A myHT Fortress

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

30 Days of Thankfulness: Day 20 - Heartfelt Holidays

Heartfelt Holidays is one of the CD's in our collection, that is a collection itself.  Every song is by a different artist, from varying styles and eras.  This album made its way into our home over ten years ago, purchased through Bath & Body Works, of all places!

The album starts off with Andy Williams crooning "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year."  Lou Rawls follows up with a jazzy "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town."

Now, quite a few albums have some setting of "Santa Baby," but Eartha Kitt seems to be the ultimate artist for this song.  You can't help but imagine this sleek, sultry "Catwoman," as she tries purr-suading Santa to "hurry down the chimney" and leave absolutely everything.

Nat "King" Cole once again is gathered into a collection CD, with "O Holy Night."  Of course, He does a smooth and splendid rendition.

Judy Garland is the only voice I can ever imagine singing, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."  She beautifully delivers that wish.

I am not that fond of "Little St. Nick," but the Beach Boys give a great performance of it here.

Variety.  Variety in artists.  Variety in songs.  Variety in styles.  If you enjoy that kind of variety, you will enjoy Heartfelt Holidays.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

30 Days of Thankfulness: Day 19 - Tony Bennett's "Snowfall: The Christmas Album"

Tony Bennett is one of those classic singers from recent decades that cannot help but be pleasing to the ear.  He has a very smooth, endearing sound for any age.

His album "Snowfall" is a great Christmas collection that can please several generations of the family.

The CD begins with "My Favorite Things," to which he gives a fine male voice.  (Sorry, ladies, for female voices you cannot beat Julie Andrews; but Tony gives an outstanding masculine vocal.)

"The Christmas Song" is next, and Tony does great with this, too!

The album includes a track that combines "I Love the Winter Weather" and "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm."  Again, his smooth, classic cool style is wonderful!  (I'm still kind of partial to Dean Martin on "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm," but this is thoroughly entertaining.

Even Bing's numbers, like "White Christmas" and "I'll Be Home for Christmas" have a fabulous sound when Tony croons them.

Since the 1990's he has been introduced to a completely new generation of fans, and that rekindled fame is well-deserved.  "Snowfall" is a case in point.  

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

30 Days of Thankfulness: Day 18 - A Very Special Christmas

Well, for some of you who have commented, I am finally posting my agreement that this is a great assortment of songs to add to your Christmas collection: A Very Special Christmas!

This disc, I believe, debuted in 1990.  Just a few words on a few tracks.

The album begins with the Pointer Sisters' exhilirating "Santa Claus is Comin to Town."  The Eurythmics follow that with a rather techno "Winter Wonderland."  Whitney Houston's "Do You Hear What I Hear" breathes a little life into what can often end up being a sleeper on other albums.  John Mellencamp gives his distinct style to "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus."  

Of course, I have alluded before how much I enjoy Sting's rendition of "Gabriel's Message!"  It sounds  like it is soaring in the stone arches of a Medieval cathedral.

This album will be a lot of fun, both for the person who likes fresh twists on old songs, as well as the rock fan in your house. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

30 Days of Thankfulness: Day 17 - NBC Celebrity Christmas

We have a number of compilations in our Christmas library.  One of those compilations is the NBC Celebrity Christmas, realeased in 2001.  While not all of these celebrities are Harry Connick, Jr.'s or Michael Buble's caliber, they are entertaining.

Sean Hayes ("Jack" from "Will and Grace") sings "The Christmas Song."  He does fine, but is no Nat "King" Cole.

Notable mention goes to Bebe Neuwirth and John Lithgow, with "Baby, It's Cold Outside."  That is probably the best track for the album, and for me, their playful rendition made it worth the purchase.

"The Coventry Carol" is sung by Alex Kingston (Dr. Elizabeth Corday on ER.)  She does a fine job on this sorrow-filled lullaby for one of the Holy Innocents.

While not our favorite, this CD does provide some nice variety for the Christmas season.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

30 Days of Thankfulness: Day 16 - Our Christmas

In 1995, a collection of various CCM artists put together a Christmas album that is a nice addition to our library.  The disc begins with Michael W. Smith's "Reve du Noel."  ("Sing we now of Christmas; sing we all 'Noel'...")

Three tracks in is my favorite, a song I had not previously heard; "One Small Child."  David Meece sings this hauntingly beautiful song.  (I have heard others sing it since, and most do not do this song justice.)

