Sunday, December 20, 2015

Good Christian Friends, Rejoice

Good Christian friends, rejoice with heart and soul, and voice;
Give ye heed to what we say:
 News! News! Jesus Christ is born today;
Ox and ass before Him bow; and He is in the manger now.

Christ is born today! Christ is born today!
Good Christian friends, rejoice, with heart and soul and voice;
Now ye hear of endless bliss: 
Joy! Joy! Jesus Christ was born for this!
He has opened the heavenly door, 
and man is blest forevermore.

Christ was born for this! Christ was born for this!
Good Christian friends, rejoice,
 with heart and soul and voice;
Now ye need not fear the grave:
 Peace! Peace! Jesus Christ was born to save!

Calls you one and calls you all, 
to gain His everlasting hall.
Christ was born to save! Christ was born to save!
14th Century German Carol

“ For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son,
 that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but shall have eternal life.” John 3:16 

The Virgin and Child
Sandro Botticelli

The Christmas Light

I love the sight of Christmas lights
This season of the year,
The merry sounds that now abound
In melodies of cheer.

I love the words that can be heard
In carols that are sung,
The happy cries and sparkling eyes
Among the very young.

I love the scene of evergreens
And wreaths hung everywhere,
Soft falling snow and candle glow
And people bowed in prayer.

I love the bells whose glad notes swell
In tones of purest gold,
How goodness still our lives will fill
As God's great plan unfolds.

I love the light, that special night,
The shepherds saw afar
And ran to find, for humankind,
His bright and morning star!
-John C. Bonser

Nativity Scene
Ruth Morehead

"And the angel said unto them,
"Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings
of great joy which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the 
city of David a Savior,
which is Christ the Lord."
Luke 2:10-11

Flash Mob singing Handel's Messiah

  King of kings and lord of lords!
King of kings and lord of lords!
And he shall reign forever and ever!

Forever and ever and ever and ever
(King of kings and lord of lords)

Hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah
Written by George Friedrich Händel

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Why Jesus Came

Why Jesus Came
A Christmas Classic
By American radio host
Paul Harvey

There once was a kind and decent man, certainly not a Scrooge.

 He was generous to his family and upright in his dealings with other men. 
But he just didn't believe all that incarnation stuff which the churches proclaim 
at Christmas Time. It just didn't make sense and he was
 too honest to pretend otherwise.
 He just couldn't swallow the Jesus Story, 
about God coming to Earth as a man.

"I'm truly sorry to distress you," he told his wife,

 "but I'm not going with you to church this Christmas Eve."
 He said he'd feel like a hypocrite.
 That he'd much rather just stay at home, 
but that he would wait up for them.
And so he stayed and they went to the midnight service.
Shortly after the family drove away in the car, snow began to fall.
 He went to the window to watch the flurries getting heavier and heavier
 and then went back to his fireside chair and began to read his newspaper.
 Minutes later he was startled by a thudding sound.

 Then another, and then another.  Sort of a thump or a thud.
At first he thought someone must be throwing snowballs
 against his living room window.  But when he went to the front door 
to investigate he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow.

 They'd been caught in the storm and, in a desperate search for
shelter, had tried to fly through his large landscape window.

 Well, he couldn't let the poor creatures lie there and freeze, so he
remembered the barn where his children stabled their pony.

 That would provide a warm shelter, if he could direct the birds to it.

Quickly he put on a coat and galoshes, and tramped

 through the deepening snow to the barn. 
He opened the doors wide and turned on a light,
 but the birds did not come in. 
He figured food would entice them in.

So he hurried back to the house, fetched bread crumbs, 

sprinkled them on the snow, making a trail to the yellow-lighted wide open
 doorway of the stable. But to his dismay, the birds ignored the bread crumbs, 
 and continued to flap around helplessly in the snow.

He tried catching them. He tried shooing them into the barn

 by walking around them waving his arms.
 Instead, they scattered in every direction,
except into the warm, lighted barn.

