Showers of blessing

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What is thy season today ?  Is it a season of drought ?  Then, that is the season for showers.  Is it  a season of great heaviness and black clouds ?  Then, that is the season for showers.  “As thy day so shall thy strength be.”  “I will give thee ‘SHOWERS’ of blessing.”  The word is in the plural.  God will send all kinds of blessings.  All God’s blessings go together, LIKE LINKS IN A GOLD CHAIN.  Look up today, O parched plant, and open thy leaves and flowers for the Heavenly showers.  The fruitful life seeks showers as well as sunshine.
The landscape, brown and sere beneath the sun
Needs but the cloud to lift it into life
The dews may damp the leaves of tree and flower
But it requires the cloud-distilled shower
To bring rich verdure to the lifeless life.
Showers-of-BlessingAh, how like this, the landscape of a life
Dews of trial fall like incense, rich and sweet
But bearing little in the crystal tray
Like nymphs of night, dews lift at break of day
And transient impress leave, like lips that meet.
But clouds of trials, bearing burdens rare
Leave in the soul, a moisture settled deep
Life kindles like the magic law of God
And where before the thirsty camel trod
There richest beauties to life’s landscape leap.
Then read thou in each cloud that comes to thee
God’s words, in letters large and clear
So shall those clouds thy soul with blessing feed
And with a constant trust as thou dost read
ALL THINGS TOGETHER WORK FOR GOOD.  FRET NOT, NOR FEAR.
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A Christmas meditation

If we but had the eyes to see God’s face in every cloud
If we but had the ears to hear His voice above the crowd
If we could feel His gentle touch in every stirring breeze
And find the haven in His arms beneath leafy sheltering trees
We would not need to ponder or ask to understand
For we’d know HE HELD THE ANSWERS IN THE HOLLOW OF HIS HAND.
——- Helen Steiner Rice.
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The sum and substance of Christmas—— celebrating the greatest of God’s gifts : God’s presence as “PERSONAL PRESENT” in God’s Son, Jesus.  Sadly, with the money-making merriment that market forces peddle, the profoundest meaning of Christmas gets eclipsed.  Let’s rewrite the CHRISTMAS STORY.  Every Christmas reminds us that God has not finished with us.  He is still moulding and shaping us like clay, and when He gives the finishing touches, we will be like beautifully crafted pots, ready to hold all the love and beauty that He will pour into us.
Originally Christmas was a happy family feast, when people came home, from far and near, just to be with the family, sharing not just food but also so many memories and experiences.  Today, many people are lonely at Christmas, because they have no one to celebrate the feast with.  For most people, Christmas has become simply a ritual of going to Church in one’s best clothes and a few handshakes at the end of service.
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There are no Christmas carol-singing groups bringing Christmas to our doorsteps.  Many traditions have developed around Christmas —– the mistletoe, the advent candles, the feeling of anticipation, of welcoming a great event —- the birth of Jesus, who is Emmanuel, God with us.  I must be a part of the SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS. —– Even on Christmas Day, there are some families who don’t have enough to eat, no clothes to wear, no shoes for their weary feet, while other families have it all —– Christmas cakes, pudding, roast chicken or turkey ——- sometimes most of which is wasted.  In the so-called Christian countries, in the West, there are homeless people shivering in the dark winter, while other splurge on every conceivable luxury around.
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We have to rewrite the CHRISTMAS STORY.  A real Christmas is sharing from the plenty we have with those who don’t.  A celebration is real only when everybody is included and we are able to be compassionate towards those who are lonely, destitute and unhappy.  Surely, we will bring a smile to their lips and they too will sing, “Joy to the world, the Lord is come.”  Thus , it will be truly be a VERY HAPPY & BLESSED CHRISTMAS.”
Inputs from Father Francis Gonsalves an Janina Gomes
 

