A Christmas Who’s Who

We must remember this,
Amidst the noise and fuss:
JESUS is the subject of Christmas,
And the object of Christmas is US.

*LS*

Merry Christmas from Gloryteller.com!
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A Pre-Christmas Act of Worship In A Retail Store

Every December, I like to start the Advent season by posting the video of this enormous, soaring, amazing, heart-warming event. I try not to use the word “love” lightly or frivolously, but I absolutely love this composition from Handel, this immense pipe organ, this crowd, this choir of believers, and the Subject of this song!

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Jesus Lives!
Let Him Be Worshipped
And Adored At All Times,
In All Places,
By All Willing Hearts!
~

Worship is not a matter of the place,
no matter how commercial, or secular, or even “holy”.
It’s not a matter of the crowd,
no matter its composition, from the faithful, to the skeptical.
It’s not a matter of the means of praise,
no matter how lofty and soaring, or off key and humble,
nor how vocally and instrumentally technical.
It’s not a matter of numbers,
no matter if a large gathering,
or a single self-conscious voice,
singing or speaking,
with a clapping beat,
or no beat at all.
~
Worship, it seems to me, is a matter of
the condition of each worshiper’s heart.
Only God has full estimation of that;
however, in this retail store there seems to be a crowd of
like-minded, like-hearted, worshipers
setting commercialism aside for an eternal moment

with one great-big, majestic, musical instrument
All led and kept together by one amazing conductor;
How analogous to our God and His people!
~
There might be examples of all the above conditions of worship in this video.
He is worshipped and adored here – yes, even here – inside the huge Macy’s in Philadelphia – a worldly, consumeristic, retail marketplace where materialism and money normally are king. But not today!

This huge, highly organized, flash mob sings along with the world’s largest working pipe organ, the massive Wanamaker Grand Court Organ.
This organ is a National Landmark in and of itself!

Wanamaker Grand Court Pipe Organ (this shows only a small fraction of its pipes)


The “sounding joy”, the full, immense, amount of joy served-up is overwhelming!
In the fullness of time,
every knee will bow to Him,
and,
“He shall reign for ever and ever.”

This year I wanted to add the lyrics:

Hallelujah 
Written by George Friedrich Handel

Hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah
Hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah

For the lord God omnipotent reigneth
Hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah
For the lord God omnipotent reigneth
Hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah
For the lord God omnipotent reigneth
Hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah

Hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah
Hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah
(For the lord God omnipotent reigneth)
Hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah

For the lord God omnipotent reigneth
(Hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah)
Hallelujah

The kingdom of this world;
is become
the kingdom of our Lord,
and of His Christ
and of His Christ

And He shall reign for ever and ever
And he shall reign forever and ever
And he shall reign forever and ever
And he shall reign forever and ever

King of kings forever and ever hallelujah hallelujah
and lord of lords forever and ever hallelujah hallelujah
King of kings forever and ever hallelujah hallelujah
and lord of lords forever and ever hallelujah hallelujah
King of kings forever and ever hallelujah hallelujah
and lord of lords
King of kings and lord of lords

And he shall reign
And he shall reign
And he shall reign
He shall reign
And he shall reign forever and ever

King of kings forever and ever
and lord of lords hallelujah hallelujah
And he shall reign forever and ever

King of kings and lord of lords
King of kings and lord of lords
And he shall reign forever and ever

Forever and ever and ever and ever
(King of kings and lord of lords)

Hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah
Hallelujah

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Week Two of Advent

The second week of Advent is focused on peace.

Waiting becomes a bit more intense as we add the expectancy of
hope and peace in preparation for our Savior’s arrival.

 We light the second candle,
If not on our tables,
Then in our hearts.
And light increases.
It doubles!
We can hardly wait until the full light of His glorious presence shines upon the world, and also upon each of us!

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

Jesus is the only one that can bring peace with God.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).

And suddenly there appeared with the angel a great multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to all mankind upon which His favor rests!” Luke 2: 13-14

Here’s a song that is full of hope and peace,
And light too!

 

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Joseph’s Song

Joseph must have been heartbroken, mystified, and afraid.
Can you imagine? :


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Breath Of Heaven – Mary’s Song

Not even one of us can fully understand nor scarcely appreciate Mary’s plight . . .
And consider Joseph’s . . .

(Rest in Peace, Donna Summer.  I’m glad we still have your amazing voice.)

These poignant video clips are from The Nativity Story,  upload thanks to Peperamico.

 

Please read to the bottom:


Breath of Heaven
Amy Grant

I have traveled many moonless nights
Cold and weary with a babe inside
And I wonder what I’ve done

*Holy father you have come

And chosen me now to carry Your son

*I am waiting in a silent prayer

I am frightened by the load I bear

*In a world as cold as stone

Must I walk this path alone?

*Be with me now


Be with me now

*Breath of heaven

Hold me together

Be forever near me

Breath of heaven
Breath of heaven

*Lighten my darkness

Pour over me your holiness
For you are holy

Breath of heaven
Do you wonder as you watch my face

*If a wiser one should have had my place


But I offer all I am

For the mercy of your plan

*Help me be strong

Help me be
Help me

Breath of heaven

Hold me together
Be forever near me
Breath of heaven
Breath of heaven
Lighten my darkness
Pour over me your holiness
For you are holy
Breath of heaven
Hold me together
Be forever near me
Breath of heaven
Breath of heaven
Lighten my darkness
Pour over me your holiness
For you are holy
Breath of heaven
Breath of heaven
Breath of heaven
~ ~ ~

.  .  . Have you ever found yourself saying these same words –
the ones I highlighted?

I have.

Yes, I have been chosen to “carry The Son”.
I feel completely unworthy.