And then, he realized, that they were afraid of him.

 To them, he reasoned, I am a strange and terrifying creature.
 If only I could think of some way to let them know that they can trust me.
 That I am not trying to hurt them, but to help them. But how?
 Because any move he made tended to frighten them, confuse them.
 They just would not follow. 
They would not be led or shooed because they feared him.

"If only I could be a bird," he thought to himself, 

"and mingle with them and speak their language.
 Then I could tell them not to be afraid. 
Then I could show them the way to the safe warm barn. 
But I would have to be one of them
 so they could see, and hear and understand."

At that moment the church bells began to ring.

 The sound reached his ears above the sounds of the wind.
 And he stood there listening to the bells
 pealing the glad tidings of Christmas.

 Suddenly he realized "all that incarnation stuff" was true.

 He now understood why Jesus came to earth.

And he sank to his knees in the snow and prayed.

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Have a great Christmas. God bless you.

"Simeon took Him up in his arms
and praised and thanked God and said,
And now, Lord, You are releasing Your servant
to depart this world in peace according to Your word.
For with my own eyes I have seen Your Salvation."    
Luke 2:28-30

The Presentation of the Temple
Philippe de Champaigne

 Joy To The World

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing!

Mystical Representation of the birth of Jesus
(17th century)
Artist Unknown

Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Go Tell It On The Mountain

"Go, tell it on the mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere
Go, tell it on the mountain,
That Jesus Christ is born."

-an old African spiritual

Mountains surrounded the little Judean
town of Bethlehem, which in Hebrew means,
"House of Bread"

"Fear not, the angel told the shepherds,
for I bring good news of great joy,
which shall be to all people."

The Annunciation to the Shepherds
Henry Ossawa Tanner

"For we have seen His star
shining in the east."

 The Three Wise Men
Henry Ossawa Tanner

We three kings of Orient are;
Bearing gifts we traverse afar,
Field and fountain, moor and mountain,
Following yonder star.

Words and Music
By John H. Hopkins Jr

We Three Kings
The Roches

She gently laid her baby in the hay.
And shepherds came to worship him and pray,
For heav’nly choirs had heralded His birth—
The Savior, Christ the Lord of heav’n and earth!”
The humble shepherds rose and made it known abroad.
And all who heard it marveled at the love of God.
And Mary kept all these things,
And pondered them in her heart.
Written by
Marvin K. Gardner and Vanja Y. Watkins

The Holy Family
Henry Ossawa Tanner

 A little Child is born tonight,
And He shall lead His own,
To endless day, to glory bright...

-A.H. Brown

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Merry Christmas 2015

Where Is Your Heart?

Where is your heart at Christmastime?
Is it safe in the hands of God's Son
Who came to earth in Bethlehem
And loves us, everyone?

He waits for each as though they were
The only one on earth...
And cares if we love Him in return
And celebrate His birth.

No heart can be complete until
We ask Him in to stay.
Come make a manger of your heart
This Holy Christmas Day!
-Margaret Peterson

"And this will be a sign for you; 
you will find the Babe wrapped in
swaddling clothes and lying
in a manger."
Luke 2:12

 Victorian Christmas Exhibit
The Lace Museum
San Francisco, California

As I was going to Bethlehem-town,
Upon the earth I cast me down
All underneath a little tree
That whispered in this wise to me:
Oh, I shall stand on Calvary
And bear what burthen saveth thee!
As up I fared to Bethlehem-town,
I met a shepherd coming down,
And thus he quoth: A wondrous sight
Hath spread before mine eyes this night, --
An angel host most fair to see,
That sung full sweetly of a tree
That shall uplift on Calvary
What burthen saveth you and me!
And as I gat to Bethlehem-town,
Lo! wise men came that bore a crown.
Is there, cried I, in Bethlehem
A King shall wear this diadem?

