Archives for posts with tag: Christmas

In just a few days it will Christmas Day, the day we celebrate the birth of the Christ Child. At Christmas Eve services the night before, people all over the world will sing, “Joy to the world, the Lord is come!”

On the evening the Bethlehem Baby was born there were shepherds nearby tending their flocks. Their everyday routine. Suddenly the scene changed and an angel appeared among them and the surroundings lit up. They were understandably terrified. Then the angel told them not to be afraid. Oh sure!

Right in the middle of their workaday world an angel appears and the landscape lights up. What are they expected to feel if not fear?

Then the angel said, ““I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people. For this day in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

Good news! Great joy! A Savior!

The shepherds responded by rushing to see for themselves what the angel proclaimed. Seeing was believing and they told everyone they met what the angel had said about this child.

It has been more than twenty centuries since that event in Bethlehem. Millions have heard the story and have believed. Millions others have heard but have not believed. One reason for this unbelief might be that we who follow Christ have not been the joyful creatures that we should be.

The shepherds rejoiced at the good news of a Savior. They returned to their work “glorifying and praising God.” The Apostle Paul suggests that we who have been redeemed by that same Jesus should likewise be filled with joy- not only at Christmas but at all times. “Always be full of joy in the Lord; I say it again, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4, TLB)

Teilhard de Chardin, says, “Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.” Acknowledging the Presence of God in our lives will not only enrich our living, it will also be contagious. Mother Teresa suggests that “Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.”

Be joyful for a Savior has come!

Jamie Jenkins

 

In the Christian Church Advent is the period preceding the Christmas season. It begins on the Sunday nearest November 30, the feast day of St. Andrew the Apostle, and covers four Sundays. This year Advent began last Sunday, December 2.

The word advent, from Latin, means “the coming.” As the Christmas season has become more secular, with advertisers urging holiday gift-givers to buy and buy some more, Advent still focuses more on the observance of ancient customs. Christian families find quiet moments lighting candles in the Advent wreath, and children use Advent calendars to count the days until Christmas.

It is unknown when the period of preparation for Christmas that is now called Advent first began – it was certainly in existence from about 480. Some have even said it goes back to the time of the Twelve Apostles or that it was founded by Saint Peter himself. This has led to the conclusion that it is “impossible to claim with confidence a credible explanation of the origin of Advent”.

Originally, it was a time when converts to Christianity readied themselves for baptism. Advent was considered a pre-Christmas season of Lent when Christians devoted themselves to prayer and fasting. By the 6th century, however, Roman Christians had tied Advent to the coming of Christ. But the “coming” they had in mind was not Christ’s first coming in the manger in Bethlehem, but his second coming in the clouds as the judge of the world.

Advent hymns are not “Christmas” songs. They are ‘waiting” songs. Songs that help us anticipate the coming of Christ, which is celebrated on Christmas Day. “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” is one of my favorites.

O come, O come, Emmanuel,

And ransom captive Israel,

That mourns in lonely exile here

Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, O Israel

This hymn is a prayer that anticipates the coming of Christ to the earth. His coming as the Messiah (“deliverer”) was first prophesied in the sixth century B.C., when the Jews were captive in Babylon. For centuries thereafter, faithful Hebrews looked for their Messiah with great longing and expectation, echoing the prayer that he would “ransom captive Israel.”

Jesus Christ the Redeemer—capstone of man’s longing through the ages—is addressed in the first stanza of this hymn as “Emmanuel.” From beginning to end, all the stanzas of the hymn remind us of Christ’s first advent, and project our attention to His second coming.

An Advent Prayer in the United Methodist Hymnal (#201) helps prepare us for a proper celebration of Christmas.

Merciful God, you sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation.

Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may celebrate aright the coming of the nativity and may await with joy the coming of Jesus Christ, our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, One God forever and ever. Amen.

May this be our prayer as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

Jamie Jenkins

 

 

 

 

 

 

Close-up of Multi Colored Figurine

This week includes two very important dates. First of all, this past Monday was Christmas Day. It is a high holy day for people all over the world because it is the celebration of Jesus Christ. The birth of that baby in the tiny town of Bethlehem was an event that has changed the world and divided time.

