Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Tree Ornament…Thanks Sheila

This morning the American Express truck delivered a lovely ornament from Sheila at The Quintessential Magpie. It is a white church with stained glass windows all around. When a mini bulb is inserted it lights up beautifully.

Thank you Sheila for sharing one of the ornaments from your own collection! The gift was accompanied by a lovely Christmas greeting card with a nativity theme:
I would like to take the opportunity to wish you all a Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

May you have a Christmas Day enriched
with the Hope He came to bring us.

Let us wonder and take delight in the paradox as we consider, what Child is this?

Behold the Father is His daughter's Son.

The bird that built the nest is hatched therein,

The Old of Years an hour hath not out run.

Eternal Life to live doth now begin.

The Word is dumb--the mirth of heaven doth weep,

Might feeble is, and Force doth faintly creep.

-Robert Southwell (1560-1593)

[Emphasis mine]

Monday, December 22, 2008

"He is Not Just a Man…"

Last Christmas one of the gifts I received was a CD of Christian hymns and songs. I was immediately struck by the message of the second song, titled "He is Not Just a Man."*
The lyrics express the good news that Jesus Christ is one with humankind and one with the Godhead:

The greatest gift to man from the Father
Would change us all in ways we’ve never seen;
Yet His first moments were in a manger,
And soon every living thing would call Him King,
yes they would.

Though we didn’t know it then, we would soon understand
That His life would reveal God’s perfect plan.

He is not just a man (He is God)
He is not just a baby (He is King)
No, He is not just a lamb
But the Lion of Judah, Savior and Ruler of all.

We’ve tried our very best to perceive Him.
Sometimes I think it way beyond our reach;
Will I guess that’s why He asked us to receive Him
With a childlike heart only believe;
And I hear Him ask again
Who do men say that I am?
And I feel the need to make the whole world see

He is not just a man (He is God)
He is not just a baby (He is King)
No, He is not just a lamb
But the Lion of Judah, Savior and Ruler of all.
But the Lion of Judah, Savior and Ruler of all, all
But the Lion of Judah, Savior and Ruler
He is not just a man -- He is God!
--Kim Rutherford and Charles Lester

In the centuries-old controversy over the person of Jesus, the Council of Chalcedon (A.D. 451) marked a significant milepost. Essentially, it agreed and proclaimed that Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man: ". . . we all with one voice teach that . . . our Lord Jesus Christ is one and the same God, the Same perfect in Godhead, the Same perfect in manhood, truly God and truly man, . . .[one] with the Father as to his Godhead, and . . .[one] with us as to his manhood; in all things like unto us, sin only excepted. . . ." —Cited in Justo L. Gonzalez, A History of Christian Thought, vol. 1 (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1970) p. 390.

For we have not an high priest
which cannot be touched
with the feeling of our infirmities;
but was in all points tempted like as we are,
yet without sin.
Hebrews 4:15

*I could not find the same artist that is on my CD, but here is the song on YouTube:

Go here for more inspiring posts at Spiritual Sundays.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Arts and Crafts for Nativity Wall Hangings

Show and Tell
For today’s Show and Tell I will share some fabric arts and crafts items from the nativity collection.

A. Batik
Batik is a technique used on fabric in a wax-resist process. The fabric is coated in wax according to the pattern desired. Dye is applied and seeps through the fabric not penetrated by the applied wax. Batik is done in Indonesia, India, West Africa, Iran, Malaysia, Philippines, among other countries.
Here is an example of batik from India

This piece is from Tanzania, Africa

B. Applique and Quilting
The stitcher choose to frame this appliqued piece in an embroidery hoop. It shows Mary Joseph and Baby Jesus in a simple folk design. The fabrics are small-scale country prints.

C. Mola
In the islands off the coast of Panama the San Blas women make a type of reverse applique, called molas.

D. Mixed Media
Here the crafter used twigs, wood, wire, twine and cotton fabrics.

The simply designed little figures of Joseph, Baby Jesus and Mary
Above them is a wooden star painted yellow
A piece of twine is used for hanging

For more Show and Tell Friday go to Kelli’s house at There is No Place Like Home.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Nativity Scenes From - Middle East

There will be several posts about nativity scenes from different world areas. We start with the Middle East, since that is where it all took place. The display shows items from:
Israel/Palestine, Egypt, and Iran

Bethlehem is in the West Bank in Israel/Palestine. Olive wood trees are pruned and the wood is used for carvings that are sold to tourists and others.