Good sooth, they quoth, and it is He
That shall be lifted on the tree
And freely shed on Calvary
What blood redeemeth us and thee!
Unto a Child in Bethlehem-town
The wise men came and brought the crown;
And while the infant smiling slept,
Upon their knees they fell and wept;
But, with her babe upon her knee,
Naught recked that Mother of the tree,
That should uplift on Calvary
What burthen saveth all and me.
-Eugene Field

Midnight Clear
Mark Keathley

The Joy of Giving

Somehow not only for Christmas
But all the long year through,
The joy that you give to others
Is the joy that comes back to you.
And the more you spend in blessing
The poor and lonely and sad,
The more of your heart's possessing
Returns to make you glad
Attributed to
John Greenleaf Whittier

A Gift From Me to You
Joan Walsh Anglund

A Timeless Christmas Message

In a world that seems not only to be changing,
but even to be dissolving, there are some tens of millions
of us who want Christmas to be the same...
with the same old greeting, "Merry Christmas" and no other.

We long for the abiding love among men of good will which
the season brings...
believing in this ancient miracle of Christmas with its softening,
sweetening influence to tug at our heart strings once again.

We want to hold on to the old customs and traditions because
they strengthen our family ties, bind us to our friends,
make us one with all mankind,
for whom the Child was born,
and brings us back again to the God Who gave us
His only begotten Son, that "whosoever believeth in Him
should not perish, but have everlasting life."

So we will not "spend" Christmas...
nor "observe" Christmas,
We will "keep" Christmas...keep it as it is...
in all the loveliness of its ancient traditions.

May we keep it in our hearts,
that we may be kept in its hope.

Reverend Peter Marshall Sr.
Twice elected Chaplain of 
the Senate of the United States of America

Tasha Tudor

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Season Of Love

The Legend of the Sand Dollar

There is a pretty little legend
That I would like to tell
Of the birth and death of Jesus
Found in this lowly shell.

If you examine closely
You'll see that you find here
Four nail holes and a fifth one
made by a Roman's spear.

On one side the easter lily
It's center is the star
That appeared unto the shepherds
And led them from afar.

The Christmas poinsettia
Etched on the other side
reminds us of His birthday
Our happy Christmastide.

Now break the center open
And here you will release
The five white doves awaiting
To spread good will and peace.

This simple little symbol
Christ left for you and me
To help us spread His Gospel
Through all eternity.
-Author unknown

"And you will have joy and gladness
and many will rejoice at His birth."
Luke 1:14

The Adoration of the Shepherds
Pupil of Rembrandt 

The Season of Love

The season of love is upon us
With its spirit of joy and good cheer,
When loved ones and friends surround us
And kind, little gestures are dear.

The season of love is upon us,
We can see it and feel it each day;
There's no time like Christmas to practice
That harmonious, true Christian way.

The season of love is upon us,
Enhanced by the pleasure it brings,
And memories now in the making
Can one day make lonely hearts sing.

The season of love is upon us,
And as we spread love far and wide,
We will rejoice in God's blessings,
Which forever with us will abide.
-Catherine Janssen Irwin

Vintage Christmas Card

"Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat.
Please put a penny in the old man's hat.
If you haven't got a penny, a half penny will do.
If you haven't got a half penny, then God bless you.
Traditional English Christmas rhyme

 Dickensian Christmas Scene
Angus McBride 

"But you, Bethlehem Ephratah,
you are little to be among the clans of Judah;
yet out of you shall One come forth from Me
Who is to be Ruler in Israel,
Whose goings forth have been from of old,
from ancient days, eternity."
Micah 5:2


Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know
that your Baby Boy has come to make you new?
This Child that you delivered will soon deliver you.

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy will calm the storm with His hand?
Did you know
that your Baby Boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little Baby you kissed the face of God?

Mary did you know..

The blind will see.
The deaf will hear.
The dead will live again.
The lame will leap.
The dumb will speak
The praises of The Lamb.

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know
that your Baby Boy is heaven's perfect Lamb?
The sleeping Child you're holding is the Great, I Am.
Mark Lowry/ Buddy Greene