Crescent Hill Baptist Church

Advent Meditations - 1998

The Peaceable Kingdom

The Writers:
Constance Boyer -- Preface
John Birkimer -- Christmas Lights
Nancy Cavalcante -- Belfast
Hilda Dean -- Light of the World
Wendy J. Dever -- The Gift
Carlie Fogg -- Peace
Becky Greenlee -- Seeing Joe Through Christ's Eyes
Jerry Greenlee -- When Did I See You
Glenna Hess -- Lessons From Children
Roxann Hieb -- Cabin Creek
William M. Johnson. -- Not By a Sword
Martha Lytle -- "Holy Land"
Elaine Parker -- Wait Patiently
Gaye Tyner Rountree -- Peace I Leave With You. . .
Peggy Schmidt -- Gifts in the Rough
Janet G. Tharpe. -- CAIN
Bobby Thomason -- Holy Places, Holy Times
Tina Ward-Pugh -- Thy King Cometh

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

Once again we are gathered in the dim winter of the year to prepare to celebrate the miracle of the birth of our Christ. This year has been eventful. Peace broke out in Northern Ireland on Good Friday, and then was shattered later in Omagh. Airline disasters and the forces of nature have touched lives all over the world. Efforts to nurture peace in the Middle East dotted the past year's news, some to take root and thrive and some to wither and die.

But we have also seen the miracle of all the new lives in and out of our nursery. Kindergartners and graduating High School Seniors received bibles, and Freshmen started down the path of journal writing. Weddings, birthdays and anniversaries have been celebrated.

All these events conspire to make up the world with which we try to create God's Peaceable Kingdom. Advent is a time of preparation and reflection. The color of the season is purple-a royal color presaging the birth of Jesus, and a mourning color-reminding us to cast off that which limits our ability to rejoice with and sing praises to God.

This year's advent book is a bit different from years past. There are no dates, no missionary birthdays, but rather a collection of thoughts, feelings and experiences that describe how it is to live in an imperfect world, as imperfect persons who struggle to create the vision and reality of God's peaceable kingdom each day.

I hope these readings help you to throw off the broken attitudes and feelings you have harbored over the past year in preparation for the coming of our Lord.

The rubbing of the Madonna and Child was done by Kit Boyer from a wooded lithograph block created by his great-grandmother, Delores Schroeder.

In His Service,

Constance Eddens Boyer, editor

The Gift

(Wendy J. Dever)

Have you ever wanted anything so badly that you could taste it? I was only four years old and it was summertime. Televisions advertisers are smart. What do commercials talk about during the summer? Toys! It seemed that every other commercial was abut a special toy. It was a "Chatty Cathy" doll. It was no ordinary doll. It talked when you pulled her string. She was wonderful!

I finally got up the courage to ask my parents for the doll. They told me that we could not afford it. They reminded me that a new baby was coming. I must have looked awfully sad because Mom said that if I was REALLY good I might get one for my birthday! Well, remember, this was summertime. Do you know when my birthday is? December! How could I be good for five whole months? I decided to try.

I tried to be good all summer. I was good when I went to kindergarten. I was even good when my baby sister was born. I wondered if I would ever make it to my birthday.

Finally the days began to get cooler. Soon it would be my birthday! Maybe I would get Chatty Cathy. Finally, I woke up on my birthday. My parents brought in LOTS of presents. I ripped them open. Guess what? No Chatty Cathy. I was so sad. I had tried so hard. My mother reminded me that Christmas was only eleven days away. Maybe, if I was good, I would get a Chatty Cathy.

Those were the longest eleven days of my life! I tried to be perfect! Finally, it was Christmas morning! At my house, each person opened up a present and we went around the circle. Soon, I had opened up all my presents and guess what? NO Chatty Cathy. I had tried my best. I was sad.

Then my Dad said there was one more package under the tree. It had my name on it. I was sitting on the floor and could see under the tree. It looked like the right size to be my Chatty Cathy. My Dad brought the present to me. I remember I had to reach up to get the gift. Dad handed it down to me. I ripped it open? Guess what? It was Chatty Cathy! I remember asking Dad if she was mine for keeps! Dad said she was.

