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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.


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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

ADVENT, DEC. 9


"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..."
Milton

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
(1816)

"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 ancestry.com as it describes the waves of history through individual lives.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

CHRISTMAS BY ACCIDENT



Nick rubbed his beard.  He'd have to shave it off eventually, sooner than later.  It was just now growing in well and he would miss it.  It did not fit into the management profile.  His vacation hunting in Wyoming let him slip into his roughing it mode, making him wish he could stay there.  Nick had bagged a nice elk.  The snow was getting almost too deep to pack out his game, so he was grateful for his success this close to Christmas.  The meat had been donated to a nearby Indian reservation, and the head with a pretty good rack sent to the taxidermist.  Now business called.  He was flying to Cheyenne on a smaller plane than he had taken when he came to the state two weeks ago. 
Nick stared out the window hoping to ignore whoever was going to be seated beside him.  At least there were only two seats in a row in first class instead of the crush of passengers as on the bigger airlines.

She came smelling of vanilla.  He saw her struggling to put her luggage in the overhead compartment visible only from her waist down.  Just as he stood to help her, her bag swung down and smacked him in the face causing him to fall back onto the seats. 
"Oh, I'm so sorry!  It slipped from my grasp."  The blushing young woman gasped.
"Here, let me do that for you," he said rubbing his jaw.  She packed a wallop.  
"Thank you, and I'm truly sorry for hitting you with my suitcase."
"Suitcases happen," he shrugged and sat back down next to the window.  Of course, she took an assigned seat next to him.
Once his face quit smarting, he glanced over and noticed that she indeed was a pretty young thing, probably still in college.
After an awkward silence, he felt compelled to exchange the rudimentary small talk." Are you going home for Christmas break?"
"Yes and no.  Business came first, but now I'm heading back home for Christmas. And you?"
Nick knew he did not look like a business man in his plaid shirt and jeans, but he just said, "Hunting first, business second.  Hopefully, home for Christmas after that." 
"And home is?" she asked.
"I work in Oregon for now, but I might be moving to Cheyenne if things turn out like I hope.  How about you?"
"I live in Cheyenne."
"I hear it's a nice place."  Nick turned away and was staring out the window as the plane took off.  He tried to ignore the young woman sitting next to him who was leaning over to look out the small window over his shoulder.
"This is my favorite part, taking off with the adrenaline rush of the shudder of speed and then the wheels leaving the ground while watching the ground shrink below and then flying above the clouds.  Actually, my most favorite part is seeing the snow covered peaks from the sky." 
She was ignoring his personal space making him uncomfortable as a man should be with a girlfriend at home.  As soon as the you-can-take-off-your-seatbelt sign flashed, he unbuckled and offered, "Do you want to switch places so you can look out the window better?"


This time when she looked up at him he was dazed by her blue eyes framed with dark lashes.  "Are you sure?  Don't you want to look out the window yourself?"
He shook himself away from her gaze and thought, "Evidently not as badly as you do."  But all he said was, "I'm sure."  He stood up as well as he could in the small plane as she backed into the aisle to let him through.  As soon as he was about to let her by, they hit a pocket of turbulence, and he was thrown back into the seat on the aisle.  She landed in his lap.
"Oh, my goodness, I'm so sorry," she struggled to get up.  The woman had a bad case of apologizing. 
"No problem.  It's not your fault.  I suppose turbulence is one of your favorite things about flying too," he said sarcastically thinking about the girl in his lap, an unsettling experience to say the least.
The seat belt sign came back on so they finished switching seats and buckled up.  It was better now that he could stretch his long legs into the aisle until an attendant walked by.  The further they flew, the more the plane shook as it was buffeted by a storm.  He watched a little unnerved as the attendants suddenly ran to the back and buckled up too.  The plane dipped leaving his stomach feeling as if it was still flying above his head.  Nick laid his head back and closed his eyes.
"Are you okay?  You look like you are praying," she said.
"Not a bad idea actually.  Are you the kind who prays?"
"Yes.  I'm a Christian and my life is in His hands, even if it feels like He's tossing us up in the air right now."  She had the nerve to giggle.
The voice from the cockpit came over the intercom, "We're trouble-shooting this storm and have decided to make an unscheduled landing at a nearby airport.  We will be arriving in the next ten minutes.  Please remain seated with your seatbelts fastened until further notice."
He looked over at his seatmate and saw her lips moving with her eyes closed.  She was praying.  He felt more comfortable even though he was gripping his arm rests.  Actually, she was whispering Scripture, "The Lord will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul.  The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever."

