Crescent Hill Baptist Church

Advent Meditations - 1984

writers (in order): Mary Ann Bootes, Frank Brooks, Betty Cook, Jackie Pendergraph, O. C. Jordan, Rollin Burhans, Ruth Ouzts, Mary Frances Owens, Jeff Roberts, Cathy Bowman, Blanche Goetzman, Clara Annis McCartt, Henry B. Huff, Gladys Henderson, John Burd, Margaret Murchison, John Joseph Owens, Mark Mulloy, Judy Pfannenschmidt Johnson, Ginger Fry Arnold, Mary J. Augenstein, Linda Mulloy, Rodger Murchison, Margaret Keyes Tate

December 2, 1984 (Mary Ann Bootes)
Matthew 25:45

The sharecroppers who lived two farms from us were the embodiment of the word "poor." They lived In a tumble-down house with just enough earthly goods to make It from one day to the next. The children were usually tattered and worn, and the kids at school avoided them because they were "different."

It was the Friday of Christmas vacation. School would be out for a week, and there was a joyful magic in the air. I gathered up the gifts for my friends--then I wondered about the Sanders. Would Maudie Pearl have presents?

It was almost time for the school bus, but I hurriedly gathered my life's supply of dolls on the bed before me. I kissed them all and finally made the painful decision, and wrapped it as best as I could.

Later at school, I singled out Maudie Pearl to give her my gift. The look on her face and the serendipity of the moment will forever be etched in my heart. Maudie Pearl gave me the most wonderful gift of all--the intangible gift of what Christmas is all about.

Thank you, Father, for Christmas memories. Bless us in our giving and receiving. Amen.

Mary Ann Bootes

December 3, 1984 (Frank Brooks)
Romans 15:4-5

One calm, not-so-hot summer morning, I enjoyed a trip to the zoo with our pastor. Our kids were taking us with a couple of new friends. As the children ran on, excited to see what was ahead, I asked the pastor what were the key problems members in our church face day to day. Without hesitation he said, "First is depression, and second is marital or family problems." That was the end of our conversation because I did not know how to respond, but I could not get the church family off my mind.

The calm, beautiful morning turned into a cloudy and turbulent day in my mind before I returned to the car. Such a paradox ... a body of believers, with confidence that we should be facing life with excitement and positive anticipation of something better ahead and just around the bend--just like our children.

The other reality is that "none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone" (Romans 14:7). We can call on each other and make ourselves available to one another. "The night is nearly over; the day is almost here" (Romans 13:12).

Heavenly Father, give us the hope of a child and the Love of our brothers and sisters to endure what we do not understand and to live as we overcome obstacles through the reading of your blessed Word.

Frank Brooks

December 4, 1984 (Betty Cook)
Romans 5:1-5

In cleaning out desk drawers recently, I came across this letter my grandfather at the age of ninety-three had written to my mother:

"Have my garden seeds Just waiting for spring to come along. Perhaps acting foolish to try but something compels us to keep trying."

This seems to me to be the substance of hope. At ninety-three to be looking at seeds and planning a garden; to be looking for spring in the middle of winter; and to be thinking of the future when it would be so easy to live in the past, is indeed a pattern for hope. My grandfather taught me a beautiful lesson.

Jesus came Into this world in the season of winter. Any country occupied by the enemy lives in an eternal winter. The springtime of liberation seemed far away. He came, but not as many hoped he would. He came not as a powerful military deliverer, but as a tiny baby who would grow as did my grandfather's seeds, bearing fruit that would nourish and whose mature life would change the world.

ACTIVITY: Plant a narcissis bulb with your family. Point out growth from an unlikely dried-up, dead-looking bulb. Enjoy watching it grow.

Oh, Lord God, our Heavenly Father, we thank Thee for the truths that come to us from observing events in the Lives of those we Love. Give us the courage to hope in the dead of winter as we took toward spring.

