adulthood, a poor peasant girl from the Judean countryside. How would she ever have the strength to bear the burden that would be laid upon her?

The answer? He gave it to her.

Oh, I’m sure this is very poor theology and someone far more learned than I could poke numerous holes in it. But in some sense, I think this is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception is all about: a son’s love for His mother.


I, like the author have struggled at times with the Immaculate Conception. In order to get a better grip, I have tried to study the teachings of other denominations...most particularly the Catholic Church. While I still cannot get my head fully around the notion...I can and do accept on faith that it happened...and it happened because God wanted it so.

Over the years I have marvelled that Mary took on this blessing and fulfilled her end beautifully. What awesome responsibility! The last couple of paragraphs have opened a window for me...and given me yet another reason to believe and hope...

Friday, December 10, 2010

No Sweeter Thing...

Life holds no sweeter thing than this:
To teach a little child the tale most loved on earth;
And watch the wonder deepen in his eyes;
The while you tell him of the Christ Child's birth;
The while you tell of shepherds and a song,
Of gentle drowsy beasts and fragrant hay;
On which that starlit night in Bethlehem,
God's tiny Son and His young mother lay...


Adelaide Love

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Honeysuckle

Well it's official! The "color" for next year (according to experts) is Honeysuckle! Just in case you're not sure what color that would be (personally I would have thought yellow)...here it is..



Experts say that "In times of stress, we need something to lift our spirits. Honeysuckle is a captivating, stimulating color that gets the adrenaline going, perfect to ward off the blues!"

Now while I've always thought that the best way to beat stress and the blues was prayer...and since God created all the colors I bet he wouldn't mind if we wore (or looked at) a little honeysuckle while we're praying!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010



Found this image at United Methodist Young People's Ministry page...thought about writing a long piece on it but realized it could be summed up in a couple of paragraphs...not because it doesn't have a deep meaning, but because the meaning is a little different for each of us. The only common requirement is courage.

It takes courage to serve others...to put your heart on the line. It takes courage to love Jesus because He WILL call you and use you and you will NEVER be the same. It takes courage to be different...especially for young people...to not be stamped by the cookie cutter so many others are stamped with...

If I could pray but one prayer for our young people, it would be that they follow Jesus by doing these three things.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Advent Preparations



Don't know about you but this was something I needed to hear...It should be second nature for us to spend time preparing ourselves for the Coming of the King...and yet, we do get all wrapped up in the secular issues. How differently would I approach midnight on Christmas Eve if I had taken the time to open my heart and mind? How much more fulfilling would the experience be? What would I feel? In years past I have felt relief that all the gifts were bought and all the preparations completed and only really thought about the birth at the Christmas Eve service. How much more peace and joy would I have if I took some time each day to contemplate what is happening, what this event really means to my life and the lives of others...Guess I should make it a point...as if my life depended on it.

Monday, December 6, 2010



What a wonderfully fascinating poem...and timely too. Since The Anchoress has permission to reprint and I do not...take a moment to go visit Eve by Madeleine L'Engle.

I promise it is worth your time...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Advent Week 2



SECOND CANDLE – (purple) THE BETHLEHEM CANDLE or THE CANDLE OF PREPARATION – God kept his promise of a Savior who would be born in Bethlehem. Preparation means to “get ready”. Help us to be ready to welcome YOU, O GOD! “As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: ‘A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all mankind will see God’s salvation.‘ (Luke 3:4-6)

There's a Voice in the Wilderness Crying

There’s a voice in the wilderness crying,
A call from the ways untrod:
Prepare in the desert a highway,
A highway for our God!
The valleys shall be exalted,
The lofty hills brought low;
Make straight all the crooked places,
Where the Lord our God may go!

O Zion, that bringest good tidings,
Get thee up to the heights and sing!
Proclaim to a desolate people
The coming of their King.
Like the flowers of the field they perish,
The works of men decay,
The power and pomp of nations
Shall pass like a dream away.

But the word of our God endureth,
The arm of the Lord is strong;
He stands in the midst of nations,
And He will right the wrong.
He shall feed His flock like a shepherd,
And fold the lambs to His breast;
In pastures of peace He’ll lead them,
And give to the weary rest.

There’s a voice in the wilderness crying,
A call from the ways untrod:
Prepare in the desert a highway,
A highway for our God!
The valleys shall be exalted,
The lofty hills brought low;
Make straight all the crooked places,
Where the Lord our God may go!

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Lion of the Tribe of Judah

In C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia, the Christ character is portrayed as a lion. I was recently asked why he would choose a lion. Obviously some of us have forgotten that one of the “Names” of Jesus is “The Lion of the tribe of Judah”.