The thought of bearing that precious burden is daunting-
sometimes frightening.
Yet the Archangel, himself, said, “Don’t be afraid”.Yes, the world is cold as stone,
and the path, often difficult,
but I don’t have to walk it alone-
never alone.
The Lord is with me.

*Breath of heaven
Hold me together-
My desperate plea –
He hears, and holds me up.

He lightens my darkness,
and if that were not enough,
He pours His holiness over me,
and His grace,
and His mercy.

I am not wise, but He chose me,
somehow.
He chose me and He helps me.

Breath of Heaven is always there,
softly taking me in,
gently sending me out . . .

Amy Grant, how did you know?

~ ~ ~

Merry Christmas from Gloryteller.com
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The Perfect Christmas Gift

My friend, I give you the gift of a song; music with a video.
It speaks for itself.

“The Perfect Christmas Gift”,
written and performed by Sandy Howell.
Uploaded by Bob Marshall.
Many thanks to you both.


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Two Christmas Stories, Yup, Two.

That’s right.
Not just one.
Two.

Here’s one:
https://gloryteller.com/the-godsend-a-boys-christmas-miracle/
This one might appeal to any “Baby-Boomer”, their kids,
and their grands too.

And here’s another one:
https://gloryteller.com/my-next-christmas-story/
This one? Well, it’s kind of universal . . .

I do hope you will give these a look.
Merry Christbirth, 2017!

 

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Hopeful Content for the First Week of Advent

The first week of Advent is said to be concentrated upon the hope of the Savior’s arrival as supported by the Scriptures’ prophetic promises. There are several pertinent verses, but I chose this one :

“The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the gracious promise I made to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land.” (Jeremiah 33:14-15).

O, Jesus, 
We await your sweet arrival!

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Words and Music for Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow
by Charles Wesley:

Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

1. Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.

2. Born thy people to deliver,
born a child and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit,
raise us to Thy* glorious throne.

(*emphases, mine)

 

 

The hope that the child of God has is an eternal hope.
Peter tells us that the Child of God has
“an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade – kept in heaven for you” (
1 Peter: 1-4 )

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Advent Arrives Today!

“Advent” is here!
It is today!

All Creation is pregnant with anticipation!

This is the time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth.
The word “Advent” comes from the Latin “adventus” which means coming, or arrival, of a person or thing.

In this special and absolutely unique case,
what is coming is rich in mystery;
profound in its implications!
Excitement builds in Heaven and earth!

I find it interesting that the words “Advent” and “adventure” are so closely related, which is fitting since we are waiting and preparing for the arrival of  a series of awe-inducing, exciting events :

All that surrounds Jesus’ Nativity celebration,
A son is to be given,
800 year-old prophecy to be fulfilled,

The imminent arrival of Emmanuel, “God With Us”,
The Kingdom of God being established on Earth,
Reconciliation with the Father,
Renewal of all things,

Rescue of the perishing,
Redemption of souls,
Atonement,
Forgiveness,
Abundant life,
Signs and wonders,
Miraculous acts,
Great Joy will be made available to all people,
Messiah! Savior! Christ! He’s coming, 
alreadynot yet, and soon!
The image of The Father will walk on earth,
The advent of Love!
And more, and more, and more!
And, in the fullness of time, Jesus’ long-awaited final return!

We are waiting, and prayerfully preparing, not just for events, but for the arrival of the Personage
without whom there would be no experience of exciting spiritual adventure, no exploration of things unknown, no real and true experience of love and life whatsoever.

But for the birth of the little Lord Jesus, I could not live.
As He is born, so am I.
So are we all!

I wait and look forward to honoring His birth; to observing the amazing circumstances that surround it.
It has “happened” again and again in countless hearts and minds.
It is happening now in mine,
and will again, endlessly, with passage of time.

The expectant waiting and preparation of my heart applies not only to Christbirth,
but to Resurrection Sunday and Thanksgiving as well.
Advent is an important concept.
It is exciting and peaceful too.
I want to make it part of me;
I want to live it.

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The Step, Part I

I took a step of wondering . . .

“What if” God were really pursuing me,
Like a friend said.
If God were real . . .
“What if” their myths and fanciful Bible tales
Were not that . . .
But truth I had disbelieved in ignorance.

What must He look like;
Be like
Does He really know me?
Love me, like some say?
Have a purpose for me,
A plan,

Better than mine has been?

Will He punish me, if I stop going my way?
And let Him be my Father? . . .

Will He even show up, if I turn?
Or simply ignore my presence.
How angry He must be!
If I am created,
And my life is not a cosmic coincidence . . .
Like I heard somewhere . . .
How can I face Him?
If sin is a thing,
A truly wicked thing, and my name 

Is shame,
Am I too late?

But I am failing from hunger;
Sinking in sorrow;
Evil has overtaken me,

I am worn to the point of death . . .

Father,
Are
You
There?

I stand in the center of the road,
I look back at despair.
I look forward toward hope.


(Continued next post – Part II)
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The Step, Part II

I took a step toward the Unknown . . .

I took a small, doubtful,
Hesitant step,
Up the road,

Away from my deficient self,
In the general direction of Almighty Father God,
And He came running out of eternity,
His unfathomable eyes focused on me,
Out of the farthest reaches of Creation,
As though He had nothing better to do . . .
As though I were important . . .

Rushing from His house across vast ages,
Just to meet me.

His Son was a distance behind Him,
Having farther to go,
Long, hard, painful roads,
Over deadly mountains,
Across rivers, swift and deep,
To a cross,
And back . . .
Prince of Peace in worn, dusty sandals,
displaying a radiant smile;
The embodiment of Family.

Wreathed in auroras,
And looking like Home,
The Father cupped my weathered cheek,
Kissed my head,
Gathered me to Himself,
{“We’ve waited so long!”}

While the Son caught up . . .
Caught me up! 
 Embraced me enthusiastically,
Despite my characteristic dishonoring ways,
My thoughtless selfishness,
My disobedient sarcasm,
My rebellious disrespect.

