Responding to the Manger

Posted: December 19, 2013 in Thoughts from the Elders

In 1865 a young minister was on a trip to the Holy Land. On December 24 he rode by horseback to the little town of Bethlehem. He attended a five hour service held in the ancient basilica built over the traditional site of the birthplace of Jesus. Listening to the hymns, scripture readings and prayers in that service, he was deeply moved.

Phillips Brooks was a beloved pastor who was often seen sitting on the floor reading Bible stories to the children of the church. Three years after his trip to the holy land, the little ones were planning a Christmas program. He wanted to write a new song for their program. Looking back to the inspirational moments he encountered in Bethlehem, he quickly penned four verses. He then gave those lines to his church organist.

The organist tried to put music to the words and nothing came to him. He went to bed and awoke to a melody ringing through his head. He quickly jotted down the notes and went back to sleep. That next morning he completed the tune. That December night in 1868, for the first time, the children sang the beloved hymn, “O Little Town Of Bethlehem.”

This Christmas, what will be our response to the nativity story. We have been challenged by Dave to think beyond ourselves and material things. It is a strong challenge. I recently heard a man talk about a substantial gift he gave to a ministry to the homeless. He said that as he walked away from meeting with the director of the ministry, with tears in his eyes, he realized there was a sense of joy that could never be matched by anything the he could have bought for himself. No toy, trinket or treasure could come close to the satisfaction of knowing that lives were going to be changed forever in the name of Jesus.

“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.” Matt 6:33-34 (The Message)

May our response to the Christmas story be a sense of giving as we have been given so much by our heavenly Father.

“We hear the Christmas angels,

The great glad tidings tell

O come to us, abide in us

Our Lord Emmanuel”

Written by Ken Stoller – GCC Elder

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