Long ago, another very special Father gave a very special gift. God sent Jesus to the world to die for us. When I was nine years old I reached out and took Jesus into my heart. He is mine for keeps! God still offers Jesus to day. All we have to do is reach out.

---Wendy J. Dever


Genesis 4:1-10 and Isaiah 55:12-13
(Janet G. Tharpe)

Father never forgave her
For the forbidden fruit
Or for the Fall.
He always blamed her
For the blisters he bore
And his back that ached
From plowing and tilling
Thorny, stubborn soil
Season after season.

Even as a child
I sensed their tension:
Felt her shame,
Absorbed his silent rage.
I was ever in his shadow,
A daddy's boy, who
Mirrored his mannerism
Engaged in his sweaty toil,
Heir to his graceless state.

When my brother was born,
I, too, was forever displaced,
Never to know Eden's ease.
His enterprise,shepherding,
Seemed successful, effortless:
Flocks multiplying rapidly.
God obviously favored him,
So, secretly, I hated him.
I planned his demise.

Pretending an interest,
I asked him to take me
To see his newest lambs,
Then, in his distant field,
I harvested my heritage and
The bloody ground begged
The Almighty to ask me:
"Where is your brother?"
"What have you done?"

God of Advent, have mercy. The roots of our violence are long and deeply embedded in the soil of our humanity. Prince of Peace, come. Bring Your healing reign and show us how to dwell in the peaceful fields of Your Kingdom now and forevermore. Holy Spirit, make it so. Amen

--Janet G. Tharpe

Christmas Lights

James 1:17a Whatever is good and perfect comes to us from God above, who created all heaven's lights.
(John Birkimer)

Christmas. . . . . . .
...1947:... The lights in the tiny chapel in the hardware store, shining through the variegated waxed paper windows; the warm glow and mystery of Christmases yet to come.

...1948:.... The glow of the alter candles at Midnight mass, our children's choir singing "Lo how a rose ere blooming," as my parents and grandparents knelt just a few pews back.

...1950:.... The colored lights from lamp-pole to lamp-pole on Main Street in my little town, Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" drifting from speakers on the Court House lawn and large flakes of snow falling across the scene and on my face, my heart filled with the joy and love of that moment and those times.

...1970:.... The Taylorsville Road neighborhood lights glowing brightly as I point our yet another bit of electrified Christmas magic to my Amy and Matt, treasuring their childish enjoyment beyond my own, dimly ware that these Christmas memories will not fade.

...1988:.... The lights of our own tree, the rooms decorated with garlands and crèches and ribbons and bows, as the good joy and fellowship of Solidarity Class members fill our home and hearts.

...1997:..... The lighted homes along Payne Avenue as I drive Molly and Sharleen to share the lights as I had with Molly's mother years before. The carols Molly sings instead, surfeited on Christmas lights from her own neighborhood.

.............. And just nights later, at Crescent Hill: the candle glow on Molly's face as she sings, in her father's arms: "Silent night, holy night...Sleep in heavenly peace."

Father, grant us to see the lights, both in your heavens and in the good lives you have granted us.

--John Birkimer

"Thy King Cometh"

Matthew 21:1-11
(Tina Ward-Pugh)

Was Jesus really expecting such a welcome from the crowd as he entered Jerusalem that day seated on an ass? Did he intend the response of praise and honor? Certainly it seems contrary to the attitude for which Jesus lived out his relationship to God. One does not view Jesus' ministry as that of being self-glorifying or self-serving, but instead that of serving others.

The crowd shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" They were convinced this was their king. Indeed, this fulfilled the prophecy and the people rejoiced. But what did this mean? Now that Jesus was their king surely they would embrace his message. Surely they would understand his intent. Were they simply celebrating their own hopes and "I told you so's" for what they assumed the king would be like?

Once again Jesus disappointed their expectations, the crowd waned and declared, "This cannot be our king!"

Do we people of faith today celebrate our relationship to God only when God comes to us as we expected, and yet wane when it is contrary? Is our celebration heard in the shouts of admitted "I told you so's" or rather is it in the whisperings from our unconditional serving of others?

