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Posts Tagged ‘christmas’

The Flock of Geese

There was once a man who didn’t believe in the incarnation of Christ
or the spiritual meaning of Christmas, and was skeptical about God. He
and his family lived in a farm community. His wife was a devout
believer and diligently raised her children in her faith. He sometimes
gave her a hard time about her faith and mocked her religious
observance of Christmas. "It’s all nonsense – why would God lower
himself and become a human like us?! It’s such a ridiculous story!" he
said.

One snowy Christmas day, she and the children left for church while he
stayed home. After they had left, the winds grew stronger and the snow
turned into a blinding snowstorm. He sat down to relax before the fire
for the evening. Then he heard a loud thump, something hitting against
the window. And another thump. He looked outside but couldn’t see. So
he ventured outside.

In the field near his house he saw, of all the strangest things, a
flock of geese! They were apparently flying to look for a warmer area
down south, but had been caught in the snow storm. The storm had
become too blinding and violent for the geese to fly or see their way.

They were stranded on his farm, with no food or shelter, unable to do
more than flutter their wings and fly in aimless circles.

He had compassion for them and wanted to help them. He thought to
himself, "The barn would be a great place for them to stay! It’s warm
and safe; surely they could spend the night and wait out the storm."
So he opened the barn doors for them. He waited, watching them, hoping
they would notice the open barn and go inside. But they didn’t notice
the barn or realize what it could mean for them. He moved closer
toward them to get their attention, but they just moved away from him
out of fear. He went into the house and came back out with some bread,
broke it up, and made a bread trail to the barn. They still didn’t
catch on. Starting to get frustrated, he went over and tried to shoo
them toward the barn. They panicked and scattered into every direction
except toward the barn.

Nothing he did could get them to go onto the barn where there was
warmth, safety and shelter. Feeling totally frustrated, he exclaimed,
"Why don’t they follow me?

Can’t they see this is the only place where they can survive the storm?
How can I possibly get them into the one place to save them?"

He thought for a moment and realized that they just wouldn’t follow a
human. He said to himself, "How can I possibly save them?

The only way would be for me to become like those geese. If only I
could become one of them! Then I could save them! Then they would
follow me and I would lead them to safety." At that moment, he stopped
and considered what he had said. The words reverberated in his mind:
"If only I could become one of them then I could save them." And then,
at last, he understood God’s Heart towards mankind, and he fell on his
knees in the snow and Worshipped God.

The History Behind “The 12 Days Of Christmas”

There is one Christmas Carol that has always baffled us. What in the
world do leaping lords, French hens, swimming swans, and especially
the partridge who won’t come out of the pear tree have to do with
Christmas?

From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to
practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol
as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning:
the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of
their church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a
religious reality, which the children could remember.

1. The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.
2. Two turtledoves were the Old and New Testaments
3. Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.
4. The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark,Luke
& John.
5. The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five
books of the Old Testament.
6. The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.
7. Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy
Spirit: Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution,
Leadership, and Mercy.
8. The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.
9. Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit: Love,
Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness,
and Self Control.
10. The ten lords a-leaping were the Ten Commandments.
11. The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.
12. The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of
belief in The Apostles’ Creed.

This is how that lovely but strange song became a Christmas Carol…

The Christmas Carol

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – When World War I erupted in 1914 launching the
first great European war of the 20th century, soldiers on both sides
were assured they would be home by Christmas to celebrate victory.
That prediction proved to be false.

The men on the fronts did not get home for Christmas as the war
dragged on for four years. During that time 8.5 million men were
killed, with hundreds of thousands more injured. The "war to end all
wars" took a horrific human toll and transformed Europe. However, on
Christmas Eve in December 1914 one of the most unusual events in
military history took place on the Western front.

On the night of Dec. 24 the weather abruptly became cold, freezing the
water and slush of the trenches in which the men bunkered. On the
German side, soldiers began lighting candles. British sentries
reported to commanding officers there seemed to be small lights raised
on poles or bayonets.

Although these lanterns clearly illuminated German troops, making them
vulnerable to being shot, the British held their fire. Even more
amazing, British officers saw through their binoculars that some enemy
troops were holding Christmas trees over their heads with lighted
candles in their branches. The message was clear: Germans, who
celebrated Christmas on the eve of Dec. 24, were extending holiday
greetings to their enemies.

Within moments of that sighting, the British began hearing a few
German soldiers singing a Christmas carol. It was soon picked up all
along the German line as other soldiers joined in harmonizing.

The words heard were these: "Stille nacht, heilige nacht." British
troops immediately recognized the melody as "Silent Night" quickly
neutralized all hostilities on both sides. One by one, British and
German soldiers began laying down their weapons to venture into no-
man’s-land, a small patch of bombed-out earth between the two sides.
So many soldiers on both sides ventured out that superior officers
were prevented from objecting. There was an undeclared truce and peace
had broken out.

Frank Richards was an eyewitness of this unofficial truce. In his
wartime diary he wrote: "We stuck up a board with ‘Merry Christmas’ on
it. The enemy stuck up a similar one. Two of our men threw off their
equipment and jumped on the parapet with their hands above their heads
as two of the Germans did the same, our two going to meet them.

"They shook hands and then we all got out of the trench and so did the
Germans," Richards said. Richards also explained that some German
soldiers spoke perfect English with one saying how fed up he was with
the war and how he would be glad when it was all over. His British
counterpart agreed.

That night, former enemy soldiers sat around a common campfire. They
exchanged small gifts from their meager belongings – chocolate bars,
buttons, badges and small tins of processed beef. Men who only hours
earlier had been shooting to kill were now sharing Christmas
festivities and showing each other family snapshots. The truce ended
just as it had begun, by mutual agreement.

Captain C.I. Stockwell of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers recalled how,
after a truly "Silent Night," he fired three shots into the air at
8:30 a.m. December 26 and then stepped up onto the trench bank. A
German officer who had exchanged gifts with Captain Stockwell the
previous night also appeared on a trench bank. They bowed, saluted and
climbed back into their trenches. A few minutes later, Captain
Stockwell heard the German officer fire two shots into the air.

The war was on again.