Advent Week Four
Sunday, December 19 – Pam Stockett & Greg Patterson
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world. (Philippians 2:14-15)
As we focus this season on “Looking for the Light,” I find myself reflecting on the children’s song, “This little light of mine / I’m going to let it shine, /
Let it shine, all the time, let it shine. …
Hide it under a bushel? No! / I’m going to let it shine.”
Are we taking the time in our warped, crooked, and crazy world today to be the light Christ would have us be to others? Reading these verses from Philippians makes me think about how all of us, especially educators, are called on to be shining lights wherever we go.
Our resident tour guide, Greg Patterson, shared a recent experience he had with a tour group from New York state. On a tour bus, Greg divides his guests into two groups: the “Bold and Beautiful” for people sitting on the side of the bus behind the bus driver, and the “Young and Restless” for those sitting on the door side. The groups take turns deboarding from the motorcoach first. After the tour, one of the New York tourists announced, “We should call our tour guide the ‘Guiding Light’!”
Sometimes we may not even realize that we are being lights. After recent surgery, many of Greg’s former students called to tell him they were thinking of him and praying for him. He was amazed and surprised to hear from them and was humbled by their effort to contact him.
We may never know who is watching us, trusting us, and learning from us. The
responsibility of “modeling” requires a lot from us: caring for people, not grumbling or demeaning others, but trying to shine before them as children of God, being lights in their world.
Although we all have our troubles and our own “stories,” we have the confidence that Christ is with us to guide us. I often remind myself that He said, “I am with you always even until the end of the earth” (Matthew 28:20). Jesus IS the Guiding Light, and He helps us each day to “let our little light shine.”
Pamela Stockett and Greg Patterson have been colleagues and friends in Metro Nashville Public Schools for 30 years, beginning when their respective faculties collaborated on vertical curriculum planning. Greg began attending church events with Etta; Pam attended their wedding. Greg and Etta plan First Adult events together with Pam.
Pam joined the NFBC staff in 2013 as the front desk receptionist and administrative assistant to the pastoral care minister, Rus Roach. She began learning about our senior adults as he shared their stories. She moved to full time senior adult ministry in 2017 and loves working with an amazing group of people. Pam is a single mother with one son, Jason (Mary Beth), and three grandchildren, Addison-9, Carson-7 and Emerson-15 months. She lives in the Del Webb community of Mt. Juliet and has wonderful neighbors.
Monday, December 20 – John McHenry
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created. (James 1:17-18, NIV)
Faithful Jews prayed daily; “Blessed art thou our Lord, creator of the luminaries” or “Blessed be the Lord our God who hath formed the lights.” Out of his Jewish heritage, James made a natural reference to God as the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
As navigator of ships while in the navy, I studied stars and planets and was fascinated by their predictability. Using the right tools and the proper books, I could (to some degree) fix the position of my ship in the middle of the ocean. But, although my books told me where to look, the sun, moon, stars and planets were never exactly the same from hour to hour. The sun, moon, and stars seem to be constantly moving and are periodically concealed. The Father of lights however, who made them all and directs them in their courses, is constant, steady, and unchanging. No shadow comes from Him, and in Him there is no darkness at all.
Nothing in this world is more majestic and awe inspiring than the night sky in the middle of the sea. The same night sky that the shepherds saw as they kept watch over their flocks. So how amazing is our God who created them all? Our God who gives to us only good gifts, all the time, and only in the right way. New creation, salvation, is the perfect gift given to us by the word of truth, Jesus the Christ.
From the great hymn*:
Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father, / there is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not; / as Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.
Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest, / sun, moon, and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness / to Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.
* Thomas O. Chisholm, William M. Runyan, 1923 Hope Publishing
John McHenry, native of Nashville, retired for good, is a husband (Debbie), father, and grandfather. He is privileged to team teach in the Mosaic Class.
Tuesday, December 21- Betsy Wedekind
1 John 1:5b-7
God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:5b-7)
While living and serving in Ephesus late in his long life, the Apostle John wrote this letter (First John) to several congregations under his pastoral care. The Christians in these churches had been hearing false teachers who denied the truth about Christ. John’s letter concisely and simply confirmed important basic truths of Christianity to those Christians. John was the ultimate eyewitness of Christ’s miracles, power, and love! Just think of everything he witnessed! If anyone could absolutely proclaim from personal experience that “God is light and in him there is no darkness at all,” it was the Apostle John!
This letter also conveys these basic truths about Christ to future generations of Christians everywhere so they—we—can be reassured of God’s light and love during difficult times. Light exposes the truth—good or bad. Those who do not treasure and practice the truth but claim to be Christ followers will be exposed eventually. God’s light is the best disinfectant! We can walk in God’s light because He Himself is Light and because the blood of His Son Jesus cleanses us from sin.
When we experience the dark side of life, we need to remember that the real, true Light prevails! In dark times, we must turn to God as our source of comfort, strength, and direction. When we trust in Christ, we can have true fellowship with the Father and the Son and with other believers. Knowing, believing, and trusting that “God is light” is how we can make it through another breath—another day.
Today, as we approach our celebration of our Savior’s birth, let’s pray asking God to shine His cleansing, penetrating light through us to others.
Betsy Wedekind and her husband, Jack, have been members of Nashville First Baptist Church since July 2010. They are members of the Encouragers Class. Betsy is retired from Lifeway Christian Resources where she served for 26 years. She still enjoys opportunities to work freelance for them. Betsy and Jack live in Hendersonville with their sweet little dog Nelson.
