Stay warm.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”  Hebrews 12:1-2

The season of Advent is upon us.  Advent services during the middle of the week begin soon.  Children practicing their reading parts and songs for the Christmas program are in full swing.  Christmas trees are either being brought into homes or are like mine, already up.  It is the time of the year when some people make their annual journey back to Church; to celebrate the birth of their Savior.  They may even give you a look that says “what are you doing in my pew” that they were sitting in last year or at Easter.  I read a devotion recently that was written by D.L. Moody and the topic was the importance of Church attendance.  He shared an object lesson comparing each Christian as an ember in a fire place.  When we are nestled in the firebox with others, in God’s Word daily, we are glowing and our heat brings comfort to others.  When an ember is removed from the firebox it remains warm and slowly loses it heat and eventually is useless.  Take a piece of charcoal out of your grill some time and place it under a pan of water and see how long the water will boil.  Being present in Church during Advent will not keep your fire burning all year long; your warmth will not bring comfort or strength to others who come along your life’s journey.  The children in the attached photo attend the Lejardin Lutheran school in Petionville and their embers are hot all year long.  Thank you for your continual effort to support children attending Christian schools in Haiti.  As you remain in the firebox at your congregation your gifts continue to keep the fire in their lives burning brightly before the people that remain chained to vodou.  The words of the hymn ‘For all the Saints who from their labors rest’ which was written by William W. How in 1864 at the age of 41 seem like a proper way to end this devotion today.

“For all the saints who from their labors rest, who Thee by faith before the world confess,
Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest.  Alleluia! Alleluia!  Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress, and their Might; Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well-fought fight Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.  Alleluia! Alleluia!  Oh, may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold, fight as the saints who nobly fought of old and win with them the victor's crown of gold. Alleluia! Alleluia!  O blest communion, fellowship divine, we feebly struggle, they in glory shine; yet all are one in Thee, for all are Thine.  Alleluia! Alleluia!  And when the fight is fierce, the warfare long, steals on the ear the distant triumph song, And hearts are brave again, and arms are strong.  Alleluia! Alleluia!  But, lo, there breaks a yet more glorious day; the saints triumphant rise in bright array; the King of Glory passes on His way.  Alleluia! Alleluia!  From earth's wide bounds, from ocean's farthest coast, through gates of pearl streams in the countless host, singing to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.  Alleluia! Alleluia!  The golden evening brightens in the west; soon, soon, to faithful warriors cometh rest.  Sweet is the calm of Paradise the blest.  Alleluia! Alleluia!”

Dear Heavenly Father, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown.  Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.  Amen. 

May God be with you…Jay