The House of Christmas by G.K. Chesterton

There fared a mother driven forth
Out of an inn to roam
In the place where she was homeless
All men are at home.
The crazy stable close at hand,
With shaking timber and shifting sand,
Grew a stronger thing to abide and stand
Than the square stones of Rome.

For men are homesick in their homes,
And strangers under the sun,
And they lay their heads in a foreign land
Whenever the day is done.
Here we have battle and blazing eyes,
And chance and honor and high surprise,
But our homes are under miraculous skies
Where the yule tale was begun.

A Child in a foul stable,
Where the beasts feed and foam,
Only where He was homeless
Are you and I at home;
We have hands that fashion and heads that know,
But our hearts we lost – how long ago!
In a place no chart nor ship can show
Under the sky’s dome.

This world is wild as an old wives’ tale,
And strange the plain things are,
The earth is enough and the air is enough
For our wonder and our war;
But our rest is as far as the fire-drake swings
And our peace is put in impossible things
Where clashed and thundered unthinkable wings
Round an incredible star.

To an open house in the evening
Home shall men come,
To an older place than Eden
And a taller town than Rome.
To the end of the way of the wandering star,
To the things that cannot be and that are,
To the place where God was homeless
And all men are at home.

Gilbert Keith Chesterton

Christmas Carols: O Little Town of Bethlehem

O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee to-night.

O morning stars, together
Proclaim the holy birth!
And praises sing to God the King,
And peace to men on earth.
For Christ is born of Mary
And gathered all above,
While mortals sleep the Angels keep
Their watch of wondering love.

How silently, how silently,
The wondrous gift is given;
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His Heaven.
No ear may hear His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still,
The dear Christ enters in.

Where children pure and happy
Pray to the blessed Child,
Where misery cries out to Thee,
Son of the Mother mild;
Where Charity stands watching
And Faith holds wide the door,
The dark night wakes, the glory breaks,
And Christmas comes once more.

O holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us, we pray!
Cast out our sin and enter in,
Be born in us to-day.
We hear the Christmas angels,
The great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord Emmanuel!

The Small Catechism of Martin Luther by Philip Hoppe

Pastor Philip Hoppe has made a very nice use of Prezi to introduce people to the Small Catechism. Any Lutheran will find handy uses for this with fellow church members, family, friends, online acquaintances, and others.

Transcript of The Small Catechism

The Small Catechism
A book of questions and answers that answers briefly the question, “What does the Bible teach?”
Written by Martin Luther because he found most people did not know the basics of the faith.
Written for fathers and pastors to teach their familes and flocks.
What is the Small Catechism?
Shows how God’s people are to live.
Reveals that we do not live as we should.
Leads us to despair of earning our own salvation.
Leaves us in need of a Savior outside of ourselves.
The Ten Commandments
Reveals to us our Savior God
Reveals to us that he is Triune, three persons in one God.
The Father creates, The Son redeems, The Holy Spirit sanctifies

The Creed
Teaches us about life with God.
Teaches us how to talk to our Heavenly Father.
Tells us what is important in this world and the next.
Teaches us how God first brings us the salvation Jesus won for us at the cross.
Reveals that our old man has been killed.
Reveals that a new man has been raised up to live a new life.
The Sacrament of
Holy Baptism
Reminds us what to do with the sins that continue after Baptism
Reminds us that pastors are given to us in order that forgiveness might be delivered to us so that we can live with a clear conscience.
Confession
Assures us that Christ comes to us in his Body and Blood
Reveals to us why weekly gathering to receive this gift is critical to faith.
Proclaims Christ’s death until He comes.
The Lord’s Supper
Daily Prayers
Morning
Evening
Asking a Blessing
Returning Thanks
Table of Duties
Pastor and People
Government and Citizens
Husbands and Wives
Parents and Children
Bosses and Employees
Youth
Widows
Everyone
Christian Questions
with Their Answers
A series of questions that leads one through what the catechism has taught them about faith and life in preparation for receiving the Lord’s Supper.
The Lord’s Prayer

 

HT, T.R. Halverson, lutherancatechism.com

Christmas Carol: The Holly & Ivy


Holly’s prickly leaves represent the crown of thorns that Jesus wore when he was crucified. The berries show the drops of blood that were shed by Jesus because of the thorns. Ivy has to cling to something to support itself as it grows, reminding people to cling to God for support in our lives. Like Christmas trees, they both keep their green leaves into the winter unlike much of the vegetation in the northern lands, which reminds people of everlasting life.

The holly and the ivy,
When they are both full grown,
Of all the trees that are in the wood,
The holly bears the crown.

The holly bears a blossom,
As white as the lily flower,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ,
To be our sweet Saviour.

The holly bears a berry,
As red as any blood,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
For to do us sinners good.

The holly bears a prickle,
As sharp as any thorn,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
On Christmas Day in the morn.

The holly bears a bark,
As bitter as any gall,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
For to redeem us all.

The holly and the ivy,
When they are both full grown,
Of all the trees that are in the wood,
The holly bears the crown.

