We have been enjoying our time with Ace, Becki and grandkids. Our son Josh arrives tomorrow for a few days. He went back to his home in LA first from Budapest, where he’s been a few months working on a film there. So we’ll be all together for the first time at Christmas in quite a while.
7-month-old granddaughter Elia, is a sweetheart. She’s a friendly and happy baby, though she still doesn’t giggle or laugh a lot. She does offer lots of smiles. It did not take her any time at all to warm up to me.
Nathan played Joseph in his pre-school play connected with a church. The children practiced Saturday and had their play as part of the Sunday morning service in the church. It’s not the church they normally attend, though. Nathan did a good job, but did not have any lines to say. He sang along with the rest of the children as they sang their Christmas carols.
I’ve attended Newark General ice hockey games already. Daniel plays for that team this year. Two of the games were on Saturday, in Cleveland, a 2 1/2 hour journey one way. We had nasty weather with some icy patches, and saw a couple cars that had slid off the road. Daniel’s team has 2 wins and 2 two losses in the games. I saw. I can see a big improvement in Daniel’s skills, as he’s two years older than when I last saw him play in 2014.
Last week Cindy and I had a trip up to our church headquarters in North Canton, Ohio, another 2-hour journey, We stayed with my youngest sister Jean and her husband. On the way there, the day before, we had an appointment with our financial advisor. and a dinger meeting with friends from Malone University, from which Cindy and I graduated. It’s fun to see old friends with whom we’ve shared many fun memories.
The next morning I met with some of my high school friends, with whom I’ve maintained contact over these many years. In high school they were the top two trumpet players and I was one of the the top three trombone players. Together with these same friends we teamed up to play intramural basketball. Though I don't remember clearly, it seems we won the league at least one year. We even beat the junior varsity boys basketball team of the school, if my memory serves right. That was a loooong time ago!
While we have been enjoying our time here, we had tragic news over the weekend. Our Filipina helper, Irma, experienced a tragedy in her family. Her adopted son, Jab was struck by a bus and suffered a serious head injury Saturday evening. He died the next day from the injuries he sustained. It is a huge shock for all of us in RiverGrace. Irma was able to get on a flight Sunday evening and the funeral will be Thursday.
Jab was an honor student, and would have b been 24 this coming Friday. I don’t know any details of how the accident happened, but please remember Irma and her extended family in your prayers. It’s a devastating loss for her and certainly made the Christmas celebration and party at our church on Sunday a more somber event than anyone expected.
Thank you for your prayers, and I wish all of you a very Merry and blessed Christmas. Dave
CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEARS
The Welkin Rings
The first time I walked through the crowded, pungent streets of Bethlehem, I was struck by the disparity between what I was seeing and "the little town of Bethlehem" I had spent my life imagining in pageants and songs. The harsh reality of God becoming a child in the midst of the cold and dark world I knew myself suddenly seemed a blaring proclamation: The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. It is little wonder some of the most theology-rich hymns are Christmas carols. In a darkened world not unlike this one, two thousand years ago, God came in person.
Almost immediately after his conversion, Charles Wesley took to hymn writing as a way to capture the hope of God's nearness persistently stirring in his mind. Though a few of the words have long since been changed, one of his 6,000 hymns is a widely beloved declaration of the Incarnation. Seeking to convey in pen and ink a Christmas story both familiar to our hearts and startling in its wonder, Wesley wrote:
Hark, how all the welkin rings,
"Glory to the King of kings;
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!"
Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
Universal nature say,
"Christ the Lord is born to-day!"
The Christ child in the manger is forever an indication of the great lengths God will go to reconcile his creation, a savior willing to descend that we might be able to ascend. "Welkin" is an old English term meaning "the vault of heaven." In this dramatic word, Wesley illustrates the crux of Christian theology: All of heaven opened up for the birth of a king and the rebirth of humanity. The vault of God was thrown open to make way for the one who was coming and all that would come as a result of it.
