Crescent Hill Baptist Church

Advent Meditations - 1980


Bill Thomason works at Hawley-Cooke, and has taught philosophy
at the University of Louisville and Stetson University.
He is active on the Worship Committee and Elementary Support Team,
as well as being a Sunday School teacher and choir member,
He and Bobbie have one daughter, Ann.
For the first week of Advent, Bill writes on hope.

John Arnett grew up in Crescent Hill with his parents, Wendell and Leila Arnett.
He is a practicing internist in Louisville.
John and Carolyn have two children, Anne-Britton and David.
As well as being a Sunday School teacher, he has taught in Joyshop.
For the second week of Advent, John writes on peace.

Jo Ayscue and her husband, Skeet, are students at Southern Seminary.
She has worked in Youth ministry and resort missions
before coming to Louisville.
In-addition to her involvement in C.H.I.M.E., Jo teaches Sunday School.. For the third week of Advent, Jo writes on joy.

Denise George is a free-lance writer. Before moving to Louisville
a year and a half ago, she worked as the Administrative Assistant
in the Old South Church in Boston.
Her husband, Timothy, teaches church history at Southern Seminary.
(They have one cat, Hegel, who is eight years old.)
For the fourth week of Advent, Denise writes on love.

November 30, 1980 (Bill Thomason)
Isaiah 7:14

Ahaz, King of Judah, was scared.
Two armies were marching southward to besiege Jerusalem and depose him. The prophet Isaiah met Ahaz and delivered a message from God:
If the King had faith, then he would also have hope.
For Ahaz's real problem was not the external threat of invasion,
but the internal threat of his fear.
So Isaiah offered him a sign of hope--
the birth of the child Immanuel,
"God with us."

We are like Ahaz.
The real threat to our well-being is fear,
not external circumstances.
.If we could have faith, then we could also have hope.
We, though, unlike Ahaz, know the fulfillment of the sign.
For the child we know as Immanuel is no mere sign, but rather the reality--
"God with us."

Heavenly Father: Jesus, born in Bethlehem, is our Immanuel, and because of Him we have hope.

December 1, 1980 (Bill Thomason)
Isaiah 11:1-9

Isaiah had a vision of a mighty lightning bolt laying low the Cedars of Lebanon. But this was not a vision of destruction,
for Isaiah saw a new shoot growing from one of the stricken trees.
He interpreted this to mean that the coming destruction would purify God's people, and that a new Davidic king would arise,
embodying all the ideals of the Hebrew people -- wisdom, justice, peace.
So great would this king be that natural enemies (like the lion and the lamb)
would live side by side without enmity.

We today, like Isaiah of old,
are still longing for the fulfillment of this prophecy.
The difference is that the fulfillment has now begun
and is now going forward.
For Jesus, born in Bethlehem, is the shoot growing from the root of Jesse

Heavenly Father: What a tremendous vision of hope Isaiah had. Help us to remember that we are part of its fulfillment.

December 2, 1980 (Bill Thomason)
Isaiah 53:1-6

Isaiah's vision of the shoot growing from the stump of Jesse
implied a process of purification.
This was made explicit in the figure of the Servant of the Lord,
whose sufferings are redemptive for all of us.
But who could believe this?
Could one with no beauty, no majesty, no grace,
whose form had lost all human likeness, be the one to redeem us'
The shoot from Jesse was to be a Davidic king, glorious and mighty, not a suffering servant.

And so Israel rejected this hope of redemption. And so do we,
A baby born in a dirty stable, growing up in obscurity,
dying ignominiously on a cross?
No, such a one could not be the Savior we had hoped for.

Heavenly Father: Why is it so easy to reject the One who could give us hope, and so hard to believe He is the One?

December 3, 1980 (Bill Thomason)
Isaiah 61:1-3

But the Suffering Servant was the One to redeem us.
Because He bore our guilt through His suffering,
He could also proclaim good news to all,
a Gospel of hope -- that the broken-hearted will be healed, the captives released,
the mourners comforted.

But how could one who suffers accomplish this?
What the prophet who wrote these words could not know --
but we do know --
is the servant's suffering was not the final word.
Christ suffered and died on the Cross,
but rose again on the third day.
Our Gospel of hope is that Christ has conquered every enemy,
even death itself.

Heavenly Father: We thank Thee for the good news of Christ's Resurrection, our Gospel of hope.

