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Friday, December 19, 2008

Mini-boxwood Christmas tree
Mini-boxwood Christmas tree
(Table top Tree Arrangement by a dear woman in her 80's.  These were colorful decorations at our Christmas party yesterday in Palmyra.)

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"This Thing"

"When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, 'Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about'" (Luke 2:15).

PaparazziWhen an extraordinary news event is discovered in our generation the paparazzi, camera crews and journalists of all the network affiliates and major magazine outlets go into stat mode, racing to be the first to report. No expense will be spared in an attempt to bolster ratings for the television networks, newspapers and magazines. 

I can picture it now in my mind, "Coming to you live in the little town of Bethlehem, you're hearing it first at WXLV…"  The camera zooms in to feature an infant newly born to very ordinary people. He is lying in a feeding trough as His mother is resting from her long, demanding journey and subsequent delivery of her firstborn.

But, of course that is now, and our story took place when fresh news spread only by word of mouth or through an angelic visitor.  The very first recipients of the message of the birth of Christ was a group of shepherds.  They were blessed with an inspired announcement from a single angel who was later joined by a heavenly host of angels who praised God, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests" (Luke 2:14).

The shepherds received this message as directly from the Lord and responded by promptly going to Bethlehem.  Two bland, non-descriptive words in the text intrigue me as I prepare this message.  The shepherds, surely in a state of wonderment and perplexity, call the blessed event "this thing". Thus the very first human designation for Christmas is "this thing"

The shepherds were blessed to receive this unexpected announcement from extraordinary beings, yet they could not fully picture in their minds just what to expect or the verbage to describe this historic event.  God did not require statesmen to be out in the field with the shepherds so that they could eloquently describe this incredible moment in history.

Shepherds adore Jesus
Today I thank God for "this thing" which the shepherds went to see.  The holy Son of God came as a baby, wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.  That's the redeeming message we must continue to focus on!  Some are hesitant to witness to others about Christ for fear that their message might not be delivered as eloquently as a preacher or gifted speaker. The words we speak are important but the lives we live may have more meaning when we share of Christ's redeeming work in the hearts of His creation.

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a Child and yet a King;
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit,
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, we're so thankful for Jesus whose infant birth took place in a smelly stable and whose bed was a feeding trough padded with stubbly straw and hay.  It was certainly not a welcome setting for the infant born King but we can now see the stable as a composite of this unwelcoming world toward King Jesus.  We're so glad that He was willing to come to earth though He would be rejected by the majority.  Mercifully we number among the many who receive Him as our personal Savior. We thank You that He came to deliver us from our fears and release us from our sins.  Through Your own eternal Spirit rule in our hearts today and raise us to Your glorious throne on Your appointed day.  In the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen.

Choir at Longwood 2008
Last night Brooksyne directed our church choir (though several were unable to attend) as they performed our Christmas musical to the residents of Longwood Manor, a local assisted living center. The choir will also be sharing the musical this Saturday evening and Sunday morning.  In the photo Amber is narrating as the choir listens on.

Jingle bell babies
Adoree and David enjoyed leading the residents in "Jingle Bells"

Bruce on his Harley
Yesterday afternoon we visited one of our companies for a Christmas party.  Bruce is a friend in the company who rides his Harley to work year round; rain or shine, sleet or snow (almost without exception!)

2008 Weber family Christmas photo
We would like to share our online Christmas newsletter we prepare for our family and friends

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources
(Click on the link to open and play. In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)

Today's musical selections are both instrumental numbers, a photo slide show with the music.

"Come Thou Long Expected Jesus"  Video

"Away In A Manger"  Video

"Come Thou Long Expected Jesus" Wesley, Charles / Prichard, Rowland H. © Public Domain

Resources for Christmas Celebrations

It is our desire to share online resources that may be a blessing to families and churches during this Christmas season. We will continue to post these resources through Christmas Day.

Christmas Memories  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. 

"In Remembrance of Me" pdf  This is a passion-filled Scripture reading for two adults. Stephen and I have used this reading with great receptivity during  Christmas Eve services.  We suggest, if possible, a musical background as the message is read. It is also a great lead-in to a Communion service. It should be thoroughly practiced and read with great feeling.

"When Christ Was Born" pdf This is an adaptation to the tune of "How Great Thou Art". It's a great song to sing as a congregation since most are familiar with the tune.

Responsive Christmas Scripture readings for church or family:
John 1:1-18  pdf
"O Come Let Us Adore Him"  

My First Christmas In Heaven  This is a blessed reminder for all who lost a loved one this year.

Christmas Knowledge Test

have also posted two Christmas carol quizzes here (scroll down).

re you Christmas shopping online?
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Looking for a very special Christmas gift for your parents?  
Here's an idea!  The best gift you can ever give your parents

Looking for a very special Christmas gift for your children?
Here's an idea!

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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, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. 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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