"O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" is arranged on the album with a rather Jewish "sound," in the woodwinds.  This hymn has been a favorite of mine since I was around seven.

"Angels We Have Heard on High" almost has a fun, glee club/a capella sound (although it is accompanied.)  

"God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" has been another favorite of mine, as long as I can remember.  Guess I am just drawn to Rennaisance era and other Old English sounds.

I am not debating here the issue of CCM styles in other contexts.  That is not the point of this blog post.  But as a Christmas CD to simply enjoy at home or in the car, this is a nice addition.  

Saturday, December 8, 2012

30 Days of Thankfulness: Day 15 - The Sinatra Christmas Album

Among the "classics" in Christmas music libraries is "the Chairman" himself, Mr. Sinatra.  This collection is from a great era when most Christmas albums were not afraid to be Christmas albums, were full of sacred carols as well as fun-filled secular numbers.

His version of "Jingle Bells" is one of the greats.  You are sure to have heard his fun spelling out of "J-i-n-g-l-e - bells" in the opening.

With "The Christmas Song," the version ingrained On everyone's mind is that of Nat "King" Cole.  Yet, Sinatra does a fine job, as well.

"The Christmas Waltz" presents a great and flowing rendition of that "song of mine, in three-quarter time."

The truth and joy of the Christmas message are witnessed in "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing," "Adeste Fideles," "Silent Night," and more.

Friday, December 7, 2012

In Bethlehem, the House of Bread: A Christmas Hymn and a Eucharistic Hymn

In Bethlehem, the House of Bread,
Jesus was born, the Church's Head.
Within the Church, the House of Bread,
Those born in Christ His flesh are fed.

The Babe wrapped up in swaddling clothes
Wraps up His Church, that she, enclosed
Within His flesh and blood may be
Clothed with divine humanity.

Archangels, angels, saints above,
Magnify Him who came in love,
To call the hungry to His Feast,
From north and south, from west and east.

The manger held the God of life,
Who came to swallow sin and strife.
Christ, let my tongue Thy manger be,
That I may swallow life in Thee.

His mother's flesh, which Christ assumed,
Is by His Virgin Bride consumed.
The Word made flesh makes her His own,
Joined flesh to flesh and bone to bone.

Born in the darkness of the night,
The Father's uncreated Light,
Illumines us with earthly wine,
Full of the glow of blood divine.

O God made man, make us in Thee
Partakers of divinity.
Feed us Thy flesh and blood, we cry;
Fill us with Thee, O God Most High.

Chad L. Bird

To be sung to the tune Bethlehem,
by Burnell F. Eckardt, Jr.

First published in the Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany 2001 issue of Gottesdienst.

30 Days of Thankfulness: Day 14 - A Very Veggie Christmas

So when our son was a pre-schooler, we endured many a "Silly Song."  Today, I share an entire album of them.

"A Very Veggie Christmas" is a CD by the "Veggie Tales" gang.  Although their theology is lacking, and typically moralistic, and hits heavy on Law, rather than Gospel, when it comes to "Silly Songs," they can be a lot of fun!

Much talking goes on throughout the album, giving the feel that it is a recording from a Christmas party, or even from an intended TV Christmas special.

The songs are from "around the world," beginning with "Feliz Navidad."  This is followed by a hilarious rendition of the English "Boar's Head Carol," which is thoroughly, eruditely, and expertly explained by Archibald Asparagus.  Germany is represented by "Ring, Little Bells."

Fans of the Veggie films will recall "Can't Believe It's Christmas" from the video, "The Toy that Saved Christmas," and Larry's Silly Song, "Oh Santa!"  

Junior Asparugus sings his heart out, just like that rambunctious 5-year-old that sings his heart out at many-a-Christmas-program, in "While By My Sheep."

And the album wraps up with the "8 Polish Foods of Christmas," which all somehow include meat!

It's funny.  It's diverse.  It's silly. It is unlike any other Christmas album you own.  

Thursday, December 6, 2012

30 Days of Thankfulness: Day 13 - Mannheim Steamroller: A Fresh Aire Christmas

When I think of Christmas music from my college days, I instantly think of Mannheim Steamroller.  Chip Davis is a talented man in the realm of synthesized music, an area which may offend many of my dear friends who go beyond the virtual and play conventional instruments.  Still, it is a good series of albums.  If space permits in this series, I may return for one of the others, but today I have selected "A Fresh Aire Christmas."