December 4, 1980 (Bill Thomason)
John 1:9-13

By using concepts like the Logos, "the Word,"
the Gospel of John appealed to the educated Greek of the first century.
But then John immediately throws his Greek readers off balance by asserting,
"The Word became flesh and dwelt among men."
This was a scandal to the Greek.
How could God have any direct contact with the world?

Yet, the Gospel proclaims that God is involved in the world.
God knows our joy and suffering,
our peace and heartache,
our triumphs and defeats.
Why? Because the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.
That truth is our shining hope in a dark world.

Heavenly Father: Whatever our trials and temptations, we know that Thou art with us to strengthen and guide.

December 5, 1980 (Bill Thomason)
Matthew 11:2-6

"Are you the one?"
What a poignant question for John the Baptist to ask.
Jesus did not answer "yes" or "no," but pointed to His works,
Could anyone but the Messiah do these things?
Jesus fulfilled all the hopes of the Jewish people
and, especially, those of John the Baptist.

Jesus did not settle the question but threw responsibility back on John.
"This " Jesus says, "is what I'm doing.
Now, who do you think I am?" If Jesus is to fulfill our hopes,
then He will always require of us a definite response.
Who do we think-Jesus is?

Heavenly Father: Help us to live each day
fully conscious of the hope that Jesus fulfills.

December 6, 1980 (Bill Thomason)
Colossians 1:23-27

The hope the prophets looked forward to in Immanuel,
and we look backward to in Jesus of Nazareth,
has yet another dimension.
It is the hope of a glory to come
when we will be changed in ways we do not yet know,
when we will conform perfectly to the image of Christ.

We can only talk about this coming glory in metaphors and figures --
the Paradise of Dante's comedy or
Asian's shining land beyond the sea in Lewis' Narnian Chronicles.
However it will be,
however different the reality may be from our beautiful but inadequate images,
our hope of glory means one thing:
Christ in us.

Heavenly Father: our hope of glory is that,
because Christ took our form, even so may we take on His.

December 7, 1980 (John Arnett)
Isaiah 9:6-7

Shuffling listlessly down a dark London street one winter night in 1741,
a man paused before the facade of a church
grieving the loss of his creative spark.
Returning dejectedly to his lodging,
he found a manuscript from a poet friend inscribed,
"The Lord gave the word".
As he read "He was despised and rejected of men.. ."
the words came alive,
"...unto us a child is born...Prince of Peace..."
Newly inspired, Handel worked feverishly twenty-four days and nights
producing his greatest oratorio.

Indeed the "zeal of the Lord" is actively establishing His kingdom,
and music that lifts the soul
is one of his most effective instruments for peace.

Lord, thank you for inspiring the music that assures us we belong to a kingdom of peace. Come reign in our hearts.

December 8, 1980 (John Arnett)
Isaiah 52: 7

The year is 1945.
A woman worn in face with the worries of war
sits on a porch nestled in-a Kentucky holler.
A sniper had killed her eldest son just last Christmas.
Her youngest son at last word was still fighting near Berlin.
She arises to eat but stops and listens.
Faintly at first, then with increasing excitement
the voice of a messenger shouts from the road over the mountains,
"Peace, at last"...
and Tommy will be coming home.

Amid the wars of our lives, external and internal,
the word of peace spoken by the messenger from the mountain
is beautiful indeed to our souls
listening amid the valley experiences of life.

Father, amid the restless lonely valleys of our lives, help us hear Your words of peace.
we remember also that as the mother waits for her son, You wait for us.

December 9, 1980 (John Arnett)
Jeremiah 23:5-6

The hospital at Bethesda was quiet at midnight.
Patients recently arrived by air evacuation had been admitted
and evening rounds completed.
I lay down to sleep,
though apprehensively since, as on-call--resident,
I would occasionally be jolted awake at three or four a.m.
and be caught in the rush to resuscitate a cardiopulmonary arrest victim.
In the setting of such anticipatory anxiety,
I would frequently comfort myself to sleep with the twenty-third Psalm,
"He leadeth me in paths of righteousness ... for His names sake."
God has a vested interest in life
(that's why He became part of it in person)
and the paths we take that lead to life
are guided by His hands.

Lord, may we dwell in the peace Your presence with us gives.

December 10, 1980 (John Arnett)
Micah 5:2-5a

The psalmist and prophet speak of the enemy camped around,
and the gift of peace that comes when these are vanquished.
Though externally it seems our present day Assyrians of
recession, famine, sickness, military excess, and greedy consumers and countries
will never be conquered,
nevertheless, the internal enemies of guilt for deeds done and undone
(including Christmas presents),
depression over unfulfilled hopes,
vocational indecision,
and soured relationships among others,
may be dispelled as we turn to the man of Bethlehem.
Though He brought nothing into this world,
He takes with Him the burden of guilt and despair,
and offers us the gift of peace
by His forgiveness, love, and trust in us.

Deliver us from our internal enemies, Lord, and as the gratitude
for your gift of peace fills our lives,
show us how we can work with You to bring peace externally.

December 11, 1980 (John Arnett)
Luke 2:11-14

Shepherds, tending their flock,
anxious about the safety of their sheep,
alert to the turning of a rock signaling a wolf,
a thief, or a straying sheep,
... yet, not as anxious as we
rushing to keep on schedule, meet a deadline,
catch a plane, get the shopping done,
the dinners cooked, the program planned,
the economy straightened out, the country defended
... anxious shepherds heard the voices.

And to all us anxious folk,
the angel voices come again telling us to set our priorities straight:
Glorify God first,
and, even as the shepherds ensure a peaceful night for their flock,
so God grants us His peace as we move amid
the anxious moments of our world.

Lord, help us to order the activities of our life in ways
that honor You and Your desire to see peace reign
in our lives and world.

December 12, 1980 (John Arnett)
Matthew 12:18-21

The tumult and the shouting dies
the Captains and the kings depart
still stands thine ancient sacrifice
an humble and a contrite heart
--Rudyard Kipling

Before the miracles and the glory of the healing,
Jesus had practiced the humbleness of spirit
and contrition of heart
that led Him to shun the notoriety due Him as the
"fulfillment of the promise." [Dag Hammarskjold]
As a child He searched the scriptures
for clues of His mission;
as a man He continued dialogue with His Father
in the quietness of prayer.
The prophecy of peace then fulfills itself without strain
as His life flows with the Spirit.
The fulfillment of the prophecy of peace
embodied for us in this advent season
likewise begins
with the contrite heart.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy On me, Help us to know the Father.

December 139, 1980 (John Arnett)

Even as God bequeathed to us a Son of Peace
born in the quietness of a stable,
so Jesus grants us a new birth of peace.
Like the flight of a plane above the clouds *,
His peace elevates our perspective
and lessens life's anxieties.
As we descend to the plain below
and face the uncertainties that lie before us,
His peace goes with us
and provides us with the certainty of His presence.
The occasion of His birth sets Him not in the clouds but with us on our way.
Indeed He goes before us
and leads us even beyond the pale of death.

As we trust You, Lord, in the transitions between cloud and plain,
help us to understand your peace.

* written on flight from Hawaii to Chicago in August 1980

December 14, 1980 (Jo Ayscue)
Isaiah 9:2-3

Sometimes our lives, our very hearts, seem to be enveloped in darkness --
and believing that gladness will come is a response of faith.
But we, as followers of the Christ,
have tasted the sweet joy of His love and have seen the bright light of His life.
Our privilege, at this Advent season and always,
is to be proclaimers of this good news.
We, like Isaiah,
must be prophets of the joy which God has given to us.
May we accept this gift and share it, as we await the coming of Him,
who gave joy its deepest meaning.

Dear Father, for the rejoicing which follows the darkness,
we give You thanks. For the grace and courage to share this,
we humbly ask. Amen.

December 15, 1980 (Jo Ayscue)
Zechariah 9:9

Indeed, we should rejoice
that Advent marks our preparation for the coming of the King.
Too often, however,
we forget the radical way in which kingship was redefined by the life of Jesus,
Who was born in a stable, not a castle;
and Whose power was most often exhibited through gentleness,
not force.
Oh... that our lives may be transformed by His touch,
and our hearts may grasp the impact of His message.
May we find the time this Christmas
not only to shout in triumph that our King comes,
but to rejoice greatly that He comes not on a grand stallion,
but on the back of a humble donkey.

Dear Lord, we pray that in our own lives we might realize the beauty of donkeys and stables this season.
Help us to follow. Amen.

