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Thursday, December 22, 2022
Brooksyne snapped this photo early yesterday as we passed an Amish farmer at work near the Sight and Sound on Edisonville Road. Next time you complain about your job remember this hardworking farmer!
Click to enlarge
"The Offense Of The Manger"
Message summary: Let those of us who love Jesus Christ continue to declare His unsurpassed greatness with boldness and without shame this holy season and everyday of the year!
Listen to our message on your audio player.
"Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, 'The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone', and 'A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense'" (1 Peter 2:7,8).
We heard an interesting news report yesterday out of Washington state. It seems that King County, where Seattle is located has banned any Christmas decorations in county employees' homes when Zoom meetings are held if they're visible in the workplace or background. It seems that someone just might be offended. Amazingly the ban includes Christmas trees which aren't even a religious symbol!
Do you find the photo to the left offensive? It seems many do. (If you're reading a text only version it's a common manger scene.)
Now I don't think most find a picture of a loving mom and dad and their baby offensive. Instead our hearts warm at the sight of a mother holding a baby accompanied by a loving father. But of course Christ is no ordinary baby. He is 'The stone which the builders rejected [which has] has become the chief cornerstone', and 'A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense'".
The two most enduring symbols of the Christian faith are the manger and the cross. The cross gets attacked all through the year, I suppose, because it tends to be a non-seasonal expression of faith to Christians.
However the manger scene is used primarily during this time when we commemorate Christ's birth and thus seems to be the seasonal focus of the offended, although it actually gets more bizarre in some places with Christmas trees, along with green and red lights being banned, although neither have any Scriptural significance whatsoever.
Over 20 years ago when we lived in New England a public school teacher in our congregation told us she was not allowed to use red or green colors in the classroom during the season!
Even the greeting "Merry Christmas" is offensive to a small minority of people who then like to make it a controversial and divisive subject. While we're on the subject of being non offensive during this holiday season you better not send a card with Scripture or a reference to your faith lest someone be offended! Of course I am being sarcastic.
We've all heard and probably repeated for many years the phrase, "Keep Christ in Christmas" so actually this marginalization has been going on for a long time. As a child I remember this phrase being quoted often in countering all the commercialization of the season. It had the sense of not allowing the commercial to diminish the true meaning of Christmas.
But now it's much more than that and it really does seem to be increasing, including the many ways that are just plain silly. Many have been making this observation. In fact I have read articles using the phrase Christianophobia and "Christophobia".
Well, we shouldn't be surprised. The apostle Peter draws a contrast in the daily text. For those of us who believe, Christ is precious.
But for those who do not believe, who are disobedient, who have rejected Him, He is "a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense". Thus, as disheartening as the current attacks are on Christ, it really should not surprise us. But let those of us who love Him indeed continue to declare His unsurpassed greatness without shame this holy season and everyday of the year!
We are so thankful for those who continue to publicly proclaim Christ. Several years ago "The Family Circus" had the children observing a manger scene and the proclamation that, "The real star of Bethlehem isn't in the sky. He's in the manger." Amen!
Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)
Stephen and Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Jesus, as we reflect upon the spiritual meaning of the season our hearts are warmed and filled with profound gratitude for Your choosing to dwell among us. You are the precious treasure of Bethlehem who has provided salvation for all who call upon Your name. We pray for those who do not know the Prince of Peace, who day after day walk in anger and hostility. We recognize that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. We pray that troubled hearts would find reconciliation with You and experience the peaceful exchange You provide when unbelievers lay down their hostile weapons of warfare and embrace the sword of the Spirit which is Your Holy Word. We ask these requests in Your name which is above every other name, Jesus. Amen.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Bethlehem's Treasure" Video Bob Fitts
Christmas Tour Live (Full Concert Video) Video The Worship Initiative with Shane and Shane with these featured songs:
"O Come, All Ye Faithful"
"Hark! The Herald Angels Sing"
"The First Noel"
"Crown Him (Glory In the Highest)"
"Joy To the World (Joyful, Joyful)"
"O Come, O Come Emmanuel"
"O Holy Night"
"God Is (Go Tell It On the Mountain)"
"O Come Let Us Adore Him"
Start here for a powerful recitation!