TFree stock photo of decoration, christmas, celebration, goldhanks to my wife, our house was beautifully decorated for the Advent Season as we anticipated Christmas. I was blessed by the devotional thoughts that the staff and many members of our church shared. My family and I participated in worship services and attended several musical programs leading up to December 25. It was a joyful and hope filled season. Then on Christmas Day we enjoyed visiting with friends as we gathered around the table for a holiday feast.

Christmas Crib Figures, Christmas

On December 25, near the end of the calendar year, Christmas reminded us of God’s promise of peace on earth.

Close-up of Wedding Rings on Floor

Today, December 28, is the second day of significance for me. Forty-nine years ago today my wife and I vowed to love one another “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death.”

When we stood at the altar of that little church on Stone Street in Mobile, Alabama three days after Christmas in 1968 I could not have imagined how wonderful marriage would be. Also, I had no idea how difficult it is to merge two distinctly different personalities into a unit of mutual respect and love. But over the years I have come to realize that two can become one without either individual being lost in the process.

There have been many challenges as well as joyous experiences. Struggles and triumphs. I am grateful that Lena has stuck with me through the good times and the tough times. “A true lover always feels in debt to the one he loves” (Ralph W. Sockman). I would not call myself a “true lover” but I certainly acknowledge that I am indebted to her.

Victor Hugo said, “Life’s greatest happiness is to be convinced we are loved.” I have never doubted her love as she has been my chief critic and number one cheerleader. She has traveled with me through three states, nine houses, and many different contexts. She raised our three children with minimal help from me. She is a strong woman, a wonderful wife, and a great mother/grandmother.

“We recognize a soulmate by the supreme level of comfort and security we feel with that person. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t issues that remain to be ironed out. Rather, it means we know intuitively that we can resolve issues … without losing his or her love and respect” (Linda Brady). I am grateful for 49 years of marriage to my soulmate and I am excited about our future together.

Jamie Jenkins

The lights, nativity sets and all the decorations help me get into the spirit of the season but the music really plays an important part in my preparation for celebrating the birth of the Christ Child.

Singer Nat 'King' Cole and his daughter Natalie Cole pose for a portrait session in front of a Christmas tree in circa 1955

Nat King Cole and his daughter, c. 1955. Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

One website (https://www.thoughtco.com/top-christmas-songs-3245323) listed “The Christmas Song” as the Number One song of the season. Co-written by singer Mel Torme, it was recorded at least three times by Nat King Cole, but the 1961 recording is often considered the best. Hearing “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” puts you in the mood for the winter holiday.Judy Garland, as Esther Smith, in "Meet Me In St Louis," 1944.

Another classic is “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” sung by Judy Garland in the 1944 movie musical “Meet Me In St. Louis”. The filmmakers complained that in the first version, the song’s lyrics were too depressing and commissioned a rewrite that became the most popular interpretation.

Bing Crosby White Christmas

“White Christmas” introduced in the 1942 movie musical “Holiday Inn” won an Academy Award for Best Song From a Motion Picture. Bing Crosby’s version from the film has sold over 50 million copies. Little Drummer Boy was composed  by Katherine K. Davis in 1941. It was popularized in an arrangement by the Harry Simeone Chorale. An animated TV special was created based on the song’s story in 1968.

 

 

picture of rudolph red nosed reindeer - Digitally painted - JPG

Frosty the Snowman is another standard of the Christmas season. And you can’t leave out the story of Rudolph, Santa’s 9th reindeer, created by Montgomery Ward employee Robert L. May in 1939, adapted into song and turned into a hit by Gene Autry in 1949 and later by Burl Ives. Another standard is “Jingle Bells” which was first copyrighted under the title “One Horse Open Sleigh” in 1857. It has become one of the most popular Christmas songs around the world.

Brenda Lee Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree

There are many other songs that are popular but not among my favorites. Brenda Lee’s “”Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” (1958) and “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” written in 1934 and first performed on the Eddie Cantor radio show, are among them.

