Christ First at Christmas Family, Food and Fellowship Fun Around the Tree
I hope you had a Christmas filled with Family, food, and fun, too. I pray your memories are as sweet as mine. Merry Christmas, my friends. May the spirit of the holidays live in your heart and bring you joy – all year long!
Time for kids and joy It’s Sunday before Christmas Church and friends and love
The sanctuary Is ready for the people The Son waits with us
Fifth Advent candle Waits with us for Christmas Day Hope, love, joy, and peace
All are brightly lit But not the center candle It represents Christ
Flowers decorate The stairs to the church’s front Poinsettias tell all
Kathy and Jaime Beautifully play the songs That ring in Christmas
The smiles of children Remind is of the Christ Child Whose birth we await
Today’s sermon was told by Elaine Hundley, in her husband Rev. Steve Hundley’s absence. The sermon focused on Joseph, the baby Jesus’ earthly father.
We pray for Steve as he sits at his dying mother’s bedside way over on the other side of the USA. We pray for Elaine who is experiencing her first Christmas apart from Steve in 42 years! She remained here to carry on Steve’s ministry in our church. God bless her!
I listened carefully to capture the message as Elaine delivered a sermon Steve had written some years ago. To understand the introduction, you need to know that Steve and Elaine are adoptive parents.
Here are my poetic renderings:
“Feeling Good About Christmas”
The adoption agency checked us out. They made sure we were okay. I wonder what God did to check out Mary and Joseph to parent Jesus His way.
Joseph was a righteous man who Believed the angel Gabriel who told: “The baby was conceived by the Holy Spirit.” So Joseph didn’t desert her – nor scold.
He took her to be his wife, And ignored what might have been said By the town folks as they gossiped. He knew she was pure and had not “gone to bed.”
Joseph was a good man, a believer, Who read and understood God’s grace. He saw through the Holy Spirit’s lenses, And was able to accept this Holy Child from God’s Holy place.
May we, too, know the Christ Child as God’s gift to us.Amen!
Happy Fourth Sunday of Advent. May the peace of Christ permeate your heart and give you a peace-filled week.
Most Valuable Player = Motivate Validate Praise That’s ME (and all my TOPS friends!)
What is TOPS?
TOPS is a national organization designed to help folks like me Take Off Pounds Sensibly and keep those pounds off. It is not a diet program, but a supportive organization that focuses on Mind Over Platter. Sensible meal choices, portion control, and self-control are three of the ways TOPS encourages reaching and keeping healthy weight goals.
I joined TOPS in 2012 shortly after Bob & I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary. I saw myself in those anniversary photos and said, “Who’s that???” I had gained 20 pounds in about twenty years – a pound a year. It just crept up so slowly that I didn’t notice how out-of-shape I was! See those chubby cheeks? I needed help to get back to my goal weight.
Today I am back down those 20 pounds and am encouraged each week when I go to my TOPS meeting to keep the pounds off. I have to face the scale and tell my TOPS friends (most of whom are KOPS – Keep Off Pounds Sensibly) whether I gained, lost, or “turtled” this week. (Turtling is staying the same.) That accountability is important to me.
I was the happy TOPS “Best Loser” today. Every 1/4 lb. counts. I lost 1/2 lb. (Yay!!) It’s so easy to put the pounds on this time of year. I think of my TOPS friends and that scale every time I put a piece of candy or a Christmas cookie in my mouth. I am not asked to deny myself… Just be smart about how much and when I eat those sweets!
Is Weight Watching Part of Your Routine?
If, like me, you have to watch what you eat, how much you eat, and when you eat – or you are prone to gain unwanted pounds, you might also look into seeing if there is a group like TOPS in your vicinity. The dues are only $5 per month. There are no foods you have to buy. No extra costs. Just a wonderful group of supportive friends. I am so grateful to my TOPS friends.
I encourage you to seek friends who are MVPs for you, too. Motivators Validators Positive friends who Praise and encourage you.
Winnie the Pooh said, “Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.”
Yesterday at church, the smallest people there took up the largest place in my heart… and the hearts of the congregants. I didn’t have my camera with me to show you a picture of the “Terrific Tuesday” children who sang Christmas carols to the congregation and recited a memorized Bible verse into the microphone. But, you just have to imagine these three darlings along with five others ranging in age from 4 to 10 – – – singing and reciting praises to our Lord. It was glorious!
Ruby, Cord, and Hailey were joined by five others yesterday as they sang, “Father Abraham,” and “Silent Night,” and synced hand motions to “I’ve Got Peace Like a River”… Oh my! Every face in the church was bursting with God’s JOY as we watched these darling little ones.
Elaine Hundley, our Pastor Steve’s wife, delivered the sermon. Steve is off in Virginia at his mom’s side as she lies dying. As we pray for Steve and his mom, Faye, our congregation also is mourning the death of Reverend Jean Johnson, who died after a difficult surgery and related difficulties. She had been the pastor here in the Madison Valley Presbyterian Church for 32 years.
If you have followed my blog for awhile, you know I take notes in poetry as I listen and internalize the sermon. Elaine called her sermon, “Second Chances” as she talked about Zechariah’s muteness due to unbelief – and the second chance he received after acknowledging his baby boy’s name is John. In my notes, I focused more on the message to Mary – and her response to Gabriel and to God. Here is what I wrote as I discerned the message yesterday. I called it Believe and Trust:
Based on Luke 1:26-56
Think about Gabriel’s messages To Zechariah and to Mary. He told each their child’s name And spoke as if a voice from a fairy.
Zechariah was a priest and he Should have believed the voice. But he doubted – and became mute. Like Zechariah, we have a choice.
We can believe as Mary did, Or doubt as Zechariah chose to do. The result of Mary’s faith Was rich in blessings. So it is with you.
When God speaks to us, we know Blessings are ours – if we trust. Through faith, we are free to rejoice; We are free to believe – We must!
Mary’s song speaks as if God Already has done what He said. She praises the gift of His Son. She didn’t look on her fate with dread.
Sometimes, like Mary, we face unknowns. Like her, we are called to accept The challenges God gives us as gifts. Know God’s in charge, so have no regrets.
Christmas is a season in which, as we light the Advent candle – there is a new focus each week. We await the birth of the Christ Child with a focus on JOY this week. I pray you find JOY in this day – and project nothing but HOPE, PEACE and JOY to all you meet.
As Pooh said, “Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.” What’s taking up room in your heart today?
Look for the smallest ways to believe, trust, and spread the Good News! Wheeee!! Take JOY into your heart! (It’s no small thing.)
Thanks for visiting JanBeek. I hope it brought you JOY today. See ya later.
The season of Christmas is one of my favorites. It’s a time to socialize with friends and to shop. It’s a time to enjoy the great outdoors on the slopes. It’s a time for cards and cookies and eat ’til you pop!
What are you up to? What’s your favorite kind of fun this time of the year? Have some “Christmas Time Fun” and tell me all about it!