The Heart of Christmas

My family and I send Christmas wishes for peace, love, joy, and the HEART of health to you and all those you love.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another,

“Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 

And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.

(Luke 2:11–14)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Christmas nativity scene
photo of a Nativity set at my church-Dr. Aletha 

If you are grieving the loss of someone you love, please know that I care. My husband lost his brother a few weeks ago, so we also are missing someone, plus all the others we have lost through the years. We feel their absence most at the holidays.

I pray you’ll find comfort in sharing love with those still here, whether in person or at a distance. My family and I send Christmas wishes for peace, love, joy, and the HEART of health to you and all those you love.

in faith, hope, and love always Dr. Aletha

Peace on earth will come to stay, when we live Christmas every day.
graphic from LIGHTSTOCK.COM

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Believing good news

How Charles Jennens helped George Handel

Luke 2, NIV 

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

 

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another,

“Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.

 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

figures in a nativity scene with a bright start in the sky

The origins of Handel’s Messiah

We usually associate  Messiah with Christmas, but Handel composed it to be performed at Easter.
 
 
 
The London Symphony Orchestra presents Handel's Messiah
“Handel got the lyrics from a preacher named Charles Jennens, who wrote out the whole piece as a collage of Bible verses designed to tell a story about the Messiah.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
In some cases Jennens copied verses from the King James Version of the Bible directly, and in other cases he abridged or modified the wording of the Bible verses somewhat to fit into something that could be set to music and sung.
 
He also decided to change the “point of view” in a couple of places. Rather than quoting Jesus’ words about himself directly, for instance, he made a few changes so that the singers are singing about Jesus rather than portraying the role of Jesus.”
quoted from wheatwilliams.com

These Bible verses, attributed to  the physician Luke are sung in Part 1 of Messiah.

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(1 Corinthians 13:13)

 

an angel figurine

 

 Handel’s Messiah -Listen on Apple Music 

“Tis the season, again

Having a  birthday close to Christmas makes both occasions rather messy for you and your family. As my friend ,whose birthday is on New Year’s Day, wrote, “You feel like you get cheated on your Christmas/birthday gifts.”  But  there are perks.

This is one of my favorite posts, probably because I had fun writing it. There’s no serious medical information in it, but I hope you will find inspiration to stop and think about the “reason for the season”.

Don’t  we celebrate more special events and holidays the last six weeks of the year than the rest of the year combined? It feels that way to me.  We have these three major holidays-

Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day

Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve have become mini holidays too.

And when Christmas and New Year’s Day fall on the weekend, Friday or Monday will be a holiday for many people.

First we had Black Friday. Then they added Cyber Monday. Now we also have Giving Tuesday, which I think is the only one that really counts.

beautiful large Christmas tree
Christmas at the Chicago Museum of  Science and Industry

Some people observe the special celebrations of Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.

In the United States, we observe December 7 as Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, the day in 1941 the United States entered World War II.  That event changed our country forever, and created my generation, the post-war  Baby Boomers.

The USS Arizona Memorial
Pearl Harbor Memorial to the USS Arizona

On December 17 , 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright made their  famous flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, ushering in the age of air travel, another historical turning point.

aircraft airplane antique classic
Photo by Inge Wallumrød on Pexels.com

The shortest day of the year occurs on December 21, the winter solstice and first day of winter in the northern hemisphere.

light snow on trees and ground

And  there are other special holidays and events observed too.

Besides holidays, other matters demand our time and attention during this season also.

College students face the end of a semester by studying for finals and finishing term papers and projects.

Renewal notices for subscriptions, licenses, and memberships show up in our mailboxes or inboxes.

Charities offer us one final opportunity to make  tax-deductible donations.

Patients call their doctor’s, dentist’s or optometrist’s office for that last chance to use medical insurance before the new (and probably higher) deductible kicks in or use medical spending accounts.

red gift boxes
Christmas birthdays can be messy too.

And in the middle of all this, I celebrate my birthday.

Having a  birthday close to Christmas makes both occasions rather messy for you and your family. As my friend ,whose birthday is on New Year’s Day, wrote, “You feel like you get cheated on your Christmas/birthday gifts.”  But  there are perks.

Your neighbors remind you your birthday is coming by hanging lights on their houses and turning them on every evening. (My husband claims that’s not the real reason. He doesn’t believe in Santa Claus either.)

You can go to a holiday party and pretend it’s for you.

You can listen to Christmas music on your birthday without seeming weird.

Your husband may hire a limousine to drive you around town looking at holiday lights displays. (No joke.)

boy and woman with birthday cakes
Celebrating a long ago birthday with my son. I don’t know why I had two birthday cakes.

Thank goodness, so far, no one else in my immediate family has chosen to be born or married this month. (Although I was delighted to learn  recently that two  distant cousins also have December birthdays.)

