Good morning. It is Sunday, December 21, 2014. Four more days! Also, welcome to Winter. Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day and longest night of the year.
Today’s Word of the Day is “palinode.” It has two definitions. 1. “An ode or song recanting or retracting something in an earlier poem.” 2. “A formal retraction.”
Today is International Dalek Remembrance Day. It is deemed so, because, apparently, the Daleks first made their appearance on Doctor Who on December 21, 1963.
Yesterday was a strange day. I’m not really going to write about something that occurred yesterday morning, but I will say that my reaction to the circumstance was wrong. I think I managed to salvage the situation, but it illustrated how badly I still need to work on this whole idea of being a servant and not being selfish. The afternoon went pretty well. Christi went ahead and did the grocery shopping for her mother, and I finally got the oil changed! The guys at the oil change/car wash place must have been really bored, too, because they got the oil changed in record time. I was a little skeptical, because I wasn’t sure they even had time to drain the old oil. The car wash was surprisingly open, so I got that done, too. Free car wash with an oil change, and all that. I picked up the required Sonic drinks, along with some lunch, and headed home.
After lunch, we got ready and headed up to church, where we were challenged a bit. We are still in a series on the Great Commission, and tying that in with Christmas. Last night’s message focused on the two words, “all nations,” and was very challenging, even uncomfortable, at times. But it turned out being a good evening, with some good worship. We hit Whataburger on the way home and settled in to watch some TV before bedtime.
Today, I’m supposed to help clean house for the upcoming Christmas festivities. I whined a little, saying, “Why? We’ll just have to do it again Wednesday!” 🙂 But I will do my duty and faithfully do whatever is asked of me.
We only have to work three days this week, as we are off Wednesday and Thursday for Christmas. Do Canadians get off Friday for Boxing Day? If so, I think I want to move there. On second thought, I don’t want to have to root for the Blue Jays, so never mind.
(Source: This Day in History)
It was on this date in 1974 that Harry Chapin had his only Billboard #1 hit, with the song “Cat’s In the Cradle.” This song began as a poem written by Sandy, Harry’s wife.
Today’s birthdays include Samuel L. Jackson, Steven Yeun, Kiefer Sutherland, Ray Romano, Jane Fonda, Frank Zappa, Natalie Grant, Florence Griffith Joyner, Chris Evert, Carl Wilson, Phil Donahue, Benjamin Disraeli, Paul Winchell, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Thomas Becket, Roger Williams (English colonist, not piano player), Werner von Trapp, and Philip Humber.
Natalie Grant is a Christian singer, fairly well known in the CCM industry. She has received the GMA Dove Award for Female Vocalist of the Year several times in her career. She turns 43 today.
Here is her song “Your Great Name.”
Fourth Week of Advent
Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!
For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods.
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas;
You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day,
Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel”
(which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.
Praise the LORD! Praise, O servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD!
Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and forevermore!
From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the LORD is to be praised!
The LORD is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens!
Who is like the LORD our God, who is seated on high,
who looks far down on the heavens and the earth?
He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap,
to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people.
He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the LORD!
The Prayer Appointed for the Week
Purify my conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at
his coming, may find in me a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you
and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.
Today’s Gospel Reading
Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,
“Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.'”
The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”
This passage describes what has become known as “the Triumphal Entry.” Jesus gave his disciples some pretty explicit instructions on where to find the donkey and its colt. The quotation of Zechariah 9:9 is significant, as this was recognized as a messianic prophecy. The crowd spreading their cloaks on the ground before Jesus indicates that they recognized his claim to be the Messiah.
Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “Everything Will Be All Right.”
“Christmas is the promise that the God who came in history and comes daily in mystery will one day come in glory.” In Christ Jesus, God tells us that “in the end everything will be all right. Nothing can harm you permanently, no suffering is irrevocable, no loss is lasting, no defeat is more than transitory, no disappointment is conclusive. Jesus did not deny the reality of suffering, discouragement, disappointment, frustration, and death; he simply stated that the Kingdom of God would conquer all of these horrors, that the Father’s love is so prodigal that no evil could possibly resist it.”
I looked up “prodigal,” having seen the word in the parable of The Prodigal Son for most of my life. Knowing the definition of the word is helpful, especially in light of Timothy Keller’s book about that parable, called The Prodigal God. For many years, I thought it meant something like “wayward” or “lost.” But that is not at all what it means. It means, “spending money or resources freely and recklessly; wastefully extravagant.” Which is exactly what “the prodigal son” did. However, it also means, “having or giving something on a lavish scale,” which is exactly what God does! Hence, Brennan’s usage of the word in the above paragraph. God’s love is, indeed, prodigal!
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes,
and death shall be no more,
neither shall there be mourning,
nor pain anymore,
for the former things have passed away.
Father, thank you for the promise of Christ’s coming in glory. I give you thanks for the first advent of Jesus, that gives us hope for life, for future grace, for “heaven.” Thank you for the promise that, indeed, everything will be all right! All of us have suffered, been discouraged, frustrated, disappointed, and, inevitably, experienced death. None of these things are permanent! My mind cannot truly fathom this truth, as it is in a fixed, finite jar of clay. But someday, this jar of clay will be smashed and replaced with something indescribably glorious!
Your extravagant, prodigal love cannot be truly, adequately described. “Could we with ink the oceans fill, and were the skies of parchment made, were every stalk on earth a quill, and every man a scribe by trade; to write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry; nor could the scroll contain the whole, though stretched from sky to sky.” How true those words! How unfathomable your love! Teach me, Father. Teach me your love. I don’t need to pray for you to show me, for you have, over and over and over again! But I need to learn it. I need your love to be so ingrained in my being that it flows out from me to everyone around me. I need for your prodigal love to push out every negative character trait that so viciously plagues me from day to day, things about myself that I truly hate. Teach me your love!
I pray for this day. We still have a few things to get done, and I pray that we will accomplish those today. Keep us safe as we travel around, and give us good rest, as we prepare for the week ahead. It is a short work week, but there are celebrations to be done during the days off, so they will not necessarily be restful.
As we look forward to Wednesday and Thursday, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, may our hearts be led to praise you and to ponder the miraculous birth that changed the world forever. May Christ be born in us today! “O come to my heart, Lord Jesus, there is room in my heart for Thee!”
I pray that you experience the prodigal love of God this Christmas!
Grace and peace, friends.