[In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God.
The same was in the beginning with God.
And the word became flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the father), full of grace and truth.]
The message version is more detailed.
[From the very first day, we were there, taking it all in – we heard it with our ears, saw it with our own eyes, verified it with our own hands.
The word of life appeared right before our eyes; we saw it happen!
And now we’re telling you in most sober prose that what we witnessed was, incredibly, this:
The infinite Life of God himself took shape before us.
We saw it, we heard it, and now we’re telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ.
Our motive for writing is simply this:
We want you to enjoy this, too.
Your joy will double our joy!]
I cannot imagine being in the time and place as the story of Jesus unfolded right before the eyes who were there.
Not even fully realizing the magnitude of the moment or what they were experiencing.
The birth, the baby coming to us, meaning so much for so many, especially those who were there.
The story tells of all who saw, all who experienced and all who played a part, of the nativity scene.
It had to happen. It had a purpose and there was a reason.
What we know; it was planned, ordained and orchestrated way before it ever happened.
God in His master plan and great love for us, designed a way for us to receive Salvation.
The way was going to be through His son, the Christ child, the baby Jesus.
As we continue on and move through the story, let us not forget the deep love God had for his people.
He brought ‘life’ to us through Jesus.
Let us not forget the powerful meaning of the story.
[In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God.
We begin the Christmas season with decorations, and traditions of trees, lights, music and nativity sets.
Most of us have one special one we bring out each year.
We have a very simple one we purchased on our first year together. It was very expensive at the time as we were newly weds with little money, we found it at a local drug store and although it was above our budget we wanted a first nativity for our home.
Every year for 43 years we have set it out as a remembrance of many things.
The Christmas story has been told in so may ways.
Always the same characters and always the same story of hope.
We have seen children dressed up in Mary and Joseph outfits carrying a tiny doll representing the baby Jesus in church programs.
We have watched TV shows about the Nativity or movies that tell the story in a more real narrative way.
Each of us holds a reason for the season.
It can’t always be Santa and his sleigh or Rudolph the red nosed Reindeer. These are wonderful traditions for us, even Charley Brown and the crew sharing the Christmas story is tradition.
In the final decision making it is Jesus and his story that makes the Christmas season complete.
One cannot hear, “Oh Holy Night” and not capture the beauty of the birth, the Holiness of the season and the silence of the night.
The story begins with a simple couple who followed the path laid out for them through their obedience and faith.
It wasn’t easy, it was never meant to be.
It is a story that has lasted for years and years because it is real, and it gives hope and it tells us of God’s love for us.
The story begins.
In the Old Testament of the bible and then moved into the New Testament. There are many characters and many details.
The story. The story of life, hope and precious love.
As we move through the story let us remember nothing happened without a plan, nothing happened without a reason.
The story begins and we are told, Mary kept all the things in her heart and thought about them often.
Now that Thanksgiving is over we can adjust our schedules towards the season of Christmas.
I love the decorations, the music, the festive time of year.
Oh I do realize this is also a difficult season for many who are alone.
It is mostly centered around family activities and family focused programs.
But really Christmas is all in the ‘season of your heart’, whether alone or not.
It is the magical time of year for little ones who wait with anticipation of what is Santa going to bring.
It is the thrill of the possibility of snow, or church programs or seasonal services.
Many malls have activities and or decorations that are fun and beautiful.
We used to go out and cut our ‘fresh’ tree when our children were little. It became a family tradition.
There are endless possibilities should someone be wondering what to do in this time of giving.
I challenge us all this year to look at this season in a new way.
Perhaps for you, it’s the first time celebrating the reason for the season.
We know God sent His SON to come in a humble way, using Mary a simple teen, and Joseph a simple carpenter.
To tell the story.
For us to receive and hear and experience the whole reason, is the power of his love.
We cannot have Christmas without the reason, without the baby’s birth and all the orchestration God designed to get the story told and finished.
It is a season of celebration, of family and friends.
We sing the songs of worship. Oh little town of Bethlehem, and Oh Holy Night.
And one more year we allow the simple truths to ring clear in our hearts.
The reason for the season is Jesus.
As we enter into the week of thanksgiving.
I am thankful for a husband who walks on the rough roads with me.
The quiet paths and good times too.
The journey of walking together in one direction.
We remain thankful for 43 years of being together.
Life is beautiful and mysterious and magical and questioning at times.
On this Thanksgiving week I ask what are you most thankful for?
For life and hope and relationships and family?
There is much to be thankful for even if we don’t know what we can say, we woke up alive, that is a good thing.
We breathe, we have health, we have hope, we are real and down to earth and enjoy our life as we know it.
Give thanks with a grateful heart, give thanks to the holy One.
Give thanks in all things and for all things.
In Shelly’s book, she says “home is not a structure, it is a place that resides in each of us.”
Think about this for a moment.
Each of us have homes where we live in, and feel safe in.
