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Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Edition

O Holy Night

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Note: This will be our Christmas message prepared Christmas Eve with a beautiful snowfall beginning late in the afternoon!

"The Wondrous Gift"

"This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger" (Luke 2:12). "This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins" (1 John 4:10).

How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is given!

Christmas gifts"Are you ready for Christmas?" It's one of the most common questions we repeat when exchanging conversation prior to Christmas.  In most cases this really means, "Have you bought all your gifts? Are they wrapped? Are your cookies baked? Cards sent? Is your house ready for company?"

However there are those who make spiritual preparation a higher priority than the traditional "doings" of Christmas. For them the weeks leading up to Christmas are a time of serious devotion and reflection. I really admire folks who keep this focus. I appreciate the advent season in the life of the church and the series of messages we've heard on the topic of the incarnation.

Children everywhere look forward to Christmas with great anticipation. The colorfully wrapped presents under the tree get more and more exciting each passing day. In our home, like many, we have a brief family devotional time prior to opening our gifts, reading the Christmas story and praying. This is really hard for children (and even for those of us who are "kids at heart")!

Finally it's time to find out what the wrapped treasures are. You know the way it works. We scarcely examine one opened gift before we rip into another.  Then it happens.  All the gifts are opened, boxes and wrapping strewn about the room. We all know that feeling. Our days of anticipation are now gone in a matter of minutes.

Isn't that a microcosm of the satisfaction the things of this world give? Don't get me wrong. We appreciate our gifts and will do so for many months or in some cases several years. It's just that material things don't bring lasting satisfaction. A lot of people will shop after Christmas seeking to find satisfaction in what the Christmas gifts didn't bring. Augustine said of God, "You have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they rest in You."

"This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger" (Luke 2:12). The shepherds experienced the first wrapped Christmas gift; a newborn babe wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. But the value of this Gift never diminishes. He is ever-present, never leaving us nor forsaking us! Of course we must uncover the wraps that conceal the Christ child - whatever they may be such as good works, trying to measure up or whatever it is that hides the fullness of Christ's abundance He provides to those who believe. Only then will we find lasting satisfaction, inner joy and blessed assurance.

Our second daily verse is a great statement to memorize and hide deep within our hearts:
"This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins" (1 John 4:10). It's not a verse necessarily associated with Christmas but a message of the greatest and lasting gift God has provided. He loves us and acted on that love by sending His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. May we rejoice in this truth every day and may it never get old! May we live with an attitude of praise to the Lord for His lasting gift!

It is both Brooksyne's and my prayer, that each of you experience abiding joy in the lasting gift that God has provided in His redeemer Son, Jesus!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, I'm so glad that the fruit of the Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control are gifts from You given in abundance to Your children in every season of life. They satisfy the deepest needs of our hearts and shape our character traits into the nature of Christ.  They have everlasting value that does not diminish with time but only heightens as we stay firmly grounded in You. We also thank You for the tender moments that both giver and receiver enjoy when meaningful gifts are exchanged. And we most especially thank You for the Gift of Your Son, Jesus, whose kingdom was not for just the generation in which He was born, but His kingdom is eternal. His gift of salvation has everlasting value and abiding joy for all who seek Him. Amen.

Christmas Newsletter
We welcome you to read our 2012 Weber family Christmas letter

Christmas apples 12/23/12
As we walked into church Sunday we saw this colorful display of shiny red apples; a "help yourself" blessing from Nelson, a church member and orchard grower.

Christmas whisk 12/24/12
This afternoon "Aunt" Wendy stopped by with a clever gift for Ester.

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

"O Little Town of Bethlehem"  Video  Evie

"O Holy Night"  Video  Gaither Vocal Band featuring tenor David Phelps

"Silent Night"  Video  Herbie Basso

"Silent Night"  Video  Wanamaker Grand Court Organ

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.

"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).

a message to Stephen & Brooksyne

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Ministry Update  (Revised 10/12)

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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."

© Copyright 2012 Stephen C. Weber - All Rights Reserved

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