Sunday, December 27, 2009

A beautiful and meditative

post written by Pr. Dave Reed here.  I highly recommend you take the time to give this beautifully written meditation upon our Lord's Holy Nativity a read. 

Welcome Kyle and Jilian

We were blessed to welcome two new members into our fellowship this morning.  Kyle was baptized into our Lord's Kingdom and then he, and his wife, Jilian, were both brought into our fellowship through Adult Confirmation.  It was a true joy to get to know this wonderful young couple during our catechetical sessions together and I am thrilled to have them join us.  They will also be assisting us in the old fashioned way of church growth soon, as they are expecting their first child (a daughter), who is due in February, but may arrive on the scene a little earlier.

Here are some pics, courtesy of our beloved Meggers:


Friday, December 25, 2009

A Few . . .

Christmas morning pics:

And the best pic of all:

(We all warned her to stop making goofy faces . . . she wouldn't listen! :) 

A Truly Blessed Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord

Two beautiful Services in the Lord's House this evening.  First, the Service of Lessons and Carols at 7 pm.  Truly wonderful, enhanced greatly by the talents of our musicians and singers.  Mary played the organ beautifully, as usual.  And we were treated to two solos by Roger and his guitar, who sang and played the first stanza of "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" and, later, during the offering, greeted us with a stunning rendition of "O Holy Night" - simply breathtaking!  So much so that we asked him to do it again during Midnight Mass and he graciously agreed.  Then there was Sarah, who also blessed us with two solos, singing the first stanzas of both "What Child Is This" and "A Great and Mighty Wonder" - also, simply breathtaking.  I've said it before and I'll say it again:  I have no idea where that girl gets her voice, but, man, can she sing!  And Carol treated us to the first stanza of "Silent Night" in German, which was equally goose-bump worthy.  It was simply a gorgeous Service, from beginning to end.

Then came Midnight Mass at 11:30 p.m.  This is one of my absolute favorite Services of the year.  We began the Mass by candlelight with the reading of the Christmas Martyrology, and then processed in at the singing of "O Come, All Ye Faithful."  The Mass continued by candlelight until after the Salutation and Collect of the Day.  I allowed St. John Chrysostom, a.k.a. "Golden Mouth," to preach the majority of the homily, and then we partook of the Word Become Flesh in the Holy Eucharist.  Is there anything better than beginning Christmas Day with the Holy Sacrament?  I think not!  The Mass was beautified by the talents of our choir and soloists Carol, who sang the first stanza of "What Child Is This" and Roger, who, as I said above, once again treated us to "O Holy Night."  What a truly blessed Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord!

The only bummer was the weather.  It wasn't awful, but the freezing rain did make the roads a little slick and prevented some from joining us.

O God, You make us glad with the yearly remembrance of the birth of Your only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ.  Grant that as we joyfully receive Him as our Redeemer, we may with sure confidence behold Him when He comes to be our Judge; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

A Blessed Christ-Mass to All! 