Wednesday, December 22 – Jasmine Jordan-Lake
And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. Its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. (Revelation 21:23-24, NRSV)
Tonight’s the night
For the sinners and the saints
Two worlds collide in a beautiful display
It’s all love tonight
When we step across the line
We can sail across the sea
To a city with one king
A city on our knees
–TobyMac, “City on Our Knees”
When I read these verses from Revelation, I immediately was reminded of a song by TobyMac that was released in August of 2009 entitled “City on Our Knees.”* TobyMac explained the song’s meaning as “a moment. A moment that we all come together to a place where there’s no judgment, but really love. And we choose to recognize one God together. And it’s really a reminder that the moment could be right now, tonight.” Both this song and Revelation 21:23-24 display the unique sense of comfort and love that believers are able to feel through God’s presence.
When I was a child, I was constantly fearful of the dark. Fearing the dark, I began to sleep with my closet light on at night, the one thing that I felt could give me comfort. Revelation 21:23-24 states that “the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb.” For the “moment” that TobyMac describes to happen, we must accept that God is our light, our comfort. And when this happens, “the nations will walk by its light” and “two worlds will collide in a beautiful display.” With this sense of comfort and security that God encompasses us in, fear no longer has a hold of our life because God always prevails.
* YouTube links: Tobymac City On Our Knees or Lyric Video of “City On Our Knees” – with Billy Graham clips
Jasmine Jordan-Lake is a current senior enrolled at Brentwood High School. At church, Jasmine can be found in the Youth Group and the Youth Choir. In her free time, she enjoys working at Chuy’s part-time as a hostess and doing Cross Country with her school. Jasmine also enjoys playing Guitar/Piano and spending time with her family and friends.
(Photo: Kendell Wedekind, Jasmine Jordan-Lake, and Carrington Bible)
Thursday, December 23 – Meredith Williams
And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or of sun, for the Lord God
will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. (Revelation 22:5)
When I think about the Advent season as we celebrate each Christmas, I think about Advent’s textbook definition: the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event. In this case, the arrival of our Savior in the form of a tiny baby.
However, when I read Revelation 22:5, I was struck by what will be another season of Advent. Leading up to the fifth verse, John wrote a stunning description of the new heavens and new earth, even better than Eden and without the potential for sin, which is ultimately what we as children of God are waiting for. We are so often consumed in our work and our family challenges and our worldly matters, that it is easy to forget we are in a season of Advent right now, waiting for what we can only see as “in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face.”
I invite you to join me during this season of Christmas Advent in celebrating the advent of our future in a new Eden; a future where the light of the glory of God replaces the light of the sun and we need no lamp to guide us on the right path. I pray that you will take time to experience the joy of the promises of God yet to be fulfilled but sure to come during this advent, and I pray that you will carry that joy on into the next season of your lives.
Meredith Williams is in the orchestra and adult choir at NFBC, as well as a teacher in first grade choir on Wednesday nights. During the day you can find her at First Preschool, just downstairs, teaching in our two- and three-year-old classroom. She is currently in a “gap semester” between her first and second years of college, and she is looking forward to going back to school in a few weeks!
Friday, December 24 – Hymn
Silent Night, Holy Night
Silent Night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright
round you virgin mother and child! Holy Infant so tender and mild,
sleep in heavenly peace, sleep in heavenly peace.
Silent Night, holy night, shepherds quake at the sight.
Glory streams from heaven a far, heavenly hosts sing “Alleluia,
Christ the Savior is born, Christ the Savior is born.”
Silent Night, holy night, Son of God, love’s pure light
radiant beams from Thy holy face, with the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth, Jesus, Lord at Thy birth.
Silent Night, holy night, Son of God, wondrous star, lend thy light;
with the angels let us sing alleluia to our King;
Christ the Savior is born, Christ the Savior is born.
Words: Joseph Mohr, 1818, Music: Franz GrÜber, 1818 | STILLE NACHT
This classic hymn was written only two years prior to the founding of our church.
Saturday, December 25 – Frank Lewis
2 Corinthians 4:6
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6)
I’m going to miss telling the story behind our magnificent sanctuary windows to guests who come to our church. I have lost count of the times I have done that, but the story never changes.
The theme of our windows is the revelation of God. The four, tall windows (to the left as you stand near the Communion Table) depict earth, sea, day, and night, reminding us of God’s revelation in creation.
Looking across the room there are four windows representing God’s revelation in Scripture. First, Abraham offering Isaac, his son, his only son, the one he loved, yet stopping as God provided a ram as the substitute (Genesis 22). The next window pictures the burning bush, reminding us of our need for a redeemer to rescue us from the bondage of sin (Exodus 3). The third window presents the star over Bethlehem declaring our Savior’s birth (Matthew 2) which is followed by the cross of Christ with His blood running in sufficient supply to save the elect of God (Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, John 19).
Towering above the baptistry stands the Resurrection Window picturing the twists and turns of life, the journey from darkness to light, and the promise of the resurrection represented by the glorious sunburst at the top of the window. As I end the explanation I always ask “Have you ever heard this story before?”
Have you? More importantly, have you put your faith and trust in the one who died for your sin so that you might know the life-transforming glory of God that is found in none other than Jesus Christ?
You can trust Christ right now and seal that act of faith in a prayer using words like these:
Dear God, I know that I am a sinner and I know there is nothing I can do in my strength to earn your salvation. I am broken and stained by the power of sin. Yet God, you are rich in mercy and grace. You sent your Son Jesus to die for my sin. I confess my need for Christ to be my savior and I give Christ the complete control of my life from this day forward. Thank you for saving me. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
If you prayed this prayer and meant it, then by the authority of God’s word, you are now a Christ follower! Let others know of your decision. Find a church, get into a Bible Study, be baptized, and let the Glory of God shine through your life!
Dr. Frank R. Lewis has served as Senior Pastor of Nashville First Baptist Church since 1997. He steps down as pastor at the end of this calendar year, serving our church and community for over twenty-four years.