Monthly Archives: December 2013

O Holy Night: One Interpretation

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Tonight, as many of us are wrapping gifts, stuffing stockings, making treats, and spending time with friends and family, we are probably listening to Christmas music.  Some we know very well, some not so much.  If you go to a Christmas Eve service at a church, you may sing loudly (and hopefully more on key than I am) for a few carols, but quietly wing your way through others.  With so much going on, shopping, baking, get-togethers, general busy-ness, I worry we simply skim through these songs, not truly thinking about what we are saying.

Tonight I want to share with you my meditation on a favorite hymn, though honestly, I don’t think my words here can truly convey my emotions here.   I do hope you will take the words of this song , or any of the other great Christmas songs we listen to every year, and focus on it, line by line.  Listen to what it is saying.  Can you hear it?  Can you feel it?  What a joyous occasion!  What a great night!  There is a buzz in the air!

o holy night

Oh holy night!

As in “devoted entirely to God or the work of God; venerated as or as if sacred; divine”  “For the Lord our God it holy. “ Psalm 99:9

The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!

Even the stars are rejoicing!  The savior is born! “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder.  And his name will be called Wonderful, counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah :6

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16,17

Long lay the world in sin and error pining

In all of us there is that hole that can only be filled by God.  But we are separated from Him because of our sin.  We have pined for so long for that relationship with Him.   “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23

Till he appear’d and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!  Let earth receive her King!  What a relief, what a heavy burden has been lifted.  Our sin has weighed us down, but now there is hope, a hope of freedom, a hope of peace, a hope eternal.

Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices

Imagine, being in the middle of the field, it is dark; there is no one around but the sheep and your fellow shepherds.  Then the sky is filled with light and angels are TALKING TO YOU!  “Glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” Luke 2:14.

Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine
Oh night divine

Devine: adjective: related to or coming from God; supremely good; heavenly.   It was a divine night, a holy night, a heavenly night.  Quietly ponder on this for a moment.

Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace

“Love your neighbor as yourself” Mark 12:31a. Keep in mind, this doesn’t just mean the nice neighbors. “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27, 28

Tis the season of giving, but we are called to love all year long: 12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days a year.  No, you don’t get a day off on a Leap year.

Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease

So poignant now, probably just as so when this was written, and on that holy night.  So many are hurting; oppressed by so much: illness, addictions, fears, relationships, prejudice, legalism, sin.  But these chains are broken!  We are free!  So…

Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name

…we praise Him, on this night, this divine, this o, holy night.

O Holy Night (one of my favorite versions!)

A Servant’s Heart

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servantsheart

I’ve been thinking a lot today about having a servant’s heart.  It all started this morning during a presentation about ordaining women.

You see, the new church we have been attending in Illinois has been discussing some changes over the last year.  The overseeing body for this denomination ordains women as elders and pastors, yet this church, being much older than the organization, does not.  It was proposed at the annual meeting in the beginning of the year, to consider amending the constitution of this church to include women in these leadership roles.

Unless I am a member before February, I will not be voting. Honestly, I’m still right in the middle on this one.  The church has invited a number of speakers to share on both sides of the topic.  And I believe they have all done a great job.   Being raised in a church where only men were the elders and pastors, I’m a little more comfortable with this way of doing things.  Yet, the arguments for ordaining make a lot of sense as well.  But this post isn’t really about women in church leadership.  This post is about having a servant’s heart.

helpmeet

In the presentation today we were introduced to the Hebrew word “ezer”.  This is used in Genesis 2:18 “Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper (ezer) suitable for him.”

This is that concept of “helpmeet”, these complementary roles of men and women. But this is not the only place we see this.  Here are just a couple:

Deuteronomy 33:29 “Blessed are you, O Israel; Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord, Who is the shield of your help (ezer) and the sword of your majesty!  So your enemies will cringe before you, and you will thread upon their high places.

Psalm 33:20 “Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help (ezer) and shield.

Wait a minute?  ‘Ezer’ used for both women and God?  Wha?

I know you’re thinking, “where are you going with this, MamaFoster?” and “When does the ‘servant’s heart’ come into this?”

Right here.

God is awesome.  No, Awesome, with a capital A.  He is omniscient, all powerful, majestic, the Lord of lords and the King of kings.

But He’s also this:

Jesus Washes the Disciples' Feet John 13:5

“so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.  After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ fee, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” John 13:4,5

Jesus led by serving.  And He served in love. And we are commanded to do the same.  “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” Ephesians 5:21

Which got me thinking…

What would having a servant’s heart look like in my life?

In my relationships with customers?  In my church? In my marriage?  In parenting?  In friendships?

My prayer tonight: Lord, create in me a new heart, one which serves others in love.

 

Love Notes from God

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As some of you know, we have recently made a huge move, from Oregon to Illinois, 2,000 miles from our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, siblings and friends.  And I have been feeling a little homesick.  OK, I have been feeling a lot homesick.  We have been told the first year is the hardest, and I expected the holidays would be the most difficult.  There are traditions and events we have participated in for years.  And seeing the pictures and announcements of these on Facebook makes it just a little bit harder, even if we are starting new traditions in our new home.

The other night I was really feeling low.  Besides missing my family, our #2 was having a particularly hard week.  Oppositional behavior and anxieties were a bit high, and I was physically and emotionally exhausted.  I needed to get away.

Later that evening, when I stepped out from the store into the brisk evening air, I saw tiny soft flakes falling from the sky.  Snow wasn’t on the forecast, this was unexpected.  And sweet.  I thought of the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”.  I had this feeling God was telling me, “I am here”.  As the cold flakes alighted on my face, I felt a peace.  Even though everything was a mess at home, most of my time being spent on work or #2’s needs.  Even though many friends and family are so far away.  I felt peace.  It was a little love note from God.

And who doesn’t like to find a little love note?  A little “Thinking of you” in the lunch box; “Have a good day” on the bathroom mirror; “I love you” in a pocket.

The Lords love notes just look a little different.  The crisp yellow leaf on your doorstep at the beginning of your favorite season; the song on the rainbow you just needed to hear; the unexpected call from a good friend; the rainbow in the middle of a storm; the magical snowfall on a lonely night.

What love notes has God left for you?