Betty Cook

December 5, 1984 (Jackie Pendergraph)
Isaiah 9:2-7; Micah 5:2

Even though Christmas is three weeks away, everyone is thinking about it and waiting for Christmas.

This was true long, long ago--people waited and waited for the very first Christmas. For many years the Hebrew people had been waiting for the birth of Jesus.

When Adam and Eve sinned, God promised them that He would send His son. So for hundreds of years the people had talked about His coming. They had faith and hope, and they kept waiting and watching.

Then one day, still long before Jesus was born, God spoke to His prophets and told them about the birth of His son. This good news made the prophets very happy and gave them new hope. They wrote down what God had told them. You can read these wonderful words today in Isaiah and Micah.

I'm sure the people who lived in the days of Isaiah and Micah did not understand these words when they read them. And it is hard for us to understand all of them today. But we know all the promises God made concerning Jesus came true.

A missionary in India adopted a little orphan whom she named Shadi. One night when he was six years old, as he knelt to pray, she said, "Now, Shadi, pray a prayer all your own." This was his prayer: "Dear Jesus., make me like you were when you were six years old." This lad had grasped the greatest principle of Christian growth. Have you grasped it? Have I?

Let us make Shadi's prayer our prayer today.

Jackie Pendergraph

December 6, 1984 (O. C. Jordan)
I Peter 1:3

Many years ago in the starlit hills of Judea, God gave his supreme gift to a then and still troubled world. He came to earth as Mary's little boy, and they called his name Jesus. Embodied in him was God's gift of hope as he taught us kindness, patience, understanding, love and peace. He told us that if we would follow him, and do what he told us to do, all those good things of life would be within our reach.

Believing in what Jesus has told us, we have hope, with the belief that what we hope for is obtainable. Even when all else fails, we still have hope that sustains us in the belief that things can be done and will have a happy ending.

The Bible tells us in I Peter 3:15 to be ready always to give an answer to any man that asks us the reason for our hope. That's easy--God is everlasting and powerful; He made the beautiful world in which we live, and raised Jesus from the dead. It's no secret what He can do. As long as we believe and pray and keep God in our life, we have every reason to hope.

We thank you God for Jesus, our Lord and Savior, and the gift of sustaining hope that brightens our lives and enables us to face the future unafraid. May we never give up on trying to bring another toot soul to know our blessed Savior. Amen.

-- O. C. Jordan

December 7, 1984 (Rollin Burhans)
Romans 8:24, 25; 15:11-13

Have you ever asked what God is like? Does He have a plan and purpose for life? Can He be trusted to see His plan and purpose through to final victory? Have you ever wondered if God really keeps His promises? Come with me to Bethlehem and see how He keeps His promises.

God has promised to send a Deliverer to Israel. For centuries the faithful few trusted, waited and hoped. "How long, O God, how long?" they prayed. Then in the fullness of time the Messiah came. God had kept His promise. He always does. But seldom in the way we had expected.

Look at the way He kept His promise to Israel that first Christmas night. What a surprise it was! Not only the gift He gave, but the way He wrapped it, and where He left it--His very own Son, wrapped in baby clothes, lying in a manger!

No wonder the Angels sang, "Glory to God in the highest. " No wonder shepherds quaked, wise men worshipped, and Herod trembled. No wonder a star wandered from its orbit to point with a finger of light to the place where the Christ Child lay. For God Himself had entered the earthly arena to live our life, die our death, and give us life eternal. Rest assured that what God has begun He can and will finish. Our hope is in Him.

Give us, O Lord, grace to live by hope in these trying yet exciting days, for Christ's sake. Amen.

Rollin Burhans

December 8, 1984 (Ruth Ouzts)
Psalm 32

HOPE - The word is a part of our daily speech.

"Are you getting a bike this year?"
"I hope so."

"Is ____ going to ask you to the Christmas party?"
"I hope, I hope."

"Will your husband like the dress you bought today?"
"I hope so."