The album starts off with "Hark! The Herald Trumpets Sing," a triumphant piece that serves a sort of Lutheran idea of "prelude" for the next track, "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing."

Chip Davis has great accompanying notes with the disc.  He tells the story of "Veni, Veni."  He had heard "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel," and thought that it would sound fabulous in Latin, like a bunch of monks chanting it.  He asked a friend to begin the task of translating it into Latin, when the friend started laughing, telling him the ancient song's origin.

"The Holly and the Ivy" is a great piece that sounds very medieval, like flute or recorders with a lute.

"In Dulci Jubilo" is a highlight for the disc, with the sound of drums, flute, and bells.  It very much sounds like a Renaissance-era dance.  It very much has the feel of the "Sweet Jubilation" of which it sings!

Only one track on the entire album is not sacred: "Traditions of Christmas," yet even that is classical-sounding, soothing, and sweet.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Straight No Chaser - Who Spiked The Eggnog?

I forgot to mention one of the fun songs on Straight No Chaser's Christmas Cheer!  "Who Spiked the Eggnog" is an original, light-hearted song about finding the culprit at a Christmas party.  The title is self-explanatory.

Straight No Chaser - 12 Days (original from 1998)

30 Days of Thankfulness: Day 12 - Straight No Chaser: Christmas Cheers

Straight No Chaser is an a cappella  group formed at Indiana University in 1996.  Around the time of their 10th anniversary, someone posted a 1998 video of their version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" on the Internet.  It went "viral," and they gained a widespread following.  The reunited group now tours and records, with their outstanding a cappella vocals.

While there are several, excellent sacred pieces, such as "O Holy Night" and "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen," the album also has a variety of fun secular songs.  However, even the sacred ones can get a twist.  "We Three Kings" has this driving beat that calls "Mission: Impossible" to mind.

"You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" is a family favorite.  The group does a ... well, it's not really a descant with male voices, is it?  Anyway, there is a counter-melody that blends well with the flow of the song.  It gives a fresh feel to this secular classic.

Of course, the most popular song for this group is their rendition of "The Twelve Days of Christmas."  It is a mixed-up conglomeration of many songs, adding hilarity in the variety.  Listen for other carols to find their way into the mix, as well as the Dreidel Song!  Yet the great, laugh-out-loud moment comes with Toto's "Africa."

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

30 Days of Thankfulness: Day 11 - Josh Groban: Noël

The year 2007 saw the release of Josh Groban's Noël.  This album is one on our "short list" of favorites.  Josh's style has been called "classical-crossover," and is very much suited for great sacred music.

It's hard to pick out favorite tracks on this one.  "What Child Is This" is particularly good, and has a portion where the accompaniment goes quiet and his vocals are clean, clear, and awe-inspiring.

"Little Drummer Boy" goes far beyond the typical and expected little drum.  There is almost a Celtic feel to it.  Great percussion and soaring vocals take a song that can be a bit of a sleeper on some albums, and makes it memorable.

"Panis Angelicus" is a great Latin hymn.  How many artists will take a risk and sing a Latin song on their contemporary album?  Josh Groban does, and does it splendidly!  The title means "Bread of Angels," and while (strictly speaking)it is not a Christmas hymn, you can make allusions to "Bethlehem" meaning "House of Bread," where Jesus, the Bread from heaven was born.

Yes, Josh Groban is yet another powerful and great male vocalist in our Christmas  list of favorites!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

30 Days of Thankfulness: Day 10 - Christmas With Julie Andrews

One of the memorable voices for Disney fans such as ourselves is that of Dame Julie Andrews.  Whether you first fall in love with her accent, crisp pronunciation and enunciation, her broad vocal range, or just her kind, "practically perfect in every way" aura, Julie Andrews is a wonderful performer to have in your Christmas discs.

Christmas With Julie Andrews begings with putting the "triumphant" in "joyful and triumphant" in "Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful!"  Her soaring vocals along with he orchestra might be a bit much for some, but for Julie Andrews' fans, it is majestic!

My first memory of "See Amid the Winter Snow" (or at least when I first paid attention to it) was this album.  Now, you can sing along with Dame Julie, if you pick up your copy of Lutheran Service Book.  

