Everlasting Light

Picture yourself in the darkest place you could ever imagine. Your eyes are wide open, but you cannot see a thing. You are afraid to move forward or in any direction for fear of falling or stepping into danger. Your senses are heightened, and every sound is amplified, even your own heartbeat.

Have you ever been in that place?

When Darkness Flees

Whether it’s a physical or emotional space, darkness can feel overwhelming. It holds you captive in one place.

But there is hope . . .

Suddenly, in the midst of that darkness, you hear a soft and gentle whisper.

“Do not be afraid. I am here with you. You are never alone, and I will guide your steps into the light. In me, there there can be no darkness at all.”

It is the still, small voice of Jesus. His assurance floods over you with warmth, helping you to move forward in the darkness, out of doubt and despair. I am not alone. I can do this.

The darkness may still remain, but His guidance gives you hope and the courage to take a step. And then another. And still another, until you step from the shadows, directly into the Light.

It is glorious!

The Message of Christmas

We all wander in the darkness at some point in life. Christmastime is supposed to be the season of hope, peace, joy and love. But for many, it is the darkest time of the year, and sometimes brings feelings of sadness and deep loneliness. We remember those we have lost. We relive painful memories from the past and yearn for happier times. It can be difficult to see beyond those dark places.

But dare to take that first step! Listen for the soft and gentle voice, and trust that you can move forward and into the light. It is safe, and warm and abiding.

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I attended a beautiful Christmas concert this past week. One of the worship leaders shared the message that Jesus — the Light of the World — came to earth during the darkest time of the year. That is no coincidence!

Jesus brought light and hope into a dark and weary world. His light is eternal and always with us, not just at Christmas, but the whole year through.

I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah — full of light, and overflowing with hope, joy and abundant blessings. May the peace of Christ fill your heart and home with His everlasting light!

I Love to Tell the Story

1,985.

That is the number of people who visited our church this weekend during our annual One Starry Night in Bethlehem. It took place over two nights — just five hours in all. Amazing!

This year, my husband and I took a break from our usual roles as the Bethlehem innkeepers who famously had no vacancy for Mary and Joseph. (We did make space for them in our stable though.)

On Friday night when the gates of Bethlehem opened, we quickly adapted to our new roles. I was seated in the scribe tent, helping each family seal their Christmas scroll. And the innkeeper became a tax collector. He questioned weary (and wary) travelers as they entered the city, collecting denarii from each family according to their means.

Taste and See

There is something incredibly special about taking part in this annual event. As you might expect, many of our visitors already know the Christmas story. But for some, it was the first time they learned about the birth of our Savior. And every visitor experiences the story in a new and unique way. They kneed the dough and taste the bread, smell the spices and grind them with a mortar and pestle. Later they will pet the animals, and the see the donkey in the stable beside Mary and Joseph, and the baby. Each person, young and old, visits Bethlehem and brings Jesus home in their heart.

For my part, I helped each family seal their scroll with sealing wax. They were told to take it home with them, and to carefully break the seal on Christmas morning. Together, they can once again recall their visit to Bethlehem as they read aloud the story of Jesus’ birth found in Luke Chapter 2.

After sealing their scrolls, I heard many families agree that they would indeed read the story before exchanging gifts. For one family, it was their fourth visit to Bethlehem, and they look forward to reading their scroll every Christmas morning. In addition to families with children, there were also young couples and seniors too, who came with scrolls. They asked to have them sealed so they, too, could read the story on Christmas morn. What a blessing!

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Although I’ve participated in One Starry Night for five years now, I have never had a scroll of my own. So before we packed up the scribe tent on Saturday night, I sealed one of the few remaining scrolls for myself.

The miracle of Jesus’ birth is a story that never gets old, no matter how many times it is told.