Be the Few this Christmas…and beyond — A Quote

“How many observe Christ’s birthday: How few his precepts!”

— Poor Richard

 

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A Christmas Poem by Amy Walters (2016)

A Christmas Poem by Amy Walters (2016)

Today we celebrate our Savior’s birth,
We contemplate how God came to earth.
We know of the joy that surrounded that day
But remember the reason he came.

For centuries, the prophecies foretold
The Messiah must walk a painful road.
Our minds often go to his death, but then,
When did His suffering begin?

Did it wait for the thorns to tangle a crown?
Did it start with the nails that pierced his hands down?
Did it come when the Father turned away His face
As His Son took our sin and disgrace?

Was it there in the garden of Gethsemane
As those who had called themselves friends instead flee?
Did it come with the kiss from the one who’d betray,
As he sweat drops of blood on that day?

No doubt pain was there in the angry mob
As the whips tore His flesh and made his back throb.
When the people who just the week before cheered,
Now had all gathered to jeer.

But his suffering had started long before
As God lived in flesh and humanity bore.
He learned obedience in suffering,
Jesus, our compassionate King.

Did his feet grow sore as he walked place to place?
He must have felt cold as storm rain lashed his face.
His hunger was strong as he fasted and prayed
And lived in the world He had made.

He wept at the loss of Lazarus, his friend
And saw many friendships come to an end.
Tiredness and hunger were no doubt there
As crowds followed him everywhere.

Did he get blisters while doing his carpentry?
As a boy, did he fall and scrape his knee?
Was he shamed for his out-of-wedlock birth,
As he grew on this fallen earth?

When laid down to sleep, was he scratched by the hay?
Did the noise of the animals keep him awake?
Did he miss the presence of His Father above,
And long for the warmth of His love?

On that sweet morning, when Jesus was born,
When deity arrived in humankind’s form,
He took on the hurts that live on this earth,
From the very day of his birth.

So come bring your comfort to Jesus today
Come with gratitude for the child in the hay
Come and adore the newborn king
Come join with the angels to sing.

Come celebrate that God is near
Fill your heart with warmth and cheer
Come honor the one who suffered for you
And thank Him for all He went through.

The Christmas Carol Soldier — The Story Behind A Poem

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, or if you look back at the archives, you may know that for the last couple of Christmases I’ve posted the lyrics, video, or story of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, originally titled Christmas Bells. Well, it’s that joyous time of year again and this time I wanted to share my favorite Christmas poem with you again, but as told by a Longfellow relative, Robert Girard Carroon, back in 1998.


charleslongfellow-edited

In March 1863 a seventeen year old native of Cambridge, Massachusetts, slipped away from his home on Brattle Street, hopped aboard a train and headed for Washington D.C. to join Mr. Lincoln’s Army. He was by no means the first or the last youth that simply couldn’t stay home while so many of his peers were off participating in the great adventure of the Civil War, but he may have been the most prominent runaway from Boston and possibly New England that year. His name was Charles Appleton Longfellow, and his father was the great poet and literary scholar, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Charles Appleton Longfellow [pictured] was the eldest son of HWL (as he referred to his father) and Fannie Elizabeth Appleton. He was born in Cambridge on June 9, 1844 and was raised in a loving family, which consisted, besides his parents, of three sisters and one brother. Charley was bright and adventurous and although he became a crack shot with a rifle, he managed to shoot off his left thumb with a shotgun (this eventually kept him out of the infantry when he sought to join the Union Army). His madcap adventures worried his parents and particularly his father. Mrs. Longfellow had died in a tragic fire in their home in 1860 and so Henry, as a single parent, was doubly responsible for his son who had disappeared into the great sea of blue, which was the Union Army.

Soon, however, the mystery was solved; on arrival in Washington Charley had gone to Captain W. H. McCartney, commanding Battery A of the 1st Massachusetts Artillery and asked to enlist. Captain McCartney, who knew the boy, did not want to enlist this young man without his parent’s approval so he immediately wrote Henry Wadsworth Longfellow asking his advice. To his credit, or perhaps knowing his son’s personality, HWL gave permission for Charley to enlist so the only member of the poet’s family to go to war became a private in the 1st Massachusetts Artillery.

Charles Longfellow turned out to be a natural soldier. He grasped the elements of drill, camp, and military life with amazing aptitude. He became a great favorite with his fellow artillerymen and showed decided leadership skills, which commended him to his superior officers. In the meantime his father, thinking that his son might do better as an officer rather than a rough hewn enlisted man and began to contact friends, such as Senator Charles Sumner, Governor John Andrew and Dr. Edward B. Dalton, medical inspector of the Sixth Army Corps, with a view to obtaining a commission for his son. As he started to engage in this process of string pulling, Mr. Longfellow was surprised to hear that all his machinations were unnecessary-on his own merits Charley was offered a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the 1st Massachusetts Cavalry, and had accepted. He was commissioned on March 27, 1863. Charley entered on his new duties with enthusiasm and was assigned to Company “G” of the 1st Massachusetts. His first action came on the fringes of the Battle of Chancellorsville. In early June Charley came down with typhoid fever and malaria and was invalided home to recover. After recuperating Charley rejoined his unit on August 15, 1863, having missed the Battle of Gettysburg. In mid-September he was in a fight at Culpepper where quartermaster sergeant Read, who was standing next to Charley had his leg taken off by artillery round. On November 27, as part of the Mine Run Campaign, while in a skirmish during the battle of New Hope Church, Virginia, Charley was shot through the left shoulder. The bullet traveled across his back, nicked his spine, and exited under his right shoulder. He missed being paralyzed by less than an inch. He was carried into the church and then by ambulance to the Rapidan River. On December 1, 1863, word was received at the Longfellow home in Cambridge of Charles serious injury. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and his younger son, Ernest, left at once for Washington, D.C. where they finally met up with Charley and brought him home. They reached Cambridge on December 8 and Charles Appleton Longfellow began the slow process of recovering. As he sat nursing his son and giving thanks for his survival, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow penned the following poem:

