What does the Apostle Paul, Bob Dylan have in common? They both understand that being human means living with internal conflict. They understand that no one is their best self at all times. Sometimes the less than desirable part of one’s personality expresses itself. It is a struggle as long as you live.

DylanbyBarryFeinstein

Dylan put it this way: “Most of the time, I’m clear focused all around. Most of the time, I can keep both feet on the ground. I can follow the path, I can read the signs. Stay right with it when the road unwinds…Most of the time.”

“Most of the time, my head is on straight. Most of the time, I’m strong enough not to hate. I don’t build up illusion ’till it makes me sick. I ain’t afraid of confusion no matter how thick… Most of the time.”

“Most of the time, I’m halfway content. Most of the time, I know exactly where it all went. I don’t cheat on myself, I don’t run and hide. Hide from the feelings, that are buried inside…Most of the time.”

The Apostle Paul said it like this: “What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise” (Romans 7:15 MSG).

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Born Robert Allen Zimmerman, Bob Dylan has been an influential figure in popular music and culture for more than five decades. In the 1960s he became a reluctant “voice of a generation” with lyrics that appealed to the anti-establishment culture of that time.

More recently Mr. Dylan became the first musician to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2016. It was perhaps the most radical choice for such an honor in the Swedish Academy’s 115 year history.

people,illustration,adult,vertical,portrait,man,religion,veil

Paul the Apostle was born about 5 BC into a devout Jewish family in the city of Tarsus, one of the largest trade centers on the Mediterranean coast. He received his education in Jerusalem at the school of Gamaliel, one of the most noted rabbis in history. 

The conversion of Paul on the road to Damascus.

Saul of Tarsus, as he was known, dedicated to persecuting the early followers of Jesus. One day as he was traveling on the road from Jerusalem to Damascus on a mission to “arrest them and bring them back to Jerusalem” the resurrected Jesus appeared to him in a great light and he was struck blind. After three days his sight was restored and his life’s mission changed. He became a devoted follower of Jesus and is often considered to be the second most important person in the history of Christianity.

Both Bob Dylan and the Apostle Paul understood the difficulty of living as one should. They knew how hard it is to be true to the values that give a person dignity and demonstrates the honorable quality of life.

Paul the Apostle in prison, writing his epistle to the Ephesians.

Paul said: “I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?” And he found an answer to his dilemma. “The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions” (Romans 7:24-25 The Message).

I am so glad that we are not left to struggle through life alone and that there is a solution to our struggles. The Prayer of Confession and Pardon that many Christians often pray sums it up:

“Merciful God, we confess that we have not loved you with our whole heart. We have failed to be an obedient church. We have not done your will, we have broken your law, we have rebelled against your love, we have not loved our neighbors, and we have not heard the cry of the needy.

Forgive us, we pray. Free us for joyful obedience, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Then the response to the prayer: Hear the good news: Christ died for us while we were yet sinners; that proves God’s love toward us. In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven!”

Glory to God. Amen.

Jamie Jenkins

 

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Dinah Washington won a Grammy Award in 1959 for Best Rhythm and Blues Performance with a song entitled What a Difference a Day Makes.  It was originally written in Spanish by Maria Grever. The English lyrics were written by Stanley Adams in 1934. The most successful early recording, in 1934, was by the Dorsey Brothers, although it was first recorded in English by Cleveland crooner Jimmie Ague.(http://www.songswithearlierhistories.com/what-a-difference-a-day-makes/)

What a Difference a Day Makes

In the song things changed dramatically in a twenty-four hour period. Lonely nights and dreary days are transformed into sunshine and flowers. A rainbow appears where once there were stormy skies. According to the song, all of this changes “Since that moment of bliss that thrilling kiss.” Romance!

Aileen Quinn in Annie (1982)

The idea of drastic and instant positive change is also sounded in the song Tomorrow from the Broadway musical production of Annie. The title character lives in a miserable orphanage run by the terrible Miss Hannigan. But good fortune comes Annie’s way when she is given the opportunity to spend the Christmas holidays in the home of billionaire Oliver Warbucks. Annie repeatedly sings “Just thinkin’ about, tomorrow clears away the cobwebs and the sorrow, till’ there’s none.” The song pronounces an optimistic view of life as she continues, “When I’m stuck with a day that’s grey and lonely, I just stick out my chin, and grin, and say, ‘Oh, the sun’ll come out tomorrow so you gotta’ hang on till’ tomorrow come what may.”