But the best part of any birthday, no matter when you observe it, is reflecting on your life, both the successes and failures, the joys and sorrows, and remembering and reflecting on the people and events that brought you to where you are now.

Birth and death comprise this journey  we call Life. Long ago I recognized that we physicians do not ultimately “save lives” or “prevent death”, but we can sometimes impact the time and circumstances.

A Bible book,  Ecclesiastes chapter 3 addresses the extremes of life in this passage which is often read at funerals or memorials-

For everything there is a season, and a time for

every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

This year I have  celebrated with friends who welcomed new babies into their families. I watched a friend face a disabling illness and death with the same faith, courage, enthusiasm, dignity and humor that he had lived life. I have mourned with his family and others who have lost loved ones this year.

Some people dread birthdays, but I believe  they are  a blessing; I am grateful for another year of life and hope to use whatever time I have left productively.  I agree with Oliver Wendell Holmes

“To be seventy years young is sometimes far more cheerful and hopeful than to be forty years old.”

Buzz Aldrin, one of the Apollo 11 astronauts and second human to step on the moon’s surface , trekked to the South Pole-at 86 years old.

A woman celebrating  her 103rd birthday made the news.  As always, she spent the day at a senior citizen center- as a volunteer!

In January, our country observes the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I doubt my birthday will ever be named a holiday, but I hope something I do in life will leave this world a little better.

A birthday creates a new beginning  and so does a new year.  Perhaps we can all use the New Year’s Day holiday  to remember, reflect, renew and recharge our hearts and minds for another season  of life.

Yes, ’tis the season-Merry Christmas, Happy New Year-

and happy birthday, whenever yours may be.

Dr. Aletha

dessert with a lit candle in the middle
I hope your favorite restaurant gives you a complimentary dessert on your birthday.

Bringing good news

We usually associate Messiah with Christmas, but Handel intended it to be performed at Easter.

Luke chapter 2, New Living Translation 

 

The Shepherds and Angels

 
That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep.
 
Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them.
 
shepherds raising arms to the sky
Shepherds drawing by Bill Hart
 
 
“Don’t be afraid!” he said.                                         
“I bring you good news that will bring    
great joy to all people.”
 
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

The artist- Bill Hart 

The late Bill Hart was a professional artist. He served in the United States Army during World War II and was part of the force which invaded  and liberated  France in 1944. You can read Bill’s story at this link. 

 
 
 
 
 

The composer- George Handel 

These verses from the Bible book Luke  are sung in Handel’s musical  Messiah musical. We usually associate  Messiah with Christmas, but Handel intended it to be performed at Easter.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 “Handel got the lyrics from a preacher named Charles Jennens, who wrote out the whole piece as a collage of Bible verses designed to tell a story about the Messiah.”
 
quoted from wheatwilliams.com
 
According to the Bible, Luke was a physician. George Handel’s father, Georg, was a barber-surgeon.

 Handel’s Messiah -Listen on Apple Music 

 
 
 
 
Thank you for considering  the affiliate links  and advertisers that support this blog.
 
 
A Simple Christmas book cover
 A Simple Christmas: A Faith-filled Guide to a Meaningful And Stress-free Christmas (Spirit of Simple Living) 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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"faith, hope, love"

 

 

Shouting good news at Christmas

We usually associate  Messiah with Christmas, but Handel wrote it to be performed at Easter. He drew the words of the songs from Scripture, choosing passages that tell the story of God sending Jesus to earth to redeem His people.

 Isaiah 40, NLT

“Comfort, comfort my people,”says your God.
Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting,
 
“Clear the way through the wilderness
for the Lord!
Make a straight highway through the wasteland
for our God!
Fill in the valleys,
and level the mountains and hills.
Straighten the curves,

and smooth out the rough places.   

Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed,  and all people will see it together.

The Lord has spoken!”

   

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Holy Bible, New Living Translation copyright 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois, 60188. All rights reserved.
 
 

This Bible selection is one of several set to music in Handel’s famous musical, Messiah.

The Handel Family

Georg Handel was a barber-surgeon in northern Germany in the 17th century. Barber-surgeons were physicians in medieval Europe who only performed surgery, often treating wounds from war injuries. Eventually, surgery and barbery became separate occupations.

Handel's Messiah Complete Works

I’m glad his son,George did not follow his father into medicine. Instead George Frideric Handel studied music and eventually composed his masterpiece , Messiah, first performed in 1742, and which  millions of people have listened to or sang since then.

We usually associate  Messiah with Christmas, but Handel wrote it to be performed at Easter. He drew the words of the songs from Scripture, choosing passages that tell the story of God sending Jesus to earth to redeem His people.

