A letter from Becky and Eric Hinderliter in Lithuania
Iš nuostabios šaknies,
Kaip sentėviai kalbėjo,
Iš Jesės giminės.
Sukrovė žiedą ji
Mums baltą šaltą žiemą
Lo, how a Rose e'er blooming
from tender stem hath sprung!
Of Jesse's lineage coming,
as men of old have sung.
It came, a floweret bright,
amid the cold of winter,
When half spent was the night.
Greetings from Klaipėda! Our landscape has turned white this month. The damp cold weather continues to cover the trees with hoar frost. Hoar frost can best be described as a white and "furry" form of ice. The Lithuanian words to the old hymn "Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming" speak of “a cold white winter”—that’s what we’ve got now.
The hymns for Advent and Christmas often have some different words—but the tune is familiar. And the meaning is the same. We’re preparing for Christmas by remembering what “men of old have sung.”
In the winter darkness here, we have thoughts of home. We wish you a safe and warm Christmas. We take time to remember what the season is all about. It’s been said that Christmases don’t come and go—they accumulate, they grow together as one. “Love is most nearly itself When here and now cease to matter” (T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets). Our Savior is arriving, coming just to see us. What a joy to know that no matter who we are or where we are, God cares about us. We are his beloved.
We’re told the term hoar frost is believed to have come from a German word that means graying and old. The term expresses the white color of frost that is similar to the color of an old man’s beard. As we grow older, we are adjusting to what it means to be the senior people in the community. Lithuanians have a tradition for Christmas Eve called Kūčios. A table is set; family and friends gather. Twelve dishes are offered—one must try each one. But before the meal, a prayer must be offered by the oldest person at the table. So here’s our prayer for this Christmas:
Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way;
say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come”…the redeemed will walk there,
and the ransomed of the LORD will return. They will enter Zion
with singing; everlasting joy will overtake them,
and sorrow and sighing will flee away.
Isaiah 35 3-4; 9-10
May your Christmas be overtaken with joy.
Becky & Eric Hinderliter
The 2012 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 278
The 2013 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 284
Read more about Eric and Becky Hinderliter's ministry