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O Holy Night

It's Christmas Eve.  Advent is coming to a close for this year.  Tonight our fellowship will gather to celebrate the birth of our Savior.

Luke 1:68
68  "Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people.


Luke 2:6-11
6  While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,
7  and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.  
8  And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.
9  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
10  But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
11  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
There is a legend in Northern Canada taht at Midnight on Christmas Eve, a mysterious p…

Wise People Seek Him

It is Friday, Day 27 in the Fourth week of Advent.  Christmas Eve and Day are almost here.  Last minute events and preparations are also still here.   I was walking – as I normally do – and doing some thinking, praying, and processing.  I couldn’t help but feel a sense of “it’s almost over” settle over me.  A bit of sadness I admit, along with a question to God:  “Lord did I take the time I really needed to take to spend time preparing for my Lord’s coming”.  It took me back to another Advent passage:
Matthew 2:1-2
1  Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem,
2  saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

Matthew 2:9-11
9  After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was.
10  When they saw the sta…

Christmas Peace in the Trenches

It’s Thursday,  Day 26 in the Fourth Week of Advent.  The Christmas Story is remarkable for the Angelic proclamations.
Luke 2:8-14
8  And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.
9  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
10  But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
11  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
12  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
13  Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14  "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

The words they proclaimed – “Glory to God in the highest”... because the miracle of the Incarnation is in God who sends his only Son into the world t…

The Gospel to Shepherds

It's Wednesday, Day 25 of Advent.  This is from the Gospel of Luke and it is something that I've thought about often.  How we as ordinary "nobodies"... not known outside our family, community, friends... How we fit into God's great plans to "be" the Gospel to others.  It struck me as I read this account taht shares about the Gospel to the Shepherds.
Luke 2:7-20
7  ...she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
8  And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.
9  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
10  But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
11  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
12  This will be a sign to you: Y…

No Room?

It is Tuesday, Day 24 of the Fourth Week of Advent.  The story of the birth of Christ includes many characters...Mary, Joseph, Shepherds, the Angel Hosts, all are the good ones.  In most Christmas plays the character that seldom gets good reviews is the innkeeper in Bethlehem.  The story of the innkeeper is legendary.

Luke 2:4-7
4  So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.
5  He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.
6  While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,
7  and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

It is interesting, the text does not say there was an "innkeeper".    Instead the text  says , "While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born..."(vs 6)   Since t…

Christmas Risks and Courage

It's Monday, the fourth week Advent, day 23.  It's now the final week and for a lot of people the presents have been bought, the arrangements made, the decorations are up and the cookies and desserts are being planned and made.  The lists are gradually being ticked off and one by one the countdown to Christmas has begun.

It's a magical week for most, but for some, it's a week of "what ifs"...  Let me share the passage from Scripture that made me "muse" on this theme for today.

Matthew 1:18-24
18  This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.
19  Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
20  But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do…

Time and Eternity

It is the beginning of the last week, the 4th week of Advent.  On this Sunday in Advent, I want you to think/muse with me about Time and Eternity.

Galatians 4:4
4  ...when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, 
Luke 2:4-7
 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.
 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.
 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,
 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.


Think about this, the plans of God are timeless, therefore eternal.  Yet, we live in time.  We order our lives around time.
Today, seven years ago, my wife and I were surprised by the birth of three Grandchildren - all on this same day - Dec. 18.
Twins came to our Linds…

The House of Bread

It's Saturday, the 21st day in the third week of Advent.  The scripture reading for today follows yesterday's and brings us back to the journey of Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem.

Luke 2:1-7
1  In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.
2  (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)
3  And everyone went to his own town to register.
4  So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.
5  He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.
6  While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,
7  and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.


All over the world people gather to worship during Advent - proclaiming Jesu…

A Politician and Advent

It's Friday, Day 20 in the third week of Advent.  Reading the Christmas narratives in Matthew are a bit different from Luke.  They both contain information about "how" the birth of Jesus took place, and they both involve the Angels.  Luke takes us through the experiences of Zechariah and Elizabeth and then Mary to the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem...here's where I find myself "musing" today.

Luke 2:1-5
1  In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.
2  (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)
3  And everyone went to his own town to register.
4  So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.
5  He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.