Add to the list “All I Want for Christmas Is You” (1994), “Jingle Bell Rock” (1957), “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” (1978), “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” (1956), and “Blue Christmas” (1948) and you have more than enough “Christmas” music.

stock photo of silent night - Silent night in suburban setting - JPG

I can enjoy some of the songs listed above and tolerate others but the “real” sounds are Christmas are found in the Christmas carols like Silent Night, It is believed that Silent Night was first composed in German in 1816. The song was later translated into English and sung by both sides in the World War I Christmas truce due to the fact it was the primary Christmas carol that both German and British soldiers knew.

joy to the world, heard the bells on christmas day, vintage sheet music, christmas hymn, public domain christmas song, free sheet music graphic

I can’t imagine  Christmas without singing Joy to the World written by Isaac Watts using Scripture for the lyrics or O Holy Night composed in 1847. Another that must be sung during the period leading up to Christmas Day is It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, written by Unitarian pastor Edmund Sears in 1849.

Don’t forget Angels We Have Heard on High which originated as a French carol but was translated into the English version in the mid-1800’s. Surely you will also want to sing We Three Kings written by Reverend John Henry Hopkins, Jr. together for a Christmas pageant at New York’s General Theological Seminary in the mid-1800’s.

Printable Christmas songs; 'O Come All Ye Faithful' is the only song I know how to sing in Latin. I want to do a journal page about this at some point...

Any musical journey toward Christmas has to include Hark! The Herald Angels Sing written by Charles Wesley, brother of John Wesley the founder of Methodism. The first publication date for the carol was 1739. One of the best known carols is O Come All Ye Faithful, dating to the mid-1700’s and is often performed in Latin as “Adeste Fidelis.”

The birth of Jesus occurred in a relatively small and unimportant town. After visiting the birthplace of the Christ Child in 1865, Episcopal priest Phillips Brooks was inspired to write the words to O Little Town of Bethlehem.

Okay, by now I hope you are whistling, humming, or singing some of the Christmas Carols and adding to the sounds of the season. Hopefully they help you prepare for the High Holy Day that marks the time that God took on human form in the Person of Jesus, the Savior of the World.

Jamie Jenkins

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Sears Restores "Merry Christmas" Signs After Protests

Retailers were already pushing Christmas merchandise before Halloween this year. Two full months before the calendar event. A month before the start of Advent for Christians.

Image result for images of fourth sunday in advent

The four-week Christian season of Advent has been observed since at least the latter part of the 5th century. It is a period of waiting, preparation, and anticipation of the celebration oi the birth of the Promised One. That period of waiting is almost over. It is only three days until Christmas Day.

Angels announced the birth of Jesus with the greeting “peace on earth and good will to all people” 1500 years before the Church began observing the Advent Season. But even hundreds of years before that miraculous birth of the Bethlehem Babe, His coming was foreseen by the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 11:1-9).

Thomas Troeger, distinguished professor and author, used the text from Isaiah as the basis for a poem written in 1994. The Bach Choir of Pittsburg commissioned Glenn Rudolph to create a musical tribute to the victims of the attacks on American targets September 11th, 2001 and he used the text of this poem for his composition of The Dream Isaiah Saw.

 

This song captures the miracle (of the birth of Jesus). Blogger “The Barefoot Pastor” says, “In the midst of the powerful forces of this world: armies and marching orders and all the violence that is woven into our lives, God came to us as a baby to bring us peace.” (www.thebarefootpastor.blogspot.com)

The lyrics are below and you can listen to an excellent musical presentation of the song

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FqhPh72kB0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yj90IkYeZaE

THE DREAM ISAIAH SAW

Lions and oxen will sleep in the hay,
leopards will join with the lambs as they play,
wolves will be pastured with cows in the glade,
blood will not darken the earth that God made.
Little child whose bed is straw,
take new lodgings in my heart.
Bring the dream Isaiah saw:
life redeemed from fang and claw.

Peace will pervade more than forest and field:
God will transfigure the violence concealed
deep in the heart and in systems of gain,
ripe for the judgment the Lord will ordain.
Little child whose bed is straw,
take new lodgings in my heart.
Bring the dream Isaiah saw:
justice purifying law.

Nature reordered to match God’s intent,
nations obeying the call to repent,
all of creation completely restored,
filled with the knowledge and love of the Lord.
Little child whose bed is straw,
take new lodgings in my heart.
Bring the dream Isaiah saw:
knowledge, wisdom, worship, awe.

Isaiah’s dream is the vision that God has for all creation. Let it be, Lord! Let it be!

