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Archive for the ‘Social Commentary’ Category

The subject of this blog is courageous women. As I sat down to write my thoughts for the coming year, I made a personal resolution to be more like the women I write about.

It just so happens that my family and I watched a movie about Irena Sendler last night. Irena is one of the many women who have inspired me over the years. Irena put her life on the line to rescue over 2500 Jewish children from the Warsaw ghetto during WWII. I cannot really imagine what it would be like to put my life on the line in order to rescue helpless victims. Would God give me the courage to do it? My prayer is that He would. He certainly gave Irena incredible courage.

To celebrate the New Year I am thanking God for our gift of freedom of worship and life here in our country. I pray that He will continue to bless our country.

I hope you have a blessed New Year. Consider watching the movie about Irena Sendler for encouragement in your faith and life.

MOVIE: The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler

Anna Paquin; Marcia Gay Harden; Goran Visnjic (Actors), John Kent Harrison (Director), 2009.
Other movies have been made about Irena Sendler. I heard that there is even a new one coming out later this year. I am sure I will watch it!!

YouTube:
Here is an interesting site you can go to right now:

► 2:08► 2:08 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXP5Gvxqgsg

 

In the meantime – “spoiler alert” – Here is a short account of her life. The movie follows it pretty well.

Irena Sendler – A Woman of Courage and Faith

Though she rescued more than 2500 children and babies from the Warsaw ghetto during WWII, Irena Sendler remained a humble woman taking no credit for her heroic work up until her death, at the age of 98 in May 2008. She said that she wished she had done even more.

Irena Sendler was one of the most courageous women who has ever lived. She not only put her life on the line to rescue Jewish children right under the noses of the Nazis, but she also had to do it in an atmosphere of ambivalence or even hatred from her fellow German countrymen. Many who called themselves Christians in Germany were too afraid to help the Jews. In my last blog posting I asked whether or not doing nothing about the human trafficking problem in our day is considered a sin of omission. Many in Germany during WWII were certainly also guilty of this sin by ignoring the plight of the Jews.

I really admire the way that Irena Sendler went about defying the Nazis. She did not start riots or create anarchy in any way. She merely went about quietly saving the lives of babies and children. We do not have to cause trouble in order to reject wicked laws; it is enough to at least rescue and care for the victims. This kind of love and courage was exemplified in Irena’s life.

Irena Sendler was born in 1910 in Otwock, a town located about fifteen miles southeast of Warsaw. Her father was a doctor and many of his patients were poor Jews.

When the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939 they murdered many thousands. At that time Irena was a Polish social worker. She was able to help many Jews by giving them fictitious Christian names. Others were protected when Irena reported that their homes were afflicted with highly infectious diseases such as typhus or tuberculosis. The Nazis avoided them.

This worked for a while, but in 1942 the Nazis herded hundreds of thousands of Jews into a 16-block area that came to be known as the Warsaw ghetto. The area was sealed off and the Jews were just awaiting death. Eventually their numbers would dwindle to only about 55,000 and then the Nazis would send those remaining to the death camps.

Irena was shocked and sickened. She joined a Polish underground movement and began her efforts to rescue Jewish children.

Irena managed to be able to enter the ghetto legally by getting a pass as a worker for Warsaw’s Epidemic Control Department. She took in as much food, medicine, and clothing as she could, but 5000 people a month were dying. She tried to convince some mothers to let her smuggle their children out.

Irena talked some friends, many only teenagers, into helping her take aid into the ghetto and children out of the ghetto. They hid the children on trams and garbage wagons. Some children left the ghetto in body bags or gunnysacks. At least one child left in an ambulance. Some children lay under the floorboards of a wagon that had a large dog on top whose barking could cover their cries. They led some children out in underground passageways and through the city sewers. They obtained forged Catholic birth certificates so that the children could live safely in the homes that volunteered to take them.

The children were taught prayers and how to behave in a church. In this way they were able to prevent the arrest and execution of those who were brave enough to adopt the children by fooling the Nazis into thinking they were Christians. Lest you think Irena was only proselytizing, she fully intended to unite as many children as she could after the war with their parents. She put the names of the more than 2500 children that she rescued into jars. She then buried the jars in the neighbor’s yard under an apple tree.

