Christmas Eve, 1968: Apollo 8 mission

December 24, 2009

Earthrise from Apollo 8

Anyone who was alive then will remember Christmas Eve of 1968.  On that day, the Apollo 8 became the first manned mission to orbit the Moon.  The crew, Mission Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot James Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders, launched on December 21, 1968 and reached lunar orbit on Christmas Eve.  Over a period of 20 hours the spacecraft orbited the Moon ten times.  On its fourth pass across the front of the Moon, Anders took the famous Earthrise photo pictured, later selected by Life as one of the hundred photos that changed the world. Read the rest of this entry »

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Christmas: TS Eliot’s “Journey of the Magi”

December 25, 2008

This is one of my favourite poems, by one of my favourite poets.  Eliot wrote The Journey of the Magi circa 1927, shortly after he came to know Christ.

‘A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.’
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

May we remember today at what cost and for what purpose Jesus Christ came into this world.

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people.
— Luke 1v68


Charlie Brown: Linus really does know what Christmas is all about

December 22, 2008

Is there anyone else who knows what Christmas is all about?

HT: Kevin Sam at New Epistles