The Lion of Judah is an ancient symbol that represents the tribe of Judah throughout the Old Testament. It dates back to the tribe's partiarch, Jacob, who referred to his son Judah as 'Gur Aryeh' or 'the young lion' (Genesis 49:9). In Christianity, the Lion of Judah epithet is used to refer to Jesus Christ. Revelation 5:5 says, “Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed!””

The Bible reveals Jesus' bloodline dating back to Jacob, of the House of David. Judah was Jacob's fourth son and the father of the 12 tribes of Israel. Normally the fourth son would not inherit but because of the sins of the three older sons, the inheritance and the birthright fell into Judah's lap. On his deathbed, Jacob prophesied about the coming of Jesus, the Lion of Judah (Genesis 49:8-12). Christians around the world believe that while the ancient tribe of Levi prepared priests, that of Judah prepared Kings.



In St. Peters Square, Vatican City, there is an obelisk that was moved there in the 16th century which says in Latin:
Behold the Cross of the Lord!
Flee, you parties of the adversary;
The Lion of the Tribe of Judah has conquered!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Labels

I don't believe in coincidence. I believe all things happen for a purpose. Now that you know that, you should also know that I'm not surprised by my lunchtime reading today...

Yesterday I posted this..."Names are important to us. Not only are they the way we know one another, they are the way we describe one another. Over the course of this Advent season...I will explore some of the Names of Jesus...they are many and varied. Above all, He is the Alpha and Omega...but that one will come later."

In an effort to decide which of the "Names of Jesus" I would choose, I printed a list off the Internet...there were 103.

Today as I was reading Chasing Francis by Ian Morgan Cron I came across the following "Labels are misleading. They objectify people. They are a form of relational laziness. We think that if we can nail a person's label, we've got them all figured out and we don't need to spend time getting to know who they really are. People are always a lot more complicated than their labels."

Funny that yesterday I described the Names of Jesus as "many and varied"...and that they are. We cannot put Jesus in a box. We cannot ever hope to "figure Him out". I will still be writing on the same theme this month but in doing so, I will keep in mind the quote and see to it that I never become lazy in my attempt to have a relationship with Jesus.

Natwivity



Follow the Natwivity here

Christmas in 140 Characters...

Hanukkah


From the Hebrew word for "dedication" or "consecration", Hanukkah marks the re- dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem (Second Temple) after its desecration by the forces of the King of Syria Antiochus IV Epiphanes and commemorates the "miracle of the container of oil". According to the Talmud, at the re-dedication following the victory of the Maccabees over the Seleucid Empire, there was only enough consecrated olive oil to fuel the eternal flame in the Temple for one day. Miraculously, the oil burned for eight days, which was the length of time it took to press, prepare and consecrate fresh olive oil.

The festival is observed by the kindling of the lights of a unique candelabrum, the nine-branched Menorah, one additional light on each night of the holiday, progressing to eight on the final night.

On all eight days of Hanukkah two special blessings are said before the kindled menorah. On the first day of Hanukkah, a third is added to recognize the beginning of the Hanukkah season.
First Blessing
Baruch ata Adonai elohanu melech ha olam, asher kiddishanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu l'hadlik ner shel Hanukkah. (Blessed are you our God, Ruler of the world, who makes us holy through your mitzvoth, and commands us to kindle the Hanukkah lights.)
Second Blessing:
Baruch ata Adonai elohanu melech ha olam, she asa nisim l'avoteinu, bayamim ha-hem, bazman ha zeh. (Blessed are you our God, Ruler of the world, who worked miracles for our ancestors in days long ago at this season).
Third Blessing:
Baruch ata Adonai, elohanu melech ha olam, sheheheyanu, v'kiyimanu, v'higiyanu, lazman ha zeh. (Blessed are you our God, Ruler of the world, who has given us life, sustained us, and has brought us to this season.)

To our Jewish Brethern, Happy Hanukkah!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Names




Names are important to us. Not only are they the way we know one another, they are the way we describe one another. Over the course of this Advent season...I will explore some of the Names of Jesus...they are many and varied. Above all, He is the Alpha and Omega...but that one will come later.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Advent




Advent is the period preceding the Christmas season. It begins on the Sunday nearest November 30, the feast day of St. Andrew the Apostle, and covers four Sundays. Because the day it begins changes from year to year, so does the length of each Advent season.

The word advent, from Latin, means “the coming.” For centuries, Advent has been a time of spiritual reflection as well as cheer and anticipation. Even as the Christmas season has become more secular-with advertisers urging holiday gift-givers to buy and buy some more-Advent still brings joy and the observance of ancient customs. Christian families find quiet moments lighting candles in the Advent wreath, and children use Advent calendars to count the days until Christmas.

Advent has probably been observed since the fourth century. Originally, it was a time when converts to Christianity readied themselves for baptism.

