Monday, December 31, 2012


Twelve Days of Christmas
Day Seven
December 31, 2012
On the seventh day of Christmas,
my true love gave to me...
Seven Swans A-swimming,
Six Geese A-laying,
Fiiivvve Gold Rings,
Four Calling Birds,
Three French Hens,
Two Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

Seven Swans represent
The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit:
1) prophecy, 2) ministry, 3) teaching,
4) exhortation, 5) giving, 6) leading
and 7) compassion.
(Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:8-11)

Sunday, December 30, 2012


Twelve Days of Christmas
Day Six
December 30, 2012
On the sixth day of Christmas,
my true love gave to me...
Six Geese A-laying,
Fiiivvve Gold Rings,
Four Calling Birds,
Three French Hens,
Two Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree.
Six Geese A-laying represent
The six days of creation that confesses
GOD as Creator and Sustainer
of the world. (Genesis 1)

Saturday, December 29, 2012


Twelve Days of  Christmas
Day Five
December 29, 2012
One the fifth day of Christmas,
my true love gave to me...
Fiiivvvve Gold Rings,
Four Calling Birds,
Three French Hens,
Two Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree.
Five Gold Rings represents
The first Five Books of the Old Testament,
known as the Torah or the Pentateuch:
1) Genesis, 2) Exodus, 3) Leviticus,
4) Numbers and 5) Deuteronomy, which gives the history of humanity's sinful failure and GOD's response of
 grace in the creation of a people to be a light
to the world.

Friday, December 28, 2012


Twelve Days of Christmas
Day Four
December 28, 2012
On the fourth day of Christmas
my true love gave to me...
Four Calling Birds,
Three French Hens,
Two Turtle Doves,
 and a Partridge in a Pear Tree
Four Calling Birds represent
 The Four Gospels:
1) Matthew, 2) Mark, 3) Luke, and 4) John,
which proclaim the Good News of GOD's 
reconciliation of the world to Himself
in Jesus Christ.

Thursday, December 27, 2012


Twelve Days of Christmas
Day Three
December 27, 2012
On the third day of Christmas
my true love gave to me...
Three French Hens,
Two Turtle Doves,
 and a Partridge in a Pear Tree
 The Three French Hens represent
The Three Theological Virtues; 1) Faith, 2) Hope,
and 3) Love.  (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


Twelve Days of Christmas
Day Two
December 26, 2012
On the second day of Christmas
 my true love gave to me...
Two Turtle Doves,
and A Partridge in a Pear Tree
Two Turtle Doves represents
The Old and New Testament, which together bear witness to GOD's self-revelation in history and the creation of a people to tell the story of GOD to the world.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Twelve days of Christmas
Day One
On the first day of Christmas,
my true love gave to me...
A Partridge in a Pear Tree
The partridge in a pear tree is JESUS CHRIST, the Son of GOD, whose birthday we celebrate on December 25, the first day of Christmas. In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge that feigns injury to decoy predators from her helpless nestlings, recalling the expression of  Christ's sadness over the fate of Jerusalem;
"Jerusalem! Jerusalem! How often would I have sheltered you under my wings, as a hen does her chicks, but you would not have it so...." (Luke 13:34)