The twelve days of Christmas

Some people tied to debunk this song as an “urban myth.”  Many have questioned the historical accuracy of the origin of the song.  Some say it was a “nonsense song” for children with “secular origins,” and it is a song of Christian instruction, perhaps dating to the 16th century religious wars in England, with hidden references to the basic teachings of the Christian Faith.
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THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS refers to the days from Dec.25 to Jan 5.  Here it is for your perusal :
On the 1st day of Christmas, my true love gave to me A PARTRIDGE IN A PEAR TREE.  The PARTRIDGE is Jesus, whose birthday we celebrate on Dec 25th.  He is symbolically presented as a mother partridge that feigns injury to decoy predators from her helpless nestlings, recalling the expression of Christ’s sadness over the fate of Jerusalem :” Jerusalem, Jerusalem !  How often would I have sheltered you under my wings, as a hen does her chicks, but you would not have it so.” (Luke 13:34)
On the 2nd day of Christmas, my true love gave to me 2 TURTLE DOVES :  The Old & the New Testament, which, together, bear witness to God’s self-revelation and the creation of a people to tell the story of God to the world.
On the 3rd day of Christmas, my true love gave to me 3 FRENCH HENS : The 3 Theological virtues —– Faith, Hope & Love (1Corinthians 13:13)
On the 4th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me 4 CALLING BIRDS : The 4 Gospels —- Matthew, Mark, Luke & John, which proclaim the good news of God’s reconciliation of the world to Himself.
On the 5th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me 5 GOLD RINGS : The 1st 5 Books of the Old Testament, known as the TORAH or PENTATEUCH : (1) Genesis (2) Exodus (3) Leviticus (4) Numbers and (5) Deuteronomy, which gives the history of humanity’s sinful failure and God’s response of Grace.
On the 6th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me 6 GEESE A-laying : The 6dys of Creation that confesses God as Creator and Sustainer of the world. (Genesis -1)
On the 7th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me 7 SWANS A-swimming : The 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit : (1) Prophecy (2) Ministry (3) Teaching (4) Exhortation (5) Giving (6) Leading & (7) Compassion (Romans 12:6-8 ; 1Corinthian 12:8-11)
On the 8th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me 8 MAIDS A-milking : The Eight Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-10)
On the 9th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me 9 LADIES DANCING : The 9 Fruits of the holy Spirit : (1) Love (2) Joy (3) Peace (4) Patience (5) Kindness (6) Generosity (7) Faithfulness (8) Gentleness & (9) Self-Control. (Galatians 5:22-23)
On the 10th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me 10 LORDS A-leaping : The 10 Commandments.
On the 11th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me 11 PIPERS PIPING : The 11 faithful Apostles : (1) Simon Peter (2) Andrew (3) James (4) John (5) Philip (6) Bartholomew (7) Matthew (8) Thomas (9) James, son of Alphaeus (10) Simon the Zealot (11) Judas bar James (Luke 6:14-16)  The list does not include the 12th apostle — Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus.
On the 12th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me 12 DRUMMERS DRUMMING : The 12 points of doctrine in the Apostles’ Creed.
The “true love” mentioned in the song is not an earthly suitor, but refers to God Himself.  Each day depicts some aspect of the Christian Faith, that was important for children to learn.
———– Dennis Bratcher, Copyright 2013.

Feeling Christmassy

Here are two recipes that the children would love this season : —
REINDEER CAKE POPS
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Ingredients : 100gm chocolate brownie ; 100ml melted chocolate ; 50gm mixed nuts ; 15gm whipped cream ; 5 plastic sticks. –FOR HORNS : 50gm flour ; 1egg.
Method : In a bowl, break the brownie into small pieces, add nuts, add melted chocolate and knead it to a tight dough  Divide into small portion, and shape into small balls, pierce them with the plastic stick and dip the pop into warm tempered chocolate.  Keep aside to set, decorate with horn and make eyes using whipped cream and chocolate drop.
For Horns : Beat egg and flour together into a smooth paste.  Using butter paper, make a cone and put the mixture in it.  Pipe the mixture into the shape of a horn and bake it for 10 – 15mins.
CHRISTMAS TREE CAKE POPS
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Ingredients : 500 gm leftover cake crumbs ; 500gm white chocolate ; 1/2tsp green colour (food grade) ; 50gm assorted edible sprinkles ; 10-12 plastic sticks.
Equipment : 1 large mixing bowl ; 1 large metal spoon ; wax paper ; plastic wrap ; deep, microwave-safe plastic bowl.
Method: In a bowl, knead the leftover cake, if dry add sugar syrup or chocolate sauce.  make about 12balls, 50gm each.  Melt chocolate in a double boiler or in micro oven, add the colour, mix well and keep aside.  Take the cake balls, pierce the plastic in the middle, and start shaping like a cone, keep pressing and shape ach like Christmas trees.  Dip the cake tree in the chocolate.  Take a toothpick and make scratch marks, before the chocolate sets sprinkle with the decorations.