It is true that things can change dramatically overnight, or in the blink of an eye. Adversity can be overcome. Failure can become success. Defeat can be transformed into victory.

But all change that comes quickly is not positive. Health can deteriorate. Fortunes can be lost. Relationships are destroyed. Lives can be snuffed out. In an instant!

It is important to maintain a positive attitude. But things do not always work out like we hoped and planned. When positive thinking comes up short, when the difference a day makes is devastating, what do you do? Where do you turn?

Wisdom of the ages suggests that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present[a]help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). David, the King of ancient Israel gives good advice: The Lord is my solid rock, my fortress, my rescuer. My God is my rock. I take refuge in him! He is my shield, my salvation’s strength, my place of safety” (Psalm 18:2).

Jamie Jenkins

Do you have a sibling, co-worker, or friend who gets all the attention and accolades and you feel like you are invisible? If so, you can probably identify with Charles Wesley.

Charles Wesley

Charles and his brother John were key figures in a significant historical and religious movement in 18th century that sought to reform the Church of England. The movement was a part of what some defined as “a dramatic, divinely inspired return to true Christianity (that) balanced the moral budget of the British people.”

The Wesley brothers were leaders of a small group of believers and fellow students at Oxford University in the first quarter of the 1700s. They became known as the Methodists because of their methodical devotion to prayer, frequent attendance at Holy Communion, serious Bible study, and regular visits to the prisons.

John is most often credited with being the “founder” of Methodism primarily because of his organizational ability and his preaching. Charles lived in his brother’s shadow. However I believe the case can be made that Charles’ role was equally important. Nevertheless he is often referred to as the “forgotten Wesley.”

It has been said that Charles Wesley averaged 10 poetic lines a day (2 hymns a week) for 50 years. He wrote more than 6,500 hymns,* 10 times the volume that could be claimed by the only other candidate, Isaac Watts, who many regard as the world’s greatest hymn writer. The compiler of the massive Dictionary of Hymnology, John Julian, concluded that “perhaps, taking quantity and quality into consideration, (Charles Wesley was) the greatest hymn-writer of all ages.”

The Hymn Writers: Charles Wesley

In describing Charles’ work, Julian says, “The saying that a really good hymn is as rare an appearance as that of a comet is falsified by (his) work; for hymns, which are really good in every respect, flowed from his pen in quick succession, and death alone stopped the course of the perennial stream.”

The famous preacher Henry Ward Beecher declared, “I would rather have written that hymn of Wesley’s, ‘Jesus, Lover of My Soul,’ than to have the fame of all the kings that ever sat on the earth.” Not bad commendation for the “forgotten” Wesley. One who lived in his brother’s shadow.

 

Jamie Jenkins

 

*Some of the well-known and favorite hymns of Charles Wesley include:

Hark the Herald Angels Sings

And Can It be That I Should Gain

O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing

Love Divine, All Loves Excelling

Jesus, Lover of My Soul

Christ the Lord is Risen Today

Soldiers of Christ, Arise

Rejoice! The Lord is King!

state of israel | Here’s a map of Israel as things stand today:

You must be crazy. You are going to get yourself killed. That or some similar comment is what I have heard every time I am preparing to visit Israel. And I have been there more than two dozen times over the past four decades.

My first trip to the region (known as Israel, Palestine, West Bank) was in 1981. At that time I spoke with an elderly man who had traveled to the Holy Land every year starting in 1966. He told me that he always was confronted by people who believed he was putting himself in danger and could not believe why he would do something so foolish. Thirty-seven years later I face the same situation.

There is no question that there is conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis. There is even conflict within those two groups. There is no denying that there are incidents of violence as a result of the differences of opinion about ownership of the land. To suggest that there is no tension and no abuse of human rights would be foolish. Nevertheless, I have never felt unsafe or at risk as I have traveled throughout the region. And I know hundreds, probably thousands, of persons who have experiences similar to mine.

