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Monday, December 24, 2007

New Year Seeker

There is a quote from the Bible that might be familiar to you. "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

I’m a seeker. I relate to other seekers. Are you one of them?

I enjoy wondering about the Wise Men who came from Persia, or wherever, to see the infant Jesus and bring him Kingly gifts. They were ancient astrologers searching for the deepest truths by studying the stars.

And the truth they discovered was a sudden new Star in the sky. They believed this great shining Star to be a sign that something radically new had entered the world, something of great importance, of heavenly importance. Seekers true, they studied and surmised that the Star signified the birth announcement of a great King.

So they followed the Star of Jesus to Bethlehem, presented him royal gifts, then returned home satisfied that they had been blessed to honor the King of all Kings.

There is a beautiful truth for us about the Wisemen. It can be found in the title of the song Wise Men Still Seek Him.

Pray with me. Lord Jesus, I seek you. Be my morning Star. May I always seek you, first thing in the morning, last thing at night. Fill my days and bless our family’s New Year with the starry wonder of your amazing love. Amen

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Family Advent - Week 4

Scripture: When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord had made known to us. Luke 2: 15

Devotional: Mary and Joseph are in the stable. Angels have told the shepherds where to look for them. They know that it is God who has given them the news and sends them to Bethlehem. While we have been preparing our hearts for Christmas, God has been leading us, guiding us to the true meaning of Christmas - that he has come into the world in Jesus to be with us -- to be close to us. God will help us to see and to hear what we need to see and hear this Christmas.

Candles: Light all four candles of the Advent Wreath.

Sing: “Silent Night, Holy Night”
Silent Night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin, mother and child.
Holy infant so tender and mild,
sleep in heavenly peace, sleep in heavenly peace.
Silent Night, holy night, shepherds quake at the sight;
glories stream from heaven afar,
heavenly host sing Alleluia!
Christ the Savior is born, Christ the Savior is Born.

Prayer: Dear God, help us to wait for what you will show us this Advent. Help us to see that you are with us. Guide us by your holy light to that place where we take Jesus into our hearts. Help us to notice those around us who may be bearers of your light to us. Help us to be the bearer of your good news to others. In your ever-present love, we pray. Amen

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas is His Story

Christmas Stories. What would Christmas be without them? Friendly and busy for sure, tiring, dull and shallow perhaps. The real meaning of Christmas is to be found in the stories, isn’t it?

Would there even be Christmas without the Bible story? I don’t think so. Amazingly the Birth of Jesus is a true story. It’s a story that God had promised the descendents of King David for 1000 years. It is the center of God’s story.

Like an hour glass in time, the Birth of Jesus is one historical moment, drawing through it the seeds of God’s presence, sown among the Hebrews for years, and transforming them with the message of God’s saving love for all the world from that time forth. It happened. In Bethlehem. In a manger. As a baby. Blessed story.

I remember hearing that story. I remember learning it, telling it, singing it. I remember feeling blessed at midnight service. I remember feeling the passion as I watched the Christmas story portrayed by children in a church in Ghana. I remember communion on Christmas morning. Blessed story.

I remember the year Mom had chicken pox at Christmas time. She got a baking soda bath for Christmas. lol. I remember Santa coming, the Lionel train running circles under the tree. As a parent I remember treasured ornaments we and the children made, and sleds and bikes and a big doll house. Blessed stories. Blessed Christmas. Jesus lives. Praise God.

What would Christmas be without his story?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Advent Wreath Service - Week 3

Scripture: And Mary Said, My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. Luke 1:46-47

Scripture: In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, Do not be afraid; for see - I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, The Lord. Luke 2:8-10

Devotion: Today is the third Sunday of Advent, the Sunday of joy. The young Mary who had every reason to fear, expressed joy in God’s favor. The angels comforted the frightened shepherds out on a dark hillside with the joy of the good news. The joy we find is never in our circumstances but in our relationship with God in Christ.

Candles: Light the first candle, light the second candle, light the third candle (which may be pink) and say Today we light the candle of joy.

Prayer: God, we too rejoice. We rejoice that Jesus is born in Bethlehem. We rejoice that you give us what we need. Fill our days with joy and help us to share that joy with others. In his holy name we pray. Amen

Sing: Joy to the World

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Glorify and enjoy God

How hard is that?
My friend Mike and I email back and forth. I asked him if he had had a good Thanksgiving. In his reply he tells of several family get-togethers over the weekend, the travel, the fun and the food. And then goes on to talk about enjoying God.
We also spent some time in prayer
and went to church
both Sunday morning and evening.
We enjoy going to church with my mom and brother,
their church always seems to be a blessing to us,
We can always use Gods blessings
and always seem to receive them when we are at mom’s church.
Here Mike is pointing out Three Ways to Enjoy God. First: we can enjoy God in prayer. Second: we can enjoy God in worship. Third: we can enjoy God in Christian fellowship.In the same email Mike talked about his struggles with his job and, in general, things not going well right now. Hey! Nothing new there. He’s describing just about everyone I know.

