Saint Nicholas

St Nichloas.pngToday I would like to share with you the true story of the Christmas Legend which was written by Julie Steigemeyer. Nicholas who was a Bishop and lived in the fourth century. A Bishop of Myra, a city in Lycia. Asia Minor what is modern day Turkey. The region is situated on the Mediterranean Sea across from Greece. The people of Myra had already heard the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ before Nicholas came to serve them. The Apostle Paul had traveled there on his mission journey, the visit is recorded in Acts 27:5-6. As a Christian, Nicholas suffered persecution under the Roman Empe4ror Diocletian and was imprisoned until the Constantine came into power and showed tolerance to Christians. Tales of Nicholas’s generosity were widespread, and he became patron saint of Russia. In Europe, he was knows as Father Christmas, and in America, Santa Claus. Legends about his home at the North Pole, flying reindeer, and distributing gifts all over the world on Christmas Eve was created to enhance his story, but his generosity is based in historical fact.  The story of his supplying the dowries for the three girls is believed to be factual. Nicholas’s feast day (the day he died) is December 6th. Many families observe St. Nicholas by having the children in the home place their shoes by the door when they go to bed the night before. When they awaken on the morning of December 6, their shoes are filled with bags of gold foil-wrapped chocolate coins that were secretly placed their during the night. The significance of Nicholas for us today is that his response to God’s great love for us in Jesus was to care for other people. His kindness and care for children are modeled every time we give a gift out of love.

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

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Mary Visits Elizabeth

Luke 1b.pngAt that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting. the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for hoy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

And Mary said: My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me, holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.” Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.                                     Luke 1:39:56

When one thinks of the women of the ancient world, our first emotional response is usually pity. This would even be true in the Jewish world of those days when our Lord added humanity to His deity and manifested Himself to men. There was so much that women could not do, or at least were not allowed to do. We might suspect that the limitations of biblical revelation, compounded by those of the culture, would have made womanhood a curse. The men assumed the leadership roles, especially in spiritual matters. The women seemed only fit for fixing meals and bearing children. Perhaps a few women, “blessed” by financial prosperity and social standing, may have been able to enjoy some of the benefits of the male world. Luke is well-known for his high regard for women and for the prominence which he gives them in his two accounts. We find the first instance of his highlighting of women in our text in the first chapter of Luke’s gospel, where the spotlight is directed toward two godly women. The two women are Elizabeth, the soon-to-be mother of John the Baptist, and Mary, the mother-to-be of Messiah, were truly great and godly women. Both were humble women of no social or economic standing. Elizabeth was the wife of an obscure priest. Both she and Zacharias were country people, who lived in an unnamed village in the hill country of Judah. The bore the added social stigma of having no children. No doubt in the minds of some they were being punished by God for some sin. Mary, too, was a humble peasant girl. She did not have any social standing due to her parentage or class, nor even the dignity of Elizabeth and Zacharias age. Yet the worship of both of these women is such that they are models for all true disciples of our Lord. By reading these words in the Gospel of Luke I believe that as long as anyone including a woman has a willing heart God will use them to glorified his kingdom.

Grace and Peace to You My Friend

 

The Birth of Jesus Foretold

Luke 1a.pngIn the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin. pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings. you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you. Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever, his kingdom will never end. How will this be, Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called, “the Son of God.” Even Elizabeth, your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.” I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. ” May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.                                                Luke 1:26-38

We have here an account of the mother of our Lord; though we are not to pray to her, yet we ought to praise God for her. Christ must be born miraculously. The angel’s address means only, Hail, thou that art the especially chosen and favored of the Most High, to attain the honor Jewish mothers have so long desired. This wondrous salutation and appearance troubled Mary. The angel then assured her that she had found favor with God, and would become the mother of a son whose name she should call Jesus, the Son of the Highest, one in a nature and perfection with the Lord God. JESUS! the name that refreshes the fainting spirits of humbled sinners; sweet to speak and sweet to hear, Jesus, a Savior! We know not his riches and our own poverty, therefore we run not to him; we perceive not that we are lost and perishing, therefore a Savior is a word of little relish. Were we convinced of the huge mass of guilt that lies upon us, and the wrath that hangs over us for it, ready to fall upon us, it would be our continual thought, Is the Savior mine? And that we might find him so, we should trample on all that hinders our way to him. Mary’s reply to the angel was the language of faith and humble admiration, and she asked no sign for the confirming her faith. Without controversy, great was the mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh, 1 Timothy 3:16. Beyond all questions, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great: He appeared in the flesh, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world was taken up in glory.

