Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Our Star

Philippians 4:4-7 (NRSV)
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life."
-John 8:12 (NRSV)

I was busy one afternoon helping my family decorate the house and put up a Christmas tree in the living room. We decorated the tree with lights and glitter, and finally we placed a big, shiny star on the top.

As I sat back to admire the lights and glitter, it dawned on me that Jesus is the light of my life. He shines in my life with all the blessings of good health, a loving family, a job that I enjoy, good friends, peace, joy, love, financial blessings, food on the table, a roof over my head, and clothes to wear.

These and similar blessings are reason for a spirit of praise and thanksgiving. Rejoicing in the Lord not only makes us glad but also helps us begin to understand something of God's greatness and creativity in all things. As I looked at the star on top of the Christmas tree, I remembered and acknowledged that Jesus is the real reason for the Christmas season. He is the star, the light, in my life.

by Agnes Lim Miin (Singapore)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christmas message

Read Luke 13:10-17

Behold, I stand at the door and knock.
-Revelation 3:20 (KJV)

HERE in South Africa, we celebrate Christmas in the sunshine of midsummer, often at the beach. But there must be something more significant to ponder at this time than the difference between building sand castles on the beach and snow people on the lawn, as some in the northern hemisphere might do.

Perhaps the story of the bent-over woman can help. Despite her ailment, she still thought it important to go to a synagogue to worship God. Jesus, as always, did not miss the opportunity to show the love and power of God. He called her forward and placed his healing hands on her body and her life. Then came the problem. The leader of the synagogue protested that Jesus had broken the law. What can we learn from this story at Christmas?

We learn that for Jesus the situation had not changed much since his birth. There was still no room for him - no room in the hearts of the leaders to acknowledge that a miracle had happened. And if we are not careful, the clutter of Christmas can leave no room for the miracle of the birth of Jesus in our hearts. Do we find there open doors of welcome or no room? We face that choice every Christmas, no matter where and how we celebrate.

by Gavin Leverton (Western Cape, South Africa)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Touching Those Far Away

Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying.
-Ephesians 6:18 (NIV)

THE other morning I sensed the Lord wanted me to pray for the people who had made the clothes I was putting on. Not knowing who they were, I began to think about them. What country do they live in? Are they men or women, young or old? What are their circumstances? What religion do they profess?

A quick check of some of the clothes in my closet shows that they are made in many different countries, on different continents. Although I realize I can never know who these people are, they are a great blessing to me; but before that day I hadn't even thought of them. But they are real people, trying to make a living. They may work long hours in hard conditions to make my clothing, and I am awed and humbled by their work on my behalf.

Even if I tried, I could not reach them to thank them, but I can pray for them. I can pray that they will be blessed, that they know God, that their lives will be made easier through faith in God who loves them. Through my prayers, I become part of God's touching their lives.

by Valerie Cullers (Oregon, USA)
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