BUILDING UP TO SOMETHING

The summer of 1941 went by in a flash. The dresses the nurses bought in Manila were put to good use as each of them accepted invitation after invitation to accompany handsome young service men to night clubs and concerts in Manila. There was dancing on outdoor terraces amid fragrant blossoms beneath moonlit skies. There were bottomless cocktails with exotic titles served up in sparkling fancy glasses or hollowed-out pineapple and coconut shells. The local cuisine included ocean fish and sea food caught the same day they were prepared, and over-the-top desserts like flaming Bananas Foster and Coconut Mango Bread Pudding with Rum Sauce. The entertainment in Manilla riveled anything offered in any other well-known metropolis in the world. In fact, Manilla was dubbed the Havana of the Pacific The decadence was enough to make a young woman’s head spin. Enjoying that decadence with a handsome man in an all-white dress uniform took the experience to a whole new level.

Bedside Manner

The climate in the Philippines is tropical and maritime, with warm temperatures and high humidity, coupled with abundant rainfall. In Luzon, the area where Clark Field sat, it was not uncommon to have 150 inches of rain a year. This dampened many evenings of dancing under the stars, but there were plenty of indoor opportunities to enjoy. Gambling, legal and illegal, has been available in the Philippine archipelago since the sixteen hundreds, and the US military personnel spent many hours supporting the gambling establishments. Manila also offered a full array of indoor cultural events, including concerts, operas, and plays. Entertainment was available in Manila rain or shine.

It wasn’t long until the nurses began to talk among themselves about Christmas and all the opportunities to wear new and different dresses to the festivities planned in Manila and right on the Army base. The officers club would of course have its own gala, and every club and venue in Manila was poised to offer the best and most memorable holiday experience. Movie theaters were showing “Ball of Fire” with Barbara Stanwyck and Gary Cooper, and “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington,” starring Jimmy Stewart.

***

Back at Clark Field and Stotsenburg Hospital, Sally noticed a difference in the men who were coming to serve there. For one thing, they were greater in number, and for another, they didn’t seem to have their dress white uniforms with them. Was it possible they were coming in as part of a troop build-up, and not to escort pretty nurses to fancy balls and renowned concert and plays? The news told of increasing allied military presence in other places in the world, like the United Kingdom, North Africa, and the South Pacific (on the doorstep of the Philippines). One would have to be blind not to see the “rumors of wars” in other parts of the world. But nothing had been said and no training held about what to do if war came knocking at the doorstep of the Americans in the Philippines.

One night at dinnertime in the hospital staff dining room, Sally and some other nurses were invited to sit at the table with the chief nurse and other higher-ranking officers. Sally leaned over and quietly asked the chief nurse, “Don’t you think it would be a good idea for us to get some heavy clothing organized and ready to wear in case we had to move into Manilla and had to bivouac on the way down?” The chief nurse was from Canada and Sally knew the Canadians displayed a lot of pomp and circumstance.

Her superior officer looked Sally square in the face and said, “I shall do no such thing…unless and until we receive orders from headquarters!” And with that, all talk about the potential for war was immediately stopped.

Little did the young nurses know that the “orders” would definitely come, sooner rather than later, “from headquarters.” The “orders” would come from the Japanese “headquarters.”

The Abyss whispered louder…

THE IMPORTANCE OF A NICKNAME

One of Ethel’s first mornings at Stotsenburg, she went to a patient’s bedside to take his vital signs, and in return she was given a very nice compliment and a new nickname.

“Well, I’ll be damned,” the young soldier in the first bed said to her when he saw her nametag. “I was hoping they’d give me a nice nurse when I came in to have my hernia repaired, but I never expected to see a Hollywood starlet in a starched white uniform and a nurse’s cap!”

“Whatever do you mean?” asked Ethel in her southern drawl. “I’m not from Hollywood. I’m from Bible Grove, Missour-a!” (Most people from the Show Me State pronounce “Missouri” as if it has an “a” on the end.)

“But your name tag says ‘Miss Blaine,’ and I’d swear on a stack of your Missour-a Bibles that you look just like the starlet Sally Blane. You was in a bunch a’ movies…lemmy think…Silver Streak was one movie—remember that? An’ City Limits an’ a Charlie Chan movie, but I can’t remember which one! Don’t try and fool me, Sally! Your secret’s safe with me.” He winked at her, then he turned to the other men on the ward and shouted, “Hey, everybody! We’ve got us a celebrity right here in this hospital! Hollywood starlet Sally Blane is our nurse today. Say hello to her, and don’t tell her I told you!”

