December 21, 2014

Advent with Christina Rossetti (4)


Christina Rossetti’s most familiar poem for this season of the year was penned in 1872. She called it simply, “A Christmas Carol,” and it was first published in Scribner’s Monthly Magazine.

The poem weaves its wonder through the vivid use of contrast: overall, the hard, cold bleakness of winter vs. the warmth of a newborn baby; the transcendent greatness of God vs. the small space of a stable; the worthiness of One whom the highest angels worship vs. the simple motherly affection of Mary.

This poem/hymn is a treasure to be savored. May meditating upon it enrich your spirit in this final week of Advent.

In the bleak mid-winter
20130116_123202Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty,
Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim
Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk
And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Which adore.

Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air,
But only His mother
In her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss.

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart.

Here is a lovely rendition of the hymn by Quire Cleveland, conducted by Ross W. Duffin, performing at Trinity Cathedral, Cleveland OH. The tune was composed by Gustav Holst in 1906.

Saturday Ramblings: Dec. 20, 2014

cd3600-santa-gal-in-rambler-christmas-cardSaturday Ramblings: December 20, 2014

The big week is here, and as you can see from today’s pic, the jolly old elf is warming up the Rambler for his long gift-dispensing trip. Are you ready?

The Mrs. and I are scrambling this weekend to get things ready around here. We have guests coming from the east and the north, and then we’ll be heading south to Nashville, TN for a few days after the big day. We’ll have kids and grandkids, aunts and uncles, cousins and grand-dogs bunking down here in the farmhouse for Christmas itself and we’re looking forward to the company. But before then, there are dust bunnies to be swept, guest rooms to be made up, groceries to get, stockings to fill and gifts to wrap.

Because things are hustling and bustling around here so much, I’m going to count on you to help with some of the ramblings today. We’ll be asking you to tell us about your plans for the week and some of the specific things you enjoy about Christmas time. There’s no time to waste — let’s ramble!

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My Ancestors’ (not so great) Interaction with the Church (Part 2 – Dress Code Excommunication)

Frey Family - Lois at center top

Frey Family – Lois at center top

My Grandmother, Lois Grace Frey, was an extraordinary women. Her parents were pioneering missionaries to Africa with the Brethren in Christ in 1905. The Brethren in Christ were a branch of the Mennonite tree, with Wesleyan influences. My Great-grandfather, Harvey Jacob Frey, founded Mtshabezi mission in what is now known as Zimbabwe where he established a school for girls. The family returned to the U.S. in 1924, in order to give the children a high school education. When her parents returned to Africa, Lois stayed behind. She was accepted into Taylor University in Indiana where she graduated with a B.A. in 1930. This was at a time when very few women attended university.

LeslieGeorgeBarhamShe returned to Africa soon after graduation, where she was soon put to work training teachers for Mtshabezi mission. Her father passed away in 1936. Lois was in charge of the School when my Grandfather, Leslie George Barham showed up, asking if he could show movies to the children. They soon became good friends. My Grandfather was interested in doing Christian work in much more primitive conditions in what is now Zambia. He asked Lois if she would marry him and join him in this work, and she agreed.

This was where things got difficult. Her mission organization was against the marriage. Among the items that were raised was that my Grandfather was worldly, as evidenced by the fact that he wore a tie! She decided to follow her heart, and resigned from the organization, at which point her friends were ordered to “shun” her, and to have nothing further to do with her. They were told to ignore her, even if she passed them in the street. She was very hurt by this decision. I wonder if it might have turned out differently had my Great-grandfather still been alive.

House at KalunduMy Grandmother and Grandfather moved up to Zambia where they built a thatched roof house at Kalundu. Their nearest English speaking neighbors were 80 miles away. They faced danger from wild animals on a regular basis. Lions killed their cattle, and their kitchen was even invaded by lions one night. One pot was punctured by a lion’s teeth. Their dog was killed by a leopard as they walked a lady home one evening. My mother and uncle were born into this environment and faced many of the same dangers. On a lighter note: The family transport was a motorcycle that could fit all four family members at once!
CrocodileMy Grandfather’s first claim to fame occurred in 1932. He was asked to shoot a crocodile that had just killed a child. He found it, and shot it, and was posing for a picture while sitting on its back, when everyone took off running. He had only stunned it! He quickly jumped up and shot it again. He is probably one of the only people in the world who has sat on the back of a live man eating crocodile!

BibleTranslationHow worldly was my Grandfather? Well, among other things, he decided to spend his life doing Bible Translation, and produced the first Bible in Bemba, the trade language of Zambia. With all the revisions that he did, he ended up typing through the Bible seven times on a manual typewriter.

My earliest memories are of them visiting Canada in the 1960s. We moved to Africa for four years in the 1970s, and I got to spend a lot of time with them over the holidays. Christmas charades were a yearly highlight.

After my Grandfather’s death, my Grandmother came to live with us in Canada. Shortly thereafter she was diagnosed with cancer. I came to realize how brilliant she was, that, even while she was dying, every day she would complete the New York Times cryptic crossword puzzle.

Today, whenever I hear a debate about dress codes in church, I nod and smile, and sometimes tell the story of a woman who got excommunicated because her husband-to-be wore a tie.

As usual, your thoughts and comments are welcome.

Lisa Dye: Parousia!

When my children were little, I diligently taught and enforced their close adherence to my side as we got in and out of the car, walked into stores, church or any other place. Looking back, I wasn’t strict or controlling in most … [Continue reading...]

iMonk Classic: The Mood of Advent: We All Need A Savior

I have several friends who are doing Advent in their Baptist churches for the first time, and they have lots of questions about candles and logistics. I wish there were more questions about Advent itself. For example, the mood … [Continue reading...]

For my wife on our 36th wedding anniversary

A poem by Wendell Berry . . . OVER THE EDGE To tell a girl you loved her -- my God! -- that was a leap off a cliff, requiring little sense, sweet as it was. And I have loved many girls, women too, who by various … [Continue reading...]

Another Look: This is not where I live

One. At breakfast with a local pastor the other morning, he told me if there was one thing he could change in his congregation, it would be that people would stop listening to news and political pundits that make them … [Continue reading...]

Advent with Christina Rossetti (3)

The third Sunday in Advent is Gaudete Sunday. In the midst of the Advent fast, we encouraged to rejoice in the Lord. This day has a counterpart in Lent: Laetare Sunday. Both come just past the midpoint of a penitential season … [Continue reading...]

Saturday Ramblings: Dec. 13, 2014 — Gaudete Edition

Saturday Ramblings -- December 13, 2014 Quick! Why is the third candle on the Advent Wreath pink and not purple or dark blue like the others? Answer: Because the third Sunday in Advent is different. It is known as Gaudete … [Continue reading...]

My Ancestors’ (not so great) Interaction with the Church (Part 1 – Reginald Fitzurse)

Pull up a chair, and put up your feet. It's story time! I don't know if you have ever researched your family tree, but I have had some success in finding out a fair bit about mine. Among the more interesting stories have been … [Continue reading...]