"Psalm 121," he said when she was finished.

"You know it too?  It's a comfort isn't it."  She flashed him a dazzling smile.

The plane only slid a little bit when landing on the icy air strip.  When it came time to disembark, he gave her suitcase a wide berth to keep from being slammed again.  It was a close call.

"Oh, I'm sorry.  I almost got you coming and going."

"What's in there?  Rocks?  That's one heavy suitcase," he commented.

"Books.  They are Christmas presents for my nieces and nephews.  I love reading and hope to pass that passion on to them.  Okay, I'll admit it that I've got a few in there for myself as well.  They might come in handy while we are delayed in this layover."

"What?  They surely will get us a flight out of here soon,"  he worried.  He wasn't sure if he was grimacing over the delay or because of the way she accidently had just ground the heel of her boot into his toe.

"Oh, so sorry.  But don't bet on it.  They say it is a strong storm front bringing two feet of snow after an ice storm.  Nobody will get anywhere very quickly."  She showed him a weather update on her phone.

"Well, there goes that deal," he groaned knowing he was missing his interview.



"But don't you just love the snow?  Besides, you can't take God on and mother nature at the same time you know, especially right before Christmas.  You might as well accept it and not fight it."  She followed him wrestling her bag down the stairs of the plane whacking him in the back of the leg in the process almost causing him to fall.  There wasn't even a connecting tunnel to the inside, just a taxi of sorts taking them from the plane to the terminal.  He held onto her arm as she slipped and slid across the icy tarmac to their ride.  Of course she scooped a mitten full of snow before climbing aboard the taxi.

"Easy for you to say, maybe.  I was supposed to sign for a buy-out of a business," he muttered under his breath as they went inside from the freezing wind that snatched his words away.


Just as they walked into the incredibly small terminal, he turned back to his seatmate--he didn't even know her name--to ask her if she knew where they were when she stumbled and flew into his arms.
It was disturbing enough without the other passengers yelling, "Kiss her.  Kiss her, you fool. You're under the mistletoe!"  They both looked up at the twist of leaves tied with a ribbon hanging directly over their heads, then down into each other's eyes.  His glance took in her lips parted in surprise.  Nick shrugged, leaned down and kissed her, softly, oh so softly.  A flash broke the moment.  A photographer caught the kiss before the girl bent down and showed him the heel that had broken off her boots.



"Thanks for catching me, breaking my fall.  I feel like a real heel, get it?" she said waving the broken part of the boot under his nose.  "Actually, I'm sorry.  I'm not normally this clumsy." Her cheeks were still flushed from embarrassment even as she tried to make light of it.

He was taking a deep breath himself.  It's a good thing his girlfriend did not witness that lapse of judgment.  Nick needed some distance.  "See you around."  He turned and left her limping with one heel on, one heel off pulling her heavy carry-on.


After standing in line at the ticket counter confirming that they would be delayed at least overnight, he headed to the men's room to shave off his hunting-grown whiskers.  Then when clean shaven, he went towards the only place where food was offered other than vending machines.  The dining room, such as it was, had filled up quickly with several planes grounded.  He looked around and saw her.  She was seated at a small table with one of the only free chairs in the place.

"Mind if I sit here?"  He noticed she had changed out of her broken boots into tennis shoes.

"Sure.  I'm Noel, by the way."

"I guess we should introduce ourselves after that kiss under the mistletoe.  Just don't tell my girlfriend though.  I'm Nick."

