Nepal: Deaf-mute boy miraculously healed by Jesus.
The boy who could not read, is now studying the Word of God. The boy who could not hear, is listening to teachings and growing in his faith. The boy who could not talk, is now proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ among those who have never heard.
In Nepal, a majoriy Hindu country in the Himalayas with 266 unreached people groups, Christians form only 1% of the population.
In 2017, the Nepali government passed a law that effectively outlaws conversion to Christianity, evangelization, and harming ‘religious sentiment.’ But the more governments try to hinder the growth of the church, the faster it seems to grow, often with miracles. Take the story of 18 year old Tilak, a deaf-mute teenager.
One day Pastor Biju, a church planter affiliated with The Timothy Initiative, stopped to pray with him. As the pastor prayed for deliverance and healing he witnessed a bewildered look on Tilak’s face. Something amazing happened to the deaf-mute boy. Tears streamed down his face, as he discovered that he could hear and speak for the first time in his life. A miraculous healing had just taken place.
Tilak rushed to his mother, who heaved sobs of joy and relief. Her boy was healed, and it was all because of Jesus. The entire family surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ that day.
Tilak and his family became eager to learn more about the God, so they began attending the very first church planted among their people. Now Tilak’s voice was able to join others in worship. As he listened to the teachings of Jesus, he was awed by the miracle that he could hear and understand what was shared.
Then a third miracle happened in Tilak’s life. When he opened God’s Word, he instantly was able to read, without any prior instruction. The symbols on the pages of Scripture came alive and he was given his own Bible to take home.
Tilak, the boy who could not read, is now studying the Word of God. Tilak, the boy who could not hear, is listening to teachings and growing in his faith. Tilak, the boy who could not talk, is now proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ among those who have never heard.
Source: The Timothy Initiative. Joel News, # 1115 , February 25, 2019
1. ‘The Christmas Message’ is an appealing, highly unusual and very creative anthology. After an introduction about the Queen’s public expression of faith, Geoff Waugh provides a selection of noteworthy passages about Christmas from the Queen’s Christmas messages from 1952 to 2017. He sets them into context by brief historical references, photos, and Christmas stamps. Finally there is an epilogue of famous Christmas hymns and carols including those used in the Christmas Broadcasts. This book would be the perfect Christmas present. – Alison Sherrington (Author)
2. I haven’t seen anyone else draw the events of the last 65 years together in this way before. Using the Queen’s speeches not only ties in the unfolding events of our time but reveals a deep spiritual glue that provides a fascinating and intimate insight into the personal life of our Queen. A fascinating read. 5 Stars. – Rev Philip Waugh (Minister)
3. The core of the book is the excerpts from The Queen’s messages. Geoff introduces each broadcast with a short commentary on the events of that year and highlights The Queen’s words in the context of each year, accompanied with appropriate photographs and commemorative stamps. The appendix is a fitting conclusion to this new and innovative approach to the Christmas Story and its clear message of peace and goodwill to all. It is a rewarding experience to read it from cover to cover. – Don Hill (Consultant)
4. The Queen Would Be Proud – 5 stars
What an amazing collection! This has so many wonderful Christmas messages and is a great addition to any family during the holiday season. – Jenny & Benny (Amazon)
God sent into the world a unique person – neither a philosopher nor a general … but a Saviour, with the power to forgive. Forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith. … It is my prayer that … we all might find room in our lives for the message of the angels and for the love of God through Christ our Lord. (2011)
This is the time of year when we remember that God sent his only son ‘to serve, not to be served’. He restored love and service to the centre of our lives in the person of Jesus Christ. (2012)
For Christians, as for all people of faith, reflection, meditation and prayer help us to renew ourselves in God’s love, as we strive daily to become better people. The Christmas message shows us that this love is for everyone. There is no one beyond its reach. (2013)
For me, the life of Jesus Christ, the prince of peace, whose birth we celebrate today, is an inspiration and an anchor in my life. A role model of reconciliation and forgiveness, he stretched out his hands in love, acceptance and healing. Christ’s example has taught me to seek to respect and value all people, of whatever faith or none. (2014)
Despite being displaced and persecuted throughout his short life, Christ’s unchanging message was not one of revenge or violence but simply that we should love one another. (2015)
Jesus Christ lived obscurely for most of his life, and never travelled far. He was maligned and rejected by many, though he had done no wrong. And yet, billions of people now follow his teaching and find in him the guiding light for their lives. I am one of them because Christ’s example helps me see the value of doing small things with great love, whoever does them and whatever they themselves believe. (2016)
We remember the birth of Jesus Christ, whose only sanctuary was a stable in Bethlehem. He knew rejection, hardship and persecution. And, yet, it is Jesus Christ’s generous love and example which has inspired me through good times and bad. (2017)
The Christmas story retains its appeal since it doesn’t provide theoretical explanations for the puzzles of life. Instead, it’s about the birth of a child and the hope that birth 2,000 years ago brought to the world. Only a few people acknowledged Jesus when he was born; now billions follow him. I believe his message of peace on earth and goodwill to all is never out of date. It can be heeded by everyone. It’s needed as much as ever. (2018)
Printed books have a double page for each of the annual Christmas Broadcasts.