Then he grinned at Ethel and laughed as all the boys began chanting, “Sal-LY, Sal-LY, Sa-LY!”

By now Ethel…er, Sally was turning several shades of red, but she continued checking on her patients, tending to them one by one. And each one of the patients either whistled at her or tried to hug her or kiss her and even the sicker ones got in on the fun. One soldier in the very last bed she checked on sealed her fate.

“Well, Miss Blaine,” he said, “different spelling or not, I think you just got yourself a new nickname!”

***

By the time Sally got back to the nurses’ station that day, the women all wanted to know what was going on in Ward 3 where she had just come from.

“Oh, it’s nothing,” Sally said. “One patient kept insisting that I look like the movie star, Sally Blane. I told him her last name isn’t even spelled the same as mine. But he wouldn’t give up, and pretty soon, all the patients were calling me ‘Sally,’ and they said they believed I was her. They all said they thought I was stuck with the nickname!” Sally was almost in tears.

“Well, I think you do look a lot like Sally Blane, whether you are related or not. And I like the nickname. I think we should all start calling you Sally!”

Within a week or two, Ethel wasn’t called Ethel anymore. The nurses and the staff, as well as all the patients began to call her Sally, and the name grew on Ethel. “Yeah,” she thought. “I do like the name ‘Sally’ better than ‘Ethel!’ Besides, if they think I look like the Hollywood star named Sally, I think I’ll keep it.”

LIGHT DUTY, ENCHANTING NIGHTLIFE

When the bus pulled into the main gates of Clark Field, the nurses began to get an idea what a large complex they were being assigned to. Their Filipino driver, Angelo, told them that the base was originally called Fort Stotsenburg, named after a US Captain, who was killed in combat in the Philippines in 1899. Angelo called out each area they passed by.

“There are three parade grounds,” Angelo told the nurses, “all on the west end of the base. The telephone exchange building over to our right serves as both a post office and for housing the operators for telephone connections. The railway station, over on the left, is a very important place to know, because that’s how you gonna get to Manila for the nightlife!” Angelo laughed heartily. “Oh, you don’t want to miss out on the night life! It is like something you never see before! Trust me, ladies, I tell you the God’s truth.”

The bus wound throughout the base so the nurses could see important buildings like the base exchange, where they could buy anything from socks to underwear to shampoo to small appliances, and the commissary where groceries, paper goods, and alcoholic beverages could be purchased. Finally, Stotsenburg Station Hospital came into view, and next door was the dormitory where the nurses would live while stationed there. Angelo pulled the bus up close to the front door of the barracks, and several men in US fatigues miraculously appeared to help unload the luggage.

Angelo opened the bus door, produced a dusty and tattered carpet that used to be some shade of red, and with a flourish, he stepped down out of the bus and laid the “red carpet” on the ground for the girls to walk on.

“Only the best for our American nurses,” he said, “for you to walk into your new home getting the ‘Red Carpet Treatment!”

He offered a hand to each of the ladies, and when they had all stepped out of the bus, he gave each one a map of Clark Field, the Hospital, and the surrounding area.

“Where did you find all these nice men to help us with our bags?” cooed one pretty nurse.

“Oh, these are the guy in mechanics where I work part of the time,” Angelo replied.

“You must stay pretty busy working in two different places!” said another nurse.

“Yes, I work one-terd time in Transportation,” Angelo said, holding up one finger, “and one-terd time in mechanics.” He held up another finger. “And one-terd time in Hospital where you nurses will see me bring the very best medical equipment and supplies.” He held up another finger. “And one-terd time in the Base Exchange.” He now had four fingers in the air.

“Wait a minute,” one of the nurses said, “four thirds doesn’t make sense! You can’t work that many places!”

Angelo let out a belly laugh. “I just wanted to see if you were paying attention!” All the nurses and the guys unloading the luggage laughed at that.

“Hey, Angelo,” shouted one of the men, “you don’t do nothin’ at all when you’re in the mechanics department, so you can’t count that one!”

Angelo feigned a heart attack and said, “How can you say that when you know I work twice as hard as you do, Freddy!”

The nurses followed Angelo and the other men carrying all the luggage through the front door and everyone stopped dead in their tracks. Standing inside the doorway was the head nurse and she did not look happy.

