Midweek Reflections

“Silent Night”

This Weeks Meditation:  “Silent Night, Holy Night”
Read: Luke 1:46-56

Last week I shared the story of the song “O Holy Night” and so I thought maybe I would share the history of several other Christmas songs that we have come to love.  Last night I attended a concert in which everyone in attendance ended the evening by singing the calming and peaceful hymn “Silent Night, Holy Night.”

We often shorten the title to just “Silent Night” but in it’s original form the title also includes “Holy Night.”  We have to believe that Mary experienced many of these silent and holy nights leading up to our Savior’s birth.  In this passage from Luke 1 we hear her own song which is filled with praise, expectation, and deliverance.

The original song “Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht” was born on Christmas Eve in Oberndorf, Austria back in 1818.  The organ in the church was broken and so an assistant priest (Joseph Mohr) decided that a new Christmas song was needed that did not require the organ.  He took his words to the organist (Franz Gruber) and asked him if he could create a tune for the lyrics.  He did and the two sang this song for the first time with only a guitar.

The hymn was then picked up, interestingly enough, by an organ repairman who spread it around and made it popular throughout Europe.  The first English translation was first published in 1863.  When erroneous reports surfaced that gave credit for the song to Mozart and Haydn, Gruber quickly told this now familiar story of the carol’s birth. (found in the Hymnal Companion book, Faith and Life Press, in our church library)

Through the years I have heard many stories about how this particular carol has inspired restoration, reunion, peace, and hope.  I often wonder if one of the reasons it is such a favorite is because it brings a peaceful calm to what often ends up being a hurried Christmas season.

I hope you can find some Silent night’s this month to remember the holiness of this season and keep the celebration in it’s proper perspective.  Hopefully we can sing along with Mary when she says, “My soul glorifies the Lord and my Spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”

Make It Personal:  The next time you hear “Silent Night, Holy Night” think of Mary when she heard the news that she was going to carry God’s Son Jesus into the world.  What would you say in your song if you were chosen for such a calling?

Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life
Arthur Mennonite Church

“O Holy Night”

This Weeks Meditation:  “O Holy Night”
Read: Luke 2:1-20

Many people love this time of year for the wonderful Christmas music.  Our family has a tradition each year that we play Christmas music while we decorate the tree and the house for the season.  It’s a fun time that always ends with one particular fun Christmas song when all the decorating is done.

Music speaks to the soul!  It does throughout the year but it seems like it speaks even louder during the Christmas season.  One of my favorite Christmas songs of all time is “O Holy Night”  There is nothing quite like a calm, crisp, night outside and that song playing in your decorated home.  It definitely brings peace during a sometimes hurried Christmas season.

I was interested to learn that this song was actually a poem written in the 1800’s by a French poet named Placide Cappeau.  The Words were then rewritten into a song by Adolphe Adam in 1847.  The words of the poem are very inspirational just like the words of the song.  His poem went like this….

Midnight, Christians, it is the solemn hour,
When God-man descended to us
To erase the stain of original sin
And to end the wrath of His Father.
The entire world thrills with hope
On this night that gives it a Savior.
People kneel down, wait for your deliverance.
Christmas, Christmas, here is the Redeemer,
Christmas, Christmas, here is the Redeemer!

May the ardent light of our Faith
Guide us all to the cradle of the infant,
As in ancient times a brilliant star
Guided the Oriental kings there.
The King of Kings was born in a humble manger;
O mighty ones of today, proud of your greatness,
It is to your pride that God preaches.
Bow your heads before the Redeemer!
Bow your heads before the Redeemer!

The Redeemer has overcome every obstacle:
The Earth is free, and Heaven is open.
He sees a brother where there was only a slave,
Love unites those that iron had chained.
Who will tell Him of our gratitude,
For all of us He is born, He suffers and dies.
People stand up! Sing of your deliverance,
Christmas, Christmas, sing of the Redeemer,
Christmas, Christmas, sing of the Redeemer.

I hope that we all can be inspired by the Awe of that Holy Night some 2000 years ago as we celebrate Christmas this year.  I hope that we will sing of our Redeemer knowing that he has overcome every obstacle and that he was born, suffered, and died because of his love for each of us.

Make it personal: Listen closely to the words of Christmas songs this year as you hear them.  Think about what inspired the writer of those songs to sing about their Savior born for the world.  Have fun with Christmas music but let it also speak to your soul.

Have a blessed Christmas season,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life
Arthur Mennonite Church

“A Grateful Person”

This Weeks Meditation:  “A Grateful Person”
Read: Psalm 100

The story is told about a man who found a barn where Satan kept his seeds ready to be sown in the human heart.  He found that the seeds of discouragement were more numerous than the others and he learned that those seeds could be made to grow almost anywhere.

But when Satan was questioned, he reluctantly admitted that there was one place in which he could never get them to thrive.  “And where is that?” asked the man.  Satan replied sadly, “In the heart of a grateful person.”

We all know that Thanksgiving is a time that we come together with family and friends to give thanks, eat too much, and watch football.  We also know that thanksgiving is something that we should celebrate continuously throughout the year and not just for one week.

That is how a grateful person is defined.  As someone who can take the challenges and the celebrations of life and still be grateful to God for what is given to them.  I admire those people who face some of the most difficult struggles we can imagine and yet they say, “I’m thankful that God has given me…”

I truly believe that a grateful heart does make it hard for Satan to sow seeds of discouragement into our lives.  If he can’t find the soil to make it grow, that discouragement will just die before it ever takes root in our lives.

