Christmas Pageant

“I’m an angel, Daddy!”

“So you are” Daddy shot back. “A perfect angel. And your mother, she dressed you up, so she’s an angel, too!”

“And I’m a shepherd,” proclaimed Bennie.

“Yes, you are, and this year, you have no lines to memorize – just actions,” said Daddy.

Wynnie began rehearsing her angel lines for the Christmas pageant. ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, goodwill to all men’. At the pageant, she would be joined by two more angels where they would say all their lines together, in unison.

Every year, the children and their parents gathered in the church auditorium to tell the Christmas story, a time when the old story becomes new and fresh again, for everybody. And everybody has a part in the Christmas pageant. This year, Winnie’s new little sister would play the part of Baby Jesus. Wynnie hoped she didn’t cry, but if she did, her Mommy would have to come and pick her up so she would stop crying.

“Did Baby Jesus cry?” Wynnie asked Daddy.

‘I’m sure he did. He had feelings, too, just like you and me”

Inside the church, the windows were decorated with  fir boughs, silver bows and candles.. The tall green spruce tree, decorated with white lights and silver tinsel stood off to the side. Under the tree were wrapped gifts, one for each child with a few extra just in case. Wynnie already understood that when we give gifts at Christmas, we are remembering the greatest gift that could ever be given, the gift of Jesus, given in love by God himself, to the whole world.

Each year, the Christmas pageant seems to have a surprise moment. Something unplanned happens. This year, Daddy made arrangements with Farmer Wayne to bring a mother sheep who he called Dolly and her lamb, Little Dolly to the church. Dolly would be led through the auditorium by Farmer Wayne and he said her lamb would be sure to follow, like in the poem, ‘Mary had a little lamb’. Then the mother sheep and her lamb would go on stage and be part of the pageant. Daddy thought about the risk. What could possibly go wrong?

The pageant, following the story of the birth of Jesus found in Luke Chapter Two, was moving along perfectly – Mary and Joseph arriving at the inn and being turned away by the inn keeper shaking his head, ‘No’,  then everyone enthusiastically singing ‘No Room in the Inn.’

Then the scene shifting to the three shepherds on the Judean hills at night, with Farmer Wayne dressed up and holding onto Dolly, with Little Dolly close by. When Wynnie and the angels appear under bright lights and proclaim to the shepherds together, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, goodwill toward men’, the shepherds fall back, in amazement. Then the lights go out and the angels disappear. At that moment,  Farmer Wayne loses his grip on Dolly and she disappears, with her lamb, Little Dolly – into the darkness.

In the next scene, when the stage lights come back on, Mary is sitting on a wooden bench, Joseph standing beside her and Baby Jesus, wrapped in a pale blue blanket, is lying on a raised bed of first-cut green hay.

Crossing the stage in partial darkness, on their way to Bethlehem manger to see the baby, the narrator announces that “the shepherds ponder what they had seen and heard and what they will see when they get there”. Farmer Wayne is distracted, thinking about Dolly and her lamb, Little Dolly. Where are they?

The aroma of first-cut green hay is irresistible. Dolly arrives at the manger first, and with her lamb in tow, immediately starts eating – eating the bed of hay, on which Baby Jesus is sleeping. The audience is captivated and delighted by this unplanned turn of events. As the shepherds make their way across the stage, surround the cradle and kneel in worship, the audience stand and sing ‘Away in a Manger.’ Dolly and Little Dolly keep munching, and Jasmine sleeps on.

Wrapped gifts and plates of home-made goodies were given and received. While Dolly and Little Dolly provided a lighter moment, the celebration of the birth of Jesus and a wonderful Christmas pageant were enjoyed by all. Jasmine slept like a baby right through.

That night, Daddy asked, “Do you want to sleep like a baby tonight? I do. Jasmine is already asleep.”

“First, let’s pray and give thanks for Baby Jesus, God’s precious gift of Himself to all who will receive him.”

“Good night, Wynnie, Love you!

Good night, Bennie, Love you, too!”

“Good night, Daddy. Love you, too!” chimed two happy, sleepy voices.





Lost and Found

“What makes it fly, Daddy?” Bennie asked.

“You mean what keeps it up? Well, actually, air keeps it up.”

Daddy pointed to the shape of the wings, and explained “When air passes over the wings, it creates an airfoil, which causes the wings to rise. He raised his hand to demonstrate, palm up. When the propeller turns, air passes over the wings very quickly. When that happens, the airplane rises. It flies. Kind of amazing, isn’t it Benny?”

Daddy and Bennie had been busy every spare minute, building a model airplane from a kit –  following the plans and using balsa wood, glue, tissue paper, paint and decals. Daddy explained “When the tiny .042 cc engine and fuel tank are mounted, and the radio control system is installed, our little plane will be able to fly – higher and higher. And it will always come back, because we have the controls, right?”

Daddy was as excited as Bennie to be part of the project. For Daddy, building a airplane was doing something his father did as a boy, many years before. But there was one big difference – Papa’s airplane was a free flight airplane and had no radio control.