Jesus was "King for a Day," when in reality all he wanted to be was a "servant for a lifetime."

Thy King cometh! Is it who you expected?

-Tina Ward-Pugh

Seeing Joe Through Christ's Eyes

Romans 15:7-"Accept one another, then, for the glory of God, as Christ has accepted you."
(Becky Greenlee)

He lumbered into the sanctuary through a door to the right of the pulpit, so obese that he could not walk beyond the second or third pew. His size, his disheveled attire, his greasy hair pulled back in a ponytail-all contributed to her disgust. She looked away-her eyes searching other unfamiliar faces for a pleasant visage. She settled comfortably back into the pew. She smiled and nodded to the others gathering completely forgetting about one unkempt man at the front of the church. She was anxious to hear what the speaker from Washington, D.C. had to say about the state of race relations in America. She was not disappointed. The man could preach.

After a ten-minute break, those participating assembled again. This time in the parish hall for a workshop. Settling into a chair amid a large circle of participants, she listened as the facilitator encouraged each participant to share first a time they remembered winning, then a time they clearly lost.

Then, Joe began to share. He told of the time when as a child he was nominated to run for class officer. Not only did he lose, but he found out later that he had been nominated because he was beatable. In college, he ran for student body officer and this time he won-a victory made sweeter because it indicated his acceptance as a white, gay male. Even in winning, he cautioned, there's still suffering. He continues to have trouble in intimate settings. He can't trust others because of the sexual abuse he endured as a child from a person who was supposed to love him the most- his father. He apologized for not being able to attend every session during the week-long event. Shame colored her face red; she hadn't notice his absence. She'd barely acknowledged his presence; and yet, here he was asking for her forgiveness.

Joe probably does not remember her, but she will never forget Joe. As she looked beyond the rumpled clothing and dirty hair, he became a symbol of all the people she'd overlooked. After the group sharing, she went to Joe and cradled his head in her hands. She felt the pain of the marginalized, the disenfranchised, the weak, the forgotten. As she pulled Joe into an embrace, she experienced the power of the Holy Spirit working in her and through her.

Lord, thank you opening my eyes to see the good in people. Help me to use those eyes everyday. Amen

-Becky Greenlee

When Did I See You Lord

Matthew 25:37 "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or....."
(Jerry Greenlee)

Sitting in my car at the traffic light,
.......hurrying along my busy way
I saw you there that muggy, hot morning 2nd and Broadway

Struggling in your chair on wheels so worn
......caught between two landscape ties
lining the walk made of brick windows blocked your feeble cries.

Trying to get to McDonalds for some respite,
......unable to move forward or go back
frustrated by that elementary given

I pulled away with a glance your way,
.....perhaps someone will come and help you out
I could not pull to the curb and assist,
.....No, I need to get on with my busy day.

I saw you again in the record check line,
.....wanting your police record check complete for an interview for a security guard job at one
Shy a buck and a half to complete the check, predictably will not get the job today

No, all I saw was your sloppy visage,
.....obnoxious, loud, hair not neat and combed just right,
a simpleton thought I in your countenance, should have planned better.

You walked away down and whipped,
.....all I could think was, "It's my turn now."
without a glance your way,
.....I went on with my busy day.

But no, neither were dismissed so easily,
....for yet they haunt my soul with pain,
for I did my Savior dear,
....and faild himn so unworthily.

My God forgive and grant me grace,
.....that next time I meet him face to face
I'll not turn and walk away wrapped up in my busy day.

"Lord, let us see others as you see us. As in that we see you in others. Let us not be blind and so busy that we fail to see you."

--Jerry Greenlee
Shalom alekhem


"And I will grant peace in the Land, and you shall lie down, and no one shall make you afraid;..." Leviticus 26:6a NRSV
(Nancy Cavalcante)

I have thought of this experience every time that I have heard the theme for this year's Advent Book.