During the Middle Ages, Advent became associated with preparation for the Second Coming. In early days Advent lasted from November 11, the feast of St. Martin, until Christmas Day. Advent was considered a pre-Christmas season of Lent when Christians devoted themselves to prayer and fasting. The Orthodox Eastern Church observes a similar Lenten season, from November 15 until Christmas, rather than Advent.

Many Christians still view Advent as a season to prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus. In the last fifty years, however, it has also come to be thought of as a time of anticipating the Nativity, on Christmas Day.

Advent wreaths have their origins in the folk traditions of northern Europe, where in the deep of winter people lit candles on wheel-shaped bundles of evergreen. Both the evergreen and the circular shape symbolized ongoing life. The candlelight gave comfort at this darkest time of the year, as people looked forward to the longer days of spring.

Later, Eastern European Christians adopted this practice. By the sixteenth century, they were making Advent wreaths much as we know them today. An advent wreath traditionally contains four candles-three purple and one rose. Purple dyes were one so rare and costly that they were associated with royalty; the Roman Catholic Church has long used this color around Christmas and Easter to honor Jesus. The three purple candles in the Advent wreath symbolize hope, peace, and love. These candles are lit on the first, second, and fourth Sundays of Advent. The rose candle, which symbolizes joy, is usually lit on the third Sunday.

FIRST CANDLE – (purple) THE PROPHECY CANDLE or CANDLE OF HOPE – We can have hope because God is faithful and will keep the promises made to us. Our hope comes from God. “And again, Isaiah says, ‘The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in him.’ May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:12-13)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday...

Am I the only person that thinks there is something wrong with calling the first official day of Christmas shopping "Black Friday"? It sounds kind of sinister to me. Perhaps it's because I'm not a "shopper". I am a buyer. I decide what I want, or what I need to purchase and then I go buy. Whether it's groceries or Christmas gifts...I just don't "get in to" the whole wandering around and looking for a deal. Needless to say, with the relative ease of "on-line" shopping, I visit the stores less and less.

Now for those of you that cannot begin the Christmas season without the marathon of shopping that is Black Friday, I say have fun! Hope you find everything you need or want. I pray that you are safe during your travels on the highway and through the stores! While I know you won't miss me...know I will be thinking of you while I'm home decorating my tree.

And as this is the first official day of Christmas (even though Advent doesn't start until Sunday), one of my all time favorite Christmas Carols...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Come, ye Thankful people, Come



Come, Ye Thankful People, Come
Come, ye thankful people, come, raise the song of harvest home;
All is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied;
Come to God's own temple, come, raise the song of harvest home.

All the world is God's own field, fruit unto His praise to yield;
Wheat and tares together sown unto joy or sorrow grown.
First the blade and then the ear, then the full corn shall appear;
Lord of harvest, grant that we wholesome grain and pure may be.

For the Lord our God shall come, and shall take His harvest home;
From His field shall in that day all offenses purge away,
Giving angels charge at last in the fire the tares to cast;
But the fruitful ears to store in His garner evermore.

Even so, Lord, quickly come, bring Thy final harvest home;
Gather Thou Thy people in, free from sorrow, free from sin,
There, forever purified, in Thy garner to abide;
Come, with all Thine angels come, raise the glorious harvest home.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Pilgrim Daughter

Story by Dr. Ralph Wilson...

We searched for the ghost of fifteen-year-old Constance Hopkins in the bowels of the reconstructed ship "Mayflower II," rolling gently aside a pier in Plymouth harbor. Where volunteers dressed in period costume answered tourists' questions, Constance had once huddled, miserably cold and damp, as fierce storms buffeted the ship.

"According to the usuall manner," the old records relate, "many were afflicted with seasicknes." As the ship had only the crudest of conveniences and no sanitary facilities of any kind except the traditional bucket, the air in the narrow, crowded quarters below deck must have been nauseating at worst and at best simply staggering.

Constance and her younger brother were responsible to keep track of their three-year-old sister who was always scampering among the various families camped side by side in the hold's cargo compartments. It was all their mother could do, great with child, to brace herself as the "Mayflower" heaved in the heavy Atlantic storms. As Constance watched a tiny brother was born on the high seas, christened "Oceanus."

Since the "Mayflower" had left England nine weeks behind schedule, the New World's harsh weather threatened their very survival. The men went ashore in December to construct rude shelters; women and children spent the winter aboard ship anchored in the bay.

Winter took its toll. Journal entries feature the same melancholy theme week after week, for months on end:

"... Aboute noone, it began to raine ... at night, it did freeze & snow ... still the cold weather continued ... very wet and rainy, with the greatest gusts of wind ever we saw ... frost and foule weather hindered us much; this time of the yeare seldom could we worke half the week."