What if, that place of peace was taken from you, or removed in some way? How would you respond?
What she is saying, home is a place within your heart that is comfortable, and safe, and not messed with.
Home is in your heart, and in your relationships, and the world you reside in.
Ever heard the saying, “I feel at home with them?”
Yeah it is a good thing.
She talks about how Sabbath is an invitation for intimate conversation and intentional quieting.
Intentionally setting aside time for a friend, a husband, or a child who needs you without distractions.
It is learning to carve out time for the important.
I love the concept.
It is so different than what we have told ourselves for years.
She says in the book, “sometimes you have to slow to a stop and rest before you can experience divine presence.”
I say, it is learning to listen.
Learning to say, today my soul needs the waves of the ocean.
Or time with a treasured friend and I don’t care if the dishes are not done or the laundry is heaping in the basket.
It is not being selfish, it is nurturing to your spirit.
Even when I was a young mom and life was busy and noisy and cluttered, I took a nap when the children did.
I restored my soul.
I love this book of Shelly’s, for it gives me reason to choose to do the life giving important things that feed my soul.
Becoming intentional takes a lot of practice.
It also teaches us to breathe.
My husband and I take walks often and when we walk, I force myself to breathe in deeply the air in my lungs.
Intentional deep breathes.
It is good. It is healthy and healing.
I pray that this book finds a place at your table and I also pray you realize how to be intentional in breathing, moving and listening.
Today I am writing at the beach, on my husbands laptop.
It is very different for me. But it’s good and if I get tired or bored it is always a good beach to view or walk on.
My husband is retired and now he is helping out down here at a camp, one day a week.
He is in his happy place keeping busy and I am too, as I always love the ocean.
It is a place of therapy for me.
I have been reading a book that was written by an on line friend of mine, on the Sabbath. She explains how we need a day set aside for quiet, and rest for renewing our heart and spirits.
It is called “Rhythms of Rest” and her name is Shelly Miller.
I highly recommend is as we all need time to slow down and regroup.
She teaches how to find the spirit of the Sabbath in a busy world.
I have read part of the book and have taken notes so I can go back and reference the amazing words she writes. How often do we even think about taking a break, taking a rest, allowing ourselves time to slow down and center inward? It is important.
She talks about how to be intentional on creating and carving out time. For soul renewal, and spirit restoration.
Have you ever been so tired you couldn’t even think, or so emotionally drained it was difficult to even think of moving from one chair to the other?
I have been there. In that space.
What saved me was first realizing life happened, all around me and I didn’t have to be the ‘force’ to make it. I could stop and slow down and it would be ok in fact it would be fine.
I had a good therapist tell me one time, “if wear yourself out you will accomplish nothing.”
My health at that time dictated that I slow down.
Stop, and learn to say No.
It was empowering.
Saying no was the best lesson I learned for in saying NO I learned to say yes, to rest, to prayer time, to slow introspective thinking.
It became my place of healing on many levels.
Shelly says, “Sabbath is a gift to be embraced, not a spiritual hoop to jump through.” When I think of embrace, using her word, it speaks to me of moving closer, and into, a choice.
The beach is my resting place.
I find renewal in my spirit as I listen to the waves, move across the surface of the sand.
It’s a peaceful place, it restores and revives me.
Do you have a place that is restful to your soul? Peaceful to your spirit? Calming to the heart?
I pray you find one. I also recommend this book to help guide you in a process of finding genuine rest.
“Rhythms of Rest” is a wonderful book.
It is life giving encouragement to stir us on, and into deeper places of the spirit. Let us slow down and be more intentional in our choices and in our life decisions.
Let us find a new ‘rhythm of rest.’
Tomorrow is Sunday.
We just got back from the beach, a small time away for our 43rd wedding anniversary.
We had a nice ‘day’ he wanted to help at a Christian camp, set up some tables and chairs for a banquet and then they broke down a beaver dam.
He was totally in his realm of happiness, and I sat in our trailer and had quiet time reading a book and taking notes, and enjoying the outside beach day.
We went out for dinner later and had a good time, after 43 years we don’t need to entertain each other each and every moment.
To say, I want to do this and is that ok? and then agree on ‘the decision’.
Forty three years ago we were young, 18 and 19 and our world was revolved around ‘what we were expected to do’. Not anymore.
I do not walk that road of expectations or obligations anymore.
We had a great time giving each other time to stretch out, and work or rest and then resume our time together.
It was OK. Now that we are retired we are with each other all the time with some time alone.
It is fine to say, I need some guy work time, and I need some quiet read time.
We understand each other. It is healthy.
Tomorrow we will worship in the church we have chosen for the past 11 years.
We will perhaps sit with our daughter and her daughter sometimes all three.
We will enjoy the teaching and the music and the time spent together.
Forty three years we have learned to adapt, be flexible and now say to each other,
“not my circus and not my monkeys”, when things are not looking the way we would like them to look.