Wearing broad grins fired by inner love,
They clasped my shoulders in gracious greeting;
my hands in mercy-filled welcome.
Clothed me in finery.
Gave me precious gifts,
Whisked me to the house I had abandoned long ago.

Not angry.
Loving.
Full of grace and forgiveness,
And celebration!


(Continued, next post – Part III)
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The Step, Part III

I took a step onto solid Rock  . . .

Their overwhelming touch changed everything –
Everything I thought I knew,
Everything I am.
Changed it all for my good.

They didn’t have to do it;
(or did They, because that is who They are?!)

I didn’t deserve their efforts.
They came nevertheless;
To feed me,
Save my life,
Forgive me,
Deliver me from evil,
Weave me into their plan,

Give my life purpose,
Walk me home,

Give me rest,
And most of all, just love me!

That one step made all the difference.

I am home!


The End,

(of a bad thing)

The Beginning,

(of a glorious thing)

If you haven’t already,
I urge you to turn,
And take a step toward home.


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Cooking A Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner – Yes I Can – This Is About Thankfulness


Yes, dear reader,
Unlike most men, especially old-school men such as myself,
I’m capable of planning and cooking
a full-blown turkey-and-stuffing anchored;
mashed potato filled;
gravy-slathered;
two vegetable enhanced;
candied sweet ‘tater and
green bean casserole complimented;
cranberry sauce enlivened;
dinner-roll augmented;
and pie-crowned Thanksgiving dinner.
I don’t want that to sound like bragging,
nor self-exaltation,
it’s just the truth.
It’s a blessing that I can cook almost anything, and even do a little baking, but the blessing came at the expense of my mother’s suffering.
When I was 13, my mother dislocated her elbow due to a fall. That very painful injury prevented her from doing many of her homemaking duties including cooking the daily family meals. As the eldest child, I was appointed cook’s assistant. I performed the mechanical operations of cooking while poor plaster-casted Mom directed me. That was one of my life’s momentous turning points, because I have used those cooking skills that she taught me countless times for my own benefit and for the benefit of others.
Today, Mom is on my mind.
Thanks, Mom, for teaching me to cook and for everything else.
Thanks, God, for Mom and for all my blessings.
Thanks for the ability to imagine and invent things, and for the ability to make, and build, and create the things I imagined – everything from small tools to buildings and a home, and thanks for the ability to repair, or at least “rig up” almost anything. Thanks, God, for the ability to grow food on Your land. Most of all thanks, Lord for the very surprising gift of the ability to write.
As much as I like to cook, I’d rather write about cooking.
I’d rather write than do almost anything else.
As for Thanksgiving, I’m thankful that this website is partial fulfillment of my God-given purpose. More than anything else, I’m thankful to You, Lord, for gathering me to Yourself and giving me the joy of salvation – the joy of knowing You!

“O, give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good!
His loving mercies endure forever!
O, give constant thanks unto the Lord!”

Happy Thanksgiving, dear reader!
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Languages of Love

An early writing from an early Gloryteller:
(Revisited, rearranged, and re-posted)

What he heard one glorious morning:


Written as fast as He imparted it

sans punctuation
Stream of consciousness
making demands on a reader

to supply hizzerher own marks
It is packed
pressed down and running over
All saying
Open me
Read me again harder

Intensely with feeling

Will you rise to the challenge

~ ~ ~


He speaks every moment

Every place in time
In all interrelated spatial positions

To every creature
And to all creation
Primarily to every heart
And soul who will listen

Every searching mind
May hear the delicate
The precise presiding mathematics

See it in waveforms dancing
Lyric logarithmic
It is indeed everywhere
And in everything

Numbers are the letters
Equations are the words
Complex sentences cascading into paragraphs
Chapters
Books
Libraries
Enumerating Love
And quantifying Compassion

Explaining the structure
The form and function
Of a tree
Of a seashell
Of salt
Of music
Of  you
And me

~~~

Music too is everywhere
And in everything
Messages for every hearing heart
Are you listening
Do you hear the numbers flow
Babbling streams rhythmic audible
Intricately woven tapestries
Of tiny objects singing with ponderous power
And ponderous objects
Containing the hum of inner intricacies

  Noted tones forming letters
 Bars and lines stating phrases
Colorful movements
 Passages soaring with power
Then diminishing to grace

Of operas
Concertos
Whole symphonies
Overtures to all creation

Explaining things unseen
Abstract harmonized with substance
Beauty illuminated
Emotion elucidated
Eternity exclaimed in melody
Glory exponentially expounded
In cooperating frequencies
In particles and waves
Vibrating
Spinning
Circling
Dancing the Great Dance
In the Great Painting
In the Grand Ballroom
Of The Master

A celestial choir singing artistic creativity
Dignified craftsmanship
Timely invention
Science hums with insights
Poetry counts the treasures of thrift
Word and the senses recite Truth

Look and you will find
Faith comes by hearing
Taste and see
A sweet fragrance to Him
He touched their eyes
To illuminate the beauty
Of His sacrifice
His wondrous return

~~~

He shows Himself everywhere
In intellectually intricate patterns
In everything
His Heart speaks

What was made
We didn’t make
In the greater sense
We merely participate

Unworthy creatures we
Surely not math did we create
Surely not music
Not art
Not science
Not The Great Story
The Great Poem

No not Love

Only trouble

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His Image His Nature His Love
He would communicate
To hearts souls minds
So many languages He speaks
Signs and wonders abound
Science
Thought
Art
Inventiveness
Creativity

Sight Hearing Smell Taste Touch
Math
Music
Word
He spoke it all and speaks it now
Citing passages of musical verse
Arrangement
Orchestration
The Great Composition

His endless
Sacred
Lyrical

Languages of Love

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Written fast as He imparted it
sans punctuation
Making heavy demands on a reader
It is packed pressed down and running over
All saying
Open me
Read me again harder
Intensely with feeling

Did you rise to the challenge

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Copyright 8-27-12, and 8-7-2017
Gloryteller Len Snider@Gloryteller.com

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Good Morning, Mountains

I was there at daybreak when the mountains awoke . . .