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During the time when Manuel Noriega was the de facto ruler of Panama a group form my church went to Panama on a work mission. Noriega had strong political ties to the United States but he was not very popular with many of the Panamanian people. In a conversation with the church leader with whom the team was working the question was raised, “What do the people of Panama think about us Americans?” The reply was, “They love you. They just don’t like your government.”

Peace out. Photo by Sharon Altshul

Over the years of traveling to the Middle East I have found the Israelis and Palestinians to be warm and friendly people. Their opinions about their government and ours does not prevent them from being welcoming and kind. Tourism is one of Israel’s major sources of income and benefits all of the people in the land. One report indicates that 3.6 million tourists arrived in Israel/Palestine in 2017. While the ideological and political struggles are ongoing, people from all over the world are welcomed.

The faithful in prayer. Photo by Jaeheon, Kim.

A shop keeper sits across from his shop in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City. Photo by Sarah Tuttle-Singer

Israel offers a plethora of historical and religious sites, beach resorts, archaeological tourism, heritage tourism, and ecotourism. One source suggests that Israel has the highest number of museums per capita in the world. A large percentage of the tourists come to visit sites of significant to three of the major religions of the world- Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.

Many people are afraid to go to Israel because of the frequent news reports of violence. We hear daily of random acts of violence in schools, churches, shopping malls, and on the streets of cities and small communities all over the United States. But we don’t stop sending our children to school. We don’t quit shopping at the mall or attending sporting events and concerts. We don’t stop going to our places of worship.

We live in a dangerous and violent world. I realize there is a real possibility of encountering violence in Israel but I do not believe it is more likely than in Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas, Newtown (Connecticut), or Sutherland Springs (Texas).That is our reality but we cannot allow this “new reality” to sap us of our enthusiasm for life or the adventure and education of travel.

Jamie Jenkins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I grew up on the Gulf Coast in Mobile, Alabama. Except for five years in New York, I have lived my life in the Deep South. I have always enjoyed sports and in my environment that meant baseball, football, basketball, and tennis. Because of the temperate climate in the region ice hockey has not been high on my lists of competitive sports.

Atlanta Flames 1972-73 hockey logo

I saw my first live hockey game in the early 1970s at the Omni in Atlanta. The Atlanta Flames were a professional team of the National Hockey League (NHL) from 1972-1980. The team struggled to establish a fan base and were finally sold and relocated to Alberta, Canada.

NEW OLD STOCK CCM ATLANTA THRASHERS HOCKEY JERSEY JR L / XL NHL LICENSED

The Atlanta area’s growth and the migration of many people from the northern states led to a second NHL franchise being located in the city in 1997. The Thrashers played their home games in Phillips Arena, which had replaced the Omni as a downtown sports venue. I attended one of the team’s games before they met a similar fate as the Flames. They were and moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada in 2011.

Eight years before the Thrashers moved out of town a minor league hockey team relocated to the Atlanta area.  The franchise originated as the Mobile Mysticks but were rebranded as the Gladiators and moved to their new home in suburban Gwinnett County. In 2015, the Gladiators became the affiliate of the Boston BruinS, an NHL Team since 1924.

My two sons, my grandson, and I recently attended a couple of the Gladiators games at the Infinite Energy Arena. We knew none of the players on the Gladiators or their opponent the Florida Everblades. Prior to this, collectively the four of us had attended only a handful of games. It was a first-time experience for my grandson.

Gladiators Hockey Game Dec 2018

None of us had any real attachment to the team or much knowledge about the rules or how the game is played. Nevertheless we joined in cheering our hometown team. When something good happened for the Gladiators we shouted and applauded. When the referee called a penalty against “our” team, we booed. When the same call was made against the other team, we shouted our approval.

Hockey fans at stadium : Stock Photo

I have reflected on the experience of those two hockey games over the past few weeks. I have thought about the way we claimed the home team and was pleased when things didn’t go well for their opponents. We could have just enjoyed the game. The skating ability of the players. The speed of the game. The energy of the teams and the fans. We had no connection to the home team except that they were the Atlanta Gladiators. They represented us and the match was between “us” and “them.”