Here are typical olive wood carved figures and matching stable with star.

Made in Bethlehem, Israel/Palestine.

This 3-piece olive wood set is also from Bethlehem.
Camels are animals often associated with nativity scenes, as the mounts for the wise men.
The following three related items were made in Israel for Royal Cornwall China Each item is based on "Glad Tidings," an original painting by the contemporary master artist Robert Edgar Ahlcron.

The first item is a porcelain Christmas plate fired in Israel, dated 1978.
It is 8 ¼’" diameter, came in original box with Certificate of Authenticity. Plate No. 443 of 10,000. Bishop Maximus of Nazareth and Galilee signed each piece, along with his official seal stamped on each. The Archimandrite Gregorio Chief Abbot of Bethlehem also signed each piece and they are each stamped with his seal. The Artist, Robert E. Ahlcrona also signed each Glad Tidings piece..
Shepherds with their flocks listen to Angel announce Messiah’s birth, under the bright Star.

The second item is a tree ornament. It consists of a metal frame with a porcelain plaque.
On back it reads: "’Glad Tidings’/ by Robert Edgar Ahlcrona/ Christmas 1978/ Official Bethlehem Christmas Ornament"

The third item is a porcelain bell. It is 6.5" H. Number 443 of 10,000. Bishop Maximus of Nazareth and Galilee signed each piece, along with his official seal stamped on each. The Archimandrite Gregorio Chief Abbot of Bethlehem also signed each piece and they are each stamped with his seal. The Artist, Robert E. Ahlcrona also signed each Glad Tidings piece.
Angel announces Christ’s birth to Shepherds

From Egypt comes a painting on papyrus. Titled, " Escape to Egypt," it is hand painted in water color and gold leaf by artist, Nevine. Made in Egypt, 2000. 17.5"x14". Painted portion approx. 12"Wx11"T.
The scene shows Mary with Baby Jesus on Donkey and Joseph.
"Based on the Biblical story of Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus flight to Egypt. Done in radiant Egyptian water colors on papyrus. Papyrus paper is the first known paper in history. It was found in the ancient tombs and temples of Egypt as far back as 2700 B.C. Papyrus paper, which comes from the papyrus plant, is popular for its strength, durability and elasticity."

Here is a reproduction of a print on paper from Iran. The text at bottom of illustration: "The Nativity, Armenian Miniature 1300 AC, Manuscript of All Saviour’s Armenian Cathedral, Julfa, Isfahan, Iran." It is matted and in wood frame with glass – 19" T x 14" W.

The next world area will be Europe.

And the Winners Are …

Last Friday morning two names were drawn for the second Holiday Giveaway from the bloggers who had entered the giveaway. A slip with each entrant’s name were placed in a wooden holiday container. I asked my mother to mix the slips around and then to draw one.
Sheila of The Quintessential Magpie was the first name drawn. She chose the nativity set.
A Hint of Home was drawn next. She will receive the 1979 nativity plate by D'Arceau Limoges .

I prepared both packages for mailing, but since the ice storm had cut off all electrical power, I was unable to notify the winners until I reached my sister’s house and had access to a computer.
Back home on Tuesday December 16, I addressed and took the packages to the post office.
Many thanks to all that participated in the second Holiday Giveaway.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Hopeful Friday – Mary Did You Know?

Cielo at The House in the Roses is sponsoring Hopeful Friday to give blogger friends another opportunity to " celebrate God, to celebrate His mercy and unconditional love, but also a day to celebrate positive thoughts. We need hope to replace our restlessness, we need courage to replace our fear, and we need faith to replace our doubt."
In October I received a book with CD from my Paperback Swap club which is now a part of my nativity collection:
Mary Did You Know. Mark Lowry. Published by J. Countryman, div. of Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1998.
63 p.Words and music to "Mary Did You Know" by Mark Lowry and Buddy Greene. c1991.
CD, "Mary Did You Know" performed by Mark Lowry with the Gaither Vocal Band Taken from the Spring House, Inc. project, "Still the Greatest Story-Ever Told’

This is an inside page

This shows the CD single inside the back cover

Here are the beautiful lyrics to this song:

Mary Did You Know?
Mary did you know, that your baby boy
Would one day walk on water?

Mary did you know, that your baby boy
Would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know, that your baby boy
Has come to make you new?
This Child that you delivered,
Will soon deliver you!

