Shalom Dear Friends;
“ The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utter speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth. And their words to the end of the world.” Psalm 19:1-4
Last night, I dreamt I was in heaven. I am at a loss for words to try and describe the living beauty that I experienced. “Heaven” is a magnificent realm, a great world or kingdom. I did not see the Holy City. This land of harmony pulsates with perfection and life. Gentle breezes, laden with the scent of blossoms wafted around me. Everything here pulsates with life. I couldn’t take my eyes off of the ever changing heavens above me. The soft colours moved like currents in an ocean. Each hue created its own harmonious sound, dove tailing into the those around it, creating a symphony of colour and sound. I was fascinated by the flow and depths or should I say heights. I exclaimed to the ONE who had brought me to this place; “So, this is why no one wants to leave heaven. Then, I heard myself exclaim; “I still have work to do!”
Time to Celebrate Hanukkah the Festival of LIGHTS! Hanukkah is here, we fill our windowsills with fresh cedar boughs from the garden and use lots and lots of miniature lights. For eight evenings we light the lamps and enjoy family. We remember the 7- year Jewish Maccabean Revolt against Seleucid and heathen Greek tyranny from 167-150 BCE. A statue of Zeus was set up in the Jerusalem Temple, build by Ezra and Nehemiah and the returning exiles from Babylon. Pig’s blood was sacrificed on its altars. So why do we care today? Because we must not ever forget the curse of anti-Semitism. Right now it rips through the earth, at a rate greater than pre-WW2. History, past, and present, never allows Jews to forget what was and what is! History has shown that the common man in every nation has always been at the mercy of Evil schemers: the mad, bad and ugly. Today we all grapple with COVID, lockdowns, separations and closure of our houses of worship. It is a perfect time to celebrate our Feasts of Deliverance, Hanukkah & Christmas.
Christmas a greatest festival of Light!
“In Galilee of the Gentiles, the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined. A Light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” Isaiah 9:2, Matthew 4:16, Luke 2:32
Now, a Stroll Down Memory Lane:
Let’s recall our special Christmas moments. What comes to mind? I think of my “big brother” Donnie. We did everything together . Photo: He called me “Memo”. Mom transformed our ordinary into the extraordinary with decorations, a tree, fresh boughs and lights. “Jack Frost” painted delicate lacy patterns in the ice that frosted our windows. Photo: of ice patterns on window panes.
- 1945 We printed a simple letter to Santa with one request. Mom lifted one of the lids at the back of the large black cast-iron cooking stove. We dropped our notes in away from the flame. She assured us that “they flew up the chimney to the North Pole”. In childlike simplicity we believed it. My most memorable gifts were a black doll when I was 4. Grandma gave me A Child’s First Book of Poetry when I was 5, an emerald ring at 9.
- 1946 I remember, when Grandaddy’s farm was buried in snow. His big surprise was an old fashioned one horse open sleigh ride. We were covered up to our chins with a bear skin. “All ready?” Clicking his tongue, he flicked the reigns, “Giddy up,” he ordered. The horse pulled and we skimmed over the fields and dale of a magical winter wonderland. The stillness was broken only by tinkling brass bells on the horse’s harness and the slushing sound of steel runners slicing over ice and snow. We are still warmed today remembering this beautiful experience, forever etched into our minds and hearts.
- 1948 Carefully we unwrapped delicate ornaments. Mom reminded us that some had come from her home and were older than we were. In the Yukon where we lived, the snow piled up to our windowsills, We wore the warm fur-lined clothing of the natives.
- 1952 My brother led us into the snowy woods in Eastern Canada to cut the perfect tree. Our collie bounded ahead, barking excitedly. We hauled the spruce home on our sleigh.
- We helped Mom bake dozens of cookies. Soon the house was filled with the clean fresh aroma of spruce mingled with sweet oriental scents of cinnamon and nutmeg. Dad brought in boxes of little Japanese tangerines individually wrapped in tissue paper.
- 1950 – 1953 Old fashioned school and church concerts opened the holiday season. Fondly I remember reciting verses and singing choruses. Over the years, in the Nativity story, we became sheep, shepherds, wise men, angels and even Joseph and Mary. Each child anticipated receiving that special brown paper bag tied up with string. It was stuffed with homemade chocolate fudge, gingerbread cookies, a mince meat tart, English taffies, nuts and at the bottom, and always a big orange.
- 1956 Grandma’s round oak table groaned under the bountiful feast. I remember, this year her homegrown turkey weighed 45 pounds. True. It had to be cut in half before it could fit into the oven of her wood stove. Her white and dark, six inch high, fruit cakes covered with marzipan and red maraschino cherries were rich and delicious.