Jamie Jenkins

waiting-poetry-book-1-2015121508

I am not a good waiter. I am not talking about being employed as a server in a restaurant. Although I know that is a hard job and I have never tried it, I know I would not be good at it. No, I am not a good wait-er.

I have a hard time standing in line to purchase tickets to an event or to enter a facility. Sitting at red traffic lights or creeping along at a snail’s pace in traffic makes me crazy. It has been said that I will drive 20 minutes out of the way just to keep moving. I guess you could say that I lack patience.

I want things to happen when they are supposed to happen. Don’t delay the start of an event or a meeting because others are still on their way. Begin at the scheduled time. Get on with it. Don’t make me wait.

Because of my impatience, I need some imposed discipline. Some structure that requires me to stop and take time.

This time of the year is a challenge. Once Thanksgiving Day has passed I am ready to get on to Christmas Day. But the Christian season of Advent makes me wait and that is a good thing regardless of how hard it is.

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Advent is the period preceding the Christmas season. It begins on the Sunday nearest November 30, the feast day of St. Andrew the Apostle, and covers four Sundays. In 2016 Advent began on November 27.

advent-kids

The word advent, from Latin, means “the coming.” As the Christmas season has become more secular, with advertisers urging holiday gift-givers to buy and buy some more, Advent still focuses more on the observance of ancient customs. Christian families find quiet moments lighting candles in the Advent wreath, and children use Advent calendars to count the days until Christmas.

advent-wreath-wk2-m

I heard a radio commercial that stated, “Christmas brings to mind Santa Claus, Polar Bears, and Coke.” The Christian observance of Advent counters that perspective and focuses our thoughts to the real meaning of Christmas- the birth of the Christ Child and the promised return of the Messiah.

It is unknown when the period of preparation for Christmas that is now called Advent first began but it was certainly in existence from the late part of the 5th Century. Originally, it was a time when converts to Christianity readied themselves for baptism. Advent was considered a pre-Christmas season of Lent when Christians devoted themselves to prayer and fasting.

By the 6th century, however, Roman Christians had tied Advent to the coming of Christ. But the “coming” they had in mind was not Christ’s first coming in the manger in Bethlehem, but his second coming in the clouds as the judge of the world.

So for the last 1600 years Orthodox Christianity has observed a four week period of spiritual preparation for the celebration of Christmas. We wait, as difficult as that might be, in anticipation for the coming of the Messiah who came first as the Baby of Bethlehem and will one day come again as the Victorious Lord of Life.

advent-video3hero

As we joyfully await the coming of Christ let us pray for the needs of the church and the world. As we anticipate His coming, let us be faithful in all aspects of our lives doing those things that will show that we have turned from our sins and are following Christ.

Jamie Jenkins

 

Fantasy Gifts 2016

Every fall the luxury retailer, Neiman Marcus, releases its Christmas Book catalog filled with holiday gift ideas. This year’s edition includes a Private Plane in Rose Gold for $1.5 million, an Exclusive Grammy Awards Experience for $500,000, and a week of luxury living at three English estates for only $700,000. For football fans there is a one-day private quarterback camp with Joe Montana for $65,000.

Fantasy Gifts 2016

One of the new offerings this year has received a lot of attention. Its price is nothing compared with the items listed above. It is collard greens “seasoned with just the right amount of spices and bacon.” The order “ships fully cooked and frozen” and arrives in four 12 ounce trays and serves 8-10 people.

fresh20garlic20greens

The collard greens must be gold plated. That is the only way that servings for 8-10 people could be worth $66 plus $15.50 for shipping. You can buy collard greens at the supermarket for about $2. An Atlanta restaurant owner said you could buy 20 bushels of collard greens that would make 3,000 servings for Neiman Marcus’ price. He probably would agree with the person who posted on Twitter: “Rich or not, if u pay $66 for greens, you’re 1 fry short of a happy meal.”

“The fact that Neiman Marcus is shipping collard greens lets me know it’s almost time for the Lord to return and take us all off earth,” @icanonlybemekh tweeted. The reaction is not limited to the charging nearly a 4,000 percent upcharge. One person was critical of the way Neiman Marcus seasoned their greens. “Cost aside, if you ain’t making your collards with ham hocks or smoked turkey, I got no use for you. Bacon? Nah. #gentrifiedgreens,” @jubimom wrote.