The London Symphony Orchestra presents Handel's Messiah
HANDEL'S MESSIAH- A SOULFUL CELEBRATION album cover

 Handel’s Messiah -Listen on Apple Music 

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Introducing the new Filament Bible. With Filament, you get a beautifully simple print Bible with access to a free digital app. Simply scan the page number using the Filament app, and you’re instantly connected to a world of study, devotional, and interactive visual content all centered around the page you are reading.

 

 

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"faith, hope, love"

 

 

Dr. Aletha 

sharing words of faith, hope, and love

(1Corinthians 13:13)

Do you celebrate Christmas in July?

Why am I sharing a Bible passage about Christmas in July? Not because stores may already be selling Christmas decorations. 

Isaiah 9: 6, ESV

For to us a child is born,

to us a son is given;

and the government shall be upon his shoulder,

and his name shall be called

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

© 2001 – 2018 CROSSWAY

from the English Standard Bible 

Why am I sharing a Bible passage about Christmas in July? Not because stores may already be selling Christmas decorations.

This selection was read on Daily Audio Bible (DAB)  recently. I told you about DAB before and hope you’ve been listening to it with me daily or as often as possible.

DAILY AUDIO BIBLE screen shot

I listen to the chronological version, meaning the text is read in the order it happened or was written, rather than the order the books are arranged in the Bible.

(Affiliate links are used in this post. Using them allows you to assist in funding this blog at no extra cost to you. )

More info about DAB is in this previous post.

DAB is free and you can download on the App Store 
Appstore sm 0fc8af054ef36729b6ef1ee711c8be883bbf7600b04a74ca69fb961dec5b4d41

George Frideric Handel and Messiah

George Frideric Handel used this scripture from Isaiah in his famous work, Messiah, first performed in 1742, performed or heard by millions of people since then.

HANDEL'S MESSIAH COMPLETE ALBUM ART
HANDEL’S MESSIAH COMPLETE LONDON PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA (affiliate link)

Although it’s usually performed at Christmas, Handel wrote it for Easter.

Handel’s father  was a barber-surgeon. Barber-surgeons were physicians in medieval Europe, who as the name suggests performed surgery, often treating wounds from war injuries. Eventually, surgery and barbery became separate occupations.

When is “Christmas” for you?

Do you plan for Christmas year round, or wait til the week before? What does Christmas mean to you? Please share your thoughts.

Thanks for exploring the Bible, Christmas, and the HEART of health with me.

Please share this post and follow Watercress Words where I regularly inform and inspire you about health and share words of faith, hope, and love.

I appreciate your interest and support. Please visit my Reader Resources page and help me share the HEART of health.

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn, links are on the left side bar here and the Home page. Thanks so much.

Dr.Aletha 

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Finding Holiday Joy Amid the Grief

Coping with grief during the holidays

 

 

Although this season brings  fun and festivities, many of our friendsgroup of lanterns

find it hard to feel joyful when their hearts are heavy with grief.

 

 

 

 

Whether from a  recent loss, or  one many years ago, grieving for the loved ones who won’t be here to celebrate with us can dampen our holiday spirit and  lead to depression. 

  • I think of my friend  who has lost both a sister and a son this year.
  • I remember my friends who tragically lost their teen aged daughter in a car wreck just a few days before Christmas many years ago.
  • I consider my medical colleague who is battling cancer.
  • My heart aches for my friends who lost a young aunt to an undiagnosed medical condition which suddenly proved fatal .
  • And my husband and I  still grieve the loss of our parents and siblings at Christmas even after many years.

 

As one friend wrote-

“This is my second Christmas without my husband.  It has been tough, but also a reminder that God is the god of all comfort. That works for me. And… it is a reminder to pray comfort to anyone who has faced a loss of a loved one including precious pets. Loss from any source needs a comforting friend.”

If you know someone who needs a “comforting friend”,  please take the time to reach out to them so they know someone cares and they are not alone.

Here is advice from Nancy Guthrie on

What to say to grieving people. 

“Honestly, the most painful thing is when you’ve had a loss and someone around you—because of the awkwardness — never acknowledges it. That’s what hurts the most.”

xmas house

On the Harvard Health Blog, Dr. Anthony Komaroff  advises on 

Coping with grief and loss during the holidays

 “Grief is not a tidy, orderly process, and there is no right way to grieve. Every person—and every family—does it differently. This can cause emotions to collide and overlap, especially during the holiday season when the emphasis is on rebirth and renewal.”

My family and I wish all of you health and wholeness in

body, mind and spirit.

man and woman in front of the Alamo at Christmas
My husband and I at the Alamo in San Antonio Texas at Christmas

 

More holiday tips from Watercress Words at these links-

How to anticipate and relieve holiday stress

Healthy holiday eating made easy

 

And please consider my affiliates and advertisers for your holiday gifts, your support helps  fund this blog and increase its value to you. Thank you!