Midweek Reflections

Silent Night, Holy Night

Read: Luke 2

One of the best known Christmas songs of all time is Silent Night.  There are different versions of this story about how the song was born, but as we welcome this Christmas season in here is how that beloved song came to be such an important part of our Christmas celebrations….

In 1818, a roving band of actors was performing in towns throughout the Austrian Alps. On December 23 they arrived at Oberndorf, a village near Salzburg where they were to re-enact the story of Christ’s birth in the small Church of St. Nicholas.  Unfortunately, the St. Nicholas’ church organ wasn’t working and would not be repaired before Christmas. Because the church organ was out of commission, the actors presented their Christmas drama in a private home. 

That Christmas presentation of the events in the first chapters of Matthew and Luke put assistant pastor Josef Mohr in a meditative mood. Instead of walking straight to his house that night, Mohr took a longer way home. The longer path took him up over a hill overlooking the village.  From that hilltop, Mohr looked down on the peaceful snow-covered village. Reveling in majestic silence of the wintry night, Mohr gazed down at the Christmas-card like scene. 

His thoughts about the Christmas play he had just seen made him remember a poem he had written a couple of years before. That poem was about the night when angels announced the birth of the long-awaited Messiah to shepherds on a hillside.  Mohr decided those words might make a good carol for his congregation the following evening at their Christmas eve service. The one problem was that he didn’t have any music to which that poem could be sung. 

So, the next day Mohr went to see the church organist, Franz Xaver Gruber. Gruber only had a few hours to come up with a melody which could be sung with a guitar. However, by that evening, Gruber had managed to compose a musical setting for the poem. It no longer mattered to Mohr and Gruber that their church organ was inoperable. They now had a Christmas carol that could be sung without that organ.  On Christmas Eve, the little Oberndorf congregation heard Gruber and Mohr sing their new composition to the accompaniment of Gruber’s guitar.

Weeks later, well-known organ builder Karl Mauracher arrived in Oberndorf to fix the organ in St. Nicholas church. When Mauracher finished, he stepped back to let Gruber test the instrument. When Gruber sat down, his fingers began playing the simple melody he had written for Mohr’s Christmas poem. Deeply impressed, Mauracher took copies of the music and words of “Silent Night” back to his own Alpine village, Kapfing. There, two well-known families of singers — the Rainers and the Strassers — heard it. Captivated by “Silent Night,” both groups put the new song into their Christmas season repertoire.

The Strasser sisters spread the carol across northern Europe. In 1834, they performed “Silent Night” for King Frederick William IV of Prussia. He then ordered his cathedral choir to sing it every Christmas eve.  Twenty years after “Silent Night” was written, the Rainers brought the song to the United States, singing it in German of New York City’s Trinity Church.

In 1863, nearly fifty years after being first sung in German, “Silent Night” was translated into English by either Jane Campbell or John Young. Eight years later, that English version made its way into print in Charles Hutchins’ Sunday School Hymnal. Today the words of “Silent Night” are sung around the world in in more than 300 different languages. (Story used from the Southern Nazarene University website)

Make it Personal:  What is your favorite Christmas hymn or song?  As you listen to Silent Night and the music of Christmas this year reflect on the words of Matthew and Luke that bring this story of the Messiah to the world.  And as you celebrate this year, celebrate the real reason for the season.

 Have a Merry Christmas, Pastor Glen Rhodes

 



Worship Wednesday

Read:
2 Corinthians 4:13-18
Matthew 6:19-24

Well, let’s see, after Thanksgiving Thursday last week we had Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday.  I’m kind of surprised they haven’t come up with something for Sunday. How about Go To Church Sunday? I can hear it now, “Churches all around the nation were so packed on Sunday that extra seating had to be brought in for the overflow crowds.”

It is interesting though how most of these designated days revolve around material things or the temporal things in life.  At least we end with Giving Tuesday, which is a positive way to wrap up all of our consumerism. But what about Wednesday, it needs a designation too.  How about we refocus everything and designate today as Worship Wednesday?

In 2 Corinthians 4 and Matthew 6 scripture speaks of storing up treasures in heaven instead of on earth. It speaks of fixing our eyes on what is unseen (eternal) instead of on what is currently seen (temporal).  Most of all these passages and others are reminding us that our worship of Jesus is the most important thing in life. And oh yes, He is why we celebrate all of this in the first place.

December is a month that is often busy, frantic, and stressful.  But it doesn’t have to be. If we focus our attention on Christ and the gift of our Savior instead of all the other designated things, we can more fully worship him and rest in the peace that he was born to bring to us.  Worship Wednesday may not catch on around the nation, but it could. It starts by you and I praising our Lord and Savior today.

Make it Personal:  What is something you can do today to worship Jesus?  Turn on some worship music or Christmas hymns, read your Bible, pray for peace and calm during this season, help out a neighbor or church friend in need, sit in silence and listen…. or what comes to your mind on this Worship Wednesday?

 Have a blessed week, Pastor Glen Rhodes



Thank You Notes

Read: Psalm 100

Some people are known for their thank you notes.  Through the years I have received some wonderful cards and notes of thanks from people.  Those thank you’s have encouraged me, uplifted me, and reminded me of the good people in this world.  Thanksgiving is a time in which we give thanks in many different ways. How will you give thanks this week?  Psalm 100 is a great place to start.

I thought it might be helpful this week to reflect on some quotes about thanksgiving from various well-known Christian leaders.  Hopefully these words will help us to truly give thanks this week.

