Christmas

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Afterburn

Tuesday, December 26th, 2017

I supposed AfterGlow would be a better title since the one I used tends to make people think of heartburn. Actually, it is a good word…as is afterglow. It has been a full weekend and one which leaves my heart full, burning and glowing.

Janna, Jason and Braden came in late Friday and we had a special treat! Jo’s homemade pizza. We were going to order it but when she offered to make it all other offers were off the table. We watched Polar Express together and ate pizza.  Saturday morning I got up, had my Quiet Time, then went to the Y with Jason and Janna. We then went to Abram Farm to set up for Sunday. Others were at the church building putting together close to 60 bags of food to be delivered or handed out on Monday. That afternoon we watched The Santa Clause, then ate homemade sausage gravy and biscuits, eggs, etc then opened our gifts. After our Christmas Eve morning service we had lunch and then watched our house empty when the three left for Ohio. Quiet. But empty.

Sunday’s Christmas Eve morning worship was fantastic. Saw lots of people I don’t normally see 🙂 but we had a wonderful time. The music was all done beautifully. The venue was a new thing for us but people really liked it and were appreciative of the new place and Bill & Suzie’s generosity. I didn’t preach (I got cheers for that) but introduced each song with Scripture relating to it and, of course, the Christmas story. We also had 300 people, which is the best in our history. Let’s see what this coming Sunday brings!  🙂 🙂 🙂

The weather certainly turned cold. Sunday afternoon it started snowing and the weather took a dive. Our Christmas breakfast was hampered by the cold and the “iffy” roads. But we still delivered over 30+ meals with two bags of groceries to each house. It is nice doing that for people who can’t afford it or can’t make it in.

There is a warmth which comes with service. I think I’ll rest in that today. Enjoy your day.

Christmas

Sunday, December 24th, 2017

I’m under no delusion that someone is going to just “have to get on the computer and check out Cycleguy’s Spin.” I could wish!  🙂  But if you happen by then let me wish you a

MERRY CHRISTMAS

If you are checking this out after Christmas day, I pray your Christmas was and/or will be filled with joy, laughter, love, peace and hope.

I had planned on only using one video in this post, but in my YouTube perusing, I came across a song I had never heard before. I was immediately struck by its simplicity but also by its truth. You can see that video here.

My original video to post was by one of my favorite artists. And yes, Floyd (if you happen to read this), I did have to get at least one by him this Christmas season. Here it is.

Enjoy your time with family and friends.

ChristmasEve

Thursday, December 21st, 2017

 

Over the past two weeks I have been featuring the music of our Christmas Eve morning worship.  I’d like to share with you in this post all the music we will be doing that morning. I’m going to repost the links to the special songs which will be sung so it will all be in one place. I wish copyright laws were not as they were because then I could tell you we were recording the whole service and you could listen on podcast. But we are unable to do that so I’ll just have to tell you what is going to be sung.

By the congregation (not in order):

Joy to the World (not the Three Dog Night version) 🙂

Silent Night

O Come All Ye Faithful

Messiah with a little bit of help from Hanna and the worship team

Adore

O Holy Night (Note: we did these two songs back-to-back this past Sunday and it was extraordinary! Talk about worship!!)

Special Music:

Noel sung by Hanna

Heaven Everywhere sung by Hannah

Mary Did You Know? sung by Diana

Breath of Heaven sung by Kaedance

Light of the World sung by Marge

We will also have an instrumental trio playing Hallelujah and Silent Night (with the worship team and congregation joining in).

I truly wish you could join us for the celebration. We owe a debt of thanks to Bill & Suzie Abram the owners of the Abram Farm Event Venue. They are allowing us to use it at a greatly reduced price…FREE!

May your Christmas celebration be one which is joy-filled and God-honoring.

Merry Christmas everyone!

 

 

 

 

Breath

Monday, December 18th, 2017

One of our teenagers sang a couple years ago. Scared. Nervous. Fairly new to singing, at least outside her home. She has grown up into a beautiful young lady with a lovely smile, a more “open” personality, and more active singing role in the school choir.