Hail, the heavenly Prince of Peace,
Hail, the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
risen with healing in his wings.
Mild he lays his glory by,
born that man no more may die;
born to raise the sons of earth;
born to give them second birth.
The Incarnation is the timeless reminder that God speaks and the world is moved. While the Christmas story reports the massive hope that God came near, the incredible signs of sanctification show that God has chosen to remain. Wesley saw this intimate connection between God's nearness and our likeness. Where God comes near, countenances are changed.
Come, Desire of nations, come,
fix in us thy humble home;
rise, the woman's conquering Seed,
bruise in us the serpent's head.
Now display thy saving power,
ruined nature now restore;
now in mystic union join
thine to ours, and ours to thine.
The startling hope of the Incarnation reorders the world we know. Where there is despair, where there is joy, where there is need, Christ is living. Where there is a heart that will prepare him room, a life is transformed in his image. Come, Desire of nations, come; fix in us thy humble home. These cries have been heard. A savior was born. The vault of heaven is open.
~Jill Carattini is managing editor of “A Slice of Infinity”
@A Slice of Infinity - go to http://www.rzim.org/slice/ to subscribe
Politically Correct Santa
'Twas the night before Christmas and Santa's a wreck...
How to live in a world that's politically correct?
His workers no longer would answer to "Elves",
"Vertically Challenged" they were calling themselves.
And labour conditions at the North Pole
Were alleged by the union to stifle the soul.
Four reindeer had vanished, without much propriety,
Released to the wilds by the Humane Society.
And equal employment had made it quite clear
That Santa had better not use just reindeer.
So Dancer and Donner, Comet and Cupid,
Were replaced with 4 pigs, and you know that looked stupid!
The runners had been removed from his sleigh;
The ruts were termed dangerous by the C.A.A.
And people had started to call for the cops
When they heard sled noises on their rooftops.
Second-hand smoke from his pipe had his workers quite frightened.
His fur trimmed red suit was called "Unenlightened."
And to show you the strangeness of life's ebbs and flows:
Rudolf was suing over unauthorized use of his nose.
So, half of the reindeer were gone; and his wife,
Who suddenly said she'd enough of this life,
Joined a self-help group, packed, and left in a whiz,
Demanding from now on her title was Ms.
And as for the gifts, why, he'd never a notion
That making a choice could cause so much commotion.
Nothing of leather, nothing of fur,
Which meant nothing for him. And nothing for her.
Nothing that might be construed to pollute.
Nothing to aim. Nothing to shoot.
Nothing that clamoured or made lots of noise.
Nothing for just girls. Or just for the boys.
Nothing that claimed to be gender specific.
Nothing that's warlike or non-pacific.
No candy or sweets...they were bad for the tooth.
Nothing that seemed to embellish a truth.
And fairy tales, while not yet forbidden,
Were like Ken and Barbie, better off hidden.
For they raised the hackles of those psychological
Who claimed the only good gift was one ecological.
Dolls were said to be sexist, and should be passé;
And Nintendo would rot your entire brain away.
So Santa just stood there, dishevelled, perplexed;
He just could not figure out what to do next.
He tried to be merry, tried to be gay,
But you've got to be careful with that word today.
His sack was quite empty, limp to the ground;
Nothing fully acceptable was to be found.
Something special was needed, a gift that he might
Give to all without angering the left or the right.
A gift that would satisfy, with no indecision,
Each group of people, every religion;
Every ethnicity, every hue,
Everyone, everywhere...even YOU.
So here is that gift, it's price beyond worth...
"May you and your loved ones enjoy peace on earth."
@Laugh & Lift - http://www.laughandlift.com/
Police in Yorkshire, England conducted a "sting" operation, looking for people who had been successfully dodging outstanding warrants for their arrest. The police dressed up as mailmen, and announced that there was a Christmas package to be picked up at the post office. When the eager fugitives arrived, they were picked up instead.
All except for one crook, who was slightly brighter than the rest.
He thought it might be a scam. So he took his notice to the police station.