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"Sir", they said, "we would like to see Jesus" (John 12:21b).
Can I ask you to reminisce with me today? What Christmas memories do you have that bring a smile to your face or a particular joy to your heart? Brooksyne and I encourage you to consider a family time in sharing these stories or perhaps a testimonial time in your church, small group or among friends.
When we lived in New England I recall a Christmas party with other ministers in our area of Southeastern Massachusetts. After our meal and some games we sat together in a circle and we were each asked to share a Christmas memory. Some of the memories were funny while others were a touching reminder of the real message of Christmas. It was one of the best times I ever recall with a group of my minister peers.
Rich and Donna Weitzel lived way out on Cape Cod in a town called Wellfleet where Rich served as pastor. He shared the following story: "Our son was very young and quite fascinated by the manger scene. He carefully studied the wise men, shepherds, Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus and then he would frequently rearrange them. He kept moving the baby Jesus to the very front rather than in the center as is the custom in most manger scenes. I was a bit flustered at having to constantly put the characters back in their proper place. Finally I asked my son, 'Why do you keep moving baby Jesus to the front?' He told me, 'Daddy, I want everybody to see Jesus.'"
Now that's a good lesson isn't it? Many of those kinds of lessons come out of the mouths of babes. For a number of years while I pastored I had a little sign on my pulpit facing me as I preached. It had today's text on it as a reminder, "Sir, we would like to see Jesus." It reminded me of what was of supreme importance as I proclaimed God's Word; may people see more of Jesus and less of me!
In the daily text a group of Greeks had come to Philip with this request, "Sir, we would like to see Jesus." The request was simple and very specific. These Greeks knew what they wanted. And in their seeking they had it right; they wanted to see Jesus.
Philip went to Andrew and together they told Jesus that some people wanted to see Him. They didn't try to take center stage or try to speak for Jesus, but instead they complied with the request. That's also a good lesson for us.
Today are our words and actions helping people to see Jesus? Certainly the most accurate picture of Jesus is portrayed in Scripture, but in reality the majority will not look in the Scriptures but will instead look at the lives of Christ's followers. May we truly reflect the heart of Christ in our attitudes and the life of Christ in our actions.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we consider the role of John the Baptist who was forerunner of Your Son, Jesus. He was the voice of one calling in the desert, "Make straight the way for the Lord." He prepared the hearts of men for Jesus' coming and he surrendered his life even to death for his Master. May we have the same spirit as John who told his followers, "He must become greater; I must become less. The One who comes from above is above all." We bow in surrender, adoration, and praise to the Christ child born in a manger who grew in favor with God and man, who laid down His life so that we might be raised to newness of life. For all that You are and all that You have done we give You thanks. In the name of Your Son, Jesus. Amen.
(See John 1:23; 3:30&31)
Stephen's note: Rich and Donna Weitzel also live in this area now and Rich is the director of operations at the Rehersburg Teen Challenge Training Center. I visit with Rich periodically when I am up at Teen Challenge. Today's opening story reminded me of another more humorous story that was shared at the same minister's Christmas party that I felt is more appropriate on my humor blog. It's titled "Do You See What I See?" This is a true story!
Manger scenes are popping up in a lot of places as a visual witness and reminder of the birth of Jesus. We had a large lighted display in front of our church in New England and each year our town square had a display along with secular symbols and symbols of other religions, I suppose to pass muster with the ACLU.
Today's manger scene in the photo is from the communion table at our church here in Mount Joy. Brooksyne and I smile as we see the "Precious Moments" display as we have fond memories of the Precious Moments visitor center in Carthage Missouri, where for many years we met Brooksyne's parents, since it is about 1/2 way between Tulsa where she is from and the KC area where I am from. I have shared an encouragement message based on the chapel.
I just heard on the news that the mayor of Cranston, Rhode Island, near where we lived in New England has banned all public Christmas displays in that city because someone might be offended, an increasingly common tactic of the politically correct foolishness abounding in our country. Tommorow I plan to write on the topic, "The Offense of the Cradle."
Resources for Christmas celebrations
It is our desire to share resources that may be a blessing to families and churches during this Christmas season.
In today's message we shared a touching Christmas memory. Here's a collection of Christmas memories sent in by daily encouragement readers several years ago, along with an opportunity to share your own story. Christmas Memories
Responsive Christmas Scripture readings for church or family:
John 1:1-18 pdf
"O Come Let Us Adore Him" pdf
A poem Brooksyne shared two years ago in memory of my Mom. This is a blessed reminder for all who lost a loved one this year.
My First Christmas in heaven
Here's a test for those who like tests! Christmas knowledge test
Tomorrow we plan to have additional resources posted including a powerful reading titled "In Remembrance" that interweaves the Christmas story with the passion of Christ. We also plan to post the words to a song titled "When Christ Was Born" which is set to the tune of "How great Thou Art"
We also have several Christmas games that you may find enjoyable.
"Away In A Manger" (Audio) Piano instrumental
"Away In A Manger" (Audio) Piano instrumental
"Away In A Manger" (Audio) Guitar instrumental
"Away In A Manger" (Audio) Barbershop harmony style
"Away In A Manger" (Audio) A Cappella style
Info about multi-media files used on daily encouragement.
Answers to second
Christmas Carol Quiz
Here's the quiz I shared yesterday. This quiz asks that you identify the Christmas songs using the following clues. The answers to this quiz are below in the footers.
1. Quadruped with Crimson Proboscis
2. Eight p.m. to Six a.m. without noise
3. Minuscule Hamlet in the Near East
4. Ancient Benevolent Despot
5. Exuberance Directed to the Planet
6. Listen, Aerial Spirits Announcing
7. Trio of Monarchs
8. Yonder in the Hay Rack
9. Cherubim Audited from Aloft
10. Assemble Everyone Who Believes
11. Hollowed Post Meridian
12. Fantasia of a Colorless December 25
13. A Dozen Twenty-Four Hour Yule Periods
14. Befell During the Transparent Bewitching Hour
15. Frigid Homo Sapien of Crystallized Vapor
16. Desire a Pair of Incisors on December 25
17. I Spied my Maternal Parent Osculating
18. Perambulating Through a December Solstice Fantasy
19. Adorn the Vestibule
20. Tin Tintinnabulums
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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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Answers to Christmas carol quiz
1. Quadruped with Crimson Proboscis.....Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
2. Eight p.m. to Six a.m. without noise.........Silent Night
3. Minuscule Hamlet in the Near East...........O little Town of Bethlehem
4. Ancient Benevolent Despot.....Good King Winsleaus
5. Exuberance Directed to the Planet..........Joy to the World
6. Listen, Aerial Spirits Announcing..........Hark the Herald Angels Sing
7. Trio of Monarchs.....We Three kings
8. Yonder in the Hay Rack............Away in a Manger
9. Cherubim Audited from Aloft.........Angels We Have Heard on High
10. Assemble Everyone Who Believes............Oh Come All Ye Faithful
11. Hollowed Post Meridian.........O Holy Night
12. Fantasia of a Colorless December 25..........I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas
13. A Dozen Twenty-Four Hour Yule Periods.....12 Days of Christmas
14. Befell During the Transparent Bewitching Hour.......It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
15. Frigid Homo Sapien of Crystallized Vapor..............Frosty the Snowman
16. Desire a Pair of Incisors on December 25.......All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth
17. I Spied my Maternal Parent Osculating........I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
18. Perambulating Through a December Solstice Fantasy....Walking in a Winter Wonderland
19. Adorn the Vestibule.............Deck the Halls
20. Tin Tintinnabulums.......Silver Bells
"Living securely today anchored in God's solid foundation"