The crown of Lebanon

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We have only a partial view, here, of God’s dealings, His half-completed, half-developed plan :  but all will stand out in fair and graceful proportions in the great finished Temple of Eternity.
Go, in the reign of Israel’s greatest king, to the heights of Lebanon.  See that noble Cedar, the pride of its compeers, an old wrestler with northern  blasts !  Summer loves to smile upon it, night spangles its feathery foliage with dew-drops, the birds nestle on its branches, the weary pilgrim or wandering shepherd reposes under its shadows from the mid-day heat or from the furious storm; but all at once it is marked out to fall.  The aged denizen of the forest is doomed to succumb to the woodman’s stroke !
As we see the axe making its first gash on its gnarled trunk, then the noble limbs stripped of their branches, and at last the “Tree of God” —as was its distinctive epithet —- coming with a crash to the ground.  We exclaim against the wanton destruction, the demolition of this proud pillar in the Temple of Nature.  We are tempted to cry, with the Prophet, as if inviting the sympathy of every lowlier stem ——– invoking inanimate things to resent the affront ——– “Howl, fir tree, for the Cedar has fallen !”
But wait a little.  Follow that gigantic trunk as the workmen of Hiram launch it down the mountain-side ——- thence conveyed in rafts along the blue waters of the Mediterranean ; and, last of all, behold it set a glorious polished beam in the Temple of God.  As you see its destination, placed in the very Holy of Holies, in the Diadem of the Great King ——- say, can you grudge that “THE CROWN OF LEBANON” was despoiled, in order that this jewel might have so noble a setting?
That Cedar stood as a stately prop in Nature’s Sanctuary, but “the glory of the latter house was greater than the glory of the former !”  How many of our souls are like these Cedars of old !  God’s axes of trial have stripped and bared them.  We see no reason for dealings so dark and mysterious, but He has a noble end and object in view —– to set them as everlasting pillars and rafters in His Heavenly Zion ; to make them a “crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of God.”
I do not ask my cross to understand
My way to see
Better in darkness, to feel Thy Hand
And follow Thee.

My grace is sufficient

LITTLE FAITH will bring your souls to Heaven, but GREAT FAITH will bring Heaven to your souls.
His grace is great enough to meet the great things
The crashing waves that overwhelm the soul
The roaring winds that leave us stunned and breathless
The sudden storms beyond our life’s control.
His grace is great enough to meet the small things
The little pin-prick troubles that annoy
The insect worries, buzzing and persistent
The squeaking wheels that grate upon our joy.
There is always a large balance to our credit in the Bank of Heaven, waiting for our exercise of faith in drawing it.  DRAW HEAVILY UPON HIS RESOURCES.
grace2“My grace is sufficient”, and I say, “I should think it is, Lord.”  The holy laughter of Abraham was never fully understood.  It seemed to make unbelief so absurd.  It was as though some little fish, being very thirsty, was troubled about drinking the river dry, and Father Thames saying, “Drink away, little fish, my stream is sufficient for thee.”  Or, it seemed after the 7yrs of plenty, a mouse feared it might die of famine, and Joseph might say, “Cheer up, little mouse, my granaries are sufficient for thee.”  Again, imagine a man away up yonder, on a lofty mountain, saying to himself, “I breathe so many cubic feet of air every year, I fear I shall exhaust the oxygen in the atmosphere,” and the earth might say, “Breathe away, O man, and fill your lungs, my atmosphere is sufficient for thee.”   So the Lord says,” MY GRACE IS SUFFICIENT FOR THEE.”  “Ask and you shall receive.”

Prayer time-table

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MONDAY : WASH DAY —– Lord, help me wash away all my selfishness and vanity, so I may serve you with perfect humility through the week ahead.
TUESDAY : IRONING DAY —– Dear Lord, help me iron out all the wrinkles of prejudice I have collected through the years so that I may see the beauty in others.
WEDNESDAY : MENDING DAY —- O God, help me mend my ways so I will not set a bad example for others.
THURSDAY : CLEANING DAY —– O Lord, help me to dust out all the many faults I have been hiding in the secret corners of my heart.
FRIDAY : SHOPPING DAY —– O God, give me the grace to shop wisely so I may purchase eternal happiness for myself and all others in need of love.
SATURDAY : COOKING DAY —– O God, help me to brew a big kettle of brotherly love and serve it with the clean, sweet bread of human kindness.
SUNDAY : THE LORD’S DAY —– O God, I have prepared my house for you.  I come into your presence to worship so I may spend the day and the rest of my life in your presence.
— From an e-mail forward.