I wonder how many times the scenario of the hockey game is repeated in other facets of my life. How often do I see things as competition between “Us” and “Them?” Do I view the attitudes and actions of myself and others like me as “right and good” and those of others as “harmful and wrong.”

In examining my behavior at the hockey game I realized how easy it is to “see the splinter that’s in my brother’s or sister’s eye, but don’t notice the log in my own eye.” How easy it is to say to another person,” Let me take the splinter out of your eye,’ when there’s a log in my own eye.”

God, help me to guard against the “US vs. Them” mindset. Help me to see others as my brothers and sisters, creatures of equality and deserving of honor and dignity.

Jamie Jenkins

Adults are often reminded that they are the role models for children to follow. that is true and we who have numbered enough years to be considered “adult” should take it seriously. However, that is not to say that all examples of how to live are restricted to those who have reached a certain age.

Child, Beautiful, Model, Little, Cute

“A little child shall lead them” is often quoted in an effort to accent the fact that adults can learn from children’s behavior. While it is true that younger people often provide insight into how we ought to treat each other, the stated quotation is taken out of context.

A post on the blog, Theologically Speaking, suggests that children often are “a fine example to us all and that we would do well to follow (them) in being more concerned about the needs of others.  However, I am startled at how often the phrase ‘And a little child shall lead them’ is taken completely out of context.  The original quote has nothing to do with children teaching or leading adults.”

The blogger is correct. The phrase is actually a quote from Isaiah 11:6 in the Old Testament.  “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them.” This is referring to a future era of peace and tranquility when the Messiah will reign. The text has nothing to do with a child leading adults.

People, Children, Child, Happy

Nevertheless, there is much we can learn from the example of children. Jesus used a child as the example of humility, a quality that He put at the top of the list of his prerequisites for entering the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:1-6). Someone said that humility is not thinking too little of one’s self; humility is just not thinking of one’s self. Children often lead us in humility.

Children also lead us in generosity. I know that you can witness a lot of selfishness in children. But when you do I believe it is a learned behavior. It is not their natural disposition.

Photo of Peachtree Road United Methodist Church - Atlanta, GA, United States

On the Sunday before Christmas Eve, the worshipers at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church in Atlanta learned about one of the church’s mission projects. This congregation has partnered with Start With One Kenya (http://www.startwithonekenya.org) to provide clean water to the people of Kenya. The Christmas Eve Offering last year was devoted to provide water filters to 10,000 homes in Lanet and on the Islands of Lake Victoria.

Start With One Kenya ... help by giving for a tax deductible donation that transforms lives.  www.StartWithOneKenya.org  Its Easy, Its Fast, and Its Secure

Due to this concentrated effort

  • Water Borne Disease Instances have been reduced by 89.9%
  • Water Borne Disease Instances for Children Under 5 years of age have been reduced by 93.9%
  • Money Spent on Doctor Visits and Medicines to treat WBD has been reduced by 93.0%
  • Number of Days of School Missed have been Reduced by 94.7%
  • Number of Days of Work Missed have been Reduced by 96.3%

These dramatic changes are the result of providing families with a $40 water filter that lasts 10 years.

Water Filters 1

This year the focus turns to Rongai, Kenya with approximately 15,000 households. Typhoid, Cholera, and Dysentery are devastating this area. It was announced that the goal for the next Sunday’s Christmas Eve Offering was $240,000 to match a gift of another $240,000. This money would provide water filters for the people of the Rongai region.

Water Filters 2

My granddaughter was with us in worship and, unknown to me, she took the offering card home. She completed the card and the next Sunday she put it and $80 of her money (the cost of 2 water filters) in the offering plate. When I learned of it and told her how proud I was of her, she said, “I would like to give 1000 water filters but I don’t have that much money.”

The Christmas Eve Offering totaled more than $266,000 but I suspect no one gave more proportionally than Felicia. A child shall lead them!

Jamie Jenkins

Happy New Year 2018 Everyone

At the beginning of a new year many people make New Year’s resolutions. It is an attempt to express one’s intention to “to change an undesired trait or behavior, to accomplish a personal goal or otherwise improve their life” (Wikipedia). I am not one of those people.