"Will braces save his teeth?"
"I hope so!"

"Will the operation be successful?"
"I hope and pray it will!"

As we celebrate the coming of "The Hope of the World," so we dare use the same word--hope--in our everyday lives!! Yes, to bring meaning to our day-in, day-out cares is a part of His coming.

The desire for things can be good if we learn to share them, to use them to help others, to learn responsibility. The desire for companionship is good when we bring out the best in each other. No matter what our need is, He wants to be our Wonderful Counselor.

Dear Lord, help us to depend on you for guidance. we need to let you tell us what we should be. As we are celebrating your coming as a human being, help us think of others. Amen.

Ruth Ouzts

December 9, 1984 (Mary Frances Owens)
John 14:27

The quest for world peace is discouraging. Just when we think that nations are learning to live together in peace, another war breaks out. Treaties get broken, nations retaliate against each other, and the vicious cycle of war begins. By the standards of the world, we have no lasting peace.

Even between family members and friends, peace can be evasive. Sometimes it seems that we quarrel most with the ones we love the best. A constant state of outward peace is hard to keep.

The only peace that lasts is the inner peace that comes when we have accepted Jesus as our Savior. Jesus came on earth to make peace between God and persons. When he departed to be with the heavenly Father, he promised his followers a lasting spiritual peace--not the kind the world gives (John 14:27). The inner peace that Jesus promised his disciples also belongs to us. Let us thank God for Jesus, the Prince of Peace, whose birth we celebrate on Christmas.

Thank you, Lord, for the peace that you have brought to our Lives. Amen.

Mary Frances Owens

December 10, 1984 (Jeff Roberts)
Psalm 34:14

Peace on earth; how sweet that sounds I And how appropriate it is to consider this Advent season. Yet, from the very beginning peace has been so difficult to preserve. To make a list of the obstacles to peace would be tiring and terribly depressing. We would find, however, that disagreement seems to have led to conflict when hearts hardened and communications stopped. "They'll never be like us; it's no use trying," becomes their excuse.

According to scripture, we should never stop trying. No situation is futile. But where do you begin when things seem hopeless? I believe you begin by talking. Taking the initiative to keep the front door open allows discussion that may foster understanding. But more importantly, following God's directives allows Him room to work.

Most of us have no plans to move to Washington and set foreign policy. But all of us have had a personal relationship that lies broken and disregarded. Maybe if we open that door something unexpected will happen. It may not be right away, but He has asked us to try. What have we got to lose?

Dear Lord, during this Advent season give us the courage to give someone else a second chance. And regardless of their response, let us remember that intentions made in good faith are never wasted. Amen.

Jeff Roberts

December 11, 1984 (Cathy Bowman)
Proverbs 17:7; Philippians 4:7

"Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace." These are the first words of a prayer written by St. Francis of Assisi. Francis was born into a very wealthy family, but when he was a young man he sold everything he had, gave the money to the church, and began to help the poor and the sick. Francis was even willing to help the lepers, even though he could have caught their much-feared disease.

In our world today, there is a lot of suffering and fighting going on that we can't even understand. There seems to be so much of It that sometimes it is easy to give up believing that peace is possible. It is important to remember that each person has the power to become "an instrument of God's peace." By bringing peace into our lives and the lives of those around us, we can make the world a better and more peaceful place. Each one of us can make a difference.

Dear Lord, we thank you for the peace we receive simply in knowing that you care for us and are with us. We also thank you for your son, Jesus Christ, whose life and death were the greatest examples of peace that have ever been. We ask you for the strength to share this peace with the rest of the world. Amen.

Cathy Bowman

December 12, 1984 (Blanche Goetzman)
John 16:31-33; Philippians 4:7; John 14:27

Even though Jesus spent much time explaining to His disciples that the time would come when He would no longer be among them, they were never quite able to grasp the full meaning of His coming from the Father and returning to Him. It was Jesus' intention to leave His devout servants with peace and assurance. "These things" refer to Jesus' promises and message of love and salvation, and believing these promises, peace is possible for us all. How much each of us needs this peace in such a war-torn, troubled world! And victory is ours through faith in Him.

