THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY

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The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.  – Acts 17:24-25

MERRY CHRIST-MAS!!!  I know what you’re thinking…  what a strange Christmas song to talk about on Christmas Day.  Well, I haven’t gone off the deep end…  yet.  Wait, let me double-check.  Nope…  I’ve still got it together!

This is my favorite Christmas carol – and let me tell you why.

The little drummer boy is completely fictional and not biblically based, as we all know; however, that little boy represents us as Christians.  He loves the baby Jesus and wants to give his very BEST to Him.  Why?  The passage in Acts makes it perfectly clear that Jesus doesn’t NEED anything from us, but we NEED everything from Him.  Well, he wanted to give his best because he knew to Whom he played.  We give because we love.  It’s as simple as that.  He loved us first – but we give because of love.

Today I wonder if we give our very best to Him?  In our daily lives, do others see our relationship with Christ?  Do we do for others because they are God’s children and we have a desire to be representatives of Christ to them?

I pray that every day I strive to do something good for someone – EVEN if that something good is praying for a friend.

If you had been in Bethlehem, what would you do?  Would you give Him the very best you have to give?  Just something to think about today – on Jesus’ birthday.

if-i-were-thereMy will, my life, my heart.  ❤

This song reminds me that I need to give my best to Him.  Pa Rum pa pum pum…  🙂

I hope you have a very Merry Christmas!

I’m going to take a little break from writing, but I will be back for the new year, refreshed and focused.  I want to give my BEST to Him…  pa rum pa pum pum.  meerkat-459171__340

This is me when I’m taking a break from writing – except I’ll have a TV remote.

May God richly bless you in the coming year.  I believe 2017 will be the best year yet!  I’m going to rest my brain and my fingers this week, but I’m looking forward to doors of opportunity opening as God leads me to exciting new writing challenges!

Let’s end 2016 with a prayer…  asking our Heavenly Father to prepare our hearts to give the best we have to offer today and in the future.

drummer-boy-prayerOne final note – but it’s important.  Thank you SO MUCH for following this blog and reading it every day.  I hope and pray that something along the way has encouraged and inspired you in some way.  I appreciate those who have followed me on Twitter and facebook.  I pray for you every day.  There are so many needs, but we serve a BIG God – He’s bigger than any problem we encounter here.  Have a wonderful week.  Look for me again on January 1st.  🙂

GOD REST YE MERRY GENTLEMEN

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Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.  – Nehemiah 8:10

Today’s post is especially for those of you who wait until the last-minute to finish your Christmas shopping and preparations.  What is the message?  The message is DO NOT DISMAY!  No, that is not a word we use in everyday conversation these days, but it’s worth talking about.  To dismay is to freak out.  Don’t freak out if every little detail is not finished before Christmas Day – it’s still going to be great – trust me.  If you end up at KFC eating chicken out of a box – don’t sweat it – if you are with the people you love most in the world…  it’s good.  It could end up being the most memorable Christmas ever!

Rest…  let’s talk about rest.  Yes, we say rest in peace when someone has died.  We’re not going to rest that completely, okay; however, we need to dismay, worry, freak out less and rest, trust, rely on the Lord more.  He won’t fail to help you in putting Christmas plans together.

How can you rest while you are putting the last-minute touches on your Christmas plans?  Here are some ideas:

  • Listen to praise & worship Christmas music.  There are literally thousands of artists that will reinforce positive Christmas lyrics as you’re driving from place to place today.  Don’t dismay.  Rest.
  • Have some alone time with God before you leave the house.  Ask Him to give you moments of rest along the way.
  • Everyone is different, but sometimes I stop at a coffee shop located near a favorite shopping spot.  I get a cup of something skinny and sugar-free.  I take time to sit and silently pray and have a conversation with God about how I’m feeling – pressured or stressed or happy or sad or whatever.  I love that God is up for a conversation with me anytime I need to talk.  And I try to be a good listener as well.  I feel refreshed and ready to keep going.  I’m at rest.
  • Remember ask God to help you and whatever doesn’t get done must not have been important.  Keep some verses stored up so you can recall them when need to rest and be calm.  Maybe it’d be a good idea to have some in your glove compartment in the car.

    rest-in-his-birth

I love love LOVE the line that says, LEAVE YOUR WORRIES AT THE DOOR.  What door do you go to where you know without a doubt you can leave every care on the doorstep?  I pray that my door is one where anyone can lay their stress and worry on the porch and come inside and feel more rested before they leave.

Even more importantly…  we need to leave our worries at the door of our hearts and ask God through Jesus to take our worries and cares away.  So let’s listen to this great carol.