One study found 46% of participants who made common New Year’s resolutions (e.g. weight loss, exercise programs, quitting smoking) were likely to succeed, over ten times as much as those who decided to make life changes at other times of the year.

new year's resolutions : Stock Photo

Darin P. St. George, a personal trainer who works under the pseudonym Trainer X at Gold’s Gym in Natick, Mass., suggests that New Year’s resolutions are as fleeting as the rose petals littering the streets of Pasadena after the Rose Bowl parade has gone by.

Jason Elias, PhD, a staff  psychologist at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass. says it’s OK to make New Year’s resolutions, but only if you see them not as unbreakable promises to yourself, but as positive statements about possibilities.

“What New Year’s resolutions tend to be is a statement of your motivation of your intentions — like a bit of cheerleading for yourself.” He tells WebMD. “But the problem with that is that sometimes people set their goals too high, such as ‘getting my life back on track,’ and those things are way too big to keep track of, to know whether or not you’re even making progress on them.”

Since I do not engage in the tradition of making New Year’s Resolutions I cannot offer any personal experiences of success or failure at accomplishing them. I will not pass on any suggestions of their value but in the early stages of 2018 I want to share some advice given by one of the world’s greatest leaders.

Words That Ring Through Time: From Moses and Pericles to Obama - Fifty-one of the Most Important Speeches in History and How They Changed Our World (Hardback)

In his book Words That Ring Throughout Time, Terry Golway includes the words of  Moses, the great Liberator of the Jewish people 3000 years ago. After leading the Israelites for over 40 years, they are about to cross into the Promised Land. But Moses is faced with the reality that he will not enter with them. As he prepares for his death he addresses the people.

Moses Talks to His People

The Book of Deuteronomy contains Moses memories of the long and treacherous journey from exile in Egypt. As he prepares to turn over the leadership role to Joshua, “Moses issued a stern warning, leavened by encouragement and the promise of rewards for keeping faith in God” (Golway).

Hello January

 

With the first month of 2018 almost half gone, I offer the words of Moses as guidance for the future.

Listen obediently to God and keep the commandments and regulations written in this Book of the Law and turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

I set before you today life and what’s good versus death and what’s wrong. And I command you today: Love God, your God. Walk in his ways. Keep his commandments, regulations, and rules so that you will live, really live, live exuberantly, blessed by God, your God, in the land you are about to enter and possess.

But I warn you: If you have a change of heart, refuse to listen obediently, and willfully go off to serve and worship other gods, you will most certainly die. You won’t last long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.

I call heaven and earth as my witnesses against you right now: I have set life and death, blessing and curse before you. Now choose life—so that you and your descendants will live by loving the Lord your God, by obeying his voice, and by clinging to him. That’s how you will survive and live long on the fertile land the Lord swore to give to your ancestors: to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.*

Jamie Jenkins

*Deuteronomy 30:10, 15-20 adapted from The Message, The Common English Bible, and The New International Version

Much of our identity comes from the formal and informal groups with which we relate or to which we belong. Civic clubs, charitable and political organizations, athletic booster clubs, religious groups, and many more appeal to different people. Recently I have become a part of the SSPS (Shoulder Surgery Patients Society).

SSPS is not an “official” group or organization but it has many adherents. I had no idea until a recent fall injured my left shoulder. After X-rays at the Urgent Care facility I was given a sling to support the weight of the arm. A follow up visit to an orthopedic doctor and an ultrasound determined that I had a torn rotator cuff and surgery was scheduled.

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that act to stabilize the shoulder. These muscles are important in shoulder movements and in maintaining shoulder joint stability.

Illustration of three types of rotator cuff injuries.

Rotator cuff injuries occur most often in people who repeatedly perform overhead motions in their jobs or sports. Examples include painters, carpenters, and people who play baseball or tennis. The risk of rotator cuff injury also increases with age.