"Patapan" is a family favorite.  For some reason, in the late 1990's, the woodwinds and percussion of this number made our musical baby thrilled!  He enjoyed the song somuchthatwe repeated it on the CD often.

"In the Bleak Midwinter," "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear," "Hark,the Herald Angels Sing, and "Away in a Manger" add to a great collection of sacred songs.

For some, Julie Andrews' music can seem over-the-top.  Yet in the Heinz household, Disney nuts and Julie Andrews fans that we are, this album is simply "supercallifragilisticeialidocious!"

30 Days of Thankfulness: Day 9 -- Natalie Cole: Christmas With You

For many, Nat "King" Cole's "The Christmas Song" is one of the all-time favorites.  His daughter, Natalie, is a marvelous artist in her own right, and has a beautiful addition to many Christmas collections.

The album starts off with "The Christmas Song," and thanks to the wonders of technology, her voice is edited in with her late father's, to make a fine duet.

Humor is interjected with her version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas," (although I would personally leave that to either The Muppets or Straight No Chaser.

The London Symphony Orchestra is also featured on the album, and does a majestic arrangement of "Gesu Bambino."

"What Child Is This," "Sweet Little Jesus Boy," and "Silent Night" round this out into a fine disc for anyone's music library.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

30 Days of Thankfulness: Day 8 - Glenn Miller Orchestra: In the Christmas Mood

Another fun genre of music comes from the Big Band/Swing era.  Benny Goodman, the Andrews Sisters, Jimmy Dorsey, and others are all fabulous, but perhaps most iconic of such music is Benny Goodman.

In the Christmas Mood is a great album put together by the Glenn Miller Orchestra.  From the fun opening number of "Sleigh Ride" to "Frosty the Snowman," from a couple sacred medleys, to "Silent Night," the fun energy of the brass and woodwinds of this orchestra is sure to please, and put you in the Christmas Mood!

Friday, November 30, 2012

30 Days of Thankfulness: Day 7 - Kristin Chenoweth's "A Lovely Way to Spend Christmas"

We fell in love with Kristin Chenoweth when we first heard the Wicked soundtrack.  She has an amazing voice, with incredible range and control!

This album was one of last year's additions to the collection, and quickly jumped in to our "most often played" stack.

In some of the songs, she slips into a little country twang, of which I am not a fan.  She also has a couple unusual choices, such as "Sing (Sing a Song)," which many people my age associate with Sesame Street, not Christmas.  But all in all, it's a great album!

Of particular interest is a new piece called, "Home on Christmas Day."  Crisp, clean piano accompanies Kristin's sweet voice in this fresh selection.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

30 Days of Thankfulness: Day 6 - Bing Crosby's "White Christmas"

Whether he is/was your favorite singer, or not, I would suggest that there is one voice that most people associate with the Christmas season: Bing Crosby.

I absolutely love the classic films Holiday Inn, and its "reboot," White Christmas!  With the musical genius of Irving Berlin, Bing crooned his way into Christmas memories as a permanent fixture.

This album shares the name of the latter film, but has a wide variety of songs (most of which are not in the movie.) The title track is a secular, yet beautiful and sentimental song from the 1940's, as is "I'll Be Home for Christmas."  And it's hard to beat Bing gently singing "Silent Night."

Was Bing "multi-cultural" before it was cool?  Some eclectic items are in the mix, such as the Hawaiian themed "Mele Kalikimaka" and the Irish sounds of "Christmas in Kilarney."

While Bing is no longer my absolute favorite (like he was when I was in high school), it still would not seem like Christmas was musically complete without him.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

30 Days of Thankfulness: Day 5 - The Muppets & John Denver: A Christmas Together

Now for a bit of lighthearted fun.  Most people from my generation grew up with and loved Sesame Street (and then) the Muppets.  

This album has been out for quite a while, and provides that Muppet spin on a number of favorites, and a few unusual choices.

The rendition of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" is a highlight, with touches that only Miss Piggy and Animal could give.  "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" also provides classic Animal moments.  And the album concludes like many a Christmas Eve candlelight service, with "Silent Night."

Monday, November 26, 2012

30 Days of Thankfulness: Day 4 - Harry Connick, Jr.'s "When My Heart Finds Christmas"

We love Harry Connick, Jr.  That's just how it is. We laughed when we sent out wedding invitations that we should send one to him., and perhaps he'd even play our reception!  