If you think it is insane to pay $81.50 for 10 servings of collard greens, then you might be surprised that Neiman Marcus’ supply was sold out in two days. What do you call that?

Jamie Jenkins

 

*It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth
To touch their harps of gold!
Peace on the earth, good will to men,
From heaven’s all gracious King!
The world in solemn stillness lay
To hear the angels sing.

Christmas shepherds

Still through the cloven skies they come
With peaceful wings unfurled
And still their heavenly music floats
O’er all the weary world;
Above its sad and lowly plains
They bend on hovering wing.
And ever o’er its Babel sounds
The blessed angels sing.

Christmas nativity

And ye, beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road,
And hear the angels sing!

Christmas 2

Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world hath suffered long;
Beneath the angel-strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love song which they bring:
O hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the angels sing.

For lo! the days are hastening on,
By prophet bards foretold,
When, with the ever-circling years,
Shall come the Age of Gold;
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendors fling,
And all the world give back the song
Which now the angels sing.

Merry Christmas!

christmas 4

I’d Miilad Said Oua Sana Saida (Arabic)

Kung His Hsin Nien bing Chu Shen Tan (Mandarin)
Prejeme Vam Vesele Vanoce a stastny Novy Rok (Czech)
Gladelig Jul (Danish)
Vrolijk Kerstfeest en een Gelukkig Nieuwjaar (Dutch)
Joyeux Noel (French)
Froehliche Weihnachten (German)
Mo’adim Lesimkha. Chena tova (Hebrew)
Bada Din Mubarak Ho (Hindi)
Idah Saidan Wa Sanah Jadidah (Iraqi)
Nollaig Shona Dhuit (Irish)
Buon Natale or Buone Feste Natalizie (Italian)
Shinnen omedeto. Kurisumasu Omedeto (Japanese)
Sung Tan Chuk Ha (Korean)
Merry Keshmish (Navajo)
Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia (Polish)
Portuguese – Feliz Natal

Pozdrevlyayu s prazdnikom Rozhdestva i s Novim Godom (Russian)
Feliz Navidad (Spanish)

Krismasi Njema (Swahili)
Noeliniz Ve Yeni Yiliniz Kutlu Olsun (Turkish)
Srozhdestvom Kristovym (Ukrainian)
Chung Mung Giang Sinh (Vietnamese)

Jamie Jenkins
*Edmund H. Sears wrote these words at the re­quest of his friend, W. P. Lunt, a min­is­ter in Quin­cy, Mass­a­chu­setts. The hymn was first sung at the 1849 Sun­day School Christ­mas cel­e­bra­tion.

*Text: Edmund H. Sears, 1810-1876

It’s beginning to look and sound a lot like Christmas and nothing characterizes that statement more than the concert I attended last Sunday night. An eighty-five voice choir and a thirty-five piece orchestra under the direction of Scott Atchison presented The Many Moods of Christmas concert in the beautiful sanctuary of the Peachtree Road United Methodist Church.Many Moods 1

The Many Moods of Christmas is based on the 1963 program of eighteen Christmas carols conducted by Robert Shaw, grouped into four suites. The carols were arranged for chorus and orchestra by famed Broadway orchestrator Robert Russel Bennett. It was performed by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the Robert Shaw Chorale. That recording more than 50 years ago is still a very popular favorite- and nobody does it better than the choir and orchestra at this church in Atlanta.

 

Many Moods 2

The concert begins with selections from Handel’s Messiah, an oratorio composed in 1741. It has become one of the best-known and most frequently performed choral works in Western music. The program continues with one of John Rutter’s most well-known works, Gloria in excelsis Deo. The splendid evening of music concludes with a medley of old favorite Christmas carols.

Many Moods 3

Plan to join me and hundreds of others next year when the tradition continues. If you are already in the Christmas spirit, this concert will cause you to soar to greater heights. If you are in the doldrums during December, the beauty of the music and the setting will lift your spirits. I promise.

You will “experience the wonder and joy of the Advent season” just like the publicity suggests.

