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.  🙂

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

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.

have-you-heard

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.

WE THREE KINGS

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After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem  and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.  On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.  – Matthew 2:1-12

… guide us to THE PERFECT LIGHT.

Christ came to our earth for ALL – not just for the wise, but for the foolish – not just for the strong, but for the weak – not just for the rich, but for the poor.  God loves us all so very much.

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It doesn’t matter what your status is in this life, Christ wants you to make Him your personal Savior.  God sent Jesus to earth to bridge the gap between Himself and man.  Will you accept this great gift today?

jesusWhat a wonderful gift – the perfect gift – the best gift you’ll ever be given.  🙂

IMMANUEL

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“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).  – Matthew 1:23

If God is with us, who could stand against us???  Indeed!!!

That truth alone should be enough – ENOUGH.  I could stop writing for today and that would be – enough.  It would be the shortest blog post ever…  but seriously, isn’t that all we need to know as we travel this journey called life?  from-christmas-to-forever-immanuel  I love how Lucinda made it personal at the end…  Me.  HE IS WITH ME.  There are most assuredly times when God seems distant and quiet.  But the teacher is always quiet during the test, right?  One day we look back on those times with a better understanding of things – not always, but usually.  We just keep trusting in faith that God knows best.  He is with us and He is taking care of us.

Let’s continue to praise IMMANUEL today!  He is worthy of our praise and worship.

Spurgeon sermons are great!  It’s true…  if God were not with us, we’d be – well – lost in a very literal sense.

Keep this truth in mind during the Christmas season and throughout the year ahead.  GOD IS WITH ME…  GOD IS WITH YOU.  You can be by yourself, but remember, you are never alone and therefore, I hope you are not lonely.  Christ is, by all accounts, the BRIDGE between God and fallen man.  No matter what question you may ask, Christ is the answer.  I pray your day is filled with wonder and that your eyes will be opened to new truths from God’s Word.

Have you read Michael Card’s book?  Here’s the link to get your copy:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2658191-Immanuel

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If this post has brightened your perspective this Christmas season, please leave some love in the comments.  You will never know this side of Heaven how much it means to get positive feedback on a blog post.  It encourages my spirit to keep writing.  Thanks and God bless you!  🙂

 

 

 

SPECIAL DELIVERY

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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

The word SPECIAL has been overused in the past few decades.  For example, Dana Carvey’s church lady character on SNL said, “Well, isn’t that SPECIAL???”  It was sarcasm to the hilt.

Our USPS does have a delivery service called Special Delivery, but the most special delivery of them all was when Christ was born in Bethlehem.

When I looked SPECIAL up in the dictionary, here’s what I found:

adjective
adjective: special
  1. 1.
    better, greater, or otherwise different from what is usual.
    “they always made a special effort at Christmas”
    synonyms: exceptional, unusual, singular, uncommon, notable, noteworthy, remarkable, outstanding, unique More

    “a very special person”
    “a special occasion”
    antonyms: ordinary
noun
noun: special; plural noun: specials
  1. 1.
    a thing, such as an event, product, or broadcast, that is designed or organized for a particular occasion or purpose.
    “television’s election night specials”
    Isn’t it interesting that SPECIAL in reference to Christ and His birth can be used as both an adjective and a noun?  Both apply!  Christ Himself is special – and His birth (the event) is for sure – special.
    delivery-day-prayer

    There’s no doubt whatsoever that this was a SPECIAL DELIVERY of a very SPECIAL KING.  I had to chuckle when I saw the term CUSTOM-MADE.  Well, yes – He definitely was that too, wouldn’t you agree?

O COME, ALL YE FAITHFUL

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And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.  – Luke 2:15

celebration-in-heavenWhen I read this poem by Lucinda Berry Hill, tears come to my eyes.  I can’t help it – so much of my family is in Heaven now, and although I know we will be reunited one day, for the time being, we are not together.  I’m left here to celebrate without them.  We have the same Lord and we celebrate His birthday – and yes, they are saying Happy Birthday while I say Merry Christmas.

I then thought of the old Christmas carol called “O Come, All Ye Faithful”.  ALL ye faithful…  citizens of earth and citizens of Heaven!  God wants everyone to come together to celebrate the birth of Christ!

