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Friday, December 14, 2007
Choir at Longwood
Choir performing Christmas musical at Longwood Manor

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"The Everlasting Light"
"The LORD is God, and He has made His light shine upon us" (Psalm 118:27).
Last night our choir shared their Christmas musical "The Love of God at Christmas" with the residents of Longwood Manor, a local assisted living center. They sang songs of God's love as they invited the light of Christ to shine through them. Among the familiar carols in one of the medleys was this wonderful phrase, "Yet in thy dark streets shineth, the everlasting Light."
Shining light is one of the great themes of the incarnation. I recall a children's Christmas musical in our church in New England titled, "Shine Jesus, Shine."  The story line involves the stars of the universe vying for who will be called upon to shine over Bethlehem when Jesus is born.  It turns out that the humblest star, who is not expecting nor aspiring the esteemed role, is called on for this service.  I can still see in my mind's eye a tiny Mary and Joseph, hand in hand, toddling up the center aisle to take their places at the manger scene built on a platform over the baptismal. 

I was afraid a rather squirmy Joseph would fall off the back of the makeshift platform, so I went behind the scenes to keep him pushed forward.  I suppose many of you can remember delightful scenes from children's Christmas programs through the years. 
What a wonderful truth is so simply expressed in our daily verse.  "The Lord is God" merely asserts the Biblical truth of the one true God revealed in Scripture.  In our New Testament understanding we declare, along with Thomas, that Jesus Christ is our Lord and our God.  In the glimpse we have of the heavenly throne the twenty-four elders cry out, "You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being" (Revelation 4:11).
"He has made His light shine upon us."  All through history the redeemed have been able to say this.  The great prophet Isaiah in a Messianic prophecy declares, "The people walking in darkness have seen a great light" (Isaiah 9:2).  However in this church age we look back on the full revelation of Christ and understand what the Apostle Paul meant when he wrote, "For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:6).
Jesus Christ came to be the Light of the world, to reveal the knowledge and glory of God, and to shine brightly in a world darkened and dominated by sin.  Is He your Lord and God? Today are you experiencing the penetrating power of God's light as it shines upon you?  Are others seeing its revelation of truth and ray of hope shine through you?  I sure hope so!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen C. Weber
Daily prayer: Father, the radiance of Your holiness is revealed in the light of Your Son, Jesus, who came to dwell among us.  We know that in Him there is no darkness at all.  Satan, the prince of darkness blinds and deceives, but Jesus, the Prince of Peace, enlightens with wisdom and truth through His earthly life revealed in Your Holy Word.  And now we have the light of Your Holy Spirit to guide us in a sin-darkened world as we make this earthly journey.  May the light that burns within us brighten our countenance and be our power source for truth, holiness, and courageous witness to those who have been blinded by the darkness.  We pray that they will come into the light of Your salvation.  Amen.

(In I John 1:5 - 2:11 John contrasts  believers who "walk in the light" to those "who walk in darkness.")

"Light" in Christmas carols
As I was writing today's message I was curious about the theme of light in Christmas carols so I did a little study. The following lines are from Christmas carols familiar to many of us. Can you identify the carol based on the phrase?
1) Son of God, love's pure light  
2) Yonder shines the infant light: 
3) And to the earth it gave great light,
4) Light and life to all He brings,
5) But high from God's heaven a star's light did fall,
6) The everlasting Light;
7) Guide us to thy perfect light.
The answers will be posted with Monday's Daily Encouragement message or if you feel you know the answers send us an email!

Assisted living residents

The Longwood Manor residents really enjoyed the presentation. Before the musical we sang several carols together and they sang right out. In our view visits by Christians and churches to these facilities is a great way to practice Christ's call to minister to "the least of these."  There is a great need for such ministry. Here's a great resource.  We use the large print hymn books they have available and every where we have been they are so appreciated by the residents.

Roxie at Longwood

Last night our dog Roxie joined us at Longwood Manor and practiced her skills at "pet therapy".

Many of the residents enjoy seeing pets and can't have them in the facility. Roxie has an official invitation to join us and often accompanies Brooksyne in her chaplaincy ministry in various nursing homes.

Roxie and Dottie in front of coal stove
After a wearying time of ministry Roxie crashed in front of our coal stove, along with our cat Dottie who was glad she made it home safely. It's the warmest spot in our house and they know it!  We primarily heat our home with this coal stove, using Pennsylvania anthracite coal. I empty the ashes and fill the hopper in the back of the stove early each morning and the coal is slowly, automatically fed to the burner. A white hot portion on the burner only about 4x3 inches is generally adequate to keep our entire house warm. It has a glass door on the front so I can see the warm glow and verify that it's working. From a distance when I see the light I am confident the heat is there as well!

Suggested Music

"Shine Jesus, Shine"

"Mary, Sweet Mary"

"Turn, Turn, Turn"  (Audio) I looked for this song for a message the other day and finally came across a version.

Info about multi-media files used on daily encouragement.

The Wonders Of His Love

Del Bieber, a pastor friend from New Jersey, periodically sends out a heartwarming message via email. Yesterday he shared this story:

Every year, on designated evenings in the month of December, we line up the vans and load them with joyful carolers.  Last night was the first of this Advent's musical safaris.

Over the years I have come to expect a magical moment during our yuletide minstrel treks.  Oh, not magical as in hocus-pocus, but more like Kingdom of Heaven mystery. About thirty of us were singing our way through the halls of a senior adult residence, (formerly known as a nursing home).  The air was hot and stuffy, and at times compressed with the strong scent of urine. Scattered along the walls were a variety of occupied wheelchairs.  Some of the citizens of the last mile joined the song as we strolled by, while others just stared blankly at the invading troupe.

I was walking behind a young mom and her five year old daughter as they held hands and sang: "Joy to the world, the Lord has come..."  The five year old was wearing a pink hooded jacket with the hood pulled up.  As they approached a petite, chair-bound lady with a wrinkled face, she lifted a bony hand toward the girl in the pink hood. Sometimes little children recoil at such gestures from a soul so far removed from their young world - but not Amy!  She placed her soft hand into the fragile grasp of an old lady - and for a moment Christmas was made even more real.

I thanked the Lord for the view and sang: "And wonders of His love..."

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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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