I know he would not have attended the wedding of complete strangers; still, I often wonder if Harry would have sent a note or card or something.

"When My Heart Finds Christmas" has a great mix, from holiday classics such as "Sleigh Ride," to some of Harry's special Jazz/New Orleans/Harry Connick, Jr. style of songs, such as the title track and "(It Must've Been Ol') Santa Claus."

30 Days of Thankfulness: Day 3 - Michael Buble's "Christmas"

Several years ago, while talking about our love for Harry Connick, Jr.'s music, our cousin Amy Sprehe Faerber turned us on to Michael Buble.  (Thanks, Amy!)

Michael has that classic Rat Pack sound, definitely inspired by Sinatra.  He has rich, masculine vocals, and quickly became a favorite artist for us!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

30 Days of Thankfulness: Day 2 - Praetorius' Mass for Christmas Morning

This is another personal favorite!  Michael Praetorius was a Lutheran Kantor about a generation before J.S. Bach.  This is a reconstruction of a Lutheran Mass for Christmas Morning, using the work of this great master.

A mixture of German and Latin are used, much as they would have been for city churches served by Praetorius' music.

Particular favorites of mine include the Introit: "Puer natus in Bethlehem," the "Quem Pastores" (also known as the "Quempas Carol," and "In Dulci Jubilo."

Saturday, November 24, 2012

30 Days of Thankfulness: Day 1 - An Old English Christmas

An Olde English Christmas was one of those CD's we bought on a whim; you know, with the end cap display of things that you don't really need, but the impulse shopper takes over.

Was it the Anglophile in us?  Or simply the love of Christmas music?  Whatever the case, we took a chance, and it is about our favorite Christmas album!  

The music is entirely instrumental, soothing, and joyful.  It can be heard multiple times, throughout the Advent and Christmas seasons in our parsonage.

Friday, November 23, 2012

30 Days of Thankfulness: Christmas Music Edition

The Heinz household has amassed quite a collection of Christmas music.  “But 30!” you ask.  Actually, our collection goes well beyond 30, but I will try to limit this list to the best, the more unusual, and the humorous.

Over the next 30 days, I will upload one CD title per day, and talk a little about it.  We have a wide range of musical tastes in our family, and our stacks of CDs and iTunes library reflect that.  So in the coming weeks, grab your Peppermint Mocha, sit back in that favorite chair, and delight your ears to the Christmas music of your choice!

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

First Comes Love: A Homily on Mark 10:2-16

First Comes Love…”
19th S. after Pentecost                                                                       
7 October 2012
St. Johns, Chicago, IL

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

"Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?"  What a loaded question.  I am reminded of a placard I once saw in a photo of a priest at a march for life.  It said: What is legal is not always moral. 
The Pharisees are trying to catch Jesus to get Him to slip up and say something against the Scriptures.  They know that the Scriptures included permission in the Old Testament for divorce, even though it is not part of Gods perfect plan.  They also know that Jesus is teaching love and mercy and might accidentally contradict the Scriptures.  No such luck.
He answered them, "What did Moses command you?" They said, "Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away."  Jesus goes on to explain that it is because of the hardness of fallen human hearts that God made this allowance.  But He is quick to remind them of Gods grand design at creation: one man, one woman, for life.
Funny, preaching this passage in some countrieseven in Canada, by insisting that marriage is only for one man and one woman, can be considered hate speech.  But the Lord plainly lays out His design for marriage and family here, and He speaks the truth in love.
But from the beginning of creation, 'God made them male and female.'  'Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' So they are no longer two but one flesh.  What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate." 
So where does that leave us?  We live in a nation where for some time there has been a success rate for marriages hovering around 50% --  even in Christian homes.  Statistically speaking, every single one of us either has had a divorce, or knows someone who has been through  divorce.  And what about those cases where the spouse has been unfaithful and there actually is a biblical permission for divorce? 
The devil, the world, and our sinful selves are hard at work, trying to convince people that they have fallen out of love, or encouraging constant fighting that leads to shattering marriages.  Some give in to violent urges.  Others yell.  Still others plot financial revenge. 

Does this describe your relationship?  Then God says to you: Repent!  And get help!  Or is this being done to you?  Then God offers His love and compassion, picking up the pieces of your life and offering His healing.