"Nice to meet you don't-tell-my-girlfriend-Nick.  Her cheeks were scarlet in spite of her joking.  Then she bit her lips saying, "I'm truly sorry, Nick."  She was nervously pulling a ring on and off her finger.  It was quite a diamond.  He wondered if she was engaged.  It appeared so.  If that was true, he was sure a fiancĂ© would not want him acting so free with her, mistletoe or no mistletoe."

Just then, the ring flew off her finger, hitting him in the chest and disappeared to roll under the table. 

"Oh, no!" She started to get up but he waved for her to sit down.  "That's my grandmother's ring.  I can't lose it!"

"I'll find it."  He was on his hands and knees crawling under the table.  How could such a big diamond be so hard to spot?  Finally, he looked over to a shapely ankle.  Nick grasped it in his hand lifting it up as she gasped.  The ring was under her foot.  When he crawled back out he sat back on his knees holding up the ring while grinning.


Suddenly, people pressed in around them chanting, "Say 'yes.'  Tell him 'yes!.'"  The photographer was there again with a flash. 

Nick looked puzzled into her blushing face until he realized what it looked like, a proposal.  He was saying, "No," while she was indeed saying, "Yes."  He slipped it back on her finger as the crowd began clapping and cheering.

He once again found himself in embarrassing territory.  This was the most accident prone female he'd ever met.   He sank back into his chair while rubbing a hand over his face and beard.  He needed to shave a.s.a.p.  "That was awkward."

"I'm so sorry.  I don't know what people are thinking.  They must be desperate for entertainment while grounded here at the airport making a mountain out of a snow-covered molehill.  By the way, I didn't really mean to say 'yes.'  I was just so relieved that you found it that I said 'yes,' you know, as an exclamation."

"An oral contract is binding, you know," and winked.  "I can't believe I just said that," he mumbled to himself behind his hand as he stroked his beard.
"Are you ready for your order?"  Fortunately a waitress was on hand to change the subject.  Once placing his order, he then left for the bathroom to wash his hands after crawling around on the restaurant's dirty carpet.  Looking himself in the mirror, he said to his image, "Get a grip, Nick."

As he was making his way back to his table, his phone rang.  It was his girlfriend.  He walked on past Noel out of earshot with relief at hearing his girlfriend's voice bringing him back to reality.

"Hey babe.  It's good to hear from you."

"Babe!  You dare to call me that after what you've done is plastered all over the news.  Every weather report west of Omaha shows you and some girl kissing in who knows where you are right now."

"I can explain," Nick ran his hand through his hair making it stand up on end.  He was confused.

"Like you can explain the down-on-your-knees proposal with a big diamond in your hand while looking up at some blushing beauty?  Forget it.  We're through.  Don't call, don't come by when you get back home. Stay in Cheyenne for all I care."

She hung up on him.  He stared at the phone in his hand as if he had never seen one before.  Then he sighed.  The photographer must have sent the pictures to some large news outlet.  He could not believe it.  Of all the luck.  He growled tempted to throw his phone at somebody, especially if a certain photographer was near by.

He knew that his girlfriend would not follow him to Cheyenne if the job opened up for him, so their breakup was inevitable.  They both knew it.  Still, Nick paced for awhile before going back to the table.  He was hungry after all.

"Is everything alright?"  Those blue eyes held a tender kind of concern that melted his anger.

"Yes, no.  Listen, if you are engaged--is that an engagement ring?--or if you at least have a boyfriend, you'd better call him right away.  You know that random photographer?  He has us plastered all over the news as the poster children of this monster storm trying to make a holiday story in spite of all the travelers' woes, I guess."

"What do you mean?"  She leaned forward which he wished she wouldn't do.  He needed her to keep her distance.  She was becoming one dangerous woman."

"You know, the kiss, the proposal, such as it appeared."

"You're kidding, right?"

"No.  My girlfriend, or should I say my ex-girlfriend just called.  It was real enough that she just broke up with me over it."