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

John The Baptist Birth Foretold

Luke 1.pngIn the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old. Once when Zechariah’s  division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshippers were praying outside. Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him, “Do not ne afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of their parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. Zechariah asked the angel, How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years. The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not be able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.               Luke 1:5-20

In Biblical times it was a disappointed for a woman not to have her own children and for others to look down upon Elizabeth because she was barred. However, little did they know of or anyone else know the plan that was in place by God. The child that was to be born to Elizabeth and Zechariah called John was to be the one chosen to prepared God’s people for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Even through they had no children they never doubt that somehow or someway that God would bless them, and that God was the one true God, “The Great I Am” that was told by Moses, and by other prophets. Can you even try to imagine the joy that was in Elizabeth’s heart when she came to realize that she was with child even pass the child bearing years. Jesus’ own words to his disciples later in his life would be, “With man this is impossible, but not with God, all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27)  Because regardless of your situation in your life right now at this very moment, all things are possible with God.

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

Christmas, The Season of Hope

Ecclesiastes 3.pngIt is that time of the year once again, when so many of us begin to prepare for the holidays in many ways. However, there are so many in this dark world at times that have lost all hope. During this time some come to realize once again that they are all alone in this world, and why should they celebrate. Others have heard some bad news in one way or another, they buried a loved one this past year, their child, loss a job, a home even losing their pet to some may not seem important but to them it is truly a terrible loss for them. Then their are others who struggle with bad health either with themselves or even their loved one, and the hardest one at least with myself is having your child become chronically  ill and being on chemo. Yes my daughter does get relief from her serve difficult pain she is left deal with on a daily basis with the medication but at times doesn’t make it any easier to see her suffer. When I spend time alone with God I begin to understand the purpose of this season and why it is a time to celebrate who God is and what he means to me.

When Jesus was born and entered our mortal frame, God was burrowing down into the marrow of our grief.  His mother Mary endured pain.  Her future with this child was one of deep sorrow.  She had to watch the lifeblood which she gave him be drained out as her son was killed.  Simeon was right when he warned her, “A sword will pierce your soul.”

All of our souls are pierced.  We all suffer inevitable losses.  But God is there, beside us, beneath us, around us, within us.  That is what Christmas is about.  Martin Luther told us that God became small for us in Christ: he showed us his heart, so our hearts could be won.  And, I would add, comforted.  God enters our pain, so that we never suffer alone. Some of you might be saying as you are reading  does anyone know what’s happening to me or does anyone even cares!  But God also whispers to us that there is a future, God’s future, that we can ultimately trust, and hang on to.  That’s why God came as a child – for all mankind. “A child, more than all other gifts that earth can offer to declining man, brings hope with it, and forward looking thought.”  From the inside of our lives, the Christ child points beyond whatever we see in this single moment.

So as we are beginning our journey during this advent season, let us all remember to slow down and look all around, through the eyes of a child, in having hope for this coming season. And I will share with you the hope in Christ to all who believes

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

 

 

First Sunday In Advent

Hope.pngToday is the first Sunday of Advent, so we light the first candle on our Advent wreath: the candle of Hope. Twenty-five centuries ago, in a time not much different than our own, when the Israelites had little hope for the future of their country or their people, the Jewish prophets called to God to come to the people and make thing right. They told the people and us that a messiah would come as a new hope in the midst of suffering. Their prayers were answered with the birth of Jesus, also called Emmanuel, a Hebrew word which means, “God is with us.” Today begins our Advent journey of waiting for the birth of the one who is called the Light of the World and the Hope of the Nations. As we light the candle of Hope we give thanks for the prophets of today who dare to speak words of hope for liberation who say “No” to the evil in the world, and who call us to overcome our comfortable fears so we may let go of faulty ways of thinking and doing and explore new realms of unimagined visions of how things could be.