The Nazis eventually caught on to what she was doing. She was arrested on October 20, 1943, and imprisoned and tortured. The Nazis broke both of her feet and her legs crippling her for life. Under this torture she never revealed a single name of a co-conspirator or any other people who were helping. By this time there were many children living in convents, but Irena never gave away anyone who was helping the children. The punishment for helping Jews was instant death.

At one point, Irena was sentenced to death, but she was saved at the last minute when the Polish underground was able to bribe a Gestapo agent to set her free.

After the war Irena dug up the jars and tried to search for the children’s parents. Unfortunately, most of the Jewish adults had died in the death camps. The children had only known Irena by her code name, Jolanta, and it was difficult for them to try and find out what happened to their parents. However, there were many happy stories. Years later a man who saw Irena’s picture in the paper called her. He said, “I remember your face. It was you who took me out of the ghetto.”

Irena was a candidate to receive the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, but the honor was not awarded to her. Instead it was given to Al (“I invented the computer”) Gore. The International Federation of Social Workers expressed their disappointment, “However IFSW is deeply saddened that the life work of Nobel nominee Irena Sendler, social worker, did not receive formal recognition. Irena Sendler and her helpers took personal risks day after day to prevent the destruction of individual lives — the lives of the children of the Warsaw ghetto. This work was done very quietly, without many words and at the risk of their lives. “

Truly Irena deserved the award more than the actual recipient. Perhaps in the years ahead this wrong will be righted.

Poland honored her at a special ceremony in their upper house of Parliament. It was very fitting that Elzbieta Ficowska, who was six months old when she was saved by Irena read out a letter on Irena’s behalf: “Every child saved with my help is the justification of my existence on this Earth, and not a title to glory,” Irena Sendler said in the letter, “Over a half-century has passed since the hell of the Holocaust, but its spectre still hangs over the world and doesn’t allow us to forget.”

The world should be grateful for courageous women like Irena Sendler.

I hope you all have a blessed New Year!

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Happy New Year to everyone!

Have you made some New Year’s resolutions? How did you do on last year’s resolutions?

It’s a lot of fun talking with our friends about all of our good intentions for the coming new year. We laugh about the resolutions that did not last long in 2018. I am wondering if some of my resolutions were either too specific or too general. No wonder we get discouraged.

As my husband and I sat at the breakfast table last Tuesday morning, January 1, we talked about making resolutions for the new year. It’s really good to take time out to evaluate our lives. Even if our good intentions only last a month or two, at least we tried.

Maybe we ought to switch to “New Quarter” resolutions, or even “New Monthly” resolutions. If we didn’t accomplish our goals, we can just make adjustments and keep on going. The point is to not give up at the end of January when we throw in the towel and put off thinking about our decisions and goals until the next new year.

So, I told my husband that I would like to lose 15 pounds, but I will not beat myself up if I don’t. I had the same goal last year. I lost the 15 pounds, but I gained them back over Christmas!! I will try again. He would like to spend more time reading books. We agreed that we will review at the beginning of each month and see how we are doing.

But what about our more serious resolutions for this year? What should those be?

 And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. (1 John 5:20)

When we celebrated Christmas we celebrated the birth of Jesus. Jesus came not only to die for our sins but to give us new life. Our lives can now be spent for God’s glory. We can now serve Christ with joyful hearts. We can follow in Jesus’ footsteps leading lives that look like His. I would like to do a better job of that this year but how did I do last year?

Our goal is to become more like Christ. Can I honestly say that during 2018 I became more like Christ?

How did I do in my spiritual life?

– Did I take time to study the Word of God in order to be able to “present (my)self approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15)?

Thanks to Christ’s incarnation, death, and resurrection we are able to grow spiritually.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10)

All Christians are given the gifts of the Spirit “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” (Eph. 4:12)

– Did I grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”? (2 Peter 3:18) How much time did I spend getting to know God better?

– Did I take the apostle Peter’s advice on how to be more spiritually mature? Peter encourages the saints to INCREASE in the following progression of character traits of the spiritually mature.

“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in our knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in in your perseverance godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:5-8)

– Was I grateful, gracious, and thankful? “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

What did I do when I failed or was discouraged?