That winter more than half the heads of households perished. Aboard ship only five of eighteen wives lived through the ravages of scurvy, pneumonia, and tuberculosis. An entry for March 24th reads:

"Dies Elizabeth, the wife of Mr. Edward Winslow. N.B. This month thirteen of our number die. And in three months past dies halfe our company ... Of a hundred persons, scarce fifty remain, the living scarce able to bury the dead."

My daughter Annie, a descendent of Constance, tried to imagine the terrors of that winter for a young teenage girl. When not lying sick herself, she would doubtless be tending whimpering children, preparing food for their stricken mothers, and comforting the increasing number of orphans aboard the "Mayflower."

But spring finally came, and by the third week in March the weakened survivors rowed ashore in the longboat to take up residence in New Plimoth.

How could the Pilgrims talk about thanksgiving in the midst of life's most difficult trials? we wonder. Why not just curse God and die? They gave thanks for God's presence in their adversities because they knew that struggles did not have to make them bitter; struggles could make them better. These remaining Pilgrim daughters and sons, mothers and fathers, placed their trust in their God and laid the enduring foundations of a nation. Thanksgiving Day, 1621, did not just celebrate wild turkey and Indian corn; it celebrated the human spirit reaching out to God in gratitude for the blessings the Pilgrims still did possess.

"Yea, though they should lose their lives in this action," ancient documents say, "yet they might have comforte in the same ... All great & honourable actions are accompanied with great difficulties, and must be both enterprised and overcome with answerable courages."

No, the Pilgrims did not lack for courage.

Our family poked around in a windswept burying yard until we found the tombstone of Constance Hopkins Snow, age 72 years. And as my wife and daughter laid a bunch of hedge row wildflowers on her grave, we stood for a moment of silence, meditating on our brave and very personal link with that first Thanksgiving.


I had the great, good fortune to visit the Mayflower II several years ago. As I wandered the decks and spoke with the period actors, I was truly amazed that 103 passengers (not including the crew) could survive for 66 days in such cramped quarters on the raging, merciless Atlantic ocean. We could all learn a lesson from their faith and courage.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Math, Wow!

I am not one that is mathematically inclined but this is worth watching!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

CMA

So how many read the title of the article and thought Country Music Association awards? CMA has a deeper, more honorable meaning...



The Medal of Honor

The Medal of Honor is the nation's highest medal for valor in combat that can be awarded to members of the armed forces. It sometimes is referred to as the "Congressional Medal of Honor" because the president awards it on behalf of the Congress.

The medal was first authorized in 1861 for Sailors and Marines, and the following year for Soldiers as well. Since then, more than 3,400 Medals of Honor have been awarded to members of all DOD services and the Coast Guard, as well as to a few civilians who distinguished themselves with valor.

Medals of Honor are awarded sparingly and are bestowed only to the bravest of the brave; and that courage must be well documented. So few Medals of Honor are awarded, in fact, that there have only been five bestowed posthumously for service in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Under a bright Afghan moon, eight U.S. paratroopers trudged along a ridge in the Korengal Valley, unaware they were walking right into a trap. Less than 20 feet away, a band of Taliban fighters executed the ambush plan perfectly, enveloping the paratrooper squad in an explosion of bullets and grenades.

Salvatore Giunta, a 22-year-old Army specialist from Hiawatha, Iowa, was knocked flat by the gunfire; luckily, a well-aimed round failed to penetrate his armored chest plate. As the paratroopers tried to gather their senses and scramble for a shred of cover, Giunta reacted instinctively, running straight into the teeth of the ambush to aid three wounded soldiers, one by one, who had been separated from the others.

Two paratroopers died in the Oct. 25, 2007, attack, and most of the others suffered serious wounds. But the toll would have been far higher if not for the bravery of Giunta, according to members of his unit and Army officials.


Those who serve in the military know that Medal of Honor recipients do not wear their medals to bring to mind their own heroic act, but to honor ALL who have served to defend freedom. Thank you Staff Sgt. Giunta!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Church...

From Msgr. Charles Pope

The hatred of the Church is growing in our culture and many of the ring leaders claim to know Christ and think they can find him only in purer air, a room of their own choosing. But Christ is found where he is found. The Pharisees expected to find the Messiah on their terms. But Jesus was found where he was found. He was not from the educated in Jerusalem, but of the peasants in Galilee. He spoke with a Galilean “hick” accent and walked among the poor, the nobodies, the sinners, the uninformed and unenlightened.

Today, the menu is a little different. In Jesus’ time it was a religious aristocracy that sneered at his followers. Today, the world is secular and those who sneer see believers as simple-minded, unscientific, unenlightened and intolerant. And we are sinners to be sure. Some of the charges against us are true. Actual sinners are we. The Church is a hospital for sick people who need a doctor. Some of the other charges of our sinfulness are less deserved: that we are collectively intolerant, hateful, bigoted, etc.