Prayer: So many in our world, Holy God, have lost or put their hope in false promises. Sometimes it feels you aren’t with us but are far, far way. We pray that you come into our world again. Be Emmanuel for us so we may notice where you are already present. Enter our hearts to see in new ways the creative power of hope. Help us live into your hope so we may be your light shining in the dark places of our world. We pray this in the name of the one who was born in Bethlehem and whose return we await.  Amen

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

What Is Advent?

10389133_423507684465031_9016953425129766019_nI would like to take this opportunity to share with all of you the meaning of advent. Too many times everyone seems to be so busy with the shopping, baking, presents, parties etc. we simply do not take the time to slow down for the season of Advent, What is advent it is a time four weeks before Christmas that we take the opportunity to invite God into the season before we get to Christmas Day.                                                               The season of Advent, which comes comes from the Latin word adventus meaning “coming” or “visit,” begins four Sundays before Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve. Advent is the beginning of the liturgical year for Christians. [Liturgical — from liturgy, which means the forms and functions of public worship.]
During Advent, we prepare for, and anticipate, the coming of Christ. We remember the longing of Jews for a Messiah and our own longing for, and need of, forgiveness, salvation and a new beginning. Even as we look back and celebrate the birth of Jesus in a humble stable in Bethlehem, we also look forward anticipating the second coming of Christ as the fulfillment of all that was. So where did the season of Advent come from? Here is an attempt at a partial response — going back to the sacred Scriptures and to the early centuries of the church.

First, recall that the building blocks of Advent — its images, stories, memories, promises, songs, and hopes — are already present in the Bible. The rich images of the prophets Isaiah and Amos are there. The stories of John, Mary, Elizabeth, Joseph, and John the Baptist are found in the Scriptures. There are Israel’s memories of exile and the hope for a day when God would restore hope, justice, and rulers in the line of David. There you find the songs: Mary‘s song, Zechariah’s song, and the psalms of lament, anguish, and hope. The vision of a new heaven and a new earth is there. Jesus’ call to be alert because we don’t know the day or the hour when the Son of Man will come is there. Paul’s and Peter’s words to believers awaiting the return of the risen Lord (the second coming) are there. All of this was there by the end of the first century. It was only a matter of time until the churches in various places began to find ways to weave these elements into their worship and into the ways they kept time together’s promised by his first coming.

What Is the Advent Wreath?
The Advent wreath is a circular garland of evergreen branches representing eternity. On that wreath, four or five candles are typically arranged. During the season of Advent, one candle on the wreath is lit each Sunday as a part of the Advent services.

Each candle represents an aspect of the spiritual preparation for the coming of the Lord, Jesus Christ.
The lighting of an Advent wreath is a custom that began in 16th-century Germany among Lutherans and Catholics. In Western Christianity, Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day, or the Sunday which falls closest to November 30, and lasts through Christmas Eve, or December 24.
Symbolism of the Advent Wreath Candles
Set on the branches of the Advent wreath are four candles: three purple candles and one pink candle. A more modern tradition is to place a white candle in the center of the wreath. As a whole, these candles represent the coming of the light of Christ into the world.
Each week of Advent on Sunday, a particular Advent candle is lit. Catholic tradition states that the four candles, representing the four weeks of Advent, each stand for one thousand years, to total the 4,000 years from the time of Adam and Eve until the birth of the Savior.

On the first Sunday of Advent, the first purple candle is lit. This candle is typically called the “Prophecy Candle” in remembrance of the prophets, primarily Isaiah, who foretold the birth of Christ:
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14, NIV). So each week from now through the Sunday before Christmas I will share with you what each candle means and what color that Christians light on that day. You can also purchase your own advent wreath or even make one for yourself. So friends lets not rush this beautiful season of Advent let us journey together to find out what is all the fuse is about during this season, and why God had to send his one and only son Jesus into this world to be able to save his people from their sins.

 

Grace and Peace to You My Friends