– Did I remember that we “have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you and example for you to follow in His steps”? (1 Peter 2:21)

– Did I get up and try again when I came up short of my goal? Paul encourages believers to keep on persevering. “Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. … I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus, (Philippians 3:12, 14) knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.” (Colossians 3:24).

Don’t’ be discouraged. Make resolutions. Seek God’s help to fulfill your plans.

I hope that by the end of 2018 I had become more like Christ than at the end of 2017. And my prayer is that when the end of 2019 gets here I can look back and say that my New Year’s resolution – my resolution to be more like Christ – will have been accomplished.

The apostle Paul tells us that we should be, “a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.”  (2 Corinthians 2:15) Will I be a fragrance to others this year?

To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen!

 

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Hidden Figures – This video is the remarkable true story of women who crossed racial and gender lines to contribute important work to NASA.

Katherine Goble. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson are some of the many forgotten women, especially black women, who achieved amazing things in spite of the prejudice and road blocks thrown at them. All extremely brilliant women, they were the brains behind the launch of John Glenn into space in the 1960’s space race. Their work helped our country to put a man on the moon.

The movie is great and I hope you will see it. It does a pretty good job of telling what the women went through – early childhood and education, what they suffered in order to be accepted in society, and obstacles they encountered at work. The extras in the special Blu-Ray edition relate more of the many achievements of these incredible women. Here are a few highlights (some of the information obtained through my further research):

Katherine Goble Johnson

Katherine was a math prodigy who graduated from West Virginia State College summa cum laude at only age 18. She married and had three children. Sadly, Mr. Goble died of a brain tumor. Later she remarried.

Katherine was an aerospace technologist. She verified the computer’s numbers for John Glenn’s orbit around the earth in 1962, calculated the historic Apollo 11 trip to the moon, and worked on the calculations that helped bring Apollo 13 safely back to earth after it malfunctioned in 1970.

Dorothy Johnson Vaughan

Dorothy received her training at Wilberforce University in Ohio in 1929. She married Howard Vaughan and they had six children. In 1943, Dorothy went to work at Langley as one of the African-American women who were hired due to President Roosevelt’s executive order forbidding racial, ethnic, or religious discrimination in the defense industry as he sought to fill the jobs needed for the war effort. Dorothy was one of the countless female human “computers” who did the math for the space industry.

Later when IBM introduced digital computers to replace the human computers, Dorothy was smart enough to figure a way to keep her job and the jobs of all of the other women. She taught herself and them the Fortran programming Language for the IBM 704 mainframe computers that NASA was installing. (Just look at that room full of machines in the movie and realize that your cell phone has more computing power than all of that!!)

Mary Jackson

Mary graduated from Hampton Institute with bachelor’s degrees in Mathematics and physical science. Frustrated and unhappy about the discrimination against her in the work place, Mary almost resigned. However, her supervisor, Kazimierz Czarnecki encouraged her to train as an engineer. Mary had to fight racial prejudice but she successfully finished the course and was promoted to aerospace engineer in 1958 at the age of 37. She wrote many papers and studied data that helped to improve US planes. Mary achieved the most senior rank in the engineering department, but took a demotion to become a human resources administrator until her retirement in 1985. She spent her time helping other women and minorities to advance their careers.

One of the things that is downplayed a bit in the movies is the tremendous religious faith of these three wonderful women. They all just wanted to succeed and were willing to put up with the prejudice against them. In that era, blacks were often just happy to have a job. Their gratitude for what they had should put those of us who have never encountered their obstacles to shame. They are an inspiration!

It is finally time after 55 years that Katherine, Dorothy, and Mary are recognized for their achievements. Though things have changed a lot since the 1940’s and 50’s, there is still a struggle for full racial and gender equality. The stories of these women will go a long way to erase the idea that women, especially black women are inferior.

Here is a trailer to the movie:

http://www.ign.com/videos/2016/08/15/hidden-f

 

 

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I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least.
Dorothy Day

d-d-entertaining-anglesRecently I came across a DVD that does a pretty fair job of telling the story of Dorothy Day’s life.

In our busy world it is often easier to watch a good video than to find time for books. I would still recommend reading the biography of Dorothy Day as well as her own writings. They are very inspiring.

