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Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas caroling
Neighborhood Christmas caroling

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"The Word Became Flesh"

"The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14).

Last night we went Christmas caroling with a group of our neighbors on a hay-filled farm wagon pulled by a great big John Deere tractor.  At each home we modified the words of "Jingle Bells" from "Oh, what fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh" to "Oh, what fun it is to ride in a wagon full of hay" which always brought a chuckle to both carolers and those we sang to.  The children rang their sleigh bells as a steady accompaniment to our songs, no matter the tempo of the song, which was delightful as well.  Our driver, Leon, took us through fields which were bumpy, dark, and lots of fun for the children as they grabbed onto over-hanging tree branches.  We adults gave our warnings about being left behind should you hold on too tightly!

It's interesting to me how phrases of oft sung songs can take on renewed meaning. Several times last night we sang the well-known carol with the line, "veiled in flesh, the Godhead see, hail the incarnate Deity" and I considered once again the marvelous, wondrous act of redemption.

John's Gospel does not give us a Christmas story like Matthew and Luke.  There's no mention of shepherds, Magi or an obedient young couple.  John seems to have a special leading of the Holy Spirit to write the story from a heavenly perspective beginning his account with the great phrase, "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God." 

Our daily verse sums up John's Christmas story; "The Word became flesh."  Up to this point in his gospel John has not used the proper name "Jesus Christ" and does not do so until the seventeenth verse, after which he never again uses the phrase "the Word" in reference to Jesus.  That first Christmas morning the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.  That's the heart of the Christmas story. 

John, the last living of the twelve disciples, wrote his gospel late in the first century.  He had been among Christ's closest disciples and friends.  He had heard the wonderful teachings and witnessed the great miracles. He had seen Christ die on the cross and had fellowship with the risen Lord.  He had been there when Christ ascended back to the Father.  And now for some sixty years he had been obeying the great commission before putting his account down in writing for all subsequent generations.

This season I join hundreds of millions of believers around the world reflecting on this wonderful truth some nineteen hundred years after John wrote his account. We remember and thank God for this glorious visit.  We believe that the Word did become flesh.  As J. B. Phillips wrote, "The Christian faith is founded upon a well attested sober fact of history; that quietly, but with deliberate purpose, God Himself has visited this little planet." Praise God for that life-changing visit!  I again reaffirm my decision to serve this great God who has indeed sent His Son, full of grace and truth.  Won't you join me!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Jesus, thank You for clothing Yourself in flesh and making Your home among Your own creation.  You are both God and Man, completely divine and completely human.  Rather than coming to us only through written precepts and the revelation of Your Word, You came to us through a person's life, something we could tangibly see, physically grasp and personally identify with. You revealed the divine nature and perfect will of the Father through the person of Jesus Christ. Grace flowed through You in those whose lives were spiritually transformed and the lives of those who experienced miracles and healings.  Thank You for emptying Yourself and taking the nature of a servant as You walked in truth and obedience, even death on the cross of Calvary.  And now we praise You, Jesus, as You are exalted to the highest place.   We confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father!  Amen.

Personal note: Today we want to share with any interested reader our annual family Christmas letter. It's probably longer than it should be and we also included some of our favorite photos from the year.
Read by brooksyne (audio mp3)

Due to travel next week we expect the normal delivery of our messages will be inconsistent but we will be taking along the laptop and hope to prepare the messages some of the days we are out.

We will be leaving following our Christmas Eve service in our interim church near Harrisburg, PA and travel to North Carolina to visit with my sister and her family. We also hope to see some long-time friends during this trip.

Today I would like to share a song sung by Herb Basso, who was a part of the church we pastored in New England.  Herb, an older Italian man (and I mean really Italian!), is an outstanding harmonica player and was a very colorful part of our lives during our entire stay in Massachusetts. When we left that area he and his wife Cecilia took us to an authentic Italian restaurant in Providence and I watched him eat escargot. I spoke to Herb and Cecilia this morning and they are still plugging right along!

This is a beautiful version of Silent Night. It's also quite meaningful to us since a long-time pastor friend's daughter is playing the violin in a portion of the song. Laura Marie Silvia is the daughter of Bob and Janine Silvia who pastor a church in Wellfleet practically on the end of Cape Cod (near Provincetown). Laura attends Evangel College in Springfield, Missouri.
Audio mp3 (broadband version)
Audio mp3 (dialup version)

Christmas caroling on a wagon full of hay!
Dashing through the snow (well not really) on a wagon full of hay!

Colonial home near Valley Foge PA
Yesterday I was in the Valley Forge area and drove by this beautiful colonial home with wreaths and bows on each window.

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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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