* Stories about the King County, Washington Christmas decoration ban:
As we deal with our own challenges wherever we may live let us remember our brothers and sisters in places like Nigeria where the severe persecution of Christians is essentially ignored.
We have a retired missionary friend from Nigeria and yesterday he sent this email:
Pray for the region around ECWA Theological Seminary, Kagoro (ETSK), in Nigeria. Twice over the past week, Fulani militia brutally attacked two villages about three miles from Kagoro. Sunday's attack began around 11.30 p.m. and lasted for more than one hour without any security intervention. At least 40 people have been killed, with others badly injured. In one village, 20 motorcycles and 62 houses were burnt down. In the second village, 102 houses were set ablaze.
The house of a former ETSK faculty member, one ETSK High School teacher, and one of the Ph.D. students were burnt down. One man lost his brother and his brother's wife in the attack. His wife and three children were kidnapped earlier this year, with his oldest son killed by the kidnappers. Pray for God's provision for survivors of food, bedding, and shelter. Many had their food supplies completely burnt. The Fulani militia are threatening to attack more communities in Kagoro before Christmas. Please pray that the Lord will protect His people and bring peace throughout Nigeria during the holidays when persecution against Christians and attacks on Christian gatherings often increase. Pray for kidnappings to stop. Pray for the seminary, as this threat is a huge setback for them in every way. Pray for the Provost, church leaders, and the entire Kagoro community at this critical moment. Pray that the government, the police, and the army will protect these people and not just talk about it without fighting for the innocent. The Provost wrote, "Apart from God's help, we are hopeless." They will have a mass burial tomorrow. Pray that it will be peaceful.
Our Nigerian brethren thank you for praying for them.
"UK acknowledges religious persecution in Nigeria the US denies" There's so much wrong with our country now!
Brooksyne prepared a light breakfast yesterday to the employees at Smucker Home Improvement and we delivered it at 6:45 a.m. to about 25 hungry men.
John, a gutter specialist, provided the colorful background and is surely the most slender Santa Claus we've seen.
After an early morning chaplain visit we stopped by to see Jesse and Anna Ruth at the Old Windmill Farm to show them the Today Show video segment we mentioned yesterday that featured the farm. (In case you missed a footnote to yesterday's message the farm had a short feature segment on the Today Show on Tuesday!)
Above photo shows Jesse using an old fashioned butter press he had found in an antique store. He continues to seek to improve the demonstration of old-time farm life. Anna and the children were baking cookies for a lunch for families at the school.
While we were fancy chair was delivered by a parent of an Amish school where the oldest daughter, Sadie, is an assistant teacher. The parents pitch in and give gifts to the teacher and her assistant. However Brooksyne had fun sitting in it sipping her drink since Sadie was not yet home and we thought it would be fun to snap a photo!
Special Year-end Financial Appeal
We want to thank all who have financially supported our ministry this past year (and some for many years!). Like most ministries, we typically see a spike in giving at the end of the year for which we are most thankful. We realize there are many fine ministries and causes requesting support at this time but if you would like information about making a donation to our ministry see here.
In considering support we are so pleased when we hear from you, our readers, that our messages are a source of teaching and encouragement to you. We also urge you to consider the mission aspect of these daily teachings that are freely available and read by many all over the world.
To donate directly online click here. (This will open to a page that designates the offering to: STEPHEN & BROOKSYNE WEBER - 700001-237376 SERVING IN SPECIALIZED CHAPLAINCY)
If you desire you can also donate directly through PayPal using this link. This will open to a page that states "Brooksyne Weber". We keep this option available due to the familiarity, convenience, for international supporters, and for those who may not need an official receipt. You can also set up for recurring donations.
Stephen & Brooksyne
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
Christmas Knowledge Test
We have also posted two Christmas carol quizzes here (scroll down).
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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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