It is difficult to describe a "peace that surpasses understanding," but it should be a peace bringing joy and confidence and freedom from fear. Philippians 4:7 can quiet my troubled heart and make my restlessness subside. What a gift--that this peace is mine--a God-given peace which Jesus Christ wishes me to take from Him. If I accept this peace and use it wisely, my life should be a better example of Christian living.

In John 14:27, Jesus tells us His gift of peace is not the fragile peace of our war-weary world, but a peace of mind and heart capable of overcoming fears.

O Prince of Peace, guide us as we seek your peace in this troubled world of fear. Teach us to accept the free gift of peace and to use it wisely in our lives. Amen.

Blanche Goetzman

December 13, 1984 (Clara McCartt)
Luke 1:76-79

"For unto us a child is born ... and his name shall be...Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6).
These words, spoken by the prophet Isaiah hundreds of years before that night in Bethlehem which changed the world, are echoed by Zacharias at the birth of his son John, when he spoke of John as the forerunner of Him who would "guide our feet into the way of peace" (Luke 1:79b).

The word "peace" is found many, many times in both the Old and the New Testaments. It was a common greeting among the Hebrew people, who said, "Peace," or "Peace be unto you" instead of our "Hello, how are you?" today.

Why, then, is there not peace in our world? David, the shepherd king, sang, "Great peace have they which love thy law" (Psalm 119:165). King Solomon, whose wisdom surpassed that of other men, wrote, "Happy is the man that findeth wisdom and the
man that getteth understanding ... all his/her paths are peace" (Proverbs 3:13, 17b).

We speak of peace ... we sing of peace, but we forget that the same Jesus who went about healing all manner of diseases can also spread his peace in the hearts of men and women everywhere--if we but love his law and look to him for wisdom and understanding.

ACTIVITY: Let the children examine the Christmas greetings which come into the home to find how many of them make some use of the word "peace." They might like to copy into a special notebook the verses and Scripture passages which they find that speak of peace.

Clara Anniss McCartt

December 14, 1984 (Henry Huff)
Zechariah 4:6

Fridays have always been one of my favorite days. There are so many things stored in my mind which need to be done over the weekend. Often I find myself attempting more than I am able to finish.

As we approach Christmas, we find we frequently plan more than we are able to do. Christmas is thought of as a time of peace and goodwill toward men, but how can we show goodwill if we are too busy to stop and speak to someone or to help someone who may need help?

The search for peace will take our best prayers, our best work and our best relationship toward one another. When peace becomes the priority of mankind, then there will be peace. It will not come by hoping nor will it come by prayer not sincerely meant. We cannot pray for peace with our fingers crossed. Peace must begin in the heart of the individual and from there it touches the lives of all we touch.

Dear Lord and Father of Mankind, as we celebrate the birth of thy Son, let us celebrate it in more than words. Let us celebrate it with our love shown to one another. Let us celebrate it with our spirit in tune with thy purpose for this world. Help us to learn to love peace and to pray for peace and to work for peace. Amen.

Henry B. Huff

December 15, 1984 (Gladys Henderson)
Luke 2:8-10a

"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid."

And there are in our country men and women, boys and girls, busy about their trades, their homemaking, their school work...Can an angel of the Lord come upon us, and glory shine around us in the middle of our tasks? Would we be "sore afraid"?

All had been peaceful with the shepherds on the hillside watching sheep before the angel came. Now they were greatly disturbed. "What is happening?" they thought. But the angel did not want them to be afraid. "Fear not," he said, "for, behold, I bring you good tidings." When the shepherds heard God's message about the Savior's birth, fear left them, and a great peace came upon them and they went and found the newborn baby.