The video is titled: Entertaining Angels: The Dorothy Day Story.

It is done by “Paulist Pictures”. You can get the DVD from Amazon or many other religious organizations that sell books and biographies of historical Christians.

I thought that the production of the movie was well-done. The actors, Moira Kelly as Dorothy Day and Martin Sheen as her friend and mentor Peter Maurin were very believable in their parts. Often other movies are ruined by the shallowness of the acting but in this production Moira Kelly and Martin Sheen gave very strong performances.

I really appreciated the introduction to the movie – It showed Dorothy in prison in the early 1960’s for protesting the war in Vietnam. It gave the viewer a glimpse of another facet of her life besides caring for the poor. Dorothy believed in peace and justice and was willing to practice what she preached! She went to prison several times.

The scene in the prison may or may not have been a real event in her life, but it pictures for the viewer just how much Dorothy loved the ‘unlovely’.  She comforts a woman cell mate who is quite agitated, seemingly coming off of drugs. As Dorothy sits with the woman’s head in her lap, the woman vomits on Dorothy whose reaction is only kindness and concern. The woman is moved by Dorothy’s kindness and wants to know “What is the story of your life?”

Dorothy begins a reminiscence. She reflects back to the time that she lived like a bohemian in Greenwich village along with friends who were trying to find answers to poverty in socialism and communism. No one in the crowd believed in God. Dorothy herself was very skeptical.

Over the next few years Dorothy suffered from failed love affairs and had many heartbreaks. But she encounters a wonderful nun who shows her love. The nun is also engaged in helping the poor. Dorothy wonders what the nun gets out of it. Dorothy finds out that just helping others gives you great joy.

I won’t give away any more details. I hope that this has whetted your appetite to see a film about a very courageous woman. A woman who did many things that she regretted in her early life but found forgiveness and love in the Lord Jesus. A woman who did not look back but spent her time helping others more unfortunate than she was.

In our day especially, women can be encouraged that they can do great things for God. Dorothy was a single mother with no money whose legacy includes over 100 “soup kitchens” and other places of charity for the poor. She ministered to the lives of thousands of angels.

And if you have some time, read the books too!!

Following are some pictures of the real Dorothy along with some of her most famous quotes.

quote-the-gospel-takes-away-our-right-forever-to-discriminate-between-the-deserving-and-the-dorothy-day-44-23-97

dorothy-day-poverty

 

 

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149729-religious-new-years-quoteHappy New Year to everyone!

Have you made some New Year’s resolutions? How did you do on last year’s resolutions?

It’s a lot of fun talking with our friends about all of our good intentions for the coming new year. We laugh about the resolutions that did not last long in 2016. I am wondering if some of my resolutions were either too specific or too general. No wonder we get discouraged.

As my husband and I sat at the breakfast table Sunday morning, January 1, we talked about making resolutions for the new year. It’s really good to take time out to evaluate our lives. Even if our good intentions only last a month or two, at least we tried.

Maybe we ought to switch to “New Quarter” resolutions, or even “New Monthly” resolutions. If we didn’t accomplish our goals, we can just make adjustments and keep on going. The point is to not give up at the end of January when we throw in the towel and put off thinking about our decisions and goals until the next new year.

So, I told my husband that I would like to lose 15 pounds, but I will not beat myself up if I don’t. He would like to spend more time reading books. We agreed that we will review at the beginning of each month and see how we are doing.

But what about our more serious resolutions for this year? What should those be?

And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. (1 John 5:20)

When we celebrated Christmas we celebrated the birth of Jesus. Jesus came not only to diechristian-happy-new-year-2014-wishes-images-sms-messages-1 for our sins but to give us new life. Our lives can now be spent for God’s glory. We can now serve Christ with joyful hearts. We can follow in Jesus’ footsteps leading lives that look like His. I would like to do a better job of that this year but how did I do last year?

Our goal is to become more like Christ. Can I honestly say that during 2016 I became more like Christ?

How did I do in my spiritual life?

– Did I take time to study the Word of God in order to be able to “present (my)self approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15)?

new-year-2017Thanks to Christ’s incarnation, death, and resurrection we are able to grow spiritually.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10)

All Christians are given the gifts of the Spirit “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” (Eph. 4:12)

– Did I grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”? (2 Peter 3:18)

– Did I take the apostle Peter’s advice on how to be more spiritually mature? Peter encourages the saints to INCREASE in the following progression of character traits of the spiritually mature.

