Monday, December 17, 2012

Good King Wenceslas

Do you know what I love about this season?  I love:
  • packing our Operation Christmas Child boxes
  • selecting gifts in the Samaritan's Purse Gift Catalog with the kids
  • hearing the Salvation Army bells ring, 
  • reading all the charity benefit concerts, dinners, raffles, etc. being held, 
  • hearing of opportunities to take dry goods or meals to shut-ins, and 
  • discovering different opportunities to donate time and/or funds to help the less fortunate.  
Seriously, if you're not giving something of yourself during this season, it's certainly not from lack of opportunity!

So during this season of "Peace on earth, goodwill to men," King Wenceslas stands out as a model.  You're familiar with the traditional carol, but do you know its origin?  Well, the story of Good King Wenceslas shows us the purpose and the motive behind such benevolent, seasonal giving.  John Mason Neale, an English Anglican priest, wrote the words to the carol "Good King Wenceslas" in 1853, for the feast following Christmas Day called Saint Stephen.  Tradition holds that Neale derived his inspiration from actual events influenced by the just-minded and kindhearted King Wenceslas, ruler of tenth century Bohemia or the present day Czech Republic.  In fact, a statue of King Wenceslas, or now Saint Wenceslas, stands in Wenceslas Square in Prague.  (For photos of that statue, look at

Check out this fascinating book Good King Wenceslas (c. 2005), which looks at the story behind the inspiration of the carol.  Tim Ladwig's remarkable illustrations give us a modern peak into the past.  And be sure to take longer than a passing glance at that last illustration.

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