Christmas Eve Homily

24 December Anno + Domini 2009
“To Us a Child Is Born; To Us a Son Is Given”

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

So, are you ready for tomorrow?  Did you get all your shopping done?  Are all your plans made?  Are you ready for the company you will host, or the travelling you will do?  Or, are you anxious about tomorrow, knowing that you are not as prepared as you wish you were, wondering how everything will go, how everything will get done.  Are you worried that the gifts you have purchased won’t be well received?  Are you fearful that you will be let down by the reactions of those who open your gifts?  Are you hoping for that response of excitement, but worried you’ll get, “Oh yeah, this is nice.  Thank you”? 
You know what, none of it matters, my friends.  None of it.  Whether or not things go as smoothly tomorrow as you hope doesn’t matter.  Whether or not the gifts you give and receive are perfect, or even liked, doesn’t matter.  What matters is this:  “To us a Child is born; to us a Son is given.”  That’s the only thing that matters.  Everything else is rather meaningless in comparison to this glorious truth. 
Nothing can ruin Christmas.  Not dry, or overcooked, turkey or ham; not bad weather or flight delays; not ungrateful gift recipients; not loneliness, sorrow, or pain; not even the separation from loved ones no longer with you this side of heaven.  Nothing can ruin Christmas, because while all other things fail and fade away, this Word remains:  “To us a Child is born; to us a Son is given.” 
To us.  We are included.  All of us.  This Child is born; this Son is given to the whole world, whether the world receives Him or not.  To us.  We are included.  All of us.  You and me.  To us a Child is born; to us a Son is given.  Nothing can take that away. 
To us a Child is born; to us a Son is given.  This means everything for us, for this Child born to us, this Son given to us is the answer to our dilemma, the solution to our problem.  He is the Savior we need.  He is born to us that He might live and die for us.  He is given to us that we might be reconciled to our heavenly Father and have an Advocate, a Defense Attorney, always standing before His throne pleading our case.
Without this Child, without this Son, we are lost and without hope.  Without this Child, without this Son, we could have the most perfect holiday celebration ever with family and friends, and it would mean nothing.  Without this Child, without this Son, we could get everything we want for Christmas, and it would mean nothing.  Without this Child, without this Son, nothing else matters.  For without this Child, without this Son, we remain in our sins.  Without this Child, without this Son, we remain barred from Paradise, unable to get past the cherubim guarding the way to the Tree of Life.  Without this Child, without this Son, every single sin we have ever committed – even those little white lies we think nothing of – is held against us, and in need of payment – a payment an eternity in Hell still couldn’t satisfy. 
Would that we understood anew this holy night what it means to have this Child born to us, this Son given to us.  Sure, we know the story.  We’ve heard it countless times.  Mary and Joseph.  A manger in Bethlehem.  Angels and Wise Men.  A ruthless King Herod on the throne in Judea.  And, sure, we sing about the story.  We love the Christmas Carols and know many of them by heart.  But, do we take what we sing to heart?  Do we ponder the mystery in that Manger?  Do we see ourselves in this story?  For we are there, dear friends, every single one of us.  That Holy Child in the manger, that Son of the Most High, lies in mean estate for us.  He leaves His place of glory to come down from heaven and enter our world in our flesh for one reason, and one reason only, to save us. 
We must not allow ourselves to lose sight of that, my friends.  To do so is to turn this story into just another feel-good, mythical, once-upon-a-time fairy tale.  This story does not belong in the realm of imagination, fantasy, and dreams.  This story is real.  It didn’t take place once-upon-a-time in our imaginations, but in actual history, at just the right time, when Quirinius was governor of Syria and Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census would take place.  And, it didn’t take place in some galaxy far, far away, or some distant, made-up land like Middle Earth, but in the actual town of Bethlehem, which is located in the actual land of Israel.  This story is no mere story at all, but historical fact.  This Child was, in fact, born to us; this Son was, in fact, given to us. 
Thus, do the angels burst into song.  They know the identity of that Child in the manger.  He is their Lord and Master, the One through whom all things were created, including them.  He is the One they worship and adore; the One from whom they take their orders.  And yet, there He is, lying in a feeding trough, seemingly helpless, nursing at His mother’s breasts.  Amazing!  It’s a mystery into which the holy angels ever long to look.  We should be no different.  It’s a mystery that we could ponder our whole lives long and still not even come close to comprehending.  For there in that manger is the King of kings and Lord of lords, the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the Author of Life, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, the great I AM, who was, who is, and who is to come.  God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God becomes a baby – a Child born to us, a Son given to us. 
Do you see, then, how insignificant our holiday plans become in comparison to this mysterious and glorious truth?  Christmas is about so much more than spending time with family and friends, gift-giving, decorations, and food.  It is not that these things are unimportant and meaningless.  It is just that they are not what truly matters.  They can be wonderful supplements to that which truly matters, but they must not replace the Child born to us; the Son given to us.  In Him, our Christmas celebration is always perfect, always glorious, always just right.  For He is the only Christmas present we really need.  He is born to us, given to us, to be our Savior.  And here, we must look beyond Bethlehem and see the Child fully grown and hanging on a cross outside the city walls of Jerusalem.  Yes, even on Christmas Eve, we must have Good Friday in mind, for this is the reason this Child is born to us, this Son is given to us – to suffer and die on the cross in our place, for our sins.  The One who humbled Himself to be born in a smelly stable and placed in an animal trough came for this reason – to humble Himself unto death, even death on a cross.  There is the true meaning of Christmas, my friends.  This Child, this Son came to shed His Holy, Innocent Blood on the cross for you.  Yes, you.  And me.  For all people.
This is why the angels announce that the birth of this Child, the gift of this Son is Good News of Great Joy!  He is born and given to save us from sin, death, and the devil.  He is born and given to rescue us from ourselves, to bring us forgiveness, life, and salvation.  He is born and given to reconcile us to the Father and give us access, once again, to Paradise.  All who repent of their sins and believe in Jesus Christ as Savior have nothing to fear, for forgiveness, life, and salvation are theirs and an eternity in Paradise awaits them. 
Nothing can ruin Christmas.  Even if your plans fall apart and perfect gifts aren’t exchanged; even if you are separated from loved ones; even if you are spending your first Christmas alone or mourning the recent death of family or friends; even if everything in your life seems dark and dreary and nothing seems to be going your way, nothing can ruin Christmas.  For this truth remains:  To us a Child is born; to us a Son is given.  And you who believe in Him are saved. 
This world and all its troubles will soon pass away, but the Kingdom this Child, this Son came to establish will never pass away.  And you who cling to Him by faith will dwell with Him forever in Paradise!  That is truly all that really matters, my friends.  What else is there?  You have all you ever need in Jesus and nothing can ever take away what He has done, continues to do, and will do for you.  This will be a sign for you:  You will continue to find Him wrapped in the swaddling clothes of the Scriptures and lying on the manger of the altar to be your Food, that you may be sustained as you travel through the wilderness of this sinful world.  He is truly the Gift that keeps on Giving.  Continue to come here, then, to Bethlehem, this House of Bread, His Holy Christian Church, to receive the forgiveness, life, and salvation He won for you, and longs to bestow upon you.  He is all that matters and He is yours – your salvation, your joy, your peace, your assurance of a blessed eternity to come! 
Merry Christmas!  In the Holy and Precious Name of the Child born to us, the Son given to us, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.  Amen.            