That evening, after dinner, Wynnie and Bennie gathered  on the sofa to hear Daddy tell the story about Papa’s airplane, the one he built when he was a boy.

“Tell us the story, Daddy.” Wynnie and Bennie chimed in unison.

“Okay,” said Daddy. “Here’s the story. When Papa’s family visited their cousins in Michigan, Papa came home with a gift, a tiny airplane engine. Then he saved up enough money  to buy a model airplane kit, just like ours. Papa spent all his spare time building his airplane. He didn’t hurry because he enjoyed it so much, He didn’t want it to end.  Have you ever done something that you enjoyed so much, you didn’t want it to end?  It’s called ‘enjoying the journey’ and sometimes it’s as much fun as getting there, right?”

“Well, back to our story. The day finally came to fly the airplane. After school, Papa took the airplane, fuel and starting battery over to the park for a test flight. When everything was ready, he spun the propeller. The engine started on the first spin and the propeller roared to life. Then Papa disconnected the battery, stood up, pointed the airplane upwards at a slight angle, gave a gentle push and let it go. The airplane took off, level at first, then climbed higher and higher, in ever wider circles. Papa stood in silence watching, waiting. The timer was supposed to cut the fuel after a minute or so, then engine would stop, the plane would circle back to earth and gently land. But, no, the timer failed, the engine kept running and the plane kept climbing – higher and higher. As the brisk west winds took hold, the little plane was carried away – further and further. Papa’s little plane became a dot in the sky and finally it was gone from view.

Papa ran home to tell his daddy what happened. He said they should get in the car and drive in the direction where Papa last saw his airplane. It was like looking for a needle in a haystack. They drove up and down the side roads. Nothing. The little plane was lost.

Papa decided to call the newspaper and tell his story. Maybe whoever found the airplane would read the story and return it. The story was printed, and no one called.

Months passed. One day, Papa was passing the second-hand store downtown. He looked in the store window and could hardly believe his eyes – his lost airplane was in the window, for sale. Papa went inside explained to the storekeeper how he was flying his airplane after school, and how it flew higher and higher, and how the wind had carried it away. And now, there it was in the store window, and could he have it back?”

“Yes, you can have it,” the storekeeper explained, “the price is $5. If you want it, I would be happy to sell it to you.”

“Disappointed, Papa left the store determined to save up so he could buy back his airplane.

Did you know that God made each of us ? We are His. We belong to Him. But the human race chose to wander away from God.  We got lost. The Bible calls this separation sin. God wants us back into His family, but the price of sin is very high.  In fact, only the life and death of Jesus is sufficient to pay the price of sin. So when Jesus dies on the cross, He paid the price to buy us back. This is called redemption. When we trust Jesus to redeem us, we are restored to the family of God. We are truly in His care, once again. Isn’t that wonderful?

Let’s pray and thank Jesus for paying the price, for redeeming us, and for restoring us to the family of God.

Time for bed, you two.

Good night, Wynnie.

Goodnight, Bennie.”

“Good night, Daddy,” chimed two tiny voices. “We love you.”

Memory verse: I Peter 1:18 “For you were redeemed, not with silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Jesus” (Paraphrase








Wynnie’s Winter Picnic

“I love a winter picnic,” said Daddy.

“Why Daddy?” Wynnie asked.

“No bugs. They have all gone to sleep. And lots of nice birds. There’s one now!”

Chickadee, dee, dee. “Hear that, Wynnie. That’s a chickadee. It sings it’s own name.

Do you see it, there in the birch tree?”

“Can we feed it now, Daddy?” Wynnie asked.

“Let’s wait ’til we have lunch. Maybe it will come right to the picnic table.”

The first snow of the season had fallen overnight, just a few inches. As the late morning sun broke through the clouds, the sky turned blue and the sun, warmer.  The silent woods extended an invitation. Come and see what’s here. Rabbit, squirrel and deer tracks in the snow. Tinier tracks of a vole or deer mouse. Winter birds like cardinals, blue jays and chickadees, each with their own special call, size and colour.

The picnic lunch, planned ahead, was packed in a backpack that Daddy carried. Inside were hot dog buns, wieners, ketchup, mustard and relish, plates, cutlery, some napkins and two containers of fruit juice, one apple and one grape.

“This is just like home, Daddy,” said Wynnie. “Mommy gives me hot dogs, too.”

“Just one difference here, Wynnie. We have to build a fire first, so we can roast our wieners and toast our buns. Do you want to help me make a camp fire?”

“First, we need some dry wood. You start by looking for some dry, dead twigs. There’s a birch limb over there with dry twigs. I’ll make a spot in the snow here where we can start the fire.”

Daddy scraped the snow back with his boots to make a bare patch for the fire. With the dry twigs that Wynnie gathered, he made a small pyramid ready to be lit. Daddy struck the match, and the cold snuffed it out right away. He tried again and the same thing, the match went out.

“It’s always harder to start a fire in the winter,” he said to Wynnie.

Adding some paper brought from home, Daddy tried again. This time, the paper caught fire, then the twigs caught fire. Daddy added bigger twigs and then some small branches. Soon the fire was big enough to start roasting and toasting. By this time, the camp fire was throwing a nice heat as well.

