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Thursday, December 27, 2012
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"Blest Be The Tie That Binds"
"But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another" (1 John 1:7).
Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.
For the last twelve years we have attended a rural church that has a long heritage. Although we have had short term stints as an interim pastor this church has been our base. We really appreciate the multi-generational aspect of our congregation.
As we sang the carols and awaited the circle to be all aglow I began to observe the people we fellowship with. What I saw could easily be replicated in other churches from our past as well as the church you presently attend.
I scanned my memory bank over the last twelve years and considered the blessing of overcoming faith in the genuine people of God. However the following is not just our local church but a composite of our ministry, now over 35 years of Christmas Eve candlelight circles, as a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Some are fresh observations from the other night, others are from my reservoir of memories going back many years. I purposefully mix the two settings in the interest of confidentiality and use fictitious names in some cases.
Before our Father’s throne
We pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one
Our comforts and our cares.
I looked over and saw Jim, a young man whom I recall going through several years of rebellion as an older teenager, who "disappeared" from the church for several years. He's now married, faithfully attending church with his wife and serving on the board!
Across the sanctuary I spotted Irene, a woman who has been through some very deep valleys, including being abandoned by her husband, but she remains faithful, and God has provided for her needs.
Charles, a cancer survivor stood tall amidst his family members, now three years in remission and daily thanking God for the blessing of good health that he once took for granted.
We share each other’s woes,
Our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.
Jason and Debbie were present; a couple who had a very rocky period in their marriage. It warmed my heart to see him light her candle just as they did in their wedding ceremony. They've persevered and by God's grace are rebuilding their marriage.
I saw William who years earlier had confided in me his struggle in overcoming pornography. He wants his life to honor God and for several years has experienced freedom.
As I looked around the circle I saw a number of grown children, now with their own young children, home for Christmas joining their parents in worshiping God with the church body on Christmas Eve.
When we asunder part,
It gives us inward pain;
But we shall still be joined in heart,
And hope to meet again.
I smiled as I saw a young couple, Peter and Jen, whose marriage ceremony I conducted a number of years ago; there with their infant son, an answer to prayer. On the other side of us was another young couple, Mike and JoAnna. It seems it was not that long ago that I conducted their wedding, but they now have three children. Adoree', their pre-school daughter, filled the room with her booming child's voice as she sang out, "O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord."
I observed a recent widow, Martha, who for many years stood next to her husband during this service. Now she stands among her support team who are seeing her through this lonely transition.
Joe, an old World War 2 vet who had a laryngectomy many years ago, belted out the Christmas songs through his mechanical larynx. The voice was rough but his joyful countenance was priceless and contagious.
This glorious hope revives
Our courage by the way;
While each in expectation lives,
And longs to see the day.
I saw a couple, Jeff and Linda, who many years earlier, were delivered from a life of alcohol and drugs. It happened before I knew them and due to the change in their life it's practically impossible for me to see them in that kind of lifestyle! They've been such a blessing to others over the years.
Grace and Earl, an older couple who stood in our circle, lost their young adult son in a car accident caused by a drunk driver many years ago. As God enabled them they reached out to the drunk driver who had killed their son.
Dave is standing beside his wife, Sandy, who sings as she sits in her wheel chair. For many years Sandy has endured the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis but they both demonstrate such overcoming faith and endurance.
From sorrow, toil and pain,
And sin, we shall be free,
And perfect love and friendship reign
Through all eternity.
Today's text states "But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another." Our fellowship with each other is ultimately our common decision to walk together through steep mountains and dark valleys as the light of Jesus illuminates our path one step at a time.
Someday all sorrow, toil and pain will be replaced with unending joy and freedom from sin. Our love and friendship will reign through all eternity as our hearts are forever united in Christian love.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we thank You for the band of Christian brothers and sisters that circle the globe who are among the redeemed, overcoming life's obstacles, and giving testimony to Your faithful work in their lives. We uphold each other in prayer and lend support to those who have need, as together we walk in the light of Your holy Word. Thank You for the fellowship of believers that encourages us in our daily Christian walk. Amen.
We welcome our daily encouragement readers to read our 2012 Weber family Christmas letter
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Blest Be The Tie That Binds" Video Homecoming
"Blest Be The Tie That Binds" Video Smokey Mountain instrumental with photos of Cades Cove in Great Smokey Mountain National Park, I believe.
"How Beautiful" Video Twila Paris
"Bind Us Together Lord" Video
"I'll Be Your Friend" Video Michael W. Smith
"Faithful Friend" Video Twila Paris & Steven Curtis Chapman
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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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