Thinking Out Loud

November 21, 2016

Make Bethlehem Great Again

make-bethlehem-great-again

Every year my wife performs at a really cool thing they do in our part of the world where people take a 25-minute walk through the various stations or aspects of the Christmas story called The Bethlehem Walk. After entering, groups wait in a waiting area until their number is called and while there, they listen to live music with choirs, soloists and contemporary bands performing Christmas-themed music.

Lately I’ve been joining her on some of these excursions, and this year I played two songs, and backed her on two; she did the rest herself. While doing a very hurried sound check, I asked the people in the waiting room how many were there for the first time, and then said, “We’re gonna make Bethlehem great again.”

People liked that line. After that, my contribution to the evening went downhill.

But she did well. Here’s a sample of her songwriting.

 

December 13, 2015

A Holiday Travel Alert

Filed under: writing — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:30 am

Many years ago blogger David Fisher introduced me to the poetry of Greg Asimakoupoulos whose work is posted at The Partial Observer. I felt that this poem, posted about ten days ago, would be a welcome addition to the mix here, especially with its provocative title! Send Greg some link love by clicking the title below to read this (and other works) at source.

A Holiday Travel Alert

Lessons from Mary and Joseph’s Flight to Egypt

by Greg Asimakoupoulos
December 4, 2015

The warning system set in place
suggested grave concern.
A terrorist in Israel hatched a plan.
Those leaving home this time of year
would do so at great risk.
The danger posed called for a travel ban.

A dad and mom and infant son
packed for their westbound trek.
They knew they had to make their midnight flight.
Determined to avoid the threat,
they cautiously escaped
advancing in the shadows of moonlight.

That terror cell in Bethlehem
achieved its ruthless plot
exterminating children under two.
With ISIS-like precision,
Herod killed the innocent
while unaware his hoped-for target flew.

And now-as-then the travel risk
this time of year is great.
Young families have good reason for their fear.
The tyranny of terror robs their joy
and steals their peace
because they can’t be sure when death is near.

So as You guided Joseph
on his flight to Egypt land
with Mary and young Jesus in his care,
won’t You dear loving Father
please protect the ones we love
as they travel in a car, by rail or air?

December 7, 2013

Show Me The Manger

I thought we’d take a break from yesterday’s busy day here at Thinking Out Loud. It’s been a couple of years since this first appeared here. My wife Ruth is a naturally gifted songwriter and singer. Her best writing is often centered on Christ’s birth (Christmas) and death (The Cross).  I hope you enjoy her song.

 

Show me the manger
Show me where life begins again
Show me the manger
Show me where hope and peace come breaking in
Show me the shelter and the family and the faces and the dawn
Of untidy love that’s forever, forever from now on
Once I’ve seen the manger
How could I ever turn away?

Show me the angels
Show me a hint of what Heaven can do
Show me the star now
Show me a flash of forever shining through
Show me the beauty and the glory and the music and the flame
Show me the power of the promise and the power of the Name
Once I’ve seen the glory
How could I ever turn away?

Show me the baby
Though I don’t begin to understand
How such an ordinary baby
Could be God becoming man
Could he be born to live to die to live again?
To be the life, be the way, be the truth, be the plan
Once I’ve seen the baby
How could I ever turn away?

Show me the manger, show me the family,
Show me the angels, show me the star now
But once I’ve seen the Savior,
I will never turn away.

November 21, 2011

When The Manger Scene is Too Neat and Tidy

This was composed and recorded by a very good friend of mine.  Kick back for five minutes and consider what the scene at the back of the Bethlehem Inn really looked like those first few nights.

I have a little manger scene I unpack every year,
I put it on the mantle way up high
Safe from puppy dogs, little hands and wrestling adolescents,
Who might break a piece and make me want to cry.

I’ve had that little manger scene of china and of glaze,
Since I was just a kid of 4 or 5
For years and years I looked at it believing every line,
Cause it made the ancient story come alive

It makes me sentimental,  Though I know it didn’t happen quite that way
A little poetic license is OK.

In my little manger scene Mary’s got blue eyes,
she’s dressed in silk and satin like a queen
Joseph’s beard is neat and trim, just like his fingernails,
And everybody’s handsome and serene

The swaddled baby’s smiling up at three wise men standing guard,
So noble, not a sunburn neath their crowns
They’re hanging with the shepherds who are kneeling squeaky clean
on golden straw carpeting the ground

It’s all sleek and smooth and shining,
Tho’ I know it wasn’t quite like that, don’t you?
The truth is not quite so pretty, but it’s true

I bet Mary, she was saddle sore and Joseph couldn’t sleep
The wise men smelled like camels and the shepherds smelled like sheep
And the stable smelled like cattle and the things that cattle do
The baby woke up hungry every morning, half past two
And the straw got into everything, your shoes and in your hair
In the food and in the beds and on your nerves and everywhere

But our Mary, she’s no china doll, she’s a fighter through and through,
Joseph knows he has a job to do
There isn’t any stopping them, there isn’t any doubt,
Together they will see this journey through.

‘Cause she, she was a warrior, he was her strong right arm,
In a battle that they couldn’t comprehend
That baby was a treasure who would ransom all the world,
They’d carry him until he took his stand.

Even though Mary, she was saddle sore and Joseph couldn’t sleep
The wise men smelled like camels and the shepherds smelled like sheep
And the stable smelled like cattle and the things that cattle do
The baby woke up hungry every morning, half past two
And the straw got into everything, your shoes and in your hair
In the food and in the beds and on your nerves and everywhere

So if in my little manger scene, they look a little glazed
A little poetic license is OK.
Though I know it didn’t happen quite that way.

©2011 Ruth Wilkinson

December 10, 2010

Enjoying Christmas Without Missing the Point

Regular readers here at Thinking Out Loud will notice something different today.   One of this blog’s distinctives has been not relying on video embeds for daily post content.   But the one I’m embedding today is somewhat special.

It’s not the musical quality, or the recording quality; it’s just my wife and I with some extra time on Wednesday, and a desire to share with my blog audience a song I’ve been singing somewhere every Christmas for a rather long number of years.

There’s something about being “home for Christmas;” something about the fact the pace of life slows down for a day or two.   No wonder that it’s so difficult for people who are alone on December 25th; being with friends or family seems to define the day.    (Which is why people where I live are reviving the annual “Christmas Dinner on Christmas Day” for people who don’t have close family, or can’t afford all the trimmings of the season.)

We didn’t have time to do this up as professionally as we might have, but I hope you’ll kick back and enjoy the song and its ideas.   Most of the technical work was that of my wife, Ruth; who, on some of this, was learning on the fly.   If we could ever cut loose from our individual projects, we could be the Christian version of Pomplamouse!

Most important, I hope you’ll reconnect with the thought that the familiar “birth of Christ” narrative in Luke is the start of much, much longer story.   One that continues into eternity.

Canadian readers:  Don’t forget you can still contribute to our Salvation Army iKettle.   Donations stay with your community.   More details here; or go direct to our iKettle.

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