The Twelve Days
of Christmas
     The "Twelve Days of Christmas" is probably the most misunderstood part of the church year among Christians who are not a part of the liturgical church traditions. Contrary to much popular belief, these are not the twelve days before Christmas, but in most of the Western Church are the twelve days from Christmas until the beginning of Epiphany. (January 6th; the 12 days count from December 25th until January 5th). In some traditions, the first day of Christmas begins on the evening of December 25th with the following day considered the First Day of Christmas (December 26th). In these traditions, the twelve days begin December 26 and include Epiphany on January 6.
     The origins and counting of the Twelve Days is complicated and is related to differences in calendars, church traditions and ways to observe this Holy day in various cultures. In the Western church, Epiphany is usually celebrated as the time the Wise Men or Magi arrived to present gifts to the young Jesus (Matthew 2:1-12). Traditionally there were three Magi, probably from the fact of three gifts, even though the biblical narrative never says how many Magi came. In some cultures, especially Hispanic and Latin American culture, January 6th is observed as Three Kings Day, or simply the Day of the Kings (Span: la Fiesta de Reyes, el Dia de los Tres Reyes, or el Dia de los Reyes Magos)
     Even though December 25th is celebrated as Christmas in these cultures, January 6th is often the day for giving gifts. In some places it is traditional to give Christmas gifts for each of the Twelve Days of Christmas. Since Eastern Orthodox traditions use a different religious calendar, they celebrate Christmas on January 7th and observe Epiphany or Theophany on January 19th.
     By the 16th century, some European and Scandinavian cultures had combined the Twelve Days of Christmas with (sometimes pagan) festivals celebrating the changing of the year. These were usually associated with driving away evil spirits for the start of the new year.    
     The Twelfth Night is January 5th, the last day of the Christmas Season before Epiphany (January 6th). In some church traditions, January 5th is considered the eleventh Day of Christmas, while the evening of January 5th is still counted as the Twelfth Night, the beginning of the Twelfth Day of Christmas the following day. Twelfth Night often includes feasting along with the removal of Christmas decorations. Many European celebrations of Twelfth Night included a King's Cake, remembering the visit of the Three Magi, and ale or wine (a King's Cake is part of the observance of Mardi Gras in French Catholic culture of the Southern USA). In some cultures, the King's Cake was part of the celebration of the day of Epiphany.
     The popular song "The Twelve Days of Christmas" is usually seen as simply a "nonsense song" for children with secular origins. However, some have suggested that it is a song of Christian instruction, perhaps dating to the 16th century religious wars in England, with hidden references to the basic teachings of the Christian Faith. They contend that it was a mnemonic device to teach the catechism to youngsters. The "true love" mentioned in the song is not an earthly suitor, but refers to God Himself. The "me" who receives the presents refers to every baptized person who is part of the Christian Faith. Each of the "days" represents some aspect of the Christian Faith that was important for children to learn.
     However, many have questioned the historical accuracy of this origin of the song The Twelve Days of Christmas. While some have tried to debunk this as an "urban myth" out of personal agendas, others have tried to deal with this account of the song's origin in the name of historical accuracy. There is little "hard" evidence available either way. Some church historians affirm this account as basically accurate, while others point out apparent historical and logical discrepencies.
     However, we need to acknowledge that the "evidence" on both sides is mostly in logical deduction and probabilities. Lack of positive evidence does not automatically provide negative evidence. One internet site devoted to debunking hoaxes and legends say that "there is no substantive evidence to demonstrate that the song 'The Twelve Days of Christmas' was created or used as a secret means of preserving tenets of the Catholic faith, or that this claim is anything but a fanciful modern day speculation..." What is omitted is that there is no "substantive evidence" that will disprove it either.
    It is certainly possible, in fact probable, that this view of the song is legendary or anecdotal. Without corroboration and in the absence of "substantive evidence," we probably should not take rigid positions on either side and turn the song into a crusade for personal opinions. That would do more to violate the Spirit of Christmas than the song is worth. So, for the sake of historical accuracy, we need to acknowledge the likelihood that the song had secular origins.
     However, on another level, this should not prevent us from using the song in celebration of Christmas. Many of the symbols of Christianity were not originally religious, including even the present date of Chrsitmas, but were appropriated from contemporary culture by the Christian Faith as vehicles of worship and proclamation. Perhaps, when all is said and done, historical accuracy is not really the point. Perhaps, more important is that Christians can celebrate their rich heritage, and God's grace, through one more avenue this Christmas. Now, when they hear what they once thought was only a secular "nonsense song," they will be reminded in one more way of the grace of God working in transforming ways in their lives and in our world. After all, is that not the meaning of Christmas anyway?
taken from Biblical and Theological Resources for Growing Christians "The Voice"

