Christmas Letter 1972

Dear friends in Christ:

Greetings once again at this Merrie  Xmas time!  We hope You-Know-who  is running your lives and that as a result you are reveling in the ever more abundant riches of His kindness.  And if he's NOT running your life, well then, we hope your world gets shaken to its sandy foundations to the point where you can take Psalm 119:65-72 for your very own.

A Christmas Meditation:  "No Pill for Mary"

She could have taken a pill--
Well, not that kind exactly sold
by Druggists everywhere (you know:
the Miracle for Today- "Dance the Piper's free)--
her "NO" would do as well,
Though then she'd miss the pleasure.

They hadn't learned yet,
in the Oldene Dayes,
The trick of it,
How to Dance to God's Tune
and not to pay the Piper.

It must have been delightful talking
To God with Him, for once, responding.
Delightful, but for the pain
in what He had to say.

There must be a way to have the pleasure
but not the pain.
Mary didn't know it... (could we say,
She didn't want it?)
Her pleasure included the message's pain.

For there would be pain:
   The pain in Joseph's heart: "An angel
   told me, Joseph dear,
   This child's from God."
   And then, his pain,
   "An angel?  Oh, yes.  Oh, God!"

   The People Pain, "You're gaining weight, Mary."
   "You'll be marrying soon, Mary?"
   "Such a shame you couldn't wait..."
   Talk, borne silently, for what could she say?
   "It's not Joseph's child..."?
   "This angel said to me..."?

   The mother's pain, for a child
   she bore but could never claim.
   "A sword shall pierce your heart."

PAIN.  She must have sensed the pain.
And with the pain, her pleasure:

   "Here am I, I am the Lord's servant;
   As you have spoken, so be it."

Can there be pleasure had
in mere talk, even with God Himself?
If nothing is said, the message doesn't matter?
What joy is had by those who take a Pill,
Then sit in t cozy sterility at God's feet
As all his words point robustly beyond them
to borning Life?

What Light!  What Sound!  God's messenger arrived!
God, give me pleasure!  God, give me pain!
Let my pleasure be the pain
of the Word you have spoken
coming to triumphant life.

No pills, to save me from your action!

Sweep up in the whirling winds
of your might plans
My Life.

"Here am I, I am the Lord's servant;
As you have spoken, so be it."

Highlights of the work here:

The VIII General Convention of the IECLB:  I had the rare privilege of attending as the pastor-delegate from the Northern District of the State of Parana.  What was especially inspiring was a new self-awareness generally evident, that the time is now for the IECLB (The Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confessions in Brazil) to be a living witness to the Lordship of Jesus Christ to the Brazilian people.  Motions were passed preparing the way for more aggressive financial and evangelistic planning.  Also, a new "Document for Faith and Life" was adopted, beautifully written in Portuguese.  It showed a slight ambiguity at one point, the Lord's Supper, leaving the door open for those in our church of a more Reformed orientation.

A RETREAT:  WHERE ARE WE GOING?  Organized here in the North of Parana for the purpose of restructuring, if necessary, the work here.  Two members of the Executive Committee of the IECLB were present, and about thirty laymen and pastors from the North of Parana.  It was held here in Maringa.  The women of the congregation did a marvelous job of organizing, everybody cooperated beautifully.  The results:  some parishes were restructured into team ministries.  It was decided to work for a Visitation Pastor in the District whose task would be to make systematic visits with special program to all of the principal congregations each year, in our District.  Special attention will be given to Stewardship and Evangelization.  A questionnaire had been distributed by the District Council to all the members of our church in the North Parana District.  Among other things, it showed average family size to be about 3 children, average admitted gross income to be about $2,000 dollars a year.  A relatively sever language problem still exists, and the people are relatively conservative ecclesiastically.  And, they want more Bible studies and the overwhelming majority thinks that there should be more Brazilians in our churches.  It was decided that our district should think of itself as a "living shoot" and not a dead branch of the church.  Where are we going?  Where the Lord leads us!


The biggest family news is that we are on the "22-2" plan, and will be home for furlough for two months in July and August.  We plan on deplaning in Miami, buying a car and driving up through North Carolina (newton), Columbus, Ohio, and on through Iowa and up to Minnesota.  Exact dates have not been fixed as yet.

Brazil is now the world's no. 2 exporter of soybeans.

I guess that's not really family news.  We're all in relatively good health.  Donna is letting her hair grow longer.  Rachel is starting to exhibit some disturbingly ladylike symptoms at intervals.  Charles is highly imaginative.  I wish he would settle down and be as serious at least as Jerry Lewis.  And, Helen is still very much the cuddly baby of the family, though she shows signs of outgrowing that.  She's reading quite well.

Merry Christamas, and a Happy New Year!


Cliff, Donna, Rachel, Charles and Helen

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