Mary did you know, that your baby boy
Will give sight to the blind man?
Mary did you know, that your baby boy
Would calm a storm with His hand?

Did you know, that your baby boy
Has walked where angels trod
And when you kiss your little baby,
You've kissed the face of God?

Oh, Mary did you know?
Mary did you know?
The blind will see, the deaf will hear,
The dead will live again,
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak
Praises of the Lamb?

Mary did you know, that your baby boy
Is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know, that your baby boy
Will one day rule the nations?
Did you know, that your baby boy
Was Heaven's perfect Lamb?
And this sleeping Child you're holding
Is the Great I AM
-- Mark Lowry

The truths expressed in this song gives us joy and hope. Many singers have performed this song and many have recorded it so that its message can be a blessing, no matter your choice of artist.

Edited to add link to Kathy Mattea singing Mary Did You Know? This was the first singer I heard with this song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFPHIK9ann8

Further edited to add link to Mark Lowry, author of the lyrics, and Buddy Greene, composer of tune, performing the song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7gAkjaqO7s

To see more of today’s "chain of positive thoughts and inspirational messages" please go here for Cielo’s list.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Dear Little Donkey

A very important feature in most nativity scenes is a donkey and an ox. Some traditions say the ox represents Israel and the donkey the Gentiles, and is related to the statement in Isaiah 1:3 "The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: [but] Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider." Another interpretation states that "early Christian scholars believed that Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled when even the livestock would recognize Jesus as their master."

Today’s post focusses on the donkey. It is the burden bearer who takes Mary from Nazareth in Galilee down to Bethlehem in Judea. Not big or powerful as a horse, the donkey nevertheless plods along carrying out the task assigned to it by the owner.

Most nativity scenes will have the donkey These are photos of selected donkey figurines in the gallery:

In many nativity scenes the faithful donkey continues standing as in these examples.

The donkeys come from these nativity sets - l. to r. clockwise: Pewterplated nativity, Cherished Teddies, Lenox O Holy Night Ebony, Mahogany Miracle, Dept. 56 O Little Town of Bethlehem 2000, crystal Precious Moments.

The pleasant personality of the patient beast of burden is seen in the face of the dark Mahogany Miracle donkey in the foreground:
And on these other figurines
Here the donkeys are portrayed as sitting, at last able to rest.

These donkeys come from the following nativity sets - l. to r. clockwise:
Shayne McCarter, Fontanini, Beeswax, Peruvian painted clay, Olive wood from Bethlehem:

Here is a very sweet song which I heard for the first time last December and wanted to share its lovely message. It is sung by the Danish duo Nina and Frederik van Pallandt who were famous in the late 1950s and early ‘60s. Below are the lyrics, which I wrote out as I listened and re-listened to the tape.

"Little Donkey"

Little donkey, little donkey, on the dusty road
Got to keep on plodding onwards with your precious load.

Been a long time, little donkey through the winter’s night.
Don’t give up now, little donkey, Bethlehem is in sight.
Ring out those bells tonight, Bethlehem, Bethlehem
Follow that star tonight, Bethlehem, Bethlehem.

Little donkey, little donkey had a heavy day
Little donkey carry Mary safely on her way.
Do not falter, little donkey there’s a star ahead
It will guide you, little donkey, to a cattle shed.
Ring out those bells tonight, Bethlehem, Bethlehem
Follow that star tonight, Bethlehem, Bethlehem.
Little donkey, little donkey, had a heavy day
Little donkey carry Mary safely on her way.
Safely on her way.
--Author unknown

In the video from YouTube the visuals go along with the song's lyrics very well.

Click this link if unable to see the video above:
Besides the insight into the journey to Bethlehem of Joseph and Mary, this tender song also makes me think of the faithful steadfastness of the animals of burden. How well they repay the basic care (food and protection) given them by their owners.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

WordFilled Wednesday – Micah 5:2

Department 56 Little Town of Bethlehem 1987

"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
One who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old, from ancient times."
Micah 5:2 NIV

The town of Bethlehem has been celebrated in beloved carols such as "O Little Town of Bethlehem." In 1987 Department 56 produced a version of Little Town of Bethlehem. It consisted of three lighted buildings and various figures.

Then in 2000 a much more extensive set of Little Town of Bethlehem was produced by Department 56. This has many more buildings and figures available, thus it provides much more choice for adding to the set each year it was produced.

For more Word-Filled Wednesday please visit Amy.