Highlights for December, 2020
The cover artwork may not be typical of a December Christmas issue, but hopefully it conveys a quiet, simple peacefulness, and you can sense the crisp air with the bare landscape of winter and the sun low in the sky. The artist, Kirsten Petersen, lives in Canada and based the image on her grandparents’ house near Frederiksværk, Denmark. She has graciously contributed numerous illustrations to this issue to accompany Agnes Jelhof Jensen’s story “Juleenglen.” Bodil Jelhof Jensen, the author’s daughter, provides a summary of her mother’s writing career and translates the story into an English version “The Christmas Angel.”
As an early Christmas present, we have the song “I Am From,” lyrics by Katie Brogan and music by Rita Juhl, her grandmother.
But before we launch too fast into Christmas, we have the remaining days of Advent; so we begin this issue with new hymn text by David R. Weiss, which feels especially appropriate this year. More of David’s work and his “public theologizing” blog is at www.davidrweiss.com.
Later in the issue, as a kind of counterbalance to the new hymn text, is “The Churchbell,” a translation by S.D. Rodholm of an 1845 Grundtvig hymn. This also leads into the bell-ringing theme in the second and final part of “Notes of a Parish Sexton” by Erik Hansen. His afterword offers a warm note of appreciation to Joe Knudsen, who first published the story.
Hanna Broadbridge shares about the combination of, old and new songs in an exciting publication that furthers the Danish singing culture.
Marilyn Gift describes how her congregation has adapted the Strengthening Families Program in response to the pandemic. The program was developed and promoted by Ginny and Lee Molgaard, who thankfully have recovered from their struggles with the coronavirus.
Fredsville, Iowa, gets some attention: Ed Andersen recalls how the family farm managed while young men were called to military service during World War II and Vern Johnson issues a request to help tell the stories of the founders of the Fredsville congregation as it prepares to celebrate its 150th anniversary.
Joel Mortensen gives us a book review of Biased. And we close by remembering Dorla Louise Clark, sister of our business manager, Wanda Clark. Even the Post Script has a tone of a celebration of life. We will soon lay 2020 to rest. In the meantime, may the season bring hope, peace, love and . . . JOY TO THE WORLD!