Christmas 2006

Now, the birth of Jesus came about in this way:…….

The earliest Christian writer, Paul, in his letters believed to have been written beginning in 51 CE (Common Era), writes…………NOTHING about the birth of Jesus. The second earliest writer, Mark, written about 20 years after Paul wrote most of his letters again says nothing about the birth of Jesus. Matthew, believed to have been written around 80 CE, incorporates dreams, an angel, a star and wise men bearing gifts into a virgin birth narrative. Writing somewhat later then Matthew, the author of the Gospel of Luke adds the miraculous pregnancy of Elizabeth, Mary being visited by an angel, the infant leaping in her womb, the manger, shepherds, and more angels. Modern storytellers and pageant writers fold all of the accounts into one amazing Technicolor production. It would appear that the further removed from the original event the writer is the more elaborate the birth becomes. I suppose Jesus was believed insufficient to be the founder of a movement of love and peace, so each successive writer has felt compelled to buttress claims of divinity with increasingly elaborate miracles associated with the birth. Apparently Jesus, in and of himself, preaching simply about the path to God and goodness, lacks sufficient star power so his origins must be propped up with pomp and circumstance. Yet when all of the miracles associated with his conception and birth are stripped away the essence of Jesus remains. He was good and right and perfect exactly as He was and no angels trumpeting His birth either increased or decreased the power of who He was…..a servant of God, called to bring forth the goodness of others and witness to the amazing love God has for each and every one of us.

Rebecca, Jon, Alexandra, Rachel and Derek
Rebecca, Alexandra and Pedro at the River
Alexandra Loading the Dishwasher with Grandpa
Deborah, Grandmother Clark, Rachel and Derek

Thus it is that each and every one of our children can be proclaimed to be good and right and perfect exactly as he or she is. We do not need to highlight their successes or hide their failures. Rebecca, Pedro and 14 month old Alexandra live in Paris. A glamorous sounding locale but more pedestrian in the experience. It was so hot this last summer and Pedro was traveling so much that Rebecca and Alexandra blessedly lived with us for 4 ½ months. Jonathan flies for Continental, waiting for the day he can have his own permanent flight schedule instead of filling in for those senior to him. If United and Continental merge he will be in heaven. Matthew flies for AirNow, a cargo outfit, hoping to be hired by one of the “majors” (Continental, Southwest, etc). Between his morning and evening route he is working on a degree in sociology. Rachel and Kellie have a lovely life with Derek in Lincoln where Rachel continues to slog away at her dissertation. She hopes to defend Spring 2007. Ruben and 2 ½ year old Cassie live nearby. He cooks for the local diner and I get to babysit three days a week. (It is magical for me!) Robert hopes to be released from prison in July. Jamie is very successfully making the transition from prison to art school. Jesse is sofa surfing in the Denver area. Amber has a brand new Hagelet named James, born October 19. The father has been accused of abusing the baby so is in jail. Baby Jimmie has been placed in foster care. Amber is working to get her son back. Two former foster children have reentered our lives. Alex got out of prison in July and paroled to Summit County. He has serious ups and downs in his struggle to make it on the “outside” and is currently in jail awaiting a hearing on a parole violation. Brandon hitchhiked home in September with rags on his back. He, now wonderfully employed, is living near by while he stabilizes his life.

Cassie in the Shade
Jamie and Jimmie
Amber and Jimmie, Love at First Sight

The biggest news in our family is the addition in March of Masha, a 14 year old chattering whirlwind. She came to us after her adoption from Russia disrupted. We don’t know how long she will remain…..maybe she will grow up here….maybe she will return to her adoptive family. For the time being we are enjoying her immensely as our ordered lives becomes totally discombobulated by the presence of a teenager.

Paul works fulltime for BigHorn Materials as the buyer for their ACE hardware store paint department and two paint stores. Evenings are devoted to book keeping and meetings as he is on 3 boards and treasurer of our congregation. January 9 Caroline Hage, beloved mother, grandmother and great grandmother, died. Her death was beautiful to experience with her, nonetheless her delightful spirit is missed. Right before she died she remarked, “This is going so slowly that when I get to heaven Werth is going to ask , ‘What took you so long?’”

Grandmother Hage with Matthew, Rebecca and Alexandra one week before Grandma died on Jan. 9, 2006
Deborah, Alexandra, Cassie and Derek

Deborah works as a therapist in private practice, author and lecturer in the time not devoted to visiting and receiving children and grand children. (How many times do you have to read The Very Hungry Caterpillar before it is memorized?) Her main side line is finding ways to support House of Hope, an orphanage in Haiti while continuing to encourage and support the work she began in Manchay, Peru.

We need neither acclaim nor censure for who we are and who we are not. We are who we are….beloved, children of the universe, workers with all the saints in the kingdom of God. No star stopped in the heavens above our birth and no temple curtain will tear when we die but each of our lives is just as important to God and the work of love, peace and justice here on this tilting planet of ours as the One for whom such claims are made.

Perhaps, just perhaps….the mundane, very human, work of justice and peace inspired by the life of Jesus, will prove more awesome then all of the choirs of heavenly hosts. It is in acts of kindness and charity that the Christ daily and miraculously enters the world with glory.

In the name of the living God, go forth and work miracles!

Paul and Deborah

Glacier National Park