Give me my scallop-shell of quiet,
My staff of faith to walk upon,
My script of joy, immortal diet,
y bottle of salvation.
My gown of glory, hopes true gauge,
And thus I'll take my pilgrimage.

~Sir Walter Raleigh

A hiker, walking for pleasure, likes to choose between several alluring trails.
The pilgrim desires only the road that leads home.

~Frank W. Boreham

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Although it looks nice on a Christmas card,
it is not really much fun to put your baby to sleep in an animal's feeding trough because there is nowhere else except the dirty floor.

It is a dreadful thing for a mother to feel that the world has no room for her baby.

How it must have cheered Mary when the rough shepherds came bursting in,
all breathless and excited saying that they had a vision of angels up there on the hillside and had been told beyond all doubt that this little fellow was really God.

Might they please kneel and give him their worship and honor?

How the people snoring comfortably in the inn next door would have laughed to have seen the sight of the shepherds kneeling on that stable floor!

But that is how God made His entrance...

What we are celebrating is not the feast of jolly old Father Christmas or good King Wenceslas, or a beautiful scenario of wishful thinking or fantasy.

We are celebrating the visit of God.

How Marvelous!

I wish you joy this Christmastide, Dear Reader.
May you gain a fresh glimpse of His glory and a true sense of His divine presence.

Italicized thoughts taken from the writings of J. B. Phillips, 1906-1982

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Old, Old Story

This season is truly one of the most sacred and blessed of all.  Or should be.  It seems that Christmas time is becoming less sacred and important, and that no less in the Christian community than in the world outside.  And shame on us.

We have lost sight of the important, the central Truth somehow.  It seems we have become so 'pressed into the world's mold' and mindset that we no longer even notice.

Fret not, Dear Reader, this is not about consumerism, lights in the garden and house decor, nor is it going to be Santa bashing.  

My grief is principally News Letters, so called. 

This season truly is about News - the Good News.  We have those best news letters in the New Testament Gospel accounts.  From this we should take our cue for our own.

So Dear Reader, you may rest easy.  I will not be writing missives about the wonderful accomplishments of my brilliant children this year.  (There have been and they are)  Nor will you receive an organ recital listing all aches, pains and procedures of mine or of Husband Dearest. I could. I won't because frankly, I find them a colossal bore. This will not be about searing loss or other countless woes.  These happened, they are personal and they are common to man.

No.  This season is all about Him, the Incarnate, Risen and Living Lord, the Christ the Son of God with whom we have to do.  It is about the fact that He emptied Himself of His divine attributes and by deliberate act plunged into the storm and stress of our pitiful human life.  "The King of the ages came beyond the stars to dwell with us as our blood-relative."*

The Incarnation, that astonishing mystery as well as historical fact, that God became man like us, that we may become His children resembling Him our Father.  This is the news to be rehearsed and reported.

That is why we should be more like those first shepherds who heard, came, worshiped and adored, who then went away rejoicing and telling others the wonders made known to them.  

It was and is His news, His Story, which He allowed to become our own through His simple life of obedience,  His unspeakably horrible death and His glorious, victorious resurrection. Its all about Life and Light, Grace, Love and Mercy and oh, so much more.

May we like those simple shepherds go on our way rejoicing.
The old, old story is still the best.

~ Quote from J. Sidlow Baxter 1903-1999

Sunday, December 15, 2013

O Sing To God

During the Christmas season, starting December 1, it is a family tradition to haul out the season's an evening is the limit.

Among the collection are the great classics, as well as lesser 'filler' sorts.  Some are pure entertainment, some silly.  But there are those that do leave a warm and gentle message.

One of those is The Bishop's Wife - the old black and white version, please, Dear Reader..don't mess with the classics, thank you.  While the story line is a bit of a theological stretch and fantasy, it contains so many enjoyable scenes and wise lines of dialog.  

Perhaps, though, is the scene with the boy's choir harmonizing with such simple, gracious beauty.  This song has always thrilled me and this year I had to, once and for all, discover its origin.  

It turns out that it is indeed a hymn of honorable credentials.  It truly is a hymn, though not found in hymnals as such.  It was originally written, it seems, as a motet for women's voices which is why it is so well suited to those of boy sopranos. 

Here then, are the words for the reading and savoring.  Perhaps you will even re-watch this sweet old movie and hear this lovely hymn sung once again - reminding us of the reason why we sing in season and out.

O Sing To God

composed by Charles Gounod Dec. 1, 1885

Words by the Rev. B. Webb

"O sing to God your hymns of gladness
Ye loving hearts your tribute pay
Your Lord is born this happy day
Then pierce the sky with songs of gladness
Disperse the shades of gloom and sadness
The Lord is born this happy day

O sing to God your hymns of gladness
O sing to God your hymns of gladness
Ye loving hearts your tribute pay
Your Lord is born this happy day
Then pierce the sky with songs of gladness
Disperse the shades of gloom and sadness
Your Lord is born this happy day

O sing to God your hymns of gladness
O Word of God for us incarnate
O Word of God for us incarnate
By faith we hear thine angels sing
Thy blessed angels sing their hymns
Thine angels sing of praise to thee their King
We join with them in adoration
We join with them in adoration
We pour to thee our supplication
That Thou would grant us, Lord, salvation