But not everyone I know would talk about lifting those concerns up in prayer and waiting on the Lord. Listen to Mike.
I spent Monday with my brother looking for a truck for his business. Deb had prayer time with my mother and one of her friends.
I realize at times that when things are going good I seem to try to stand on my own and not rely on God and then when I mess things up I am back asking for his help and through his grace he is always there to pick me back up again.
I needed that pick up this weekend and of course as you know he was there waiting for me to ask for his help. I have been stressing about my job situation, but am trying to make myself put it in his hands.
Those that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength and I am not good at the waiting part of it.
Mike might not be good at the waiting part. But don’t you think that even in his impatience Mike is pretty good at the praying part, at glorifying God? I believe God will take care of Mike’s job situation, maybe even as a Christmas gift from heaven, and be glorified. How will you Glorify God this year?

Monday, December 10, 2007

A Family Advent - Week 2

Make the Advent Candle Service the center of your family’s Christmas preparation. Find a time to gather around the wreath. Light the appropriate candles. Read the Christmas story. Say the prayers. Sing the carols. Let your light shine. Brighten your world with the Light of Christ. The theme of the second week, Dec 9 to 15 is LOVE.

Bible: In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child.

Pray: God, journey with us to Bethlehem. Go with us and lead us to your love. Go with us and teach us to love others.

Light the first candle, and then the second candle.

Sing: O Little Town of Bethlehem
O little town of Bethlehem, How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by;
Yet in thy dark street shineth the everlasting light;
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

Devotion: This is the second Sunday of Advent. Today we remember that Mary and Joseph went on a journey to Bethlehem. We too are on our own journey. We travel toward Christmas, and the birth of Jesus because we want to know Him better, to feel His love, to see his face in our life today.

Pray: Thank you God for the Donkey who carried Mary and for the animals that greeted them in Bethlehem, and for taking care of all the details in our own journey. In Jesus name, Amen.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Last Week's Poll Results

The question was,
What does Christmas mean to you?
You answered:
Jesus - 10
Family - 5
Memories - 1
Music - 1
Gifts - 0
Thank you for your answers. Please join us in this week's poll.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

A Family Advent

Make the Advent Candle Service the center of your family’s Christmas preparation. Find a time to gather around the wreath. Light the appropriate candles. Read the Christmas story. Say the prayers. Sing the carols. Let your light shine. Brighten your world with the Light of Christ. The theme of the first week, Dec 2 to 8 is HOPE.

Bible: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness – on them light have shined. Isaiah 9:2

Prayer: God help us to make a way for you in our busy lives. Help us to see your light and your love in the world.

Candles: Light the first candle (purple)

Say: “Today we light the candle of Hope.”

Devotion: This is the first Sunday of Advent. We’ve gathered here to think about Jesus and His coming into our world. Jesus is like a light that shines on us and shows us the way out of darkness. Jesus’ teachings give us HOPE. We want Jesus to come into our hearts this Christmas. Then we can be a light to others!

Sing: Go Tell It on the Mountain (select blue YouTube podcast on left)
Go, tell is on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere;
Go, tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born.
While shepherds kept their watching o’er silent flocks by night,
Behold throughout the heavens there shown a holy light.

Prayer: Dear God we ask you to be with us as we prepare for Christmas. Give us HOPE. Help us to brighten the lives of others as you do ours. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Let the Children Give

Imagine a Christmas where children were observers only, not allowed to wish, to sing, to care, or to give. Wouldn’t that be terrible?

How would the children grow in their capacity to wonder and believe?
How would they learn to sing with the angels and praise God in all things great and small?
How would they experience the joy of giving a gift that truly touches another?

Christmas, with all its preparations and gift giving, helps us introduce the children to a lifestyle of rejoicing, of trust in God, of personal and global responsibility. Delia Halverson, in her new book, Let the Children Give: Time, Talents, Love and Money, says, “We do not grow spiritually without giving, not just monetary giving but giving of all of our gifts.”

The tradition of gift giving has been associated with Christmas because the birth of Jesus reveals God as the greatest giver of gifts ever.

Reaching out to those in need, adopting a family and giving them gifts, filling a shoe box with presents for a child half way around the world, these are excellent learning experiences for children. Children learn quickly.

We give because God gives us life and love in Jesus Christ. Giving as God gives -- freely, thoughtfully, and with love -- is a Christmas blessing for children and everyone.