With uncertainties and challenges looming in all corners of our industry (IMO, Tier 3, declining rig counts, geopolitical and regulatory uncertainty, etc.), it might be tough this Christmas for some of you to recognize the “Tidings of Comfort and Joy” that come with the Season. 2019 was certainly a challenging year for all segments of the petroleum industry and 2020 could be even more so. We at Turner, Mason & Company have experienced our own “rough spots,” but despite this, both individually and collectively, we are extremely thankful for the many blessings that were bestowed upon us over the last year. We are also grateful to all of our clients for the opportunities they have afforded us and to the readers of this blog for the time they have devoted to consider our thoughts and ideas. Regardless of your particular faith, this is a special season and calls for a special blog, a practice we have carried out in this space over the last several years. This year I would like to again share two short pieces which provide context to the true “Reason for the Season.” Many of you have probably either seen or heard one or both of these over the years, but I offer them again to you. We extend to all of you our Best Wishes for the coming year and hope y’all enjoy time with family and friends during this Holiday Season.
John R. Auers, P.E.
One Solitary Life – by James Allan Francis
An excerpt from a sermon delivered by Dr. Francis in July 1926. It has been widely distributed since then and is most often circulated during the Christmas season.
Here is a man who was born in an obscure village as the child of a peasant woman.
He grew up in another obscure village.
He worked in a carpenter shop until he was thirty and then for three years was an itinerant preacher.
He never wrote a book.
He never held an office.
He never owned a home.
He never had a family.
He never went to college.
He never put his foot inside a big city.
He never traveled two hundred miles from the place where he was born.
He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness.
He had no credentials but himself.
He had nothing to do with this world except the naked power of his divine manhood.
While still a young man the tide of popular opinion turned against him.
His friends ran away.
One of them denied him.
Another betrayed him.
He was turned over to his enemies.
He went through the mockery of a trial.
He was nailed upon the cross between two thieves.
His executioners gambled for the only piece of property he had on earth while he was
dying, and that was his coat.
When he was dead, he was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.
Nineteen wide centuries have come and gone and today he is the center of the human race and the leader of the column of progress.
I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that were ever built, and all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon the earth as powerfully as has this one solitary life.
The Parable of the Birds – by Louis Cassels
Written in December of 1959 and distributed through print and radio. Most notable broadcasts were by Paul Harvey in his daily radio program during the Christmas season.
Now the man to whom I’m going to introduce you was not a scrooge; he was a kind, decent, mostly good man. He was generous to his family and upright in his dealings with other men. But he just didn’t believe all that stuff about God becoming a man, which the churches proclaim at Christmas time. It just didn’t make sense, and he was too honest to pretend otherwise.
“I’m truly sorry to distress you,” he told his wife, “but I’m not going with you to church this Christmas Eve.” He said he’d feel like a hypocrite and that he would much rather just stay at home. And so he stayed, and they went to the midnight service.
Shortly after the family drove away in the car, snow began to fall. He went to the window to watch the flurries getting heavier and heavier. Then he went back to his fireside chair to read his newspaper. Minutes later he was startled by a thudding sound. Then another and another — sort of a thump or a thud. At first he thought someone must have been throwing snowballs against his living room window.
But when he went to the front door to investigate, he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow. They’d been caught in the storm and, in a desperate search for shelter, had tried to fly through his large landscape window. Well, he couldn’t let the poor creatures lie there and freeze, so he remembered the barn where his children stabled their pony. That would provide a warm shelter, if he could direct the birds to it.
Quickly he put on a coat and galoshes and then he tramped through the deepening snow to the barn. He opened the doors wide and turned on a light, but the birds did not come in. He figured food would entice them. So he hurried back to the house, fetched breadcrumbs and sprinkled them on the snow. He made a trail to the brightly lit, wide-open doorway of the stable. But to his dismay, the birds ignored the breadcrumbs and continued to flap around helplessly in the snow.
He tried catching them. He tried shooing them into the barn by walking around them and waving his arms. Instead, they scattered in every direction, except into the warm, lighted barn. And then he realized that they were afraid of him. To them, he reasoned, I am a strange and terrifying creature. If only I could think of some way to let them know that they can trust me — that I am not trying to hurt them but to help them. But how?
Any move he made tended to frighten and confuse them. They just would not follow. They would not be led or shooed, because they feared him.
“If only I could be a bird,” he thought to himself, “and mingle with them and speak their language. Then I could tell them not to be afraid. Then I could show them the way to the safe warm barn. But I would have to be one of them so they could see and hear and understand.”
At that moment the church bells began to ring. The sound reached his ears above the sounds of the wind. And he stood there listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas. And he sank to his knees in the snow.
“Now I understand,” he whispered. “Now I see why you had to do it.
Have a Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad, Priecigus Ziemassvetkus, Frohliche Weihnachten, Joyeux Noel, Zalig Kerstfeest, Buon Natale, Merii Kurisumasu, Milad Mubarak, Feliz Natal,Gledelig Jul, Hristos Razdajetsja!