Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Silent Night Holy Night

Christmas Eve was special for our family. Mom would make a simple but delicious dinner and our Grandma always joined us.

After we finished eating it was always a mad dash to get ready for Church. Our family loved the Candlelight Christmas Eve service because it was an opportunity to gather to worship the Christ Child and to remember the true meaning of Christmas.

I can remember sitting with my brother and sisters quietly in the pew and anticipate our favorite part of the service. We would almost hold our breath as we eagerly watched the lights become dim and we would squirm with joy as we saw the ushers go forward to light their candles from the Christ Candle. Finally, they would come down the center aisle and light the candle of the first person in each pew. Then each person would carefully light the candle to the person next to them until the whole church was bathed in candlelight. I would glance around and look at my church family and we all seemed to be in awe of this “Holy Moment” in time. It wasn’t Holy because of candlelight but because we were remembering how God sent His only son, the King of the Universe to born in a manger. Our voices would lift together in worship singing “Silent Night” and it was peaceful and sacred.

After the church service we would go home and we would open our presents. We did not have much money and so there were not many presents, but we always were thankful for what we received. Mom and Dad had instilled in us at an early age that Christmas was not about the presents under the tree. It was about God giving us the most precious gift of His son Jesus Christ.

My senior year of college was the year of my DCE internship at a church in southern Minnesota. My family lived 7 hours away. In preparing for church work I knew that I would not be able to spend Christmas with my family because that is a busy time for church worker and I would have many responsibilities. Knowing this and experiencing being away from your family on Christmas for the first time was difficult for me.

I remember talking to my Mom on the phone and feeling down. It was hard on my Mom too but she never let on because she didn’t want me to feel worse. I told her that I would miss going to church with them on Christmas Eve. Mom gently reminded me that we would all be worshipping the Christ child, just in different places.

I was delighted when I found out that my internship church had the same tradition of lighting candles for singing Silent Night. During the service, instead of feeling sorry for myself, I gave thanks to God for my family. I was filled with joy because even though we were not together physically, our hearts were connected by a bond of love that could never be broken.

Now 20 years later, my husband and I have the same tradition with our two young sons. It has been a long time since my family of origin have all been together at Christmastime. But we feel bonded together by the tradition my parents created for our family over 40 years ago. We are bound together in a moment that transcends human understanding. We are connected by the extraordinary love of family during the miraculous, magical moments of Christmas.

The video is not the best quality, but I love this Christmas song.

I received this from my Mom this moring and I wanted to post it to my blog. The author is unknown, so I am not able to give credit. After you read it, I'm sure you will agree with me, the author is someone who doesn't write to receive accolades.


It was the week before Christmas I had just finished the household chores for the night and was preparing to go to bed, when I heard a noise in the front of the house. I opened the door to the front room, and to my surprise, Santa himself stepped out from behind the Christmas tree. He placed his finger over his mouth so I would not cry out."What are you doing?" I started to ask.The words choked up in my throat, and I saw that he had tears in his eyes. His usual jolly manner was gone. Gone was the eager, boisterous soul we all know.He then answered me with a simple statement: "Teach the children!"I was puzzled, what did he mean?He anticipated my question, and with one quick movement brought forth a miniature toy bag from behind the tree. As I stood bewildered, Santa said, "Teach the children. Teach them the real meaning of Christmas. The meaning of Christmas that nowadays has been forgotten."Santa then reached in his bag and pulled out a fir tree and placed it before the mantle."Teach the children that the pure green color of the stately fir treeremains green all year round, depicting the everlasting hope of mankind. All the needles point heavenward, making it a symbol of man's thoughts turning toward heaven."He again reached into his bag and pulled out a brilliant star."Teach the children that the star was the heavenly sign of promises long ago. God promised a Savior for the world, and the star was the sign of the fulfillment of His promise."He then reached into his bag and pulled out a candle."Teach the children that the candle symbolizes that Christ is the light of the world, and when we see this great light, we are reminded of He who displaces the darkness."Once again he reached into his bag and removed a wreath and placed it on the tree."Teach the children that the wreath symbolizes the real nature of love Christ showed for us. Real love never ceases. Love is one continuous round of affection."He then pulled from his bag an ornament of himself."Teach the children that I, Santa Claus, symbolize the generosity and good will we feel during the month of December."He then brought out a holly leaf."Teach the children that the holly plant represents immortality. Itrepresents the crown of thorns worn by our Savior. The red holly berries represent the blood that He shed for us."Next he pulled from his bag a gift and said, "Teach the children that God so loved the world that whoever believes in Him shall have everlasting life." (John 3:16) Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift. Teach the children that the wise men bowed before the Holy Babe and presented Him with gold, frankincense and myrrh. We should always give gifts in the same spirit of the wise men."Santa then reached in his bag and pulled out a candy cane and hung it on the tree."Teach the children that the candy cane represents the shepherd's crook. The crook on the staff helps to bring strayed sheep back to the flock. The candy cane is the symbol that we are our brother's keeper."He reached in again and pulled out an angel. "Teach the children that it was the angels that heralded the glorious news of the Savior's birth. The angels sang 'Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of good will.'"Suddenly I heard a soft tinkling sound, and from his bag he pulled out a bell."Teach the children that as the lost sheep are found by the sound of the bell, it should bring mankind to the fold. The bell symbolizes guidance and return."Santa looked around and was pleased. He looked back at me and I saw that the twinkle was back in his eyes. He said, "Remember, teach the children the true meaning of Christmas and do not put me in the center for I am but a humble servant of the One that is, and I bow down to worship Him, Our Lord, Our God, and Savior."-- Author Unknown

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Rare Cosmic alignment of Jupiter and Venus show a smile in the night sky! A friend who lives in India sent me this picture of what they viewed in the night sky. I know it brightened their day as they have been devestated by the terrorists attack.

When I saw this picture, my first thought was, what an Awesome God we love and serve. What a gift.