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Friday, December 15, 2006

Jacob and Miriam
Shepherd Jacob sharing the good news with grand-daughter, Miriam, in the "Jesus Our Treasure" Dramatic Musical

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"Spreading The Word"

"When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them" (Luke 2:17,18).

Our dramatic Christmas musical this year features Jacob, one of the shepherds who witnessed the setting of Christ's birth and relives the experience as he tells the story to his grand-daughter Miriam. It's a powerful musical with a way of causing you to consider how wonderful it must have been to hear the story from the viewpoint of eyewitnesses.

Jacob's story has a very interesting perspective. Matthew records the awful story of a very jealous King Herod seeking to destroy the newborn King by having all male babies less than two years old killed. As the old shepherd Jacob is sharing this part of the story to his grand-daughter, Miriam, he weeps as he tells her that among the babies killed was his own first born son.

Jacob gives such a human dimension to the story as one who had the great joy of seeing the infant Jesus, but later the awful agony of helplessly seeing his own son killed. (Although of course this is a fictional dramatic script, it is surely quite plausible.)

King Herod is played in the musical by a stout man who fully fits the profile I have of King Herod based upon the Biblical accounts. He struts onto the platform and unashamedly exposes his jealousy and intimidation by proclaiming over and over in a song, "I am the King!"  During his assertion that he is the king background choir voices begin singing, "O Come, O Come Emmanuel."

At the time of Christ's birth the Bible clearly states that after the shepherds had seen Jesus "they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child." Though we have no additional follow-up concerning these men after this eventful night, the musical drama certainly makes you think about an individual experience one of these shepherds might have had.

Like so many at that time, through the ages of the Church and in our own day, Jacob had to overcome some deep hurts and losses to cling to his faith in Christ. But he did so and many of you do so as well. Yesterday I spoke to a long-time friend whose wife has multiple sclerosis and is confined to a wheelchair. He's dealing with some very tough bumps in life right now, but he is rejoicing in God's grace and goodness as he chooses to focus his perspective on God's faithfulness!

The shepherds were the first evangelists at the birth of Christ and we are all called to follow their example in spreading the word. Let us all do so today!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer: Jesus, Your choice to enter this earth in such a lowly and timely manner is a story that not only the shepherds were commissioned to go out and tell, but it is the commission of all believers to spread this amazing story.  It's not just for the people of Jerusalem or simply a segment of our society or a select period in history. Instead Christ's coming affects people of all tongues, tribes, and nations, from the north to the south, from east to west - all who will call upon the Lord Jesus to be saved.  Jesus, help us to be bold and unwavering in our quest to reach out to the lost and dying world that touches us each day.  Amen.

Brooksyne's Note: A spiritual truth Jacob shares with Miriam in the musical has stayed with me over the months that we've practiced together.  He treasures his shepherd's staff and hangs it in his workshop to be reminded of its meaning and for others to see.  In explaining its value to Miriam he thoughtfully shares, "The only way I can tell you what this shepherd's staff means to me is to tell you what it costs – not in money, but in real life.  To follow Jesus means giving up things that are very precious to you….even things you never EXPECTED to be precious to you…like anger…like revenge….like self-pity and bitterness and …unforgiveness.  If it hadn't been for Jesus, I never would have learned that you can give up everything…the good, the bad, the safe, the secure (as he looks at his staff)….everything…and still come away with more than you had before.

When Miriam asks why he hangs the staff in his workshop sideways instead of a standing position he explains, "I keep it hanging sideways like this, so I'll never forget the time He stretched out His arms all day on another big hunk of wood to take away all my sins and give me a new reason to live."

King Herod
King Herod - "I am the king"

Choir and Cast

The 60 minute dramatic musical "Jesus Our Treasure" will be presented this Saturday evening, December 16, at 7 PM and Sunday morning December 17 at 10:15 AM in Mount Joy.  If you live in the Lancaster County PA area and are interested in attending just email us for information and directions.

Today's music is a song used in the musical but found elsewhere on the web. Many of you will recognize it.
Version 1: The youth choir of the Jefferson Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Great job, kids!
Version 2:   A low quality recording by the original artist, Casting Crowns, but great art work on the page.

A song that's not in the musical but came to mind as we consider the theme of our devotional today is, "We Are The Reason"

Maryland Trip
Father teaching son
Yesterday I once again helped my stonemason friend Jesse complete a chimney restoration project on the Eastern shore in Maryland.  We left at 5:00AM and returned last night at 7:30PM so I had a long day.  It's refreshing to know that I still have some physical strength for hard labor at 52 years of age!

This time I was the only helper but his three year old son Moses came along and was very well-behaved. This photo shows father and son eating lunch together. It's just remarkable to observe this young father teaching his son all through the day.  We had a tremendous teaching experience yesterday that I will share in a forthcoming message.

I shared some more photos and notes about this experience in Wednesday's daily encouragement message.  I spoke to the owner and found out the home was built in 1803 when Thomas Jefferson was president!

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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