CHRISTMAS PRAYER (Prayer for the World)

Prayer for the World
By Max Lucado
Dear Jesus,
     It's a good thing You were born at night. This world sure seems dark. I have a good eye for silver linings, but they seem dimmer lately.
     These killings, Lord. These children, Lord. Innocence violated. Raw evil demonstrated.
     The whole world seems on edge. Trigger happy. Ticked off. What is wrong with us? We are taking prayer out of schools and out of public places but fighting to keep our weapons. We hear threats of chemical weapons and nuclear bombs. Are we one button-push away from annihilation?
     Your world seems a bit darker this Christmas. But You were born in the dark, right? You came at night. The shepherds were nightshift workers. The Wise Men followed a star. Your first cries were heard in the shadows. To see Your face, Mary and Joseph needed a candle flame. It was dark. Dark with Herod's jealousy. Dark with Roman oppression. Dark with poverty. Dark with violence.
     Herod went on a rampage, killing babies. Joseph took You and Your mother into Egypt. You were an immigrant before You were a Nazarene.
     Oh, Lord Jesus, You entered the dark world of Your day. Won't You enter ours? We are weary of bloodshed. We, like the Wise Men, are looking for a star. We, like the shepherds, are kneeling at the manger. We are in desperate need of Your presence in our lives once again.
     This Christmas, we ask You, heal us, help us. Be born anew in us.
           Your Children





Monday, December 24, 2012

POEM ('Twas the Night Before Christmas --- for the Troops)

'Twas the Night Before Christmas
'Twas the night before Christmas, he lived all alone,
in a one bedroom house made of plaster and stone.
I had come down the chimney with presents to give,
and to see just who in this house did live.
I looked all about, a strange sight I did see,
no tinsel, no presents, not even a tree.
No stocking by mantle, just boots filled with sand,
and on the wall pictures of far distant lands.
With medals and badges, awards of all kinds,
a sobering thought came to my mind.
For this house was different, so dark and so dreary,
the house of a soldier, now I could see clearly.
The soldier lay sleeping, silent, and alone,
curled up on the floor in this one bedroom home.
The face was so gentle, the room in such disorder,
not how I pictured a United States soldier.
I realized the families that I saw this night,
owed their lives to these soldiers who were willing   to fight.
Soon round the world, the children would play,
and grownups would celebrate a bright Christmas  day.
They all enjoyed freedom each month of the year,
because of the soldiers, like the one lying here.
I couldn't help but wonder how many lay alone,
on a cold Christmas Eve in a land far from home.
The very thought brought a tear to my eye,
I dropped on my knees and started to cry.
The soldier awakened and I heard a rough voice,
"Santa don't cry, this life is my choice.
I fight for freedom, I don't ask for more,
my life is my God, my country, my corps."
The soldier rolled over and soon drifted to sleep,
I couldn't control it, I continued to weep.
I kept watch for hours, so silent and still,
and we both shivered, from the cold evening's chill.
I didn't want to leave that cold, dark, night,
this guardian of honor willing to fight.
Then the soldier rolled over, with a voice soft and  pure,
whispered, "Carry on, Santa, it's Christmas day, all is secure."
One look at my watch, and I knew he was right,
"Merry Christmas, my friend, and to all a good night."
By Lance Corporal James M. Schmidt

CHRISTMAS LEGEND (Legend of the Three Purses)

