Thursday, December 27, 2018

The Journeys Saga Coming Soon to This Blog

Beginning after New Year's, I will be posting segments from my newest books, "Journeys Beyond the Peaks" here on this blog.  These books are a spin-off of "The Peaks at the Edge of the World" Saga. By the way, the first three revised books of the Peaks Saga are now available, and the other four will be released by the end of 2019.

The new books are being referred to as "The Journeys Saga".  They include offspring of some of the main characters in The Peaks Saga.  There is time-travel, too--but this time it is into the past, through the characters distant ancestors.

"Journeys Beyond the Peaks" has already been registered with the US Copyright Office.  Eventually, it will be available for sale, but for now you can get a preview here.  If you happen to get on and it seems like you're in the middle of the story, just go back into my blog registry and click on one of the archived blogs.  Their labels will include the title "Journeys Saga". 

Sunday, December 23, 2018

O Come, Emmanuel

The Great O Antiphons were Latin Chant from the 12th century.  One for each of the seven days leading up to Christmas Eve.  In the 19th century, John Mason Neale took these chants and put them into carol form.  We know them as the lyrics to "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel."  Not all hymnals print all seven verses, but if you want to see them, I recommend looking in a Lutheran hymnal.  Our newest book, the Lutheran Service Book (LSB) has the Great O's also printed, in English, on page 357. 

The final Great O, for Dec. 23: "O Emmanuel, our King and Lord, the anointed for the nations and their Savior: Come and save us, O Lord, our God."
And the English translation by John M. Neale: "O Come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel, that mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear: Rejoice, rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel."
Emmanuel means "God with us."  What better way to say that when all is said and done, Jesus loves you.  Wishing you and yours a Blessed Christmas.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Christmas Belongs in December

Some people say the Third Century Church shouldn't have put the celebration of Christ's Birth (Christ's Mass--or Christmas) in December when the Pagan festivals of the Winter Solstice took place.  But I disagree.

What better time to celebrate the arrival of the Light of the World, than in the darkest time of the year?  The return of longer days and shorter nights, gradual though it is, reassures us that God has not given up on this messed-up world and left us to eternal darkness.

The Jewish Festival of Lights--Hanukkah--is also observed this time of year. I think this is no coincidence, for it's a celebration of a miracle God gave to his suffering people, to remind them he was still with them.  When Jesus was on earth, he even went to this festival in Jerusalem.  It's recorded in at least one of the Gospels.

I know that Saturnalia, the Roman winter festival, was a drunken, rowdy time--based on the idea, "Eat, drink, and be merry--for tomorrow you may die."  That's true. Even in our modern world, we still see the image of the God Saturn, as the Old Year, the Grim Reaper with his long handled scythe. But Christmas is here to remind us that there is still hope at the other end of the Valley of the Shadow of Death.   

Monday, December 10, 2018

What Manner of Child is This?

Midwinter's Day is fast approaching. I ran across a neat quote by an unknown person today.  It's in a book I've had for at least 20 years called "Amazing Grace:  366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions" by Kenneth W. Osbeck (copyright 1990).

This quote is in a devotion on the Christmas hymn, "What Child Is This?"

"He who is the Bread of Life began his ministry hungering.  He who is the Water of Life ended his ministry thirsty.  Christ hungered as man, yet fed multitudes as God.  He was weary, yet he is our rest.  He prayed, yet he hears our prayers.  He was sold for thirty pieces of silver, yet he redeems sinners.  He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, yet he was the Good Shepherd.  He died, and by dying destroyed death."

That pretty much says it all, I think. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Reflections on Snow

Snow...I've lived in places that get a lot of it.  Like Ashton, Idaho--where about four feet on the level was an average winter.  Michigan, where lake effect could dump a couple of feet in a couple of hours.  And I will admit I never liked driving in it, especially after I slid off Montana Highway 37 one day between Rexford and Eureka.

But now, I find myself wishing for it. No, I'm not a skier, though there has been some cross-country skiing in the past.  Maybe it's because I'm retired...

I have two theories on this.  My current one is I'm reverting to my childhood.  I grew up in southern Arkansas (until I turned 11).  I never say snow until I was past five years old.  It was amazing!  I remember running out to touch and being surprised that it was cold.  Maybe I was expecting that cottony stuff they put in the store windows to look like snow.

It never snowed at Christmas in Arkansas, but my two younger brothers and I always secretly wished for it.  Dad helped this along by playing his old 78-rpm Bing Crosby record every Christmas Eve.  It was "White Christmas" of course!

When we moved to northern Illinois in 1963, I had my first actual white Christmas, and the house we were renting even had some old sleds in the garage.  What fun we had!  I guess this is my current state of mind--looking for ways to find joy in life, as the years fly past me.  Being back in Montana and seeing the snow-covered mountains is wonderful.  And I am thankful for the old memories, too.