Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas, 2014

Good Morning, Class of '64
Angels of Christmas - Greg Olsen

the virgin shall be with child, 
and shall bear a Son, 
and they shall call His name “Immanuel”, 
which translated means, 
“God with us”.
Matthew 1:23

Christmas with Larry

The Real Story of Christmas

(Don’t look at the end for the answers – you’ll have to read it.)

1. What is historically inaccurate about most nativity scenes displayed at Christmas?

2. What are frankincense and myrrh?

3. How many wise men were there?

4. In what two ways did the gifts of the wise men later figure into the story of Jesus? (HINT: immediately and XXXIII years later)

5. Which person in the Christmas story do we insult by not showing the respect so richly deserved?

6. Were Joseph and Mary actually homeless as some people say?

7. Was the innkeeper being nasty or nice when he sent them to the stable? (Opinion only)

8. What was the stable like?

9. Why were the shepherds the first to be told of the birth of Jesus by the angels? (Opinion only)

10. How did Joseph and Mary put the wise men’s gifts to use?

11. Was Jesus really born on December 25?

The story begins with Mary. She was probably in her early to mid-teens and betrothed to Joseph. A betrothal then was more formal and binding than an engagement today. They were married in every way but cohabitation.

The angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her that she would conceive and bear a son that she would name Jesus. Mary’s only question was practical: “How can this be since I am a virgin?” Gabriel clarified that, and Mary accepted it.

 The Angel Speaks To Mary

God made a good choice. Mary’s faith and wisdom were both great. Mary’s Song (Luke 1: 46 – 55) is amazing, almost a prelude to the beatitudes.

Amy Grant
Breath of Heaven 
(Mary's Song)
The Nativity Story

Luke 1:46-55
New International Version (NIV)
Mary’s Song
46 And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
    of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
    holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
    from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
    he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
    but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
    but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
    remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
    just as he promised our ancestors.”

When Joseph discovered that Mary was pregnant, he was understandably upset. He believed that Mary, who in his eyes was the most perfect woman God ever created, had betrayed him. He could have brought charges; adultery was a crime punishable by death by stoning. But Joseph was a good man; he decided to privately have the betrothal contract made null and void. But an angel came to Joseph in a dream and told Joseph that Mary had not been unfaithful to him, that she was impregnated by the Holy Spirit. Joseph believed the angel.

Gaetano Gandolfi's Joseph's Dream, c. 1790

When God chose Mary to raise His Son, it was a double choice. He also chose Joseph to be the foster father of His Son. In most nativity scenes, it’s hard to find Joseph. In most Christmas plays, Joseph is the forgotten man, kind of like new fathers today. There is much oohing and ahing over the baby and mother, but the father is pretty much ignored. Joseph is the Charlie Brown of the Christmas story – he deserves much more respect than we give him.

Nativity Scene -

Joseph and Mary were not homeless. Big government was around then, too. They had to pay their taxes in Joseph’s ancestral city so they had to travel to Bethlehem.

Journey to Bethlehem - Unknown

Bethlehem was as crowded as most post offices on April 15. It was filled with 20 – 30 times its normal population. That’s why there was no room at the inn. When the innkeeper sent them to the stable, I believe he was being nice. There were no Holiday Inn Express rooms at the inn. It probably had a common room for all the guests, sleeping packed together on the floor. Not a good place for a very pregnant woman. The innkeeper gave Joseph and Mary the best he had, his stable.

The Innkeeper - Unknown

And the stable, not much like our barns today. It was probably a shallow cave cut into a hillside that provided minimal shelter from the wind.

The Nativity - John McNaughton

The angels appeared to the shepherds who were in the pasture with their sheep. Shepherds have to practically live with their sheep in lambing season. It was probably late spring, March or April. It may have even been April 15 – after all, they were in Bethlehem to pay their taxes! 

The Angel Appearing Before the Shepherds - Thomas Buchanan Read

The shepherds were near the bottom of Jewish society then, so why did God choose to first reveal the birth of His Son to them? Some have suggested that, with the hustle and bustle in Bethlehem, they were the only ones silent enough to hear. A better theory is that this fits with the ministry of Jesus. He liked the poor and the ones society ignored or looked down upon. He partied at Matthew’s house with the outcasts, the other tax collectors. Jesus chose 4 fishermen and one tax collector as disciples. He had nothing good to say about the persons at the top of society, but He liked the ones from the lower classes.

