There was once a man who didn't believe in the incarnation or the spiritual meaning of Christmas, and was skeptical about God. He and his family lived in a farm community. His wife was a devout believer and diligently raised her children in her faith. He sometimes gave her a hard time about her faith and mocked her religious observance of Christmas.
One snowy Christmas eve she was taking the kids to the Christmas eve service at church. She pleaded with him to come, but he firmly refused. He ridiculed the idea of the incarnation of Christ and dismissed it as nonsense. "Why would God lower himself and become a human like us?! It's such a ridiculous story!" he said. So she and the children left for church while he stayed home.
After they left, the winds grew stronger and the snow turned into a blizzard. As he looked out the window, all he saw was a blinding snowstorm. He sat down to relax before the fire for the evening. Then he heard a loud thump, something hitting against the window. And another thump. He looked outside but couldn't see. So he ventured outside to see. In the field near his house he saw, of all the stangest things, a flock of geese! They were apparently flying to look for a warmer area down south, but got caught in the snow storm. The snow had became too blinding and violent for the geese to fly or see their way. They were lost and stranded on his farm, with no food or shelter. They just fluttered their wings and flew around in circles around the field blindly and aimlessly.
He had compassion for them and wanted to help them. He thought to himself, "The barn would be a great place for them to stay! It's warm and safe; surely they could spend the night and wait out the storm." So he walked over to the barn and opened the barn doors for them. He waited watching them, hoping they would notice the open barn and go inside.
But they just fluttered around aimlessly and didn't notice the barn or realize what it could mean for them. He moved closer toward them to get their attention, but they just moved away from him out of fear. He went into the house and came back out with some bread, broke it up, and made a bread trail leading to the barn. They still didn't catch on.
Starting to get frustrated, he went over and tried to shoo them, run after them, and chase them toward the barn. They only got scared and scattered into every direction except toward the barn. Nothing he did could get them to go into the barn where there was warmth, safety, and shelter.
Feeling totally frustrated, he exclaimed, "Why don't they follow me! Can't they see this is the only place where they can survive the storm! How can I possibly get them into the one place to save them!" He thought for a moment and realized that they just won't follow a human. He said to himself, "How can I possibly save them? The only way would be for me to become like those geese. If only I could become like one of them! Then I could save them! They would follow me and I would lead them to safety."
He stood silently for a moment as the words that he just said reverberated back to himself in his mind: "If only I could become like one of them -- then I could save them." He thought about his words, and remembered what he said to his wife: "Why would God want to be like us? That's so ridiculous!" Something clicked in his mind as he put these two together. It was like a revelation, and he began to understand the incarnation. We were like the geese -- blind, gone astray, perishing. God became like us so He could show us the way and make a way available to save us. That is the meaning of Christmas, he realized in his heart.
As the winds and blinding snow abated, his heart became quiet and pondered this thought. He understood what Christmas was all about. He knew why Christ had come. Suddenly years of doubt and disbelief were shattered, as he humbly and tearfully bowed down in the snow, and embraced the true meaning of Christmas.
Our house was directly across the street from the clinic entrance of John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. We lived downstairs and rented the upstairs rooms to out patients at the clinic.
One summer evening as I was fixing supper, there was a knock at the door. I opened it to see a truly awful looking man. "Why, he's hardly taller than my eight-year-old," I thought as I stared at the stooped, shrivelled body. But the appalling thing was his face lopsided from swelling, red and raw.
Yet his voice was pleasant as he said, "Good evening. I've come to see if you've a room for just one night. I came for a treatment this morning from the eastern shore, and there's no bus till morning." He told me he'd been hunting for a room since noon but with no success, no one seemed to have a room. "I guess it's my face... I know it looks terrible, but my doctor says with a few more treatments . . ." For a moment I hesitated, but his next words convinced me: "I could sleep in this rocking chair on the porch. My bus leaves early in the morning."