So, today, when God's messenger comes to us, it is to bring us good tidings of God's provision and loving for us. The Savior has come and gives us peace that is beyond our understanding.

Father, we thank you for sending Jesus to us to reveal your loving heart and to be with us always and give us peace.

Gladys Henderson

December 16, 1984 (John Burd)
Luke 2:10-11

Christmas is the time of year for all of us, young and old, to experience the joy of Christ's birth.

As adults, the spirit and excitement that we once had as children seem to fade. We probably all have fond memories of the anticipation of Christmas morning. The joy that children have at Christmas is the best of the whole year and most likely brings some of the most joyful memories that are retained for their entire lives.

Sadly, we seem to overlook the reason for celebrating Christmas in the first place. The joy that we Christians miss should be stronger for us than ever before because we realize the importance of the true meaning of our celebrations. The most joyous occasion of all time--the birth of our Savior--is truly a gift that can never be matched.

May the joy of Christ's birth be with you not only this holiday season but always.

John Burd

December 17, 1984 (Margaret Murchison)
Luke 2:19

Joy is more than an outward expression, it is really an inward feeling that is often seen by others as a warm glow on our faces. An inward feeling, "but Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart" (Luke 2:19). A new mother that is holding her first-born son--can't you just see her face: a pleasant smile, flowing from inward Joy. Pondering, thinking about--an angel who told her of this Holy Child, a simple birth in a Bethlehem manger, the visits of shepherds and wise men, and the strong presence of a caring Joseph. These are the thoughts that move one's life toward Joy. Not just a private joy, but one that must be Joy To All The World.

An angel cups his hands and shouts it loud to all the people, "I bring good news of a great joy ... to you is born this day a Savior, who is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:10-11).

ACTIVITY: Ask your child or someone in your home (yourself) to laugh, to grin, and to smile. Tell them that this is one example of Joy, but it does not represent all that is joy.

Dear Lord, help me to smite from the inside out--as I invite the Christmas child into my heart. Amen.

Margaret Murchison

December 18, 1984 (J. J. Owens)
Luke 2:10-13

Can you remember a particular time when you were excited about someone coming to visit you? When I was seven years old, my parents told me that they were going to have a baby. I watched closely while my Mother's stomach grew larger and larger. I wondered whether it would be a girl or boy. I could hardly wait. We spent lots of time getting some clothes, a crib, and some toys ready. Then one evening, Dr. Anderson came to our house and Dad told me to stay real close for the baby was coming. I was so excited that I stayed right outside the bedroom door. What joy when they told me that I had a little sister!

Has anyone told you that next Tuesday we will celebrate the birth of the greatest, most wonderful child who has ever been born? That's right! Just as the angel brought "good news of a great joy," we can spread the good news to all of our friends that Jesus' birthday will be celebrated next Tuesday with songs, prayers, gifts and thankfulness.

Thank you, God, for sending to us your Son, Jesus. We have felt his Joy each year. This year we are especially grateful for such a wonderful Savior who brings us salvation. Amen.

John Joseph Owens

December 19, 1984 (Mark Mulloy)
John 15:9-14

"I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Live within my love. When you obey me you are living in my love, just as I obey my Father and live in His love. I have told you this so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your cup of Joy will overflow I demand that you love each other as much as I love you. And here is how to measure it: The greatest love is shown when a person I lays down his life for his friends; and you are my friends if you obey me."

What an exciting mixture of commandment and promise! Imagine the celebration that life becomes when we obey this commandment and experience the promise of joy given by the Prince of Peace. If joy is defined by the secular world as an emotion evoked by well-being, then the joy which our Christ brings can only be experienced when we are well with our God.