My prayer on this week of Thanksgiving is that each of us can be grateful for the life, hope, love, and encouragement that Jesus Christ brings to our lives.  Celebrate that with your family and tell them how grateful you are that God has blessed you by putting them in your life.

Make it personal:  As you wake up tomorrow on Thanksgiving day spend some time in prayer with God, thanking Him for the many things you have to be grateful for.  Be careful, you might miss Thanksgiving dinner because the list will be long.

Have a great Thanksgiving,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life
Arthur Mennonite Church

“One Affects Many”

This Week’s Meditation:  “One Affects Many”
Read: Joshua 7

Many of the stories in the news recently have revolved around the terrible decisions of one that in turn has affected many others.  As I read these stories I was reminded of a similar instance in the Old Testament.  It’s the story of Achan in Joshua 7.

When the Israelites started to experience many defeats they wondered what the problem was.  After consulting with the Lord they realized that the sin of Achan was bringing the whole group those unwanted defeats.

In verses 20-21 when Achan is questioned he says, “It is true! I have sinned against the LORD, the God of Israel. This is what I have done: When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath.”

As we live our lives we need to be aware of how our decisions affect the others around us.  It could be our family, our co-workers, our company, our church, or others.  Truth is, the decisions that we make in life reach further than just ourselves.  Are we taking that into account?

This is true in the positive sense as well as the negative.  It is amazing how the positive attitude or actions of one person can rally a group to accomplish things they never thought possible.  Thankfully we have also seen some of those stories in the news recently as well.

The bottom line for us is to be aware of this in our daily lives.  One right or wrong decision is much more far reaching than we sometimes realize.  The grace of Jesus is always sufficient, and the example of Jesus is always perfect.  Before you make your next move, think about the implications!

Make it personal:  Try using the following question before you make decisions in the future.  “How will this decision affect the people I love and care about?”  If we ask that question I think the Lord will truly lead us in the way we should go.

Have a blessed week,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life
Arthur Mennonite Church

“A Professional Worrier”

This Weeks Mediation:  “A Professional Worrier”
Read: 1 Peter 5:6-11

Sometimes I wonder how well the title of this weeks meditation
describes me personally.  Maybe you were thinking the same
thing.  While some people tend to be bigger worriers than
others it is an occupation we all accept at various times in
our lives.

Maybe you’ve heard about the man that had a mountain of credit
card debt?  He said to his friend, “I’ve lost my job, my car
is being repossessed, and our house is in foreclosure, but I’m
not worried about it.” His friend asked him why he wasn’t
worried and he said, “Because I’ve hired a professional
worrier.  He is going to do all my worrying for me, and that
way I don’t have to think about.”

The friend told him that was fantastic and asked him how much
he charges for that service.  He said, “$50,000 a year.”  “And
how are you going to come up with that kind of money?” The
friend asked.  The man said, “I don’t know, that’s his worry.”

That’s a funny story, but the truth is, those kind of
desperate things usually do make us worry.  1 Peter 5:7
reminds us that we have a Savior in Jesus Christ to help us work through our worry and take it all from us.  That verse says, “You can throw the whole weight of your anxieties upon him, for you are his personal concern.” (Phillips)  Jesus doesn’t actually worry for us, but he does take it from us if we ask him to.

Of course, Jesus himself speaks about this in Matthew 6:25-27.
He says, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life,
what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will
wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than
clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap
or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds
them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one
of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”

That’s great counsel! It’s great to know that we can give our
worries to Jesus and he takes them and returns them right back
to Satan’s hand where they came from.  If you are a believer
and follower of Jesus Christ you have this option available to
you each time worry begins to creep into your life.  Jesus
loves you and he will provide and protect you from even the
most difficult challenge you will face.

Make it personal:  The next time you are overcome with worry
step outside and look at the birds and remember this promise
of Christ in Matthew 6.  Worry will not add a single hour to
your life, but it will steal plenty if you are not careful.

Have a blessed week,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life
Arthur Mennonite Church

“My Hope”

This Weeks Meditation:  “My Hope”
Read: Psalm 37:1-9

Where do I truly place my hope?  I asked myself that candid question this week as I listened to this weeks #1 Christian song on the radio by Aaron Shust.  It is entitled “My hope is in you.”  Here are the lyrics to the chorus….

“My hope is in You, Lord, All the day long, I won’t be shaken by drought or storm, A peace that passes understanding is my song, And I sing, My hope is in You, Lord.”  That is the encouragement we hear in Psalm 37 as well.

David realizes that the things this world offers are so empty and pale in comparison to the hope we find in the Lord.  He says, “Evil people may try to cut us off, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.” (v.9)

It seems like every time we surf the web or turn on the T.V. we have somebody or some company trying to offer us the remedy to all of our ills.  “Your hope for happiness is found in this new product.”  “Your cure for loneliness is found in this new book by such and such author.”  “Your hope for a better financial future is found in this new job or in this wonderful investment.”

David tried many of those kind of things until he realized that nothing compared to the hope that was found in his Lord.  In verse 4 he says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

Can you truly say that your hope is in the Lord all day long?  When I asked myself that question I realized that even though I think that and want that, I often let the world trick me into another option.  When the road is rough it is easy to look in many different directions for help, but remember, our help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.

Our God is a God of Hope, Restoration, Peace, Salvation, Forgiveness, and on and on.  If we commit our ways to Him and trust in him I am confident that He will give us that song of hope to sing along with Aaron Shust.

Make it personal:  To find more encouraging hope in God’s Word go to www.biblegateway.com and type the word “hope” in the search box.  You will be encouraged and you will realize once again that in God and His Word we have all the hope that we need.

Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life
Arthur Mennonite Church

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