John Francis Wade wrote the Latin version, called “Adeste Fideles”.  Wade fled England after the 1745 Jacobite rebellion to teach music in the school for British Roman Catholic exiles in Douai in France.  Published in 1760, it’s been suggested that it might have incidentally served as a coded rallying cry for the Stewart cause.

The English translation was written by Frederick Oakley and William Brooke in 1841.  Samuel Webbe is credited with writing the tune, but unfortunately, it reminds many of us of the road rage anthem, “Why are we waiting?”  I don’t know who first sang those annoying words with that beautiful tune, but I’d like to punch them.  It frustrates me for two reasons:

(1) I don’t want to hear the tune to a Christmas carol at some time besides Christmas.

(2) I don’t want to hear the words WHY ARE WE WAITING sung to a tune that clearly deserves lyrics with more depth.  It’s childish.  Stop it.

It does my heart good though, to think about my family – a part of the faithful – celebrating Christ’s birthday along with me.  God knows how to give me glimmers of hope around Christmas, and I’m thankful for that.

O come, let US (y’all in Heaven and us on earth) adore HIM, CHRIST THE LORD!  🙂

PREPARE YE THE WAY OF THE LORD

TL 12-1 PREPARE YE THE WAY OF THE LORDAwe…  today is the tenth day ‘fore Christmas – and what does Lucinda’s poem tell us to do???  We are to THANK GOD FOR HIS AMAZING GRACE.  We’ve talked a little about being thankful already, but to thank God for His grace is the best thankfulness of all.

TEN DAYS FORE CHRISTMASWhat is your favorite song about God’s grace?  The most popular is AMAZING GRACE.  I think it’s probably also the oldest, which goes to show that traditional hymns are timeless.  So many artists have recorded it – but my favorite will always be Judy Collins.  https://youtu.be/CDdvReNKKuk

He looked beyond my fault and saw my need – and I praise Him for that.  https://youtu.be/5JFQNAJTRXE

THE VIEW FROM THE INN

My friend used to tell me she wished she could have been a bird in a tree in Bethlehem on that special night.  I asked her what kind of bird she would have been – and she laughed and said she didn’t know what kind of birds live in that part of the world – but she was sure there were birds there – and she wanted to be one of them.  It’s funny that some conversations you never forget – and others you can’t remember.  That’s one that will stay with me for the duration.

Let’s be thankful for God’s Amazing Grace.  Nothing you are doing there is more important than seeking Christ, God’s only Son.  All of your shopping and baking and planning and decorating can wait until you have taken the time to thank God for sending Jesus as He did – born in a manger for all of humanity.  🙂

PREPARE YE THE WAY OF THE LORD

TL 12-1 PREPARE YE THE WAY OF THE LORD

This day’s goal does not seem that difficult – to smile and say MERRY CHRISTMAS to someone.

Maybe it’s because I’m old, but I used to hear MERRY CHRISTMAS more often when I was a kid.  Nobody thought of getting offended or being politically correct back then.  We didn’t give a hang what the government thought of what we said – or who we said it to.  I’m the first to admit we hung with like-minded people.  Our friends and neighbors were Christians and went to church – so saying MERRY CHRISTMAS didn’t seem like such a big whoop to us – it’s just what we did. 

As I got older, I became friends with people of many faiths through my workplace.  I’m still not a terribly diverse individual, but I am aware that not everyone is just like me – and I’ll add – whew – that’s a good thing.  Here’s the deal – I see every person on the planet as a soul that my Jesus died on the cross to save, whether they accept that fact is immaterial.  It’s a fact that Christ died for all.  I hope that the words MERRY CHRISTMAS do not offend anyone, but it’s what I celebrate.  To me, it’s the only reason to celebrate.

You know, the Bible tells us that if we are ashamed of Christ, God will be ashamed of us…  so – don’t be afraid to say MERRY CHRISTMAS.  Doing it with a smile is a good idea.  Yes, yes – I know it will take a great deal of preparation.  Drink your morning coffee and suck on a candy cane – it’ll be alright.   Just remember, your faith in God trumps anything the government says.  Don’t be scared to be what you are, or of offending others with what you believe.  Are they scared of offending you???  Um…  no – guessing they are not.  So, smile and SHINE!  We’re not being intolerant of other faiths, we’re just expressing our own – just as they do.  🙂

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