(I began to worship, not them, but their Creator)

 

“They can’t wake up, and can’t sleep.”
“They are not alive,” you say.

Their existence is a type of life, to my way of thinking.
By my ascription, and by my regard, I bring them life,
And they receive it, even though I have only a
Miniscule understanding of their truest life.
A type of life that traditionally belongs to beings.
And if they are beings, certainly the most massive on the planet.
Certainly among the most majestic!

You may say, “Don’t anthropomorphize,” but why not?
Do they not have faces?
Ancient, craggy, faces?

Long-enduring, weathered faces?
Do they not have names?
Names of nobility, and of honor?
Flanks?
Sides?
Feet?
Do they not move, albeit imperceptibly?

Calm and unhurried?
They turn and roll and rise!
Don’t they shed their rocky skins?
And where is the heart of a mountain?
Deep, pressurized-miles within!

So . . .
At daybreak . . .
By myself, with my Lord Guide beside . . .
I rode down into the valley, 
And stood beside the racing, melt-swollen river.
The dim, misty, light of dawn lent a surreal feel to the scene.
We looked up Spruce Canyon, high into the peaks.
Surrounded by the Living Creation,
And watched the sun illuminate those peaks,
Whose eyes began to open and reflect hues of  yellow, orange, and pink.
Who lifted their heads and tipped their white nightcaps.
Whose chests were shrouded with blankets of clouds.
Who began to push those comforters downward towards their feet.
Who began to yawn and stretch in the yellow,
Downward-spreading warmth.

The feel was no longer surreal, but absolutely real!
Overwhelmingly, breathtakingly, real.

Making mental notes,
Fixing memories indelibly,

We rode on,
Up the valley to nestle among those great, revered, toes,
Wiggling in the morning canyon.

I was the only human there to see . . .
I was there at daybreak to see the mountains awake . . . 

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My Next Christmas Story ?

I write from my experiences, from my knowledge, from divine personal revelation;
I write from my imagination,
from my heart,
and from my dreams.

I don’t completely understand dreaming. I can’t exactly figure out how it works, nor can I fathom how Father God can somehow use a dream for my good, or the enemy can use one as a lie against my good.
All I know is that some dreams are infused with truth,
and some are infested with lies.
All I know is that in dreams I often fly . . .

Some of what follows is odd, somewhat “crazy”, disjointed, strange, and as Chaff Rantley would say, “don’t make much sense”. That is the way most dreams are, but there was something unique and special about the one I had last night. Many of my dreams are complex and detailed with plots and storylines that I would be glad to use if I could only remember them for more than a few seconds after I awaken.
However, in a detailed dream, God gave me what turned out to be my next Christmas story. I awoke three times then dreamed on, three times keeping the same theme, which is highly unusual in my dreaming experience. After each “chapter”, I thought, without logical cause to do so, and being only half to one-third awake, “This is my next Christmas story.”  This particular one was a dream that I somehow remembered in vivid detail. I didn’t intend for this story to be a long one, but God “wouldn’t leave me alone about it”, and I believe it turned out pretty much the way it is supposed to be.

~ ~ ~

Travelling in my black Jeep ( * I grin.*  I have never owned a Jeep and don’t care for black vehicles), I became ensnared in a freak blizzard, the 100-year kind. Because the snow was getting deep and the visibility was so poor, I pulled off the mountain highway at an isolated intersection. I was looking for a place to stop and take shelter and ended up on a gravel road. The wind was howling, and my 4-wheel drive was churning furiously. At the top of a long slope, up on a high hill, I found a small town that appeared to be roughly a quarter mile long – slightly longer than four dream football fields , stretched out along one side of the road. The barely readable sign read “Calvinton”.

The buildings were situated just off the road. I passed a small church, an old restaurant/diner/tavern, a tiny library, sheriff’s office, P.O., and city offices,  among other random buildings. Their parking lots were all adjacent to the road, or close to it. I saw a residential area behind the buildings. It felt as though I were in a very odd, unusual, part of Canada – a country I hope to visit one day, but haven’t yet in real life. It looked like one of those idyllic porcelain Christmas villages, only impoverished.

I made a U-turn at the far end of town, came back, and parked at the diner. The church was next door. I saw the church, got curious, and went in. The church parking lot was graveled, but well plowed of snow. It was chilly inside but much warmer than the wind chill outdoors. The unpadded wooden pews could have used refinishing and the lighting could have been better, but it was comfortable, if a bit drab and austere. I noticed the standard pulpit and standard small altar standing upon the standard platform.

Sitting in the left-hand back pew, was a man with slightly disheveled black hair, a black five o’clock shadow, nice slacks, dress shirt, and loafers. His arms were draped over the back of the pew and he had had one leg stretched out casually on the seat, but grew tense when he saw me and placed his foot on the floor. Looking me square in the eyes and raising his voice, he said, “Isaiah 64, God has turned his back on us and left us to die under the swords of our enemies!” I was taken aback as he shouted, “Vengeance is mine, says the god of evil! An eye for an eye! Kill them ALL!” Then he pointed an index finger at me and yelled, “If God exists, he is a bad god. Evil. If he exists, I hate him. But he does NOT exist! This is a place of death! Now get OUT of here!”