Matthew 2:7-12 (Jo Ayscue)
December 16, 1980

The joy of the magi is our joy also
as we behold the Christ-child this Christmas,
And we recall with thanksgiving,
the star which brought us to this place--
the brightness of which only God could create
and only we could see.
For the journey and the guidance of God's hand,
we feel overwhelmed with appreciation.
For the gift and miracle of the Child,
our hearts overflow with joy.
May we give to Him our gifts of love this season,
and like those wise men so long ago,
fall down and worship Him.

We give our humble thanks, Father, for the brightness of our stars
and the joy which surrounds that baby. In His Holy Name. Amen.

December 17, 1980 (Jo Ayscue)
Luke 1:46-48

Mary's response of joy and worship
holds a profound message for us today ...
for in humility and trust, she gave honor to God.
She placed her future, her very life, in His hands--
without a doubt or fear as to his trustworthiness or wisdom.
She believed! And in that faith
she affirmed the goodness and holiness of God.
May our lives be such testimonies to God's grace.
May we be granted the insight to recognize His magnificent work,
and the courage to let our voices proclaim
the great things He has done.
In this, may His joy overflow.

Father, for the faith to give You all of ourselves,
and the vision to behold Your greatness, we ask...
in the name of Our Christmas Joy. Amen.

December 18, 1980 (Jo Ayscue)
I John 1: 1-4

In these times of running and seeking for happiness and fulfillment,
this passage has something to say.
We search for joy in the places where it is not to be found.
We scurry to and fro,
all the while forgetting to pause at the manger and the cross...
wherein lies joy.
Our joy may indeed be made complete,
but not until we come to the real source of joy.
Our lives may indeed be marked with rejoicing,
but only after we have tasted the fellowship of Him
who knew the deepest sorrow,
and who in His love,
has brought to us the most profound joy.

Father, grant that we may not so much seek joy,
as the face and fellowship of Him who brings this gift to us

December 19, 1980 (Jo Ayscue)
Luke 2:8-10

It is no less a miracle today than in that field so long ago
that the good news about Christ's birth brings joy for all people.
And it seems no surprise
that God sent these joyous tidings to the shepherds in the field,
rather than the king in the castle.
Christ's birth was a promise of liberating joy and peace,
Whose impact would be felt in the lives of all people
throughout the ages.
We, like those shepherds,
often quake in fear before this liberating message of God.
May we, instead,
drink in the joy of this season as we celebrate the good news
which God has most graciously given to us.

Dear Father, please help us not to be afraid--but to become Your messengers.. proclaiming the love, joy, and grace which we ourselves have received. Amen.

December 20, 1980 (Jo Ayscue)
John 14: 3

Along with the joy of Christmas,
we have been granted hope in a joy which is yet to come
Our hearts quicken as we hear Hi s words and realize
that we shall again know the inexpressible joy of being with Him.
May we find in this promise,
the strength to walk with Him along the way.
Having visited Him at the manger with our gifts of love this Christmas,
may we journey with Him from the stable to Golgotha--
taking up our cross as we follow along. For in His presence alone,
may we find the true joy on which our hope is laid.

Our dear Father, we stand in awe and thanksgiving as we are touched
with the impact of Your joy, given in Him. Amen.

December 21, 1980 (Denise George)
John 3:16

"..God so loved the world ... He gave.." (KJV)

"The Gift of the Magi," by O. Henry, is one of my favorite Christmas stories.

A young husband and wife had no money,
but each wanted to give the other a special Christmas gift.
She had only one prized possession:
her beautiful hair.
He, also, owned one single item of value:
a gold pocket watch.
What did they do?
She sold her hair and bought a chain for his gold watch.
He sold his watch and bought a comb for her long hair.

This husband and wife so loved each other,
each gave willingly his most precious gift.

And God so loved us, He gave ....

O Lord, give us the gift of giving. Amen

December 22, 1980 (Denise George)
Galatians 5:22-23

"...the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance..." (KJV)

Jonathan Livingston Seagull was no ordinary bird!
He was not content merely to fly --
he wanted to soar!
Determined that Nature would not limit him,
he worked hard to reach his goals.
And one day, after finally accomplishing a beginner's loop, slow roll, and inverted spin,
he exclaimed: "How much more there is now to living!"
Jonathan would make many new discoveries.
He would spend lifetimes reaching up toward perfection.

