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His Indescribable Gift ~ It’s a Wrap


~posted by Donna

A series entitled “His Indescribable Gift” was first published a year and a half ago, just before Easter. There were at least 4 of them and one heretofore unpublished was subtitled “Born to Buried.” I used a “compare and contrast” method of reviewing both the Christmas and Easter stories. As I spent time reading and enjoying the Christmas story
yet again last week,

CC CE9some new (for me and perhaps new for you as well) details jumped out at me. So here goes…. I noticed that Jesus, following His birth, was wrapped in swaddling clothes. Only Luke describes this for us: “Then she (Mary) gave birth to her firstborn Son, and she wrapped Him snugly in cloth” and he reported what the angels told the shepherds this way: “This will be the sign for you: you will find the baby wrapped snugly in cloth and lying in a manger.” And it wasn’t long before I then noticed that Jesus, at His burial, was also wrapped, only this time, in burial linens. “Then they took Jesus’ body and wrapped it in linen cloths with the aromatic spices, according to the burial custom of the Jews.” Luke called it “fine linen.” Mark reported, “After he (Joseph of Arimathea) bought some fine linen, he took Him down and wrapped Him in the linen.” Matthew called it “clean, fine linen.” God saw to it that His only begotten Son, in spite of His pitiable circumstances, had what He needed. I do think it’s worth noting at this time that Mary and Joseph were, of course, there when Jesus was born AND Mary and Joseph, different Joseph, were there when He died. And what also jumped out at me is that Joseph was warned in a dream by an angel and Mary was spoken to in person by an angel. Both methods seemed to have been very effective for each of these two individuals. We’re told from way back in the beginning (Genesis 3:15) that God, speaking to satan, CC CE4

would put hostility between him and the woman (Jesus’ mother, Mary) and between his seed

CC CE6and HER seed. That term is only used ONCE in the whole Bible. Every other time the term is used, it always means the male sperm or seed. Well, the virgin birth and the empty tomb, Christmas and Easter, are at the heart of our faith. They prove His deity. They substantiate His claims to be the Son of God. Let’s celebrate right on through Sunday, March 27, 2106! CC CE8

 


His Indescribable Gift ~ Born to Buried


~posted by Donna

Ah, tis the season.
Comfort and joy.
Merry and bright.
Feliz y prospero.

But does all that merry come from this?

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or this?

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or this?

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or this?

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or even this?

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Let’s investigate the deeper reasons for the season using one of my favorite formats. We’ll compare and contrast Jesus’ coming with His going, His birth with His death, His entry with His exit. It came upon a midnight clear to me and I couldn’t wait to share it with you. So let’s go straight to Bethlehem and see what has happened, which the Lord has made known to us (Luke 2:15).

{All Photos from this point forward taken at Trinity UM Church Christmas Play, 2013}

Perhaps it was commonplace back then to be born in unusual places. No hospitals, no birthing rooms. Even in present times, what do poor people do who can’t afford a doctor or get to a doctor? They give birth wherever they are. If they’re fortunate, at least they’ll have a mid-wife and a clean room with adequate supplies. That’s more than Mary and Joseph had.

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They were traveling to a strange town at a busy time. There were no rooms for rent. The young couple were desperate. Birth was imminent for Mary. So they took what they could get from an innkeeper who took pity on them and Jesus was born and they laid His tiny head down in a feeding trough in a manger.

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Fast forward 33 years. That baby, as a full grown man, completed His earthly life far different from the quiet, spontaneous way He began it. Instead of a handful of shepherds

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in the little town of Bethlehem, the whole, huge, impersonal city of Jerusalem watched as He hung, bloodied and bruised, on a rough, thick Roman cross.

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Instead of swaddling clothes tucked lovingly around Him, His garments had all been gambled off Him and He drew His last breath with very little covering Him.

Because of the generosity of a rich, religious man who got permission to bury the body, Jesus was wrapped in fine linen and His head was once again laid down, only this time in a tomb cut into a rock. Kind of a surprise ending, don’t you think? But who would’ve guessed His humble beginnings? God had it all planned out, from birth to burial. And take heart, He has yours planned out too.


5 Smooth Stones


Posted by Donna ~

Does everyone know the story of David and Goliath? It’s my 9 year old grandson’s favorite. Not just because he heard it in Sunday School more than once but because he read it for himself. Snuggling with me on an early summer morning. And as he read, I began to see the story with new eyes. Those of a young boy intent on a mission, equipped more in the name of the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel’s army, than with battle array.

Most scholars estimate David’s age at about 15. All males 20 and up had to fight in Israel’s army. Of the 8 sons of Jesse, only David tended the family sheep so probably  his 7 brothers were all there the day he killed the giant, a 9 foot 9 inch behemoth of a man wearing a bronze helmet and bronze scale armor that weighed 125 pounds (I wonder if David even weighed that much.). Goliath had bronze shin guards, a bronze sword slung between his shoulders, and the iron point of his spear weighed 15 pounds. Ridiculously, the giant had a shield-bearer walking in front of him. What a sight they must’ve been.

Yet the Israelites were all shaking in their sandals.

David probably had on a loin cloth or small cloth covering, perhaps a tunic of some sort. King Saul tried to dress David in his own military clothes, a bronze helmet and full armor but the young lad would have none of it. And for weaponry, he carried his staff to a nearby brook

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and chose 5 smooth stones which he placed in his shepherd’s bag,

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and his sling was in his hand.