But where is there joy in a person laying down his life for his friend? Do we have to end our earthly existence to experience this joy which our Christ promises? I believe that there must be an extraordinarily greater depth to the joy and peace that we will experience when we leave our earthly home and go to be with our Lord. But I believe that for today and tomorrow and forever until we go to be with our Lord, we can experience that joy promised by Christ if we are willing to challenge ourselves to daily live the example of Christ which he set when he walked among us. We must commit ourselves anew each day to tirelessly give of ourselves so that the needs of all of Christ's children are met--in our schools, in our playgrounds, at home, at work, and around the world.

As Christ prepared to leave his earthly home, he reminded us that he was going to prepare a place for us in his father's home--so that when he returns for us, we can go and be with him eternally. Christ very clearly showed us the path to this eternal life.

Dear Heavenly Father, Oh What Joy We Experience Today Living Christ's Example--With the Blessed Assurance That Jesus is Ours for All-of Our Tomorrows!

Mark Mulloy

December 20, 1984 (Judy Johnson)
Micah 5:2

Once upon a time--nine years ago to be exact--the Christmas season crept silently around me. Amidst the joy of the holiday, hospital walls offered little warmth. My most precious gift, my sweet baby girl, was going through her first of two major operations to correct a birth defect. If only I could have taken her place, if only I could share her pain. In a strange, empty moment I was somehow filled with a feeling that someone else knew what it was like to birth a child into a world of imperfection. All I could do was trust in God to guide the surgeon's hands and to trust in his healing power for Jennifer.

O Little town of Bethlehem., how still we see thee lie-- Bethlehem can be anywhere in December, and offer hope.

Above that deep and dreamless sleep, the silent stars go by-- not much sleep that week, but we made it through with faith.

Yet in thy dark streets shineth the Everlasting Light--the cold streets of Roanoke glistened from December rain, and love warmed us.

The hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight-- the days that followed are a blur; the gift of repression, I suppose. Seasons come and seasons go, but each Christmas I remember what I've shared with you and thank God for the gift of birth, for children, and for families.

This Christmas, take the time to enjoy "family." A few extra hugs can go a long way. So do the words "I love you."

Is there anyone nearby you'd like to hug now?

Judy Pfannenschmidt Johnson

December 21, 1984 (Ginger Arnold)
Psalm 100:1-2

Being the mother of four precious children, Christmas brings a lot of "Joyful Noise" around our house. Since our children are young, the excitement these days is centered around the anticipated visit from Santa Claus. David and I share in this excitement. But throughout every Christmas season when the noise dies down and as a family we have a quiet moment, we look and touch our nativity scene and tell again and again the story of a very special baby born in Bethlehem long ago. Josh, Benjamin, Andrew and Ginnie contribute to the story with their questions and comments. This lets David and me know they are hearing the story, and we are beginning to make what we hope will be a lifelong impression.

It is our hope that through the retelling of the Christmas story, that as our children grow, their joy at Christmas will shift from the excitement of Santa Claus to the real joy of knowing and loving the one we call Jesus, born in Bethlehem long ago as the stars twinkled and the angels rejoice. Having Him in our hearts at Christmas and always, we have reason to make a joyful noise!

For all our many blessings we thank Thee. Help us to always share the Christmas story with children so they will share it with their children., and the story will live on and come alive in all our hearts. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

Ginger Fry Arnold

December 22, 1984 (Mary J. Augenstein)
Luke 2:9-10; John 15:11

The joyous thoughts associated with Jesus I birth remind me of the moving and beautiful hymn "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee." Its music is the finale of Beethoven's great and thrilling Ninth Symphony. By this time Beethoven was so deaf that he could not hear the premiere of his masterpiece. Thoughtfully the conductor had placed him in the midst of the orchestra in hopes that he could feel the vibrations of the music. When the final great crashing chords were finished, Beethoven continued to beat time with his finger. Noticing that the great composer was unaware of the standing, shouting crowd, one of the vocal soloists went to him and gently led him to the front of the stage. There he could see the crowd's joyous response to his triumphant music. His sad face broke into a rare joyous smile.

This thrilling hymn celebrates the greatest joy we human beings can experience--the birth of Jesus as Savior in our hearts.

Dear Loving Jesus, we invite you to enter more fully into our Lives than ever before so that our joy may show your Love to others throughout the coming year.

Mary J. Augenstein

December 23, 1984 (Linda Mulloy)
I Corinthians 8:3

Children are blessings bestowed upon us by God. He has entrusted us with these lives. Our desire is that our children will grow to become responsible Christian adults. The years ahead of us are very precious. Each step of the way we need God's love and knowledge so that we can reach our goal. The Lord can teach us how to love our children as He has loved us, always being ready to forgive and offer help as well as how to discipline in a loving way.

Children learn well by example. We want our children to see how we love the Lord. We have learned to walk with Him daily, seeking His guidance and help, and always thanking Him for many blessings.

Raising children, therefore, requires a commitment. would be:
--Using the wisdom and good counsel that God has given to us, we promise to provide a Christian atmosphere In which you will be raised.
--We will be honest with you and live our lives loving you and cherishing you.
--We promise to give you all of our support and resources, helping you to grow into all that you are capable of becoming.
--You will always find available from us an open hand, an understanding mind and a loving heart.

Dear Heavenly Father, please guide our every word and action with your loving hand so that we may nurture our children in a way that is pleasing to you. Amen.

Linda Mulloy

December 24, 1984 (Roger Murchison)
Matthew 1:23; John 3:16

'Twas the night before Christmas
And I could not sleep,
Just wondering about presents
And if I should peek.
They are tokens of love,
I could tell as I shook
And I am quite sure
They would want me to look.

Now laying a finger
Up by my nose,
I longingly eyed
All the paper and bows.
Yet deep in my heart
I heard Christmas Love say,
"Put back every present,
And wait one more day."

As we open our gifts tonight or tomorrow, they do represent our love to each other. And for a gift to fully reveal its love, it must be opened. God gave us a precious gift, but many of us only want to sneak a peek, to shake it for a while. We know it is a token of love, but the paper and wrappings look so good that we admire the outside and never enjoy the contents. Our Christmas Gift from God is Jesus Christ, His Son, the one who came as love, because "...God so loved the world."

For some, it is always Christmas Eve, it is always the night before, if we do not open this love gift. May we not be guilty of only advent worship--that is just praising the coming. Advent points its expectant finger of Faith, Hope, Joy and Love to the blessed arrival of God's Holy Gift, Emmanuel.

Dear Lord, may we with childlike joy tear open our Christmas Gift from you and be grateful for the paper and the ribbon, but took inside to find the true Gift of Love is Jesus Christ, your son. Amen.

Rodger Murchison

December 25, 1984 (Keyes Tate)
Ephesians 3:17-18

How do you think Mary and Joseph celebrated birthdays with their young son? Perhaps Joseph carved a wooden whistle or a small animal for him. Maybe Mary prepared his favorite wheat cake with honey, almonds and raisins.

Our youngest daughter, Lucy, lets her children help bake and decorate a cake for Jesus. It has "Happy Birthday Jesus" and a single candle for wishing upon and blowing out. It usually has some tiny fingerprints too. This has become a special Christmas experience for talking about how Jesus loves Us and how we show our love for him.

To understand love as Jesus expressed it, we are as puzzled as the Apostle Paul who wrote, "...may you be strong to grasp, with all God's people, what is the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ, and to know it, though it is BEYOND KNOWLEDGE" (Ephesians 3:17-18, NEB). Measuring ingredients for a cake is easy to see but the love that puts it together is invisible. Measuring the length, height and depth of a cake takes ingenuity and still inadequately describes the cake. When you taste it, understanding becomes real. How to measure love? Yes, Paul, it is beyond knowledge.

O God, on Your Son's birthday, help us stretch our love dimensions to measure more like our Master. Amen.

Margaret Keyes Tate

Advent 1984 1984 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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