16 December 2018

Sunday Morning Advent Praise

Now at this time Mary arose and went in a hurry to the hill country, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. And she cried out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.” (Luke 1:39-45)

O Come, All Ye Faithful


And Mary said:
“My soul exalts the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
“For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave;
For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.
“For the Mighty One has done great things for me;
And holy is His name.
“AND HIS MERCY IS UPON GENERATION AFTER GENERATION
TOWARD THOSE WHO FEAR HIM.
“He has done mighty deeds with His arm;
He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.
“He has brought down rulers from their thrones,
And has exalted those who were humble.
“HE HAS FILLED THE HUNGRY WITH GOOD THINGS;
And sent away the rich empty-handed.
“He has given help to Israel His servant,
In remembrance of His mercy,
As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and his descendants forever.”

And Mary stayed with her about three months, and then returned to her home.

(Luke 1:46-56)

O Holy Night

14 December 2018

This 'n' That

Source
Does anyone else remember what it used to mean to plan to see a movie? It meant arriving at the theater about 30 minutes early, buying your tickets, and then entering the theater and selecting your seat. Well, in case you haven't been to a movie in several years, consider this your friendly warning that things have changed.

Now, most people buy their movie tickets and choose their seats online at home, and arrive just minutes before the film is about to start. And if you didn't think ahead, when you purchase tickets at the theater, you still have to choose your seats from a screen before you actually sit down. It's all very weird.

I first experienced this a couple years ago when I ventured into a movie theater after about a 5 year unintended big screen fast. I experienced it again this week when a friend and I decided to go see White Christmas. The whole process makes me feel very old and out of touch, but it was still worth it to see Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen on the big screen. Now, I realize that White Christmas contains absolutely no spiritual or theological themes. That doesn't make it sinful, just agnostic. And while I'll always prefer Holiday Inn, White Christmas will always be a classic. Movies like this are just a fun and lighthearted addition to the season. They entertain us, but they do not point us to the One who is our focus (or ought to be) this time of year and everyday.
She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21)
Yep, that's the One!

Now that I have you humming "White Christmas" the song, why not hum while you enjoy your week in review (kind of):

09 December 2018

Sunday Morning Advent Praise

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:26-38)

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,” which translated means, “GOD WITH US.” And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus. (Matthew 1:18-25)

What Child Is This?


Mary, Did You Know?

07 December 2018

This 'n' That

I really enjoy focusing on Advent. I've never understood why so many churches shun recognition of this season leading up to the celebration of the incarnation of our Lord. It seems, in their effort to not be like the mainline denominations, they've essentially ended up being Amish, forgoing frivolities such as decorations, which are benign in and of themselves, and practices that could actually prove spiritually profitable, such as Advent. Still, to each his own, I suppose.

In that spirit, I came across this lovely post about Advent this week. I'm looking forward to reading each subsequent post on their respective Sundays. It reminds us that even things such as an Advent wreath are used to point to Christ (in other words, just because you find this practice among mainline denominations, doesn't mean it's bad). Thus, if our Advent teachings are saturated in Scripture, pointing to the Light of the World, they can indeed be helpful tools for children and adults alike.

In fact, I think it's essential for parents to use this season to focus their children's attention on Christ, though we must be mindful of the tools we use to do this. I'm in awe of my own mother, who over the years has tirelessly developed intricate and involved Advent teachings for her grandsons. I trust these projects will be treasured for many years to come and they are significant, not only because they were created with a grandmother's love, but because Jesus is at the center of every day's teaching.

Parents, I hope that you embrace this season and all of its possibilities for teaching and instruction. How wonderful it would be to see a generation of children grow to love Christmas for Who it's truly about, Christ, and to actually display that love in their lives, rather than merely professing it with their lips.

Okay, that's enough rambling for today. Only 17 days until Christmas, so you better finish up your shopping, then don some fuzzy slippers and sit back to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

02 December 2018

Sunday Morning Advent Praise

The Lord God said, "And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel." (Genesis 3:15)

The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
Until Shiloh comes,
And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples. (Genesis 49:10)

A star shall come forth from Jacob,
A scepter shall rise from Israel. (Numbers 24:17b)

Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse,
And a branch from his roots will bear fruit. (Isaiah 11:1)

Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus


Moses said, ‘THE LORD GOD WILL RAISE UP FOR YOU A PROPHET LIKE ME FROM YOUR BRETHREN; TO HIM YOU SHALL GIVE HEED to everything He says to you. And it will be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’ And likewise, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and his successors onward, also announced these days. It is you who are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘AND IN YOUR SEED ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE EARTH SHALL BE BLESSED.’ For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.” (Acts 3:22-26)

O Come, O Come Emmanuel