Monday, November 24, 2008

A family Christmas Tree Blessing

Many families bless their Christmas trees before lighting them. The evergreen of our Christmas trees is a symbol of everlasting life. It stands as a shelter over the Child in the manger. Here is a blessing you can use in your home...

Our Lord Jesus Christ died upon the tree of the Cross.
He overcame the sin caused by our first parents,
Who ate of the forbidden tree of Paradise in the garden.
We trust in the sacrifice of Jesus, Whose manger points to Calvary.
If there is no cross in the manger, there is no Christmas.

Prayer: Lord Our God,We praise You for the light of Creation:the sun, the moon, and the stars of the night.We praise You for the Light of Israel:the Law, and the prophets,and the wisdom of the Scriptures.We praise You for Jesus Christ, Your Son:He is Emmanuel, God-with-us, the Prince of Peace, Who fills us with the wonder of Your love.Lord God, let Your blessing come upon usas we light this tree.May the light and cheer it givesbe a sign of the joy that fills our hearts.May all who delight in this treecome to the knowledge and joy of salvation.

Sing together:
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, a lesson you can teach us.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, a lesson you can teach us.
That hope and love and faithfulness, are precious things we can possess.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, a lesson you can teach us.

Scripture reading – John chapter one (excerpts):
In the very beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. He created everything there is. In Him was life, and this life He gives to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not extinguish it…The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize him when He came. Even in His own land and among his own people, He was not accepted. But to all who believed and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God…the Word became flesh and lived here on earth among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one-and-only Son, Who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

God of glory, let our hearts’ door be ever open, ready to welcome the newborn King.
Let us offer the best we have, to Him who gives us everything…Amen!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Fire insurance or discipleship?

We study and take seriously the teachings of Jesus, yet there are some who think the only important thing is what Jesus accomplished on the Cross, which gets us into Heaven. Jesus' purpose was not limited to getting us into Heaven. It was primarily to get us into the Kingdom of God…and the difference between those two ideas is enormous. The first is non-transformative and ego-serving. The second is radically life-altering, unto eternity. Genuine faith is always accompanied by repentance--a radical change in how we think and live as citizens in the present and eternal Kingdom. We have a new direction, not just a new destination. We follow Christ as His transformed disciples, not mere converts who have the password to Heaven's gates.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Preparing for Thanksgiving

~Prepare home-made Thanksgiving greeting cards
~Invite a single or elderly person over for Thanksgiving dinner
~Visit someone who’s hospitalized or in a nursing home
~Make a Thanksgiving praise banner
~Read Psalm 100 aloud at Thanksgiving dinner
~Write a letter of thanks to God from your family
~Read the story of the Pilgrims aloud before or after Thanksgiving dinner
~Sing a few praise choruses or the Doxology (“Praise God from Whom all Blessings Flow”) at dinner
~Check with a local religious bookstore for special Thanksgiving decorations
~Have everyone in the family write on a slip of paper one thing they’re thankful for and tape them to a poster-board with the headline: “We give thanks for…”
~Make Thanksgiving place mats, place cards, and a centerpiece for the table.
~Buy or make a cornucopia and fill it with fruit, nuts, gourds and/or Autumn leaves
~Collect a family Thanksgiving offering for a missionary, or relief agency
~-Volunteer at a community food pantry or homeless shelter
~Attend your community’s Thanksgiving Eve inter-faith service