Tuesday, December 19, 2017

ADVENT, Dec. 19

Oh, Hush Thee, Little Dear, My Soul

The evening shades are falling;
Hush Thee, my dear. Dist Thou not hear
The voice of the Master calling.

Deep lies the snow upon the earth,
But all the sky is ringing
With joyous song, all night long,
The stars shall dance with singing.

Oh, hush Thee, little dear, my soul,
And close Thine eyes in dreaming,
And angels fair shall lead Thee where
The shining stars are beaming.

A shepherds calls his little lambs,
And he longeth to caress them;
He bids them rest upon his breast,
That his tender heart may bless them,

So hush Thee, little dear, my soul,
Whilst evening shades are falling,
And above the song of the heavenly throng
Thou shall hear the Master calling.

Eugene Field

 "The stars shall dance with singing" 

What a dance with all Creation,
Stars, and angels, with shepherds cutting in:
After such a dance to the tune of the heavenly host,
The shepherds say,"Let us go" and "came in a hurry"
To slow dance on a barn floor to the music of bleeting
and lowing of creature comforts
In the presence of perfect love
making their hearts beat faster.

In our experience when our babes slept, 
We crept quietly away to keep the little light sleepers from awaking, sometimes crawling on our knees so as not to disturb the slumbering infants.  In our home, it was never a good thing to say, "slept like a baby," because that never meant a good night's sleep.  Lullabies were sung incessantly while rocking and patting blanketed backs hoping little eyes would become heavy to drop to sleep.  Yes, we tried " let them cry themselves to sleep." It never worked.  Sleep was a precious much sought after elusive treasure.  

Sigh.  Yes, the sleep-fighting gene was passed down to most of the baby-grands, our grandchildren.  At one time I had at least three rockers in my living room due to the close arrival of the first four coming close, one after the other our first year of grandparenting.  Now thirteen years later, almost all of them are taller than me.  It is proof that sleep was not necessary to create delightful, gifted children.  I pondered in my heart whether they slept so little because the world was so full of wonderful things, they couldn't bear to close their eyes.

I can't help but project my experience with Mary's.  When those hurried sandaled feet beat a path to the stable door, did Joseph and Mary quickly shush them to keep them from waking the babe?  Surely they crept in to fall on their knees to the consternation of the new mother.  I can't help but think Mary was a little put out that Joseph allowed such unwanted visitors smelling of sheep.  Did she?  But then they heard the whispered awe of the marvelous angelic host sending them to see and then to make known the Child, of the good news, the arrival of the Messiah.  Did that baby Messiah have trouble closing his little eyes to the world around Him, of sheep and shepherds, of donkey and oxen?

Oh holy night!

Monday, December 18, 2017

ADVENT, Dec. 18

"Before the paling of the stars,
Before the winter morn,
Before the earliest cock-crow
Jesus Christ was born:
Born in a stable, 
Cradled in a manger,
In the world His hands had made
Born a stranger.

Priest and King lay fast asleep
In Jerusalem,
Young and old lay fast asleep
In crowded Bethlehem:
Saint and Angel, ox and ass,
Kept a watch together,
Before the Christmas daybreak
In the winter weather.

Jesus on His mother's breast
In the stable cold,
Spotless Lamb of God was He
Shepherd of the fold:
Let us kneel with Mary Maid,
With Joseph bent and hoary,
With Saint and Angel, ox and ass,
To hail the King of Glory,

Christina Rossetti

This is an old poem by a favorite writer which I have quoted before with the lines, "In the world His hands have made, 
Born a stranger...Spotless Lamb of God was He
Shepherd of the fold."

It is like a nibble of delicious sweets that can make your eyes roll back in your head while you dreamily smile. You haven't tasted such delight?  I am sorry for you.  It brings to mind a Christmas torte given to my grandmother which she kindly shared since a widow woman could no wise finish such richness by herself.  I thought I had never eaten anything better.  Neither can the beauty of Christmas truly be enjoyed by oneself.   It must be shared and has spurred the artist and writer to attempt to express the inexpressible.  The rest of us sit around and bake cookies.