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

What's up with that?

I had a couple questions asked of me today about my blog.  The first one was about my blog list and why it's always changing in order.  That's because I have it set up to automatically adjust itself based on activity, so that the blogs with the most recent activity will always appear at the top.  The other question had to do with the Two-Year Reading Plan.  I began posting the readings for the plan each day, but decided to post them in the sidebar, with links, so that's where you'll find them from now on.  I did provide answers to those who inquired, but figured I'd post about this in case anyone else was wondering about these things. 

It's beginning to look . . .

a lot like Christmas:

I'm loving our new Christmas superfrontal!

Children's Christmas Program

Tonight, we held our annual Children's Christmas Program.  All the kids performed wonderfully, telling the Christmas story as only they can.  All of them memorized their lines and they sang louder than we expected they would.  Very well done!  Special thanks to Sharyn, Andrea, Carol, and Mary for doing such a good job preparing them.  Here are some pics:

Scene 1:  Gabriel visits Zechariah

Scene 2:  The Annunciation (Gabriel and Mary)

Scene 3:  The Visitation (Mary and Elizabeth)

Scene 4:  The Birth of John the Baptist (Zechariah and Elizabeth)

Scene 5:  Our Savior is Born (Mary, Joseph, and Jesus in the manger)

Scene 6:  The Shepherds and the Angels

Scene 7:  The Shepherds Visit and Worship the Christ Child

Scene 8:  The Visit of the Wise Men

Yours truly, playing the role of King Herod

Narrator and Soloist, Sarah Messer

Paige's "Away in a Manger" Solo

The Complete Cast of Characters


I love the use of incense during Divine Service, and wish we Lutherans used it more, but THIS might be a little much, and looks downright dangerous:

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Caroling for Shut-ins

Yesterday, a group of us from Peace spent the afternoon and early evening traveling to and fro, visiting our shut-in and homebound members and greeting them with the singing of Christmas Carols.  This is one of the toughest times of the year for those members who are unable to make it to the Lord's House, and it is nice to be able to bring the Church to them and let them know that they are not forgotten, but are loved by us, and that they remain every bit a part of our church family as they were when they were able to attend regularly.  The joy on their faces as we entered their rooms/homes to bring them Christmas cheer was evident to all, but I wonder if they realize what joy it brought to us as well - we were blessed as much by them as they were by us!