Do me a favor and stop for a moment, take a breath and say a little prayer of thanks.  God is your strength.  Rest…  and smile.  Christ came for you.  🙂

 

AVE MARIA

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When the Archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary and announced that she would be God’s instrument, so that the Word could become Flesh, he said to her the first part of the Ave Maria.  “Ave Maria, gracia plena, Dominus tecum“, “Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with you“, (Luke 1: 28)

St. Elizabeth was also divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit to greet Mary with: “Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventures tui” (Jesus), “blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb” (Jesus).  Luke 1: 42.

Ave Maria translated into English is Hail Mary.  The original words were part of a poem called The Lady of the Lake, written in 1810 by Sir Walter Scott.  The composer Franz Schubert set a prayer from the poem to music and published it in 1826 as D839 Op 52 no 6.  Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?  It wasn’t written to be a part of Christmas…  guess God had a better plan for it.

The song proved to be inspirational, especially Roman Catholics.  A Latin text was substituted to make it suitable for use in church.  It’s been a liturgical staple at Christmas since then.

Here’s a bit of trivia…  On September 12, 1953, tenor Luigi Vena sang Ave Maria at the wedding of U.S. Senator John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Lee Bouvier.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Queen of the Most Holy Rosary

Our hands holding roses,
We hold them for you;

Your grace bringing
us the salvation of your Son;
Holy Lady of Heaven,
Blessed Virgin Queen.

Mother of Christ,
Mother most divine;
Hear prayers rising,
rising to you.

Mother of all, Mother dearest;
Caress us with your love,
keep us pure from sin.

Leading us, ever leading
to the arms of Jesus Divine.
O Holy Mother,
Holy Sacred one.

Ave Maria! Hail Mary,
Queen of the Most Holy Rosary

Chris G. Vaillancourt

IT CAME UPON THE MIDNIGHT CLEAR

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And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”  Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”  When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”  So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.  When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child…  – Luke 2:8-17

Every time I read this passage, I ask myself, “What if the angels had shown up, made the amazing proclamation, then left – and the shepherds had NOT gone to Bethlehem?”

We can get messages till the cows come home…  but if we don’t get up off our behinds and exercise our faith and take action…  what good does it do?  In Christian circles, that’s referred to as “putting FEET to your FAITH” – and it’s important to do that on a regular basis.

one-bright-night-in-bethlehemThe shepherds made a decision – a choice – to go to Bethlehem.  Of course, God knew they would, but you know ultimately God has given each of us a free will to embrace or ignore His message.  In other words, the proverbial ball is in your court, my friend.

If you read God’s Word and want to embrace it, God is sure ready to give you a brand new life through His Son, Christ Jesus.  I hope you will do that today.  It’s really simple to accept God’s wonderful gift, His Son, Jesus, into your heart and life.

Dear Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. Guide my life and help me to do Your will. In Your name, Amen.”

Have a wonderful and blessed day.  Start flexing those faith muscles.  🙂

 

DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR?

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May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.  – Romans 15:13

Do You Hear What I Hear? was written in 1962 by Noël Regney with music by his wife, Gloria Shayne.  They wrote the song during the Cuban missile crisis, calling for peace among the peoples.  It has sold tens of millions of copies and has been recorded by hundreds of artists.

When I was a kid, I remember a singer by the name of Ed Ames singing that song at Christmas.  Isn’t it funny what you remember from childhood?  There’s something about the music of Christmas – especially Christmas past.

I’ve heard so many sermons at Christmas and almost all of them at least touch on the fact that news of Christ’s birth was told to the lowly and eventually it spread to the most mighty.  God sent His Son for ALL – everyone, regardless of status in the world.  He sent angels to the shepherds, of all people.

Do You Hear What I Hear? is about the good news of Christ’s birth being spread from the lowest to the most high.  It ends with the mighty king proclaiming the news to the people everywhere.

Have you heard?  Maybe you’ve heard some parts of the story, but haven’t stopped to think about other parts.  Lucinda’s poem today invites us to reconsider the story of Christmas – and whether we really have the whole story, or just bits and pieces.

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All He asks, is love that’s true and to love each other too.  Hmm…  that is something to think about this Christmas season as we celebrate the birth of Christ.  It’s been such a crazy year in the United States.  We need to look beyond what we can see with our eyes and start listening to what our God wants of us.  Christians, we need to lead the way in those things that are right in God’s eyes and those things He wants from us.  There’s no time like NOW to begin showing real love for each other.  Let’s hear the message God wants us to hear this Christmas.