Legend of the Three Purses
     Legends, almost always, have different wersions prevalent in different places, no doubt, because they are undocumented. But different versions tend to have a common skeletal structure that remains unchanged. The "Legend of the Three Purses" is also known as "The Dowry of the Three Virgins" and is considered to be one of Saint Nicholas' most famous charitable acts of kindness. This legend is a celebration of his generosity and love that he gave to those suffering, which is the true Spirit of Christmas.
     In the town of Myra, where Saint Nicholas was the Bishop, there lived a noble man who was so poor that he could not afford food or clothing. This man had three beautiful daughters but he couldn't get them married off because, according to custom in those times, he didn't have the dowry.
     Cold, hungry and very poor but also honorable, the noble man wouldn't ask others for help. Things were becoming so desperate that the man thought he would have to sell his daughters as slaves or prostitutes.
     When Saint Nicholas heard about the problems of the noble man and his daughters, he decided to help them. But he didn't want to embarass them by doing it in public where it would look like charity, so he came up with a secret plan.
     Late at night, Saint Nicholas went to the noble mans home and, through the window, he tossed a bag of gold inside. When the man and his daughters awoke the next morning, they discovered the bag. The noble man was so grateful because now he could marry off his oldest daughter.
     The next night, again Saint Nicholas went to their home and tossed another bag of gold in through the window. Now the man was able to marry off the second daughter.
     The noble man wanted to know who was this kind and very generous person that kept tossing bags of gold into his home. So on the third night, the man hid by the window and waited. When Saint Nicholas came to toss the bag of gold through the window, the noble man grabbed Saint Nicholas' cloak and begged him not to hide himself.
     But Saint Nicholas, embarassed that his noble deed was discovered, told the noble man, "Please, don't tell anyone what I have done. I am only doing the work of God."
     The noble man then let go of Saint Nicholas' cloak and gratefully thanked him and allowed him to leave without telling anyone about the secret generous man.
INSIGHT:  The story of hanging stockings during Christmas has been a basis for this legend. It is     believed that when Saint Nicholas went to drop the bag of gold for the youngest daughter, he saw the noble man hiding and waitng by the window for      him. So, Saint Nicholas went to the chimney and     dropped the bag inside. It so happened that the       youngest daughter kept a stocking hanging in the fire place to dry and the bag fell right inside her      stocking, that is where she found it the next day.  
     This is where we get the idea to hang stockings   by the fireplace so Saint Nicholas can fill them on Christmas Eve.

CHRISTMAS LEGEND (Legend of Santa Claus)

Legend of Santa Claus
     Nearly 2,000 years ago --- around the time of Jesus' birth --- Nicholas was born to a wealthy family in Myra, a country now known as Turkey.
     As a young boy, his parents died and left him a very large inheritance. He was raised as a Christian and had strong faith. So he wanted to do the right thing with his inheritance. Should he invest it? Should he buy himself a house to ensure his shelter always? Should he squander it?
      He remembered what was written in the Bible when Jesus told the rich tax collector, "Sell all you have, give it to the poor and follow me."
      Because Nicholas was devoted to God he decided to give to the poor. Because of his charitable deeds and because he was so kind, compassionate and helpful towards others, he became the youngest Bishop of Myra.
     His most charitable deed was when he helped a poor noble man and hios three daughter's.
     The man was so poor and becoming desperate that he thought he may have to sell his daughter's as slaves or prostitutes. But when Saint Nicholas heard of the mans situation he decided to help.
     Late that night, Saint Nicholas secretly threw three purses of gold from the chimney into the mans home.
     Every year, on December 6th --- the anniversary of Saint Nicholas' death --- families prepare a feast in honor of the memory of Saint Nicholas, also known as "Patron Saint of Children." It is also considered good fortune to marry on that same day.
INSIGHT:   Saint Nicholas was eventually named Santa Claus. His ritual of giving gifts throws light on his compassionate         character. He signifies the virtue of always being ready to help people in need. No matter what you call him, Santa represents the love, compassion and charity that Christmas stands for.                
     So although, it has been much commercialized, remember that Santa Claus is not taking anything away from the birth of Jesus, but he is instead adding to what Jesus has called us to do ---        humble ourselves and put those less fortunate first.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

ADVENT 2012 (Sunday, December 23, 2012)