But despite all this, I know by faith that this is where Christ is found. Those who want Jesus without his Church not only seek him in vain, they risk reinventing him altogether. He is found where he is found.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Christians in Baghdad



Surely you've heard of the recent attacks on Christians in Irag...The Anchoress tells us the story:

Exactly two weeks ago, late on a Sunday afternoon, a young woman named Raghada al-Wafi ran to her local church, with some wonderful news to share with the priest who had married her: she was going to have a baby. She asked the priest for a blessing.
He was happy to give it.
It ended up being one of the last acts of his life.
Moments later, the priest, Raghada and her unborn child were slaughtered. They were among the Catholic faithful killed by terrorists at a Baghdad cathedral – Our Lady of Salvation — on October 31st. [...]
One week after the attack at Our Lady of Salvation, the people who worship there went back. But it wasn’t like before. And it wasn’t like just walking into this church today. They had to walk past police barricades and military trucks. They had to pass a security checkpoint and be frisked for weapons. But, incredibly, they went back. They had to. They walked into a sanctuary pock-marked by bullet holes, with bloodstains on the ceiling, bloody palm prints on the walls. They removed the pews. And they set out candles in the shape of a giant cross.

One of the parishioners put it so simply, and so beautifully. He said that he returned because the week before he hadn’t finished his prayers. I need to finish them, he said. A woman with a bandage around her knee told a reporter “We forgive them. We’re not afraid. They gave us blood and we give them forgiveness.”


But then, a wonderful idea from another blog:

This morning, Maria Teresa Landi, friend of a friend, came up with an extraordinary idea: send letters of encouragement to the Christians of Baghdad, who are suffering horrible persecution and killings. They are the Church's modern-day martyrs.

By day's end, the Nuncio at the United Nations was offering his diplomatic pouch (direct mail). He proposed to have all letters and messages sent to him by Tuesday night in a package and he will send the package to the Nunciature in Iraq on Wednesday morning. Please address your emails to the families to His Beatitude Emmanuel Delli, Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Baghdad at tonuncio@gmail.com. He will print out the emails and put them in the pouch.


What would be our response if such a tragedy had happened in our beloved church? Would we be brave enough to enter it's doors again? Would we rise up and defy those who would send us into the shadows? We send e-mails daily...hourly...why not take a moment and send a word of encouragement to these fellow Seekers of Christ...As was stated above...these are some of the church's modern-day martyrs.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Christmas...

While I'll admit that no one knows the "date" Jesus was born...long, long ago the church chose a day to celebrate this miracle. And, while I know that our constitution allows freedom of religion (which also means freedom from religion)...a sign like this one just makes me sad...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

He says it better than I...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

thank you, veterans
in the interest of full disclosure, let me start this way:

i hate war.

i hate the idea of war. i hate the word "war." i hate thinking about or imagining or watching films or newsclips about war. the very idea of two nations disagreeing enough to send their young men and women to go and try to kill the young men and women of the other nation is beyond staggering to me. i am admittedly pretty comfortable in my own little corner of the world, with all my freedoms and luxuries and apparent entitlements. so i acknowledge that it's pretty easy for me to hold that position.

but when it comes to veteran's day, it's a different story. all i have to do is imagine one lonely soldier, standing in a field in korea, or vietnam, or germany, or iraq or afghanistan. all i have to do is imagine them standing there in camo, armed, maybe afraid. all i have to do is imagine that human being standing in the midst of God's good creation, wrestling with all the uncertainties and yet feeling certain that something is worth protecting. all i have to do is imagine you, dear veteran of war, and i am compelled to say thank you.



thank you.

thank you for saying yes. thank you for facing your fears. thank you for holding a gun for me. thank you for putting yourself in a place where you had to send letters to your loved ones, and hope..pray..wait for a letter to return - a letter you surely held to your nose as you tried to absorb the home you were certainly fighting to protect. thank you for those early mornings and those uncomfortable nights. thank you for the countless mess hall meals and friday nights spent in foxholes. thank you for facing the really difficult questions of life and death and protection and freedom that i don't usually have to think about. thank you for your sacrifice. thank you for being willing to face the ugliness of life, even though you would have probably rather stayed at home with your friends and family. thank you. on this day, at the very least, i realize that, though i'd rather not have to think about it, it is because of you and your willingness to sacrifice that i enjoy the life i lead today.

Posted by Greg at agentorange

Veterans Day...


Monday, November 8, 2010

Tears...

I just started reading a book that was recommended...it's called "Chasing Francis" by Ian Morgan Cron...

Sometimes books start off with a bang...sometimes they take a few chapters to draw you in...on page 24 a child has died...I read..."Maggie ran her fingers over the outlines of Iris's knobby legs, limp and quiet beneath the white sheets, and whispered, "O child," as though her child had only bumped her head and run home to mama seeking solace. It was a keening that could make the universe bow its head in sorrow and accord."