I recoiled. The black five o’clock shadow seemed to have roots in his soul. I considered running, for a second, but a hand touched my shoulder. I turned to see a man in coveralls who motioned for me to follow him. While Five O’clock glared at me, Coveralls took me to the other side of the church, toward the front, where a tall stepladder stood under the building’s only stained glass window.
“Excuse my garb, I’m the maintenance man here. I’m also the pastor. More the former than the latter, these days. My window is leaking and I’m patching it up. Oh, and don’t mind Bob, he has his reasons for ranting. I figure, what better place for him to curse God than here?”

We shook hands, made introductions, and talked. The lithe, eagle-eyed, middle-aged pastor eagerly told me of himself, the town, and Bob. He talked non-stop. It seemed as though he hadn’t had anyone to speak with for a long time. I learned many things: Due to dire circumstances he got his seminarial/divinity/pastor’s degree at the online, and mail-order, San Juan’s School of Faith and Bible College.  He joked – he was a ” St John’s Fool of Scathe”. Being a fan of spoonerisms, I got it and laughed.  This pastor confided that although his degree was online-mail order, he was serious about bringing the presence of God and His Word to this little town. The pastor said Bob was one of his best parishioners, in that, “hardly anyone else ever comes here any more”. He’s my lost sheep, a congregation of one. But, he stopped listening to me long ago, and probably stopped seeing me. Perhaps he listens to me pray. Perhaps something seeps in. No outward signs yet, sad to say . . .”
It seems Bob and his wife had attended services there until the wife had passed away during the birth of their son. Together, they had operated the town’s combination attorney/accountant/tax preparers’, and insurance office. They had done quite well, as you can imagine, until tragedy took her. Bob had gone a bit off kilter; some said he went mad.
He told me how The Word was sorely needed here due to the greater tragedy that befell when a terrible school bus accident killed most of the village’s children and the heart of the town along with them. That was 13 years ago. All the families with surviving children gradually moved away. His congregation faded, the schoolhouse sat empty, and the heart of the town sank. Sure, life went on. Business, and commerce, and ranching, went on. Going to work and coming home went on. But it was like a town without a reason. Its heartbeat weak, its pulse thready.
Some people still attended services, like Mary Ann something, Sheila somebody, some ranchers male and female, and his foster son, for whom he had great love and compassion as he did for every soul in town. Bob stayed home on Sunday morning. That was the nonexistent god’s day.

“Well, I’ve talked enough, gotta get this done. You should go next door to the tavern, meet some of the folks, have a brat and a brew. Good meeting ya. Oh, and we would appreciate a prayer or three if you wouldn’t mind.”
Bob’s glare never wavered. He strained to hear every word, it was obvious.

I awoke, well, partially. “This is my next Christmas story,” I thought. “What? The snow is the only thing common to the Christmas season. That was strange . . .”
I rolled over.

Part Two

I walked through the blizzard to the diner and went in. Adjacent to the main eating area where there were booths and tables, through a wide door, there was an indoor Biergarten sort of room under a lean-to roof. “This must be the tavern,” I thought. I wandered in and sat on the bench on one side of the single long wooden table in the center of the room. I ordered, and the waitress, Sheila, delivered my lunch. it was huge, delicious, and inexpensive. I ate with several ordinary down-to-earth townsfolk. As is my habit, I conversed with anyone willing. They were amiable. And the food was a delicious, though curious, mix of Austrian, German and Norwegian fare. Ha! Yes, Norwegian!  There was lots of good craft beer. There was a great lot of conversing. People were jovial enough, yet there was an underlying feeling of a distressing loneliness; of something missing, of going through the motions – an emptiness.

My dream persona was a freelance writer, published in various magazines and newspapers. Once the woman named Mary Ann discovered that, she began to place old photos of the town, newspaper articles, old documents, even artifacts, like outdated baseballs and gloves, in a pile in front of me. I found out the woman was a retired teacher; kind, and insightful, who now worked in the “city” government office and also in the library. She had experienced a premonition that some positive press would save the wasting soul of Calvinton. I was intrigued with the idea of writing about the town, its denizens, and its history. On top of the pile, there was a newspaper article illustrating better days. The town’s buildings were gaily decorated, children were snowball fighting, a manger scene glorified the front sidewalk of the church. Figure skaters used the frozen pond. Hockey was played. There were colored lights; a tree lot. The caption said, “Christmas in the High Country”.

Suddenly, there was the strangest sight outside the window looking across the slope of the hill. An ice-removal maintainer was working to open the road. There were two large green and blue bulldozers hooked up in series, pulling a very long military style (think WWII Seabees style equipment) grader with huge, heavy, blade in the center. The grader had a rectangular body consisting of about 3 x 4 x 60 feet of solid steel. It was going slowly; a turtle’s pace, yet sparks were shooting off the blade as it peeled up the hard, thick ice on the uphill pull. I can’t explain the sparks, nor any of what follows.
Between the two front dozers, was attached a sky blue race-car with a woman inside, army-helmeted head leaning out the window, who appeared to be directing the operation using a walkie-talkie. The three front machines (dozer – car – dozer) were connected in a line with huge log-chains by which they pulled the long, boxlike, blading machine.
The blade itself looked stout and sharp enough to cut the top right off a granite boulder. There was also a great, large, bulldozer pushing the whole train. At one point the blade rode up over the ice causing the female foreman in the car to want to stop , back up, and reset to get under the ice again. The front dozer stopped but the one behind her didn’t, which crumpled the rear of her nice, pristine race-car. She was livid, screaming into the walkie , “I said stop, you lamebrained     @$#%$^&&^##@%^     so-and-sos!!!”, while waving her arms and bouncing up and down in her seat. She finally got the whole, complex rig backed up and reset. After a long effort, they reached the top of the hill. I told you it was a weird dream . . .