Sunday, December 23, 2012
Letter to God (By Myrtle Fillmore)
Dear God,
     I am centered in Your presence and power. Nothing can disturb me or dismay me. In the darkness Your light shines, in the midst of uncertainty, Your light reveals the way.
     Dear God, I am centered in Your love. I feel warmed and comforted. Centered in Your love, I look at the world with eyes of love, I express love, I draw loving and happy experiences to myself.
     Dear God, I am centered in Your strength. No hurt or unhappiness can stay with me. Centered in Your strength, I am lifted out of sadness. I am set free from fear. Strength fills me and joy overflows me.
     Dear God, I am centered in Your life. Every part of my body feels the touch of Your healing life. Centered in Your life, I feel quickened and restored. I feel the infilling of Your changeless, eternal life. I am healed through and through.
But the angel said to them .... "I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord."  --- Luke 2:10-11
reprinted from Unity's "If Every Day Were Christmas   Advent 2012"
Fourth Week of Advent
     Our Advent time concludes in Jesus coming down that we may have God's loving grace and peace. In the season of Christmas, we remember that Jesus came to dwell with us in His flesh.
     Daily, Jesus comes into our hearts and will come again in justice and righteousness.
     God bless each of us in Christmas hope, light, love and peace.

CHRISTMAS LEGEND (Legend of the Christmas Spider)

Legend of the Christmas Spider
     Long, long ago, one Christmas Eve, the spiders were banished from homes and any spiders that survived had to move to the farthest corner of the attic. Their webs were broken and torn down, while the houses were cleaned for Christmas.
     However, some of the young spiders wanted to see the decorated Christmas tree and the Christ child that was due to arrive at midnight to bless the tree.
     "Now, now little ones," the mother spider said to the youngsters, "We are not allowed inside the rooms to see the tree. We are to stay here in the corner of the attic."
     "But mom, please, please let us just peek." the young spiders begged the mother spider. "We promise we will be very quiet and not wake up the humans."
      "Well, alright." the mother spider relented. "But we must wait until the humans are all in bed asleep. Then we shall all creep out to get a closer look at the Christmas tree."
     Just a few minutes past nine o'clock at night, all the people were fast asleep in their cozy beds. At once, all the spiders came out of their corners and rushed to see the tree. Even the adult spiders felt the thrill of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them.
     They slowly crept closer ansd closer to the Christmas tree. They were so captivated by the beauty of it. With all the lights, the ornaments, and even the smell delighted them, that they spent all night in the tree crawling up and down and round and round. They could not hold back their urge to weave pretty and delicate spider webs all over the tree as they danced from branch to branch.
      Then, in the wee morning hours, they heard something coming close to the tree. The spiders all hide deep inside the branches, worried the people woke up and would be angry at the webs they spread all over the tree.
     But it was the Christ child who approached the tree. "Well now, what have we here?" the Christ child asked in amazement. "It seems some creatures had a bit of a celebration. The mother worked hard all day to make everything perfect and she will be quite displeased about the webs the spiders have woven. But they are God's creatures so I can't allow her to harm them."
     Then with a heart full of love and a soft, gentle smile, the Christ child gently touched the spider webs and they began to give off a beautiful shimmering sparkle of gold and silver. The colors were so bright that it made the Christmas tree look even more beautiful than before.
     It is said that this is how tinsel became a popular Christmas tree decoration. Some people will also hang a plastic spider in remembrance of the devoted little spiders who worked hard that Christmas Eve.

CHRISTMAS LEGEND (Legend of the Sage Plant)

