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Tuesday, December 14, 2010
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!
In our home we get excited about the first snow. Ester is watching for her ride and her furry friends are watching with her.
Note: This photo was taken last year and we presently don't have as much snow on the ground but we had a nice dusting last night and it is very cold.
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"Respecting The Elderly"
"Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the LORD" (Leviticus 19:32). "They were both advanced in years" (Luke 1:7).
Four times during the Christmas story we have an angel addressing a human with a very concise but to the point statement, "Fear not!" Can you recall each instance? (See below). I wonder if in their angelic training the messengers are instructed, "Before you deliver God's message be sure to calm the fears of the recipient."
In our Sunday School class this week we were discussing how we all deal with fear of one kind or another. An older man in his eighties shared how he feared losing his eyesight or no longer being able to take care of himself. I shared that I fear what life will be like when I am his age, should the Lord tarry and I see that many years!
We normally associate the Christmas story with youthfulness, properly focusing on a young couple and a newborn baby. However, at least four named older people have a prominent role in the Christmas story. The first two were Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth, parents of John who was cousin to Jesus. There were also Simeon and Anna, present at the infant Christ's dedication. I feel this is significant. In my lifetime I have seen an observable lowering of esteem, honor and respect to the elderly. We're troubled at how far this will go and what impact it will have on the inevitable future generation of elderly to which we are progressing toward.
I recall sitting next to Menno Brubaker, an older man who passed away at 102 years of age, after we moved to Lancaster County. I only knew him in his final years on this earth as a rather short bearded man, further hunched over by age and his leaning upon his cane for support (even to the very end of his life). He would always warmly greet me by saying, "We have so much to be thankful for." What a joy to observe him sing out as we sang the timeless hymns of the church, especially at Christmas. We both were expressing our faith in the true meaning of Christmas as were millions of believers around the world.
I believe some of the greatest, most sacrificial forms of ministry are taking place among the elderly. They're often largely forgotten, even by the church. Today I am so thankful that ministries among the elderly in churches I pastored are still going strong. Today I pay tribute to Kandy, Sally, Sherry, Greg, Marita, Peter, Lillian and several others who regularly share God's love among the elderly. I consider our friends, Oren and Naomi, who prepare a monthly meal and service for the elderly called "Golden Nuggets". One thing the elderly sure love wherever we've been is to sing the hymns they have known and loved, many of them from their very young years.
The first daily verse is a powerful principle so neglected in an age when youth is glorified and the elderly in many cases are essentially warehoused: "Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the LORD."
Respect for the elderly seems to be one of the many elements we're losing as we slide farther and farther away from Biblical truth. The last phrase of the sentence and how it relates to the first two phrases especially intrigues me. It seems to me that they are interrelated. By honoring the elderly I am showing reverence for God.
Today most of us have the opportunity to practice the Scripture text. It may be a parent or family member that we honor. It may be a dear friend. Perhaps there are shut-ins in your congregation who need a visit, a card, or a phone call. If you can't visit why not call them and pray with them over the phone. How are you showing respect for the elderly in your setting? I want God to keep me mindful of this group of people who often feel pushed aside and replaced by the more active, youth-oriented activities of the day. Let's choose to obey His Word by practicing honor and respect for the elderly. Let us rise for them in their presence and pray for them in their absence.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, there are wonders and mercies that You grant to every generation. We thrill at the sight of a newborn. We find pleasure in watching an active, playful child. We're amazed and prayerful as the child grows into their questioning teen years. And we rejoice as the youth takes on the responsibilities of adulthood and family. We respond differently to every generation and conclude with respect and honor to those who go before us; the seniors and elderly. They deal with confinement, pain, physical and mental changes, in addition to the repeated losses of friends and family members. Prompt our memories to include them in our activities when possible, to give them personal attention, to pray for them regularly, and to seek them out when they're among us. In the mighty name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
Brooksyne's Note: I want to share an interesting side note regarding others giving proper respect to the elderly. Ester was telling me about an event that took place on Sunday evening. After our musical Sunday night we had a number of chairs in circles for people to sit and enjoy refreshments. Not knowing how many would attend we didn't know how many chairs to set out. Upon arriving for refreshments the children, instead of the adults, took quickly to the available chairs and several seniors were left standing. Ester told me she asked the children to sit on the floor so the older people could sit down. One 9 year old replied, "Let them sit on the floor" as she refused to give up her seat. I'd say this young girl's parents needs to have a serious talk with their youngster (admittedly, I certainly would have had I overheard her troubling attitude).
Expositional Note: Scripture states that Zacharias and Elizabeth as well as Anna were "advanced in years" or as the KJV colorfully states, "well stricken in years". In fact Anna is specifically recorded as being 84. It is not specifically stated that Simeon was old but it is assumed based upon Luke 2:25-32.
"Fear not" ("do not be afraid") commands from angels in the Christmas story.
To Zacharias (Luke 1:13)
To Mary (Luke 1:30)
To Joseph (Matthew 1:20)
To the shepherds (Luke 2:10)
Rachel and Brooksyne both enjoy candles. In fact I tease Brooksyne that I wonder if she is addicted to them! (However I suppose if you are going to be addicted to anything, this would be a safe addiction!) We spoke of going up together to see the Yankee Candle flagship store in South Deerfield, Massachusetts where we have been several times when we lived in New England. For Candle Lovers, if you've not been there it's a neat place to go.
"Light" in Christmas carols
Yesterday we shared a short quiz regarding the theme of light which is common in Christmas carols and asked readers to see if they can identify the carol by just the phrase referring to light. Here's the quiz again.
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.
See below for the answers.
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.)
"The Light Of That City" Video The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. A great perspective on death and eternity!
"God Of The Ages" Video A wonderful song based on Scripture.
"Come Thou Long Expected Jesus" Video Today's classic Charles Wesley anthem goes well for several messages in this series. I really like this version with the acapella voices. Here's a beautiful instrumental version. Video
"The Lord Has Been Kind" Audio It's a song written as though Anna and Simeon are singing it!
Resources for Christmas Celebrations
(We will leave these resources posted below our daily messages through Christmas)
Each year we share several online resources that we have used over the years and that may be a blessing to families and churches during this Christmas season. As we find additional material that we believe will be a blessing we will add it to this list as well.
"In Remembrance of Me" pdf This is a passion-filled Scripture reading for two adults. Brooksyne and I have used this reading with great receptivity during Christmas Eve services many years. 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 and love 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. This is the poem that Brooksyne read and wrote about in this message.
Christmas Knowledge Test
We have also posted two Christmas carol quizzes here (scroll down).
Are 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! "The Blessing"
Christmas carol quiz answers:
1) Silent Night
2) Angels from the Realms of Glory
3) The First Noel
4) Hark the Herald
5) I wonder as I wander
6) O Little Town of Bethlehem
7) We Three Kings
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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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