Imagine how large and wild were the eyes of the holy family beholding their newborn, the very Son of God, clutched to their fast beating hearts.  How the adrenaline must have been pulsing through the protective heart of Joseph and his dismay--and dare I say, shame-- churning through his weary body not having been able to provide better for his intended.  This is beauty woven with strands of Glory along with hints of the sorrow to comes, much like childbirth itself with pain and joy wrapped together in a tiny bundle.  Can words express or paint be brushed to imagine it?   So we crack pecans and bake pies.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

ADVENT, Dec. 17

"Oh Little Town of Bethlehem"

  • The author was a 6'6" three hundred pound popular preacher in 1668 who wrote this hymn for little children to sing in a Christmas service.  He had made a trip to the Holy Land one Christmas and arrived in Bethlehem on horseback.   He said, "I remember standing in the old church in Bethlehem close to the place where Jesus was born, when the whole church was ringing hour after with splendid hymns of praise to God..."   Three years later he wrote these words and asked his organist to see if he could put them to music.  The musician wasn't too inspired, but he woke up in the middle of the night, the night before the service "with the music ringing in his soul".  
There was a fourth stanza, according to the book "Then Sings My Soul," that goes like this...

"Where children pure and happy pray to the blessed Child,
Where misery cries out to Them, Son of the mother mild;
Where charity stands watching and faith holds wide the door, 
The dark night wakes, the glory breaks, and Christmas comes once more."

Bethlehem, which means House of Bread, no longer beckons to Christians to come and taste and see what is good.  Why?  Because it is now under the control of hostile Muslims.  Yet, the babe in a manger still beckons to those who hunger for God, a child who calls to any orphaned child who seeks to be adopted by a heavenly Father.

Here is another poem I wrote years ago...


"As a child
Orphaned in this world
Peering through a glass darkly
Seeing only where the rub of tears wash clean
A glimpse of glory
Through panes of panes of pain
Beholding a table set
Straining for the dinner call.
A door opens,
A light beckons,
A Father bends to extend
A tender invitation,
'Come and dine.'
The Father of lights
Has stooped down to child-size,
Lifting the cold one,
Warming the faint one,
Carrying over the threshold
The lost one
Into a home fragrant
With evergreen life.
He shares the Gift,
The bread of life,
In close communion
So tat this one washed clean
Partaking may belong
In His family
As a child of God

Saturday, December 16, 2017

ADVENT, Dec 16


"How can anyone not be in awe?
It's the audible expression behind the
laws of the universe.
It feels like the only thing apart from God,
that lives on, and it can make you laugh, and cry,
rip you apart and heal you,
all within a few discrete notes strung together.
And while it follows rules, 
expression is limitless."
Katherine Reay
(Author of "Dear Mr. Knightly," Lizzy & Jane,"
"A Portrait of Emily Price,"   "The Austen Escape")

This quote is a tickle in my imagination of the unearthly music heard by shepherds on that first Christmas.
It had to be divine, greater than "The Messiah" written by a blind composer in an unimaginable short period of time.  Were the shepherds still humming the song of the heavenly host when they came on bended knee?  Here is a poem I'll share again that I wrote years ago...


Beside still waters, night fell
In the valley like the shadow of death.
Shepherds, looked down upon,
Lay looking up from rock pillow,
Covered by sky blanket, 
Sheep song lulling to rest.
Still stars explode with light,
Unearthly angel sounds,
Sheep scatter in a clatter
Of hooves and bleating profusion confusion.
Shepherds stagger then stand in frightful awe.
This is no lazy day study of clouds,
No sleep counting sheep
Under the start of heavens
Laid brilliant bare
Dispelling the shadow of death,
Revealing life: good news, a birth!
Lambing experts
Familiar with sheep folds,
Run to worship,
A newborn from the womb of dawn.

Back to fields in the glare of day
Dulled by true sight,
To hillsides strangely silent
Until hoarse off-key voices singing
Snatches of angel song
To find lost sheep,
Beautiful feet
Taking sweet Melody
Along the way.

 The child grew and said,
 "Do you love me?
Tend my lambs."