I told him we would find him a bed, but to rest on the porch. I went inside and finished getting supper. When we were ready, I asked the old man if he would join us. "No thank you. I have plenty." And he held up a brown paper bag.
When I had finished the dishes, I went out on the porch to
talk with him a few minutes. It didn't take long time to see
that this old man had an oversized heart crowded into that
tiny body. He told me he fished for a living to support his daughter, her five children, and her husband, who was hopelessly crippled from a back injury. He didn't tell it by way of complaint; in fact, every other sentence was preface with a thanks to God for
He was grateful that no pain accompanied his disease, which was apparently a form of skin cancer. He thanked God for giving him the strength to keep going. At bedtime, we put a camp cot in the children's room for him.
When I got up in the morning, the bed linens were neatly folded and the little man was out on the porch. He refused breakfast, but just before he left for his bus, haltingly, as if asking a great favour, he said, "Could I please come back and stay the next time I have a treatment? I won't put you out a bit. I can sleep fine in a chair." He pause a moment and then added, "Your children made me feel at home. Grownups are bothered by my face, but children don't seem to mind."
I told him he was welcome to come again. And on his next trip he arrived a little after seven in the morning. As a gift, he brought a big fish and a quart of the largest oysters I had ever seen. He said he had shucked them that morning before he left so that they'd be nice and fresh I knew his bus left at 4:00 a.m. and I wondered what time he had to get up in order to do this for us.
In the years he came to stay overnight with us there was never a time that he did not bring us fish or oysters or vegetables from his garden.
Other times we received packages in the mail, always by special delivery; fish and oysters packed in a box of fresh young spinach or kale, every leaf carefully washed. Knowing that he must walk three miles to mail these, and knowing how little money he had made the gifts doubly precious. When I received these little remembrances, I often thought of a comment our next-door neighbour made after he left that first morning. "Did you keep that awful looking man last night? I turned him away! You can lose roomers by putting up such people!" Maybe we did lose roomers once or twice. But oh! If only they could have known him, perhaps their illnesses would have been easier to bear.
I know our family always will be grateful to have known him; from him we learned what it was to accept the bad without complaint and the good with gratitude to God.
Recently I was visiting a friend who has a greenhouse, As she showed me her flowers, we came to the most beautiful one of all, a golden chrysanthemum,bursting with blooms. But to my great surprise, it was growing in an old dented, rusty bucket. I thought to myself, "If this were my plant, I'd put it in the loveliest container I had!" My friend changed my mind. "I ran short of pots," she explained, "and knowing how beautiful this one would be,I thought it wouldn't mind starting out in this old pail. It's just for a little while, till I can put it out in the garden."
She must have wondered why I laughed so delightedly, but
I was imagining just such a scene in heaven. "Here's an especially beautiful one," God might have said when he came
to the soul of the sweet old fisherman. "He won't mind
starting in this small body." All this happened long ago-and
now, in God's garden, how tall this lovely soul must stand.
Source of article could not be traced
Subject: Date:Tue, 10 Mar 1998
John L's visit to Germany
Betty, Have been busy all week. Will tell you that I didn't find any new names in Germany. I did get pictures of Waldmohr, Duntzweiler, Oberbexbach and the country-side around these small hamlets. Looks like Pennsylvania - rolling wooded hills and pastures. Joyce and I stayed overnight at the lodge up at the Hohen Schramberg castle. It was not expensive, and the food and accommodation were excellent. The old castle is much bigger than I had imagined. All the wooden parts were burnt down when it was razed by the French, but much of the stonework and walls remain or have been restored at some time in the past. There is no ongoing restoration effort that I could detect. I have a sketch of what the castle looked like before it was destroyed and will share that with you. It was extremely foggy up on the hill, so my photos are quite dismal and dark. John
HELP FROM AFAR
Descendants Rallying To Save Old House
The crusade to save one of Washington County's oldest homes has drawn interest from across the country.