Adoration of the Shepherds. By Gerard van Honthorst

Perhaps the best theory is that this fits the continuity of the Bible. God, the Shepherd, and mankind, the sheep, is an analogy we find all through the Bible. Remember the 23rd Psalm and Jesus saying, “I am the good Shepherd.” The analogy is so very apt. Sheep are stupid, smelly, fragile, and dirty. They cannot live independent of man, kind of like us with God.


While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks 
Connie Smith

The wise men followed the star from Persia. They were not at the stable. They arrived later and visited the family at a house. Herod ordered all baby boys two years old and younger killed, so it is probable that the wise men arrived somewhat less than two years after the birth of Jesus.

Magi - Unknown

It is tradition that there were three wise men. Tradition even names them. But we simply do not know. I suspect that the three gifts, gold, frankincense, and myrrh, gave rise to the idea of their being three wise men. Frankincense is fragrant resin often used in incense. Myrrh is also a tree sap used in incense and perfume. Both were then very valuable. It is very likely that the women who went to the tomb of Jesus 3 days after the crucifixion had both frankincense and myrrh to anoint the body of Jesus.

Matthew 2: 1-2, 11-15

1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Jud├Ža in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense , and myrrh.
12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.
13 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.
14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:
15 And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.
The Wise Men Seek Jesus


When Herod ordered the murder of infant boys, Joseph was warned in a dream to take Mary and Jesus and to escape to Egypt. As a carpenter, Joseph was a day laborer. He could not have saved enough money for such a trip. But God always provides – the very valuable gifts of wise men were put to good use.


From our house to yours,
may you have a very blessed Christmas!

For today in the city of David 
there has been born for you a Savior, 
who is Christ the Lord.
Luke 2:11

And when we give each other 
Christmas gifts in His name, 
let us remember that He has given 
us the sun and the moon and the stars, 
and the earth with its forests and 
mountains and oceans--and all that 
lives and move upon them. 
He has given us all green things and 
everything that blossoms and bears 
fruit and all that we quarrel about and 
all that we have misused--and to save us 
from our foolishness, 
from all our sins, 
He came down to earth 
and gave us Himself.
Sigrid Undset

The Nativity Story
Full Movie
  One Couple. 
One Journey. 
One Child… 
who would change the world… 

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
the Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

To read the first
TVHS Class of 1964 Newsletter 
click here:

Sunday, November 23, 2014


Good Morning, Class of '64
Home to Thanksgiving - George Dunne
So once in every year we throng
Upon a day apart,
To praise the Lord with feast and song
In thankfulness of heart.

Arthur Guiterman
The First Thanksgiving
The First Thanksgiving - Jennie Brownescomb

Sundays with Larry



I’ve always wondered – when an atheist sees a beautiful spring morning with green grass, birds singing, and flowers blooming, who does he thank? Or a beautiful sunset? Or a child at play? And how does an atheist celebrate Thanksgiving? Or does he celebrate Thanksgiving? Just wondering.

We have been told many lies about Thanksgiving. We are told, and we teach in schools, that the founding fathers of the United States were deists at best. But most were Christians. They did not talk about their faith as much as most people do today. They believed that their faith, and feelings, were private and not to be worn on their sleeves.

When the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth, they tried the one for all and all for one approach – from each according to his ability and to each according to his needs. That was in their original contract; they tried socialism. Fifty-one of 103 died that winter. Socialism did not work. It never has.

The next spring, Governor Bradford assigned parcels of land to each of them. They could keep what they raised, or they could trade it to others. The harvest was bountiful, more than enough for everyone. That is why they celebrated the first Thanksgiving. That first Thanksgiving is actually a monument to the power of capitalism and free enterprise.

They gathered to thank God. Here is the order from Governor Bradford:

“All ye Pilgrims with your wives and little ones, do gather at the Meeting House on the hill…there to listen to the pastor, and render thanksgiving to the Almighty God for all His blessings.”

I love the food at Thanksgiving. I enjoy the football. I love being with family. I also take some time to thank God for His many blessings just as the Pilgrims did that first Thanksgiving.

Here’s a poem by Jimmy Dean, the “Big John” man and the sausage man that pretty much says it all about being thankful. Dean said it better than I ever could.

I’m Drinking from My Saucer
Jimmy Dean

I’ve never made a fortune,
and it’s probably too late now,

But I don’t worry about that much; 
I’m happy anyhow.
As I go along life’s journey, 
I’m reaping better than I’ve sowed.
I’m drinking from my saucer 
‘cause my cup has overflowed.

I don’t have a lot of riches, 
and sometime’s the going’s tough.
But I’ve got three kids that love me; 
that makes me rich enough.
And I remember times when things went wrong, 
and my faith got a little bit thin,
But then all at once the dark clouds broke 
and the sun peeped through again.

