FROM THE PASTORS DESK

Please read the devotion and click on the link at the bottom to access the song, where you will be redirected from this website so you can listen and watch a video of the song's performance.  

I have prepared songs for the coming days.  If there is a hymn that speaks to you, I would welcome suggestions. 

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Wednesday, January 12, 2022 -  Scripture: Isaiah 9:6-7; Song: "The People That in Darkness Sat" 
 
We are now in the midst of the Epiphany season in the church, the time often called the season of light.  It seems kind of odd because it’s completely the opposite of how the world sees this time.  It’s January and the fun of Christmas is over and all that is left are the bills.  Outside, it’s the time of the least amount of light.  The sun is constantly, it seems, covered by clouds and snow and the wind chills, ouch!  And Covid won’t go away, and there’s cancer and loved ones dying, and the inflation and the economy seem to be bringing more darkness.  So, what is this season of light all about?  Well, it’s about the same light of Christmas, the light of the baby Jesus, only not the baby anymore but we feel we are sitting in darkness rather than in the season of light!  Today’s Epiphany hymn, The People That in Darkness Sat, states “A glorious light have seen, The light has shined on them who long in shades of death have been, In shades of death have been.” Then the following verses point us to Jesus, who as He himself tells us in John’s Gospel is the light of the world.  Verses 3, 4 and 5, quote our Scripture for today, Isaiah 9: 6-7.  Verse 3 and the Scripture start out, “To us a child of hope is born, to us the Son is given.”  And you might be saying, wait a minute, that’s a Christmas verse not an Epiphany verse?  And you would be half right.  It is a Christmas verse but the key to understanding Epiphany and why it’s called the season of Light is because this verse is also an Epiphany verse.  Because we need to be clear about this, the same Jesus who was the Son given to be born in a manger is also the Son grown up to be the Light of the World, the one who overcomes the darkness.  First and foremost, he overcomes the darkness of sin because the same Jesus who is the light of the world during Epiphany goes to the cross for you on Good Friday and rises from the dead on Easter for you.  We are the people who sit in darkness because of our sin, because of Covid-19 and cancer and death and financial issues and more.  But we don’t remain in darkness because we have seen a great light, the light of our Savior, Jesus.   If we don’t experience the darkness, we don’t know our need for our Savior, and we won’t experience the light!  So, listen to the hymn and rejoice in the light, Jesus- come into the world to overcome all the darkness.  And reread, Isaiah 9:6-7 and understand just what it is that Jesus came to do, that all power in earth and heaven rests on him and because of that he has overcome the darkness!    
Wednesday, January 5, 2022 -  Scripture: Matthew 2:1-11; Song: "How Many Kings?" 
 
Today is the last day of Christmas for this year.  Tomorrow, January 6th, is Epiphany and Christmas in the church will be over. On Epiphany, we celebrate the coming of the wise men to see Jesus.  Tradition has the wise men coming to the stable in Bethlehem, but history tells us they most likely aren’t connected that way. By the time the wise men get to Bethlehem, the census would have been long over. Most people would have gone home, opening up an Inn for Joseph, Mary, and the baby to rest and the baby to grow stronger before leaving on the long trip back to Nazareth.

Our Scripture reading for today is Matthew’s account of the birth of Jesus and the coming of the wise men in Matthew 2:1-11. If you read the verses after our text, you will see that Herod is concerned that since the wise men didn’t come back to tell him where Jesus was, that Jesus might grow up to be the King that would lead to his losing the throne. That’s why he ordered the death of all male children two and under. This would indicate how long it might have been since the first Christmas and the reason we don’t think Jesus would have been in the stable anymore.

Today’s song, “How Many Kings?” does a great job in bridging the gap between the 12th day of Christmas and the coming of the wise men on Epiphany. Herod thought that Jesus would be a King to take over His throne. It seemed the wise men knew, as all of us know, that Jesus came not to be an earthly King but to grow up and go to the cross for us. In doing that, he would save us from our sins, and bring us back into God’s Kingdom where he is King. You might think the song title is about the number of Kings that came to Bethlehem. But as you listen, realize that the group “Downhere” is asking how many kings would do what Jesus did for you? How many Kings would leave heaven to be born in a lowly manger? How many Kings would go to the cross for their subjects, you and me, as Jesus did? If you are struggling with life as 2022 begins, know how much Jesus loves you. You are not alone. Jesus has overcome your greatest problem, sin. He will help you through the rest of your struggles, cancer, job loss, or the death of loved ones! So, listen to the song and may the peace of Jesus be with you as start 2022! And read the account of Jesus’ birth and the visit from the Kings from the East with awe, as you see God at work in the world to save you and me!

 
How Many Kings Video With lyrics
 
Wednesday, December 29, 2021 -  Scripture: John 1:1-5 and 14; Song: "Anthem for Christmas" 

It’s been 5 days since Christmas and for some of you it may seem like it never happened. In the church though, it is still Christmas. Remember it’s lasts 12 days, 12 days until January 6th and the Epiphany and the Wise men. That’s where the song comes from with the five gold rings and a partridge in a pear tree. But the 12 days of Christmas won’t work well for a song devotion about Jesus because it’s secular, it doesn’t even mention the Reason for the Season himself, born in a manger for you and me. Today’s song “An Anthem for Christmas” might at first seem to be the same. It talks about creation and the Word made flesh but doesn’t mention Jesus by name. That’s because it comes from John’s Gospel and John’s version of the Christmas story from John 1. There John refers to says in chapter 1, verse 1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”  Then in the next first verses, John showed how the Word was light and shined in the darkness. Then finally in verse 14, John says the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. John was writing to the Jews and building the case that Jesus was both God and man. God at the beginning at creation and then man, in the flesh, as Luke tells us, born in a manger at Bethlehem. It is so important at Christmas that we realize that Jesus is both God and man, and able to live perfectly and die, something only the God-man could do. It was the only way he could save us from our sins. The video of our song today illustrates it well as the artwork shows the traditional account of Jesus’ birth in pictures as Michael W. Smith sings, quoting from today’s Scripture reading. As you continue to ponder the meaning of Christmas throughout these twelve days, listen to the words of Michael W. Smith and read John 1 and see how they go together. May they be a comfort for you in these difficult times. And may they help you to continue to enjoy the 12 days of Christmas.

Anthem for Christmas, Michael W. Smith
 
 
 

Anthem for Christmas, Michael W. Smith