***

“Girls,” she said, “this isn’t a cotillion ball. It’s a military installation, and I expect you to regard these quarters with the respect they are due.” She pointed up the stairs behind her. “My assistant is at the top of the stairs with your respective room assignments. Your gentlemen escorts will kindly deposit your bags here in the lobby and they will promptly take their leave. You girls may return for your bags as soon as you receive your room assignments. Supper is at 6:00 p.m. sharp in the dining room behind me, and you are expected to wear your dress whites in the evening. Fort Stotsenburg has been here for four decades, and it has long been a tradition in the Philippines to wear formal attire after 6:00 p.m. We are not about to change it now. There will be a brief orientation following the evening meal, after which you may spend the evening in your rooms unpacking and resting up. More orientation will follow tomorrow morning, including a tour of the two-hundred and seventeen bed Stotsenburg Station Hospital across the parking lot.”

With that, the head nurse saluted the girls who saluted back. Then, she turned on her heel and marched down the hall to her office.

The nurses scurried up the steps, with a few offering a wave and mouthing “thank you” to Angelo and the startled baggage bearers.

PEACEFUL PARADISE

The Army bus that pulled up alongside the troop ship in Port Manila was painted a dull shade of olive green, the signature color of all Army vehicles. A destination tag on the front of the bus said: Statsenburg Hospital, which was located forty miles northwest of Manila. While the nurses assigned to Statsenburg said their goodbyes to others assigned to different hospitals, several men transferred the women’s baggage from the ship to the bus. The men moving the bags seemed to be under the direction of a young Filipino man in army fatigues with Filipino military patches on the chest and the sleeves. Soon, the buses were all loaded, and the nurses could see the amount of activity of the busy port as they waited to get underway. The Filipino bus driver finally closed the bus door and lifted a microphone out of its holder with one hand as he started the engine with the other. The gears ground and they were on their way.

“Helloooooooo, ladeezzz!” he cried into a crackling speaker system. “My name is Angelo,

pronounced with the ‘hard G,’ like ‘angle-O,’ no ‘an-jello; I am not jiggly dessert. My name means ‘message from God.’ The night I was born, my mother, she saw the Blessed Virgin Mary through the window of our home, this is true family story, and she gave me a special name.” He tapped his chest for emphasis. “I am Catholic and I practice Christ. Welcome to our peaceful island paradise where our God looks with favor on us each day!” He kissed a crucifix hanging on a chain around his neck. “I am grateful to my God for everything I have, and I try help other people move with Christ.

“And now, on behalf of the Filipino people, I wish to welcome you and offer you some excellent observances as we drive to Clark Field, Statsenburg Hospital, and the modern barracks you will be living in.”

The bus went through the main gate of the Port Manila grounds and soon the views from the windows were much more enticing than the shipyard.

“What’s that beautiful purple flower climbing up that iron fence over there?” one of the nurses asked.

“That,” said Anglo, “is bougainvillea, a beautiful native plant that thrives here year-round. But, ladeezzz, you have seen nothing yet! I will take you on…how you say?..whirling winds tour of our wonderful island of Luzon and the city of Manila. I will show you the excellent happiness of Ayala Triangle Gardens, Mehan Gardens, Dolomite Beach, and many top-rate buildings for your looking pleasure, such as Coconut Palace, Roman Santos Building…”

Angelo was a great guide and soon the nurses were listening to his patter and relaxing in their seats. Some even dozed off; the trip to Manila on the troop ship was long and often boring, and the city sights were a welcome change from the wide-open ocean.

Suddenly a building a block from their route caught Ethel’s eye. She shuddered at the sight of it, though she obviously knew nothing about it.

“What is that walled compound over there?” she asked, pointing out her bus window.

“That,” said Angelo, with a flourish, “is the Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas, built in 1611 when our country was a territory of Spain. We call it the Catholic University of the Philippines. It was originally supposed to train young men for the priesthood. But now it is a university with several thousand enrolled and many types of teaching. It is the oldest Pontifical college in Asia and has offered the courses all the time except in 1898 and 1899 during the Philippine Revolution against Spain. The walls completely surround the forty-acre campus and it has a center garden for prayer and meditation…”

“It looks creepy,” Ethel said, shuddering again. She looked back at the receding University campus, which seemed as if it was rising out of its foundation and…groaning.

Ethel did not know that the abyss, even now, was beginning to overtake the sacred community of higher learning, and the enemy was coming to invade the compound. And Ethel never suspected that the evil the abyss held would someday capture her and her fellow nurses as they risked their very lives to care for their charges.

The abyss hissed, but the nurses’ bus was hurtling along toward their new lives as Army nurses in paradise. They didn’t hear a thing except the chatter of the bus driver, Angelo.