So, Lord, help me not to gripe 
about the tough rows that I’ve hoed.
I’m drinking from my saucer 
‘cause my cup has overflowed.

And if God gives me strength and courage 
when the way grows steep and rough,
I’ll not ask for other blessings; 
I’m already blessed enough.
And may I never be too busy 
to help another bear his load.
Then I’ll keep drinking from my saucer 
‘cause my cup has overflowed.

May you and yours have 
a blessed Thanksgiving!
Thanksgiving - Jessica Stuntz
Give thanks for unknown blessings 
already on their way. 
Native American Saying

Nothing is more honorable 
than a grateful heart. 

All that we behold is 
full of blessings.
William Wordsworth

O Lord that lends me life,
Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness.

William Shakespeare

If you count all your assets, 
you always show a profit. 
Robert Quillen
Catching the Thanksgiving Turkey - Anna Mary Robertson "Grandma Moses"
Around the Thanksgiving holiday, when we were in "Grade School", we would have been coloring mimeographed pictures of squirrels with acorns and maybe some pumpkins and turkeys. There would have been some Pilgrim pictures in the mix and probably an Indian or two. 
We'd have been learning about the Mayflower bringing the Pilgrims to Plymouth Rock, and the huge feast of thanksgiving they had with the Indians. They weren't called Native Americans, back then.
We learned that the Pilgrims had come to America for the freedom to practice their religion as they chose. We weren't taught that they were America's first terrorists as some schools are teaching these days. I know our customs and traditions are being upended for political purposes, but for the life of me I can't figure that one out.
Over the River and Through the Woods is the song we will all remember from those autumn days of long, long ago. Sitting at our desks with that year's songbook open to the page, we sang the best our small voices could sing. As we sang, we rode the sleigh through the snow covered wood and across the bridge to Grandma's house.
"The New-England Boy's Song about Thanksgiving Day", also known as "Over the River and Through the Wood".
It is a Thanksgiving poem by Lydia Maria Child.
Our modern Thanksgiving holiday is not always associated with snow, but New England in the early 19th century was enduring the Little Ice Age. It was very cold, and they had earlier winters.
Over the River and Through the Wood
Lydia Marie Child
Over the river, and through the wood,
To Grandmother's house we go;
the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
through the white and drifted snow.
Over the river, and through the wood,
to Grandfather's house away!
We would not stop for doll or top,
for 'tis Thanksgiving Day.
Over the river, and through the wood—
oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes and bites the nose
as over the ground we go.
Over the river, and through the wood—
and straight through the barnyard gate,
We seem to go extremely slow,
it is so hard to wait!
Over the river, and through the wood—
When Grandmother sees us come,
She will say, "O, dear, the children are here,
bring a pie for everyone."
Over the river, and through the wood—
now Grandmother's cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!
The following verses appear in a "long version":
Over the river, and through the wood,
with a clear blue winter sky,
The dogs do bark, and children hark,
as we go jingling by.
Over the river, and through the wood,
to have a first-rate play.
Hear the bells ring, "Ting-a-ling-ding!",
Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day!
Over the river, and through the wood,
no matter for winds that blow;
Or if we get the sleigh upset
into a bank of snow
Over the river, and through the wood,
to see little John and Ann;
We will kiss them all, and play snow-ball
and stay as long as we can.
Over the river, and through the wood,
trot fast, my dapple-gray!
Spring over the ground like a hunting-hound!
For 'tis Thanksgiving Day.
Over the river, and through the wood,
Old Jowler hears our bells.
He shakes his pow, with a loud bow-wow,
and thus the news he tells.
Larry Groce 
and the
Disneyland Children's 
Sing-Along Chorus
Larry Groce lives in West Virginia and since 1983 has served as the host and artistic director of Mountain Stage, a two-hour live music program produced by West Virginia Public Radio and distributed by NPR. You might remember him for his 1976 novelty song "Junk Food Junkie". It became a Top Ten hit.
But see, in our open clearings, 
how golden the melons lie;
Enrich them with sweets and spices, 
and give us the pumpkin-pie!
Margaret Junkin Preston
I suppose I will die never knowing 
what pumpkin pie tastes like 
when you have room for it. 
Robert Brault
An optimist is a person who starts 
a new diet on Thanksgiving Day.
Irv Kupcinet
Over the River to Grandma's House - Anna Mary Robertson "Grandma Moses"
I awoke this morning with devout
thanksgiving for my friends,
the old and the new.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson
For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
For flowers that bloom about our feet;
For tender grass, so fresh, so sweet;
For song of bird, and hum of bee;
For all things fair we hear or see,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee!