Wednesday, November 18, 2020
Luke 2: 8-12 NIV 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 that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Nothing spreads as much fear and trepidation, to young parents as hearing that your child has a part in the upcoming Christmas play. Yep, all of us parents have been there. Wondering if your budding actor will be the shepherd that undresses in the middle of the wise men entrance, or if Mary will start crying because someone moved Baby Jesus. With us, it was watching Jonah place a choke hold on the stuffed sheep and praying that its head wouldn’t pop off during the play. Beastial decapitation is rarely included in the script, but alas it does happen. We all gather to watch these plays, rejoice, laugh and celebrate the joy of the Advent spirit of the season. No, the plays do not always go by the script, the live animals occasionally brought in for the occasion can give us a surprise, and young performers astound us with their improvisations, but the scripture and music provided give us all Hope and Joy for the season. As a Church, we all love to see the Christmas Play, it reminds us of how Jesus’ story began, yet sometimes we forget that Christ’s story began at creation. His birth with Mary and Joseph, in Bethlehem, was a part of our salvation story. Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us remember your plan of salvation for us. Help us to reach out to others who do not know you, and share with them love, compassion, and hope. Help us to alway be your children and respond to your word. Amen.
Luke 2:7 ESV And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. Imagine a small Austrian town, in 1818. The town is Oberndorf bei Salzberg. It is night, you are walking home, in the darkness and the only illumination is from candles or lanterns. The moon rises stately over the mountains and there is a crisp December crunch under your feet. The sounds of the organ come drifting serenely from the church, until a broken note breaks the serenity of the night. The organ was damaged due to water damage from a recent flood. A young priest that was to lead the Christmas Eve Mass composed a new hymn and had his friend Franz Gruber write a melody for it. It was performed simply that Christmas Eve with only a guitar accompaniment. No other song has ever been penned that has the clarity, beauty and hope of this familiar tune, Silent Night. The song has become so integral in our Advent and Christmas time celebrations, I doubt that it would feel like Christmas without it. Silent night! Holy Night! All is calm, all is bright Round yon virgin Mother and child! Holy Infant, so tender and mild, Sleep in heavenly peace! Sleep in Heavenly Peace! Prayer Heavenly Father, Grant us the peace of knowing that you have everything under control. Grant us the wisdom to discern what is important in your eyes. Grant us the power to do your will during this Advent season and beyond. Thank you for our salvation through Christ, Jesus.
Matthew 25: 31-40 New International Version 31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Blind Man Where did you come from? Before you leaned against the wall Of that jaded discount store? Did people see your cane And pass you in disdain? How long did you sit there, Before anyone spoke? Asked you a question? Have you been here before? Have you sat in this heat? What is that you said? You need to borrow a phone? You can use mine. You need some water, You can have mine. Oh there’s your ride, Have a nice day friend. I wrote these lines in July of 2019 long before the pandemic ever struck. It was a record of my interaction with a man that I noticed sitting outside a big box store. He was sitting on the hot concrete leaning against the wall. As I passed, there was a whisper in the back of my mind, an itch, or as I like to think, the Holy Spirit. I shopped for the items on my list, then on a whim bought a bottle of water. I usually don’t buy water, because I think the bottles are a threat to our environment. I started back to my car with my bags. There he was, the man, still sitting in the heat. His red and white cane was across his lap as he waited. I sat down next to him, no easy feat with my arthritic back, but it allowed me to engage with him and find out if he needed anything. This story is about one small encounter, but this meeting made a small difference, in one person’s life. It is moments like this, when we respond to that small quiet voice, the whisper of the Holy Spirit, that we experience the hope and love of the advent season. Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us the gift of the Holy Spirit, guide through life’s struggles, help us to know how to be your hands in this cruel world and experience love, hope and peace during this Advent season. Amen