Just then, a good looking, tall, very fit, young man of about 18 walked in. He said, “Aii-ara-bu-nee.” I immediately saw his challenge. Deaf Boy, I called him. Sad to say I have no proper name for him at this time. Blame the dreamstate. He wore a starched-and-pressed, button down, light maroon with white pinstripes, long sleeved shirt, jeans, and work boots. He worked at the town’s combination grocery/feed/hardware store. Deaf Boy sat beside me and got it across to me how if I put my head bones against his in a certain way, or used a plastic glass against the side of his head to talk into, He could translate the vibrations into something meaningful. It worked! Eventually, I pieced together from him and various others that he was the preacher’s foster son, deaf at birth, super intelligent, and that Mary Ann had home-schooled him at the library using picture-books to teach him reading and writing, and most everything else. She also taught him some lip reading and signing, but he preferred the head vibes and even learned his own kind of speech. Everybody loved him. So did I.

Then the large, muscular, sheriff and his deputy came in. They wore the stereotypical tight, military style khaki shirts, the wide brim hats, and the sunglasses. They were all sidearms and shiny boots as they sat down on either side of me, I presume, to check out the stranger in town. Even though they said nothing, it was slightly intimidating until the pretty, good-natured, Sheila came to my defense telling them quietly and politely, but firmly, to back off, which they did. “How about giving him some slack. Come get a cuppa fresh coffee” she said. They followed her like puppies. Did I pick up on the quick “look” that passed between Sheila and Deaf Boy? You bet I did.

Rats. Roused again . . . “This is my next Christmas story,” I thought fuzzily for the second time. How funny and strange. At least some vestiges of Christmas had surfaced this time. I smacked three times thinking it was done, and turned over again. Perhaps I only dreamed that I had awoken . . .

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Part Three

 It was mid-afternoon in Calvinton as my dream-self returned to the Biergarten. I was sitting in front of, and delving into, Mary Ann’s growing heap of memorabilia. Out of the blue, I felt compelled to return to the church. Bob’s plight was bothering me. God wouldn’t leave me alone about it. I had to learn more about Bob and about Calvinton.
The wind driving the snowfall sideways had not abated. Drifts were building on the downwind side of everything standing. I entered the church and closed the door gently. Bob was still in his place, but he was bent over and had his hands on his forehead, shielding his eyes. He didn’t look up or acknowledge my presence.

The preacher caught my eye. He was motioning for me to join him in front of the left-hand front pew where he now had the step ladder set up under a rectangular opening that led to the attic storage space. Beside the ladder were three of the pieces of the church’s manger scene – Mary, the Child in his manger bed, and Joseph.
“Would you mind following me up the ladder and handing me Mary in a minute?”
“Be glad to help,” I grinned.
He went up and I heard him moving things around.
“Okay, ready for Mary.”
I carried Jesus’ mother up and handed her to Preacher.
“Come on up, it’s warmer up here.”
I did, and watched as he covered Mary with a sheet. The whole process of lifting her up above all, and caring for her, seemed somewhat symbolic, if you get my drift.

“I got to know some people next door, and some things about this town. I would like to write an article about this interesting community, but I need to know more, if only to satisfy my own curiosity.”

He motioned me to sit in one of the two folding chairs conveniently placed near Mary. “What would you like to know?” he asked.

“Well, I’ve made a few assumptions and formed a few guesses, but I want to be able to write the truth. First, I’d like to know what happened after Bob’s wife died. You mentioned a son?

“Yes, the baby was born healthy,” he paused and stared at me. “It wasn’t long before it was apparent that the boy didn’t respond to sounds,” he paused again, seeming to discern my ability to perceive beyond the surface of things. “If you guessed that Jess is my foster son, you are correct. Bob was suffering terrible grief at the loss of Iris. When he discovered little Jess was handicapped with deafness, the bottom fell out. He couldn’t conceive of how he could raise care for and raise the boy without a mother, without his wife. Bob withdrew into himself and later developed a strong hatred for the God he convinced himself was responsible. At very least, He ignored prayers and did nothing, in Bob’s mind. He wanted to hurt that god – if indeed he even existed. Jess, essentially had no-one. So, needing a form of sacrifice in my ministry, and because of my compassion for the child and his family, I took him into my home and cared for him with the help of a few kind people in the church. Iris was an avid believer and would have wanted Jess to be raised as a Bible-believing Christ follower. Bob knows, on some level that Jess is his baby boy. We think that he comes here to be near the boy and not just to rail against “his enemy”. We think that, bit by bit, the message of the cross will sink in. We also never kept Jess from knowing he is Bob’s son. He prays every day for his dad to be well and whole again.”

“You and Mary Ann have certainly done a remarkably good thing with Jess. I commend you.”

“Thanks, but Jess, himself, made it easy. He is a very bright and loving young man.

“And what about the dire straights Calvinton seems to be in? The community seems to have lost its spirit. It seems to be bleeding internally. Mary Ann has high hopes that I can somehow bring a revival through publishing a few pro-Calvinton articles. 

“I think she has a point, but, in my opinion, healing of this town requires a qualified Physician, if you get my meaning. The heart and soul of a community is no less in the hands of its Creator than the hearts and souls of its citizens. They have, to a large extent, turned their backs on Him, allowing His enemy’s conniving cohorts to put in place lies of every destructive kind. I pray against those devils constantly along with my little circle of Guardians in the church. I have even had visions of families with children returning, and, until that time, turning the vacant schoolhouse into a center of learning for the deaf. Jess and Mary Ann would be a nice fit in a place like that. Bottom line is that the church must become the center of the community again, somehow. There must be a body of believers – the Bride – before this town can see restoration. 

“I’ll have to agree on that point. I will try to reflect your hopes in my writing.”

“Thanks, my friend. Well, it’s getting late. Shall we finish this task and head to the diner for some supper? My treat!”

“Sounds good to me!”

I went first down the ladder. The figures of Joseph and the baby Jesus were still together. Joseph was kneeling next to the manger with his hand touching his adopted baby’s head as if in a blessing, as if in wonder, as if in love. Preacher hadn’t come down yet and I saw why. From the opening in the ceiling, he motioned to me with his eyes to look up the aisle. Bob was walking hesitantly toward me.