A Heart-warming Christmas Story: Love Lays Bare

LOVE LAYS BARE

It was a bitterly cold Christmas eve in Korea in 1952. A pregnant young mother, Bak Yoon, hobbled through the snow toward the home of a missionary friend where she knew she could find help. Tears of sorrow froze on her face as she mourned her husband. He had recently been killed in the Korean War, and she had no one else to turn to. A short way down the road from her missionary friend’s house was a deep gully spanned by a bridge. As Bak Yoon stumbled forward, birth pains suddenly overcame her. She fell, realizing that she could go no further, and crawled under the end of the bridge. There, alone, under the bridge, her baby boy was born.
Bak Yoon had nothing with her except her heavy, padded clothes. One by one she removed all pieces of her clothing and wrapped them around her tiny son, still connected to her body by his umbilical cord. Then feeling exhausted she lay back in the snow beside her baby.
The next morning Miss Watson, long-time missionary, drove across the bridge in her car to take a Christmas basket of food to a needy Korean family. On her way back, as she got near the bridge, the car sputtered and died – out of gasoline.
She got out of the car and started across the bridge. Through crunching snow under her feet she heard another sound – a baby’s faint cry. She stopped, unbelieving, and heard the cry again. “It’s coming from beneath this bridge!” She crawled under the bridge to investigate and there she found a tiny, bundled baby, warm but hungry, and young Bak Yoon frozen in death. With a knife from her tool box she cut the cord and took the baby home with her. After caring first for the child, she, along with some helpers, brought Bak Yoon’s body back to near where she lived and buried her there.
She named the baby Soo Park, and adopted him. He was strong and healthy and so grew up among many other orphan children that Miss Watson cared for. But to her, Soo Park was special. She often told him, “Your mother had great love for you, Soo Park,” and about how she had proved that love. He never tired of hearing of his beautiful mother.
On Christmas day, his 12th birthday, snow was falling. After the children had helped Soo Park celebrate his birthday, he came and sat beside Miss Watson.
“Mother Watson, do you think God made your car run out of gasoline the day you found me?” he asked.
“Perhaps He did,” she answered. “If that car hadn’t stopped, I would not have found you. But I am so glad it stopped. I love you and am very proud of you, Soo Park.” She put her arms around him.

He rested his head against her. “Mother Watson, will you please take me out to my mother’s grave? I want to pray there. I want to thank her for my life.”

“Yes, but put on your heavy coat. It’s very cold.”

Beside the grave, Soo Park asked Mother Watson to wait at a little distance. She walked aside and waited. As the astonished missionary watched, the boy began to take off his warm clothing, piece by piece.

Surely he won’t take off all his clothing! she thought. He’ll freeze! But the boy stripped himself of everything, laid it all on his mother’s grave, and knelt naked and shivering in the snow.

She waited one minute, two minutes. Then she put her gloved hand on his snow covered shoulder. “Come, Soo Park. Your mother in Heaven sees how much you love her. I will help you dress.”

Then in deep sorrow he cried out to the mother he never knew: “Were you colder than this for me, my mother?” And he wept bitterly because he knew of course, she was.
Jesus stripped himself of his royal garments to come and live among us. Was he that cold for us? Surely we never have to wonder if he loves us, or even how much he loves us. He demonstrated that to us nearly 2000 years ago. Celebrate in his love.

From The Short Circuit, a student publication of Asbury Theological Seminary, Volume 86, Dec. 6th, 1986, No. 11

Heart-warming Christmas Story: Two Babes in a Manger

  

In 1994, two Americans answered an invitation from the Russian Department of Education to teach morals and ethics in the public schools. They were invited to teach at prisons, businesses, the fire and police departments and a large orphanage.  About 100 boys and girls who had been abandoned, abused, and left in the care of a government-run program, were in the orphanage. They relate the following story in their own words:

It was nearing the holiday season, 1994, time for our orphans to hear, for the first time, the traditional story of Christmas. We told them about  Mary and Joseph arriving in Bethlehem. Finding no room in the inn, the couple went to a stable, where the baby Jesus was born and placed in a manger.

Throughout the story, the children and orphanage staff sat in amazement as they listened. Some sat on the edges of their stools, trying to grasp every word. Completing the story, we gave the children three small pieces of cardboard to make a crude manger. Each child was given a small paper square, cut from yellow napkins I had brought with me. No colored paper was available in the city.

Following instructions, the children tore the paper and carefully laid strips in the manger for straw. Small squares of flannel, cut from a  worn-out nightgown an American lady was throwing away as she left Russia, were used for the baby’s blanket. A doll-like baby was cut from tan felt we had brought from the United States. The orphans were busy assembling their manger as I walked among them to see if they needed any help. All went well until I got to one table where little Misha sat.
He looked to be about 6 years old and had finished his project. As I looked at the little boy’s manger, was startled to see not one, but two babies in the manger.

Quickly, I called for the translator to ask the lad why there were two babies in the manger. Crossing his arms in front of him and looking at this completed manger scene, the child began to repeat the story very seriously. For such a young boy, who had only heard the Christmas story once, he related the happenings accurately-until he came to the part where Mary put the baby Jesus in the manger. Then Misha started to ad-lib. He made up his own ending to the story as he said, “And when Maria laid the baby in the  manger, Jesus looked at me and asked me if I had a place to stay.

“I told him I have no mamma and I have no papa, so I don’t have any place to stay. Then Jesus told me I could stay with him. But I told him I couldn’t, because I didn’t have a gift to give him like everybody else did. But I wanted to stay with Jesus so much, so I thought about what I had that maybe I could use for a gift. I thought maybe if I kept him warm, that would be a good gift.

“So I asked Jesus, “If I keep you warm, will that be a good enough gift?” And Jesus told me, “If you keep me warm, that will be the best gift anybody ever gave me.”

“So I got into the manger, and then Jesus looked at me and he told me I could stay with him—for always.” As little Misha finished his story, his eyes brimmed full of tears that splashed down his little cheeks. Putting his hand over his face, his head dropped to the table and his shoulders shook as he sobbed and sobbed.

The little orphan had found someone who would never abandon nor abuse him, someone who would stay with him-FOR ALWAYS. I’ve learned that it’s not what you have in your life, but who you have in your life that counts.

Be joyful always; pray continually;

give thanks in all circumstances,

for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 

I Thessalonians 5:16-18