Tag Archive | birth

“O HOLY NIGHT” written by Placide Cappeau; composed by Adolphe Charles Adams


Have you ever thought “God won’t use me because I’m nothing special?” I have, and I think most humans with a faith in God have thought and felt that! I’ll come back to this…

This season can bring me blues, but I love Christmas time! My parents and one of my siblings are no longer on earth. Those siblings who are on earth live far away from me in opposite directions! Being the last of eight children, I was accustomed to large holiday gatherings (not just at Christmas). At Christmas, Mom would make tons of treats: divinity, fudge, frosted cookies, gingerbread men. You get the idea. Then, on Christmas Eve around 9 p.m., we would gather in the living room. Dad would read about the birth of Christ from one of the Gospels. We would sing songs like “Away in a Manager” and “Silent Night”.  After this devotional time, we would munch on goodies and open our gifts. That was our family tradition.

As my family changes, tradition changes too. As I struggle with conflicted emotion over adult children and lost family, I desire God’s peace and joy daily.  And, I wonder how God can use me in this season? I am an average person. Does God use the average?

Let’s look at the history of the  song: “O Holy Night”.

Placide Cappeau was born in France 1808. Around age 8, he had a hand amputated. I am sure the other kids called him names and ostracized him. He grew up in spite of that hardship. He became a merchant of wine and spirits.  He was known for his poetry, not his church attendance, although he did attend church irregularly. In 1847, the parish priest asked Placide to write a poem for Christmas mass. He agreed and using Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth he wrote “Cantique de Noel”.  Placide felt it would make a wonderful song. So, he approached his friend (and well-known composer) Adolphe Charles  Adams to compose the music. Adolphe didn’t celebrate Christmas or Jesus as Messiah. But he accepted and three weeks later, at Christmas Eve mass, the song was performed. Knowing how popular the song is now, it is easy to imagine how well-received it was by the church. It became a staple of Catholic Christmas masses.

Then, two things happen: Placide left the church to become part of the socialist movement; and church leaders found out that Adophe was Jewish! Although the song was still popular, the Catholic Church decided not to sing it anymore.

Fast forward ten years: American Abolitionist John Sullivan Dwight made a personal connection with the lyrics. He translated it into English: “truly He taught us to love one another, His law is love and His gospel is peace. Chains shall break free for the slave is our brother and in His Name all oppression shall cease”. The song was embraced by Americans, especially The North during the Civil War.

You might think that’s three ordinary people that God used to bring a beautiful song into so many lives; THE END. Wrong! A violin-playing chemist and professor, Reginald Fessenden, designed a more efficient way to broadcast using radio waves. On December 24, 1906, he played “O Holy Night” on his violin during a radio broadcast for many to hear.

Now to recap: a purveyor of wine and spirits, a Jewish man, and a chemist-professor (no this isn’t a poorly written joke) were used by God to bring the story of Jesus’ birth to millions of people! Sometimes I need the iron skillet to the head for something to sink into my brain. God will use anyone who is obedient! I want to be obedient! Do you?

As you ponder that this Christmas season, ask God to reveal how He is using you – an ordinary person!

God’s blessing and peace to you and  your family!




Birth Pangs

Any woman who has given birth knows from experience what birth pangs are like.  They can be extremely painful, and only the expectation of  holding that new life in our hands sustains us through the process. In fact, during the birth of our fifth child, I remember informing my husband and the obstetrician in all seriousness that I wasn’t sure I could push that baby out — that I had forgotten how to push!  When faced with their incredulous reaction, I explained, “After all, it HAS been 23 months since I last did this!”  As they guffawed in chorus, I was gravely offended.  How DARE they underestimate the gravity and difficulty of what I was doing!  Of course, I recovered my pushing skills with lightning speed, and our son emerged gloriously into this world a few moments later.  Although the pain and intensity of the birth process did not disappear into oblivion, they diminished in significance in the face of the bundle of kicking, bellowing life I was holding in my arms!

As a mother, I am well aware of what I endured to birth our children.  However, have we ever really considered how the birth process must feel from the baby’s perspective?  How would YOU like to suddenly be ejected from your warm, cozy habitat, where meals are automatically provided 24/7, and you never have to interact with anyone who annoys you or experience anything unfriendly?  Then, almost without warning, your world begins to shake.  Someone has ordered the compression machine to kick in!  Moreover, it appears you are being forced to enter an extremely narrow tunnel that is completely dark, restrictive, and uninviting!  There is no hope of remaining where you are, but there seems to be no promise of an exit from that tunnel either!  In fact, until your head bursts forward and out enough into the light for you to see with your eyes that LIFE awaits you rather than death, that birth canal feels like you are in a death grip of some sort.

Sometimes I feel like God is birthing me into a new phase of life — but He rarely shows me ahead of the game where He is taking me.  He simply begins to put the squeeze on.  He jostles my nest, things begin to shake, and, before I can tighten my grip on my situation, He propels me into a dark, tight tunnel.  Like that baby in the womb, I have an instinctive resistance to the compression process! I invariably have to let go of everything I am holding onto and allow Him to propel me through that narrow place.  I find myself needing to trust Him that He will be the Light for me when I cannot see any light at the end of the tunnel.   Sometimes it feels like death is going to overwhelm me in that place of transition, as if a huge boa constrictor were squeezing me.  In fact, the prophet Hosea addresses my unwillingness to move to that new, God-appointed phase of my life:

“The iniquity of Ephraim [not fully punished yet] is bound up [ as in a bag]; his sin is laid up in store [for judgment and destruction].  The pains of a woman in childbirth are coming on for him [to be born]; but he is an unwise son, for now when it is time [to be born], he comes not to the place where [unborn] children break forth [he needs new birth but makes no effort to acquire it].

Should I ransom them from the power of Sheol (the place of the dead)? Should I redeem them from death?  O death, where are your plagues? O Sheol, where is your destruction?  Relenting and compassion are hidden from My eyes.”  Hosea 13:12-14 (Amplified Edition)

The word Ephraim in Hebrew is derived from the word that means fruit or fruitful, certainly an appropriate name for someone who is destined to be the fruit of the womb! Just as God births us by the power of the Blood of Jesus from iniquity into new life, He also regularly ordains that we be birthed into new places of fruitfulness for His Kingdom.  When we feel the constriction of those birth pangs, we tend to resist, but we are certainly UNWISE if we insist on lingering in our old place of comfort.  In fact, a baby who stays too long in the womb will ultimately die.  In order to live, he/she needs to be born!  The same goes for us — we must overcome our desires to remain in our place of comfort and choose to enter that birth canal, however dark or narrow it may be, and trust God that DEATH does not await us in that tight spot, but LIFE.  God has and will continue to ransom us from the power of death and hell and cause us to bear FRUIT.  Trust Him!   He is with you in the birth pangs of life, and He has called you to bear fruit.