Christmas 2013



Christmas 2013 is upon us! How the time flies! I wish you all good health, and the very best in all your endeavors!

This has been a relatively uneventful, but busy, year for me - with the garden (and even a little 'community garden' at church), classes (see for what my co-leader, Lisa, and I have been up to), Church activities (president of church council, secretary for the women's group (we still have circles!), choir, Sunday school adult class studying various religions (I led the section on Islam), and farm club (membership chair).

I have also made numerous trips up to visit Dot in Lansing and help her get resettled in her house. She has much fun with her garden, which is a bit of a mini-park. There is an amazing birch tree in front, along with ferns, violets, anemones, lilies-of-the-valley, Eupatoriums, and lots more, reflecting a lot of thought and planning that went into her garden.

I enjoyed sharing Thanksgiving with Mark & family in Cleveland Heights. Emily is in her second year at St. Olaf College, and is looking forward to a January trip to Greece for the Interim classics course led and taught by St. Olaf Prof. James May on the art & history of ancient Greece. Will is in 10th grade, and loves woodworking (click on picture to enlarge). Squash is his favorite sport now, and he runs track and cross-country in season. He's very interested in rocketry and established the Rocketry Club at his school. Pete keeps really busy with his practice. He's frequently on duty at the hospital. The insurance companies have played havoc with his independent practice, as a big insurer in Toledo kicked him off their list. Our health care system in this country is a mess, with the drug companies, hospitals and insurance companies calling the shots, I'm afraid. And the real truth about how to stay healthy gets extremely short shrift! After all if we were all really healthy, eating good food, not needing any drugs, etc. think what would happen to the profits of the medical industries!

My latest activity has been with a small group in Toledo working to get genetically engineered foods labeled in Ohio. Our goals are explained at our website, - a huge undertaking, but so important, as folks, including doctors, come to realizes the problems that GMO corn and soy are causing for the health of our environment, our farm animals, and anyone eating GMO tainted foods. Are GMO foods safe? Many scientists and doctors don't think so! See the website of the Institute for Responsible Technology - I always advise people to eat organic, GMO-free or trusted local foods. Unfortunately the GMO industry is doing everything in their power to suppress this knowledge, including infiltrating the government agencies responsible for assuring the safety of our food supply and spreading lies, so don't believe everything you hear! Your good health depends on making wise food choices.

I have been involved with the MultiFaith Council of Northwest Ohio for several years. One of their activities, called "Tables of Eight", arranged folks of varying religious beliefs into groups of 8 who came together for 3 potluck meals at the homes of members, to share fellowship and have guided discussions about our faith. That has resulted in some cherished friendships, as you get to know folks after 3 meals together. One comment from a Middle Eastern participant of the Islamic faith, has stuck in my mind and bothered me to this day - "Your God and Allah cannot be the same because Allah is one and your God had a son, so cannot be one" (or something to that effect). At the time I was taken aback and did not know what to answer, and he didn't seem open to discussion. But with all the religious tensions in the world,  I've thought about that often, and recently set down my thoughts on the matter, which follow:

I believe in one God - the great creative force, the Lord God, God Almighty, Jehovah, Allah, if you will (may all be praised). (Did you ever stop to thinks that Jehovah and Allah have very specific meanings, but 'god' does not, hence my use of various titles.) Jehovah is the great life force that brings forth a beautiful flower  or a precious baby from the tiny seed or egg. DNA is only the beginning of the explanation of this miraculous phenomenon. As the Psalmist writes:

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars that you have established;
what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
mortals that you care for them?  Psalm 8:3-4

The Lord God gave mankind the amazing gift of free will, and gave us guidance on how to live, but mankind struggled with selfish desires (sin) and broke the rules. No sacrifice could over come that sinfulness. So God Almighty/Jehovah, out of love for mankind, came down to earth in the form of a man, the Lord Jesus/Messiah, to set things right by offering the perfect sacrifice in our stead, to satisfy the requirements of Justice.

(At Christmas last year the sermon was a thought-provoking skit, with God sitting down with his angels in a meeting to discuss what to do about mankind's sinfulness. Then God says "I'm going down there in person and set things right!" I know, that is anthropomorphizing God, but certainly shows that God Almighty can do things completely beyond human understanding.)

Lord God Almighty turned that awful sacrifice into victory over sin and death, in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and His return to God in the Ascension. How can this be??? It is the great mystery of the one God Almighty, who is above our understanding.

And to help man overcome his sinfulness, the Lord God, Our Father in Heaven, takes us into the family of God, as we become 'Children of God' in Baptism. And then God sends God's Spirit into our hearts (we call that the "Holy Spirit") to free us from the burden of our sinful natures, our selfishness, greed, etc., and soften our hearts so we can be filled with the spirit of peace, love, and understanding, and can find our fulfillment in spreading that peace and understanding and compassion. 
The Great Mystery of the Trinity - the three in one!

Unfortunately the sinfulness of mankind seems to hold sway in our world again today. (That was a theme in my 2011 Christmas letter.) Will God Almighty have to come to earth again to get us all straightened out??? I pray that the Holy Spirit will instill in each of us a spirit of understanding and wisdom to guide our world toward peace, goodwill, and God-pleasing care and healing of our Earth.

A closing thought: "The future will be green, or not at all. This truth lies at the heart of humankind's most pressing challenge: to learn to live in harmony with the Earth on a genuinely sustainable basis."

---Sir Jonathon Porritt

May you all have a Joyous Christmas and a green & sustainable New Year!


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P.S. A book well worth reading - Cows Save The Planet: 
It explains very clearly how animals properly raised on pasture can make  major contributions to the greening of our earth and alleviating of the warming of our climate - a fascinating discussion. I am so grateful for the farming family that produces the grass-fed meat, eggs and dairy that I consume.