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He declared to his enemy, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you.” This infuriated Goliath and as he came toward the youthful boy, David reached into his bag and drew out one of those small river rocks.

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In spite of the profound results, the process was simple. David took the stone and slung it and struck the Philistine in his forehead so that the stone sank into his forehead, and the giant fell on his face to the earth. One smooth stone….

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So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. But there was no sword in the hand of David. Therefore David ran and stood over the Philistine, took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it. What a story!

What a victory, for David AND God.

So the next time you see a pile of rocks,

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look for the smooth ones and thank God for the small shepherd boy who became a king.


The Almighty’s Symphony


Posted by Donna for Aspen~

Have you ever walked outside early, early in the morning with light enough just to see your steps and a growing glow on the eastern horizon?

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Have you ever been privy to God’s creatures call to worship?

The quail with their plaintive plea?

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The geese with their ebullient honks?

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The owl with his haunting whoo?

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The robins with their cheery chirps?

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The doves with their loud laments?

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The heron with his resounding squawk?

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The killdeer with their incessant imploring?

The ducks with their quirky quacks?

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And the moon plays its last notes.

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And the sun triumphantly rises with a shout and a song.

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It’s another great day for all God’s creatures,
great and small,
to praise the Lord!


Autumn Song ~ How Great Thou Art


Posted by Donna ~
To declare that New England experienced one of its best foliage seasons in many, many years is an understatement.

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Leaf peeping in New England is always an event to anticipate eagerly and with wonder. But some years, for lack of a better term, can be dull.

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Colors are muted, deciduous leaves only half turned. Not so in the autumn of 2014.

This year might be described as eye-popping,

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brilliant,

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effervescent,

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extending in every direction

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as far as the eye can see. I found myself humming “How Great Thou Art” as reds and oranges and yellows of multiple hues assailed my senses. Sing or hum along if you like.

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
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Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.

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Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.

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Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: “My God, how great Thou art!”

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Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!


3 1/2 Decades ~ 1/3 of a Century


God of the Open Air

Keith’s part: God of the open air, we stand reverently in this temple not made with human hands.
The towering pines lift our thoughts above us to the Source of all this beauty.
The singing of the feather-throated choir puts a melody in our hearts, a song of joy and praise and trust.

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CC Donna's part

Donna’s part: All the discordant notes of the world are muted;
all the problems of life are forgotten.
We are filled with an inner peace and know that here we have found Thee.
As we leave this hallowed spot, may the reality of Thy presence go with us to give us courage and strength to fulfill our daily tasks.
Amen.
— Dorothy Wells Pease

35 years ago in an open field beside a deep forest in the Pine Tree State,

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my husband and I recited this with each other before God and guests on June 2, 1979. We try to speak it together once a year, usually on June 2nd but not always. We found it in a Boy Scout camping book in a library. Today is the first day I’ve known who wrote it. Many thanks to Mrs Pease (1896-1984), who penned this beautiful prayer, our wedding vows, in 1957. Ironically, we were married in Wells, Maine (her middle name).

From Ocean Beach

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to Mackay Bar

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to Tamarack Falls

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to Forest Street
(Then a whole bunch of homes, way too many to list here.);
from Recycled Acres to Pine Island Canal

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to Warren Wagon Road and now pretty much those last 3,
our life together has been kissed by God.

Thank You, God of the open air!

Here’s where we renewed those time-tested vows yesterday, a day early!
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Never boring,
Always inclusive,
Rarely predictable,
Often very interesting,
we’ve found it’s very complicated trying to live simply.
So we’ve accepted complicated as a very blessed marriage.


Creative Best


Posted by Chelsea

Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given and then sink yourself into that.

Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others.

Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best with your own life.

Galations 6:4,5 (The Message)

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Easter Monday


~posted by Donna
Matthew 28:16-20
The eleven disciples went to the hill

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in Galilee where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw Him,

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they worshiped Him, even though some of them doubted. Jesus drew near and said to them, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Go, then, to all peoples everywhere

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and make them My disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I will be with you always,

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to the end of the age.”


Easter Sunday


Posted by Donna

Matthew 28:1-10
After the Sabbath, as Sunday morning was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. Suddenly there was a violent earthquake; an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled the stone away,

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and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid that they trembled and became like dead men.
The angel spoke to the women. “You must not be afraid,” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; He has been raised, just as He said. Come here and see the place where He was lying. Go quickly now, and tell His disciples, ‘He has been raised from death, and now He is going to Galilee ahead of you; there you will see Him!’ Remember what I have told you.”

So they left the tomb in a hurry, afraid and yet filled with joy, and ran to tell His disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Peace be with you.” They came up to Him, took hold of His feet, and worshiped Him. “Do not be afraid,” Jesus said to them. “Go and tell My brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.”

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Easter Week ~ Holy Saturday


~posted by Donna
Matthew 27:62-66
The next day, which was a Sabbath, the chief priests and the Pharisees met with Pilate and said,

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“Sir, we remember that while that liar was still alive He said, ‘I will be raised to life three days later.’ Give orders, then, for His tomb to be carefully guarded until the third day, so that His disciples will not be able to go and steal the body, and then tell the people that He was raised from death. This last lie would be even worse than the first one.”

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“Take a guard,” Pilate told them; “go and make the tomb as secure as you can.”
So they left and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and leaving the guard on watch.


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