The blessed Trinity…  the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, will bless us with hope, joy, and peace as we are obedient to His commands for our lives.  Can I get an AMEN in the comments here today?  🙂

 

MESSIAH

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For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Isaiah 9:6

I’m always torn when writing the title…  one of my professors in college threw a fit when someone referred to this work as Handel’s Messiah.  He told the student (thankfully it was not me) that it is simply MESSIAH and it’s not necessary to preface it with the author’s last name.  So, I split the difference – I didn’t put Handel’s name in the main title but added it on to the banner.  Everyone happy?  Good.  Let’s move on and talk about this magnificent work.

The oratorio Messiah by George Frederic Handel, although clearly stating “To God alone the glory,” was still met with skepticism and some even considered the work to be blasphemous!  Can you imagine?  It reminds me of the split reaction witnessed in my generation when “Godspell” and “Jesus Christ Superstar” were released.  No, it’s not Handel, but you get my drift, right?

So, Handel thought he could fan the flames a bit by scheduling the premiere in Ireland instead of London because he didn’t want to be close to the Anglican Bishops.  He also advertised the piece as A Sacred Oratorio instead of emphasizing the name Messiah.

As most of us know, the piece depicts the life of Christ and not just one aspect.  It was written for Easter originally since it ends with the popular and majestic Hallelujah Chorus.  Actually, only the first third of the work is dedicated to the birth of Christ.  The second act is about the death of Christ and the third act of course focuses on His resurrection.  It premiered in the spring during the Lent season.

But here’s what transpired…  Laurence Cummings, the conductor of the London Handel Orchestra, determined that the work would be fitting for Christmas, noting that there is so much fine Easter music already, but very little music for Christmas.  By the 19th century, Messiah quickly became a Christmas staple, especially in the United States.

It blows my mind that Handel wrote the 259-page score in about 24 days with minimal errors.  Richard Luckett, author of Handel’s Messiah:  A Celebration, writes that there are some uncorrected errors or blotted out notes, but remarkably few mistakes considering the speed in writting the score.

We’re reminded by Lucinda today that Jesus is the Way to have life eternal in Heaven.  Aren’t we thankful?must-be-jesus

For Unto Us a Child Is Born is my favorite portion of Messiah that addresses the birth of Christ.  I once had the amazing opportunity to sing in a choir that performed this work and it’s probably the most challenging cantata I’ve been part of – but it was such fun to learn, and as an alto, it kept me on my toes.  There is so much back and forth, especially in this song.  If you lose your place you’d better just drop out until you figure out where you are – you could be singing along with the tenors if you aren’t careful.

WHITE CHRISTMAS

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Sprinkle me with water and I will be pure; wash me and I will be whiter than snow.  – Psalm 51:7

I love Lucinda’s new poem about a white Christmas.  There’s a stanza that talks about showing love and compassion at this time of year – about helping someone pick up items they’ve dropped.  I had to laugh because that very thing recently happened to me.  I’m not sure why the good folks at Walmart think that fourteen gazillion items can be stuffed into one of their plastic bags – and they don’t have to double-bag it.  Sigh…

I was crossing the parking lot and it was so crowded – people everywhere and cars lined up waiting for me to get out of the way.  I had left the cart inside the store, thinking I could carry the bag to the car alright.  I thought wrong.  The bottom of the bag broke and stuff dropped out!  It was everywhere!  I was so rattled and embarrassed!

I scrambled to quickly pick things up, although some things had rolled away from me.  It’s amazing how kind and helpful the folks around me were!  There seemed to be folks coming from everywhere to help – and many were showing true empathy, explaining that at some time or the other, the same thing had happened to them.

The people in cars put them in park and got out to help me!  Nobody seemed angry or upset – but everyone was so very kind and helpful.  I was silently thanking God for that.  As we all know, sometimes people are less than kind and compassionate to another person’s plight.

I hope you enjoy this poem as much as I did.

a-christmas-of-whiteAnd I’m reminded too that my neighbor is everyone – not just the person who lives in my neighborhood.  Every time others are kind and compassionate with me, I become more kind and compassionate with others.  We teach others how to treat others by our own actions and reactions, you see?  It’s a choice we make and it’s a choice to ask God for help or not.  I don’t know about you, but I want to learn every lesson I can from God if it will mold me into the kind, compassionate, caring person I need to be.

May all your Christmases be WHITE.  🙂

 

FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT

tl-12-1-adventToday is the fourth Sunday of ADVENT.

