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Under the Influence Part 2: The LightPosted Tuesday, December 6, 2011, at 4:53 PM
Over 2000 years ago, during the Jewish Feast of LIGHTS (Hanukkah), in Nazareth, an angel appeared to Mary, a young virgin espoused to Joseph. The angel said, "Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women."
Because Mary was troubled, the angel said, "Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end."
She asked how that could be since she was a virgin, and the angel said, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible."
At the time of the Conception, still during that Feast of LIGHTS (Hannukah), wise men (Magi) in Persia saw an unusual LIGHT in the night skies appearing in Constellation Pisces. They were learned men, probably followers of the priestly caste of Zoroastrianism. As followers of Zoroaster, they were familiar with the Jewish prophecies of a coming Messiah. They were especially familiar with Baalam's prophecy recorded in Numbers 24:17 "there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel," They were also familiar with the prophocies of Jeremiah and Daniel. This LIGHT was no doubt a miraculous appearance. These Magi, traditionally twelve in number, began their journey toward Bethlehem where Micah said the Messiah would be born (Micah 5:2). (Matthew
Nine months later, during the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot), Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem to pay their taxes. Mary was nine months along and was feeling the contractions od child birth. Joseph knocked on the door of the only inn in town, only to find there was no room available. They were told they could stay in the lowly stable behind the inn. By this time, Mary was ready to give birth.(Luke 2:1-6)
Mary wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger.(Luke 2:7) John gives an account of this birth in his Gospel: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the LIGHT of men. And the LIGHT shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not."(John 1:1-5) "That was the true LIGHT, which LIGHTETH every man that cometh into the world."(John 1:9) "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt [TABERNACLED] among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth."(John 1:14).
On that Feast of Tabernacles evening, shepherds were watching their flocks by night. Luke records what happened: (Luke 2:8- "And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
15And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
16And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
17And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
18And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds."
Eight days later, Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem to be circumsised. Luke 2:21-38 records that Simeon, a prophet took Baby Jesus into his arms and said that Jesus would be "A LIGHT to LIGHTEN the Gentiles,"(v.32).
Two years after the conception of Jesus, and fifteen months after His birth, during the Feast of LIGHTS (Hanukkah). The Magi, still following the star, arrived Jerusalem. They were not familiar with Micah's prophecy of the Messsiah's birth, so they asked the religious leaders in Jerusalem, "Where is He that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him."(Matthew 2:2) King Herod heard about the arrival and questioning of these wise men, so he gathered the religious leaders and asked them the same question. They referred to Micah's prophecy of Bethlehem. Satisfied with the answer, the Magi followed the Light from the star until it brought them to the house in Bethlehem where Joseph, Mary, and the Christ Child were now living. "And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh."(Matthew 2:11)
Parts of this story have been deleted because I want to point to the Light. The Gospel of John, Chapter 1, gives us some insight into the Light of Christ and how the Light influences the world in which we live.
"1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2The same was in the beginning with God.
3All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
4In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
5And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
7The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.
8He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
9That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world."
Well, what are we as Christians to do with this Light? Is it enough to celebrate Christmas with our lights and gift giving? No; as much as those are symbolic of the true meaning of Christmas when done from a pure heart, that is not enough. Jesus, in His Sermon on the Mount, says in Matthew 5: "14Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."
So, as we celebrate the conception and birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ, let us do as those wise men did. let us give ourselves to Christ and worship Him. Let us also shine our Light of mercy, love, hope, faith, and giving to a world dwelling in the darkness of sin and despair. Let us shine our lights to those who seem to be hopeless. Let us help those who will not get much of a Christmas this year!
May your Christmas be filled with Light. And may the Light continue to shine upon you in the new year!
From Richard and Sue Swift
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My wife Susan (Sue) and I have lived in Soddard County since September of '96. We both graduated from Bible Missionary Institute, our denomination's small four year Bible college in Rock Island, Illinois. I was born and raised in Pomona, California while my wife was raised in Monmouth, Illinois. I am an ordained minister in the Bible Missionary Church. We attend and are members of the Dexter Bible Missionary Church. I've been employed by Tyson Foods for 14 years. My wife is a CNA. I've always been conservative in my political views and have always been active in politics and the Pro-Life movement. My politics have not always been Republican. From 2003-2009 I was vice-chairman of the Prohibition National Committee, the steering arm of the Prohibition Party. In '09, I joined the Constitution Party of Missouri. But, I've been attending the GOP rallys and club meetings since last year and have been campaigning for certain Republican candidates since we moved to this area. I'm on the SEMO Life Chain Committee.