It is Carols by Candlelight season again. Countdown to dress rehearsal (December 5th) is 8 days. As always, there is much to be done – details done now so that worship can occur without disruption.
Perhaps, at times, we lose perspective when in the details. True, we are dealing with some things this year that in 49 years have not been influencers or considerations. Yet, why we do Carols should not be impacted by that. The Story has not changed. The Message is constant. We must not allow WHY we do this to be buried in emotions and minutia. We must be prepared, thus focused – spiritually, prayerfully, physically, mentally.
While working with Annerin Long to prepare this year’s prayer emphasis for Carols Week, I looked back through the devotional book we published last year for Love Came for Me. It was good to revisit the scripture, to be reminded that our God is Sovereign, in control, not surprised by anything, wants the best for us as individuals and corporately, accessible. Our problem, often, though, is that we look to Him last rather than first, put our desires ahead of His desires, turn away from Him rather than seek His face. Why? Because we are human and He allows us to make choices. He also reminds us, that there are consequences of those choices. I am charging myself to stay focused on Him. How can I share His Story with others who don’t know Him if I am not looking at Him?
The devotional thought I wrote last year was based on JOHN 1:16-17 – I thought I would share it here as a reminder to all of us (and especially me) that this is not at all about me. It is about Him!
For God loved the world in this way:He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.
Love Came for Me– how could that ever happen? Growing up in a small Mississippi town in the local First Baptist Church, we were taught early on that Jesus loved us and that we were to love Him. During Vacation Bible School in 1965, I gave my heart to Him. It hit me that day that His love was so strong that He chose to not only come to earth but to die for my sins as well. Love, Jesus, came for me.
Jesus is “That light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:5). Later John restates this when he says: “Now this is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in Him.” (I John 1:5). Jesus did not just have love in His heart – He is love. Nothing Satan could throw at Him stopped His love for us, stopped His purpose in coming to earth as that tiny baby in that cold stable, stopped His facing harassment and condemnation we still cannot imagine, or stopped His facing the most horrible death imaginable. Love Came for Me.
Occasionally, I wonder what my condition would be had Jesus chosen not to come for me. Talk about lost and wandering! Really, it is beyond what I can now comprehend. Yet in my world today, and likely in the circle of influence of Carols by Candlelight, there are going to be those in the room or who happen to watch on television or other media that will wonder what in the world we are talking about? Surely, they are just putting on a show or retelling a fable. May that never be.
Following Carols one of the early years in the present Sanctuary, we determined that a young man who sat in the seats behind where the “boxes” are today, gave his life to Jesus. He tragically died in a car accident before Christmas that year and before anyone could follow-up with him. Since then, I keep that young man in my heart knowing that Love came for him, too. No matter what I am asked to do, no matter how tired I am, no matter even how many times things have to change for one reason or another, none of that is as important as that young man being with Jesus today or that there are others listening who need to know Him, too.
Jesus, thank you for coming for me. Thank you for a chance daily to tell others about You – all about You – Your coming, Your living here on earth, Your dying, and that You are coming again. Thank you for loving me enough to come for me. Amen
This year our theme is NOEL. Merriam-Webster defines noel from the French as a Christmas carol and from Latin natalis or birthday – in other words it is a carol about a birthday. What more important birthday will ever be celebrated than that of our Savior. I hope as we count down the days, deal with the tasks, learn the music, prepare ourselves in all the ways necessary, that we will indeed focus on this birthday of the only King that matters. Noel, noel, noel, noel; Born is the King of Israel!