- Bret Harte, in his classic short story "The Luck of Roaring Camp," tells of the birth of a baby on the American frontier, a baby that made a radical change in a rough-and-tumble mining camp. The only woman in the camp, Cherokee Sal, a disreputable woman at best, died in childbirth, leaving a healthy young baby boy to be raised by the now all-male camp. These rough, hard men made a decision that would reflect changes that would come later. They considered hiring a woman nurse to care for the baby but eventually decided not to. Their logic was this: a nice nurse wouldn't come to their camp, and they didn't want any more women who weren't nice hanging around their baby. And so the work of regeneration began in Roaring Camp. The cabin assigned to little "Tommy Luck," as they called him, was kept scrupulously clean and whitewashed. The beautiful rosewood cradle that they purchased for the baby made the rest of the cabin look wretched, so they had to fix up the rest of the furniture in the room. Then a quarantine was imposed on those who wanted to hold little Tommy Luck, so they had to clean up for that privilege. Each act of cleanliness exposed that much more dirt and filth in the vicinity, so that new measures were taken to keep an ever-wider expanse of the camp clean. Since the baby needed rest, the camp became quieter and more dignified, less noisy and boisterous, no longer the "Roaring Camp" of the story's title. The story of the baby of Roaring Camp is the story of the regeneration of a people.
- We all want to be remembered after we're gone. Hopefully, we'll be remembered for the good that we've done. We'll be remembered for how we have loved others and made a difference in their lives. I'm sure you're familiar with the poem The Dash. The author talks about going to a cemetery and seeing all of the dates on the tombstones with a dash between them. And she questions each of us about how we've lived that dash in our lives.
- Scientists tell us that the Second Law of Thermodynamics states that, left alone, any system will decay. Yet, the earth is filled with life forms that are highly organized and complex. Dr. Boris P. Dotsenko was the former head of the nuclear physics department at the Institute of Physics in Kiev, Russia wrote about that paradox and about the nature of the universe. He said, “In suddenly dawned on me that there must be a very powerful organizing force counteracting the disorganizing tendency within nature, keeping the universe controlled and in order. This force could not be material; otherwise it too would become disordered. I concluded that this power must be both omnipotent and omniscient. There must be a God — one God — controlling everything.” The Greeks called this power that sustained the universe “the reason of God” and the word they used for “reason” can also be translated simply “word.”...
- ("I'm sure that the soldiers of Christmas 1914 wished each other a Happ(ier) New Year at midnight, or did they just wish, that things would turn out okay and this nightmare would soon be over and they could return home to pick up the pieces. A recent 'tradition' in our parish is to play 'Christmas 1915' which tells of an informal Christmas Truce between the two warring armies...")
- ("The third astrologer or 'wizard brought myrrh. This was perhaps the most insightful-and weird-of the three gifts of the magi. Myrrh was used as an embalming spice. It was used in burial rituals. In fact, myrrh was a sign of death. Not a very traditional "shower gift." Yet here is death in attendance at the baby Jesus' bedside...")
- ("One time there was a young man who started a dime store business in a small town. He was a good man, honest and friendly. When he had gotten older he found himself lying in a hospital bed, dying. So the man summoned his three adult children to his bedside. His business had become very successful, with additional stores. He told his children that one of them would be selected as the future president of his company..." and other illustrations)
- ("One of my hobbies is star watching. Recently I was out searching to glimpse the International Space Station and a meteor shower. But I constantly find that I have to move out of my publicly lit home area to the unlit dark countryside to glimpse the heavens. It is a strange truth that I need the darkness to see the light. But it's true of life. We all know that Christmas season for many people in crisis is difficult...")
- ("Once there was a Child. A Child who was a special Child indeed. A special Child who loved to do many special things. But out of all the special things this special Child loved to do, there was nothing more special than the time the Child spent working in the workshop. That's not too surprising, because this was no ordinary workshop. Only wondrous things were ever made in it...")
- ("Last week I went to the 40th birthday party of a good friend of mine called Obu. It was wonderful celebration. There were many good people there - many old friends who had not seen each other for a very long time. But for me, the best moment was when Obu's four-year old son came in, carrying his father's birthday cake...")
- ("Joke writer Ed McManus has some words of comfort for those of us who are setting resolutions: 'Don't worry about [keeping] those 2013 News Year's resolutions', he says. 'You only have to deal with them until the end of February and then you can give them up for Lent.' It sounds like he has been spying on some of us...")
- ("Paulette Schroeder wrote this week from Hebron, in the Land of Light, the Land of God's Promise, on behalf of Christian Peacemaking Teams. 'It strikes me as strange that in the midst of soldiers, guns, checkpoints, detentions, humiliations, in the face of the Occupation and all its flagrant dehumanization of the Palestinians, I have come to see the Occupation's spotlight as something that illuminates the beauty of Jesus' Incarnation...")
- ("Nicky Gumbel who later authored the Alpha Bible study course said he was a confirmed atheist up until a deciding moment when he was at college. His friends Nicky Lee and Cilla had gone to a revival held in another town, and upon their return they came into Nicky Gumbel's dorm room and told him the good news that they had accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior...")
- ("I'm in that generation which was 'teethed' on Walt Disney on the television. I found myself humming 'When you wish upon a star'...")
- ("Christmas is associated with homecoming. Our homes and fridges are never fuller. In preceding days; airports, train stations and ferry terminals strain to cope with the extra traffic. Whatever the reality, to be away from “home” leads to a special homesickness and loneliness...")
- ("Silences and verbalization go hand in hand, therefore, and someone who is sensitive knows the value of both. 'No one,' wrote the Associated Press Drama Writer on Christmas Day, 'No one made the sound of silence more ominously theatrical than Harold Pinter...")
- (includes link to Barrington Bunny by Martin Bell)
- ("many of the ways in which we speak of Christ’s birth, life, and death are murals, or collages of portraits and stories. A metaphor here, an image there, a phrase that captures a single facet of a complex mystery – these are what have been left to us by the witnesses of Scripture...")