Archives for the month of: December, 2012

Advent“As the dark awaits the dawn….” were the opening words of the choir anthem at First Lutheran Church on the Third Sunday in Advent.  Through a Nordic lens, we understand what waiting for dawn–light–means. In Minnesota today, sunrise is scheduled for 7:47.  For our family in Uddevalla Sweden, the sun rose on the smooth rocks of the western archipelago at 8:58 today.  And it was 10:00 a.m. before stretches of dawn reached the stunning facade of Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim, Norway.  While we wait for dawn, we light candles at breakfast, and three candles on the Advent wreath, and know that Light is coming soon.

As the Dark Awaits the Dawn is a poem of Advent, written in 1996 by Susan Palo Cherwien, and may be found in the Evangelical Lutheran Worship book, hymn number 261.  The gentle melody, Lucent, is by Carl F. Schalk. Augsburg Fortress is the publisher.

1) As the dark awaits the dawn, so we await your light,

O Star of promise, scatter night, loving bright, loving bright, til shades of fear are gone.

2) As the blue expectant hour before the silvr’ing skies,

We long to see your day arise, whole and wise, whole and wise, O Lucent Morning Star.

3) As the moon reflects the sun until the night’s decrease,

may we your healing light release, living peace, living peace, unto your holy dawn.

4)  Shine your future on this place, enlighten every guest,

that through us stream your holiness, bright and blest, bright and blest; come dawn O Sun of grace.

On the Eve of Saint Lucia, December 12, 1859, Johan Lind brought his new-born daughter to the old stone church at Broddarp, Sweden where she was baptized Alma Christina at the ancient font. Anderson and Signe Gusta, farmers from Grondal, witnessed her baptism.  The records show she was the last child born and baptized in the parish that year.

Last summer, my husband and I drove through winding roads deep in the Swedish forest, and there, in a clearing we found Broddarp.  The old church was replaced by a newer structure in the late 1890s when the Linds were now living in the the Midwest.  The photo below is of the old church and it’s wooden bell tower. Thanks to the kindness of Mikaela Anderson and her father Rolf Anderson, we were able to go inside the new church and there was the baptismal font –the same font–where Alma received her name and from where she began her life’s journey.


Here we are in the second week of Advent 2012.  We’re enjoying a beautiful 12 new inches of snow–perfect at this time of year.  Amid all the wonderful things to do this week are the moments to reflect, remember, and  celebrate.

Today, December 11, is the birthday of Alma Christina Lind.  She was born on this date in 1859 in Broddarp, Sweden (there may have been at least twelve inches of snow that day) to Johan and Fredrika Lind, an old soldier and his wife.  Alma was their first daughter and second child.  The days of Advent were a busy time for Scandinavian women in 1859, in a much different way than our lives today.  Women were in charge of butchering, brewing, candle making, baking, and intensive cleaning in preparation for the days of Christmas. Fredrika, as she recovered from the birth of her new baby, hopefully took time to rest a little, and ponder a new baby at Christmas.  There in her arms, the promise of a future yet unseen.

Within four years, Fredrika and Johan would leave Sweden for America– first to Andover and then to Moline, Illinois.  When Alma married Pastor Carl Aaron Swensson in 1880, she moved to Lindsborg, Kansas where her life and gift of music would influence generation upon generation.  In their old age, Fredrika and Johan would move to Lindsborg, too, and were witnesses to the great things their daughter accomplished.

Advent. The great period of anticipation.  Longing, hope, newness, joy. Last Saturday, November 30th, I travelled with my three college roommates to Tyler, a little town on the great Southwest Minnesota prairie, settled more than 125 years ago by Danish emigrants.  Our roommate Punky (Nealna) Bollesen Gylling grew up at Danebod Lutheran Church and we joined her there to celebrate an old fashioned Danish Christmas.  We strolled through their julebutikker filled with handmade ornaments, delicate hardanger, counted cross-stitch, tatting, painted wooden nisser.  We  sat underneath the 17-foot locally grown Colorado Blue Spruce Christmas tree drinking very good coffee and sampling kringler, rosettes with lingonberries or prune sauce garnished with whipped cream, and the famous aebleskiver.  After a walk through town, we ate a traditional Danish supper of frikadeller (meatballs), medisterpolse (spiced sausage) pork roast, mashed potatoes and gravy, red cabbage, vegetables, salads, and dessert.  At the church, where a ship hangs from the ceiling as is tradition in churches in Denmark, we heard gorgeous music of the season performed by the handbells and the choir.  AND THEN, we walked across the street to the gym hall, through the welcoming open door  where we joined hands and danced around the Christmas Tree. Three rings of dancers, people of every age, singing in harmony Nu ar det jul igen (Christmas is Here Again), Deilig ar den himmel bla (Splendid Are the Heavens High), O Come All Ye Faithful, Deck the Halls, Silent Night, and other songs that these people have known all their lives–and their parents and grandparents, and great-grandparents before them.  This was the 125th year of dancing around the Christmas tree at Danebod–a tradition tucked in mind and heart as the immigrants crossed the great ocean from Denmark to America to the Minnesota prairie, and celebrated ever since.

During the prayers of the church Sunday morning–the First Sunday of Advent, Pastor Julie Thul gave thanks “for our foremothers and forefathers who brought joy and happiness to the difficult work of making this prairie home.”  What anticipation they must have had as they lit the first Advent candle, looking forward to the hope and joy this season brings.

College Friends at Danebod's Old Fashioned Danish Christmas

College Friends at Danebod’s Old Fashioned Danish Christmas

Dancing Around the Christmas Tree, Danebod Folk School

Dancing Around the Christmas Tree, Danebod Folk School