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Monday, December 22, 2008
Yesterday morning they called for a heavy storm and many churches closed. Ours did not and the choir performed their musical. I drove across the county to pick up the Lapp family in Strasburg who spent the day with us.
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"God Sent His Son"
"But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons" (Galatians 4:4,5).
Yesterday we took our Amish friends, Jesse and Anna Ruth, along with their four children, and also Ken and Nila with their toddler David to an assisted living facility. The children rang the bells and we sang Christmas carols to the residents room by room.
This up-close and personal approach was very meaningful to the residents. Their eyes brightened and their warm smiles greeted us as we walked into their rooms (mostly seeing the kids, of course). The children were a little nervous in the beginning but quickly grew comfortable after meeting the first couple residents. They extended their little hands for a warm handshake which was most eagerly accepted from the people. Even Eli James stretched out his nearly two year old hand to each resident. Anna Ruth placed the 6 month baby, Naomi Grace, on many grandmothers' laps and they were absolutely delighted with the touch of a tiny babe in their arms.
As we approached the room of a Jewish woman I whispered to Brooksyne, "She might not want to hear the Christmas carols." Brooksyne asserted that she would be fine since she regularly attends the hymn sings that Brooksyne leads. We went in and sang a sacred carol and she sang right along. As we left singing "We wish you a Merry Christmas" she expressed her heartfelt appreciation that we had stopped by!
Here in the United States (and probably in many other countries) public Christmas expressions are increasingly seen as insensitive, unacceptable and intolerant. Even using the customary "Merry Christmas" expression is banned in some settings. This is a relatively recent development brought on by the sensitivity police and those easily offended. (I don't think the new pc message had gotten to our Jewish friend.) The incessant efforts of godless groups like the ACLU persistently seek to remove any hint of Christ from the public square and this is most pointedly seen at Christmas.
However there are those who still boldly express their view of the season. Along the main street in our town we have a large auto dealership with a lighted sign which states "Christ Is Born."
Bible teacher Warren Wiersbe observes, "In this day when pluralism is interpreted by most people to mean 'agree with everybody about everything and don't make waves,' Christians need to remember that they are different and must test everything by the Word of God. There are many religions, but there is still 'no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved'" (Acts 4:12). That name of course is Jesus.
Today let's remember the real focus of Christmas: "God sent His Son." This is the vital truth and the greatest source of joy and encouragement. Jesus Christ is the greatest gift!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Jesus, You are life's greatest Treasure as You emptied Yourself of equality with God and chose to be made in human likeness taking on the very nature of a servant. Thank You for coming to us and meeting our most critical need of salvation. May we not be fearful but openly voice Your presence in the public square even as great hosts of angels proclaimed Your earthly arrival in Bethlehem. Your salvation message brings hope to the hopeless, strength to the weak, and release for those help captive in the ravages of sin's wasteland. You did not descend to earth in order to conquer or enslave, but to draw the hearts of humankind to Yourself through the incredible sacrificial love that poured forth from Your body on the cross of Calvary. What personal wondrous love is this! Amen.
Today it's really, really cold (8 degress when I woke up) with a howling wind coming from the west. We have some frozen pipes on the west side of our house where the builder ran some pipes through the wall.
Some photos from our weekend
"The Love Of God At Christmas"
Brooksyne directed our church choir on both Saturday night and Sunday morning. Saturday evening the choir presented her with a beautiful flower arrangement after the performance. It's a wonderful choir with singers from all ages from teens to seniors and several multi- generational family combinations. See below for some audio sample clips from the musical from the original publishers.
Yesterday Brooksyne prepared a meal for thirteen including 5 children under five!
While Brooksyne was putting the finishing touches on our dinner the children entertained the adults as they made up a melody together. I've seen two concert pianists play at the same piano, but never three (maybe because three adults won't fit on the same piano bench.)
As we prepared to leave the assisted living center late yesterday afternoon a large group of conservative Mennonites were in the foyer singing to the residents. Their acapella singing of the Christmas carols was absolutely heavenly.
As we walked from room to room one thoughtful adult child had provided a basket of small wrapped gifts for those who care for her mother. We were several rooms down the hall from this room when we noticed that twenty-three month Eli was missing. Turns out he had observed those wrapped gifts a couple rooms earlier and went all the way back for his share! He quickly tore into the package and found it to be a Three Musketeers candy bar. He held onto that candy the entire visit so I'm sure that his mom had a chocolate mess to clean up when they got home.
I wonder if these sheep are cold!
Merry Christmas from the Webers
We would like to share our online Christmas newsletter that we prepare for our family and friends with all our readers.
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.)
"You Make This Night Divine" Audio A clip from the original publishers. This was probably my favorite song because it talks about God taking the ordinary and making it holy; "You made the stable sacred with Your coming. You made the manger precious when it became Your bed. With one touch the common becomes holy; Bethlehem is honored and all the world is blessed...."
"King Of Love" Another audio clip from the musical which is a beautiful solo.
We really recommend this musical!
"Where's Christmas"? An interesting blog chronicling the issue I mentioned in today's message.
Ben Stein writes, "I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees Christmas trees. I don’t feel threatened. I don’t feel discriminated against. That’s what they are: Christmas trees. It doesn’t bother me a bit when people say, “Merry Christmas” to me. I don’t think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn’t bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a crèche, it’s just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away…"
I appreciate those who in small ways buck this trend. Several years ago I was on a flight to California. The pilot, following the customary "Thank you for flying with us" farewell announcement, also stated, "And have a merry Christmas." I sure hope someone didn't turn him in for being so culturally insensitive (according to this world's sensibilities – or should I say nonsensibilities).
"Christ Is Come" Audio
"This Little Child" Video A powerful classic by Scott Wesley Brown
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" pdf
My First Christmas In Heaven This is a blessed reminder for all who lost a loved one this year.
Christmas Knowledge Test
We have also posted two Christmas carol quizzes here (scroll down).
Are you Christmas shopping online?
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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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