- 1974 Jay and I lived in Carros, Southern France. It was a 13th century stone village built upon the ruins of an 11th century castle. That snowy Christmas Eve we hosted French-Canadian university students from Paris. They brought French lyrics and a flute and suggested we go carolling. Carrying lighted candles, we sang our way up and down the crooked, stone streets. Though this insular Roman Catholic, Patois speaking village, ancient wooden doors opened. Most faces showed utter surprise, upon seeing us Westerners singing their ancient songs. Immediately, faces softened. We were offered cups of warm wine before moving on. By the end of the evening, we were toasty warm inside and out. Those ancient carols rehearsed the greatest story ever told and blessed us all.
- 1975 Our young sons asked for a set of matchbox cars. Jay and I had no extra funds to provide such a gift, but we prayed. The week before Christmas, Princess Grace of Monaco held her famous “Christmas Bazaar”. We were invited by a Monagask friend. Through her we met local American missionaries with teenage children. Visiting them briefly, their son quietly took Jay aside and asked, “I would like to give my entire collection of matchbox cars and trucks to your children.” On Christmas morning two little boys, David and Chris awakened us with their squeals of delight. Under the small pine tree, dozens of miniature cars and trucks stood along with an entire set of GI Joes. Our thanks to a teen who heard the Still Small Voice. “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things. Matt.12:15a
* 1978 By now, we lived in Haifa Israel. Jay’s Mom and Dad were visiting from Canada. Our neighbour Professor Shmuel, head of the math department at the Technion University and his wife joined us that Christmas eve. He told us of his daring exploits In WW2 rescuing homeless Jewish children through the port of Marseille. He loved Christmas carols and we played his favourites. “Just one more …” he kept requesting. By one a.m. we were exhausted but didn’t want to be rude. Shmuel enjoyed our faith stories. “You, know, I was a gunner in our 1948 War of Independence, so I’m deaf in my left ear.”
Jay offered, “We can pray for you Shmuel. God will heal you.”
“Yes, of course! I’d be glad to.” Laying both of his hands on Shmuel’s head, Jay prayed and asked very simply for healing. Silently, I agreed from the other side of our living room.
Shmuel’s blue eyes flew open wide. “I can hear!” he exclaimed, amazed. He swallowed hard, hIs eyes watering. When he regained his composure, he said very quietly, “Thank you, todah rabah.” This crusty old professor was completely taken by surprise. Keeping a tight reign on his emotions, he quickly wished us all good evening and hurried home.
* On Christmas eve in Jerusalem, Israelis flock to carolling services held at Christ Church just inside Jaffa gate. We discovered that Jews love to get close to anyone who celebrates, be it with a turkey dinner or concert. Christmas and Hanukkah often fall within days of each other. We have open house and many Israelis pour in for a little “cup of kindness”, including several of our sons’ former army buddies. One year, our friend Joe, dressed up like the sugar plum fairy and Daniel as the Grinch threatened to steal the grandchildren’s presents. We gather around the fireplace and read portions of the Christmas story. Hearts are always warmed and no one wants to leave.
- Christmas is a time of pouring out whether it is convenient or not. There is always a way to bless and celebrate. My heart swells in emotion recalling these times. A store room of lasting memories helps to warm the dark winter days. We pass the love on to you our dear friends and supporters. Thank you for being there for us.
Pray for the Men in your life by Name:
God has laid it on my heart to pray specifically for the men in our lives. Everywhere men are under attack, especially believing, consecrated and descent men. They are often undervalued. First, I pray asking Jesus to fortify the men in my life. Jay and I call out each name, one by one, along with their city. Then we ask Jesus to “Bless his heart!” We call out the names of men we know from all over the earth.Sure it sounds weak and foolish! But, we sensed a great anointing and empowering in our faith as we did so.
So I sought for man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found none.” Ezekiel 22:30 “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder.” Isaiah:6 “Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.” Luke 15:21 “ …wait on your God continually.” Hosea 12:6.
Good News from Nepal! Thank you, to each and everyone who recently encouraged our adopted Nepalese daughter Indira by your giving. She wrote: “Dear papa; Thank you so much for the CHF 1,500. for CAN – Change Action Nepal. We are planning to buy a piece of land and build our own “Safe House”. The girls and I continue to pray for you and Mama and the whole ministry. Much love and peace, Indira. Friends: We need your financial help in any way possible. To make a donation go directly to Change Action Nepal website: www.changeactionnepal.com
Here is the address for last month’s SMV letter on Nepal. Please send it to at least one friend. Help us to buy land and build a safe house in Nepal.