Midweek Reflections

“Wisdom of their ways”

This Weeks Devotional:  “Wisdom of their ways”
Read: Psalm 36:9; Proverbs 10:11; Proverbs 13:14; Proverbs 16:22

Every other week I go to the Arthur Home to read to the residents there.  I spend a half hour reading various books from start to finish over time.  Recently I started reading Billy Graham’s new book entitled “Nearing Home, Life, Faith, and Finishing Well.”  It has been interesting to see and hear some of their responses as they listen to Pastor Graham’s wisdom of 93 years. (Many of them are close to the same age as Billy Graham and can relate to what he writes)

It has been a good experience for me as well.  As we begin a new year I am reminded again about the wisdom that the older generation has to share with us.  In those scriptures above David and Solomon remind us as well about the “words of the Godly” and the “life giving fountain” of wisdom that older believers have to share with us.

Even those who are 10 years older have had 10 more years of experiences, and life situations to learn and grow from.  We would be wise to tap into that wisdom and use their stories and their advice to help us in our Christian journey.

It is also important for us to think about who we can mentor.  At any age there is always someone younger that can be helped by some of the experiences that you have had and learned from.  When we encourage the next generation of Christians we are planting seeds for God’s kingdom that will flourish long after our time on earth is over.

I ran across a poem by Lanette Kissel that says it well….

“They have made their share of mistakes, may have learned life’s lessons the hard way.  It has taken years of living and learning to turn their hair to lovely shades of gray.  Though their hearing and eyesight may be weak, and the gait of their walk may be slow, they are able to point you in the direction it would be best for you to go.  They have seen the sun rise and set on an endless number of days.  You know you can surely benefit from the wisdom of their ways.  Do you find that they are truly wise, or do you think of them as simply old?  Yet realize that their knowledge and insight are worth more than silver and gold.”

Make it personal:  Who is a mentor to you?  Who can you mentor?  These are good questions to ask as we begin a New Year.  Remember that each interaction you have with an older or younger person may be an opportunity to learn or to teach.

Many blessings in the year ahead,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life
Arthur Mennonite Church


This Weeks Meditation:  “Messiah”
Read: John 1:35-42

The past several weeks I have been writing about various Christmas songs that we have sung through the generations. This week I am writing about one that is not sung as often as it is listened to.  The original title of this musical composition was known simply as “Messiah.”  Through the years however it has become known as “Handel’s Messiah” for the one who composed it many years ago.

George Frideric Handel composed this music in 1741, with a scriptural text compiled by Charles Jennens from the early King James Bible and the Book of Common Prayer.  The musical was first performed in Dublin, Ireland on April 13,1742.

The history of this music is far too complex to share in a short midweek devotional, but a few of the inspirations are reminiscent of when Jesus’ first disciples “found the Messiah” in the first chapter of John’s gospel.

The extensive music for “Messiah” was completed in just 24 days of swift composition.  Some people have said this testifies to the divine inspiration that Handel received as it was being composed.  At the end of the manuscript Handel wrote three letters in all capital letters.  They were “SDG.”

This stood for the phrase “Soli Deo Gloria” which in English means “To God alone the glory.”  It is interesting that even though that was his desire that this has become well known as “Handel’s Messiah” today.  Most likely he would be disappointed in that addition to his original title.

A story has been passed down for years about an instance in 1743 when King George II was present at the first performance of the “Messiah” in London.  Apparently he feel asleep and when the “Hallelujah Chorus” began he rose to his feet thinking that it was his cue to do so.  The reason he stood up is unclear but ever since that time it has been a tradition to stand once that part of the musical begins.

As we celebrate Christmas this weekend let’s remember that this birth signifies the birth of our “Messiah” the Savior of the world.  The meaning goes far beyond the stable in Bethlehem and it continues to stir the words of Jesus’ disciples even today when someone proclaims, “I have found the Messiah.”

Make it personal:  If you are unfamiliar with Handel’s “Messiah” I would encourage you to listen to some of it this week.  If you get the time you may even want to watch a performance of the musical and become more familiar with one of the classics of the Christmas season.

P.S. The Midweek Devotional will take a week break next week and return on January 4.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone!
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life
Arthur Mennonite Church

“Little Drummer Boy”

This Weeks Meditation:  “The Little Drummer Boy”
Read: Matthew 2:1-12

This week I continue with the theme of Christmas songs and how they came about and what they mean.  The song I choose for this week is not one that is often used in church.  The song about the little drummer boy does however have some spiritual encouragement for us.

This song was originally known as “Carol of the Drum” and was written in 1941 by American composer and teacher Katherine Kennicott Davis.  The first recording of the song was done in 1955 by the Trapp Family singers of Austria who are also well known through the famous musical “The Sound of Music.”

The lyrics to this song talk about a poor young boy who is summoned by the Magi (Wise Kings) to the nativity of Jesus.  When the boy arrives he realizes that the others have gifts for Jesus and he has come without one.  Without a gift to give, the young boy gets out his drum and plays his drum for Jesus and the new parents.  In the song he says, “I played my best for him, and he smiled at me.”

This song has been recorded thousands of times through the years by many individuals and groups.  While it’s a beautiful song with a peaceful rhythm it is also a song with a great reminder for all of us.

God has blessed us all with various gifts.  Jesus is not as concerned about what gifts we bring to him as he is with us using the gifts we have been blessed with for God’s purposes on this earth.  This song begs us to ask, “What gift do I have and how am I using it to please Jesus?”

Sure, it is a bit embarrassing if we arrive at a party and everyone has a gift except us, but sometimes the gift we can bring is already a part of who we are and not a material item.  We can share the gift of encouragement, of love, of concern or comfort with someone.  Those are characteristics of Jesus we should carry around with us at all times.

I hope we can share those with others this Christmas season.  I am sure they will make much more of an impact than any expensive gift we can give.  Jesus has blessed you with many gifts, use them for his glory and his purposes.

Make it personal:  When you hear “The Little Drummer Boy” this Christmas season stop and think about the gifts that God has given you.  If you showed up without a gift, what could you share out of who God created you to be?  After all, most of us don’t carry a drum around with us wherever we go.

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

“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

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