Oh my...the tears started falling. Although I have experienced the death of loved ones...mostly they have been expected and inevitable. I have never had to face the loss of a child of mine. I do no know that I would have the strength to continue if I had to let one of them go...or the extraordinary grandchild that shares our home.

It has been many years since I've heard the word "keening"...but at that moment I felt it. Sometimes an author has the ability to make you feel...for better or for worse. Or perhaps this was God getting my attention. Whatever the reason, it felt as though my own heart were breaking for a child in a novel.

"Dear Lord, please be near those who have suffered such loss. Give them strength and courage but most of all your tender love...help them through the dark days. But also, dearest Father, give those of us blessed with healthy, vibrant children a heart for those who have lost. Keep us open and ready to reach out and hold them when they need us...forbid us from turning away because it is too hard to put ourselves in their shoes. Amen"

#ChasingFrancisSpeakEasy

Sunday, November 7, 2010

All Saints Day

Sunday, November 7th, we'll be celebrating "All Saints Day" at our church...

For some of us, this song from the 80's is relevant:

The Living Years
by Mike & the Mechanics

Every generation
Blames the one before
And all of their frustrations
Come beating on your door

I know that I'm a prisoner
To all my Father held so dear
I know that I'm a hostage
To all his hopes and fears
I just wish I could have told him in the living years

Crumpled bits of paper
Filled with imperfect thought
Stilted conversations
I'm afraid that's all we've got

You say you just don't see it
He says it's perfect sense
You just can't get agreement
In this present tense
We all talk a different language
Talking in defence

Say it loud, say it clear
You can listen as well as you hear
It's too late when we die
To admit we don't see eye to eye

So we open up a quarrel
Between the present and the past
We only sacrifice the future
It's the bitterness that lasts

So Don't yield to the fortunes
You sometimes see as fate
It may have a new perspective
On a different day
And if you don't give up, and don't give in
You may just be O.K.

Say it loud, say it clear
You can listen as well as you hear
It's too late when we die
To admit we don't see eye to eye

I wasn't there that morning
When my Father passed away
I didn't get to tell him
All the things I had to say

I think I caught his spirit
Later that same year
I'm sure I heard his echo
In my baby's new born tears
I just wish I could have told him in the living years

Say it loud, say it clear
You can listen as well as you hear
It's too late when we die
To admit we don't see eye to eye

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Daylight Savings Time

Spring forward, Fall back...

Don't know about you, but I LOVE the day we "fall back"...although it means I'll go to work in the dark and generally come home in the dark for that one day it's like I've been given a gift.

The gift of being able to re-live one hour of my life (now, if it just happened when I wasn't sleeping I might be able to do something constructive with that hour)...

Don't forget to turn your clocks back tonight!

Now, why exactly do we do this?

Daylight Saving Time was instituted in the United States during World War I in order to save energy for war production by taking advantage of the later hours of daylight between April and October. During World War II the federal government again required the states to observe the time change. Between the wars and after World War II, states and communities chose whether or not to observe Daylight Saving Time. In 1966, Congress passed the Uniform Time Act, which standardized the length of Daylight Saving Time.

Daylight Saving Time is four weeks longer since 2007 due to the passage of the Energy Policy Act in 2005. The Act extended Daylight Saving Time by four weeks from the second Sunday of March to the first Sunday of November, with the hope that it would save 10,000 barrels of oil each day through reduced use of power by businesses during daylight hours. Unfortunately, it is exceedingly difficult to determine energy savings from Daylight Saving Time and based on a variety of factors, it is possible that little or no energy is saved by Daylight Saving Time.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What does God look like...

to you?

It is a weakness of human nature. In order to relate to God, we must see Him as someone and usually that someone looks a lot like us. It is only natural that we give Him a face, hair, a voice...perhaps we imagine his build or the size of His hands. After all, when I think of being comforted by someone, I relate to how they hug. Whether it is a casual arm around the shoulder, a quick clasp and then back away or someone who pulls you close and holds you fiercely when you need it or lovingly when you need that.

As a child I imagined God to be like my Grandaddy. He was big, but not so much so that he couldn't bend down and kiss my head or touch my cheek. He had big hands, or at least they felt that way to me...big, but oh so gentle in the way he held mine. He had a deep voice that was soft and caressing when I was hurting or loud and booming when we shared a laugh. As a child, I tried very hard to love God like I did my Grandaddy. Although I know now that Grandaddy was a man and very human...for a time He ranked right up there with God...If Grandaddy had known, he would have been the first to point out that he didn't measure up but somehow I don't think God and I would have agreed.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

McDonalds

This is not a political blog...but I really feel this goes beyond the realm of politics...or perhaps not.