Legend of the Sage Plant
     King Herod was outraged when he heard that the ancient prophecy of the birth of the Messiah and future King of the Jews will be born in his country.
      Herod was a cruel and heartless King who wanted to find this Christ child and kill Him before He takes over. But King Herod didn't know where to find the baby Jesus. Therefore, he ordered his soldiers to find and kill all little boys who were born and were under the age of two.
     However, an angel appeared to Joseph, the father of the baby Jesus, and warned Joseph of Herod's plans. Joseph was instructed to gather Mary and the baby and flee to Eygpt where they will be safe. Therefore, Joseph and Mary took the baby, with a donkey, and they began their travel to Eygpt.
     On the way, Mary became very tired and was thirsty. The baby Jesus needed to be nursed and the donkey also needed water. 
     "Dear, may we stop and rest for a while?" Mary asked Joseph. "I'm very tired and thirsty and I need to feed the baby."
     "Yes, I understand, dear." Joseph lovingly replied. "You rest here and feed the baby. I will go into the nearest town and gather water to bring back for you and the donkey."
     Joseph headed into the nearest town as Mary sat alongside the road feeding the Holy Child. Suddenly, Mary heard shouts and cries and the noises of horse hooves approaching. Her heart began to tremble. She became terrified that she and the baby would be found. She knew if they were found the soldiers would immediately cut the throat of baby Jesus.
     There were no caves or trees nearby where she could hide. But she was determined to take refuge to save her baby.
     Nearby, Mary spotted a rose bush in bloom. She ran toward it, "Mrs. Rose Bush, I am on my way to Eygpt but had to stop to nurse my baby." She spoke as she frantically looked all around . "My husband went to gather water for the donkey and I, but King Herod's soldiers are coming to kill my baby. Will you be so kind as to allow me to hide behind you until his men leave?"
     "Oh my, how terrible!" the proud rose bush replied. "It's just too dangerous! I don't think I'm big enough to hide you. Those soldiers are very cruel men and if they see you behind me they will crush me. I'm sorry but I just can't help you."
     As Mary rushed off to find another place to hide, the rose began to grow thorns and has ever since.
     Mary came upon a clove bush. "Excuse me, Mr. Clove Bush, you have so many beautiful flowers. King Herod's men are coming to kill my baby. Please, I beg you, let me hide behind you until the men pass?" Mary asked in desperation.
     "I'm sorry for your misfortune," said the clove bush, "but I'm too busy putting out beautiful blooms. I can't be concerned with trying to hide you and the baby from the soldiers."
     Again Mary rushed away seeking someplace for refuge. Meanwhile, the flowers on the clove began to have an unpleasant fragrance and they never gained a pleasing scent ever since.
     The only plant that remained was the Sage plant.
     Mary was now becoming very fearful and desperate as the soldier's were drawing very near. "Mr. Sage," Mary now beginning to weep spoke, "I beg you, please help me and my child. I'm in desperate need of a place for my child and I to hide. King Herod's soldier's are coming to kill my baby if they find us."
     Sage was very kind and compassionate toward Mary, "Yes, yes, of course, I shall help you." The sage plant answered.
     Just then, as Mary and the baby sat behind the sage plant it began to bloom abundantly. It created a magnificent canopy for Mary and the Christ child.
     The soldier's were not able to see them and rode passed them, never suspecting a thing.
     Since that time, the sage plant is considered sacred and is believed to cleanse homes, territories and people of all evil.

MORAL STORY (Love For Christmas)

Love For Christmas
     Once upon a time there lived a very poor couple. As Christmas was nearing the old man asked his wife, "Honey, I know we don't have much money but surely there is something I can get you for Christmas. What would you like?"
     His wife, who had very long hair replied, "Honey, just having you with me will be sufficient. But if you really want to get me something I would love to have a comb so that I can take care of my long hair."
     The man felt very sad but said, "Well, I know a comb does not cost much but a comb for your hair will be a little expensive because your hair is so long and thick. I will have to buy a special comb." Then he solemnly looked at the ground as he continued to speak. "I don't even have money to fix the strap on my watch."
     As the man was on his way to work, he passed by a watch shop, sold his damaged watch and went to a store to buy a special comb for his wife.
     When the work day was over, he was very surprised when he arrived home and saw his wife with very short hair. "Honey, what happened? Whay did you cut your hair?"
     At that point, she pulled out a brand new watch band, "I cut my hair then sold it so I could have money to buy this new strap for your watch. I had no other way of getting the money."
     He held out the comb he had bought for her. "Oh dear, I sold my watch so I could get the money to buy the comb you wanted."
     They both laughed, then they joyfully cried at the thought that they both loved each other enough to sacrifice something so they could get a special gift for the other.
MORAL:  To love is required, to be loved is something special, but to love and to be loved by the one you love ... that is EVERYTHING!