“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in our knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in in your perseverance godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:5-8)

– Was I grateful, gracious, and thankful? “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

What did I do when I failed or was discouraged?

– Did I remember that we “have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you and example for you to follow in His steps”? (1 Peter 2:21)

– Did I get up and try again when I came up short of my goal? Paul encourages believers to keep on persevering. “Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. … I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus, (Philippians 3:12, 14) knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.” (Colossians 3:24).

Don’t’ be discouraged. Make resolutions. Seek God’s help to fulfill your plans.

I hope that by the end of 2016 I had become more like Christ than at the end of 2015. And my prayer is that when the end of 2017 gets here I can look back and say that my New Year’s resolution – my resolution to be more like Christ – will have been accomplished.

lily-of-the-valley

The apostle Paul tells us that we should be, “a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.”  (2 Corinthians 2:15) Will I be a fragrance to others this year?

To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen!

 

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It is a wonderful season of the year! We all love theChristmas carols! It almost seems a shame that we only sing some of them at this time of the year. How often do we pay attention to the lyrics? One hymn especially, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”, by Charles Wesley, actually contains the true meaning about the coming of Christ.

At Christmas we think of Jesus in the manger. We can picture Mary and Joseph there. The shepherds come. The angels are gathered in the skies singing praise to God! What beautiful pictures of love, peace, and joy.

nativity-angles

But why did God send His Son to earth? Why did Jesus have to be born in a lowly stable? Just what is the real meaning of Christmas?

In 1739, Charles Wesley wrote the lyrics to one of the most popular Christmas carols – “Hark! The Herald Angels sing”. The music was composed by Felix Mendelssohn in 1840. Let us take a closer look at the words. Charles Wesley’s hymn contains the true meaning of Christmas.

Hark! The herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King;

Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”

The reason that Jesus came was to reconcile sinners to God. Jesus was sent “through the jesus_on_cross_wallpapertender mercy of our God to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death” (Luke 1:78,79). When Jesus “made peace through the blood of His cross” (Colossians 1:20), He made peace with God for us so that our sins may be forgiven.

Joyful, all ye nations rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With angelic host proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King.”

Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem to register for the census. Bethlehem was a small town. Who would have thought that the King of Kings and Lord of Lords would be born there? But Jesus showed us how much He loved us by being born in a lowly estate to save us who are not worthy of God’s love on our own. (Luke 1:52, I Corinthians 1:27).

Christ, by highest Heaven adored;
Christ the everlasting Lord;
Late in time, behold Him come,
Offspring of a virgin’s womb.

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail incarnate Deity,
Pleased with us in flesh to dwell,
Jesus our Emmanuel.
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

In our day there are many other religions that do not recognize Jesus as fully God and fully man. Charles Wesley reminds us that Jesus is “incarnate Deity, pleased with us in flesh to dwell.” When we sing this beautiful song we are singing are affirmation of the basic truth that sets us apart from non-Christians – the full deity and humanity of Christ.

Hail, the heaven-born Prince of peace!
Hail the Son 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.
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King.”

The most wonderful miracle of all is that God came in the flesh to save His people. Jesus is truly God and truly man. Jesus was found “in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8). “Mild, He lays His glory by.” Jesus loved us so much that He was willing to live the life of a servant in order that we may be made right with God. Jesus gave us our example of how we should live also.

Come, Desire of nations, come,
Fix in us Thy humble home;
Rise, the woman’s conqu’ring Seed,
Bruise in us the serpent’s head.
Now display Thy saving pow’r,
Ruined nature now restore;
Now in mystic union join
Thine to ours, and ours to Thine.

With the coming of Jesus is a promise that all things will be made new. One day there will be no more tears or pain. But even now, on this earth, Jesus gives us the power to live a holy life. We no longer have to fall to the whiles of the devil. “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death” (Romans 8:2). Even ruined nature will be restored. What a joyful day to look forward to!!

Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface,
Stamp Thine image in its place:
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in Thy love.
Let us Thee, though lost, regain,
Thee, the Life, the inner man:
Oh, to all Thyself impart,
Formed in each believing heart.