The attached article tells us that San Francisco...the city, not a family named San Francisco, has banned all restaurants (with an emphasis on McDonald's) from including a toy in a meal that has more than 600 calories and doesn't include this, that and the other.

While I do realize that a child does not need a steady diet of Happy Meals...the occasional treat hurts no one! If there are parents feeding their children fast food on a too regular basis, it is a failure in the parenting skills, not the fault of the restaurant! Everyone who knows my grandson knows that he loves Chicken Nuggets and Fries...and when we eat out at restaurants that serve them, he is allowed to have them. Since we eat the majority of our meals at home around the table, he might get to have this treat once a week...His grandfather and I take his health very seriously and do not see how this will adversely affect him in the long run. Notice I said "we" take it seriously..."we" don't want or need someone legislating what we're allowed to feed him.

Sorry for the rant, I really feel that this has gone too far!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

November 2, 2010

An election day prayer by Reverend Robert McDowell:

Almighty God, to whom we must account for all our powers and privileges: Guide the people of our country and local communities in the election of officials and representatives; that, by faithful administration and wise laws, the rights of all may be protected and our nation be enabled to fulfill your purposes, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Each election day I lift up prayers that God's Will will prevail in the hearts of the people. But in order for the voice of the people to be heard, you must Vote...so even though it is a mid-term election and there are probably 1,001 other things you could be doing today...take a few moments and cast your vote...It is a right and a privilege that too many take for granted and that too many others in the world merely dream of...



It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.
Winston Churchill

Monday, November 1, 2010

Imagine....



I remember being in the car with my parents, riding somewhere...the radio was on with the "News of the Day"...and they said it out loud! John Lennon was quoted as saying that the Beatles were more popular than God. I can't tell you how those words affected my childlike sensibilities...How dare he? How could anyone say something like that about God? Being a child, I didn't realize at the time that God didn't really need me to defend Him...He can take care of Himself.

As much as I have enjoyed the Beatles music over the years, and although I am older (not necessarily wiser) and recognize that his statement was not an attack per se...I have never forgotten how I felt at that moment.

I have never truly liked the song "Imagine"...his description did not sound like a place I really wanted to live...Elizabeth Scalia from The Anchoress puts this in words much better than I could...read it here.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween...

I have always been intrigued by the history and ancient customs that comprise the celebrations we have throughout the year...Halloween is one of the most interesting...

Ancient Origins of Halloween from The History Channel

Halloween's origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in).

The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.

To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities.

During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other's fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.

By A.D. 43, Romans had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain.

The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of "bobbing" for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.

By the 800s, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands. In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 All Saints' Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs. It is widely believed today that the pope was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. The celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints' Day) and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween. Even later, in A.D. 1000, the church would make November 2 All Souls' Day, a day to honor the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils. Together, the three celebrations, the eve of All Saints', All Saints', and All Souls', were called Hallowmas


For more from this article, check here.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

War...

My daughter has been in the military for 8 years now. Fortunately for us, even though she has been overseas, she has not been assigned to active war zones. So, even though I understand the separation and anxiety...I don't know the cost of war. Many of us do not...we have not felt the affects up close and personal...this story is from WWII...and has been on-going lo these many years.

Franklin Hobbs III was a 21 year old corporal serving on Iwo Jima during the bloodiest days of the war. He took a letter from the pocket of a dead Japanese soldier...it contained this picture:



and this drawing:



Recently they were returned to the daughters of the Japanese soldier...read the story linked above and try to understand what it would feel like to finally get closure after a lifetime.

Friday, October 29, 2010

People and Church

The dynamics of relationships in a church setting can be misleading. I suppose everyone feels that within the confines of this building (since it is dedicated to God and Holy) we will all be on our best behavior and therefore no one will ever be hurt...physically, mentally or emotionally. It is a Utopian ideal. This is one place I can go and be safe.

While we all do what we can to keep this a place of safety...physically. Human nature can be much harder to control in the remaining areas...

People will be what and who they are...we just can't help ourselves. Even though we may try to enter this sanctuary and act accordingly, our human selves will out. If I choose to speak my mind or my heart, I will invariably hurt another. While I may not do this willfully or while I may do it in defense of another and while I may do it with what I perceive to be a heart of love, I cannot control how it will be received by another.

If we choose to wear our hearts on our sleeves, our hearts will be hurt or maybe even broken. If we choose to take all comments or critiques as a personal rebuke, we will spend much time in sorrow. I use the words “choose to wear” and “choose to take” purposefully. It is my choice. How I allow the thoughts or words of another to affect me is MY choice.