“Even when life may be difficult, we should thank God for all He does for us, which we do not deserve.”  – Billy Graham

“In happy moments, praise God.  In difficult moments, seek God. In quiet moments, worship God.  In painful moments, trust God. In every moment, Thank God.” – Rick Warren

“God is in control, therefore in everything give thanks. Not because of the situation but because of the one who directs and rules over it.”   – Kay Arthur

“Gratitude comes from the same word as freedom (Gratis = Free).  Gratitude is the freeing expression of a free heart toward one who freely gave.”   – Ravi Zacharias

“When life is good and we have no problems, we can almost let ourselves believe we have no need for God.  But in my experience, sometimes the richest blessings come through pain and hard things.” – Anne Graham Lotz

“God doesn’t want us to just feel gratitude.  But for us to show it by giving thanks to God with our lives.”  – R.C. Sproul

Make it Personal:  How about you come up with your own Thanksgiving quote to add to these.  It’s sometimes helpful to think about what we would say if we were asked to summarize gratitude or a thankful heart.       

Have a great Thanksgiving, Pastor Glen Rhodes



Repeat Messages

Read: Exodus 20:1-17

Recently I heard a story in the news about a woman in Maine who received the same identical letter in the mail 46 times.  After 46 she reached out to the healthcare company that was sending them to her and asked them kindly to stop. However, the letters didn’t stop until she had received more than 500 letters from them.  A spokesman from the company said that the mass mailing was the result of a coding issue in its computer system. I’m pretty sure this woman got their message.

They often say that for people to really have a message sink in they need to hear it repeated many times.  Pastors sometimes joke about preaching the same message several times so that the message from scripture will take hold and be remembered.  Scripture memory is often encouraged as a way to take your Bible with you throughout the day. At a moments notice you can recite a verse that might help you in different situations.  

The Ten Commandments in Exodus 20 are mentioned and referred to many times in scripture.  Jesus even referred to them when he was asked which one was the greatest. He simplified them to say, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.”

500 mailings for the woman in Maine is overkill for sure, but in our spiritual lives we need to find ways to repeat the messages from God over and over in our heart and mind.  Maybe it is through Bible study, perhaps it is through scripture memorization, or maybe it’s listening to a sermon, message, or book multiple times so it can sink in. Remember: the more you hear it the more you will remember it.

Make it Personal:  What are some ways you can introduce repetition into your spiritual walk with Jesus?  Whatever it is be sure that the repetition is helpful and not just another thing to check off of your list.  We need beneficial repetition, not just more things to do in our week.       

Have a great week, Pastor Glen Rhodes



Who Are You Today?

Read: Ephesians 1:1-14

Identity is a big point of conversation these days.  In all of those conversations we must never forget who we are in Christ Jesus as his children.  In Ephesians 1 Paul proclaims that because we are in Christ we are many things. Redeemed, pardoned, lavished with grace, wise with knowledge, and filled with God’s good pleasure are just some of the definitions of who you are.

Often when we attend a new group or event we have the opportunity to introduce ourselves to others.  How do you usually introduce who you are? Most likely you start with your name, then maybe where you live, then maybe your job or career, how many children you have, what brought you to the group or event.  But do we ever start by saying “My name is… I am a follower of Jesus Christ and in Him I am redeemed, pardoned, lavished with grace…” and so on?

It might seem a bit awkward to start in that way but by the time you get to know those people they should definitely know that is a huge part of who you are. 1 Peter 2:9 is a wonderful verse that describes who we are.  It says, “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”  There in that verse is another description of who we are in Christ.  People called out of darkness and into the light of Jesus. Now that is good news to share. 

In her commentary on Ephesians Joyce Meyer writes this… “Many Christians spend their lives trying to get something that is already theirs in Christ.  They may try to be right with God through their own good works and behavior, yet they always end up disappointed because they always fail. However, when they see the glorious truth of the gospel and realize that because they are in Christ, God already views them as being in right standing with Him, then their struggle ceases and joy increases.”

 

Make it Personal:  The next time you introduce yourself think about your identity in Christ. Does that identity come through in how you speak, live, and relate to others?  If you are having a tough week take time to read your Bible and read about who God says you are in Him. You matter and you are loved.

Have a great week, Pastor Glen Rhodes



A Parent’s Prayer

This Week’s Midweek Reflection: 
“A Parent’s Prayer”
Read: Various verses below

Last week I started with the question, “Did you pray this morning as you started your day?”  This week I am asking parents, grandparents, and others “Did you pray for the children as you started your day?”  If you are single or do not have children perhaps you can pray these prayers over the children of our church, community, or world.  Here are some powerful ways and verses that I ran across recently from Club 31 Women.

Strength – Pray that God gives them strength to do what they need to do each day.  “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

Courage – Pray that they will be brave as they face the challenges that are before them.  “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:9

Peace – Ask that their hearts will be calm and peaceful as they go through their day and in their sleep at night.  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”  Philippians 4:6

Provision – Ask God to provide for all that they need, for stamina, spirit, and finances, for each day.  “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

Direction – Pray that the Lord will lead them as they begin to make more and more decisions as they get older.  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

Protection – Ask that God keeps them safe in this increasingly unsafe world.  That He will protect them from harm and wickedness. “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say to the Lord, My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:1-2

Love– Pray the your/our children are filled with the love of God.  That they will know how deeply they are loved, and that love will overflow onto others.  “Love is patient, and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way.”  2 Corinthians 13

Make it Personal:  Use these as a guide in your prayers for the children.  Then allow the Holy Spirit to guide you into specific prayers for the children in your family, in your church, in your community, or around the world.

 Have a wonderful week, Pastor Glen Rhodes




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