“Can I put these on the fire?” asked Wynnie. There was Wynnie standing with an armful of wet wood. Daddy appreciated her help, but he knew that wet wood wouldn’t help to keep the fire going. In fact, wet wood could put the fire out. Daddy gently explained that wet wood wouldn’t be a good idea

“Let me try,” asked Wynnie, please?”  “Well, you watch what happens,” Daddy replied. So Daddy took a piece of wet wood and put it on the fire. As the steam rose and the fire sputtered, Daddy said, “See, Wynnie? The fire nearly went out. So that’s not a good idea. Wynne slowly dropped her armful of wet wood, and said, “I’m hungry. Can we eat now?”

The winter picnic was soon ready to be served on the picnic table as the heat from the outdoor fire reached two happy people. Then Daddy spread the sunflower seeds on the other end of the table. It was like all the chickadees in the neighborhood heard the announcement ‘Dinner is ready’ and flew in to enjoy their winter picnic.

That night, as Wynnie was being tucked into bed, Daddy wanted to talk about the winter picnic. They talked about the chickadees that came to the table. Wynnie asked if they could go again. Daddy said he liked building the fire.

“Yes, we can go again.” After a pause, Daddy said “Do you remember, Wynnie, when we put wet wood on the fire? What happened?”

“I saw lots of steam and the fire, it sputtered, but it didn’t go out” she offered.

‘That’s right.” said Daddy, “but the fire nearly went out.  And when you or I get cross or upset, it’s like putting wet wood on a warm fire. It doesn’t help. It spoils the fire. Love is like a fire. Love is warm, happy, and caring.  In fact, we all need love to be truly happy. So we never put wet wood on a warm fire.”

“Good night, darling.”

“Good night, Daddy.”





This I Believe – about the Bible

Although I have been alive and well since December 20, 1941, not everything is callable from memory. Writing is my favorite activity. Besides, it stimulates memory and brings about a refresh. There is tremendous value in recalling the past and tracing the positive and negative influences on the present. This is how we learn and grow. Ideally, it never ends.

From my earliest memories, I have always had a fascination with the natural world which persists to the present time. Think about this. With natural vision, humans can only see a defined, limited portion of the total spectrum of the natural world. Electron microscopes and powerful telescopes launched into orbit are needed to see beyond. At the time of writing this piece, neither the smallest particle nor the limit of space has been discovered. Knowledge around the complexity of the natural, living, reproducing world continues to grow, in concert with the remarkable work of science led by the smartest and brightest people on earth. At the same time, social ills, suicide, hunger, disease, and wars persist and spread. Global warming threatens life as we know it. Meanwhile, mankind is driven by the conviction that eventually, human effort will make the world a better place, and if not this world, then one developed on a planet beyond. No one is offering a comprehensive way out. Enter the Bible.

The Bible itself is a collection of sixty-six separate books. History records that these were written over a span of 2,000 years by 44 authors who came from an eclectic list of bygone eras, countries, languages, customs and backgrounds. The first set of five books, the Torah were written by Moses around 2000 B.C. and the final book, The Revelation of Jesus Christ was written by John, the Apostle, before the end of the first century. The genres encompass history, poetry, prophecy letters and narrative accounts. The writings were assembled as one volume by Jerome around 400 A.D. When read and studied as a whole, a remarkable coherent, cohesive, epic story emerges that envelops the universe and everything in it, including the reader. The story starts at the beginning of the world and ends in a future yet to be experienced. The recorded history is accurate. The science has not been disproven. The stories are deeply engaging. The poetry is profound. The principles are invaluable. The promises exceed the imagination. The Bible declares that the human spirit and soul can be rescued and made new, literally born again.

In unique ways,  copies of the Biblical writings were protected and preserved by a variety of cultures and communities from the time of their writing up to the modern era. Today, the Bible stands as the most-printed book in the history of the world, perhaps the most cherished book of all time and remains the best-seller of all books year after year.

I recognize the skilled and difficult work of the Bible translators who must understand, interpret, resolve and convey the essential  meaning, word by word, subject by subject, page by page, book by book to the readers of their generation in their own language. There may be apparent inconsistencies in original texts or the unusual choice of a word used by a translator, but none of these issues detract from essential content, nor from the inherent power experienced by a searching reader. Within the text, the claim is made that the authors wrote at the impetus of the Spirit of God Himself. Thus, the Bible is widely accepted as the Word of God.  However, when the Bible is read by a seeking, expectant reader, the Spirit of God reliably and consistently translates the words written on the page and brings them to life in the mind, life and spirit of the reader. This coming to life of the written Word, in a deep and profound way, is called the release of the rhema word, the living word, pertinent to the reader and to that moment in time. Thus the process of experiencing the rhema word is both exhilarating and inexhaustible. The Creator God is able and desires to speak to me directly, personally and continuously – every moment, every day of my life. He wants to speak to you, dear reader. Preface every reading, however brief,  with the simple prayer:  Lord, I accept the words on this page, as your Word to me. Speak to me, I pray. In Jesus name.