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Friday, December 16, 2011

"Fear Not"

"And the angel said to them, 'Fear not...' Luke 2:10"

I want to remember these heaven-sent words
Each time I face a challenge:
"Fear not..."
God fulfills His Word flawlessly;
When He calls me to a task,
I can trust
That He will be faithful to accomplish it
Through His Spirit
Living and working in me.

I will depend on Him--
Not on my own energy, ability, or experience.
Relying on His strength and promised faithfulness,
I can face any storm and weather it with joy,
Confident that God will equip me for the task
And accomplish all that He asks of me.

Kathy Graumann
December 16, 2011

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Jesus, Our Immanuel

A Haiku Poem

Our Immanuel --
The God of the universe
Residing in us.

He's our Shekhinah --
The incarnate Messiah
Who lived among us.

Born of a virgin,
Jesus became one of us
To atone for sin.

Holy and blameless,
Son of God and Son of Man,
The Word became flesh.

Acquainted with grief,
He was wounded for our sin,
Suffering death's curse.

He's our sin-bearer,
The Lamb of God sacrificed:
Sin's penalty paid.

His death made amends
For our sin, once and for all;
Jesus' death saved us.

In awe of His grace,
Our souls magnify the Lord
In worship and praise.

Divine mystery,
A high and holy treasure,
God now lives in us.

He shares our sorrows,
And brings His healing Presence;
He's our greatest Hope.

His Presence instills
Life-giving courage daily,
Grace beyond measure.

Genuine gladness:
Contagious joy is the fruit
Of God's indwelling.

As we celebrate
The birth of Christ this Christmas,
May your heart rejoice.

Be blessed with His Peace
And divine Presence in you;
Share the joy Christ gives.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

German-Scandinavian Christmas Memories

Christmas in the Werner parsonage of my childhood was a festive celebration of the birth of Jesus. Wrapped in the traditions of my European forebears who traveled to America from Germany and Denmark, my parents and seven younger siblings and I embraced the spirit of Christmas with infectious gaiety from the first Sunday in Advent until our eyelids closed upon an Epiphany night.

The first Sunday in Advent ushered in the season of celebration as the Christmas tree was decorated in our home, stockings were hung, and a plate of homemade cookies was set out to persuade a nightly treat in each child’s stocking from Saint Nicholas.

The fragrances of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and anise titillated our senses throughout the season, enveloping our home as many busy hands rolled out, kneaded, and baked lebküchen, pfefferneuse, springerle, and stöllen for Christmas gift-giving and kaffee klatches with family and friends.

The annual Christmas photo became the centerpiece of our family’s Christmas card that was mailed to a host of family and friends. Christmas cards, joyfully received, framed the doors of each room in our home.

The carols of Christmas floated through our home and Lutheran parochial school as meticulous preparations were made for the children’s Christmas Eve program. Christmas dresses were sewn and new shoes were bought as recitations were practiced and music was memorized. Snow on the ground as we walked to church often heightened the brilliance of the special night. Carrying home a brown paper bag laden with fresh fruit and nuts brought squeals of glee to children hurrying home after the worship service.

Before any gift from under the tree was unwrapped, my siblings and I re-enacted the Christmas story in our home, dressed in costume, listening to the reading of Scripture from Luke 2. A heavenly family ensemble saturated every corner of our home as cello, flutes, violin, trumpets, piano, and voice raised a chorus together in praise of the birth of the Christ Child.

On Christmas morning the early risers among us eagerly assembled every family member at the top of the staircase to begin singing “Joy to the World” as we processed downstairs to see what Santa Claus had brought to us during the night. Christmas stöllen was the highlight of our Christmas morning breakfast. The merry spirit of Christmas gratitude continued through Epiphany when the decorations were tucked away for another year, but the beautiful sights, sounds, and scents of the season have been able to be gently unwrapped and caressed over and over again in the file cabinets of my mind.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Writing Instruction

December 8, 2011

A Haiku Poem

At academic
Coaching this week at Salem,
I had the pleasure

Of helping students
Maximize their writing skills
In preparation

For the Private Schools
Interscholastic Contest
In Ready Writing.

Throughout the course of
Instruction, honing their skills,
Using examples

Of various styles,
I have advised the students
To never neglect

To keep the main thing
The main thing, remembering
To reveal their point,

Expressing it well.
What is it they have to say
That someone would want

To take time to read?
Is it worth being written?
Is there real value?

Get the point across
By the use of resources
And illustrations.

A topic sentence
Conveys your main idea.
The next sentences

Support your topic.
Re-emphasize your topic
In the last sentence.

Be careful about
Neatness, spelling, grammar, and
Punctuation marks.

Organize writing,
Conform to standard usage;
Provide interest.

Capture the reader’s
Interest in the first line;
Grab their attention.

Use verbs, adjectives,
And words that create pictures
In the reader’s mind.

Revise your writing;
Edit for sentence structure,
Consistent verb tense,

Spelling, word usage,
And subject/verb agreement.
Read your work aloud.

Is there excitement
In the words you have chosen?
I am proud of you.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Gifts of the Magi

The Wise Men brought gold
To honor the infant King;
High esteem was shown.

Frankincense given
Demonstrated Jesus' role
As our great High Priest.

As our "pontiface,"
Jesus is the Bridge Builder,
Or Mediator

Between us and God,
Who offered His sinless self
To atone for sin.

Jesus still fulfills
His priesthood, interceding
For us before God.

Myrrh, a costly gift
Used mostly at burials,

Spoke of Jesus' death
And His role as Redeemer,
Laying down His life

So we could be saved
From separation from God
In eternity.

How do I respond?
The Wise Men came to worship,
Humbly bowing down

To the Messiah,
Honoring Him as High Priest,
Redeemer, and King.

What gifts shall I bring
To honor my Redeemer,
My High Priest, and King?

I will honor Christ
As sovereign over life
And all creation.

He walked among men
So that we could walk with Him
Through eternity.

The Magi journeyed
To worship the newborn King
In Bethlehem town.

This Christmas, I, too,
Will worship the King of kings
And the Lord of lords.

I will give to Him
An offering of worship
All throughout my life.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Six Funerals

Within two weeks' time,
Six funerals in our church;
Loved ones gone from us.

While tears flow freely
As their presence we will miss,
We're not without hope.

They believed in God;
They all loved the Lord Jesus:
Their faith was secure.

They now see Jesus,
Communing with all the saints,
Praising God with joy.

One day we'll see them
In the heavenly mansions
When God calls us home.

Then, we'll see Jesus
And caress His nail-pierced hands
As we kneel in awe.

Praise our Redeemer
Who won for us salvation!
Heaven is our home.