This is our humble prayer as sinful humans. When we pray to Him, Jesus forgives and restores His full fellowship with us. What a wonderful privilege when Jesus restores His love in us and gives us joyful hearts to serve Him. We desire to show more of the image of Jesus and less of the image of “Adam” as we grow in our walk with the Lord. Jesus came not only to reconcile us to God, but to give us a holy life while we are on this earth.

It will really help us to bring back the true meaning of Christmas when we sing the wonderful hymns that God has blessed us with. Let us pay special attention to the words. Try singing and praying them at the same time.

Most of all, let us get back to worshipping Jesus at Christmas time.

holychildtopHark! The Herald angels sing
Glory to the Newborn King;
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!

Merry Christmas!!

 

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Millions of Christians around the world will sing this beloved hymn “Silent Night” during the Christmas season. This favorite Christmas carol has been translated into just about every language in the world. What a joyous thought to know that so many people will be remembering the real reason for Christmas on the day of Jesus’ birth.
The story of the hymn is beautifully told by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson, Joyful Heart Renewal Ministries – joyfulheart.com
Check out the page with the Christmas stories. You will be blessed! If you are looking for good stories to share with your children, you will find many heartwarming stories at this site!

The Story of “Silent Night” —–silent-night

The phrase repeats itself over and over again in his mind:

Silent night, holy night,
Stille nacht, heilige nacht.

Father Joseph Mohr, Parish Priest

It’s the first line from a poem this young Austrian priest had written two years before. Now he can’t get the phrase out of his mind. “Silent night, holy night.”

Tonight is Christmas Eve and St. Nicholas Church in Oberndorf, north of Salzburg, will be chock-full of people. Father Joseph Mohr has a homily in mind, a message for his flock on this sacred night, but he needs a carol, something special to cap off the service.

Silent night, holy night,
All is calm, all is bright…

The words won’t go away. “I need a tune!” he says out loud, shaking his head. “I wonder if Franz can help me. I hope it’s not too late.” Franz Gruber is the schoolteacher in the nearby village of Arnsdorf — a gifted musician, organist at the Arnsdorf church, and occasional substitute organist at St. Nicholas. “Franz will help me!” he says to himself. “He can’t resist a musical challenge.”

Franz Gruber, Schoolteacher and Organist

Quickly now he slings on his heavy coat, dons a fur cap and gloves, and ventures into the brisk December morning. The snow is crunchy underfoot as he makes his way across the churchyard towards Arnsdorf, just a 20 minute walk. “Silent night, holy night … silent night, holy night.” The rhythm of the words echoes with each step.

Elizabeth opens the door at his knock. “Father Mohr, how nice of you to stop by. Franz will be glad to see you.” She takes his coat and ushers him in. Franz is picking something out on his guitar.

“Franz, remember that poem I told you about: ‘Silent Night’?” says Mohr. “I know it’s too late to ask, but could you help put a tune to it? I want to sing it tonight for Christmas Eve.”

Gruber’s face lights up. A challenge. A song. He takes the lyrics from the priest and begins to say them over and over, looking for a cadence. Then he hums a line and scratches it down.

Mohr soon tires of the process and begins to play with the children. But within an hour or so, Gruber seems to have a melody and is working out the chords on his guitar. “Father, how does this sound?” he calls and begins to sing the words:

Silent night, holy night,
All is calm all is bright…

He stops to make a correction in the manuscript, and then continues:

…’Round yon virgin, Mother and Child,
Holy infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace!
Sleep in heavenly peace!

Father Mohr is ecstatic. On the second verse Gruber’s deep voice is joined by Mohr’s rich tenor. Elizabeth, baby on her hip, who has been humming along, now joins them on the last verse. The song fills their home with its gentle words and memorable melody.

Christmas Eve at St. Nicholas Church, Oberndorf, 1818

That night, December 24, 1818, the song fills St. Nicholas Church at Midnight Mass. Mohr sings tenor, Gruber bass, and the church choir joins the refrain of each verse, while Mohr accompanies on the guitar. By the time the last notes die away, the worshipers are a-buzz with joy and wonder at the song. On Christmas Day, the song is being hummed and sung in dozens of homes around Oberndorf. “Silent night, holy night.”