Happy anniversary to us. God gave us forty three years together may we pray for at least 20 more.
Today is October 31st the end of the month, and the beginning of the ‘holiday season’.
The leaves are dropping off the trees now, the air is becoming cooler, rain is the normal for us too.
I love a storm where the trees sway and the wind sounds powerful and mighty.
Especially if we have a fire in the fireplace and the house is warm.
We were in a barn a few weeks ago at a wedding and it was the worst storm of the season.
The winds hit close to 61 miles per hour and the barn floor shook and creaked and the windows rocked as the rain beat against them.
It was a bit scary because the force of the wind was so strong.
The wedding was beautiful and we all survived it and for that we were thankful.
At home we dug out the candles and flashlights just incase we might need them.
We stocked our pantry and refrigerator just because, we didn’t know if another storm was brewing.
I am glad November is coming.
I love the holiday season full of festive decorations and family meals.
Thanksgiving will soon be here and as we enter into the new month I challenge us tomorrow to start a 30 days of gratitude notebook.
To have gratitude is to have the quality or feeling of being grateful, being thankful.
This is Thanksgivings message.
Giving thanks for all that we have and for all that we are blessed with, for life, health and family.
For good friends and freedoms.
This week is our anniversary so I am grateful already for a husband who has walked alongside me, even when the journey was not easy.
Next week we see who our next President of our United states will be.
Shall we wait with anticipation and wonder who it will be?
Our freedoms give us choice.
We are allowed to choose and in that choice making decision the final result will come out.
A new season will begin on many levels.
Will we remain thankful, blessed and in peace no matter what takes place?
I realized the words ‘give thanks’ are in the bible 48 times.
I don’t think that is an accident, that we are encouraged to give thanks.
1 Chronicles 29:13
Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.
Save us, Lord our God, and gather us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise.
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.
“if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and I will heal their land.”
When I think of this verse many things jump out at me and call me to attention.
He begins with if… that means we have a choice. If… my people.
The word if means [supposing that, or when or it’s a condition or requirement] it is also used to introduce an exclamatory phrase.
Which I believe is what this passage does.
He said, if my people… stating who he is addressing, who are called by my name, stating their identity, will humble themselves, that is a condition of heart.
“if my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn,” THEN… I will hear.
It is a promise He will hear us but it has conditions.
Sort of like a humble repentance and awareness of what the wrongs we have done.
“if my people… show me a changed heart…(me paraphrasing this) I will hear, I will forgive, and I will heal.
That is three I will promises…each have a place in our condition of relationship with God the one who is speaking.
It amazes me how this verse is laid out, because He is saying, we need to be humble in mindset, prayerful in spirit, seeking in motive and repentant in behavior.
The verse says “IF” that means we have choice. He always gives choice.
Very similar to what we as parents do with our children.
I used to say to ours when they were little, “you can choose to not listen to me and realize the consequences of that choice or you can listen and mind.”
He was saying “If my people”.
He was placing a condition or requirement of His promises.
He could give us the promises without any movement on our part, but that would lose the lesson.
I think right now this is a wonderful verse to keep reminding ourselves.
He always gives us choice. The issue is what are we going to do with that?
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”
The first time this was read it touched me in a very strange way.
For days it seemed like it followed me around, the words, ‘I have loved you’…
that is a personal statement.
I… the LORD… have loved you… meaning me… meaning you… meaning each of us.
With an everlasting love, when I looked that word up it brought light and depth to the verse.
The meaning is: continual for a indefinite amount of time, consistent, on going.
As a parent it felt like it was very much the same as a parent’s love for their child, at times we get frustrated or weary, but we never tire of our love for them.
Then I moved to the word, drawn. “I have drawn you …” and I wondered what did that really mean for us?
The word drawn means a tense pull or force in a direction towards oneself; to attract and move continuously.
So He is saying, “I have drawn you closer to me with unfailing kindness.”
We all like to be with others who are kind.
When I first started therapy with my last counselor I was ‘drawn’ to him by his kindness.
I could relate to that verse since I had felt it and observed it within myself.
He was gentle, his words were soft spoken and very tender.
It was unfamiliar to me, yet it came to be a safe place for me to share because he was non-threatening.
His kindness as the definition explains, was sympathetic and compassionate. He was genuine and concerned.
I could feel that and it did pull me in so that I wanted to go back week after week.
It made our work together easier because I knew he was invested in the process with me.
So when we read the promise, from the Lord.
“I have loved you with an ever lasting love, ongoing and continuous, and I have drawn you, pulled you near me and attracted you to me, with kindness”
We can be assured that he means it and that he is not ever going to let us go.
In the message version of the bible the verse is written like this.
God told them, “I have never quit loving you and never will. Expect love, love and more love.”
Isn’t that an amazing promise?
Nothing we do can separate his love for us. Unfailing means we can’t do anything to change it.
I hope that brings you a peace and hope for the day…knowing “you are loved.”