THE EMPEROR HAS NO SOUL

The abyss hissed. The emperor ignored it. For now.

Michinomiya Hirohito remembered the day his father died at age forty-nine, in 1926. Hirohito was barely a man, only twenty-five years old. His father, Emperor Taisho, had not been well most of his life. When he was three weeks old, he suffered an attack of spinal meningitis, which affected his ability to walk, and his mental capacity. His speech was affected, as well as his ability to think critically and make good decisions. He became reclusive and acted oddly for a member of the Japanese dynasty. These limitations plagued Taisho all his life, requiring much supervision and grooming from the royal court to render him suitable for his role as emperor. The grooming was not successful. Finally, he went into full retirement in 1919.

At the age of eighteen, Hirohito was made Prince Regent, not fully a head of state, but able to lead the government because his father could not. Conflict, always conflict! When his father left this world, Hirohito became emperor, whether he liked it or not. He had been the first Japanese crown prince to study abroad, pursuing his interest in marine biology—not exactly a skill he could use in leading an Indo-Chinese nation. Hirohito had seen Western culture, and his return to the rigors of Japanese royalty was difficult.

Now here Hirohito was, no longer the reluctant heir to the throne, but supposedly solidly in the role of emperor for life. He wondered, from time to time, if he had somehow inherited his father’s difficulties, like the inability to lead a nation sensibly or to fend off the emotional tole the role would take on him. He was not of a military mindset, but he was required to watch the reviews of all the men in uniform, marching in goosestep, heads turned toward the young man who was now their leader. Hirohito had dark moments when he felt unworthy of his post, surreptitiously thrust upon him. There was no escaping his place now, and he wished his father had been more of a mentor to him. But the prince knew his father was not going to have any deep connections to him or his three brothers. Hirohito feared his own dark side and didn’t understand his deep feelings.

The abyss hissed again. That unseen, unexpected cavern of pure evil that taunted young Hirohito until he feared he might tumble right down into the void. He could collide with his darker self someday, like the icebergs he had heard about in faraway waters, where colossal frozen chunks showed just their tips, but underneath the water line, a deadly mass was lurking.

Hirohito did not know, when his father died and he became emperor, that fifteen years later, he would try unsuccessfully to be marginally involved with his military leaders. But they would persuade him that diplomacy was not the way mighty Japanese emperors were to approach things. Japan was to become part of the Axis, they told him: Hitler, Mussolini, and Hirohito. Eventually he would approve his nation’s plans for December 7, 1941, when just before eight o’clock in the morning, 350 Japanese planes supported by submarines, battleships, and destroyers, would attack Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. A total of 2,403 people would die in that attack, in which Japan would destroy nineteen American ships. That would include the USS Arizona, which would lie quietly at the bottom of the harbor, cradling 900 souls for eternity.

And Hirohito would also approve the “Other Pearl Harbor,” just hours later when the Japanese forces would bomb Clark Air Base on Luzon Island in the Philippines, forty miles north of the capitol of Manila. Clark would be one of many targets that day. There, a young nurse in the barracks would stoop to tie her shoe, suddenly feeling the percussion of the bombs. She would look out the window and see the flash of light, and then she would hear the great booming and strafing of the motionless American aircraft as each in turn was obliterated. The young nurse and the emperor were both to be remembered after that terrible day, for very different things.

Now, Hirohito wished the darkness would depart from him. He turned away from the abyss and tried to tell himself it wasn’t there at all.

But he could still hear it hissing as he walked away. “Axis!” it whispered. “Axis!”

EATING DIRT

Before I was afflicted, I went astray, but now I obey Your word. You are good, and what You do is good; teach me your decrees. Psalm 119:67-68

Humility is a good thing, but sometimes it’s hard. In fact, the word “humility” comes from the Latin word for “ground.” Being humble can often mean “being brought back down to earth.” Humility is a trait that every Christian should be willing to work towards, and we must do it in a way that honors God. We must know in our heart that we are not perfect, and we do get it wrong sometimes. It hurts when we finally realize we needed humility by looking in that rear view mirror!

Paul’s letter to the Philippians tells us to “do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3). Paul describes Christ this way: “though He was in the form of God, (He) did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (vs. 6-7). So any time we begin to think we’ve got life completely handled…well, think again! Jesus Himself knew humility.

