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Showing posts from December, 2016

Tinkle and Clang

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A flurry of discordant sound announced the arrival of several sections of the bell choir.

“Move it, you three. You’re late and we haven’t got much time,” chimed the Bell Master from his place on the bottom rung of the carillon.

“Nag, nag, nag,” whispered the D flat to his buddy, C, as they climbed into their places on the top level. “What’s the hurry, anyway? Clang’s got his clapper in a knot for sure this morning.”

“Morning? It’s still dark outside,” protested the F major, breathlessly hauling himself up behind the others.

The smaller bells finally got themselves into place, just as Clang struck the note that indicated readiness and silence in the ranks. He looked around, carefully checking to make sure no one was missing. Worse than a faulty note was no note at all.

“Where’s Tinkle?” he boomed from his assigned spot.

Tinkle was the littlest bell of all. Her spot was high up at the top of the carillon.

Like an evil wind brushing through the tower, the rustle of the bells c…

The Worker In Wood

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Lovingly, he caressed the smooth surface of the oak. He had carefully cut it, shaped it, and planed it until it lay finished before him—the most beautiful cradle. It was fit for a king.
Joseph remembered the stories of old, the story of Abraham sitting under the great oaks at Hebron when the Lord appeared to him. Joshua had prepared a memorial stone and placed it under an oak near the holy place to mark the covenant between Israel and God. An angel had presented himself to Gideon seated beneath an oak. Absalom had met judgment under an oak. Israel’s history was rich in references to the mighty tree.
And now, this particular piece of oak would cradle the Son of God.
Joseph suffered a moment of doubt. The Son of God? Was any cradle he could make, a lowly worker in wood, worthy of God, the King of kings and Lord over all?
But that appeared to be the plan. He’d never forget the appearance of the angel, assuring him that Mary had told the truth—the child growing within her was God’s Son, the …

Immortal Song

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The stage of the universe was set. The orchestra, watching for that first movement of the Conductor’s baton, raised celestial instruments and prepared to play. The score was laid out before them; whole notes and half, quarter notes, rests and full stops, the opus to end them all awaited the Creator’s pleasure. The Maestro raised His arm and then, with His hand marking a gentle downbeat, the music began. The curtains of time rolled back and the sweet Singer of songs stepped forward to take His place on the platform called life.

The notes rose to caress the faces of leaves and petals, to brush the hummingbird’s wings and still her frantic flight. They tickled the whiskers of a tiger, tugged the tail of a monkey, and embraced the two jewels of creation as they sat engrossed in conversation with a turtle. The human pair paused, lifting innocent heads to breathe in the sweet smell of the Maker’s passage, to delight in the gentle timbre of His voice singing in the wind.

The s…

Come In Time

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If I could have, I would have shoved my feet through the floor of the bus and used my own legs to push it along. If mind ever had power over matter, mine should have forced the driver’s foot to press down harder on the accelerator.
The night flashed by, faint outlines of trees interrupted by the occasional house dimly lit by a yard light or edged with Christmas bulbs. The road stretched before me. I willed it to end where I needed it to end, but perversely it refused, one curve morphing into yet another length of highway flecked with swirling snow.
The demon of doubt whispered: She’s going to die before I get there. A desperate faith countered: Please don’t let her go before I arrive.
Does a minute always take so long? How is it that an hour seems like an eternity? Eight hours on a bus crawling through the night. No flights available this close to Christmas. No trains leaving that would get me there any faster. Faster?My demon doubt mocked me. What was that verse about taking on wings a…

Fear...NOT!

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I've lost count of how many times I have told this story—most recently last week at a Seniors' Residence! But here goes once again.

Years ago, as Director of Christian Education, in the days when that role for me involved kids, we did a lot of Christmas programs. On this particular Christmas the play was called Three Wise Men and A Baby. In one scene the shepherds (three boys from the Junior Department of the Sunday School) were to be sitting around their fire just minding their own business and talking their long, boring evening away as they watched their sheep. The angel who was to appear to them, was a tall, skinny Jamaican kid. You can imagine what he looked like in his white robes and gold tinsel halo. He was to enter from the choir loft door, above the platform where the shepherds were seated.

When the angel appeared he was to introduce himself with the words, "Fear not!" and the shepherds were then to scream in fright! That was exactly what happened.

Then, th…

Do It Now!

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I am shamelessly borrowing the passages from our pastor's sermon of yesterday—which only tells you that what he said hit me!

The sermon series Pastor Parks is working on is about angels, and the message yesterday revolved around Joseph and the three appearances that Gabriel made to the man who would become the adoptive father of the Messiah and Saviour of mankind.

"...an angel of the Lord appeared to himin a dream and said, 'Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit'" (Matthew 1:20).

"When they [the wise men] had all gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. 'Get up,' he said, 'take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him'" (Matthew 2:13).

"After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, 'Get up, take…

I Wonder Who Was Praying for Caesar?

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Did he know that Yahweh was moving him to participate in the greatest event that had yet taken place in history?

Probably not. But God put Caesar Augustus in place to facilitate the birth of Jesus.

According to Wikipedia: "The reign of Augustus initiated an era of relative peace known as the Pax Romana (The Roman Peace). The Roman world was largely free from large-scale conflict for more than two centuries, despite continuous wars of imperial expansion on the Empire's frontiers and one year-long civil war over the imperial succession. Augustus dramatically enlarged the Empire, annexing Egypt, Dalmatia, Pannonia, Noricum, and Raetia; expanding possessions in Africa; expanding into Germania; and completing the conquest of Hispania...He reformed the Roman system of taxation, developed networks of roads with an official courier system, established a standing army, established the Praetorian Guard, created official police and fire-fighting services for Rome, and rebuilt much o…

The Power of Praise

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"My soul praises 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." (Luke 1:46-50).