If anything has not changed in 1000's o…

Dwelling

It's Thursday, Day 19 in the Third Week of Advent.  This morning I am still thinking about our friend Sharon, who unexpectedly passed away yesterday.  Sometimes we have time to prepare for the death of a friend or loved one, and sometimes we don't.  We didn't think that yesterday would happen.  She is home in God's presence, and singing with the Angels to the glory of God.  Yet she leaves behind her husband Bill, and her two sons, their spouses and grandchildren.  It was a sad day yesterday, and it comes at - probably - the worst time of the year.

Christmas is a celebration of Jesus who came to dwell with us.
John 1:14
14  The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.





He made his dwelling with us.  The word "dwelling" is from a Greek word that means "to tabernacle".  The Old Testament Tabernacle was designed by God, constructed under M…

A Place For Mystery

It's Tuesday, Day 17 in the Third Week of Advent.  The story of the first Advent is full of "impossible "things...if you believe in the impossible.   Zechariah and Elizabeth "can't" bear children.  Mary is a Virgin.  Angelic visits tell them both that the impossible is about to happen.

The person who cannot believe the impossible sits in a quiet place wondering what to do.  Joseph is pledged to be married to Mary...but Mary is pregnant, and they are not yet married.

Matthew 1:18-19
18  This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.
19  Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.


Who is Joseph... He is first of all "a righteous man".  In our present day culture that is usually said of those who think they are better…

Advent Alone

It's Monday, Day 16, The third week of Advent.  I think one of the hardest things about Advent and celebrating Christmas is when people are alone.  I have a couple of friends who have lost loved ones and they come to Christmas thinking of all the times they celebrated together, but now they have to do it alone.

There are those alone because - despite their longing and desire - no one has come along to become their partner in life, and while singleness has its benefits, many wish they could find the right husband or wife.

There are those alone because they have lost their marriage and someone they once loved has walked away...and somehow, all of the relationships that once surrounded their lives have been scattered.

There are those alone in hospitals in places of immobility.  They'd love to have others, but their time spent in a room is largely a time alone.

There are those who have come to their older years and life is restricted to a single room surrounded by others who share…

God is With Us

This morning is the 15th day of Advent, and it's the beginning of the Third week of Advent.  This morning I gather with my friends in fellowship and worship.  I will be reminded that Immanuel means "God is with us".

We use that word "with" in so many ways.  But perhaps the most common way to ask for someone to come alongside and be "IN" our lives.  I asked my wife 45 years ago if she would marry me...I was asking her, "For the rest of our lives will you go with me?"

Will you go with me?

Partnership, sharing, journeying together, coming alongside.

As Joseph heard the news that his bride-to-be was pregnant, he didn't know what to do?
Then God broke through:
Matthew 1:20-23
20  But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.
21  She will give birth to a son, and y…

The Grace of the Messies

It's Saturday, the end of the second week of Advent. I wrote some yesterday about the "messy" of Advent. We have nice neat nativity scenes in our houses, churches and even on our lawns...but we forget that there was really nothing very "nice" about Jesus' birth.
First of all, humanly speaking, Jesus didn't come from a long line of Saints. Consider Matthew 1's list of Jesus Geneology in vs. 1 - 17.
Matthew 1:1-17
1  A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham:
2  Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
3  Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar, Perez the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram,
4  Ram the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon,
5  Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse,
6  and Jesse th…

Christmas Tree of Family - It's Messy

It's Friday, the 13th day of Advent.  We went with some friends to look at some light displays near Milwaukee.  There's an entire section of the western part, officially in West Allis, that an entire neighborhood decorated their houses and lawns for Advent.  [If you're interested it's an area between 92nd & 96th street and Montana & Oklahoma).  They have called it Candy Land and the money raised is for a good cause - The MAC fund.
The drive through Candy Land Neighborhood is fascinating.  Most of it is quite inspiring with some amazing light decorations...but as always some of it is quite "cheesy"...even "Messy".

As I looked at the decorations I couldn't help but notice the many different nativity scenes.  They all have common elements - the baby Jesus, Mary & Joseph are the minimum.  Many have the Shepherds, some the Wise Men (Magi), some have animals, some have combinations of all of these three things.
What is missing from ALL o…

His Name is John

It is Thursday, the 12 day of Advent.  As I continue to read through the beginning of Luke's Gospel the story goes back to Zechariah and Elizabeth as the baby Elizabeth is carrying is finally born.

Luke 1:57-66
57  When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son.
58  Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.
59  On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah,
60  but his mother spoke up and said, "No! He is to be called John."
61  They said to her, "There is no one among your relatives who has that name."
62  Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child.
63  He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone's astonishment he wrote, "His name is John."
64  Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue was loosed, and he began to speak, praising God.
65  …