"The Cattle Are Lowing!"

Marc and I made a quick trip to Vandalia just days before Christmas so he could eat breakfast with Grandpa Joe. Living in Texas means that he doesn’t get the opportunity to catch up with his 92-year-old grandfather as often as he would like. Marc has always been a family guy. I refer to him as our middle child since he was born between his older brother and his twin sisters. As a result of his birth order, he has always championed both sides! He can easily brag on Matt and equally celebrate what Michelle and Melissa are accomplishing. He loves all things family and will make sacrifices of time and distance to put himself in the place where he can continue to bless all of us with his time and attention. Of course, this comes back to him because each of his siblings and his parents too, think he is a very special guy!

Brooks' Farm, Vera, Illinois
On many occasions when we are with grandpa, he likes to drive us around the town and countryside doing what he calls, “running his traps!” He shows us new things that have taken shape since our last time out and about. He also reminds us of what has changed. We always swing by the local cemeteries to see the new grave markers of loved ones and friends who have passed. It is the kind of thing we need to confirm that life is moving at a fast pace and as a wise sage says, “Ain’t none of us getting out of this alive!” We laugh every time Grandpa Joe says this! To be honest though, it is absolutely true as the Prayer of Moses advises, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12).

During our trek that morning after breakfast, north and up Illinois 51, we turned back west into the area around the little village of Vera. We passed by two cemeteries where some family and friends are buried and paused to scope out some of the markers. Then we came to a beautiful farm that sits up on a hillside. Back in the day, a local banker, Mr. Brooks, owned this property. I’m not sure who owns or manages it today, but it is still one of the most beautiful properties in the area.

As we passed the farm, there was a familiar scene with some cattle eating hay. I asked Dad to stop the car at the fence in front of them. I wanted to take a quick picture and capture the moment. I love nature and this kind of thing stirs my imagination. I thought of the role that farm animals played in the first Advent long ago. In the heartwarming carol, “Away in the Manger,” the song writer expresses how "The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes. But little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes. I love thee, Lord Jesus! Look down from the sky, and stay by my cradle till morning is nigh.” How romantic and picturesque! Maybe, and most likely, the scene has been considerably sanitized in the carol’s rendition. But, I still like to imagine the purity and serenity of it all! It prompts my worship and devotion!

May the wonderful intrigue of this Christmas season warm your hearts as you celebrate God’s blessed Gift of His One and Only Son, Jesus, our Savior and Lord! Merry Christmas! 

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,
active churchman and
doting grandparent. 
Contact: drmjkeppler@gmail.com 



  1. Incarnation! Can we mere human children of the almighty fathom the depth of that word? I take time at Chritmas to reflect on that one word. I was asked by a member of the congregation assigned to me, "What Miracle is the most important?" I replied the miracle of the incarnation.

    I marvel at the incredible moment when Simeon, who has waited years and years for the promise that he believed God gave himto see the Messiah, heard ONE CHILD's cry amoung the thousands he must have heard over the years-KNOWING that THIS CHILD-the very INCARNATION of God, Himself, was present that moment!

    My pains have subsided greatly. I credit the prayers first, the physical Theray-second and the injection Third. We worship a soverign and incredible God!

    John Marler

    1. Yes, John, what a marvel that God should become Man and dwell among us! A miracle, indeed! Glad you are slowly recovering from the accident. God is the Great Physician!


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