They Brought Gifts To Jesus

When from the East the wise men came,
Led by the Star of Bethlehem,
The gifts they brought to Jesus were
Of gold and frankincense and myrrh.

Bright gold of Ophir, passing fine,
Proclaims a king of royal line;
For David’s son in David’s town,
Is born the heir of David’s crown.

(John Henry Hopkins: 1820 – 1891)

With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

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Testing By Fire

As principal cook in our household, I often carry a burn or two for my troubles. Just last Sunday when reaching for a roasting tin in the oven to baste the spuds, my forearm lightly touched the cooking rack and immediately I knew I had a burn; a minor one, yet irritating, not least because it lies where my watch sits.

Fire has properties of which we are to be cautious. Yet, without the heat generated within the oven, the pork would not have roasted, nor the crackling crackled, and so the joint would have remained inedible. So fire is dangerous but it is also essential.

Peter speaks of how our faith is tested by fire to determine the genuineness or authenticity of it. Like gold that is tested by fire, our faith is tested through our experiences of living in this world. In the fire assay method, gold is heated to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1,093 degrees Celsius) and melted. Any impurities are absorbed by the special container within which it’s placed, leaving only the real amount of gold. So with us, God places us in the world where we face fierce challenges – equivalent of all that heat – and after we have faced such heat, God is interested to see what emerges. That person reveals the extent to which their faith is genuine, where faith means implicit trust in God.

It can be very difficult to consider the idea of being tested by fire. Such testing may be external pressures and temptations. It may be attitudes or personality attributes that are ungodly when they are expressed. God does not test the genuineness of your faith out of brutality.

This testing is based upon the love we have for God. Parents endure amazing amounts out of love for their children. It is love that sustains us, and so we are encouraged to spend time regularly with God to deepen the love we hold.

(Dr Micha Jazz)

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With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

Two Angels

Two Angels, one was young, the second was ancient, stopped to spend the night in the home of a wealthy family. They were put down in the basement and asked to pay top rate.

While they got ready for bed, the older angel repaired a hole in the wall, looked at the young angel and remarked: “things are not always what they seem.”

The next night the two angels stopped at the home of the poorest family the young angel had ever seen but the elderly couple gave them their own bed and looked after them as if they were royalty: they also charged very little for what they gave.

In the morning the angels found the old lady crying, the cow had died during the night. The young angel immediately blamed the older angel for having let such a thing happen after all the hospitality they had received.

The older angel looked at him and said again: “things are not always what they seem: in the mansion I saw gold stored in that hole in the wall, so I hid it. Greed and gold are bad bed- fellows.

Last night the angel of death came for the old man’s wife. I made the best deal I could: I let him have the cow instead. Things are not always what they seem. We have enough gold between us to buy them another cow.”

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With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

The Master’s Vessel

The Master was searching for a vessel to  use.

On the shelf there were many – which one would He choose?
Take me, cried the gold one, I’m shiny and bright,
I’m of great value and I do things just right.
My beauty and lustre will outshine the rest
And for someone like You, Master, gold would be the   best!

The Master passed on with no word at all;
He looked at a silver urn, narrow and tall;
I’ll serve You, dear Master, I’ll pour out Your wine
And I’ll be at Your table whenever You dine,
My lines are so graceful, my carvings so true,
And my silver will always compliment You.

Unheeding the Master passed on to the  brass,
It was wide mouthed and shallow, and polished like glass.
Here! Here! Cried the vessel, I know I will do,
Place me on your table for all men to view.

Look at me, called the goblet of crystal so clear,
My transparency shows my contents so dear,
Though fragile am I, I will serve You with pride,
And I’m sure I’ll be happy in Your house to abide.

The Master came next to a vessel of wood,
Polished and carved, it solidly stood.
You may use me, dear Master, the wooden bowl said,
But I’d rather You used me for fruit, not for bread!

Then the Master looked down and saw a vessel of clay.
Empty and broken it helplessly  lay.
No hope had the vessel that the Master might choose,
To cleanse and make whole, to fill and to   use.

Ah! This is the vessel I’ve been hoping to find,
I will mend and use it and make it all mine.
I need not the vessel with pride of its self;
Nor the one who is narrow to sit on the shelf;

Nor the one who is bigmouthed and shallow and loud;
Nor one who displays his contents so proud;
Not the one who thinks he can do all things just right;
But this plain earthy vessel filled with My power and might.

Then gently He lifted the vessel of clay.
Mended and cleansed it and filled it that day.
Spoke to it kindly. There’s work you must do,
Just pour out to others as I pour into you.

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With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

The Obstacle In Our Path

In  ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a roadway.  Then he hid himself and watched to see if
anyone would remove  the huge rock.

Some of the King’s’ wealthiest merchants  and courtiers came  by and simply walked around  it…  Many loudly blamed the King  for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about  getting the stone out of the way.

Then a peasant came along  carrying a load of vegetables..  Upon  approaching the boulder, the
Peasant laid down his burden and  tried to move the stone to the side of the road.  After  much pushing
and straining, he finally succeeded.

After  the Peasant picked up his load  of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the  boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a  note from the King indicating that the gold was for  the person who removed the boulder from the  roadway.  The Peasant learned what many of us never  understand!

Every obstacle presents an opportunity to  improve our  condition.
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When I was 10 years old  I had a teacher – Mr Davies – who taught us that there the word ‘can’t’ was not to be found in the English dictionary.

Whenever you are faced with an obstacle just remember that all obstacles are, in reality, a wonderful opportunity for you to prove how brave you are.

And braveness will lead you to even greater success

With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

We Three Kings…………………….

It was 1622, and the Bishop of Winchester, Launcelot Andrews, was preaching a magnificent sermon to King James I. Reckoned as being one of the best preachers ever, Launcelot Andrews’ words were later taken up by T S Eliot and transformed into his wonderful poem ‘The Journey of the Magi’.

What a vivid picture – we can see it all! The camels’ breath steaming in the night air as the kings, in their gorgeous robes of silk and cloth-of-gold and clutching their precious gifts, kneel to adore the baby in the manger.

Yet the Bible does not give us as much detail as some people think. Tradition down the centuries has added a great deal more. For instance, we know from St Matthew that the magi were ‘wise’, or learned men of some sort, but we do not know if they were kings or not. The Bible tells us there were several; tradition has decided upon three, and even named them: Balthassar, Melchior, and Gaspar.

But the Bible does tell us that the magi gave baby Jesus three highly symbolic gifts : gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. Gold stands for kingship, frankincense for worship, and myrrh for anointing – anticipating his death.

There is a lovely ancient mosaic in Ravenna, Italy, that is 1,500 years old. It depicts the wise men in oriental garb of trousers and Phrygian caps, carrying their gifts past palm trees towards the star that they followed… straight to Jesus.

With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

HALLELUJAH CHRISTMAS

I am sure that most of you are familiar with the song ‘Hallelujah’ made famous by Leonard Cohen.

I am indebted to one of my Methodist friends, Muriel Sowden, for sending me some new, and very inspirational words, which have been written for a group known as Cloverton.

I’d like to share these words with you all:-

I’ve heard about this baby boy
Who’s come to earth to bring us joy
And I just want to sing this song to you
It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
With every breath I’m singing Hallelujah
Hallelujah

A couple came to Bethlehem
Expecting child, they searched the inn
To find a place for You were coming soon
There was no room for them to stay
So in a manger filled with hay
God’s only Son was born, oh Hallelujah
Hallelujah

The shepherds left their flocks by night
To see this baby wrapped in light
A host of angels led them all to You
It was just as the angels said
You’ll find Him in a manger bed
Immanuel and Savior, Hallelujah
Hallelujah

A star shown bright up in the east
To Bethlehem, the wisemen three
Came many miles and journeyed long for You
And to the place at which You were
Their frankincense and gold and myrrh
They gave to You and cried out Hallelujah
Hallelujah

I know You came to rescue me
This baby boy would grow to be
A man and one day die for me and you
My sins would drive the nails in You
That rugged cross was my cross, too
Still every breath You drew was Hallelujah
Hallelujah
I plan to use these thought provoking words at the Beaufort Hill Methodist Church this coming Sunday.

Peace be with you now and for evermore

Geoffrey

PS – You may view Cloverton’s video by going to:-

http://youtu.be/43OQi0KJC8g