People from Westmoreland County, PA, Tacoma, WA, Pekin, IL, and elsewhere have pledged their support by email, said Dick Hartle, of the Middleburg/Mason-Dixon Line Area Historical Society, Inc.
The unlikely allies are descendants of Johan Ludwig Kemmerer, the man who built the house in 1774. Kemmerer sailed to America in 1736 on the same ship as Jonathan Hager, the founder of Hagerstown.
The two-story limestone farmhouse is in the middle of parking lots and buildings owned by Citicorp in the Airport Business Park.
To make room for development, Hagerstown/Washington County Industrial Foundation Inc. known as CHIEF, plans to tear down the house and nearby 1896 barn. CHIEF is willing to sell the house if it were to be moved away from the development area, but moving the house would be costly. Historians say moving the deteriorating home would be nearly impossible and would weaken its historical value.
"I think that its just a crime," said one Kemmerer descendant, Caryl Simpson of Pekin, ILL. Simpson, 47, said she is using the Internet to encourage others to join the preservation effort. "I'd certainly be willing to donate time and money," she said. Simpson plans to visit the house this spring because it might be her last chance to see where her great-great-great-great-great grandfather lived.
Kemmerer is ancestor to an estimated 1000 people, said Simpson, who has exhaustively researched her family history. He had 13 children and eventually moved to Westmoreland County, PA, where he is buried, she said.
The effort to save his home is being led by Hartle, whose family once owned the property, and E. Lee Stine president of the Washington County Historical Society.
A yellow bulldozer that had been parked in a lot overlooking the home was removed on Monday, said Hartle, who lives nearby. However, he said he also saw what he believed were land surveyors in the area.
So, Caryl, you can see what taking this to the public can do. We are getting a lot of exposure and that is great. It is just what we need. So lets keep going with letters and email.
Today I received a call from the Sons of the American Revolution, they asked me to speak to their group on Thursday of this week at the Venice Restaurant. I immediately accepted, I am sure I would not have been asked before this broke in the newspapers. I welcome the opportunity to present our situation to a group of this kind. This is my third chance in less than 3 weeks to go before a historical group to build support. Just say a little prayer for me because this is not "my cup of tea." Thanks, RLH
Richard Lee Hartle
RE: Kemmerer, Ludwig Historical House
I feel an injunction should be filed against Citicorp if they dare try to remove this historical house built by Ludwig Kemmerer.
I am a descendant of Ludwig Kemmerer. My maternal grandmother's 3rd great grandfather was John Yost Kurth who married Ludwick's daughter, Margaret. John Yost Kurth and Dr. David Marchand were friends and they and their Kemmerer wives moved from Maryland to Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. David and John returned to Maryland with one of Ludwig's sons to help him sell his property and return with them to Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.
Ludwig Kemmerer is buried at the Brush Creek Church Cemetery in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. The beautiful church at Brush Creek is where we have our SHRUM reunions. This church is a Historical place, also.
Please, please stop them from tearing done a piece of our history.
Thank you and if there is anyone else I need to E-mail, please let me know.
Mary Elizabeth (Shrum) Musser
Richard Lee Hartle answered "Send your letters of concern to: Herald Mail, 100 Summit Ave., Hagerstown, MD 21740, Attn: Editor or,email email@example.com. I can get email for:
(1) Board of Directors - Hagerstown/Washington County -Industrial Foundation, Inc. - 14606 Pennsylvania Ave. - Hagerstown, MD 21742
(2) Citicorp Credit Services - 14700 Citicorp Way - Hagerstown, MD 21742 - Attn: Philip Kelly - Public Relations."