I so want to know PEACE more than anything…  peace on earth, peace in families, peace in the workplace, peace in traffic, peace on social media.  I just want PEACE.  When did people forget how to agree to disagree without sparking a debate in the process with as much tact as a bull moose?  I’m just asking…

Is there hope for peace in our lifetime?  There is definitely HOPE for PEACE…  and the source of both HOPE and PEACE is Christ.  Apart from Him we are not able to live in peace and we won’t have hope.

Lucinda reminds us that the PEACE that God gave us will never run out.  Aren’t we thankful?

the-name-of-peaceFor so long we’ve seen photographs of stables and have just thought of the visual – I don’t know about you, but I never thought about the stench in the manger.  When I read this I thought, “I need to design this one, not with Advent candles, but with a photo of a Nativity scene.”  I wanted us to have the photo to look at as we think about just how lowly it was for the King of Kings to be born – there.peace-prayer

He came to bring us peace – it’s a peace that passes all human understanding.  If you try to explain it to a non-believer because they won’t get it.  They won’t grasp the concept of going through turmoil in life with God’s peace on the inside.  It will seem so strange and weird to them.  But to those of us who know the Lord – we know that peace, don’t we?  We know how God has brought us through rough patches in the past and we are confident that He won’t let us down now – or in the future!  I pray that as we go and tell others the good news of Christ, they will understand with spiritual eyes as we do.  🙂

 

 

GABRIEL’S MESSAGE

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Six months after Elizabeth had become pregnant, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a city in Galilee.  The angel went to a virgin promised in marriage to a descendant of David named Joseph. The virgin’s name was Mary.  When the angel entered her home, he greeted her and said, “You are favored by the Lord! The Lord is with you.”  She was startled by what the angel said and tried to figure out what this greeting meant.  The angel told her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary. You have found favor with God.  You will become pregnant, give birth to a son, and name him Jesus.  He will be a great man
    and will be called the Son of the Most High.  The Lord God will give him
    the throne of his ancestor David.  Your son will be king of Jacob’s people forever, and his kingdom will never end.”  Mary asked the angel, “How can this be? I’m a virgin.”  The angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come to you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the holy child developing inside you will be called the Son of God.  “Elizabeth, your relative, is six months pregnant with a son in her old age. People said she couldn’t have a child.  But nothing is impossible for God.”  Mary answered, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let everything you’ve said happen to me.”  Then the angel left her.  – Luke 1:26-38

There are only three angels mentioned by name in the entire Bible – Lucifer, Michael and Gabriel.  Our focus today is on the angel Gabriel.  It’s widely debated whether Gabriel is an archangel or an angel.  He does stand in the presence of God (Luke 1:19), but in this blog we will refer to him as an angel.

The angel Gabriel first appears in Daniel 8:16 when he is told to explain a vision to the prophet.  He told Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, that he stands in the presence of God.  The name Gabriel means “man of God” or “strength of God”. 

We know he looks like a man, yet he scares those he appears to – and always tells them not to fear.  Apparently not every angel is as easy on the eyes as Roma Downey.  Jus’ sayin’…

He announced “Messiah the Prince” to Daniel and told Zacharias that John the Baptist will be born to prepare the way for the Lord.  Of course, most famously, he let Mary know her son will be called “the Son of the Most High.”

Lucinda reminds us of Gabriel’s message:

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Here’s Gabriel’s Message by Sting.  I was not familiar and want to thank my friend John for introducing me to it.  🙂

GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN

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How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’  – Isaiah 52:7

I’m going to step out on a theological limb here (say a prayer for me, I usually play things pretty safe)…  I’m going to say that this Christmas carol is less about the birth of Christ, and more about what you and I are called to do in our day.  Yes, I know the lyrics talk about the birth of Christ in every verse, but – the refrain clearly is talking to us in the here and now – it says GO & TELL.

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

Go Tell It On the Mountain was compiled by John Wesley Work, Jr. and dates back to at least 1865.  He was the first African-American to collect African-American gospel songs, which was no easy task because most of it was never written, but passed by word of mouth from plantation to plantation.  If he had not continued this quest to preserve the songs, we might not have this great song today.

This African-American spiritual song has been sung and recorded by both gospel and secular artists.  Since the original lyrics celebrate the Nativity of Jesus, it is considered a Christmas carol.

So, what’s the message for us today?  As Lucinda reminds us, it is to TELL THEM.  Tell them about the real meaning of Christmas!

tell-themGO AND TELL…  tell of the light you see…  as bright as that star that shone over the manger in Bethlehem.  Tell of the peace Christ will give and the love He will give as they give Him first place in their life.  🙂