Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Hope is on the way 25: How can you have genuine joy and hope this Christmas

Today, the book club was in the Morning. As normal, Tia knocked out for Rebekah, and then went to Emily then to Lawrence. Today Louise and Pete decided to participate again. Louise, Pete, Elizabeth and Cherry were waiting for Rebekah, Tia, Lawrence and Emily at the chapel they already had two coffees.

Cherry started the book club this morning by saying, “It’s that time of year again.  Decorative signs, advertisements, and commercials encourage us with the familiar messages.”

“Just Believe,” said Tia
“Have Faith.” Said Elizabeth

“A Season of Hope,” said Pete

Pete said, “At first glance these tidings may warm our hearts as we go about our way, humming Christmas music as we shop. “

Cherry carried on what Pete was saying, “Yet, as I stop to reflect upon these phrases, I wonder, What exactly do they mean? Each of these statements is missing an essential element - the object of one’s belief, faith or hope.”

Elizabeth said, “One could read these messages and easily interpret that we are to “Just believe in Santa” or “Have faith in the goodness of mankind” or this is “A season of hope” because we are looking forward to lovely times with families or gifts around the tree.”

Louise said, “Understood in this way, these messages fall flat and bring little encouragement.  Believing in Santa can be somewhat unsettling when you consider the songs we sing about him:”

Elizabeth said, “We should sing, Santa Claus in coming to Town?”

That is exactly what they did

He's making a list
And checking it twice
Gonna find out Who's naughty and nice
Santa Claus is coming to town
He sees you when you're sleeping
He knows when you're awake
He knows if you've been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!

“Isn’t it rather sobering to consider a large bearded man, dressed all in red velvet and smoking a pipe, keeping watch over us to see whether we’ve been good enough?  Such a Jolly Old Elf’s works-based righteousness might be more cause for fear and trembling than happiness and joy.” Said Tia

Cherry said, “The same is true as we consider placing our faith in mankind or hoping in family gatherings.  As we look around our world, terrorism, racism, greed, discord, and disease dominate the news.  We are a human race plagued with many struggles, and often these show up in our own families. And, it’s not just the world “out there”, but also the person I look at in the mirror that causes me to pause before placing my faith in mankind or hoping in perfect family gatherings.”

Rebekah said, “These phrases are problematic because they are incomplete. It’s not enough to simply be a hopeful person or be full of faith.  It’s essential for us to consider exactly where we are placing our belief, faith, and hope.  The object of our faith is the essential substance of it.  When we loose sight of the actual meaning of our faith, then we lose the very thing that is able to sustain it.”

Elizabeth said, “The joy of the Christmas message is so much richer, deeper, and more beautiful than any other story that has ever been told. Glory was wrapped in flesh and dwelt among us, so that we could be wrapped in righteousness and dwell with God. Jesus lived a perfect life so that He could be the perfect sacrifice for all that is wrong both in our own lives and in the world.”

Pete carried on what Elizabeth said, “Without Jesus our belief has no merit, our faith has no basis, and hope has no anchor. In Jesus, we find the joy of believing.  In Jesus, we find the substance of our faith.  In Jesus, we know this to be a season of hope.”

Cherry said, “As I rush to and fro, I hope to hear songs reminding me of the object of my faith. I want to be humming about Jesus, singing the gospel to myself and others.”

Elizabeth ended the book club with, God rest ye merry, gentlemen song.

God rest ye merry, gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember, Christ, our Saviour
Was born on Christmas day
To save us all from Satan's power
When we were gone astray
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

In Bethlehem, in Israel,
This blessed Babe was born
And laid within a manger
Upon this blessed morn
The which His Mother Mary
Did nothing take in scorn
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

From God our Heavenly Father
A blessed Angel came;
And unto certain Shepherds
Brought tidings of the same:
How that in Bethlehem was born
The Son of God by Name.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

"Fear not then," said the Angel,
"Let nothing you affright,
This day is born a Saviour
Of a pure Virgin bright,
To free all those who trust in Him
From Satan's power and might."
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

The shepherds at those tidings
Rejoiced much in mind,
And left their flocks a-feeding
In tempest, storm and wind:
And went to Bethlehem straightway
The Son of God to find.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

And when they came to Bethlehem
Where our dear Saviour lay,
They found Him in a manger,
Where oxen feed on hay;
His Mother Mary kneeling down,
Unto the Lord did pray.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

Now to the Lord sing praises,
All you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas
All other doth deface.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

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