Category Archives: Songs on Monthly Theme

Amahl and the Night Visitors

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This one act opera was written specifically for TV in 1951 and was the first Christmas special to be shown annually.  My husband and I remembered it from our youth and were eager to see it with our children years ago when a local church began staging it yearly.  Children love it — it has funny moments, beautiful costumes and a main character (Amahl, the little shepherd boy) with whom they can identify.  I thought I’d include one of the songs here on the blog.

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Rest Along the Weary Road

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This article was originally published in The Lutheran Ambassador, a publication of the AFLC (Association of Free Lutheran Churches).

Have you ever read a portion of Scripture and found a certain verse or phrase jumping out at you, striking you in a completely new way?  Or listened to a sermon when the Pastor said something that seemed meant just for you and your current situation?  Or had a hymn run through your mind over and over again?

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I think most of us have had that sort of experience, and when we do, we should pay attention.  The Holy Spirit may be nudging us to a deeper understanding, encouraging us with a word of comfort, or empowering us to take action.  Here’s a time that happened to me.

At our church during the Christmas season we always have a service when members have a chance to call out their favorite carols and the congregation sings a verse or two of each one.  As we sang “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” one year, I was suddenly and powerfully struck by the words, “rest along the weary road and hear the angels sing.”  Wow, I thought, that’s what Christmas should be about.  Nobody can deny that life is a weary road.  The Bible tells us that “man …is few of days and full of trouble”(Job 14:1), and that we can expect to experience trials and suffering (John 16:33).  All we have to do is look around our congregation to see people mourning the loss of loved ones, others who have lost their jobs, members in difficult relationships, or suffering from illness.  Christmas is a time to stop, to rest from all that, to remember the day God broke into our human lives with a precious gift, His own son, Jesus, to die for our sins.

Those of us in church know this.  The youngest child can tell you that Christmas is the birthday of baby Jesus, and the most theologically sophisticated use a big word to describe it, the “incarnation.”  But what is Christmas really about for most of us?  Far too often, Christmas becomes a time of frantic busyness instead of rest.  We have gifts to buy and wrap, cookies to bake, cards to send, people to entertain, parties to attend, a home and church to be decorated, more evenings out as we practice special music or a Christmas pageant.  We stress over whether our presents, our hospitality and our appearance have made the grade.  Maybe we spend more money than we should.  Then when Christmas Eve arrives, we’re too tired out to really appreciate it.  It’s just one more task to get through on the way to the conclusion of the season, when we can sigh and say, “Thank goodness I got everything done.”

None of the things we normally do around Christmas are bad.  Giving of ourselves in various ways, getting together with family and friends, spending some extra time at church, or singing Christmas carols, are all good things, especially if we do them in remembrance and thanks for God’s great gift to us.  But if, like Martha, we become “anxious and troubled about many things”  and miss “the one thing (that is ) necessary (Luke 10:41-42), we’ve lost the gift Christ wanted us to have.  Jesus Himself said, “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28)  This year, I’m going to try to be more like the shepherds.  I’ll think of Christmas as a time to take a break instead of a time to get a million things done–a time to eave the worries about my life behind and stop to worship the baby King, a time to rest along the weary road and listen to the angels.

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner #2

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Since I blogged about table prayers on a previous post, I thought I would include this prayer we sing before meals at our Vineyard Via de Cristo retreat weekends.  Once again, we are inviting Jesus to take part in the meal with us.

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

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Have you ever noticed that in many of our commonly used table prayers, we invite Jesus to come and sit at the table with us?  These are prayers we’ve heard from youth, and we recite them by rote, from memory, not really thinking about what we’re saying.  Maybe we should remember to stop and pay attention.  If Christ were our guest, how would we behave?  Wouldn’t we be honored and grateful?  Would we sit up straighter? Mind our manners? Would we watch out language (and maybe even our thoughts)?  Wouldn’t our attention be on Jesus, instead of the cooking?  Would we think about our behavior that day and whether our actions had been worthy of our Lord?  Maybe we’d have some things to apologize for.

Especially in this season of Thanksgiving, let’s make sure our words match our behavior.  Let’s think about WHO we’re inviting and behave as if we mean what we say.  Jesus is not only a guest at our dinner table, He’s the real Host.  He’s given us everything we have, and is present with us constantly.  He doesn’t leave us or forsake us, but sometimes we forget Him.

Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table.  Luke 7:36

Jesus didn’t mind eating with Pharisees or sinners.  He’ll sit at your table, too.

Servant Relationships

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This song has been a favorite of mine for a long time. It reminds me of a quote from one of Martin Luther’s  earlier books, The Freedom of a Christian (1520). In it, he wrote,

“[A]s our heavenly Father has in Christ freely come to our aid, we also ought freely to help our neighbor through our body and its works, and each one should become as it were a Christ to the other that we may be Christs to one another “

Come To The Table

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I have recently been hearing this song on the radio and it strikes a chord deep inside – Remember He came for the sick and sinful – of which I am one. So come join me at His table I look forward to seeing you there.

“Come To The Table”

We all start on the outside
The outside looking in
This is where grace begins
We were hungry, we were thirsty
With nothing left to give
Oh the shape that we were in
Just when all hope seemed lost
Love opened the door for us

He said come to the table
Come join the sinners who have been redeemed
Take your place beside the Savior
Sit down and be set free
Come to the table

Come meet this motley crew of misfits
These liars and these thiefs
There’s no one unwelcome here
So that sin and shame that you brought with you
You can leave it at the door
Let mercy draw you near

Come to the table
Come join the sinners who have been redeemed
Take your place beside the Savior
Sit down and be set free
Come to the table
Come to the table

To the thief and to the doubter
To the hero and the coward
To the prisoner and the soldier
To the young and to the older
All who hunger, all who thirst
All the last and all the first
All the paupers and the princes
All who fail you’ve been forgiven
All who dream and all who suffer
All who loved and lost another
All the chained and all the free
All who follow, all who lead
Anyone who’s been let down
All the lost you have been found
All who have been labeled right or wrong
To everyone who hears this song

Ooh
Come to the table
Come join the sinners you have been redeemed
Take your place beside the Savior
Sit down and be set free
Oooh
Sit down and be set free
Come to the table
Come to the table
Just sit down and rest a while
Just sit down and rest a while
Come to the table

Credit for song to Sidewalk Prophets

Jesus, Our Friend

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“No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing;  but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father, I have made known to you.”  John 15:15

Joseph Scriven, author of the hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” lived a rather tragic life.  He immigrated to Canada in 1845 following the sudden death of his fiancée.  He fell in love again, and this time his intended contracted tuberculosis and also died before they could be married.  Joseph poured himself into ministry and charity work, living a simple life.  This story is written about him:

“Until a short time before his death, it was not known that he had a poetic gift.  A neighbor, sitting up with him in his illness, happened upon a manuscript copy of “What a Friend We Have In Jesus.”  Reading it with delight, and questioning Mr. Scriven about it, he said that he had composed it for his mother, to comfort her in a time of special sorrow, not intending that anyone else should see it.  Some time later, when another neighbor asked him if it was true he composed the hymn, his reply was, ‘The Lord and I did it between us.'”

I hope you enjoy this hymn, as I always have, and use it as an opportunity to meditate on the wonderful gift we have:  friendship with Christ.