Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Fit Us for Heaven to Live With Thee There!

Does anyone know where the verse I the title is from?  It is from the third verse of "Away in a Manger".   Since my early piano playing days I have always enjoyed playing Christmas music from a hymnal the most and I love the more obscure verses if all the well known songs.  Often, they contain the real meaning of Christmas.  I thought "Away in a Manger" was a perfect song to be played at Milo's Baptism, which was held this weekend.  Justin wished to have it at Hoff Lutheran Church, which was the church of his family where his dad attended in his youth and where his dad and many other relatives are buried.  The church is located in a sparsely populated area of Northeastern North Dakota and they were glad to have us there. 

The old church was beautiful and familiar in the way that most of the old churches of my youth are.  I think I read a story awhile back about how the same wood craftsman build the alters in most of the churches in Eastern ND and this one certainly looks like the others I have seen.  When Tessa saw it she said "castle!" and it did look very regal in there.  You can't see it but the domed ceiling above us is painted gold. 

 We were glad to have Milo's sponsors and the rest of our families with us that day even though it was quite an excursion to get there and the service was at 9:00 a.m. 

Milo was the perfect baby that day.  He is the first of the kids not to soil multiple garments on the day of his baptism and he kept his little suit perfectly white.  He wore the same outfit that Justin wore for his baptism and it is a good thing the service was when it was because the snap barely met at the bottom!  He's getting big fast! 

The other kids were...OK...I have to defend them by pointing out that we had barely slept since Thursday due to an early football game on Saturday and Tessa having a quick and violent stomach virus on Thursday night and all day on Friday (so much vomit!) but it didn't make the day any easier.  They were very civilized during church but afterwards Tessa hit a wall and utilized every toddler fit throwing mechanism in the book. These included the full body floor fling, the pterodactyl scream and the superman plank.  My ears are still ringing.
She looks innocent doesn't she? It's the evolutionary cuteness defense mechanism that babies of all species use to make it to adulthood!

Milo with his Great Grandma Irene.

We all enjoyed his cake.  
It was a nice day and I'm glad we did the Baptism at Hoff and that Milo can be part of the history of that place.  Hoff, like countless churches similar churches whose distant steeples can be seen as you drive around the countryside, has a dwindling congregation.  It is kept operational by members who care enough about it to clean and maintain it and make it possible for services and events to happen.  I get a feeling of sadness for places.  When I was in there I imagined the years of important events and routine Sunday services that happened here.  I'm sure there were weddings and confirmations where every pew was full and the glow of candles on Christmas Eve when pews full of excited kids fidgeted and waited to open gifts with their cousins later.  I could almost hear the women talking and laughing in the basement kitchen.  Just like the church I attended growing up feels so familiar and comforting when I walk through the doors, this church holds those feelings for so many people and now those days are mostly gone and there is nothing to be done about it. 

I hope Hoff remains indefinitely.  It is clear that someone cares about it very much because it was very well maintained. 


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