A Candy Cane Messiah

Is Christmas to commercialized?  I think so.  Yet, if we take the time to use the “eyes to see and ears to hear” (Deuteronomy 29:4) we can find the Spirit of Christmas in a lot of things and events. 

While creating a devotional for the Spirit Sisters Bible Study based on the symbolism in the Candy Cane,  I was also preparing to sing in the Defiance College Community Chorus/TSO production of The Messiah.  As I read through the origins of the Candy Cane, and what it stands for, I was struck by the choruses in The Messiah that match the symbolism of the Candy Cane.

As the story goes an Indiana candy maker wanted to create a candy that would be his occupational witness.  He wanted the birth, ministry, and death of Christ to be easily discernible.  So…

He used pure white candy to symbolize the purity, the sinlessness of Jesus.  In the Messiah the chorus – “And He Shall Purify” (Malachi 3:3) reminds us that our offerings to the Lord are to be righteous, without sin. 

The J represents the Name.  Isaiah 6:6 and the words of the chorus “For Unto Us A Child Is Born” resound with the names Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace.  When turned upside down the J becomes a staff.  The shepherd’s staff was crooked so the sheep that had fallen could be rescued.  Isaiah 53:6, and the matching chorus “All We Like Sheep”, helps us remember that we are just like sheep.  We go our own way, every one of us, but we can be rescued.

The stripes are symbolism of the beating He took so we could be healed.  Isaiah 53:5 says “And with His stripes we are healed”.  His blood was shed for our sins, hence, the red coloring.

As we celebrate this season let us remember the reason for the season is all around us.  HE is everywhere.  Look and listen.

Ah Lord God, bless us with the ability to see You in the trappings of this season.  Remind us that You are the greatest gift giver of all.  Help us experience the Reason in all we do.  You are the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, and Prince of Peace.  Let Your Glory be seen in us.  Let Your Light shine through us.  You alone are worthy!  Grant these petitions in the Name of Jesus.  Make it so.

THE HOLLY AND THE IVY

I would be hard pressed to name one Christmas song or carol that I really don’t like.  As a vocalist there are some that are hard to sing or are written in keys that are not good for me.  I could listen to Christmas music all year long.

As a student of Music History I learned that the a carol was originally a Greek word that meant a circle dance with flute accompaniment.  Later on the dance was accompanied by singers.  Somehow those singers began using songs with religious meanings and these became carols. 

There are very few known Christmas Carols before the 1800’s.  One of these is a favorite of mine called “The Holly and the Ivy”.  The religious reference in this early carol is “…and Mary bore Lord Jesus Christ to be our Sweet Savior…”  (Luke 2:6)  The chorus of this carol is a reference to everyday life and the God-created world around us.  “The rising of the sun and the running of the deer the playing of the merry organ sweet singing in the choir.”

Heavenly Father open our eyes to the mystery, beauty, and miracles of this Holy Season.  Thank You for the greatest gift of all, Jesus. 

WAVES OF THANKS

Giving thanks for what God is, has, and will do for us should be as natural as breathing.  Yet, we often have to be reminded to do just that.  In every book I’ve read on prayer the author makes a point of suggesting thanksgiving be part of every prayer.  That includes the Bible.  Such verses as Colossians 2:6-7 and 1 Thessalonians 5:18 remind us to give thanks for everything.

In our worship service this week we did a ‘Wave of Thanks’.  Wave offerings are mentioned in Ex. 29:23.  Although not the same concept as an arena ‘wave’, we were still giving thanks for what He had done and given us and ‘waved’ them with our words before the altar.  The usual thanks were given like family, new babies, new homes, Jesus and salvation (in no way usual), friends, the church, and more.  We have faced cancer in some of its ugliest forms and God has intervened with His healing touch. One offering of thanks stands out – – The Miracle of Life.  We have had life threatening Traumatic Brain Injuries, one resulting in a coma, and both men not only survived but are living life to the fullest. 

On this special day, set aside to give thanks, let’s not forget to give thanks for life. 

Let all things now living a song of thanksgiving  To God the Creator triumphantly raise, Who fashioned and made us, protected and stayed us, Who guideth us on to the end of our days.  *

Ah, Lord God, Creator of Life, you have not only caused us to live and breathe but have also given us the choice of eternal life.  Thank YOU!  Give us all the desire  and courage to live our lives to the fullest, totally for You.  Don’t let us forget the greatest LIFE of all.  Thank YOU for Jesus in whose name I lift this prayer.  Make it so!

*(Katherine K. Davis set these words to the melody Ash Grove in the early 1900’s.)

WORSHIPFUL WAYS

The words of a well know praise song by Tim Hughes have been ringing in my heart for days.

Here I am to Worship – Worship is not about me.  It is about God.

Here I am to bow down – Time on my knees is necessary to reminding me of my position as a Believer.  Although I am much loved by the Holy One I am not Him.

Here I am to say that You’re my God – There can be no other god in my life.  This includes stuff, people, pets, food, clothes…That is not to say I’m not to have it but whatever in my life is taking His place, has to go.

You’re altogether lovely – You have allowed me to discover You in the beauty of ALL Your creation.

Altogether holy – Completely set aside for Your plan and not able to be less than who You are.

Altogether wonderful to me – You have forgiven, provided, and sheltered me throughout my life.

James 4:8 says “Come near to God and He will come near to You.”  When I am worshipping and get distracted guess who moved?  During our times of worship we are to be totally focused on God.  Our fervent prayer needs to be that all the distractions, noises, and voices around us are silenced, for us personally, so God will be the center of attention.  His greatest desire is that our relationship with Him will be our greatest desire.

Ah, Lord, God You are my Light, my Life, my Salvation, my Joy, my Hiding Place, my One and Only.  You have given me the beauty of Your creation to know You.  I praise You.  I honor You.  I worship You.  You are all that really matters.  Amen