Most people within a congregation do not attend with the purpose of hurting others. Most of what is said and done is meant to be helpful, or at least instructive, or so we believe. I cannot control “other people”. I can control me...what I do with their words is completely within my power. Regardless of how a thought, word or action is meant...if I choose to receive them in love, I can completely remove their power to hurt.

From time to time I will forget and react in my human nature. But given time, I will hear the voice of God. He has given me the power to choose and He will give me the love and strength to follow through.

Or, as said by Catherine de Hueck Doherty in "Poustinia: Christian Spirituality of the East for Western Man":
"As you know only too well, the divisions, arguments, and power plays that take place at meetings witness to the fragmentation of humanity. By your presence in love, you have to witness to how much time is wasted, how much selfishness is going on, how much greed there is for power, attention, and recognition…If by prayer you have received food from God, you should be able...to give the oil of tenderness and the wine of compassion, first to each other, and then to everyone you meet. All this is done silently, in the secret places of your hearts."

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Wow!

We humans are capable of some amazing feats of skill and daring! Don't believe me? Just watch...



Oh, and please, do NOT try this at home!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The little house that could...

One would not imagine that a tree house would cause issues but apparently this one did:



I'm glad to say the little house is still standing and the occupants couldn't be more pleased...read more here.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Stars....



The sun has one kind of glory, while the moon and stars each have another kind. And even the stars differ from each other in their glory.
1 Corinthians 15:41


Even though we are small, we are gloriously so...and like the stars, each different from the other. We serve a marvelous God!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Twitter & the Nativity


This Advent season, Twitter users (and anyone with internet access), will be able to follow the "Natwivity"! The U.K. based Evangelical Alliance and a design company called Share Creative hope to bring the ages old story of Christ's birth to a new and modern media platform.

The characters will include...Joseph, Mary, the shepherds, the 3 wise men and King Herod. Huw Tyler, of Share Creative, says: "We want to tell the Christmas story, an amazingly exciting story in a way that is not only accessible, but is fun and relevant to today's internet generation." They plan to offer fresh insight into what may have been the thoughts and feelings of the main characters...imagine, a twitter post from the shepherds when they meet the Angels!

If you are not a follower of Twitter, daily accounts can be read beginning December 1st through December 25, by logging on to: http://twitter.com/natwivity

The project also has a Facebook page here. The postings will be suitable for people of all ages! I, for one am interested in seeing what they have to say!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

2012

Surprise, Surprise...

After years of hype about the apocalypse occurring on December 21, 2012...the date could be wrong! A new critique "Calendars and Years II: Astronomy and Time in the Ancient and Medieval World" argues that the conversion of the dates from the Mayan calendar to the modern calendar may be off by 50 to 100 years. And while they explain lots of calculations and what routes were taken to arrive at the date the bottom line is...they don't know when the world will end. And neither do we. As Jesus says in Matthew 24:36, "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."

We're not supposed to know, nor are we supposed to worry about it. What we are supposed to do is "be ready"...at all times. We are called to live each day as if it were our last...with love, compassion, peace and grace.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Wondrous Creatures...

If we take a moment to observe the world around us we will be reminded that God has made some truly wondrous creatures...with amazing abilities...



This was filmed in Italy and I don't know exactly what kind of deer, sheep, antelope these animals are but to see them standing and eating around the rocks on this dam seems to defy gravity and a couple of other forces of nature...

There is a lesson about fear and trusting in the Lord somewhere in here...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Companion of the Souls

When the two disciples recognised Jesus as he broke the bread for them in their house in Emmaus, he "vanished from their sight" (Luke 24:31). The recognition and the disappearance of Jesus are one and the same event. Why? Because the disciples recognised that their Lord Jesus, the Christ, now lives in them ... that they have become Christ-bearers. Therefore, Jesus no longer sits across the table from them as the stranger, the guest, the friend with whom they can speak and from whom they can receive good counsel. He has become one with them. He has given them his own Spirit of Love. Their companion on the journey has become the companion of their souls. They are alive, yet it is no longer them, but Christ living in them (see Galatians 2:20).

Henri Nouwen

Friday, October 15, 2010

Satire

Since it's Friday and it's fall (my favorite time of year) and the weather forecast for the weekend is absolutely beautiful and the trees are really starting to turn and it's really busy what with the normal day to day living and all that it entails. Along with planning a meeting at the local Corn Maze for Sunday evening and Halloween party next weekend for the children. Then before you know it the holiday's are really on us. Looks like all the chicks + 1 (son's girlfriend) will be in the nest for Thanksgiving and what with planning for Advent and Christmas...I decided to offer this Satire by Craig Brown of the Daily Mail:

Things are as they are. Yet being what they are, they are also somehow different. And if things were not as they are, they could not continue to be what they both have been and will be. And consequently they--the things in question--will always be not only what they might have been, but also what they will be.

Here's to Friday!