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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sunset over Newport, Rhode Island
Last night's sunset over Newport Rhode Island
(Click on photo to enlarge)

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"Encore, Encore"

"They who dwell in the ends of the earth stand in awe of Your signs; You make the dawn and the sunset shout for joy" (Psalm 65:8).

During my lifetime there have been nearly 20,000 sunsets but only a few I specifically recall.  In the mid-nineties we visited with Hope (whose funeral I preached at yesterday), her late husband John and late sister Rachel on Martha’s Vineyard.  At that time Rachel had a modest summer home on the island that had been in her family for several generations.  

Hope told us that the sunset view from Menemsha Harbor was acclaimed as one of the most outstanding in the world.  She also said that a good sunset view has not just water but a land element and the sunset view from the beach at Menemsha Harbor on the northwest side of the island had both. On a lovely late afternoon in July we joined many others at the beach for the display.  

As the sun disappeared over the distant horizon everyone on the beach stood up, broke out in applause and some shouted, "Encore! Encore!" (We didn't get one.) It was an astounding sight and memorable experience. Most were clapping for the sheer beauty they witnessed, but for my family and friends, it was another opportunity to praise the Lord for the awesome power of His mighty works.

For many years I have enjoyed watching sunrises and sunsets. In fact I have shared that often and the current ministry logo for our Daily Encouragement internet ministry is a sunrise photo over the Atlantic off Cape Cod.  

As the sun rises I contemplate the activities that will occupy my day. As the sun sets I consider what was accomplished throughout the day.  Wherever you live on this planet you have a sunrise and sunset but it's not a distinct visible moment for all to view at the same time.

Today's Scripture verse declares, "You make the dawn and the sunset shout for joy."  That sure is an interesting way to view a sunset; shouting for joy. 
Sunrise and sunset are signs reminding us of God's greatness and faithfulness that all who dwell in the ends of the earth can see.  This evening wherever you live, even to the ends of the earth, remember this verse when the sun sets and join with the sunset in praise to the indescribable God of the universe!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen C. Weber

Brooksyne's prayer: From the rising of the sun until the time that it sets I praise You, Almighty God!  Your name is to be praised when the day is yet before me and as the day comes to an end. Your faithfulness reaches to the heavens, spreads throughout the earth, and is personally experienced in my life daily. Amen.

Personal note:
We prepared this message from our hotel near Newport, Rhode Island (google map). Today we will travel back down I-95 through Connecticut, around the north metro of New York City and through New Jersey and spend the evening with my brother and his wife in Easton Pennsylvania before returning home on Thursday.

Also for map afficianado's like me here is a Google map showing where Menemsha Harbor is.

Yesterday's funeral service for our 89 year old friend Hope Winchoba was a blessed event. She lived her life well and prepared for her departure both spiritually and practically. Her daughter Ellen gave me a letter she had written to me detailing several points she wanted me to make as well as a brief reading called A Parable On Immortality she wanted me to read. I made another one of my many ministry faux paus when I solemnly introduced the reading by saying A Parable On Immorality and then immediately realized what I had said!  Henry Van Dyke, preacher and poet, who wrote the hymn text to Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee, also penned this beautiful description of our transition from earth to heaven.  He writes,

A Perspective on Immortality

I am standing upon the seashore.  A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean.  She is an object of beauty and strength and I stand and watch until at last she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come down to mingle with each other.  Then someone at my side says, "There she goes!"

"Gone where?  Gone from my sight....that is all."  She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and just as able to bear her load of living freight to the place of destination.  Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone at my side says, "There she goes!" there are other eyes watching her coming and other voices ready to take up the glad shout, "Here she comes!"


A highlight and most unusual  component of the service was that Hope had written her own eulogy longhand and recently appointed her oldest grandson to read it!  Please allow me to share one page from her eulogy that is most applicable to all who read our message today.  She wrote:

Now as the song says, "There's a better home awaiting" with none of those nagging questions such as, "How do I get rid of all those falling leaves?  What do I do about those dead spots in the lawn?  Why does the furnace make a buzzing noise?  Should the house be painted this year and who will do it?"  None of these are important now.  Only this; "Is Hope's name written there?"  

Well, those who knew Hope are confident that her name was written down many years ago in the Lamb's Book of Life and she now enjoys the eternal joys of heaven where sickness, aging, and separations no longer exist.  

Below are photos of several friends we visited.

Joyce Reid and Veda Shibilo
Joyce Reed, Ester, and Veda Shibilo
Joyce is the Women's Ministries leader
and Veda was my very competent and diligent secretary who continues to serve the congregation in Taunton, Massachusetts.

Kathy Viera
Kathy Viera is a friend we've known only through Daily Encouragement Net until yesterday.  Hope introduced her to our ministry and she now lives in Florida.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

(Click on the link to play)

"Indescribable"  Audio

"Just A Glimpse"  Audio

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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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