CHRISTMAS LEGEND (The Christmas Candle)

The  Christmas Candle
    Throughout medieval Europe, a very large candle called the Christmas candle was burned until the twelfth night. In remembrance of the arrival of the Wise Men to Bethlehem.
     In Victorian times, candles represented good will for those less fortunate and were placed in windows December 25 to January 6 to welcome any passerby needing shelter and food.
     Certain beliefs were attached to candles. Some people believed the flames from the burning candles frightened away evil spirits during the darkest days of the year.
     The Norwegians believed that Christmas candles must not burn out on Christmas Eve or bad luck would plague the family. Legends tell us that candles in windows guide the Christ Child as He wanders from house to house on Christmas Eve looking for a place to stay. Thus, no traveler can be turned away on Christmas Eve in case the Christ Child might come by.
     The custom of lighting candles on trees indoors started in Germany. To them, the candles represented the stars and is one custom that founded its way to America.
     Today, especially at Christmas, candles signify the message of the season. A candle burning in the window of some Christian homes symbolically lights the way of the Holy family, as well as welcomed guests.

Saturday, December 22, 2012


The Hero's Way
If I could walk across this sand,
Ten thousand miles to hold your hand,
To you I'd run 'til Christmas Day!
But this is not the hero's way.
Together we'll be, the day is near,
So wait for me, not one more tear,
And think of me when you trim the tree,
As I pray for you on bended knee.
My gift for you is standing post,
For family, for country, for the Heavenly Host,
Our Christmas reunion may be far apart,
But you are with me in mind and heart.
There is no time for a soldier's rest,
For you each day we give our best,
I long to be with you this Christmas Day,
But that is not the hero's way.

 Special thank you
goes out to all
the men and women
for their unselfish service
to keep us safe.
We pray you will be home soon!


Thursday, December 20, 2012

CHRISTMAS LEGEND (Legend of the Evergreen Tree)

Legend of the Evergreen Tree
     One winter, when the birds were all flying south, one little bird broke it's wing on the way and was left behind. Soon, frost and snow covered the forest and she became cold and hungry.
     She begged the trees of the forest, "Could you please help me? I was flying south with the others but my wing broke. I cannot fly anymore and I'm very cold and hungry. Please let me stay in your branches until it is healed and I am able to fly again."
     However, the trees are not always kind.
     The birch tree was proud of being beautiful and it haughtily replied, "I'm sorry but I can't possibly allow you to stay in my branches. I have to look after the birds in the forest first, so there isn't enough room for you."
     The strong oak tree was also reluctant and told the bird, "I would help you but I'm afraid you will have to live here until springtime and you will eat my acorns."
     The willow, although it appeared so nice and gentle, only ignored the bird. It would not speak to her and refused to help.
     The bird was very distressed and didn't know what she was going to do. She needed to find shelter before the elements of winter came. Again she tried to fly but was unable to do so because of her broken wing.
     The spruce tree saw the bird struggling and asked, "Why are you so downcast?"
     "I was flying south with the other birds so we could stay warm for the winter, but then somehow I broke my wing. Now I'm not able to fly anymore and the other birds have continued to go on." said the little bird, while trying to hold back her tears. "I just need a warm place to stay until my wing heals and I am able to fly again but none of the trees will allow me to stay in their branches. I'm so very cold and hungry. Can you please help me?"
     The spruce tree then replied, "I have some of the thickest, softest and warmest branches of all trees. You are welcome to stay on any branch you like."
     The little bird gave a sigh of relief and said, "Oh thank you so much, Mr. Spruce tree. You are so kind." She was very grateful and fluttered around the branches seeking a comfortable branch to claim as her very own.
     Nearby, a big and strong pine tree witnessed the kindness of the spruce tree and he was inspired to also volunteer so he decided he would protect the bird and the spruce tree.
     "The North Winds can be very brutal, especially to a small spruce tree such as yourself."  the pine tree said. "But I will stand before you and shelter you all throughout the winter from such harsh winds."
     Also nearby was a small juniper tree who also became inspired. "What about me?" the juniper tree asked. "I want to help, too. I have berries for you to eat when you are hungry."
     So the little bird lived comfortably there and waited until springtime when her wing would be healed and she will be able to once again fly.
     The Frost King noticed the actions of all the trees and strictly instructed the North Winds, "You are not to touch even a single leaf on the spruce, pine and juniper trees. I have witnessed their kindness to the injured bird."
     Then as the Frost King glanced toward the other trees, he 
growled to the North Winds, "As for the birch, oak and willow trees, do what you wish. They were selfish, uncaring and very unkind to the injured bird. I will not allow that in my forest." 
     The North Winds soon entered the forest and wrecked havoc with the leaves of the birch, oak and willow trees. They especially enjoyed plucking the shining, green leaves of these trees and leaving them bare for the winter with nothing to protect them from snow, rain or sleet.
     Because of the kindness the spruce, pine and juniper tree showed towards the bird, the trees are always green and are known as Evergreen trees.
INSIGHT: Evergreens are known to represent eternal life. Their branches grow upwards symbolizing their worship and praise to God.