It was raining, a slow steady rain, as I climbed out of the cab that held three other women and a small boy with large brown eyes. I crossed the street and entered the small grocery store on the corner to ask for directions to the Cornerstone Community Center. The store was bustling with activity as I looked for a clerk to ask for help. I found out that where I was and where I needed to be in just 10 minutes were 43 blocks apart. I took a deep breath and tried to decide what to do next. I walked back out to the street to discover that there were no cabs to hail. I was on one of the border line streets in Northern Ireland where cabs do not move up and down freely. Just four weeks earlier I would have encountered heavy, military activity on this road. I decided to cross the street and head for the nearest bus stop. The rain remained steady and I was thankful that I had my raincoat even though I had left my hood and umbrella at home. As I stood there waiting for the next bus, a young woman with two small children came up the sidewalk and stopped to wait for the bus also. We greeted one another and immediately it was obvious to her that I was not from Belfast.

We began to share with each other about who we were and where we had come from. She had just been to the doctor for a check up on her son who has a heart condition. Her little girl was asleep in her stroller. Near the end of our conversation she remarked that I had picked a good time to visit Northern Ireland as they were experiencing a time of peace after the recent tragic bombing in Omagh. My eyes filled with tears as she looked down at her two small children and shared her wish that the peace would remain for the sake of her children and the future of her people. Was she Protestant or Catholic? This was never discussed and did not seem to matter on this rainy day in Northern Ireland. The shared feelings both spoken and unspoken about the hope for continued peace was all we needed. Her bus came and she boarded looking back over her shoulder and wishing me luck as I waited for my bus which was to come in just a few minutes. I pray that this young woman's hopes and dreams for her children and all of our children becomes a reality not only in the United Kingdom but throughout God's Kingdom.

God of Peace hear our prayers for your Peace for your People in your Kingdom.

-Nancy Cavalcante

"Holy Land"

Jesus prayed to His Father for His disciples in John 17:23: "...I in them and Thou in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, that the world may know that Thou didst send Me."
(Martha Lytle)

The "Holy Land" is not a peaceable kingdom. Its soil is soaked with the blood of Biblical tribes, Crusaders and Moslems, soldiers of world wars, Palestinian and Israeli Jew, the innocent and the guilty, the peacemaker and the warmonger.

"There will never be peace between us," the your Israeli said to me. She, an airport security guard, responded to my description of Baptist Village as a place where Jews and Arabs come together in prayer and worship. She did not know that once, peace did break out in the Middle East - a bright star declared its arrival in the form of a tiny baby born in Bethlehem who would be the Prince of Peace.

During the beginnings of the Intifada (uprising), when violent exchanges were daily taking place between Palestinians and Israelis, especially in the West Bank, a few Messianic Jewish leaders and Arab Baptist pastors met together. They prayerfully planned a day of "peace/shalom" to be held at Baptist Village Conference Center where we were serving. It was to be for both Jewish and Arab followers of Jesus, the Messiah. Their purpose was to give testimony that..."Yes, we can live together."

They came on a Sabbath to fellowship, worship, eat and pray. ON the same morning, a well know Israeli Jewish artist arrived unannounced at the Village. Explaining her interest in Jewish-Arab dialogue, she told of hearing that Baptist were involved in such and endeavor and wanted to attend the regular congregational meeting. Norm told her of the special gathering that day and invited her to "come and see." She did and stayed the day. The following week the pastor of the Village congregation received a phone call. Our new artist friend told him she was so moved by the sight of Jew and Arabs singing praises and praying together that she had to know more about this faith. Could she talk with him? During their meeting, she accepted Christ as her Messiah, was baptized and today walks in faith.

Pray for all believers in Israel, that their unity and love for one another would be a visible strong witness to all who see them.