Far too quickly, though, we are wont to believe the devils lies and slide down that slippery slope of fear, mistrust, and brokenness.  If we stop and admit it, we often enjoy television shows and movies that present situations that encourage breaking marriages.  So our minds and sub-consciences get filled with seduction, excitement, and the so-called growing apart that becomes acceptable in society.  After failing to defend the Lords order of marriage and family for so long, we end up agreeing with immorality by virtue of our silence. 

Dear friends in Christ, the perfect family that God designed in Eden is under attack. What hope can we have?

Our hope comes from a perfect marriage.  No, not one that you could ever have as a couple.  I mean the perfect marriage of Christ and His Bride, the Church. "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.

Yes!  Our Lord Jesus is the perfect Bridegroom.  And the Church is His Bride.  At the cross, Jesus takes leave of His mother and is joined to His Bride.  As He gives His Body up for her, He is acting out of His perfect, holy, self-sacrificing love.  The Church receives that love in humble thanks and joy.  At the cross, as He takes His bride, Jesus removes any spot or wrinkle or blemish.  He cleanses her from any trespass or sin, and claims her as His own.

Now, even in the midst of our broken relationships and failed families, we have hope.  Jesus has come and removes the pain and guilt.  He hears our confession and absolves us for breaking our promises, for breaking others hearts, and for failing to be the saints we are called to be.  Jesus tells you today that yes, even divorce can be repented of, and He renews us to continue in this life.  The loving forgiveness of the Perfect Bridegroom restores our relationship with Him, and breathes new life into our relationships with one another.

The childrens playground chant says: First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in a baby carriage.

A holy marriage is always open to Gods gift of life and procreation.  Here again, our culture bombards us with ideas contrary to Gods Word.  Television, films and printed media degrade the value of family and children.  Emphasis is on the individual and his or her career.  Much is made over friends and activities outside the home and away from spouse and children.  In our culture and media, you only hear about large families in a context of what a burden! or How environmentally irresponsible!  And even then, it seems that more than two children qualifies a family as large in the 21st century.

And here we are, hearing the Scriptures, where every mention of children is always in the context of blessing, and never as burden.  We hear God tell Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply.  We hear God repeat that blessing after the Flood.  King Solomon writes in Psalm 127, Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of ones youth.  Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!  And today we hear Jesus treat children with great love and respect.

Society says: Limit your families on purpose.  Jesus says: Be fruitful and multiply.  The world says: Dont have too many children or we will use up all the resources.  Scripture says: The Lord will provide.  The world would have the Church worry about statistics and how we are shrinking.  Our Lord would encourage more of the Church growing the old fashioned way, by having more children.
Today we hear Jesus welcoming and blessing little children a text which has been closely connected to Holy Baptism since ancient times.

So does this mean you are a terrible Christian if you dont have children, or have only one?  No.  For some, God has not allowed our bodies or health to create more children.  For others, serious stewardship concerns led them to refrain from a larger family.  Still others may be serving God in other varied ways.

On the other hand, some limit their families with purely selfish motives.  If it is all about me, then this is a sin to face and confess.  Then it is akin to the sin of the disciples in todays Gospel, thinking Jesus is too important to be bothered with children.  But we know that our Lord reaches out to everyone, regardless of age.  He wants the little children to come to Him.

As His Church, we bring the little children to Him.  We bring them to Holy Baptism, where He gifts them with forgiveness and faith.  We bring them to the Divine Service so they can hear Him and be nourished by Him even before they understand what is going on.  His Word is living and active, and works even before they are cognizant of its meaning.  That means even while still in the womb!  Like St. John the Baptizer, our babies hear His Word preached and are brought into Gods presence, where faith is given and strengthened.

First comes love the eternal, almighty love of God from the foundation of the world, showered on His Bride, the Church.

Then comes marriage Christ, united with His Bride as He suffers and dies on the cross.  The Savior-Bridegroom now constantly gives Himself to His Bride as He speaks His constant I love you through His Word, and shares His sacred Body in the Supper.

Then comes the baby in the baby carriage OK, so there is no carriage.  But there is a tub!  A large and wondrous font for the saving Baptism that gives new birth to the millions of children born to this union.  Here the Lord is constantly growing His Church, as He bestows new life on the countless children who are brought to Baptism every year!

So here we are, the family of God.  Christ and His Bride are united, and children are brought forth in the womb of the Baptismal Font.  Thanks be to God, who calls us as His family!  Amen.