The January/February 2023 issue has been delayed in coming out. It will be out soon. The regular monthly issue on the15th of the month will resume with the March issue.
Christmas 2022 Cover & Highlights
The photo on the cover, provided by Hans Kaarde Gundesen, organist at Tarm Kirke in western Mid Jutland, seemed appropriate for this Christmas issue, which includes some material sourced from Denmark, some Grundtvig references (note the Grundtvig book on the shelf in the photo), a few articles with a sense of nostalgia as comes with the tradition of arranging a home nativity scene, and, of course, a Christmas theme in many pieces.
The Grundtvig Christmas hymn “Velkommen igen, Guds engle små” gets an appreciable amount of attention, starting with an excerpt from the 1945 book Hymns and Hymnwriters of Denmark by J.C. Aaberg that includes his English translation of the hymn. A more recent translation into English by Edward Broadbridge appears opposite the original Danish lyrics and shows the creativity required for a translation to retain the sense of the original and still be poetic. The article “Christmas Sorrow Is No Crime” is a translation from the original article in Danish by Anne Korshom and takes the same Grundtvig hymn as its point of departure.
The sermon “Tonight It Is Filled” also addresses sorrow at Christmas, Little did Fr. Michael Marsh have any idea of the sorrow that his community would feel this year when he preached this sermon last Christmas Eve in his congregation in Uvalde, TX.
In “A Blessed Christmas,” Ed Madsen recalls Christmas in 1973 and how, despite those troubling times in the country, it became an especially memorable experience thanks to Maria von Trapp, the nanny-turned-mother of the von Trapp Family Singers, who gained fame in the movie “Sound of Music.”
Erik S. Hansen muses on the power of song in his article “Melodies of Life” and offers websites to hear songs to which he refers, including both a sentimental favorite and one in the style of rap. This article is on the Church and Life website where links to these websites are easily accessible from within the text.
The next two articles, “Patches of Life” by Ellen Fensholt Sorensen and “A Treasured Christmas Letter” by Juliane Nielsen, were actually written decades ago. They both show how these two women in their later years have remained engaged in life with a spirit of gratitude.
Both these women attended the Danebod Folk Meeting to which Joel Mortensen, as a member of the planning committee, encourages people to attend in 2023. Then Ricke and Jerry Bly provide news about efforts to upgrade the Danebod campus and activities that have returned as people are more comfortable gathering again.
Ruben Strandskov, from Luck, WI, was noted not only for his joy of gatherings but also for his stance as a conscientious objector in WWII. Part 2 of “Considerations of Conscience” continues with his experience as a noncombatant.
Finally, the lives of Sonja Agnete (Strandskov) Richardson and Don Lenef, both recently departed, are warmly remembered.
The many gift contributions in memory and in honor of people are truly appreciated as is your continuing support through renewals and gift subscriptions.
As this somewhat longer issue is for the observance of the twelve days of Christmas, the next will be a combined January/February issue. Until then….
Glædelig Jul og Godt Nytår!
Patches of Life
By ELLEN FENSHOLT SORENSEN
On the book give-away table at this year’s Danebod Folk Meeting, I saw an envelope with a note on it still sitting out on the final day. The envelope was addressed to Ardis Petersen at Danebod in Tyler, MN from Mrs. P. Sorensen in Oak Park, IL. The post mark was August 19, 1991. The note on the envelope was signed by Asta Twedt. It read "Does anyone know who Mrs. P. Sorensen was? These are three beautiful pieces she wrote for a writing class and sent to my mother. She had a son, Martinus. Please take these if they mean something to you. They are of historical value."
Though not personally meaningful to me through any family connection, I thought that, as editor of Church and Life, I could take the envelope and let it be known through the publication. I did some genealogical research and made the connection to Mrs. P. Sorensen’s daughter, Ardis (Sorensen) Cicchella, with whom I had corresponded last year regarding a memorial gift. The envelope and its contents have been forwarded to her, and she gave permission to print this piece.—Ed.
One of the pleasures of a long life is the fuller meaning it can give to language. Take, for example, the word quilt. One of my all time favorite poems is R. T. [Robert P.T.] Coffin’s “Ole Farmer Alone.” In it the word quilt has special significance. It denotes a way of life—farm life. Death has taken the old farmer’s wife, and so he has inherited all her quilts and comforters, among them the quilt that covered their shared bed.
When I was young, the word quilt had no special meaning for me. Then because of certain events throughout my life, that word took on deeper and deeper meanings. Each event had its own images.
When our first child was about to be born, Nanna Mortensen, our Pastor’s wife and my friend, made a quilt for the baby’s crib. “I’ve made the flowers yellow,” she said, “so it can be used for a boy or a girl.” Well it was a boy, then a girl and another girl, then a boy. Much later came a precious little “Princess come lately.”
It pains me now to remember that I didn’t really appreciate the time, talent, and love that went into the making of that quilt. I was just too young and inexperienced.
Many years later when I was about to retire from teaching, my colleagues invited me to coffee and to watch as they made a gift for me. They were sewing the large center block for a quilt. It was fitting that the pattern was of a schoolhouse.
It should have been a pleasure, but oh, for a former seamstress it was torture. It looked as though they had never had a thimble on finger of a needle in hand. Then slowly it came to me. These women, for a friend, had the courage to try something new, and for them, difficult. How dear they were. How I would miss our daily work and companionship.
With the passing years, comprehension grew. I remembered a quilt from long ago. I was five years old. My Mother had made a quilt from old woolen suits—you know how the knees and seat of pants wear out first, and there is still much usable material left. The quilt was made of blue and gray geometrical pieces. The diamond shape was the most fun for a small finger to trace. That quilt covered three little sisters who slept in a large black iron bed.
In a dream, soldiers in blue and gray marched with unsteady gait. Where had they come from? They came from the Memorial Day parade I had watched from the street curb—a curb lined with galvanized tubs filled with fragrant pink and white peonies. They were the last of the Civil War “vets” marching to Chicago’s Oak Woods Cemetery, the cemetery where my Mother would soon be laid to rest. She died in June in the early summer of her life, twenty-nine years old.
The first cold night of the following October, the blue and gray quilt was taken out of moth balls. Once again it was placed over the three little girls. On one side of me slept my older sister. On the other side, my gently and beautiful little sister breathed softly. How could it be that before long I felt as if I was [sic] enveloped in the warmth of my Mother’s body?
In October of 1990, guests from Florida and Montana visited me. The Montana couple, Gerda and Jørgen had just celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary. Gerda, a teacher and farm wife, had brought pictures of the making of a quilt. The quilt was to be a gift from their family for their anniversary.
There was love and pride and incredulity in her voice as Gerda told the story of its making. Three generations had worked together, Jørgen’s ninety-two year old mother among them. They were all busy homemakers. Think of the planning, the time, the shopping, and the skill necessary for such an undertaking! [Then think of all the sharing of memories in loving conversation.--handwritten in]
I thought about the symbolism of that quilt; the trials and joys and victories of raising a family. I thought about the uncertainties of farm life. What kind of harvest will we have this year?
And finally I thought about the quilt of that great mystery, the marriage bed. The place where a man and a woman, in love, join hands with the hands of God in the creation of a new life.
Thinking back on it all, I recalled a song we had played in our high school orchestra, a song my Father loved—“Oh sweet mystery of life at last I’ve found you.”
And, I think, I cannot as yet fully comprehend you, but I accept and cherish you: quilt, the symbol fo [sic] that great mystery-life.
The dark glass through which the word is seen becomes clearer.
And I give thanks.
Bridget Lois Jensen