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Welcome and Best Wishes for this Christmas season !

Christmas is the time of year when we celebrate the birth of Jesus, a time of great hope and wonder.

There are many stories, traditions both old and new which are retold and enjoyed again and again. This is one of my favorites and I hope it becomes one of yours:

The Remarkable Story Behind "Silent Night" it offers peace to you and me

In 1818 a band of roving actors were performing throughout the little towns and hamlets of the Austrian Alps. One night the players came to the tiny village of Oberndorf, near Salzburg, for their anual presentation of the Christmas story. The play was scheduled for St. Nicholas Church, but the organ bellows has been eaten away by mice and could not be repaired in time. The show was presented in a private home instead, and the church's assistant pastor, Josef Mohr, attended. So impressed was Mohr with the simplicity of the play and the sincerity of the actors that he began to reflect on the real meaning of the Christmas story.

As Mohr walked home that night through the new-fallen snow, his path led him over a small hill. Looking down on the village below, Mohr was deeply impressed by the beauty of the glowing scene and the majestic silence of the wintry night. His thoughts took him back to the first Christmas-- when angles spoke to wandering shepherds on a holy night such as this-- and a poem began to form in Mohr's mind, "Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!"

Arriving home, the pastor quickly penned the words that would inscribe his poem into history. He sincerely wished his peace could be sung at the church's upcoming Christmas service, but he had no music. The next day Mohr rushed the verses over to his good friend Franz Gruber, the church organist. It is reported that Gruber composed the musical setting the same day he received Mohr's poem.

On Christmas Day Gruber and Mohr sang their new song to the congregation gathered in the little church. Since the organ was still in ill repair, Gruber accompanied on his guitar, and "Silent Night" was introduced to the world.

A few weeks later an organ repairman arrived at the church. When he finished his work, Gruber sat down to test the instrument. The first song he played was his new Christmas composition. Deeply touched by the music, the repairman took the song back to his own Alpine village. There, a family of gifted Austrian singers, the Strasser sisters, picked it up and began singing it throughout the countryside.

The Strasser quartet created quite a sensation, and the carol quickly became a European favorite. It was translated into English from the Austrian language in 1863 by Jane Campbell and made its first appearance in America in 1871 in Charles Hutchen's "Sunday School Hymnal."

"Silent night! holy night! All is calm, all is bright, 'Round yon virgin mother and Child! Holy Infant, so tender and mild, Sleep in heavenly peace, Sleep in heavenly peace."

"Silent Night, Holy Night" is as fresh and beautiful today as when it was first heard in that little Austrian town more than 170 years ago. Year after year we lovingly sing this simple tribute to our Savior, Jesus Christ.

ADVENT: A period in which the church joyfully remembers the coming of Christ and eagerly looks forward to his coming again. Beginning witht he Sunday nearest November 30th, the season is observed for the four Sundays prior to Christmas.

The Gospel for this Fourth Sunday of Advent - December 20th - is from Matthew 1:18-25

" Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, 'Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.' All this had taken place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: "Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel," which means, 'God is with us.' When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; her took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.

Pause a few moments and reflect on the awsome fact that Jesus came to earth for give YOU his give YOU His PEACE.

"For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." (John 3:17)


May the PEACE of the Lord Jesus be with you and all your loved ones this Christmas and every day throughout the year !


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