Thursday, December 24, 2015

Reflecting On A Holy Night (And A Horrific Night): Christmas Greetings From Hamlet Drive

Dear family and friends,

This has been a difficult holiday season. While we've been blessed beyond deserving this year, we received the terrible news on December 12 that my sister Mary Beth Shifflett, 69, and her husband of 51 years, Harven, age 77, perished in a fire that destroyed their mobile home in Greene County sometime after midnight less than two weeks ago. We remain in a state of shock, and are still waiting for their bodies to be released from Richmond for burial.

Meanwhile a service of memory is being planned for friends and family on Sunday, January 3. Pray for us.

Meanwhile, Alma Jean and I, with our three children and six grandchildren, enjoyed a Christmas meal together yesterday, sang some carols, shared some gifts with the young ones, and prepared some hygiene kits for refugees to send through Mennonite Central Committee, along with an investment in Oxfam to purchase some goats ($50 each) and some efficient small cookstoves ($25 each) for needly families abroad.

This year we won't tire you with any other wonderful details of our children and grandchildren's lives, much as we celebrate them each and enjoy them all (especially this week!). And this year we're again going simple with our season's greetings, saving trees and sending our Christmas blessings via email and blog to our many wonderful friends and family members.

We celebrate the following words from "O Holy Night" by a French poet, Placide Cappeau (a nominal Jew when he wrote the original "Cantique de Noël" as a commissioned work) which in 1885 became "O Holy Night" as translated and set to music by John Sullivan Dwight:

Truly he taught us to love one another,
His law is love and his gospel is peace.
Chains shall he break for the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name!

Fall on you knees, O hear the angel voices,
O night divine, O night, O night divine!

These are words we want to take to heart and live by in 2016 and in the short remaining years of our life.

Blessings to you all!

Harvey and Alma Jean

P.S. Click here to enjoy "O Holy Night" as sung by the Indianapolis Children and Youth Choirs.  And here to hear an ensemble of members of the Pittsburgh Mennonite Church, led by our son Brad. You'll love his arrangement of "Go Tell It On The Mountain" with soloist Tony Brown!
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