Last year was the first time we did this and there were four of us who participated.  This year, we more than doubled, as we had ten participants - hey, look, Church Growth at work! :) 

While in the nursing homes, several nurses and patients/residents would gather around to listen in as we sang.  During one visit, our sister, Connie, was at dinner, so we brought our caroling into the dining room.  One of the gentleman in the room came over to stand and sing with us, and another lady asked for a program so that she could sing along as well.  It was a special moment - you just had to be there. :)

We set out just after 3:00 p.m. and finished after 8:30 p.m., so it was a long afternoon/evening, but I can't think of a more blessed way to spend 5 1/2 hours.  Thanks to all who participated!    

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Fourth Sunday in Advent (Rorate Coeli)

Collect of the Day
Stir up Your power, O Lord, and come and help us by Your might, that the sins which weigh us down may be quickly lifted by Your grace and mercy; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hymn of the Day
"When All the World Was Cursed"
(LSB 346)

When all the world was cursed
By Moses' condemnation,
Saint John the Baptist came
With words of consolation.
With true forerunner's zeal
The greater One he named,
And Him, as yet unknown,
As Savior he proclaimed.

Before he yet was born,
He leaped in joyful meeting,
Confessing Him as Lord
Whose mother he was greeting.
By Jordan's rolling stream,
A new Elijah bold,
He testified of Him
Of whom the prophets told:

Behold the Lamb of God
That ears the world's transgression,
Whose sacrifice removes
The devil's dread oppression.
Behold the Lamb of God,
Who takes away our sin,
Who for our peace and joy
Will full atonement win.

O grant, dear Lord of love,
That we receive, rejoicing,
The word proclaimed by John,
Our true repentance voicing,
That gladly we may walk
Upon our Savior's way
Until we live with Him
In His eternal day.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

I know my mind should be elsewhere . . .

but all I'm thinking of right now is whether to play Tony Romo against the Saints tonight or Brett Favre against the Panthers tomorrow night on my fantasy football team.  I made the playoffs and this decision may determine whether or not I make it to the championship next Sunday.  Decisions, decisions!  I'm leaning toward Romo, but I just have an eerie feeling that if I play him, he'll struggle and Favre will excel.  Of course, I have the same eerie feeling when I reverse the scenario.  Any fantasy football experts out there have some last-minute advice on this? 

Peace Movie Night

Last night, several of us gathered together at our church to watch "The Nativity Story."  This was our first Movie Night since installing a new projector, new big screen, new dvd player, and new sound system.  What a treat this was!  HUGE THANKS to those whose generous donations allowed us to purchase these blessings, and to Larry for all the hard work he did in installing everything.  The new system works wonderfully and provides a theater-like movie-viewing experience.

As for the movie, this was the third or fourth time I've seen it, but there is always something new that strikes me as I watch it.  Last night, what hit me was the scene when the three magi from the East arrive at the manger (yeah, I know, they didn't get there the night Christ was born, and the Bible doesn't mention the number of magi, but, it's a movie, so we'll just have to live with a little dramatic license).  Throughout the movie, these three characters provide the comic relief, always making witty comments back and forth to one another, but, when they arrive at the manger, all joking around is put aside.  They are awe-stricken and reverent while in the presence of their newborn King, bowing before, and presenting their offerings to, Him.  So it is with us in the Divine Service - or, at least, it should be.  We can joke around with one another and have a good time outside the Divine Service, but when we're in the presence of our Lord, all tomfoolery should cease, and reverence and awe should be in order.  Anyway, I just thought it was kind of neat how the makers of this movie depicted this scene, showing the contrast between how these characters behaved throughout the movie and how they behaved in the presence of their Lord and King.  We'd do well to ponder that always!