Once I started wearing the sling it was obvious to others that I had an injury and people from everywhere began to tell me of their experience with shoulder problems. One 90 year-old friend said he had the same problem and his doctor told him that surgery was not an option because at his age they would find “nothing but mush” in his shoulder. The physician that performed my ultrasound said there was “some degenerative decay” in my shoulder. I think he was telling me the same thing my friend had been told.

shoulder sling

I have been in the supermarket checkout line and have someone look at my shoulder and ask, “Rotator cuff?” When I reply in the affirmative I have heard many different scenarios based on the experience of other folks. Most of them have been horror stories. How terrible the surgery is, how long it takes to recover, and how much pain is to be expected. I have been told more than once that “you will never be 100% again.”

I had no idea that so many people had suffered a torn rotator cuff. In fact, it seems that those who have not are in the minority. Many well-meaning suggestions have been offered and some of them have been helpful. Others not so much so.

Four weeks after surgery and several times with a physical terrorist therapist I have increased the range of motion and look forward to beginning strengthening exercises after the shoulder repair has healed.

All things considered, it has been an interesting experience. I appreciate the genuine concern and empathy offered by strangers as well as close friends and acquaintances. Folks have been very helpful when they realize that some things take two hand/arms. Deference to one who has only “one good arm” has been welcomed at times and irritating at other times.

Another result of this injury is the awareness of how much I take for granted. Simple everyday functions are affected when one limb is weak. The discomfort from the shoulder makes it difficult to get comfortable enough to sleep. It is awkward at times to maintain balance and there are other irritating effects. I am fortunate that the injured shoulder is not my dominant one. Since I am right handed, it would have been much worse if I had fallen and hurt the right shoulder.

Ludlow Porch

Ludlow Porch (his real name was Bobby Crawford Hanson) was a southern humorist who hosted a radio show in Atlanta for many years. He was not the kind of talk show hosts that is most prominent today. He made people laugh with his spoofs and conversations with his regular “Wackos.” He would frequently refer to some experiences as “gnat bites.” They would not kill you but they were very irritating.

In the grand scheme of things this is just an inconvenience. It is not life threatening. I am not totally incapacitated. I am not in excruciating pain. This is just a gnat bite.

Jamie Jenkins

Close-up of Multi Colored Figurine

This week includes two very important dates. First of all, this past Monday was Christmas Day. It is a high holy day for people all over the world because it is the celebration of Jesus Christ. The birth of that baby in the tiny town of Bethlehem was an event that has changed the world and divided time.

TFree stock photo of decoration, christmas, celebration, goldhanks to my wife, our house was beautifully decorated for the Advent Season as we anticipated Christmas. I was blessed by the devotional thoughts that the staff and many members of our church shared. My family and I participated in worship services and attended several musical programs leading up to December 25. It was a joyful and hope filled season. Then on Christmas Day we enjoyed visiting with friends as we gathered around the table for a holiday feast.

Christmas Crib Figures, Christmas

On December 25, near the end of the calendar year, Christmas reminded us of God’s promise of peace on earth.

Close-up of Wedding Rings on Floor

Today, December 28, is the second day of significance for me. Forty-nine years ago today my wife and I vowed to love one another “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death.”

When we stood at the altar of that little church on Stone Street in Mobile, Alabama three days after Christmas in 1968 I could not have imagined how wonderful marriage would be. Also, I had no idea how difficult it is to merge two distinctly different personalities into a unit of mutual respect and love. But over the years I have come to realize that two can become one without either individual being lost in the process.

There have been many challenges as well as joyous experiences. Struggles and triumphs. I am grateful that Lena has stuck with me through the good times and the tough times. “A true lover always feels in debt to the one he loves” (Ralph W. Sockman). I would not call myself a “true lover” but I certainly acknowledge that I am indebted to her.

Victor Hugo said, “Life’s greatest happiness is to be convinced we are loved.” I have never doubted her love as she has been my chief critic and number one cheerleader. She has traveled with me through three states, nine houses, and many different contexts. She raised our three children with minimal help from me. She is a strong woman, a wonderful wife, and a great mother/grandmother.

“We recognize a soulmate by the supreme level of comfort and security we feel with that person. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t issues that remain to be ironed out. Rather, it means we know intuitively that we can resolve issues … without losing his or her love and respect” (Linda Brady). I am grateful for 49 years of marriage to my soulmate and I am excited about our future together.

