Merry Christmas!

by Velma Amundson

Editor’s Note:  In the AFLC, we celebrate the Christmas Season from Christmas Day up until January 5th, then we celebrate the coming of the Magi on January 6th which we call Epiphany.  So, I am really only a couple of days late with this post! 🙂  All of us here on this blog pray you had a blessed Christmas and that you will have an awesome New Year in 2013!

Our youth group led the Christmas eve worship service again this year…we had “smelly” shepherds and angels roaming the congregation during the sermon. Not exactly what you would have expected. But it fit perfectly.

I have to tell you about this group. We’re very proud of them. Every year the youth group asks for a family in the Abused Resource Center to go shopping for. They raise money through the year so that they have enough to go shopping. Then they go shopping during the first couple weeks of December. The youth themselves pick out the gifts, wrap them and one of the adults delivers them to the Resource center. They never see the family they’ve shopped for, but they are very enthusiastic about what they do. This year they went shopping for a family that consists of a single mother and her 7 plus (one due any day) children. They had so much fun wrapping the gifts and showing them off to anyone willing to look. This is the same group that keeps inviting their friends to come to Confirmation with them. (And their friends do, and tend to stay!)

Our youth show us the Spirit of CHRISTmas by what they do, with their willingness and enthusiasm for helping others, by sharing the message of the Gospel with their friends, and by doing any task we throw at them.  They make sharing the Gospel look easy.  They just do it.

I pray that in the coming year, this same Spirit will dwell within you. That you would be enthusiastic for Christ. I pray that God would richly bless you.

Shepherds, Children, and Others Who Listen

by Jonnie Sliver

Today, if you are observing Advent with the lighting of candles, you will be lighting my favorite advent candle (well, of the first four anyway): the Shepherd candle. I just love the shepherds in the Christmas story, because if anyone but God had planned this event, they probably wouldn’t have gotten a passing glance. Bethlehem , city of David , is packed to the thatched roofs with everyone who is anyone (literally), in town to register for the census. Political dignitaries, local celebrities, religious leaders great and small, manual laborers and teachers of the Law; they were all present. So why did the angels announce the best news the world will ever hear to a bunch of shepherds, out in a field?

Because God knew they would listen! He knew that these men would find the good news of great joy more important than anything they had to do.  Because He knew that they would respond; He knew they would take action! First, they went to see what the angels had told them.  When they found Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus they knew that this was not just a couple with a housing problem – this was the promised Son of God. Then they went and told everyone they knew what they had seen.

It is wonderful to be in the Miriam Home as Christmas approaches. The combination of children, Christmas trees, colored lights and special programs all add up to joy! But this Christmas, in this house, filled with these children adds up to much more than just pretty lights and goodies. Our children are a little like those shepherds – everybody who is anybody is in town, but they are just outside the city limits. They aren’t considered important by most (especially those who should truly value them – their own families), but they are precious to the One who matters the most! We, here in the Miriam Home , have the great honor of playing angels! We get to declare good news of great joy to the children God has put in our care for a short time. For many of them they are learning for the very first time, what Christmas is really all about – not fat men in red suits, but a Savior, born as a baby; God’s greatest gift! I am thrilled to see how our mini-shepherds will respond, and I am dreaming of how far they will carry the good news they receive.