I was very pleased that so many who joined us last night were viewing the movie for the first time.  That led to some interesting discussion time afterward.  Everyone liked the movie - it got a thumbs up from the group.  I agree.  I think it's a good film - directed very well, and well acted.  There are some things that are surely inaccurate, and lots of dramatic license taken throughout to fill in the story, but, all in all, the movie does a wonderful job of capturing the essence of both the time and place of our Lord's entrance into our world via Flesh and Blood.  I just wish that they would have done a better job with the scene when the angel announces to the shepherds that Christ is born.  You're just waiting for the heavenly host to break into the Gloria and they don't.  Was bummed about that the first time I watched, and still am.  Oh, and I wish they would have found an older character to play Joseph, but that's for a different discussion. :)  

Happy B-day to . . .

my daughters, Kelsey, who turned 20 yesterday, and Sarah, who turns 18 tomorrow.  That must mean that I'm at least 30 by now, but I find that hard to believe. :)  Seriously, where in the heck does the time go?  I still remember thinking how silly it was when I heard adults say things like, "Life just flies by," but now I find myself saying the same things.  It simply seems impossible to be the father of two adults.  How did that happen?  And, my two youngest children aren't growing up any slower - Samantha will be 16 in April and Aaron will be 13 in May.  Unreal!  

Anyway, HAPPY BIRTHDAY Kelsey and Sarah - now slow down a little bit, would ya? :)

Here's a couple of pics of the B-day girls, taken earlier today (first Kelsey, second Sarah - they'll LOVE that I posted these here! :)  


Morning Sun Article

What follows is the article I wrote, which was published in the Religion section of our local newspaper, The Morning Sun, today:

What the 'reason for the season' really means
(actually, the title I gave this article was, "The Word Became Flesh and Dwelt Among Us," but the editor decided to change the title to the above)
“Jesus is the reason for the season.”  We hear this slogan a lot in the days leading up to Christmas.  It has become the slogan around which Christians rally in the laudable attempt to convince people to ponder the true meaning of Christmas, and to ward off those who are intent on keeping Jesus out of the mythical, man-made, “holiday season” they have created for themselves.  But, as admirable as it is for Christians to adopt and use a slogan like this, it will do them no good if they are not able to expound upon it.  Without further explanation, “Jesus is the reason for the season” is nothing more than a cute saying.  Who is Jesus and why is He the reason for the season? 

St. John, inspired by the Holy Spirit, provides us with the answer we need regarding Jesus’ identity:  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1).  He goes on to explain that all things were made through this Word, who possesses Life and is the True Light who shines in the darkness of this world.  And then comes St. John’s Christmas message:  “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).  And, lest there be any confusion regarding the identity of this Word, St. John makes it vividly clear that He is writing about Jesus Christ, through whom comes grace and truth. 

So, St. John reveals to us that Jesus Christ is the Eternal Word and Son of the Father, who became Flesh and dwelt among us.  Isaiah prophesied about this seven centuries before Jesus was born:  “Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign.  Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).  St. Matthew tells us that the birth of Jesus is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, and provides us with a definition of “Immanuel,” which means, “God with us” (cf. Matthew 1:23). 

Oh, ponder the mystery, dear friends.  The Baby born in Bethelehem, the Infant lying in the manger, drooling, sucking, soiling His diapers, nursing at His virgin mother’s breasts, burping, and spitting up; the Baby who, accept that He is without sin, is fully human in every way, this Infant Child of Mary, is God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; He is the Only-Begotten Son of the Father, and by Him all things were made.  As He lies there in the manger, seemingly helpless, He holds the entire universe in His tiny, wrinkly, newborn hands.  It is a mystery so deep, so profound, that the holy angels can never stop looking into it with great wonder.  

The Word became Flesh and dwelt among us.  The Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity left His place of glory.  He came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary and was made man.  But, why?  For one reason – to save us.  How?  By living the perfect life we are unable to live, fulfilling God’s holy and perfect Law in our place, and by dying on the cross for our sins, paying the full price for all of our transgressions with His holy and precious Blood. 