“You really should leave,” he insisted gruffly. “There’s nothing for you here and you can’t help. There is really no God here. This is the place where the damned come to lose themselves. Is that what you want? You need to go!”

“Well, only the damned can be saved,” I muttered barely above my breath.

“What? . . . What did you say?” his pitch was rising.

“Nothing, I was just . . .
I prayed silently. “Oh God help me, I’m in over my head here,”

At that moment, Bob’s eyes fell upon the scene of Joseph worshiping his son. He was transfixed. It was as though they were speaking to him. I sensed a crux, a tipping point. I heard myself say, “Sir, would you mind if I prayed with you for a little while?” Now I was in it. Oh, God, what do I say now? I have no idea!
I silently begged God to work the miracle upon Bob’s heart that He had upon mine.

“It won’t do any good. It’s too late for me.” Nevertheless he turned and sat in the front left-hand pew. “I won’t stop you, Stranger, but I sure don’t see the point. There is nobody here to pray to.”

As if in answer to my desperation, a picture with a caption appeared in my spirit. “Just worship me, that’s all.” The picture was a child on his knees beside his bed, hands folded, large eyes looking up. “Brilliant,” I thought. I sat on the floor beside Bob’s knees and folded my arms on the bench next to him. Before I buried my face in my arms, I saw that he was shaking his head and rolling his eyes.

“No! I can’t just stop not believing. I would lose myself, lose who I am. I won’t do it. I’m not listening!” If God is real, and I’m pretty sure He’s not, He must hate me bad.

Perceptive Preacher had wisdom and good timing. I heard him put on some background music. Soft and gentle, an instrumental version of Great Is Thy Faithfulness. I’m not much of an out-loud pray-er, but I launched it anyway:

“Father God, I thank you for that time when I was still Your enemy and You sent me a messenger who told me: ‘It’s never too late; He loves you; Told me ‘He is with you, not against you; There is nothing that He can’t forgive.’
Back when I couldn’t believe, I was afraid of the truth, Father, I was blind, and lost, and losing my life, yet I was was told of what You had endured to save me.
I was so broken. Thank you for healing me. Thanks for having a greater plan for me and working all things for my good in spite of my lack of understanding.

Thank You for making a way, a path, for me to get into Your eternal home from where my loved ones beckon to me. I do want to spend Forever with You and with them, dear Lord.
Shedding a few tears, I continued; thank you for loving me, Father. I ask the same grace and mercy and compassion for my friend, here.
I praise You in his place, for he doesn’t know how right now.
Gather him to You, Father.
I ask and I plead in Jesus’ name. Amen”

Halfway through, I heard Bob begin to weep. Before I was finished, he was on the floor beside me, sobbing, with his head buried in his arms on the seat like mine. There was only music for a long time. He became quiet. I heard him very softly whisper, “Iris”. . .  then “Amen”.

There was only soft music, then there was light. I raised my head and looked up. Sunlight was streaming through Preacher’s stained glass window. Even the air seemed to be transformed. “The storm must be over,” I thought. “In more ways than one.”

I heard the door open, looked, and saw Mary Ann hurrying into the sanctuary. I stood, and Bob stood beside me. I think Bob had wept the “scales” right off his eyes. There was a look of fear and surprise on his face, yet I noticed the unmistakable glint of hope in in his eyes. I also perceived an aura of weight dropping off his once drooping shoulders.

Mary Ann was concerned and excited.”Is everything alright? We saw a strange light coming from here and thought there might be a fire.”

Behind her came the two lawmen, the feed store owner, assorted ranchers and townspeople began streaming into the church, mimicking the sunlight streaming through the stained glass. Someone said, “Yup, it was dreary outside when the snow stopped, we felt a far away shakin’, like an avalanche, and then saw lights in the church windows. We thought there had been an explosion and the church was on fire. The door was flung open, then we heard an angelic kinda music and the sun come out!”

Someone else observed, “That’s right, we were kind of, well, drawn over here!”

Another stated, “Sheesh, I ain’t been in the church fer quite a while, this place sure seems differnt! I like it!”

It was as though a shockwave of The Baby’s first loud birth-cry had gone out from the manger, radiating in a circular pattern over the whole town.

Some of the last to enter, were Sheila and Deaf Boy – I mean Jess – hand in hand. The crowd opened to let them through. Bob had the barest hint of a peaceful smile on his face when their eyes met. Jess assessed the situation and discerned. Bob looked at Joseph and his infant son, then back at Jess.

“I, . . . I, . . . I don’t know what to say, except, this stranger here . . . this messenger . . .  God is here! He is real, and alive! I know because He just touched me. I owe Him an apology. I owe all of you an apology. It was like being in prison . . . I have wasted so much time, but no more!

He brushed away the remaining tears and walked slowly, hesitantly toward the young man and held out his hand. Jess’ voice was low, yet bold and sincere.
“Ah – ub – oo, -Nan.”
He bypassed the outstretched hand and instead embraced his birth father. Cheek to cheek and headbone to headbone, Bob’s long pent and overdue reply was, “I love you too, son, . . . we . . . both do. Your mother would be so proud . . .

The sun streaming in took on the qualities of a warm tropical breeze as it wafted through the expanding group of Calvintonites and out the still-open church door. Some in the front of the crowd took a knee facing the altar where Preacher stood smiling. Some bowed their heads. Some looked up at the sunlit window. And all knew that redeeming transformation was taking place right where they stood.

Myself? I noticed “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” was still playing, and I whispered a heartfelt “Thank You”.

I awoke for the third and final time. (Or am I still dreaming? : )
Yes, I’m certain this is, indeed, My Next Christmas Story!