Posted Febuary 22, 1998Hi Jim, thanks very much for your e-mail. It took (and still takes) some time to browse through your wonderful homepages. You've really nice music on them. Your family history is most interesting. I did some tracing of my ancestors too two years ago and I got as far back as the end of the 18th century. They originate from the small town of Tuebingen, which is near Stuttgart and most of my relatives still live in that area. My great-grandfather and his father were all wine-farmers. I don't know of any one of them emigrating to the USA. So I don't know, whether your family is connected to mine, but you never know. I want to read through all of your pages, there is so much text however, it'll take another few days and if I find some indication of any connection to our branch of the Schramms I'll let you know. Meanwhile stay well. Johannes Schramm
Hear are some letters that I thought might be of interest to someone.
They are from Johannes Schramm of Essligen Germany.
Hi Jim, thanks for your e-mail, but I still haven't read through all of your homepage so far. However it's high on my list of things to do in the near future. >>What do you do for a living. Mech. Engineer is a broad field.<< That's right. I'm working for a company, called Festo pneumatics, which produces mostly industrial equipment for the automation of manufacturing processes, cylinders, valves, pressure gauges etc. I'm a developement engineer and I have a 3D- Design Machine (HP workstation) on my desk, with which I draw the parts of the new products we want to produce in about 2 years time, mostly plastic parts. If you want to know more about my company you can have a look at http://www.festo.com These pages are not very attractive however since my company isn't very open-minded concerning internet and these things. I haven't even got an e-mail account in the company and use just my private one. This will change hopefully in the near future and hopefully we will get an intenet access in the office soon. So long Johannes
Subject: Whisky, job etc. Date: Sun, 22 Feb 1998 16:29:26 +0100 From: Johannes Schramm
To: BMusser References: 1 Hi Betty, thank you for the overwhelming feedback. It's great to enjoy other people. When I uploaded my homepage I just wanted to impress my colleagues at the office, since making your own homepage is still not very common in Germany. I never expected many people to read all that stuff, but now I realize, that there are a lot of people out there, interested in it. I get mails from South Africa to Norway and from Spain to Japan. That's the reason, why it took so long to answer your mail, because I've got too many e-mails to answer to just now. However I still want to reply to each one individually, which takes a bit of time sometimes. >>Your occupation and your Web Page do not seem to connect<< Why do you think so? Yes, I really do enjoy my life and I think that a day without joy of some kind is not worth to be lived. But I also do enjoy my work, although it's a technical one. One of the biggest joy for me is to come home from work on Friday evening, sit down in a comfortable chair and have one glass of nice, fine tasting Whisky. AAAhhhhh! ONE glass of course, not more. >> How often have you visited Arizona<< Actually, I haven't been there so far, but I will fly to L.A. on the 26th of April this year and for the first time in my life visit the USA. I will rent a car and drive through California, Arizona and Utah to see many of your National Parks. They are of outstanding natural beauty, as far as I can see from the pictures I have seen, and I'm looking forward to that very much. I mentioned Arizona on my homepage, because of the Grand Canyon, which must be one of the most beautiful spots in the world. But I also want to visit Joshua Tree N.P., Petrified Forest N. P., Arches, Monument Valley, Lake Powell, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, Zion and Death Valley. I'll stay for 4 weeks altogether. >>I live in Sacramento, California and we have been having more rain then usual<< Yes, I've heard about that in the news. I also have a german friend living in Camarillo near L.A., who told me the same. It must have rained a lot and it hasn't stopped yet, as far as I can see from the webcam looking at the Golden Gate bridge. However there's always sunshine after rain and I hope it will be over, when I come in April. What do you do to make a living? As I can see from your name, you are married. Do you have children? What is Sacramento like, is it a huge city or a rather small town? I live near Stuttgart, which is a town of about 600,000 inhabitants, but if you add all the small towns aroud it, like Esslingen, where I live, it 's a region with about 1 Million people altogether. This is, why I prefer to get away from it all in my holidays. Scotland and Iceland are wonderful places to do so. I know, that the US National Parks are not as lonely, as one wishes them to be, but I take it from my guidebook, that you can still get away from people, if you get off the main roads and do some hiking into the wilderness of the N.P.s. So far for today. Hope to hear from you again. Johannes firstname.lastname@example.org