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Month: December 2015

Mercy in the Household

We started this blog to tell about the connections and the way our paths cross up here in the North country.  We have so much in common in Minnesota and North Dakota that we took on a joint project to build Project 24 boarding schools and child centers with our partner church in Kenya.  There are many things that we have done in support of mercy work that it is hard to keep track of it all.  We have worked together on disaster relief and helping neighbors in many ways.  Any way I got the picture above from Dr. Al Colver the Director of Church Relations for the LCMS.  This picture was taken not far from his house. Then I got this – I spoke with Rev. Ross Johnson, Director of LCMS Disaster Response, this morning regarding our LCMS congregations and communities in need.  Right now Illinois and Missouri are experiencing unprecedented winter floods.  North Dakota styled snow and ice have hammered South Texas, tornadoes have been dancing through Arkansas and Alabama.  The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod is a church of mercy, where local congregations are active with mercy-driven care in disaster stricken communities. Currently LCMS Disaster Response is working with four districts in six disaster-stricken states to alleviate human need.  The great need we see today is an invitation for North Dakota congregations to assist in our Synod’s...

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A Cradle In Bethlehem.

Powered by Cincopa Video Hosting. A mother rocking a cradle in Bethlehem is the childhood picture we have in our minds of Christmas.  Little girls still want to be Mary in the Christmas program.  The reality of it all is a bit more distressing and depressing.  The stable and the unaccompanied birth except for Joseph, Luther calls “pitiful”.  He wrote, “But the birth itself is still more pitiful. There was no one to take pity on this young wife who was for the first time to give birth to a child; no one to take to heart her condition that she, a stranger, did not have the least thing a mother needs in a birth-night. There she is without any preparation, without either light or fire, alone in the darkness, without any one offering her service as is customary for women to do at such times. Every thing is in commotion in the inn, there is a swarming of guests from all parts of the country, no one thinks of this poor woman. It is also possible that she did not expect the event so soon, else she would probably have remained at Nazareth.” Mothers around the world rock cradles and hold their babies and hope for them the best.  Sometimes their situations are pitiful.  Sometimes situations we think are pitiful really are not at all.  But mothers, unless...

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Mercy and Missions and Martyrs.

The teaching of the Christmas season is love, love in all its glory and wonder, the love of God to man, the love of man to God and in Him to fellowmen. Our constant problem is sin, which in every instance is lack of love, lack of appreciation of God’s love.  Immediately after we celebrate Jesus birth on Christmas day we enter the world of unthankfulness and hatred. In the 12 Days of Christmas there is much we miss if we don’t pay attention and most of the time we don’t.  I have a book in my library that goes through every day of the church year and explains origins and prayers and readings etc.  Immediately after Christmas day we are transposed into the world of evil and hatred precisely because of God’s love.  December 26th is the day of St. Stephan.  “The early church held Stephen in high honor as the first martyr and in the fourth century it appointed December 26 as his special day”   The observance of December 27 as the Day of St. John the Apostle and Evangelist dates from the sixth century. And the Holy Innocents (December 28) have been commemorated since ancient times after the manner or order of the saints. The innocent babies that died in Herod’s evil rampage are considered Saints.  In reality, apart from Christmas there are no saints: the...

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Still, Still, Still

Powered by Cincopa Video Hosting. There is an Austrian/German hymn that has always intrigued me.  It is  called Still, Still, Still and like all songs that have to be translated it loses something in the translation.  In fact most English version don’t even try and translate the German at all.  The first verse in the German version talks about angels “jubilating beautifully” and making music around the manger cradle.  It is the third verse that I find really intriguing – Great, great, great, The love is more than great! God has left his throne And must go by road. Great, great, great, The love is more than great. That God condescends to take the dusty road to Bethlehem on a donkey inside the womb of Mary is an amazing idea.  “God must go by road”.  Go by road to Egypt because of the murderous intentions of an earthly King.  Go by road into the road less wilderness and be tempted by the devil.  Go by road through the cities and towns of Galilee and Judea.  Go by road into Jerusalem again on a donkey.  Go by road to a garbage dump outside the city walls, carrying His own Cross.  The Love is more than great!   Share this on:...

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Little Christmas and the 12 Nights.

Powered by Cincopa Video Hosting. A few years ago I was invited to something called a “little Christmas”.  It was a gathering before Christmas Eve and there was a lot of wonderful food and drink and a nice atmosphere of camaraderie.  It thought it was one family’s tradition to try and get everyone together that couldn’t be around at Christmas because of the various family responsibilities. Well little Christmas is a custom in many cultures and for many reasons.  It seems to have started with the Irish who celebrated Christmas in January because of some mix-up with the Gregorian calendar, so even when they celebrated with the rest of the world they continued a celebration on Epiphany that they called “little Christmas”. In Scandinavia, where the main celebration of Christmas is on Christmas Eve, the evening of the 23rd is known as little Christmas eve (Danish: lillejuleaften).  In Norway and Sweden, Little Christmas Day refers to 13 January (Norwegian: Tyvendedagen; Swedish: Tjugondedag), twenty days after Christmas, and is regarded as the day when ornaments must be removed from Christmas trees and any leftover food must be eaten. (From Wikipedia).  Twelfth Night is also a time when all the extra food must be eaten and that is why I think the fruit cake was invented. Anyway I enjoyed very much little Christmas for whatever reason it was celebrated and I...

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