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Monday, December 20, 2010

Central Market alley in Lancaster PA
Central Market alley in Lancaster, PA

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"Preparing For The Lord"

"In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” This is He who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:  “A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him." (Matthew 3:1-3).

Brooksyne "preparing for Christmas"

If you simply observe the photo of Brooksyne sweeping the carpet in our church sanctuary you might think she's doing a little sprucing up before the worship service, but there's more to this illustrative story.

Yesterday she and I were presenting a teaching skit for the children in attendance during the worship service. I had gathered the children at the front and began to talk about how we make preparations during the advent season to celebrate the coming of the Christ Child. The children were attentively listening as I was talking when all of a sudden there was a loud distraction from the back of the sanctuary that drowned out my voice. (Those who know me realize that takes a great deal of volume!)

Everyone turned around to the noise in the back and found Brooksyne very intently running the vacuum cleaner between the chairs seemingly oblivious to the fact that we were having church.  It was quite a surprise to see her doing janitorial work instead of sitting at the piano bench where she normally sits on Sunday mornings.

Appearing rather incredulous and very annoyed that she would be sweeping during the worship service I asked, "Brooksyne, why in the world are you doing that right now?" She responded, "I'm getting our church ready for Christmas."

When I asked her what she meant by that she told me to read Matthew 3:1-3.  I read today's text aloud and then she explained that she wanted to have our church all cleaned up for the coming King.  She had her dust mop in one hand,  glass cleaner in the other, and even had a toilet brush for the toilet facilities (it was a never-used brush, I might add).

Well, we went back and forth a few times until I made it clear to our children (and congregation) that John the Baptist was preparing the way for our Lord's arrival by teaching people to repent of their sins.  It was an internal work rather than external.

Interestingly, after the service, we learned that more than one adult thought that Brooksyne had a bit of a breakdown when they saw her sweeping during the service and as they listened to our convincing dialogue (before the skit's message was fully revealed).  They'd considered that the extra pressure she has during the holidays with her ministry responsibilities, etc. was more than she could handle this year.  But thankfully she hasn't lost her mind and the lesson proceeded with a short message of how we are to get ourselves spiritually prepared for the Lord's arrival. I suppose that's one lesson people may be more prone to remembering!

How are you preparing for Christmas this year?

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, there are times when we feel like ours is the lone voice crying out, "Repent, get your heart right, and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ."  Our message is reflective of the reason You sent Jesus to be born in a manger, to dwell among Your creation, and to give His life that our sin curse might be lifted. It is the greatest gift in all the world, for all time and for all people.  We rejoice in this imperishable, unbreakable, unchanging, and inexhaustible gift of salvation.  Amen.

Central Market, Lancaster, PA

Central Market in Lancaster PA
Central Market in the very heart of Lancaster city is the oldest continuously operating public market in the country. Saturday morning we walked through and today we want to share some photos we took at the market.

Central Market bakery in Lancaster PA
Items are sold from rental spaces known as "stands" which vary in size.
With a lot of Amish folks in our area a number of the stands are operated by the Amish, including this bakery with a very common Amish name!

Central Market candles in Lancaster PA
Women (including Brooksyne) enjoy candles and baskets.

Central Market crafts in Lancaster PA
I think this stand has to do with quilting or some type of craft.

Central Market jams in Lancaster PA
This is not an Amish man running this stand but in our area the Amish identity is often used for marketing.

Central Market produce in Lancaster PA
The produce stands are very colorful!

Central Market peppers in Lancaster PA
But peppers are especially colorful!

Central Market spices in Lancaster PA
An interesting stand is run by the spice man.

Central Market spices in Lancaster PA
Like peppers these spices also make for a colorful close-up photo!

Central Market meats & cheese in Lancaster PA
One of the largest and busiest stands is the S. Clyde Weaver Smoked Meat & Cheese stand.

Central Market fresh flowers in Lancaster PA
I purchased a cyclamen flower for Brooksyne from this very friendly vendor. Anna Marie has been coming to the market since 1945 and as we talked for a few minutes I found out she was an Aunt to Don Kreider, a friend of ours!

More about Central Market
More photos of Central Market (collection on Google search)

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.)

"Prepare The Way"  Video  Charlie Hall

"Prepare Ye The Way For The Lord"  Video  Caedmon's Call

"The Hallelujah Chorus" Video  Posted several weeks ago but worth repeating!

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).

re you Christmas shopping online?

Christianbook.comDaily Encouragement Net is an affiliate of Christianbook.com. Any orders placed to Christian Book Distributers using this link or any specific product link to a recommended resource in a daily encouragement message will help our Daily Encouragement ministry through a small commission on the sale. Thank you for considering using these links when purchasing online through CBD! Tip: If you are regular CBD customer consider bookmarking this link and using it whenever you shop.

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"

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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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