Noel turned white.  "I'm so sorry.  I can't believe it.  It was nothing, I mean, you didn't mean it in any personal manner, I'm sure."  She was blushing again while biting her lips drawing his eyes there.

"A kiss is a kiss is a kiss."  He rubbed his neck just thinking of that kiss, how soft her lips were.  "I guess I got caught up in the moment.  I'd say that the real looking fake proposal was the final straw."

"I'm so sorry, Nick.  Do you think it would help if I talked to her?"

Nick laughed it off.  "No, I don't think that's a good idea.  It would be a cat fight with a tiger.  But what I was asking was if there was a fella who might be put out with you if he saw the news tonight.  Are you engaged or not?"

Noel bent her head down with her brown locks partially hiding her face while she nervously pulled the ring on and off her finger again.  "No.  This is my grandmother's ring that I inherited.  I just wear it to look like I'm taken when I travel."



He put his hand on hers to stop her before she lost the ring again.  For some reason, he kept it there.

"Good."  He meant that he was glad that no young man was bent on wringing his neck from the way things appeared in the pictures.  Somehow, he was glad that she wasn't so encumbered anyway.

"I've been a disaster for you since I boarded the plane.  I'm so sorry, Nick."  Oh no, she was tearing up.  He couldn't handle that. 

Fortunately for the both of them, the waitress came with their burgers and fries, that is until she said, "Congratulations!  You two make such a cute couple.  Desserts on us tonight.  You're the first couple to ever become engaged in our little restaurant."

Noel looked like she would melt onto her plate with embarrassment, but Nick suddenly started laughing. After the waitress left, he said, "This is so ridiculous, I can't believe it.  I guess we'll both have a lot of questions to answer when we finally make it to Cheyenne.  Maybe we should get to know each other a little if we are quasi-engaged.  What do you think?"

She fought a little grin, then said, "I don't know.  I've never been engaged before."

He finally relaxed laughing some more.  The more he laughed the more she giggled. That began an all night question and answer session that turned into a deep conversation that lasted until the wee hours of the next morning hardly noticing the uncomfortable terminal's seating.  Nick was beginning to feel like he knew her better than anyone else in his life.  It's a good thing as she had finally fallen asleep slumped against his chest that he had to put his arm around her to keep her from sliding off.  He had a sneaking suspicion that another flash from the photographer woke him up.

 

The plane was readied for take-off, but before they left the warm airport building, he paused pointing up.  He gently took her face in his hands as the mistletoe beckoned. This kiss took a little longer while the line behind them cleared their throats and coughed until he noticed and broke apart.  Just then, she rolled her carry-on suitcase across the toe of his left shoe making him wince. 


"Oh, I'm so sorry.  I guess your kiss must have left me discombobulated." She blushed but let him grab her hand as they were boarding. 

Somehow, Noel was assigned seating two rows behind him.  He ran his hand through his hair.  It upset him after all they'd been through to be separated now.

"We can't have this, now can we?  Aren't you the newly engaged couple?" a stewardess was saying while ushering Noel back up to sit beside him.  Nick did not correct her, glad to have his seatmate back.

Before he knew what was happening though, he was wacked by her suitcase as she tried to put it in the bin above him.  It had slipped to take another swing at him.

"Let me help you with that.  And, let me guess, you'd like the window seat?" He grinned after rubbing his injured jaw.  Yep.  She was one dangerous female, one he would be happy to stand under the mistletoe with any ol'time and take her punches.  He thought this as he was wiping up the complimentary beverage she had spilled all over him.

Nick was counting on that job in Cheyenne now more than ever.  It would be a very merry Christmas then indeed.  He smiled watching as she was looking out the plane's window at the glistening world below while humming "White Christmas."  When she looked back at him, his eyes fell to her soft lips. 



He thought of the love story of a couple in Bethlehem whose trip had meant an accidental lodging in a stable.  It had only been a few short hours, but he knew suddenly deep in his heart how love could cause one to rejoice exceedingly with great joy even if it was a Christmas by accident.