Friday, December 15, 2017

ADVENT,  Dec 15 

"So crowded was the little town
On the first Christmas day
Tired Mary Mother laid her down
To rest upon the hay.
(Ah, would my door might have been thrown
Wide open on her way!)
But when the Holy Babe was born
In the deep hush of night,
It seemed as if a Sabbath morn
Had come with sacred light.
Child Jesus made the place forlorn
With His own beauty bright.
The manger rough was all His rest;
The cattle, having fed,
Stood silently, or closer pressed
And gravely wondered.
(Ah, Lord, if only that my breast
Had cradled Thee instead!)

James Park, A Christmas Carol

I've told the story before, as Velma, a very dear friend, related of Christmas in what was Oklahoma Indian Territory when she was a child around the Depression.  Her father had been a holiness preacher, but left the pulpit when his congregation turned against him when he married a Cherokee woman.  He never darkened a church door again.  

They were dirt poor as sharecroppers with a large family in a two bedroom house: her parents had one while the girls had another; the boys slept in the living room, even neighbor boys who they took to raise when abandoned by their parents.  However, one lean Christmas, they woke to the sound of an automobile, not a common occurrence.

A man in a suit stepped out of his sleek black machine, and began unloading presents from the back of his car.  There was a doll for her along with a toy kitchen, gifts for the older girls and harmonicas for the boys.

But the only time Velma ever remembered her mother crying was when he brought in a beautiful set of dishes for the lady of the house.  Christ Jesus made the place forlorn bright with His own beauty bright.

It was Mr. Hormel who had purchased the farmland where they lived in order to build his factory.  He was Santa in the suit of a gentleman bringing joy into that humble home that special Christmas.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

ADVENT, Dec. 14

"A Christmas Lullaby"

"Sleep, baby sleep!  The Mother sings:
Heaven's angels kneel and fold their wings.
Sleep, baby, sleep!

With swathes of scented hay Thy bed
 By Mary's hand at eve was spread.
Sleep, baby, sleep!

And three kings from the East afar,
Ere dawn  came, guided by the star.
Sleep, baby, sleep!

They brought Thee gifts of gold and gems,
Pure orient pearls, rich diadems,
Sleep, baby sleep!

Thou who liest slumbering there, 
Art King of Kings, earth, ocean, air.
Sleep, baby, sleep!

Sleep, baby, sleep!  The shepherds sing:
Through heaven, through earth, hosannas ring.
Sleep, baby, sleep!

John Addington Symonds

"King of King, earth, ocean, air"

When God came down at Christmas, it was impossible to descend without pulling in His wake,
angels with their heavenly host hosannas ringing; gold and gems, pure orient pearls, rich diadems from wisest of men; down, down, down, to shepherds brushed off their barren fields; down, down, to a stirring of hay:
Where the profound babe was found to lay.

The world has been swept in burrowing the season with all the beauty that can be scraped together.  Gasp.  Not only have I found myself caught in the down-sweegthatping. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

ADVENT, Dec 13

"A Little Carol"

"Welcome, little Brother!
Lowly, holy One!
Hail thee, Virgin Mother,
More than any other
Blessed in thy Son!

Child, since the poor manger
Once Thou didst not scorn,
Rest Thee, little Stranger,
Folded from all danger,
In our hearts newborn!

Nestle thus, we pray Thee,
In our love's caress;
Fain we are to pay Thee,
Worship, and obey Thee,
Babe, and Prince no less!

Evaleen Stein

In His fully-God and fully-manhood, He is our brother, kind and good.  But His full purpose was to live in our hearts, the pitter patter where love resides.  He makes His abode with us, whether we are of royal descent or beggar lowly homeless on the street, whether we are one of the beautiful or humbling homely in appearance, whether we are healthy and robust in body or breathing our last, whether we are a free person or a captive held behind bars, forgiven though paying our dues to society.

We do not need cathedral grand or stained glass lit windows.  But we do need a clean heart, cleansed from sin for Him to enter in.  Why a manger full of hay in a stable steaming from beasts?
It is to show how the only thing that matters is to offer a welcome to come in.

But beyond this, to eternity and back, He is waiting for us to enter into His home He has prepared for us.  It is our  standing invitation to rest in His very presence.  It is as topsy-turvy as a snow globe shaken to float the glitter down: it will be a beautifully encased scene suddenly made more attractive by being turned upside down.  Someday, the center of our worship in our heart will be shaken allowing us to float to a glittering heaven.

Have you read "My Heart-Christ's Home" by Robert Boyd Munger?  He uses the verse from Ephesians 3:16-17, "That God may grant you to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith," or as another translated, "That Christ may settle down and be at home in your hearts by faith." (Weymouth.)

Open your heart's door.

The question is, will we bend the knee to worship Him? Will we invite Him in?
There is a throne in each of our hearts.  Will we usurp the place of rule
or bow before the true King of our heart?  That is the ultimate question.

Angels sang.
Shepherds came.
They knelt in the hay
to worship Him.
Will we humble ourselves?

"Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men,
I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven."
Matthew 10:32

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

ADVENT, Dec. 12

Cradle Hymn by Isaac Watts

"Hush, my dear, lie still and slumber,
Holy angels guard thy bed;
Heavenly blessings without number
Gently falling on thy head.

Sleep, my babe, thy food and raiment,
House and home, thy friends provide;
All without thy care, or payment,
All thy wants are well supplied.

How much better thou art attended
Than the Son of God could be,
When from heaven He descended,
And became a child like thee!

Soft and easy is thy cradle'
Coarse and hard thy Saviour lay,
When His birthplace was a stable,
And His softest bed was hay

See the kindly shepherds round Him,
Telling wonders from the sky,
When they sought Him, there they found Him,
With His Virgin-mother by.

See the lovely babe a-dressing;
Lovely infant, how He smiled!
When He wept, the mother's blessing
Soothed and hushed the holy Child.

Lo, He slumbers in His manger,
Where the honest oxen fed,
Peace, my darling!  Here's no danger!
Here's no ox-near thy bed!

May'st thou live to know and fear Him,
Trust and love Him all thy days;
Then so dwell forever near Him,
See His face, sing His praise!

I could give thee thousand kisses,
Hoping what I most desire;
Not a mother's fondest wishes
Can to greater joy aspire.

This reminds me of "O, Mary Did You know," with the line,
"O, Mary did you know when you kissed your little baby, 
you kissed the face of God?"

Have you ever thought of heaven as the place where this Divine Child lives?
Of course, most imagine it with Jesus in His white robes and scars in His hands
open wide welcoming us into His presence.  But in the eyes of His Father,
He will always be that precious baby that was a twinkle in His eyes.
That will be the heavenly breath of heaven, the atmosphere of the hereafter.

God loves babies.
Babies were His idea.
His angels attend them,
and stand before the face of God...

"See that you do not despise one of these little ones,
for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually
see the face of My Father who is in heaven."
Matthew 18:10

Get that?  Jesus, the only begotten of the Father,
speaks of the face of His Father
where angels continually appear
to be given orders over each of little ones

So do you get the picture of God's face adoring His Son in the manger
surrounding by a heavenly host.

Since Jesus was fully God, fully man--He was born in the way of all men, through the womb of a woman--but did He, in His fully God formation, have a sense of well-being under His heavenly Father's adoring face? 

At least, this gives us a glimpse of the heart of heaven, from the child sent to redeem us from our sin to the great value of each and every infant who is born.  

Monday, December 11, 2017

ADVENT, Dec. 11

"Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb,
Now leaves His well belov'd imprisonment,
There He hath made Himself to His intent
Weak enough, now into the world to come;
But O, for thee, for Him, hath the inn no room?
Yet lay Him in this stall, and from the Orient,
Stars and wise men will travel to prevent
The effect of Herod's jealous general doom.
Seest thou, my soul, with thy faith's eyes, doth lie?
Was not His pity towards thee wondrous high,
That would have need to be pitied by thee?
Kiss Him, and with Him flee into Egypt go,
With His kind mother, who partakes thy woe."

John Donne (1573-1631),
an English poet and cleric
of the Church of England

In the midst of the Christmas story comes the threat against the babe, the one she had just borne due to the Holy Spirit's hovering, the one she had just birthed in stable rude while on a hostile journey(taxation without representation by a foreign power).  No mother since the beginning of time would wish to get on a donkey while very great with child or just after childbirth while clinging to her newborn.  But Joseph heeded the angelic and Wise Men's warning and led his little family to escape to Egypt.  But this flight to Egypt was only the beginning of this mother's journeys.

Mary became quite the world traveler.  She journeyed from a childhood as an orphan serving in the temple in Jerusalem to Nazareth where she was engaged to be married to Joseph.  But then she fled (perhaps 30 miles) as an unwed teenager to the hill country of Judea to see Elizabeth.  After returning, she then rode a donkey from Nazareth while well along in her pregnancy to Bethlehem (60 miles or so) where her Son was born.  Then they hoofed it ten miles or so back to Jerusalem to dedicate the Son of God.  But soon they had to flee to Egypt under Herod's threat to kill her holy child.  In her latter days after seeing her Son crucified and risen again, she had to flee once again in order to escape Christian persecution: her great-uncle Joseph of Arimathea finally took her to England for their protection.

I walked thirty miles once and had the blisters to show for it.  However, I've never ridden a donkey like Mary--and certainly not while pregnant.  I've only ridden horses and not that far at that.  We don't know the size of the vessel in which she was a passenger on her way to England.  I went deep-sea pleasure fishing once, only fleeing sea-sickness by taking Dramamine.  Mary certainly has it on me for her trip experiences.   Can you imagine if she had been able to blog about it?  Facebook maybe?

Following God's calling truly has had us U-Hauling it around traveling from place to place, here to there, first as a pastor's kid then as a pastor's wife with our own pastor's kids.  But none of it was under the threat such as Mary experienced.  Following God does not always mean a flower-strewn pathway, not even for the mother of God.  Did Mary have regrets?  I sincerely doubt it.  You can ask her when we make the last journey to heaven.


Sunday, December 10, 2017

ADVENT, Dec. 10

President John Quincy Adams, one of my heroes of history, 
is quoted as saying, "In the chain of human events, 
the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked
with the birthday of the Savior.  
It forms a leading event in the social compact on
the foundation of the Redeemer's mission upon the earth--
it laid the cornerstone of human government
upon the first precepts of Christianity."

The Jews blinked when Christ was born, ignoring centuries of prophecy, and missed it.  They were expecting a king who would deliver them politically.   To this day, they do not recognize Jesus as the Son of God who was promised.  But as nations have groaned throughout history, they still hoped for relief.  This founder of our great nation knew it was the acceptance of our Redeemer which would bring about peace on earth, a peace worth fighting for.  Charles Wesley wrote...

"Come, Thou Long-expected Jesus,
Born to set Thy people free.
From our fears and sins release us;
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel's Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of ever nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver , 
Born a child and yet a King.
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all-sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne."

Rather ironic that Charles Wesley who lived in England during the American Revolution  wrote that to which President John Quincy Adams was referring.  This is and isn't about raising up a nation, but it goes to the  heart of that which Jesus came: ruling in our hearts alone.  If His people then come together to raise up a nation that honors Him, He will bless.  There is no question that He did bless our United States.  There was no reason that our small ragtag number of rebellious colonists could defeat the most powerful country on earth, England.  But we did.  They birthed a nation with God's help.  It was far from perfect and much blood was shed, neighbor against neighbor, brother against brother for a more perfect union.  Christmas at Valley Forge was horrible for our honorable soldiers, freezing, starving, some without shoes in the snow, a camp rampant with disease, they still held on to hope.

We are today being sold the lie that Christianity had no part in our foundation, that all religions are equal in our founding.  They were followers of the Messiah, Jews (who are still waiting) and Christians (who celebrate His coming). Our previous president even declared that we were no longer a Christian nation, extolling the Muslims who supposedly were a part of our foundation.  It is a lie.  Regardless, our longing is for the Hope of all the earth, our Dear Desire and Joy, a King to reign in us forever.  

The weather vane of peace is from Mt. Vernon.

Saturday, December 9, 2017


"It was the winter wild
While the heaven-born Child
All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies,
Nature in awe to Him
Had doff'd her gaudy trim..."

There was nothing tame about that night.  Just think, "And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of heavenly hosts praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest..."
(Luke 2:13)  Had this ever happened before or since, a heavenly host heard on earth?  All this because of what had happened in a crude stable amidst animals.

"Angels, from the Realms of Glory"
By John Montgomery

"Angels from the realms of glory,
Wing your flight o'er all the earth."

The author of this hymn seemed to begin his life tainted by loss and abandonment, and not adjusting well as can be easily imagined.  His father was the only Moravian pastor in Scotland (the Moravians influenced John Wesley as a turning point in his spiritual life while aboard a ship.)  Yet, he and his wife felt called to be missionaries in Barbados and chose to leave their six year old son in a Moravian settlement in County Antrim, Ireland.  He never saw them again as his parents died there.    Left with nothing, James was enrolled in a school in England, but did not do well.  Then he was apprenticed to a baker.  He ran away and spent his teenage years wandering from here and there. 

He tried his hand at writing poetry.  Finally, he "found his niche" writing for a radical newspaper whose editor was imprisoned and had to flee the country.  When he took over, he held nothing back and was himself imprisoned twice.  One of his "wild" causes was the Gospel.  In spite of his "meanly wrapt" childhood of abandonment and loss, John never let go of His love of His Savior and the Scriptures and was willing to take a bold stance.  This hymn was first sung on Christmas Day in a Moravian Church in England in 1821.   From the heavenly choir, his parents must feel blest by their son's gift of  song that has come down to us as Christmas.

Friday, December 8, 2017

ADVENT, Dec. 8
A favorite Christmas poem
by Christina Rossetti

"In the bleak midwinter frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a manger of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air,
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what can I give Him: give my heart."

What a contrast to the birth of Christmas and our celebration today.  I have boxes and boxes of decorations to gussy up the house with, a tree heavy with ornaments here, garlands there, nativity figures here and there with even a few St. Nicholas doo-dahs thrown in.  I am not ashamed of my glorifying the event, but it stands in stark contrast to the simplicity of a stable and a manger of hay which God chose.  The extreme scene He set exemplifies how low our Lord would go to humble Himself before man so that He could manifest Himself fully God, fully man, even to death on a cross.   

May I remind you that Santa Claus, I mean St. Nicholas, truly was there at the Council of Nicea, when helping to establish the Christian creed under Constantine (who lived 306-337): it was said he had a fisticuff, socking a heretic in the nose over whether Jesus was fully God, fully man.  It was such a pivotal truth that it had St. Nick fired up. 

Now this is a true punch-line!

So, the man did more than gift toys to poor children and throw gold into stockings.   He lived in Turkey, by the way.  (But when I once met an upper crust handsome young Muslim man visiting from Turkey, he had no knowledge of St. Nicholas.) 

But as I explained to my son and his friend on the way to church last Sunday, it was after Constantinople was overtaken by Turkish Muslims and turned into Istanbul that the Crusades began full force as men of nobility were knighted in order to try to take the Middle East back, including the Holy Land, from Muslims. (*This is extremely simplified so as probably not exactly accurate.) It was a war of centuries coming in waves as at times Muslims took over Italy and Rome, went into Spain, and were nearly able to conquer Western Europe then beaten back. "The Hammer" helped to successfully beat them back from taking over Germany.  Need I add that Prime Minister of England this week had an Islamist terrorist plot against her thwarted this week as well?  It never ends.

All this to say that history has revolved around the promise in prophecy and the coming of the Christ and those who followed Him.  It is fascinating to be a part of history this week as our president has chosen to establish our embassy in Jerusalem in recognition that it is the capital of Israel.  It is a big deal.  Remember that Jerusalem was razed to the ground in 70 AD as Jesus prophesied and much of history has centered around the rise and fall of that city. 

Wow, how far I digressed from What can I give Him, poor as I am?  All this to say, how bleak a situation the Lord God chose to send His only begotten Son into, to a humble holy family in a humble setting, in the humble form of a helpless babe.  May it encourage each of us that no matter how bleak, Emanuel, God with us, is there right beside us with a few saints tossed in here and there.  Has a saintly person ever encouraged you?

*The best book I've studied on this is "The Story of Christianity" by Justo L. Gonzalez.  There is more than I can keep in my head so that I should reread it, in fact, now that I am studying history via as it describes the waves of history through individual lives.