---Martha Lytle


"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid." John 14:27
(Gaye Tyner Rountree)

* An estimated 159,000 Christians killed for their faith every year
* More than 487 churches destroyed or damaged in Indonesia this past year
* Church workers arrested in Chardzhou, Turkmenistan
* Christian families in Sudan systematically broken up by abduction, child slavery, rape, torture and execution
* Police raid and close new Coptic church in Egypt
* Christians arrested in Laos for participating in Bible study
* Christians accused of and executed for blaspheming Muhammad in Pakistan
* All religious activity in Vietnam controlled by the government which plans to get "involved" in order to ensure churches promote patriotism
* Christians in Nigeria face forced Islamization
* Catholic priest in India kidnapped and beheaded by extremists angry over ministry with the "untouchables"
* New laws in Russia restrict activities of non-Orthodox churches
* House churches in China closed and their leaders fined, imprisoned and sometimes tortured
* Filipino Christians in Saudi Arabia arrested and later deported for distributing Christian materials
* Guatemalan bishop beaten to death after publishing report on abuses committed by government
* All known Christians imprisoned in the Maldives where adherence to Islam is required for citizenship
* Evangelists jailed in Tibet
* In Sudan, Former Muslim sheik, arrested and charged with apostasy for converting to Christianity, now faces execution unless he "repents" and returns to Islam
* Christians in Iran forced to worship in secret
* All churches with less than 100 members forced by law to close and cease activity in Uzbekistan
* Christian parents in Pakistan try to recover their 3 teenage daughters who were forcibly taken from their home only to be told by the police that the girls had converted to Islam and could not be returned to the parents
* More Christians martyred in the 20th century than in the past 19 centuries combined *

"I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world." John 16:33

God, forgive us when we fail to see. Help us to pray for our brothers and sisters who put their lives on the line daily in order to follow Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. Amen.

---Gaye Tyner Rountree

Cabin Creek

(Roxann Hieb)

I have found a peaceable kingdom in the land we have been allowed to tend for a brief period of time. A few glimpses into life thereon our Cabin Creek Farm have opened my eyes and heart to feel more peace in God's Kingdom.

Walking in the winter woods--cold clear air, bare beautiful trees.

The rustling sound of crisp tan leaves on stalks heavy with hardened corn, waiting to be harvested.

Understanding and accepting that death is one act in the play of life.

The smell of cedar branches as they brush your jacked.

Purple trillium deep in a woods--seen only by animals April after April.

Low burning embers from a campfire, in the dry creekbed.

A soft decaying log, slowly becoming rich soil--adding to the ground on which it lies.

The rich smell of freshly turned soil, tilled by the sharp blade of the farmers plow on a cold March day.

A natural world accepting its own pace.

The ancient beech tree, which takes four pair of friends' outstretched arms to surround it.

When I observe the community of plants, animals and people here on the farm, I'm aware of peace in God's Kingdom.

---Roxann Hieb

Holy Places, Holy Times

"Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
(Bobbie Thomason)

Several times a year I get up at 5:30 on a Saturday morning and drive down in the dark to Shakertown at Pleasant Hill. If I am lucky, I arrive just as the sun is rising over the rolling hills. After eating that wonderful country breakfast, I walk the hills for hours--singing hymns and spirituals to the cows, skipping for the sheer joy of it, quoting my favorite scriptures, thinking about my life.

Sometimes, I cry and sometimes I laugh. It is my time to be alone with who I am and to renew my strength. This is my holy place--a combined beauty of the form in nature and the architecture here move me like no other place on earth. It is easy to worship here. In the quiet of this place I can stop my busy life for awhile and be still and remind myself of my priorities and of the blessings that I have.

As I went for my annual autumn trek several weeks ago, I found myself thinking about Randall Thompson's musical piece, The Peaceable Kingdom. Cows just do not care how you sound, and as the sun shone on the red and yellow autumn landscape, I sang my faith to them--"and all the trees of the fields shall clap their hands," and :You shall have a song as in the night when a holy solemnity is kept and gladness of heart." I thought of my friend who is in desert place in her life, my relative who has lived the past few years facing one difficulty after another, and of the student in my first grade class who is so fearful of experiencing the world that he is not capable of having a friend over to play.

I hope they can find peace in their lives and gladness of heart. As I walked by the cemetery a flock of wild geese few over (a special symbol to me). I have told my family when I die I want to be cremated and to have my ashes scattered over these peaceful hills to become a part of this place.

Holy places, holy times--our peaceable kingdom.