~   ~   ~

Epilogue


Assuredly, I built upon the framework of my dream.

I filled in many blanks, added missing details, and surely, I embellished.
That’s what a writer does, especially one who dreams in the Spirit.

But it took a dream to let me witness something I have longed for – a redeemed soul, due, in part, to one of my prayers. But I still couldn’t figure it out, “My Next Christmas Story?” What did that mean? It wasn’t even close to Christmas, and it seemed like Christmas themes were only a small part of the dream-story. It wasn’t even reality, although many, rightly, in my opinion, argue the reality of dreams.
I pondered, then it hit me like an avalanche! I had witnessed the miracle of Christ being born into a man. God with Bob. Jesus, coming to live in him just like He came to live in the world – and in me! To save us out of love for us.
Being born into the spirit of a single lost and needful man, and not only that, but into the spirit of a stagnant, ill, and needful town. Christmas! Christbirth! Jesus, born into the world, a town, a person, for redemption – for love’s sake. And, also, for Resurrection. Redemption and Resurrection of everything. Next Christmas Story, indeed! Not only that, but why not My Next Easter Story as well?

©Gloryteller Len @Gloryteller.com
5-30-2017
All rights reserved


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Your Daughter, My Mother

After the church service and worship I am celebrating my mother,
but early this morning I was a little melancholy as you will see:

 

Your Daughter, My Mother

Dear Heavenly “Grand”-Father,
Many years ago; more than twenty-two,
You made Mom a place to live
When she went away
To live with You.

Would You go there today,
Right up to her house,
And give her, for me,
A nice new dress, a flowery skirt,
A pretty blouse?

Would You give her
Nice-looking sandals,
Some beautiful shoes?
Oh Grandpa, today I’m getting the blues . . .

Please tell her I miss her.
We are too far apart.
All the time and the distance,
She’s still in my heart.

Would You put a sparkling
Crown on her head?
Or just hold her hand?
Would You give her, today,
A big Daddy-hug?
The warmest kind as only You can?

And tell her that her prayers for me
Were answered by You,
And are being still,
To this very day.

Tell her I’m finally free.
I’m on Jesus’ path,
I’m following Your Way.
Maybe not all that she hoped and she prayed just yet,
But much closer, Grand-Daddy,
Much closer this day.

Today, she just seems much too far away . . .
So thank her for me.
It’s heavy to bear,
That it’s Mothers Day here and she’s way up there.

But tell her I will soon see her, perhaps!
Until then, maybe give her a dance.
Will you give her a flower?
Lord, give her a laugh?

Tell her that I can hardly wait.
I’ll see her at the garden gate
When I finally come.
The one on the west,
When I have my rest.

Meantime, Grandpa,
Please give her my best,
’til I come.
Your best too, ’cause we love her.
And just because she’s Your daughter;
Just because she’s my mom!


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Straining To Reach Beauty

“We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words—to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it….At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door….We cannot mingle with the splendours we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumour that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in.” ~ C.S.Lewis

I know what he means – I think.
But Lewis is right, it can hardly be put into words.
I want to be immersed in the beauty I enjoy with my senses.
I want to be baptized in it.
I want it to soak into me and heal the ache.
I want it to fill the voids of longing and loss.
I strain against my earthbound chains to reach it.
I want to revel in the pure joy of it.
I want to unite with it;
to be it.
Earthly beauty must be but a metaphor,
a poor representation,
of Heavenly beauty.
Did He not create it as a foretaste,
a tidbit,
a sampler of His own absolute beauty?
Ahh, to imagine how durably our spirits must have been created
to stand in His presence
and to bear the unutterable,
unfathomable,
power and glory,
and beauty,
emanating from The Father and from Christ Jesus!
With each new encounter with beauty,
I strive;
I wrench and heave at my chains.
Little by little,
link by link,
they weaken.

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Forever Home

                    

                  Forever Home

 

When our count of days goes way too fast

When earthbound lives are gone and past

 

In sad, lamenting grief we’re cloaked

We limp to You, our only hope

 

We lost them, those who were our own

Or were they not, and just on loan

 

With great compassion You lift us up

For what You gave them, they left with us

 

By Your grace, it’s their love we’ve enjoyed

So eternal, enduring, death can’t destroy

 

Fragrantly lingering, it wafts through our hair

Like tropical breezes, love whispers its care

 

And we know they are with us, as You’ve been from the start

For their love warms our being, lifts our arms, and our heart.

 

So, there lies our hope, it’s Your love and Your faith

You care about us, Your plan is in place

 

We lack understanding, only You know

How to bring home your people, You care for each soul


For You have given us this sleep

The one that, here, we think so deep

 

Yet it is light, and lasts but a whit

So brief, and at the end of it

 

We waken to You, forever home

At last, Your Treasure is our own.

 

At last! Your Joy is now our own!


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One Last Mountain

 

 painting by John McNaughton

painting by John McNaughton

I only recent conquered one
Not so distant past
But each peak now seems harder than
Was climbing up the last

I’m walking so much older now
Much slower than before
It’s time to lay some burdens down
And shoulder them no more

Perhaps I’m almost finished
My climber says I’m not
My will is not diminished
My body not quite shot

But one can hardly ever tell
When one’s nice trail will end
What waits beyond horizon’s hill
Or ’round next river bend

And there will be that one higher
More fright’ning to attempt
Looming there one last hard climb
Where no one is exempt

Daunting doubts I reckon
Uncertain and unknown
Cold airless shadows beckon
To scale it all alone

You fool you will not be alone
The trail well-marked and lit
The crags will have beginner’s holds
You surely will not slip

Up toward my final peak
The one on which I’ll stay
I’ll wait until He finally speaks
Then lifts my soul away

Thus will it be that in the end
I’ll rest there where He Is
In the beauty of the Endless Land
With Him and all of His
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