Two years ago she sang Breath of Heaven and did a lovely job. After two years of more public singing and some voice lessons (from Hanna), Kaedence will be singing this Christmas Eve morning. I have asked her to sing Breath of Heaven again. I’m looking forward to it!  Here is the song she will be singing in case you haven’t heard it before.

What a difference a breath makes!

Messiah

Sunday, December 17th, 2017

In an effort to slow down some last week and over the next couple of weeks, I’m continuing my “musical” posts. No, it is not me singing. You DON’T want that. 🙂

One of our young ladies, Hanna, has already been featured in the post Noel. She will be singing that as a solo. She will also be leading our worship team in another song which has become a favorite of ours. It is called Messiah. Personally, I like Hanna’s version better than this one, but this is the original.

Messiah: Long-awaited. Longed for. Desperately needed. Here for all.

OneWord

Friday, December 15th, 2017

 

And no I’m not trying to explain my titles. For several years I’ve tried to use just one word to describe my blog entries. Yeah…it has been a stretch at times. But I think that is called poetic license. 🙂

We have several young children “running” around the church these days. I love seeing them do that, even if sometimes it is during the sermon. 🙂 🙂 That means only one thing really: they are more wide awake than their parents or some adults.  But what I find interesting is as they learn to talk. I have yet to hear, no matter how smart the parents think their child is, a child speaking in complete sentences right off the bat. You know…”the ramifications of the hyperextension of the patellar tendon…” We would be calling the Menses society for sure and/or posting it on YouTube or some other media site. “Hey! Look at my smart child!” But it is one word. That’s it. One word. And very often unintelligible words to boot. I’m always at a disadvantage because “Jo” is easier to say than “Bill.” Mine usually comes out “bull” or something like that.

When you think of Christmas what one word crosses your mind? Trees. Lights. Carols. Gifts. Love. Prophecy. Substitute. Grace. Jesus. Aaaah yes…Jesus. The one word…the one Name…which should be on the lips of every Christ-follower this Christmas season.  Why? Jesus gives the meaning to the season; we are the reason.

I’m continuing my series on “Familiarity Breeds…” with a sermon using One Word: Jesus. I’ll also be looking at the names Jesus is given in Isaiah 9:6. Thanks so much for praying.

Noel

Monday, December 11th, 2017

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without songs. Old songs. New songs. Classics. Soon-to-be-classics. I’m going to do something different over the next two weeks. Because my schedule is whacked (and with Christmas it should slow down right?) I’ve decided to take a writing “break” so to speak. But I still want to maintain my presence here and also “bless” people. So…here is the deal.

On Christmas Eve morning our church family will be meeting at another facility. Our auditorium is way too small for our normal crowd. Normally in two services, we have gone to one service December through February for various reasons, and after the first two weeks, there is no doubt in my mind we will not have enough room. Unless, of course, we have a blizzard then we will have all the room in the world. (I’m praying we don’t). Anyway, this past week I spoke with our new neighbors, Bill & Suzie Abram, who have built an event center called Abram Farms Event Center. It is used for weddings, receptions, and all sorts of gatherings. Suzie has been so gracious to allow us to use it for our Christmas Eve morning worship.  To make things even better? She is allowing us to use it FREE of charge!!

I decided to do something different that morning long before we found that out. I am not preaching (some wanted to stand and clap when I announced that. I dispatched my security team) 🙂 🙂 Just kidding, of course. We are going to have a magical, musical Christmas Eve morning worship. Congregational singing. Special music by our own people. Families will be together that morning. We want to pack the barn (house)! My plan is to share with you some of the music we will be hearing and singing that morning.

Hanna O’Neal will be singing a new song called Noel. You can find it being sung by Lauren Daigle on Chris Tomlin’s new CD called “Adore.”  Here are two versions: one is just lyrics while the song is being sung; the other is a live version of Lauren singing it. Funny: I have not always been a fan of her singing, but she won me over big time with this song.  I guarantee you will fall in love with this song.

Excitement

Friday, December 8th, 2017

 

Perhaps you have heard the story about the little girl who came home from Sunday School triumphantly waving a paper. “Mommy!” she said. “My teacher says I drew the most unusual Christmas picture she has ever seen!”

The mother studied the picture for a moment and concluded it was indeed a very peculiar Christmas picture. “This is wonderfully drawn, but why have you made all these people riding on the back of an airplane?” the mother gently asked.