So begins what is sometimes referred to as the "Magnificat" or Mary's song.

It is her response to her cousin Elizabeth's words: "Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!" (Luke 1:45).

Praise is the ultimate result of faith. It's how we say that we believe. Praise is not the logical response to our circumstances. For Mary, it was not logical to praise God for being an unwed pregnant girl whose only explanation was that the Spirit of God had overwhelmed her and given her a child who was the Son of the Almighty and Saviour of the world!

But faith is often illogical. It opp…

Waiting...

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I used to be the first one up on Christmas morning. Long before day officially broke, I'd quietly come downstairs and turn the tree lights on. Then I would sit and wait, and wait, and wait!

Life is all about waiting, because we are always waiting for something. I have spent most of my life using public transportation so I always seem to be waiting for a bus, or a train, or a plane.

We wait for doctors' appointments. We wait for good news, bad news, any news at all from family and friends! We wait for Spring. We wait for raises, and for the right house at the right price in the right place. We wait for the right gal or guy to come along (or we wait for the wrong gal or guy to go away—far, far away!).

In Venezuela, people wait in long lines to get basic foods and medicine. In other parts of the world people wait for rain, or peace, or freedom.

Some wait for the pain to go away.

For Mary, nine months must have seemed like an eternity. But like every other pregnant woman, she had…

A Perfect Time

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Back in my first year in seminary, I boarded with a family who were originally from Newfoundland. It was while I was living there that I first learned to drink tea! The daughter of the house was also a first year student. While she was at school she met a young man in his final year. They began to date steadily and seriously. He owned a "bug" as they were then called. One evening we were out for a drive—her with her boyfriend and me with...well, that isn't at all interesting. We got out of the car at one point, leaving the lovebirds behind. We weren't gone long—not long enough! When we arrived back at the car, I opened the door and to my amazement and embarrassment I discovered my friend sitting in the backseat with her boyfriend on his knees in front of her, proposing. Try doing that in the backseat of a Volkswagen! I excused us and closed the door, allowing them a little more time to finish their undying declarations of love.

My timing was a little off.

But God…

He Shall be Called Great!

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Has anyone ever asked you who you think is the person who has made the greatest contribution to society? Answering the question is made easier if I specify the field in which this person has contributed. If I specify the medical field, someone will suggest a particular doctor or researcher. For example, Alexander Fleming is famous as the discoverer of penicillin. In the area of technology, another Alexander, as in Graham Bell, might get the nod for the telephone, the great-great-granddaddy of the cell phone. If I mention sports, James Naismith, the inventor of basketball, might come to mind. But the answers to these questions will certainly be varied. Not everyone thinks of (or is old enough to think of ) a Fleming, a Bell, or a Naismith.

And if I ask who has made the greatest contribution to religion, the answers will be equally varied.
 Because it's me asking the question my guess is that you will think I am hoping that you'll say: "Jesus!"

But not everyone will—a…

All Are Precious In His Sight

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One of the lines in a play I saw this week quoted a New Testament skeptic who said, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" (John 1:46).

Prejudice comes in all forms and sizes, and obviously isn't anything new!

Jesus was known to have been brought up in Nazareth and was sometimes referred to as the Nazarene. Apparently Nazareth didn't have much of a reputation and people being what people are, race, colour, religion, gender, physical appearance, age, and home town, can influence people's opinions.

And if we are wrong to judge people based on race, colour, religion and all the others, then it must also be wrong to judge someone based on their home town! Well, it might be wrong, but it still happens. And the Lord carried around the stigma of being from Nazareth for all of His earthly life.

It makes you wonder why God orchestrated the life of His Son so that He was raised in Nazareth. Why not some other more popular place?

But then again, why choose Bethlehem to …

My Father, God!

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A few years ago I joined Ancestry.ca in order to track down and document my family's genealogical history. My mother's side wasn't hard, but Dad's was another story. My great-grandfather had worn out three wives on the farm and no one seemed to know what their names were, or anything about the children of the first two. Records were obscure—immigration authorities seemed to have a hard time with spelling many of the names of those coming from Europe back in the day.

But in the course of searching out more recent family history I discovered some cousins that I had had never known, and about whom no one had ever spoken—two young boys in one family who had died young.

Genealogies are interesting, revealing, and sometimes even important. So they were in the time of Christ. Matthew begins his gospel, a message particularly directed to the Jews, by reciting the genealogy of Christ in order to prove a direct line back to Abraham, the father of the nation (Matthew 1:1-17).

My…

Firsts

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It's not the first time I've heard it, but never before from my brother. He remarked recently that he enjoys the first snowfall of the winter.

"Firsts" are special—first birthdays, first anniversaries, first ______________. You fill in the blank.

Mary's first baby was special too, but perhaps for different reasons than most first babies. She knew Who He was. Most moms have an idea of who they want their babies to become. They are ambitious for their kids whether they are "firsts" or not. But Mary really KNEW. The angel told her: "You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name 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 the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end" (Luke1:31-33). To Joseph, the surprise of Mary's pregnancy and all of its implications, came with a similar message. Every fath…