CHRISTMAS LEGEND (Legend of the Christmas Robin)

Legend of the Christmas Robin
     One Christmas night, it was extrememly cold and a cold breeze constantly blew into the stable where Mary lay with the baby Jesus. The fire in the stable, the only source of heat for the baby, was about to go out so Mary asked the nearby animals for help.
     She asked the sleeping ox, the tired donkey and the sheep, but they were either asleep and couldn't be woken or they just refused to help.
     Suddenly, Mary heard the sound of flapping wings. A robin had heard Mary's cry for help and had flown to the stable to see how he could assist.
   The robin noticed the fire about to go out and began flapping his wings hard at the dying embers of fire. He flapped and flapped until the fire was rekindled and bright with red and yellow flames. He continued to fan the flame, flapping hard so that the fire never went out and it kept baby Jesus warm.
     To be sure the fire stayed alive, the robin used his beak and dropped some dry sticks into the fire. This caused the fire to suddenly rise and it burnt the birds breast.
     But, despite the burns he received, the bird continued fanning so that the Christ Child could be kept warm and sleep comfortably.
     Mary humbly thanked the robin for his effort and looked at his breast, which by now was red with the burn, and she blessed him for his deed of valor and selflessness.
FAST FACT: Robins are regarded as the traditional symbol of the UK and can often be found on greeting cards and gift wrappings.

CHRISTMAS LEGEND (Legend of the Stork)

Legend of the Stork
     Mary lay in a stable in Bethlehem, with baby Jesus, surrounded by many birds and beasts that came to greet the LORD of the world.
     The wild animals stood at a distance and just hoped for nothing more than to get a glimpse of the newborn King, while the rest of the animals humbly knelt beside Him.
     Among those kneeling, stood a long-legged stork with soft, white, downy feathers. He was awed by the sight of baby Jesus lying on top the straw. Although, the bird could not offer any crown or jewels, he gave the ultimate gift --- he gave of himself by plucking his feathers so the Christ Child could lay on it as a pillow.
     Baby Jesus smiled with gratitude and blessed the stork.
     Ever since that time, storks have been a symbol of birth. They are associated with baby items and baby showers and are sometimes referred to as "patron of babies."
     So, you see, selfless service of the stork earned him fame. But he wasn't seeking fame, he just wanted Jesus to be comfortable. He did what no other animal, except the robin, could even think of.
Christmas is meant to be a time of selflessness  and giving.  It doesn't have to be anything        outlandish.  As the legend of the stork and the    Christmas robin teaches us --- giving of             ourselves is the noblest of gifts and expresses the true Spirit of Christmas.