Christmas Eve Dedication

In the Mennonite Church babies are not baptized, adults are. However, we do have a Parent/Child Dedication service. As part of the Christmas Eve service at Bloomingdale Mennonite Church (after the ice storm put an end to Sunday’s service) my little grandson, Volker William Burkard Gehiere was dedicated with his parents and the whole congregation.

Text written by Trina, read by Gary:

“I think when we name our children the names we chose are often really wishes we would like to bestow upon them. There is something that speaks to us in the name that we want to pass to our child, it may be frivolous or psychological but there is something.
In the case of our little boy it is more so the latter. The wishes are many and varied but most if not all go back to the name and the man he was named for, his grandfather, Volker Willi Walter Burkard. We wish him to be kind and compassionate with a great sense of humour, a maker, someone with a wonderful spiritual life, a beautiful loving person.
Today I hope we are helping him in some small way fulfill those wishes.”

Barb Smith-Morrison’s blessing as she carried Volker through the congregation:

Volker, God loves you. May you grow to love God and to serve humanity. May the gracious Spirit of Christ and the fellowship of God’s people bless your life this day and all days.

The congregation’s commitment:

Gary and Trina, we support your calling as parents and accept our calling to love, support and encourage you. We offer the gift of ourselves, our lives and example to nurture your family as you grow.
Volker and Mina, we pledge you our care and love. We promise to encourage you as you grow into all that God has created you to be. We welcome you.

The ‘true’ story of Christmas

There is a world of difference between truth and facts. Facts can obscure the truth. Maya Angelou

Does it really matter if the Christmas story is factual? If a pregnant Mary really rode on a donkey and gave birth in a stable? If shepherds did, in fact, see choirs of angels? If a star actually guided Wise Men to the infant?

The truth, for Christians, is that God truly experienced human life, not as a king or a mighty warrior, but as a vulnerable baby born to a teenage mom, a refugee, one of the undeserving poor.

Growing up in a farming family of ten kids Christmas was not the commercial venture it is now. We rarely had a Christmas tree, though we did have a few decorations and lights. We also had a creche (which did not survive ten children). A Christmas Eve tradition was listening to a dramatized Christmas story on a LP record. My mother, who had two babies at the beginning of January did not enjoy thinking of riding a donkey in her state! We may each have received a gift (before we reached our teen years), and we all received a plate of candy, nuts, an orange and grapes — a wonderful treat! — on Christmas morning.

Burkard family creche
Burkard family creche


My in-laws had quite different customs. I learned there about Advent and Advent candles. When Volker was young it was the Christ Child who came on Christmas Eve while the family was at church and left behind a beautiful tree and gifts. His family too had a creche, but it was not touched by children.


When Simon was born I decided I wanted a creche that children could play with. When he was two years old I found a pattern in a magazine and over the next several years I made the pieces.

Small friends play with the creche
Small friends play with the creche


I have since lost the pattern, but these little bean-bag dolls have been played with by many children over the years. (A dear friend from the Middle East refers to the shepherds and Wise Men as the Mullahs and Ayatollahs.) I am so thrilled that now my grandchildren will also have that opportunity.





Ripley’s Aquarium

Yesterday I met Trina, Gary, Mina and Volker at Ripey’s Aquarium in Toronto. What a fun place that is! I highly recommend it for a good place for a family to spend a couple of hours. Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of pictures because my camera isn’t wonderful in low light and Mina moves too much for the light conditions. However, I’ve put the best I got into a slideshow.

Travellers’ News

photo“Having dinner at Misha’s apartment. Waiting to see if Typhoon Haiyan is going to reach Laos. Luckily it veered North East. Chris and Sheena are in Vientienne for a few days.” (click on thumbnail pictures to enlarge; click on picture again to return to thumbnail)

Misha has been in Vientienne for almost a year, teaching English and having great adventures (her blog is here). She will be coming home mid-December, I believe.


Although I have a vague notion of where Laos is I needed to check the map to see where Vientienne is.

This message also made me curious about the path of Typhon Haiyan. I found a map of that too.

Screen Shot 2013-11-10 at 8.19.39 AMWishing the travellers a safe journey home (Sheena & Chris leave on Tuesday; Misha has another month in Laos)!



New pictures from Laos:


Ellen & Agnes

Today I took my mother for a road trip. We drove to Hanover — it was a lovely day for a drive — and had lunch with her sister, Ellen. Ellen is 91, two years older than Mom; they are the surviving children of Sam & Barbara (Jantzi) Roth. [Yes, I am named after my two Grandmas – Barbara and Annie (Steinmann) Gingerich.]

Ellen & Agnes
Ellen & Agnes

It was a very nice visit. But it did tire Mom out (and me, too)!

I took a moment to drop in on my good friend Marjorie Snyder (visit her blog at The Adventures of Granpa and Grandma Snyder) as I was just a block from her home. She and her granddaughters had been baking. Thanks for the chocolate chip cookies, girls!