After the concert, I started thinking about the many moods of Christmas. The secular and the sacred traditions. The cultural practices and family rituals. The music that ranges from the ridiculous (I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, Have a Holly Jolly Christmas) to the sublime (Silent Night, O Holy Night). The parties and food. The wrapping and exchanging of gifts. The trips to the mall to have a picture sitting on Santa’s lap. Travels to be with family.Many Moods 5

Christmas is indeed “the most wonderful time of the year. The hap-happiest season of all.”

Many Moods 4

All of this merry making and joy began as a way to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Savior of the world. The festivities have expanded to include many things that have no direct connection to that event long ago in the austere environment of a cow stall in Bethlehem. Nevertheless, that event changed the world. Regardless of how we celebrate the occasion today it is a reminder of the announcement of the angels to the shepherds, “Behold, I bring you good news of great joy. For unto you is born this day… a Savior who is Christ the Lord.” And we sing robustly “Joy to the world, the Lord is Come.”

Many Moods 6

Merry Christmas!

Jamie Jenkins

Jimmy Carter

For nearly 50 years Law Day was one of the traditions of the University of Georgia. Randall Balmer, journalist for the Hartford Courant, described it as “an occasion to honor student achievements as well as to invite distinguished guests, ranging from Supreme Court justices and attorneys general to cabinet members and politicians of national stature.”  The last Law Day was on March 31, 2000.

The featured speaker of Law Day in 1974 was Edward M. Kennedy, the senior senator from Massachusetts. A couple of hours after Kennedy’s keynote address, Jimmy Carter, the governor of  Georgia, addressed the group. His lecture on justice upstaged Sen. Kennedy who at that time was considered the front-runner for the 1976 Democratic presidential nomination

Carter attributed his sense of justice to two main sources, Reinhold Niebuhr and Bob Dylan. He said it was Dylan’s song, “I Ain’t Gonna Work on Maggie’s Farm No More,” that led him to begin to focus on the needs of ordinary people like the tenant farmers he had known in south Georgia.

Bob Dylan

Carter lamented that “the powerful and the influential in our society shape the laws and have a great influence on the legislature or the Congress.” He criticized their “commitment to the status quo” that preserves the “privileged position in society.” He concluded his remarks by saying that “the course of human events, even the greatest historical events, are not determined by the leaders of a nation or a state, like Presidents or governors or senators. They are controlled by the combined wisdom and courage and commitment and discernment and unselfishness and compassion and love and idealism of the common ordinary people.”

God has always demonstrated a concern for ordinary people. Jesus announced his calling was to “preach good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the prisoners,  recovery of sight to the blind, liberate the oppressed…”

God has often chosen ordinary people to carry on the work of redemption and reconciliation in the world. Just look at the people He chose to be his closest associates. Ordinary people.

Advent 12

Last Sunday was the Second Sunday of Advent. The lectionary scripture was the announcement of the angel Gabriel to Mary that she had been chosen to be the mother of Jesus (Luke 1:26-38). Ave Maria is the musical setting of the Latin text which was originally published in 1853.

Mary was young in a world where age was venerated. She was poor in a world that belonged to the rich. She was a woman in a world where gender equity was not even an afterthought. In every sense she was an ordinary individual. But Gabriel said, “You are highly favored. The Lord is with you.”

We see ordinary people throughout the Advent Season as we prepare to celebrate the birthday of our Savior. John  the Baptist came as a “voice in the wilderness” calling for people to prepare for the coming of the Messiah. Eugene Peterson’s The Message says, “His message was simple and austere, like his desert surroundings.”

Shepherd

As we come nearer to Christmas Day we meet an anonymous inn keeper who provided a place away from the chaos of the moment for Mary to give birth to Jesus. Then we encounter the shepherds. As they “watched their flocks by night” God revealed to them that a child born in their nearby town was the Savior of the world, the Messiah. These ordinary people were perhaps the first to see the Christ Child.

Poh Fang Chia, writing in Our Daily Bread said, “Today, God is still calling ordinary people to do His work and assuring us that He will be with us as we do. Because we are ordinary people being used by God, it’s obvious that the power comes from God and not from us.” The devotional for July 8, 2015 ends with a prayer that is appropriate as we make our way through Advent. “Lord, I am just an ordinary person, but You are an all-powerful God. I want to serve You. Please show me how and give me the strength.”

Jamie Jenkins