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Monday, December 23, 2019

Moravian Star in Lititz Moravian Church 12/22/19
Moravian Star
Lititz Moravian Congregation

"Light and Life"

Message summary:  Light and life to all He brings!

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

"In Him was life, and that life was the light of men" (John 1:4).

Light and life to all He brings!

Last night we attended a Christmas Lovefeast Candlelight worship service at the historic Moravian Church in Lititz PA which was founded in 1749. The service included a lovefeast and candle lighting ceremony.

High above the pulpit area hung the distinctive Moravian Star which originated in the church's boarding schools in Germany as a geometry lesson. The 26 point star reminds people of the "great and heavenly light from Bethlehem's manger shining bright." Jesus, being the bright and Morning Star is the star of promise, the star of fulfillment, and the star of hope. Each point of the star points to where the Light of the Word is shining for everyone, everywhere! This star was soon adopted throughout the Moravian Church as an Advent symbol.

We enjoyed the cultural aspect of the service although we were not familiar with any of the music which apparently was distinctive to the Moravian Church. Though the lyrics were unfamiliar to us they certainly exalted the Lord Jesus Christ. The lovefeast consisted of a very tasty warm sweet bun and chocolate milk or coffee which was passed down each row and consumed together as the choir sang.

In most churches and settings regardless of the region of the country people enjoy the same familiar Christmas songs. After the service the Moravian Church brass orchestra played these more familiar Christmas carols outside the church.

Consider how well-loved and meaningful these Christmas hymns are even though they're generally sung during a very short season. A single line from one of these carols will illustrate for many, how well you know these songs, even though you likely didn't set out to memorize them. Consider this musical phrase, "light and life to all He brings". Many of you will identify the name of the carol from that single line. (The answer is provided by several versions of the song on YouTube video links below.)

Indeed the glorious message of the Incarnation is His incomparable blessing of "light and life to all He brings." Today let us consider the aspect of Christ's incarnation and how He came to bring "light and life."

"In Him was life." John uses the word "life" 36 times in his Gospel, more than any other New Testament book.  William Barclay observes, "In a great piece of music the composer often begins by stating the themes which he is going to elaborate in the course of the work. That is what John does here. Life and light are two of the great basic themes on which the Fourth Gospel is developed and expounded upon."

Consider that, in the things that really matter, we have only two great quests in life:

One is for eternal life and Jesus provides this. The Bible says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).

The other is for abundant life (full and meaningful). Again, Jesus has provided this. He said, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they might have life, and have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).

We can sure be grateful it's not abundant life here or eternal life later! We have the tremendous blessing of receiving both when we receive Christ as our Saviour!

"That life was the light of men."  Leon Morris writes, "John is preparing the way for the thought that he will develop throughout his Gospel, that Jesus is the life-bringer and light-bearer."

Today this abundant and eternal life and light is freely available to all. So many woefully reject Him; others shrug off this greatest of gifts and pay no attention, basing their focus instead upon the paltry substitutes the world offers. But the Bible declares: "Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God" (John 1:12). Have you chosen to receive the greatest gift today?

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, it is through Jesus that we experience light and life because He came as light into the world and provides abundant life to those who follow Him. May we walk faithfully and earnestly in the light of Christ so that deeds of darkness are exposed wherever we go. May those still walking in darkness be drawn to Your light through Your Holy Spirit and by Your followers, in what we say, the songs we sing, by our countenance and by the things we do as we represent You in the home, the workplace and wherever we go. In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

Tomorrow's message will express another pairing of two words in regard to Christ's incarnation. Here's a hint: "The Word became ____ and ____ among us; we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of ______ and _____." (See John 1:14)

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Our ministry labor is comprised of approximately half our time to Daily Encouragement and the other half to our chaplaincy ministry to companies for which we receive compensation. Each of these ministries essentially is the same as a part-time job (20+ hours weekly) for each of us. Our goal for many years is that each would provide half of our ministry expenses and income.

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Thank you,

Stephen & Brooksyne

Smucker breakfast 12/19/19
Last week we joined with the employees of the Smucker companies for breakfast. Before it was all over about 40 employees sat and ate together the Christmas treats Brooksyne spread out for them.

Izzie and Jay at Val-Co 12/19/19
Izzie and Jay are working at a large machine that makes components for cages and traps at Val-Co.

Amish small cart pulled by pony12/19/19
You never know what you might see here in Lancaster County! This family is headed to an Amish school program at a school just over the hill. The pony was a bit cantankerous and kept weaving all over the road as it pulled the cart. We didn't consider that very safe as it would cross the yellow lines as we approached the crest of a hill. But shortly after this photo was taken the pony and cart got straightened out.

Village Farm Market 12/19/19
We often stop by one of our favorite local stores, the Village Farm Market, located in a converted steer barn along 322 east of Ephrata, PA.

Lititz homes 12/22/19
Lititz Pennsylvania is a beautiful small town located about 10 miles north of the city of Lancaster. Tomorrow we will share some more photos of our walk through town at Christmas time. It has a classic Main Street that seems like would fit in a Hallmark movie.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Hark The Herald Angels Sing"  Video  Paul Baloche

"Hark The Herald Angels Sing"  Video  Traditional version

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 you, your family or church 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 over the 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.  Here's a great Communion Hymn for Christmas (Video)

"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.  Brooksyne read and wrote about the poem in this message.  

Christmas Knowledge Test

We have also posted two Christmas carol quizzes here (scroll down).

Finally today:

Nick Nichols 12/22/19
Last night after the service we went out to eat and saw Nick Nichols, a long-time Daily Encouragement reader and his family. Like most, we are not sure how Nick ever came across our ministry but we periodically hear from him and have met him several times. He expresses his faith vibrantly!

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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 make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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