And in Oberndorf, they would sing their beloved carol again and again each Christmas. The song might have stayed right there had it not been for an organ builder named Karl Mauracher, who came to repair the pipe organ at Arnsdorf in 1819 and made several trips to Oberndorf over the next few years, finally building a new organ for St. Nicholas in 1825.

The Song Finds Its Way to Emperors and Kings — and to America

Whether Mauracher found the music and lyrics on the organ or they were given to him by Gruber, we don’t know. But he carried the song to the Ziller Valley east of Innsbruk, where he shared it with two local families of travelling folk singers, the Rainers and the Strassers, who began to sing it as part of their regular repertoire. The following Christmas of 1819, the Rainer Family Singers sang “Stille Nacht” in the village church of Fügen (Zillertal).

Three years later they sang it for royalty. Emperor Francis I of Austria and his ally Czar Alexander I of Russia were staying in the nearby castle of Count Dönhoff (now Bubenberg Castle). The Rainer Family performed the carol and were invited to Russia for a series of concerts.

In 1834 the Strasser Family Singers sang “Silent Night” for King Frederick William IV of Prussia. He was so taken with what the Strassers called their “Song of Heaven,” that he commanded it to be sung by his cathedral choir every Christmas Eve. It spread through Europe and in 1839 the Raniers brought the song to America as the “Tyrolean Folk Song.” Since then it has been translated into over 300 languages and dialects.

Various English translations blossomed, but the definitive English version of the song was penned by Rev. John Freeman Young and first published in The Sunday-School Service and Tune Book (1863).

Why Is “Silent Night” So Popular?

Why has “Silent Night” become our most beloved carol? Is it the words — tender, intimate, gentle? Or the tune — so peaceful, so memorable, so easy to play or pick out with one hand on the piano?

It is not a joyous, fast-paced carol like Handel’s “Joy to the World.” Nor theologically-rich like “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” by Charles Wesley. Nor does it have a complex tune like “Angels We Have Heard on High.”

Rather, “Silent Night” is quiet and reflective, calling us to meditate on the scene. It is the ambience conveyed by both the gentle words and melody that create from this carol an oasis of peace.

“All is calm, all is bright.”

It calls us to dwell on the Madonna and Child —

“‘Round yon Virgin, mother and Child,
Holy Infant, so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace.”

You feel as the “shepherds quake at the sight.” You can imagine as “heavenly hosts sing Alleluia.” And you begin to sing “Alleluia to the King” right along with them.

Rays of backlit brilliance highlight many a religious painting, but here the picture of light is painted in words:

“Glories stream from heaven afar….”
“Son of God, love’s pure light,
Radiant beams from Thy holy face….”

10-silent_night

Just Who is in this manger? What is the significance of this birth? What is Christmas about — really? Perhaps most of all, “Silent Night” is beloved because it reminds us in its simple, but exceedingly clear way, the truth behind it all — the truth that changes everything:

“Christ, the Savior is born!”

Sing it again this Christmas and let its gentle peace wash over you and its bold assertion renew your soul.

“Jesus, Lord, at thy birth!

“Jesus, Lord, at thy birth!”

mohr-and-gruber

—– While the first few paragraphs of this story have been fictionalized, the historical events are true. Joseph Mohr (1792-1848) wrote the words to “Silent Night” in 1816 while priest at Mariapharr. On Christmas Eve 1818, he asked his friend Franz Gruber (1787-1863) to write the tune for Mass that evening at St. Nicholas Church in Oberndorf where Mohr had been assigned in 1817. I’ve been careful to rely on recent historical research into the origin of the carol, much of it gathered since 1995, when a manuscript of the carol in Mohr’s hand was found, dated 1820-1825. Some of the most helpful (and accurate) information sources are: Bill Egan’s Silent Night Museum, Egan’s article “Silent Night: The Song Heard ‘Round The World,” “Silent Night, Holy Night — Notes,” Hyde Flippo’s “Silent Night and Christmas,” the Stille Nacht Gesellschaft by Manfred Fischer, director of the Silent Night Museum and Chapel in Oberndorf, Austria.

 

God bless you all this Christmas!!

 

 

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