So, yes, Jesus is the reason for the season, for He is the Eternal Word of God, who became Flesh to dwell among us and save us.  And, wonder of wonders, the Word still dwells among us to save us.  He promised to be with us always, and so He is.  Wherever two or three (or more) are gathered in His Name, He is there in His Holy Word and Sacraments to save us and to keep us saved.  He will continue to fulfill that promise until He returns in great glory on the Last Day. 

Until then, get yourself to the place where the Word still dwells among us, in His Holy Church.  Do not let your celebration of Christmas consist only in uttering slogans, but also in coming into the presence of your Lord to be filled with the Divine Gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation with which He longs to fill you.  You are more than welcome to join us this Christmas.  Our Service of Lessons and Carols will take place on Christmas Eve at 7:00 p.m. and we will celebrate Midnight Mass at 11:30 p.m.  Wherever you find yourself this Christmas, I pray that you will join all the faithful in singing:

“Yea, Lord, we greet Thee,
Born this happy morning;
Jesus, to Thee be glory giv’n!
Word of the Father
Now in flesh appearing!
O Come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
 Christ the Lord!” 

Merry Christmas!
In Christ, 
Pastor Messer   

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Gaudete pics

New rose superfrontal and chalice veil:

New rose chasuble, custom made by DK Brunner & Son:

Third Sunday in Advent (Gaudete)

Collect of the Day
Lord Jesus Christ, we implore You to hear our prayers and to lighten the darkness of our hearts by Your gracious visitation; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hymn of the Day:  
 LSB 344 "On Jordan's Bank the Baptist's Cry"

On Jordan's bank the Baptist's cry
Announces that the Lord is nigh;
Awake and hearken, for he brings
Glad tidings of the King of kings!

Then cleansed be ev'ry life from sin;
Make straight the way for God within,
And let us all our heats prepare
For Christ to come and enter there.

We hail Thee as our Savior, Lord,
Our refuge and our great reward;
Without Thy grace we waste away
Like flow'rs that wither and decay.

Lay on the sick Thy healing hand
And make the fallen strong to stand;
Show us the glory of Thy face
Till beauty springs in ev'ry place.

All praise, eternal Son, to Thee
Whose advent sets Thy people free,
Whom with the Father we adore
And Holy Spirit evermore.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Advent Tea Celebration 2009

This week didn't begin very well for me.  I was barely able to get through Divine Service last week and had to bail out and go home before Bible Study.  Acute tonsillitus had overcome me - I hate when that happens.  I have some huge tonsils and when they go rogue, it's bad news - can't swallow, can barely talk, and very painful.  And, to top it off, this latest bout developed into the flu - was down and out from Sunday through Wednesday not only with the hassle of acute tonsillitus, but with fever, body aches, and other unpleasantness I won't mention.  Ugh!  But, thanks to amoxicillin, and lots of rest and fluids, I feel much better now.  Not quite 100% yet, but a million times better than I was.

What a lift to my spirits it was to participate in our annual Advent Tea Celebration this afternoon and early evening.  I look forward to this event every year.  The ladies do such a fabulous job of organizing things and it is always wonderful to have the opportunity to share the Gospel with so many guests who come to be with us.  It's a special event that affords the ladies an opportunity to sit back, relax, and enjoy being served not only with the Gospel, but also with tasty beverages and desserts.

Each year, the ladies who host the tables are asked to do their decorating around a common color, and the theme of the program is developed around that color as well.  This year, the color was gold and the theme was the Kingship of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  The title of the program was, "A King Is Born" (you can download a copy of the program here). 

We were very blessed to have the talents of guitarist Roger Humphrey, pianist Mary Jakolat, and soloist Sarah Messer lead the music among us this year, and they all performed beautifully.  I have no idea where Sarah got her pipes - definitely not from dad! - but, wow, can the girl sing!  I just wish my eyes wouldn't get all watery when I listen to her - I have no idea what causes that! :)

And, all of the table hostesses did a wonderful job decorating their tables.  I am always impressed to see what they come up with - so imaginative and beautiful!  Great job ladies!

It was a truly blessed and beautiful event!  Here are some pics:









Our performers: