Post-Christmas Reflection: Gloria in Excelsis Deo!

[The angel said to [the shepherds], “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord.  And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”  And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”] ~  Luke 2:10-14

Glory to God in the highest!  The celebration of the glorious birth of Christ the Lord has begun…Merry Christmas!

Try to put yourself in the shoes of these shepherds.  Little excitement would have regularly come their way.  They were poor, simple shepherds who spent their days and nights tending the sheep of the fields.  That night, a group of them had gathered together for camaraderie.  It’s easy to imagine the scene of normal talking, laughing and being together.  Little did they realize what was about to happen.

As they were gathered, an angel of God appeared to them announcing “good news of great joy!”  They must have been stunned.  But that’s only the beginning.  The angel announced that the Savior of the World had been born and then, much to their surprise, they witnessed the whole host of heavenly angels singing praises: “Gloria in excelsis Deo!”  “Glory to God in the highest!”

These humble shepherds were the first to be called by God to go and greet the newborn King.  What’s amazing is that God did not first call the “important” of the age to come worship.  He called these poor shepherds.Read More »

Advent Week-4 (2019): The Candle Of Love

“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).

When Jesus came to this earth, He brought a special kind of love. This love is unselfish, compassionate, unconditional. He loves us just as we are. Our condition is irrelevant to His love. It is a love that picks us up just where we are in life and carries us further than we could ever go on our own.

He gives us His love so we can give it away in the same unselfish, compassionate, unconditional way He gave it to us. He tells us this love will be our trademark. It will distinguish us as followers of Jesus.

Your actions reflect Jesus to the world around you. You can choose to offer love or to hold it back. In situations where it is hard to offer love, ask Him to give you an abundance of His own in your heart so you are able to give it away.

As you move into Christmas this week, be reminded of the distinguishing mark you carry as a follower of Jesus. Ask for His love to be evident in your words and actions as you interact with others. Seek to bring unity and balance into relationships or situations. Listen to people with sincerity and interest. Ask for a graciousness that comes from His Spirit as you mingle with those in your circle.

Wear the love of Jesus as your distinguishing mark as His follower.

A PRAYER FOR LOVE

Heavenly Father,

The whole meaning of Christmas can be explained in one little four letter word…LOVE. You sent your gift of pure love to us that first Christmas. Love descended from heaven to be born of a virgin. Love lay in the scratchy hay of a manger in a meager barn in Bethlehem. All of your love, God, was robed in the delicate skin of a baby and wrapped in swaddling clothes. This final week of Advent, help us to reflect on the magnitude of love that was made manifest in Jesus.

Your word became flesh and you made your dwelling among us when Jesus was born. You set aside all of the glory and splendor of heaven and chose the most humble way to enter into your kingdom. Beneath the stars, surrounded by all of the hosts of heaven, Love came. Welcomed by an earthly mother and father, shepherds and wise men, Love came. 

You are King and King and Lord of Lords, Messiah and Ruler of All, yet you came not as a lion but as a lamb. You came as an innocent baby whose purpose was walk this earth in complete love, and then to sacrificially give his life as an atonement for the sins of His children. Emmanuel. God with us. Love in the form of a man.

That was your plan. From beginning to end, you knew every minute of Jesus life. You knew that the cross of Calvary was waiting for Jesus, yet you still sent your only Son so that our sin debt could be paid and we could walk blameless because of the shed blood of Jesus.

There is no greater gift then this, that a man should lay down his life for his friends. You willing gave the gift of your life because of your love. Your righteous blood covered our sin. You redeem and restore us when we confess you as Lord and Savior of our life. In that moment you give us the gift of your love for all eternity. We receive grace upon grace and mercy upon mercy in that moment.

The greatest gift of all came that first Christmas. It wasn’t wrapped in a beautiful package and set under a decorated tree. The greatest gift came wrapped in the flesh of baby Jesus and laid in the rough wood of a manger. Our perfect gift would later be rewrapped in the scars of our sin and nailed to the rugged wood of a cross on Calvary, all because of love.

Father, this final week of Advent, fill our hearts and minds with the significance of that truth. Thank you, Lord, for loving us enough to send Jesus.

In Jesus’ precious name we pray.

Amen

 

Many thanks and blessings to Gail Rodgers and Bobbie Schaeperkoetter

Advent Week-3 (2019): The Candle Of Joy

As I re-juggled my “to do” list of Christmas preparations, my thoughts bounced around the changes that have come and how Christmas will be somewhat different this year — good changes, challenging changes, hard changes — the interesting mosaic of life. It’s different for all of us, yet we all share in that changing landscape of life. Sometimes finding joy in the changes is easy. Other time it’s very challenging.

As I pondered the changes in my life, and in our world, I thought about Christmas and the birth of Baby Jesus. Sometimes that manger scene seems so irrelevant and so far removed from day-to-day life. Yet an old verse in the Bible brought freshness to my soul this week as I pondered how the Baby Jesus impacts my life today. It truly gives new cause for joy — to stop and listen again.

“For unto us a child is born …and He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6-7).

Any need you have in life and in the changing landscape of your mosaic can be answered by Jesus. If you need wisdom or strength, He will be your Counselor. If you need a mountain moved, He is your Mighty God. If you need comfort, forgiveness and gentle healing, He is your everlasting Father; and if your heart is anxious and troubled, He will be Peace to you. Jesus is our rock and our hope — our cause for joy!Read More »

Advent Week-2 (2019): The Candle Of Peace

And then the angels proclaimed “Peace on Earth” when the Baby Jesus was born. Today we wonder as we listen to the evening news, is peace possible? We all need two kinds of peace in our lives. We need inner peace, but we also need peace with others. God addresses both. He tells us what to do to find that peace.

INNER PEACE

Inner peace begins with a relationship with God, and it continues as we focus on His strength and allow Him to fill us. We can exchange our weakness for His strength in any area of life. God’s Word says, “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is focused on You because He trusts in You” (Isaiah 26:3).

Personalize that verse with your own name in it: “God will keep me in perfect peace as my mind focuses on Him and trusts Him.” Inner peace hinges on your trust in God.

If inner peace is eluding you these days and anxiety is spilling over in your life, choose to trust God. You can choose to put your hand in His and draw from His patience and wisdom as you take each step. He will guide you through the maze of life if you ask Him. Choosing to trust God with those blind corners in your life will take you down the road to inner peace. Choosing not to trust Him will take you down the road to stress and worry. Inner peace is there for the choosing.

PEACE WITH OTHERS

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Advent Week-1 (2019): The Candle Of Hope

The Advent season is a beautiful reminder to prepare our hearts as we prepare our homes — to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus! At the start of this week, we light the first of the four candles in the Advent wreath: the candle of Hope.

Is your heart filled with hope? Do you have a confident expectation of your tomorrow? What happens when the road ahead is filled with loss and stress weighs your shoulders down? When confident expectation for tomorrow dwindles, what can you do? How can you walk in hope when you feel hopeless inside?

In one word, the answer to confident expectation is “JESUS” — the Jesus of Christmas.

Hope in Jesus comes from more than just a belief that He was once a baby in a manger. This hope in Him has been called “an anchor for the soul.” It is something deep within that secures you through the storms of life.

HOPE FOR HELP

We are invited to come to Him and confidently ask for help. Hebrews 4:16 tells us, “to come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

HOPE TO OVERCOME

Things that leave one feeling powerless and hopeless come in many forms. With Christ’s strength you can overcome great obstacles, and faith in Jesus gives hope and help to overcome: “and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4).

HOPE FOR POWER

Sometimes in life we find ourselves with a task that simply looks too big for us. We do not just need a cup of God’s strength added to our own; rather, we need His strength in us to do what we need to do. He will give it! 2 Corithians 12:9 says, “My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Seeing our weakness as the entry point of God’s strength gives access to His power!

HOPE FOR ETERNITY

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Noble Knights (March of St. Ignatius)

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Noble Knight, leader of a brave array. lead us on, O lead us on
We will fight neath thy sway, neath thy sway!
What tho’ foes gather near, we don’t fear, we don’t fear!
We’ll not shun, we’ll not quit
this our noble career.

We will fight ever true to death to thee:
true to God to faith and thee. true to thee.

Lead us on gallantly, ever on valiantly
‘Neath thy banner to fight
for the Church and its right.
All for God’s own greater glory is our cry,
our battle cry!
Not for gain, nor in vain is our strife in this life;
but for God who is our king
all to him our hearts we bring.

Growing stronger and stronger
as fighting lasts longer
and purer and purer
to make heaven surer
with crosses and trials
and many denials – we’ll fight!

But to die
loyal and true to our king who doth reign on high!
Ignatius lead us on – till we die!!

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🌿 Palm Sunday 2019 🌿

 

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Lord God,
I give you thanks, for you are good, and your mercy is endless.
Here I stand, at the start of this holy week,
This week in which your church remembers Jesus’ passion and death,
And I am distracted by many things.
Turn my eyes now to the One who comes in your name
The one who opens the gates of righteousness
The one who answers when we call.
I bless you, Lord, for shining your light upon me,
And for sending your son to us, in human frailty.
To walk the road we walk.
Open my eyes that I may see him coming,
And may praise him with a pure heart.
And may walk in the way of his suffering,
And share also in his resurrection.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.

Amen.

🌿

-Excerpted from 8 Prayers to Pray Each Week of Holy Week by Rachel Marie Stone

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