Christians do not instantly acquire the fruit of the Spirit.
We must work hard to achieve these graces.
And, if we barely touch even one of these spiritual perfections,
we, like Jonathan, can exclaim;
"How much more there is now to living!"

O God, teach us to soar in our Christian lives,
and to strive for love, joy, peace ...
always reaching for perfection. Amen.

December 23, 1980 (Denise George)
I John 3: 1

"...we should be called the (children) of God..." (KJV)

Hegel, the cat, is a full-fledged member of the George family.
Compared to human standards, he gives little in return
for all the love we heap upon him.
Years ago, lost and chained to a dogcatcher's leash,
Hegel needed a home.
We took him in and gave him run of our house,
medical care and feline prescription food.

As God's children, we humans have something in common with Hegel.
Compared to God's standards, we can give little in return
for the gifts He bestows upon us.
Lost and wandering, He loved us
and gave us a home -- an eternal home.
He made us permanent, full-fledged members of His family.

Dear God: Thank you for Your boundless love for which,
on our own merits, we could never be worthy. Amen.

December 24, 1980 (Denise George)
John 15:12

'This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you." (KJV)

"Reach out, reach out and touch someone,"
so goes Ma Bell's jingle as "she" promotes
loving, long-distance phone calls all year long.

Unlike some magazine covers portray,
all families and friends cannot gather around
a piano, a turkey and a tree on Christmas Eve.
Student children are away at school.
Elderly parents and grandparents live in out-of-state nursing homes.
Missionary brothers and sisters serve on foreign fields.
Friends are scattered all over the world.

On this day before Christmas, let us reach out and share
the love of Christ with all of our loved ones.

Dear Lord: Touch us anew, and teach us to touch others. Amen.

December 25, 1980 (Denise George)
John 16:27

". . .the Father Himself loveth you, because ye have loved me...." (KJV)

Today was an ordinary day.
Residents of Bethlehem woke up and noticed many strangers in their city.
Tired travelers complained about poor lodgings.
Breakfasts were eaten.
Mothers dressed their children.
Fathers checked their moneybags.

Blending with the noise of an awakening city,
one might have heard the cry of a newborn baby.
An ordinary child?
Yes, an extraordinarily ordinary child.
King of Kings, yet like other infants,
He had five tiny fingers on each hand and five tiny toes on each foot.
This was the Christ baby--God's child--
who, through self-giving love,
would link God the Father to all of His children.

Dear Father: On this Christmas Day, help us to renew our love for Christ,
and to realize Your love for us. Amen.

December 26, 1980 (Denise George)
I John 4:7-12

"Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God ..." (KJV)

Strands of tinsel lay on the carpet.
A few gifts are scattered under the tree.
A box of machine-tied bows awaits a journey to the attic.
Left-over food fills the refrigerator.

Today is the day after Christmas.

Some have been caught up in the hustle-bustle of
last-minute shopping, continuous cooking, and expected gift-giving.
For them, Christmas is over.
The spirit of love and fellowship will be shelved till next December 25th.

Others have used this season to strengthen loving ties with the One
for whom Christmas is celebrated,
with friends, and with family.
They have spent these magic moments,
not in kitchens and in stores,
but in fellowship with those they love,
For them, Christmas will last--

Dear Lord: Ingrain within each of us a Christmas love
which is strong enough to last a lifetime. Amen.

December 27, 1980 (Denise George)
Ephesians 3:14-19

" ... that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith;
that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may know the love of Christ ...." (KJV)

Last June, my grandfather, George M. Williams, celebrated his 80th birthday.
For many years, he has been a dedicated Christian.
Since I was a child, he has told me of God's great love.

When I was five years old, "Papa" found a large rock in a field.
To surprise his tiny grandchildren, he painted it silver,
and placed it in his front yard.
The grandchildren were delighted,
and took turns climbing to the top of it.
Today, 24 years later,
the rock still rests secure in its chosen spot.

My grandfather reminds me of that rock.
His life is rooted in Christ's love. Even after many years,
his Christian faith remains strong and firmly grounded.

Our Father: Help us to be grounded in Your love,
and to stand firm in our faith. Amen

Advent 1980 1980 by Crescent Hill Baptist Church, 2800 Frankfort Avenue, Louisville, KY 40206. No part of this book may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the publisher.

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