Proverbs 22:4 states that “The reward for humility and fear (or awe) of the Lord is riches and honor in life.” But being humble is not a “get rich quick scheme.” What God counts as riches may not be measured in monetary wealth! Here, “riches” are paired with “honor,” which is a good indication that the meaning here is abundance of God’s blessings, not winning the house in Las Vegas. Another clue comes from Colossians 3:12: “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience.” Things coupled with humility are looking a lot like the Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

When I was younger, I was a percussionist in a traveling road show that played some decent venues in Nevada, California, and other western states. The circuit was a plethora of egos and lofty aspirations. But the average of all professional musicians’ earnings is less than $50,000 annually, and 90% of all artists never get “discovered” or “make it big.” Just a short life lesson: humility will keep you…, well humble.

Lord, help us stay humble so that You may exalt us! Amen

Meg Blaine Corrigan is the author of four books: Then I Am Strong: Moving From My Mother’s Daughter to God’s Child; Perils of a Polynesian Percussionist; Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian, and a second edition of Saints With Slingshots. She holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling from the University of New Mexico and has over thirty years’ experience working with survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, war veterans, and other trauma survivors.  Her books may be purchased through her website, www.MegCorrigan.com or from www.amazon.com .

BEAUTIFUL FEET

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Isaiah 52:7

Every time I read this passage from Isaiah, I think about my poor, sore, ugly feet! I’ve been flat footed all my life. A podiatrist once took one look at my feet and said, “Yowzer,” which I’m pretty sure is not a medical term. As I have aged, I’ve developed both arthritis and neuropathy in both feet, causing my toes to become crooked and surprising me with sharp, shooting pains in the middle of the night. The condition has been so painful at times, I’ve cut strips of over-the-counter Lidocaine-infused pain pads and taped them to my feet so I could (sort of) sleep. A neurologist got involved and tried several medications, increasing the dosage when I indicated they weren’t helping. Once, my body must have reached critical mass and I had a horrible reaction, with extreme anxiety, dizziness, blurred vision and uncontrollable crying. I called the doctor and she talked me off the ledge. Well, actually, she estimated how long the reaction might take to abate and then left me on my own on the ledge. Anyone who has experienced foot neuropathy knows it is no picnic.

I realize that Isaiah’s reference to “beautiful feet” carrying God’s message of love, peace and salvation is a metaphorical one. I have a dear neighbor who works tirelessly, delivering free food to homeless encampments throughout the Twin Cities and working at several shelters. I could never keep up with her. But I “deliver” God’s message in my writing, my speaking engagements, and in planning committees at our church. I have also played percussion (sitting down, thankfully) for our church’s contemporary worship band for many years. So it’s not necessary that I have “beautiful feet” that carry me far and wide to do God’s work. The Lord calls on each of us to share our individual gifts, whatever those gifts may be. If we become unable to share certain gifts, God will show us new ways to serve Him. And when we finally can do no more, He tells us to rest and reflect.

Jesus, we pray that we can “with one mind and one voice…glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 15:5-6). Amen

Meg Blaine Corrigan is the author of four books: Then I Am Strong: Moving From My Mother’s Daughter to God’s Child; Perils of a Polynesian Percussionist; Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian, and a second edition of Saints With Slingshots. She holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling from the University of New Mexico and has over thirty years’ experience working with survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, war veterans, and other trauma survivors.  Her books may be purchased through her website, www.MegCorrigan.com or from www.amazon.com .

THINK YOU KNOW ALL THE ANSWERS?

Jesus said to them, “(T)o sit at My right or left is not for Me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.” Mark 10:39-40

Those of us who work to end sexual trauma may feel we have an intrinsic understanding of both victim/survivor and predator. This theory was proven false quickly when I spoke to two hundred and fifty convicted sex offenders at the Minnesota Prison-Based Sex Offender Treatment Program (SOTP) during Victim Impact Week a few years ago. Having survived a sexual assault at gunpoint myself, I believed I was more than qualified to know all about these offenders. I was told all of the program participants are male, and each had admitted he had done wrong and had pledged to help end sexual violence upon release. Not every participant of the two-year program “graduates” and gets released on their first try. I had spoken to many groups about how I turned to God for healing following the assault, and I thought I was ready to share my miracle story of God saving me from certain death with this group. I could not have been more naïve!

As I heard the heavy metal prison gates close behind me, I quickly learned that I knew very little about this population. I was facing a very diverse group of men: young and old, from many ethnic groups and backgrounds, all dressed in prison garb but mostly just looking like ordinary guys. Correctional psychologists explained that these men were motivated to perpetrate for many reasons, but the understanding of the causes and origins of sexually abusive behavior still remain elusive. My message was the same as always: how life-altering the experience had been of first being sexually violated, and then being revictimized by a broken system of response. But I was humbled by my inaccurate expectations of my audience.