---Bobbie Thomason

Lessons from Children

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonder, Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
(Glenna Hess)

I am constantly amazed at what I learn from children. It amazes me how children accept everything with their child-like faith and we as adults struggle with everyday life.

Kathryn Chapman's death was a terrible loss to our family. Steve and I lost a teacher and dear friend. Philip and Matthew also lost a dear friend, a friend that they know loved them and loved all children.

On the day of her visitation, Philip, Matthew and I went to the funeral home before visitation actually began. We all needed some quiet time with Kathryn. I really didn't want to accept the fact that Kathryn was gone. There was so much that I had yet to learn from her. However, Philip and Matthew seemed to understand, and accept, that Ms. Kathryn had died and took time to say their good-byes. We left soon after Matthew began crawling beneath the flowers. I could hear Kathryn saying "Glenna, he is just being five! Let him be!"

After we left the funeral home, we went to Philip's soccer practice. The sky was cloudy and it looked like it was going to rain. As Matthew and I watched Philip practice, we were talking about Ms. Kathryn. Matthew wanted to know where Ms. Kathryn was and if she was all right. I explained that she was in heaven with Jesus and he was taking care of her. About that time, the sun began to shine behind the clouds. It was if the heavens had opened up. Matthew pointed to the sky and exclaimed, "Look Mommy, there is Ms. Kathryn with Jesus!" It was at that moment that I did believe and accept that Kathryn was with Jesus and he was taking care of her. By looking through our child's eyes, I began to feel peace. Matthew with his child-like faith, had helped me to understand. He helped me to realize that Jesus was taking care of us too.

Our story reminds me of how long ago a child came to show us the way and to help us understand. A child came to guide a weary world into the light of day. A child came and gave the world hope and peace.

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonder, Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

---Glenna Hess

Not by a Sword

Luke 19: 1-10
(William M. Johnson)

Kathryn Watterson's book, Not by a Sword, tells the compelling story of a Jewish canto, Michael Weisser and a grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan, Larry Trapp. Set in Lincoln, Nebraska, the true story reveals how the unconditional and unwavering love of God in Michael toward and for Larry finally transforms Larry's life from a bitter sword of hate and despair into a redeeming plowshare of reconciling love and hope.

In its own way this story reminds me of the encounter of Jesus and Zacchaeus and how Jesus' love and grace toward Zacchaeus transformed his life from a sward of greed and loneliness to a plowshare of generosity and goodwill. Amazing grace, indeed! And for me, the Zac story seemed so familiar and so far away until the Michael and Larry story brought it fresh to life.

Many of us battle the demon of cynicism these days and it is easy to think that the swords of our lives are necessary and good. After all, we live in a sword-filled society and soon forget the warning" those who live by the sword shall...." But then the transforming love of Christ comes along and does its wondrous work in our lives, and we know and see so differently.

Possibly this Advent, as we prepare again for the Prince of Peace, who abidingly is about transforming swords into plowshares, we just might need to disarm ourselves and like Zac, invite Jesus into our home and heart for lunch. And during the visit, ask Christ to again turn and tune you to be a gentle and kind instrument of His peace: a plowshare.

I know I have collected too many "swords" this year, how about you?
So, come Lord Jesus, come.

---William M. Johnson

Wait Patiently

James 5:7 Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord.
(Elaine Parker)

Have you read any of the recent novels or tapped onto the internet on the subject of the Second Coming of Christ? There's a sudden avalanche of material coming down that presupposes the parousia to be imminent. If you take it seriously you won't want to be on an airplane come midnight, December 31, 1999, unless you're fairly certain of being "raptured up." And should you be left behind, your pilot might disappear leaving you plunging downward.

James cautioned the scattered Christians to be patient in waiting for the Lord. Patience is a flower that thrives not in my garden, as the saying goes, but I have never given much thought to Jesus' return. Not because I don't believe He will come, or would not welcome him, but Jesus himself said no man, nor even the angels in heaven would know the day or hour of His return. I am willing to leave it at that, trying meanwhile to live in such a way that I would not have to worry if He should arrive one day when I least expect it. While I am on a ladder cleaning out the garage gutters, maybe or pulling weeds--now there's something that thrives in my garden!

Dr. Henlee Barnette recently said to me, "Bring your last day into this day and live accordingly." We are, after all, people of "the way." Presumably that means we have discovered a way of life which we consider to be the best way. And if we fall short from time to time, we can always find our way back and continue our journey. Surely we would be happier and the world would be a better place if we could live by "the wisdom from above" as James terms it. Listen to his description: "(It) is pure,...peaceable, gentle, without uncertainty or insincerity." I'd like to live in such a world, wouldn't you?

Dearest Lord God, may this blessed season provide us such a taste of living in the light of the wisdom from above that we will want to live by it all through the year. Then Christ will surely be among us as we move into the new millennium with love and rejoicing.

---Elaine Parker


(Carlie Fogg)

Peace to me means getting along and sharing.

Peace also means loving one another, giving and caring.

I think peace means visiting and donating money to homeless and poor people.

That is what peace means to me.

--Carlie Fogg

Gifts in the Rough

(Peggy Schmidt)

The stocking was five feet long and it held the best gift I had ever given him.

A budding wood worker...a young man with a terrific talent for his new career. He opened it to find walnut and sycamore and instructions leading him to a stack of rough sawn oak, cherry walnut, maple and sassafras.

His gift is the gift of vision--to envision what can be.. to envision the finished product, as he transforms the raw, rough, darkened plant, which he knows holds the potential to become a polished, perhaps inlaid, jewelry box, picture frame or "card box" lovingly made to hold his grandfather's get well cards.

His gift is the gift of persistence, as he cuts, crafts, fits, glues, sands, stains and finishes each unique gift--matching thoughtful item with unique personality. A pencil/pen box for dad; an octagonal mirror frame for mom; a tiny finger-lap box for his great aunt; a recipe box for sis; and inlaid, brass trimmed jewelry box for his best girl. Each take precision and untold patience.

His gift is the gift of time. Time spent thinking of each loved one, designing the right gift, locating the raw woods, measuring, planing, cutting, crafting, sanding, staining, and finally adding the finish.

His gift is the gift of Self. To each he gives his time, persistence and vision--transforming the raw, gently removing the rough edges and allowing the inner beauty to show clearly to those of us who do not possess these gifts.

Learning from God's example, the artist possesses the vision, and believes that persistence and time will create, craft, and transform even the roughest, rawest, and seemingly impossible into that vision.

Dear God--Thank you for believing in each one of us, for seeing the inner beauty, and for staying persistently near. Through the transformation is slow, move us closer, embracing the beauty that you know lies "just below the surface."

---Peggy Schmidt

Light of the World

"--Come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord." Isaiah 2:5
(Hilda Dean)

Darkness comes in different forms. One can see varying shades of darkness as the sun gradually slips beyond the horizon in the evenings. At these times one automatically reaches for the light switch for immediate relief of the darkness.

I ride the bus to work. In the early morning darkness I take the 10-minute walk to the bus stop. This darkness is dispelled by the waxing or waning of the moon, the stars, streetlights, car headlights, and an occasional firefly. I am armed with a prayer to God for his guardian angels to light the way.

There are times when the soul, too, seems to plunge into darkness as a result of changes in external or internal surroundings. Examples of this unsettling darkness include the overwhelming grief when a loved one dies, a move from one house to another, job stress or deep depression--seemingly with no specific cause. At times like these we can feel cut off from God, unable to pray or to reach out to him or to our community. Healing from these griefs--finding light in the midst of our darkness--requires time and persistence.

Many years ago in the middle of the night, in the darkness of a stable a child was born. And suddenly there was light--
...............--a great light
.........................--a light from God
...................................--God's son and his gift to all the world
..............................................--to every man, woman and child who will open their hearts receive this wonderful love--the best light of all.

Jesus Christ, who became the light of the world, even now breaks the darkness of our lives to bring us hope.

Dear God, give to us this day the strength and courage to walk in the light of your love.

---Hilda Dean

© 1998 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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Last updated , November 24, 1998