December 17th, 2017
A cantata is choir music that tells a story in sections. The Christmas cantata, first performed in Italy, tells the music of the angels, shepherds and cradle songs of Christmas.
If you haven’t experienced a Christmas cantata, many incorporate narrations connecting the songs to create the whole story. Christmas cantatas are popular across Italy, France, Germany, Romania … and in America this 3rd week of Advent This weekend I spent time practicing for our annual cantata performance.
The most well-known cantatas are those of Johann Sebastian Bach. However, we are singing Lloyd Larson’s “Sing Joy to All the World” with the theme of “Come, Lord Jesus!” It celebrates the promise of joy that comes to those who wait, following the long dark night, the breaking of dawn brings joy for the new day. The music incorporates original melodies with familiar carols in a work that ranges from contemplative to celebratory that I hope everyone enjoys.
Invite the presence of God into your heart this season as you sing and celebrate with family and friends.
December 15th, 2017
For Christians, the birth of Jesus Christ has a deep spiritual significance, but that does not mean to say that we don’t enjoy jokes at Christmas:
Did you hear about the St Michael’s School nativity play? Two children were dressed as Mary and Joseph, and making their way to the inn at Bethlehem. Meanwhile on the other side of the stage, a lad in a shepherd’s outfit was on a mobile phone calling the inn to make a reservation.
It was the Sunday after Christmas at Mulliken United Methodist Church in Mulliken, Michigan. The Pastor was looking getting ready to pack away the nativity scene figures when he noticed the baby Jesus was missing from the scene. Immediately, Pastor Vaughn turned towards his phone in order to call the police. But as he was about to do so, he saw little Harry with a red wagon. And in the wagon was the little infant Jesus figure. Pastor Vaughn walked up to Harry and said, ‘Well, Harry, where did you get the little infant Jesus?’ Harry replied honestly, ‘I took him from the church, Pastor.’ ‘And why did you take him?’ With a sheepish smile, Harry said, ‘Well, about a week before Christmas I prayed to little Lord Jesus. I told him if he would bring me a red wagon for Christmas, I would give him a ride around the block in it.’
Young Andrew was watching his father, a Vicar, write a sermon for the Christmas service. ‘How do you know what to say?’ Andrew asked. ‘Why, God tells me’, the father replied. ‘Oh, then why do you keep crossing things out?’
December 13th, 2017
If you’re like me, you grew up seeing various nativity scenes in front of churches or a neighbor’s house. Nativity scenes can be found on Christmas cards, billboards and commercials. They’re everywhere this time of year. By now they are probably just part of the background.
But instead of just glancing over the, let’s take a few precious moments to focus on what makes up the nativity scene. For example:
The Star: God commissioned a special star to lead the wise men from the East to Jerusalem and then to Bethlehem. The Christmas star was God’s gift of direction – God’s travel guide for seekers. Look at your nativity star as a symbol of the fact that God has always provided a guide for those earnestly seeking Him throughout history.
The Stable: Look at the stable., quaint but nothing as great as the star. God choose the stable for His son to be born in to symbolize that Jesus wouldn’t be sheltered from the harsh realities of this world. He wasn’t sent here to live as the rich and famous without troubles, Jesus would experience life in all the boldness of our sin. Whatever we bring to Him – He’s been there! From the beginning in a stable.
The Manger: Don’t mistake the manger for an early bassinet, it was a far cry from that since it was a feeding trough. Ordinary farm equipment in every way. Because He was laid in a manger we know the word and the ordinary became extraordinary. That’s quite a transformation! The manger symbolizes what can happen to an ordinary man or woman when they cry out in repentance and Jesus changes their hearts.
The choice is simple. You can just observe another nativity scene go by on the screen, or you can stop in your tracks and worship Him. What will you choose to do this Christmas?
December 10th, 2017
Listening to Christmas music is one of the iconic ways to celebrate the season. And families get jolly by singing Christmas carols, so I couldn’t think of a better way to get into the Christmas spirit then by singing and listening to Christmas music. This afternoon I gathered with church friends and went to a local nursing home to sing Christmas carols.
The aides and nurses wheeled the residents into the lobby where we were going to sing. It was just a lovely holiday experience. I especially enjoyed seeing a few of the residents sing with us. There is something about singing while someone is singing to you at the same time. Combine that with the fact that they were songs about the birth of Jesus, what a marvelous feeling in that room!
After caroling I attended a Christmas dinner and Cantio Flute Quartet concert at St. Andrews Episcopal with friends. What a distinctive Christmas gala of lively conversation and favorite Christmas music. http://cantioflutes.com/
I hope you find ways to enjoy this luminous Christmas season. Let Christmas be a happy time; let music fill the air with chime and joyful songs galore.
December 8th, 2017
Have you ever heard of the Heavenly Air Force? Or maybe the Angel Harold? Probably not. But if you have children or grandchildren, or you work with kids, you can likely guess how such terms originated. As we all know, kids say the darndest things!
HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHO TO MARRY? -You got to find somebody who likes the same stuff. Like, if you like sports, she should like it that you like sports, and she should keep the chips and dip coming. — Alan, age 10
HOW CAN A STRANGER TELL IF TWO PEOPLE ARE MARRIED? You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to be yelling at the same kids. — Derrick, age 8
WHEN IS IT OKAY TO KISS SOMEONE? -When they’re rich. — Pam, age 7
IS IT BETTER TO BE SINGLE OR MARRIED? It’s better for girls to be single but not for boys. Boys need someone to clean up after them. — Anita, age 9 (bless you child)
HOW WOULD THE WORLD BE DIFFERENT IF PEOPLE DIDN’T GET MARRIED? There sure would be a lot of kids to explain, wouldn’t there? — Kelvin, age 8
HOW WOULD YOU MAKE A MARRIAGE WORK? Tell your wife that she looks pretty, even if she looks like a dump truck. — Ricky, age 10
December 6th, 2017
On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Matthew 2:11
We’ve all read the story in Matthew chapter 2 of the wise men following the star. Pastor preached on it last week for Advent. But I wonder … what if we followed a star that led us to a stable? What if suddenly after expecting something grand, you end up behind a barn? And there, instead of a palace and king on a throne, you find a baby in a manger? Nothing is as you anticipated. How would you react if you followed a star and found a stable? How is your conduct affected by the outcome of your expectations?
Seriously, imagine the disappointment the Magi might have felt when they finally ended up in Bethlehem. They’d visited Kind Herod’s palace to find out about this star and the child king to be born and probably a royal court.
Every one of us have had times in life when we’ve followed a star. Everything looked so promising, but we were to find out at the end that we were in a stable. Go back and look at what was written in your high school yearbook, have you met those goals? Some college kids graduate with their diplomas tucked under their arms ready to win the world – but quickly find out the jobs they wanted aren’t the ones they got.
Or maybe your stable was a relationship so full of promise, or a job where you were expecting a long due promotion. You get called into the office and are certain you’re about to get it only to be introduced to the new guy that got your promotion. In a daze you realize you were following a star and ended up in the stable.
Wise men of every age, when faced with a stable, don’t panic. They hold stead and know that God is there. A mature Christian sees God not only in palaces and pleasures, but also in the barnyards and stables of life.
Have you ever had a stable moment that changed your life? I’ve had plenty. Those are usually times He wants me to change direction and look at what’s in the stable. A baby that would save mankind, the same that the wise men found. Let’s be wise and look for God in the stable. Let’s bring Him our best and allow Him to change our direction to become greater than we are.
December 3rd, 2017
Lead’s historic Homestake Opera House invited the public to attend the kickoff event of the Christmas season – the 2017 Festival of Trees Vintage Holiday Celebration. This event is the oldest of its kind in the Black Hills, the original festival was hosted in 1982 in the “Theater Built by a Gold Mine.” It didn’t take long to see why it has continued as a popular Christmastime event in the mining community.
The Lead Opera House & Recreation Center was built in 1914 as a gift from the Homestake Mining company to the people of Lead and the surroundings communities. Phoebe Hearst, widow of Homestake co-founder George Hearst, played a major role in the facilities conception. Once a useful public entertainment and cultural center, the Opera House was hit with a disastrous fire in 1984. The beautiful building is being resurrected to productive use for the enrichment of the community at this time.
Spirits were bright amidst the charmingly decorated theater, while visitors enjoyed free cocoa, hot apple cider and cookies while touring the heavily decorated Christmas trees, wreaths and unique items for auction. The trees and wreathes were donated by opera house supporters from local Black Hills communities. http://www.homestakeoperahouse.org/
Cowboy and calf photo on canvas auction item.
Restored area of lobby
Horses in winter painting in auction. Beautiful
Homestake Opera House lobby
Homestake Opera House
Historic piano and instruments used prior to the 1984 fire that destroyed the opera house
Homestake Opera House lobby
May your season be festive and bright!
December 1st, 2017
Cringe worthy jokes & riddles to share at holiday parties ~ Tis the Season!
A woman went to the Post Office to buy stamps for her Christmas cards. Clerk: “What denomination?” Woman: “Oh, good heavens! Have we come to this? Well, give me 50 Baptist and 50 Catholic.”
A bicycle can’t stand on its own because it is two-tired.
A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.
Marathon runners with bad footwear suffer the agony of defeat.
When a clock is hungry it goes back four seconds.
The man who fell into an upholstery factory is now fully recovered.
You feel stuck with your debt if you can’t budge it.
He often broke into song because he couldn’t find the key.
Every calendar’s days are numbered.
Bakers trade bread recipes on a knead to know basis.
Santa’s helpers are subordinate clauses.
A merry Christmas to Ewe, and Ewe and Ewe!