In Mark 10, James and John asked Jesus to let them sit at His right and left hand in heaven, not realizing the magnitude of what they asked (vs. 35-39). As their friend, they believed Jesus would be just fine granting their request. But they didn’t know what they were asking. Jesus made it clear to them, and later to the other disciples who were annoyed at James and John’s hubris, that places of honor before God were set aside “for those for whom they have been prepared” (v. 40).

We as crusaders in the quest to end sexual violence must be clear-eyed and realistic about the complex nature of the work we do. Just as James and John overestimated their ability to know Jesus, we must be open to learning as much about sexual predators as we may know about victim/survivors.

God of Justice, help us broaden our understanding of who sexual predators are so we are able to help victim/survivors in more meaningful ways. Amen

LIFT EVERY VOICE AND SING

Afterward Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Let my people go.’” Exodus 5:1

CNN recently reported, “‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ is known as the Black National Anthem, but it is more than that. It’s a history lesson, a rallying cry, a pledge of unity, and as people gather to fight for equality and justice, it is an ever-present refrain.” The song was written in 1899 by Black brothers, James and John Johnson of Jacksonville, Florida, who worked in the early pursuit of civil rights. James was the principal of a segregated school, debuting the song sung by 500 children at a Black history event.

Following the Civil War, slaves were legally freed in 1865. But the Blacks’ “freedom” was replaced with oppressive state laws during the “Jim Crow” period of segregation, unlawful arrests, violence, and lynching. The lyrics of the song speak to the entire spectrum of Black suffering, but also of hope and peace. The work is “full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,” yet “full of the hope that the present has brought us.” I marvel at how the Black people’s faith in God has survived ever-continuing setbacks in their quest for equality, and how their hopes are not dashed by racism, not just in the United States, but across the globe. I would challenge any White person to take the place of one Black and do as well.

The last stanza goes on to acknowledge that God has “brought (the people) thus far on the way,” and asks that God not let them become “drunk with the wine of the world” and forget Him. The song ends with the words, “True to our God, true to our native land.” Would that each Christian, most of all me, would endeavor not to be swayed by this earthly life and hold dear the faith expressed in this beautiful hymn!

Recently, the National Football League featured Alicia Keys singing “Lift Every Voice” before its season opening games, prompted by police brutality and racial justice protests following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and others. The performance exposed millions of Americans to a moving and inspiring song for our times.

Abiding Lord, lift up all people of color and end racial injustice in our world! Amenhttps://www.cnn.com/interactive/2020/09/us/lift-every-voice-and-sing-

THE HOPE OF ADVENT

SORRY FOR THE DELAY THIS WEEK! I POSTED THE BLOG A DAY LATE!

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

As we approach Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in this year of years, I choose to find hope in the coming of Christ. The earth has suffered a great plaque in the last several months, and while the arrival of the vaccine is hopeful, we are still in the dark winter of this pandemic. We will not see anything resembling our “former normal” for at least several months if not a couple of years.

But we stand in this darkness as a Light is dawning, the Light of the Son of God, born of a virgin on Christmas. His birth is symbolic, yes, to Christians around the globe. But He is more than a symbol. I can attest to the transforming power of Christ in my life, and I believe He can exhibit that much power in the life of anyone who calls on Him to do so. As the saying goes, if you are looking for God, you have already found Him.

Yes, I am sad this year. I will miss playing my drums and singing at our live, in person Christmas Eve services this year. My husband and I have been a part of the music for years, and it will be strange to watch a live-streamed service instead of the “real thing.” But I know that the “real thing” is still there, in my heart, and in the hearts of all who believe that Jesus Christ was born of a woman and lived among humans in order to become a sacrifice for the sins of all of us. It doesn’t matter where or how we celebrate this year. We still need to celebrate.

The German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer compared Advent to a prison cell “in which one waits and hopes and does various unessential things . . . but is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside.” Let Christ open the door and come in. He is here now. He will be here always. Hallelujah!

Come Lord Jesus, my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the sight of all nations (Luke 2:30). Amen

JUST RELEASED! Saints With Slingshots 2: MORE Daily Devotions For The Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian, Meg Blaine Corrigan’s new book compiled of these blogs. Available on her website, http://www.MegCorrigan.com or at Amazon.com link below: