Wholly An O Holy Night

Celebrating Christmas without Christ is like a sugar rush.

The joyful holiday music with the catchy melodies and cheerful lyrics is addictive.

Together with the brightly colored lights, beautifully decorated trees and seasonal wreaths festooned with festive red bows, it all helps augment a celebratory holiday environment pulsating with excitement and anticipation.

Then Christmas Day arrives amid a flurry of rapidly shredded wrapping paper and flying gift bows.

That Yuletide chaos is punctuated by squeals of delight and beaming parents immersed in a few minutes of holiday glee at the sight of their mini-me’s making memories that last a lifetime.

Within a day or two the sentimentality rush from the holiday subsides and kids and adults alike wonder at the improbability of how fast the holiday came and went.

Psst…it doesn’t have to be that way.

With the right perspective Christmas can be the time where believers can experience the ‘thrill of hope,’ immerse themselves in the beloved ‘sweet hymns of joy’ and reflect on the child who taught us to ‘love one another.’

If you haven’t listened to the words of O Holy Night this Christmas, you should take a few minutes and treat yourself. As beautiful and inspiring as the music is, the lyrics are equally poignant and eloquent.

O Holy Night!
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appear’d and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!

(Chorus) Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine
Oh night divine

After hearing the lyrics and awe-inspiring music of O Holy Night, who isn’t willing to fall on their knees and praise His holy name?

The second stanza depicts the shining star of Bethlehem, the miraculous but humble birth of the Christ child and the arrival of the three wise men. Consider the last verse of the second stanza:

Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming
Here come the wise men from Orient land
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger
In all our trials born to be our friend.

Christ came into the world not only to intercede on our behalf with God the Father and forgive us our sins, but to encourage us to trust in Him and be our friend in all our trial and error experiences.

The scriptures teach us that Christ was born as a flesh and blood human because He loves us and so we might know Him better. He came to live life in our shoes and to experience temptation and human frailty as one of us.

For instance, Christ was fully human when he experienced numbing grief with the passing of his friend Lazarus.

As a human being Jesus endured the humiliation of being an innocent man ridiculed and mocked by His accusers; suffered through the spectacle of a public scourging, and the unimaginable pain of being nailed to a cross – all while enduring alienation from His heavenly Father.

During his brief three-year ministry Christ was the ultimate social justice warrior. He healed the sick, cured the lame, helped the deaf to hear and the blind to see. He assembled a rag-tag group of followers, ministered to thousands, fed the hungry and clothed the naked.

In short, he taught us by example to love one another.

Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name

As Linus reminds us every year in the Charlie Brown Christmas special, that’s what Christmas is all about. We just have to remind each other now and then by meditating on inspirational carols like O Holy Night.

Merry Christmas!

Thanks for reading Dean Riffs. Welcome to those who love American liberty, free enterprise, and who believe God has blessed our country. For those who believe in open borders, safe spaces, and who think free speech is hate speech, move on – there’s nothing here for you to see.
 

Photo sources: bbc.co.uk, bibleinfo.com, 941thevoice.com, cdn.smosh.com

 

Copyright 2017, Dean A. George©

 

 

 

Safe Spaces for a Merry Christmas

Tell-tale signs that Christmas season is here:

  1. A sleigh-load of snowflake stories about harrowing encounters with nativity scenes in public places;
  2. Creative efforts to craft generic names for what deplorables call Christmas trees; and
  3. The left’s annual ritual to “bleachbit” the Christ child from Christmas.
Grinches Bloom At Christmas

Every Christmas season is replete with examples of nose-out-of-joint Scrooges who won’t rest until they take the lump of coal from their own dark hearts and leave it in their neighborhood’s Christmas stocking.

It isn’t enough these grinches shun Christmas personally — they insist on trying to ruin it for everyone else.

Last year around this time the small Indiana town of Knightstown was forced to remove a cross from the top of a large evergreen tree in the town square because the threat of an ACLU lawsuit.

A Christmas tree had been placed in the town square for decades, but the town was ordered to remove it when one distressed resident who drove through town daily was “forced to come into direct and unwelcome contact” with the cross on top of the tree.

We all have our crosses to bear – or not.

Two years ago an Elkhart, Indiana high school was banned by a judge from re-enacting the nativity scene using live performers — something the community had been doing for decades.

The school eventually compromised by using mannequins instead of students, but residents of the northern Indiana community recognized the real dummies in their annual Christmas reenactment.

Every Yuletide it’s déjà vu voodoo: Christian-phobic zealots like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) harass faith-based communities with limited funding to fight back.

The holiday carping against Christmas traditions by such groups is always the same: They object to public-displayed nativity scenes; they rename pine trees non-offensive names like “holiday trees;” and they protest against any Christmas song and imagery with a religious context.

“Holiday” Tree

These Christmas bigots think that acknowledging Christ in Christmas will make us a theocracy similar to Iran — except with more fa-la-la-la-la.

Observing the holiday set aside to celebrate the birth of God’s son is OK with these paragons of civil virtue – as long as we exclude God the Father and hide the baby Jesus away in a manger outside public view.

We Hoosiers pride ourselves on common sense solutions, and here’s one for blog readers:

Let’s allow towns and cities who honor and respect Christmas traditions to designate themselves “Christmas Sanctuaries” or Constitution Sanctuaries.”

Presently there are over 300 sanctuary cities, counties and states in the United States that protect criminal aliens from deportation.

Sanctuary cities collect millions in federal funding while consistently dissing federal law. If these “sanctuaries” can ignore federal law, surely cities and towns wanting to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas with traditional symbols of the season can ignore threats from whiners like the ACLU and the FFRF.

These new sanctuary cities could host traditional Christmas celebrations on public and school property free of litigation. Christmas carols could be sung again loud and off-key at school pageants. Merry Christmas salutations could be openly exchanged without requiring offenders to don the scarlet letter “C.”

Christmas Sanctuary Cities

Christmas sanctuary communities would provide real safe spaces for those who love Christmas, religious liberty and American freedom.

The Declaration of Independence says our rights come from our Creator. If our elected officials are unable or unwilling to protect our religious liberty, then what could be more American than a grassroots effort by hundreds of communities tired of political correctness to reclaim their public squares?

Thanks for reading Dean Riffs. Welcome to those who love American liberty, free enterprise, and who believe God has blessed our country. For those who believe in open borders, safe spaces, and who think free speech is hate speech, move on – there’s nothing here for you to see. 

 

The original version of this post was published Dec 20, 2016 in LifeZette.

Photo source: pbs.twimg.com, cheaptickets.com, weheartit.com

 

Copyright 2017, Dean A. George©

Lincoln and the Mother of Thanksgiving

Lincoln signed the Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1863

The name Sarah Josepha Hale may not sound familiar to most Americans, but she played an integral role in today’s holiday. A tireless advocate of education for girls and women in 19th century America, she worked as a writer and editor in order to support her five children after her husband David Hale, a lawyer, died of a stroke in 1822.

In 1830 she penned a book of poetry called Poems for our Children.  One of the poems was titled, “Mary’s Lamb,” which later became known as “Mary’s Little Lamb.”

Sarah Josepha Hale – the Mother of Thanksgiving

Mrs. Hale worked as a writer and editor for a single magazine for 40 years.  As writer and editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book she had been advocating and writing our nation’s leaders for years to set aside a single day for America to count its blessings.

She had even written five previous U.S. presidents with her suggestion, but it had always fallen on deaf ears. On September 28, 1863 the determined editor wrote yet another letter to President Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of State William Seward advocating the country observe a single day as a day of prayer and thankfulness.

Here in part is what she said:

Permit me, as Editress of the “Lady’s Book”, to request a few minutes of your precious time, while laying before you a subject of deep interest to myself and — as I trust — even to the President of our Republic, of some importance. This subject is to have the day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival.

You may have observed that, for some years past, there has been an increasing interest felt in our land to have the Thanksgiving held on the same day, in all the States; it now needs National recognition and authoritive (sic) fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution.

Historians have recorded that according to an 1864 letter from Lincoln secretary John Nicolay, the proclamation  the nation’s 16th president delivered on Oct 3, 1863 was actually written by Secretary of State William Seward and sold one year later to support Union troops in the Civil War.

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.

It has pleased Almighty God to prolong our national life another year, defending us with His guardian care against unfriendly designs from abroad and vouchsafing to us in His mercy many and signal victories over the enemy, who is of our own household.

It has also pleased our Heavenly Father to favor as well our citizens in their homes as our soldiers in their camps and our sailors on the rivers and seas with unusual health. He has largely augmented our free population by emancipation and by immigration, while He has opened to us new sources of wealth and has crowned the labor of our workingmen in every department of industry with abundant rewards.

Moreover, He has been pleased to animate and inspire our minds and hearts with fortitude, courage, and resolution sufficient for the great trial of civil war into which we have been brought by our adherence as a nation to the cause of freedom and humanity, and to afford to us reasonable hopes of an ultimate and happy deliverance from all our dangers and afflictions:

Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do hereby appoint and set apart the last Thursday in November next as a day which I desire to be observed by all my fellow-citizens, wherever they may then be, as a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe.

And I do further recommend to my fellow-citizens aforesaid that on that occasion they do reverently humble themselves in the dust and from thence offer up penitent and fervent prayers and supplications to the Great Disposer of Events for a return of the inestimable blessings of peace, union, and harmony throughout the land which it has pleased Him to assign as a dwelling place for ourselves and for our posterity throughout all generations.

Abraham Lincoln and Sarah Josepha Hale

Today we live in divisive times. Many political observers have speculated that America is more divided today than at anytime since the Civil War.

This Thanksgiving Day as millions of families gather together across the country, my prayer is that we can peacefully put aside our differences, humble ourselves before God as one people, and petition Him in prayer for a return of peace, unity and harmony for our country.

God bless, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Sources: biography.com, abrahamlincolnonline.org, shestokas.com

Photo source: commonamericanjournal.com,media1.britannica.com, si.wsj.net

 

Thanks for reading Dean Riffs. Welcome to those who love American liberty, free enterprise, and who believe God has blessed our country. For those who believe in open borders, safe spaces, and who tolerate everything but free speech and conservative ideals, move on – there’s nothing here for you to see. 

 

Copyright 2017, Dean A. George©

They Live and We Live Because He Lives!

Losing friends and family to death is heartbreaking; losing a parent or spouse is devastating.

As Christians we enjoy the promise that if the deceased was a believer, we will at some point in the future see them again face to face. It’s that promise that comforts us in our grief, acts as a spiritual salve for our suffering and gives us endearing hope that however bleak our loss may seem, we can anticipate joyfully reuniting one day with lost loved ones.

Fred and Dean George

Our family lost its patriarch Easter week last year, and despite the knowledge that his warrior’s heart was growing fainter, we clung to the emotional life buoy that he would thwart death’s advance one more time. We believed it because he believed it.

The day before he passed, our 83-year-old Dad told my sister he honestly thought he wasn’t going to die, that he just had to rest awhile, regain some weight that he’d lost and he’d be back to work soon running his concrete finishing business.

Dad loved to work, and everyone that knew him respected him for his work ethic. Sadly, there was no working around two heart attacks that night. With the aid of a ventilator his heart was still working the next morning, but he had no pulse.

His instructions had been clear in such an event: he wanted nothing to do with life support or hospice, no postponing the inevitable if his once tireless body had finally worn out.

Dad was at peace with dying because he knew what millions of other faithful servants before him had known: because our Lord beat sin and death through His selfless act of love on the cross at Calvary, there was no reason to fear death. Nor was there any reason to dread it or run from it.

Somehow it seemed appropriate that the funeral services celebrating Dad’s life were held at 11 a.m. on Good Friday. It was at that hour over 2,000 years ago that Jesus hung in agony from a wooden cross on behalf of an unbelieving and undeserving humanity. A few hours later the blameless one who had been mocked as King of the Jews was carefully removed from that cruel Roman cross, wrapped in donated linens and mournfully placed in a borrowed grave.

After Jesus fulfilled his Father’s plan to offer humanity a spiritual life buoy by reconciling us to Him through the forgiveness of our sins, what happened next demonstrates why our Dad didn’t fear dying. On that third day following his scourging and crucifixion, Christ’s rising from the dead is why none of us have to fear dying – today, tomorrow or ever.

Photo courtesy of Jane Ruckman

Easter is a joyful reminder that though we shed involuntary tears when losing loved ones, the seemingly insurmountable abyss separating us from them is temporary. The promise of seeing them again isn’t a fairy tale or a mental illusion meant to give us temporary solace in our grief.

God’s love for us is greater than anything in this world. Mercifully, even the inevitable sting of death isn’t permanent to anyone who trusts in the risen Christ.

 

Thanks for reading Dean Riffs. For those who love American liberty, free enterprise, and who believe God has blessed our country, welcome. For those who believe in open borders, safe spaces, and who tolerate everything but free speech and conservative ideals, move on – there’s nothing here for you to see. 

The post was written Easter weekend, 2016 while returning from Dad’s funeral in Florida

 

Copyright 2017, Dean A. George©