“It’s the flight into Egypt,” the little girl said, with a hint of disappointment that the picture’s meaning was not immediately obvious.

“Oh,” the mother said cautiously. “Well, who is this mean-looking man at the front?”

“That’s Pontius, the Pilot,” the girl said, now visibly impatient.

“I see. And here you have Mary and Joseph and the baby,” the mother volunteered. Studying the picture silently for a moment, she summoned the courage to ask, “But who is this fat man sitting behind Mary?”

The little girl sighed. “Can’t you tell? That’s Round John Virgin!”

We laugh, but the sad truth is that little girl’s mixed-up perspective of Christmas is not really a whole lot more muddled than what the average person carries around. In fact, many are so jaded they don’t even want to hear the Christmas story anymore. Look at the faces of many of the people walking around the stores. Many of them are haggard-looking, definitely not all that thrilled about Christmas.

When did we lose the excitement of Christmas? At what age did it become so “old” to us? Well…something excited the prophets! Something excited the shepherds! Something excited the angels! That very same something should excite us also. My sermon this Sunday is about that…Familiarity Breeds Excitement. And as you might be able to piece together it is about the prophets and the angels and the shepherds. And hopefully…me.

Alone?

Tuesday, December 5th, 2017

Something concerns me. I’m not totally sure what to do about it actually. Maybe it is more than just a concern too. It is an ache I don’t know how to take away.

Just recently our community was hit with the death of an 8th grader.  She died while sleeping. Rumors abound (as you can imagine). Rumors I refuse to be a part of. So far they are just rumors since no one knows how or why she died. I hate rumors. I despise talk without substantial proof. I’m sure you know what I mean.

Here is my concern. The death of a teenager, or anyone for that matter, is a “killer” to me. But what about those who are left behind? This is the Christmas season where people are wishing good cheer, joy, happiness,  and all those other wishes to people they see. But what about those who dread this time of the year? They hole up in their house or bedroom and have no desire to get out, see anyone, laugh, spread good cheer, nor any of those other “feel good” things.

Do we see their hurt? Do we feel their loneliness? Do we sense their desire to be left alone? Christmas is a particularly hard time for those who have lost people they love-spouse, parent, friend, child-so what do we do with and about and for them? The first of “everything” is the toughest-first Christmas, first holiday, first anniversary, first birthday.

So…I guess what I’m saying is “keep your eyes open” to those around you. There are many lonely, hurting people right out our back door. People who may not even know it, but people who need a hug, a smile, a word of encouragement, a card/note, or some other form of acknowledgment. What they don’t need is someone harping on them or criticizing them. Lend an ear. Lend a hand. Lend a smile. Lend a heart.

This song is not a “Christian” Christmas song. But it does talk about memories.

Willingness

Friday, December 1st, 2017

In 2001 author John Grisham broke from the norm. Usually writing crime dramas which focus around lawyers and courtrooms, he wrote a book which was totally different. I don’t know why he wrote the book he did, but it was successful. Perhaps, since he is purported to be a Christ-follower, he shared the same concerns about the Christmas season as you and I might. Anyway, he wrote a book called Skipping Christmas which followed Luther and Nora Krank’s desire to have a different kind of Christmas. They have it in their minds to skip the holiday altogether. Theirs will be the only house on Hemlock Street without a rooftop Frosty; they won’t be hosting their annual Christmas bash; they aren’t even going to have a tree. They won’t need one, because on December 25th they’re setting sail on a Caribbean cruise. But the weary couple is soon to find out that skipping Christmas beings enormous consequences-and it isn’t half as easy as they’d imagined.

Like the Kranks, we may find ourselves wanting to skip Christmas. I’m not so concerned about skipping Christmas as I am with losing Christmas. No, the date will never be changed. No, the season will never be skipped over. Even many merchants, who make no pretense at all of believing the Christmas story, want it to stay. Their reasons are different, than say yours and mine, but the point stands.

This week, and throughout the month of December, my sermon series has a working title of “Familiarity Breeds…” But rather than contempt I want to flip that idea to four other topics. You can see them on the banner above. Thanks for your prayers this weekend. They are greatly appreciated.