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

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

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

Charles Appleton Longfellow was unable to sufficiently recover from his wounds and rejoin the army. He was discharged on February 15, 1864. Charles was independently wealthy with inheritances from his grandfather, Nathan Appleton and his mother, and spent the rest of his life travelling the globe from Europe to India, Australia, Africa and the Far East, especially Japan. Charles died on April 13, 1893, in Cambridge from pneumonia and is buried in the family vault in Mt. Auburn Cemetery. The souvenirs of his travels as well as his uniforms and accoutrements from his service in the Union Army are at Longfellow House in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

On May 3, 1871, Charles Appleton Longfellow as elected a Companion of the First Class of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion through the Commandery of Massachusetts and assigned Insignia No. 1476. He was also a member of the Grand Army of the Republic and the Massachusetts Volunteer Militia, where he actively participated in a number of sharpshooting contests. In July 1998, quite serendipitously, I was able to purchase from an antique dealer, a group of insignia belonging to Charles Appleton Longfellow, which consisted of His MOLLUS, GAR, and MVM sharpshooter’s medals. As I am Charley’s 5th cousin 3 times removed a portion of the memorabilia of the man I like to call the “Christmas Carol Soldier” has returned to his family. The items are displayed on my mantle together with a nice photo of Charles obtained from the MOLLUS Collection at the USMHI at Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The medals will eventually be donated to the Longfellow House and the National Park Service to take their place with Charley’s other memorabilia: but not, I hope, for a good long while. In the meantime, keep an eye out for MOLLUS Insignia-you never know who might turn up!


I received this story from http://suvcw.org/mollus/art005.htm

Christmas Bells — A Poem

I think this is a wonderful poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow that reveals the real struggles and pain that this life brings, but also the ever-present promise of God to sustain his children during it. It also reminds us that this life is not all there is. God is still carrying out his plan of redemption and judgment.

This video does a good job of briefly explaining where Longfellow was emotionally when he wrote this poem. I hope you enjoy it.

 

Here’s the full poem as written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Christmas Bells

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

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

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

Jesus Entered the Mess — A Poem

Are you finding that it’s sometimes difficult to deal with the messiness of life? Doesn’t it seem like that messiness comes out in full force during this time of year? Have you ever wondered about the mess—relational mess, political mess, physical mess—that Jesus entered when he came into the world? Are you rejoicing in the fact that he did? I hope you are.

Jesus entered our mess intentionally, and he did so to reveal the truth of God (himself), our world, and all of history and existence. He entered our mess especially for the purpose of taking your cross and my cross on himself. Moral crimes require punishment and we are all guilty. Jesus paid that punishment for everyone who will give their lives over to him. It was for this purpose he entered this mess. That’s his Christmas gift to you if you’ll have it.

It is my prayer that you will accept that gift, turning your life over to him completely.

Here’s a poem written by my friend and fellow SEND International servant, Amy Walters; it’s about that mess and the Savior that intentionally entered it.

I hope you’ll click here to read Amy’s poem and to allow it to encourage you as you deal with the mess this Christmas.

Jesus Entered the Mess

Jesus Entered the Mess — a Poem by Amy Walters

 

The Innkeeper — a Poem

This is a beautiful story about the innkeeper from the Christmas story. The account in John Piper’s poem is fictional, but it points out in a dramatic way “how quickly we pass over” the brief statement about Herod killing the children in Bethlehem. There were real people living in Bethlehem. They had real lives. They had real families with real babies. And those babies died violently that day. I imagine some of the parents did also as they fought to protect their children.

Published on Dec 11, 2012
A fireside reading of John Piper’s Christmas poem, a holiday gift from Crossway Books and Desiring God.
A Citygate Films Production

A Hallelujah Christmas — A Song

— by Cloverton. (lyrics below)
www.clovertonmusic.com
“Hallelujah” originally written by Leonard Cohen
Video by Wooten Media Productions

LYRICS
I’ve heard about this baby boy
Who’s come to earth to bring us joy
And I just want to sing this song to you
It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
With every breath I’m singing Hallelujah
Hallelujah

A couple came to Bethlehem
Expecting child, they searched the inn
To find a place for You were coming soon
There was no room for them to stay
So in a manger filled with hay
God’s only Son was born, oh Hallelujah
Hallelujah

The shepherds left their flocks by night
To see this baby wrapped in light
A host of angels led them all to You
It was just as the angels said
You’ll find Him in a manger bed
Immanuel and Savior, Hallelujah
Hallelujah

A star shown bright up in the east
To Bethlehem, the wisemen three
Came many miles and journeyed long for You
And to the place at which You were
Their frankincense and gold and myrrh
They gave to You and cried out Hallelujah
Hallelujah

I know You came to rescue me
This baby boy would grow to be
A man and one day die for me and you
My sins would drive the nails in You
That rugged cross was my cross, too
Still every breath You drew was Hallelujah
Hallelujah