Jamie Jenkins

The lights, nativity sets and all the decorations help me get into the spirit of the season but the music really plays an important part in my preparation for celebrating the birth of the Christ Child.

Singer Nat 'King' Cole and his daughter Natalie Cole pose for a portrait session in front of a Christmas tree in circa 1955

Nat King Cole and his daughter, c. 1955. Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

One website (https://www.thoughtco.com/top-christmas-songs-3245323) listed “The Christmas Song” as the Number One song of the season. Co-written by singer Mel Torme, it was recorded at least three times by Nat King Cole, but the 1961 recording is often considered the best. Hearing “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” puts you in the mood for the winter holiday.Judy Garland, as Esther Smith, in "Meet Me In St Louis," 1944.

Another classic is “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” sung by Judy Garland in the 1944 movie musical “Meet Me In St. Louis”. The filmmakers complained that in the first version, the song’s lyrics were too depressing and commissioned a rewrite that became the most popular interpretation.

Bing Crosby White Christmas

“White Christmas” introduced in the 1942 movie musical “Holiday Inn” won an Academy Award for Best Song From a Motion Picture. Bing Crosby’s version from the film has sold over 50 million copies. Little Drummer Boy was composed  by Katherine K. Davis in 1941. It was popularized in an arrangement by the Harry Simeone Chorale. An animated TV special was created based on the song’s story in 1968.

 

 

picture of rudolph red nosed reindeer - Digitally painted - JPG

Frosty the Snowman is another standard of the Christmas season. And you can’t leave out the story of Rudolph, Santa’s 9th reindeer, created by Montgomery Ward employee Robert L. May in 1939, adapted into song and turned into a hit by Gene Autry in 1949 and later by Burl Ives. Another standard is “Jingle Bells” which was first copyrighted under the title “One Horse Open Sleigh” in 1857. It has become one of the most popular Christmas songs around the world.

Brenda Lee Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree

There are many other songs that are popular but not among my favorites. Brenda Lee’s “”Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” (1958) and “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” written in 1934 and first performed on the Eddie Cantor radio show, are among them.

Add to the list “All I Want for Christmas Is You” (1994), “Jingle Bell Rock” (1957), “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” (1978), “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” (1956), and “Blue Christmas” (1948) and you have more than enough “Christmas” music.

stock photo of silent night - Silent night in suburban setting - JPG

I can enjoy some of the songs listed above and tolerate others but the “real” sounds are Christmas are found in the Christmas carols like Silent Night, It is believed that Silent Night was first composed in German in 1816. The song was later translated into English and sung by both sides in the World War I Christmas truce due to the fact it was the primary Christmas carol that both German and British soldiers knew.

joy to the world, heard the bells on christmas day, vintage sheet music, christmas hymn, public domain christmas song, free sheet music graphic

I can’t imagine  Christmas without singing Joy to the World written by Isaac Watts using Scripture for the lyrics or O Holy Night composed in 1847. Another that must be sung during the period leading up to Christmas Day is It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, written by Unitarian pastor Edmund Sears in 1849.

Don’t forget Angels We Have Heard on High which originated as a French carol but was translated into the English version in the mid-1800’s. Surely you will also want to sing We Three Kings written by Reverend John Henry Hopkins, Jr. together for a Christmas pageant at New York’s General Theological Seminary in the mid-1800’s.

Printable Christmas songs; 'O Come All Ye Faithful' is the only song I know how to sing in Latin. I want to do a journal page about this at some point...

Any musical journey toward Christmas has to include Hark! The Herald Angels Sing written by Charles Wesley, brother of John Wesley the founder of Methodism. The first publication date for the carol was 1739. One of the best known carols is O Come All Ye Faithful, dating to the mid-1700’s and is often performed in Latin as “Adeste Fidelis.”

The birth of Jesus occurred in a relatively small and unimportant town. After visiting the birthplace of the Christ Child in 1865, Episcopal priest Phillips Brooks was inspired to write the words to O Little Town of Bethlehem.

Okay, by now I hope you are whistling, humming, or singing some of the Christmas Carols and adding to the sounds of the season. Hopefully they help you prepare for the High Holy Day that marks the time that God took on human form in the Person of Jesus, the Savior of the World.

Jamie Jenkins

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