Sunday Night Thoughts

Sunday Night Thoughts

Good morning, I am watching the sky grow light from the window of our room at my mom and dads.  We made the trip safely from Eldred to Allentown.  We are looking forward to spending some time here this week.

It’s been a busy couple of days.  I had a bus drivers Christmas party.  Our church had several meaningful services.  On Wednesday night we had a “Longest Night” or “Blue Christmas Service.” I really liked that service.  It was the first time we had ever attempted a service like that.  I believe that it really served its purpose.  Saturday night we had our annual Lessons and Carols service.  It is one of the highlights of my year as a pastor as we read scripture and sang the Christmas carols.  A few hours later on Sunday morning we gathered again and celebrated the birth of Jesus, Emmanuel, God with Us.  We had a great celebration.

One of the other things we did was to go Christmas caroling at some senior’s apartments – that was great fun.  Like I said it was a very busy week.  We usually don’t have weeks like that in Eldred.  But it was fun.  We are looking forward to kicking back this week.  That’s about all I have for today.  Have a Merry Christmas (remember it is the 2nd day of Christmas) and a blessed New Year!  The next time I write this article it will be 2017!  Blessings…

The Birth of Jesus

Christmas, Bethlehem, Crib, Jesus Birth, JesusLuke 2:1-20 | New International Version (NIV)

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

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 guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Prayer for Christmas Day

christmas_wallpaper_pictures_background_2080_high_definition-1024x640O God, you make us glad by the yearly festival of the birth of your only Son Jesus Christ: Grant that we, who joyfully receive him as our Redeemer, may with sure confidence
behold him when he comes to be our Judge; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

O God, you have caused this holy night to shine with the brightness of the true Light: Grant that we, who have known the mystery of that Light on earth, may also enjoy him
perfectly in heaven; where with you and the Holy Spirit he lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Almighty God, you have given your only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and to be born [this day] of a pure virgin: Grant that we, who have been born again and made your children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit; through our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom with you and the same Spirit be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

Christmas Morning

Nativity, Jesus, Manger, Christmas, Religion, ReligiousChristmas Eve

December 24, 2016

Hebrews 1:1-4 | New International Version (NIV)

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.

For to which of the angels did God ever say,

“You are my Son;
    today I have become your Father”?

Or again,

“I will be his Father,
    and he will be my Son”?

And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says,

“Let all God’s angels worship him.”

In speaking of the angels he says,

“He makes his angels spirits,
    and his servants flames of fire.”

But about the Son he says,

“Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever;
    a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.
You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
    therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions
    by anointing you with the oil of joy.”

He also says,

“In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth,
    and the heavens are the work of your hands.
They will perish, but you remain;
    they will all wear out like a garment.
You will roll them up like a robe;
    like a garment they will be changed.
But you remain the same,
    and your years will never end.”

This morning is the culmination of our Advent preparations.  Jesus now is here.  As I will be preaching this morning, “The Force Awakens.” Jesus Christ has come to earth as a baby – placing himself into the hands of his creation.  He was a baby just like any other baby.  We can say for certain that He cried – unlike the line in “Away In a Manger.” I’m sure he cried when he fell and scraped himself.  Did you ever think about Jesus crying when he was teething?  Jesus was fully human.  As a human baby, he could not take care of himself.  He was vulnerable.  There is a line in the Getty hymn “Joy Has Dawned.”

Hands that set each star in place

Shaped the earth in darkness

Cling now to a mother’s breast

Vulnerable and helpless

This little baby grew in favor with God and man and became the man who would die on a cross for our sins and three days later rise again.  He ascended to heaven where He sits at the right hand of the Father – where he intercedes for us – and where He will reign forever.

The Kindness and Love of God

Madonna, Fig, Woman, Grace, Mother Of God, MariaChristmas Eve

December 24, 2016

Titus 3:4-7 | New International Version (NIV)

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

Again, this scripture speaks to the incarnation – Jesus coming to earth.  It was the love and kindness of God.  He didn’t do it because we deserved it. All of us have the same issue that Adam and Eve had.  God came because of his great mercy toward us.  Through Jesus coming  – his death on the cross – and resurrection – we are justified – made just as if I had never sinned.  What a beautiful thought on this Christmas eve morning.

catholic-1294124_640Christmas Eve
December 24, 2016

Titus 2:11-14 | New International Version (NIV)

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own,eager to do what is good.

I love this passage – especially as it relates to the incarnation – the fact that Jesus came in the flesh – that he really was human – he was and is fully divine – but he was fully human.  To deny that is to deny the incarnation.  But notice why he came.  Christ came for our salvation. I came across this quote yesterday.

“The deepest of deep truths about Christmas–without which Christmas is just a lovely social custom–is that Mary’s baby is God…..if that is true, with him all things are possible.”

Richard John Neuhaus

This is why he came.