ADVENT, Dec. 7



A Pastoral in the Nativity of our Savior

"An infant in a virgin's arms He lies
Who rides the winds, and thunders through the skies
The God to whom the flaming seraphs bow
Descends to lend the life of mortals now...

Come on, we'll lead you to the poor abode, 
Where in a manger lies th'incarnate God;
Reduc'd among the sordid beasts to rest,
Who all the spacious realms of light posses'd;
And He whose humble ministers we were,
Becomes a tender virgin's helpless one.
Thro' heav'n, but now, the hasty tidings rung,
And anthems on the wondrous theme they sing."




It is almost laughable,
the great Son of Creation
descending in infant form, 
having waited nine months
inside a too-young of a mother's womb.






While watching our grandkids last weekend, they brought out our eldest son's baby book.  I saw that though I weighed 120 lbs at my wedding (after dieting), six years later at 2 months pregnant, I weighed 112 (which I hadn't weighed since junior high), then 135 at his birth.  I have a ways to go to get back down to my pregnant weight back then!  I say this in order to show what happens to some women who suffer from morning sickness: weight loss.  Mine was morning, noon, and night sickness, not for a few months, but pert near the whole nine yards, or nine months.   Thus, I always wondered about young Mary.  Would the mother of God get sick?  Besides being terribly uncomfortable, did she have motion sickness riding the donkey?  Not to brag--well, maybe a little--but I experienced natural childbirth (taking nothing for the pain) all three times I gave birth, so, I know a wee bit of what Mary probably went through.  What I don't share with her was that I gave birth in small, but clean hospitals, not in a stable.  What do you wonder about her experience?




ADVENT, DEC. 6

"...the glory of the Lord shone round about them."


"The glittering stars are shining
Through the sky's underlining.
The babe who threw them all in space
Caught their twinkling in His face.
Hands who flung the stars still are seeking
But the pretties now set out of His reaching.
Did He wish the Milky Way to drink
While the man in the moon did wink?
But His Father's pleased and smiles
And guards His Son all the while.
The glittering stars still are shining
Peeking through heaven's underlining."
c.j.


"O morning stars together proclaim the holy birth."
(O Little Town of Bethlehem)


Tuesday, December 5, 2017


ADVENT, Dec. 5


George MacDonald's translation of Luther's hymn...

"From heaven above I come to you,
To bring a story good and new:
Of goodly news so much I bring--
I cannot help it, I must sing.
To you a child is come this morn,
A child of holy maiden born;
A little babe, so sweet an mild--




It's a joy to see the child!
Tis little Jesus, whom we need;
Us out of sadness all to lead:
He will Himself our Savior be,
And from all sinning set us free.
Here come the shepherds whom we know;
Let all of us right gladsome go,
To see what God to us hath given--
A gift that makes a stable heaven.
Take heed, my heart. Be lowly, so
Thou seest Him lie in manger low;
That is the baby sweet and mild;
That is the little Jesus-child.
Ah Lord, the maker of us all!


How hast Thou grown so poor and small,
That there Thou liest on withered grass--
The supper of the ox and ass?
Were the world wider many-fold...
And decked with gems and cloths of gold
T'were far too mean and narrow all,
To make for Thee a cradle small,
Rough hay and linen not too fine
The silk and velvet that should be thine;
Yet, as they were Thy kingdom greet,
Thou liest in them royal state.






And this, all this, hath pleased Thee,
That Thou mightiest bring this truth to me:
That all earth's good, is one combined,
Is nothing to Thy mighty mind.
Ah, little Jesus!  Lay Thy head
Down in a soft white, little bed
That waits Thee in this heart of mine,
And then this heart is always Thine.
Such gladness in my heart
Would make me dance and sing
For Thy sweet sake.
Glory to God in highest heaven,
For He His Son to us hath given!"



Maybe someday we can hear this hymn put to music.
I think I would like it better than Jingle Bells
or I saw Mama kissing Santa Claus.
How about, "I Saw Joseph Kissing Mary!"
Or "Jingle Cow Bells"?