Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


"If you want to know again what good news is, think back to the situation in the Netherlands in the year 1945."

It's not hard to do that, even though I wasn't born until three years later and never really knew much at all about World War II in occupied Europe until I got to college. But I've heard the stories before. No matter.  The pictures keep coming.

"It was spring, after the most fearful winter Europe had ever known."

I remember being told people made up names, "roof rabbits," to help them justify eating their own cats. They had absolutely nothing. Thousands of city dwellers swarmed out into the Dutch countryside every single day, the roads full of starving people in search of enough food to live. I remember stories of books being burned in kitchen stoves to stay warm--there was no fuel.  Children looked like the living dead. The last cold months were what the Dutch still call today "the Hunger Winter."

"Sons were murdered, fathers were powerless, daughters were insecure, and mothers could no longer give daily food to their children."

It's the voice of Andrew Kuyvenhoven, a pastor and writer, in an grand old book of devotionals titled, simply, Daylight.

"People died of starvation. And they cried to God under the heel of the Nazi oppressor. They met in churches. And in the long, dark nights (there was no electricity), they prayed fervently for freedom, for help, for a way out."

This is the meditation he means to be read on December 17, just eight days before Christmas.  

"On the evening of May 4, a rumor went through the country. It was an electrifying rumor, and it went faster than a prairie fire:  "It's over! The war is over! Peace!"

Liberation---the real point here is the almost unimaginable glory of Liberation.

"Not one healthy person stayed in his chair. Crowds went out into the dark streets.  Someone started to sing--a song of liberty. And all were filled with joy."

The long, dark night was over--just imagine.

"This comes closest to what happened at Christmas. It was in that night that the heavens were opened and a voice said: 'It's over! It's all over! Now the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God."

That's the thought we read together a month ago, a description we saw clearly from a meditation that is really an album of photographs that hasn't been closed since, an analogy Kuyvenhoven wrote with ink drawn from his own life's experience, a moment in time that transcended time, and therefore, the absolute best he could do, he says, to bring us to what it must have been like to be out there with the sheep on the Judean hills, silence all around, just a cold second or two before a company of angels literally drew open the massive curtains of the sky.  

"When the gospel has become an old tale and the sermon a piece of information, we are in deadly danger," Kuyvenhoven says, "for the story about Jesus is,, first and last, good news, a tiding of joy."

Just thought I'd mention it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm struck by the photograph of the Dutch celebrating the end of the war. You write about the hunger and yet these well dressed people look healthy and well fed!