Queen Elizabeth II has spoken about the significance of Christmas to more people than anyone else in history, including 28 million in the UK and many millions more worldwide in just one of her Christmas Broadcasts.
We have annual Christmas Broadcasts from Queen Elizabeth II, freely available on the internet. Her Majesty refers to the meaning and significance of Christmas in them all. I have included 25 selections in this Blog.
Jon Kuhrt wrote a blog about The Queen’s Christmas messages. While working with people affected by homelessness, offending and addictions at the West London Mission, he was impressed by comments in the 2014 broadcast. Jon wrote: “I have not been a committed viewer (apart from when I am at my Mum’s when it is compulsory viewing). So I went back and read her previous Christmas messages over the last 5 years.”
Here, I have adapted Jon’s Resistance & Renewalblog in which he describes how The Queen’s Christmas messages are a model of how to talk about faith in the public sphere.
1) The Queen speaks personally
“It is my prayer this Christmas Day that Jesus’ example and teaching will continue to bring people together to give the best of themselves in the service of others.” (2012)
“For me, the life of Jesus Christ, the prince of peace, whose birth we celebrate today, is an inspiration and an anchor in my life.” (2014)
Personal testimony is significant and convincing, causing respect in those listening. The Queen is personal in the way she speaks, using words like ‘for me’; ‘my life’ and ‘my prayer’.
2) The Queens speaks compassionately
“Despite being displaced and persecuted throughout his short life, Christ’s unchanging message was not one of revenge or violence but simply that we should love one another.” (2015)
“Christ’s example helps me see the value of doing small things with great love, whoever does them and whatever they themselves believe.” (2016)
Consistently, The Queen and the Royal Family show deep concern for the bereaved and suffering, both in personal contact and in correspondence. The heart of Christmas is about God’s love for everyone, especially the hurting and fallen.
3) The Queen speaks inclusively
“The Christmas message shows us that this love is for everyone. There is no one beyond its reach.” (2013)
“Christ’s example has taught me to seek to respect and value all people, of whatever faith or none.” (2014)
God’s love is for all people and believing in this love leads us to respect and value everyone. Jon adds, “It resonated with my own experience of meeting The Queen in 1997, when she came to open a new hostel for young homeless people that I was managing. I showed her round and introduced her to all the residents. I had expected it to be quite formal and awkward but I remember how adept she was at talking to such a diverse range of people.”
4) The Queen speaks about Jesus
“This is the time of year when we remember that God sent his only son ‘to serve, not to be served’. He restored love and service to the centre of our lives in the person of Jesus Christ.” (2012)
“God sent into the world a unique person – neither a philosopher nor a general … but a Saviour, with the power to forgive.” (2011)
The Queen talks directly about the person at the heart of Christmas, the reason for celebrating. That includes both the example and achievement of Jesus and makes orthodox theology accessible to the widest possible audience.
5) The Queen speaks about faith in action
“Forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith. It can heal broken families, it can restore friendships and it can reconcile divided communities. It is in forgiveness that we feel the power of God’s love.” (2011)
“For Christians, as for all people of faith, reflection, meditation and prayer help us to renew ourselves in God’s love, as we strive daily to become better people.” (2013)
Reconciliation, service and love flow from Christian commitment. The Queen talks about what faith does. It makes a difference to how we live and helps us to be ‘better people’.
God really did love the world so much (all races and all religions or none) that he gave us his Son, our Saviour. We celebrate that gift at Christmas.
Here are excerpts from some of The Queen’s Christmas Broadcasts with links to each Speech.
[Christmas] has, before all, its origin in the homage we pay to a very special Family, who lived long ago in a very ordinary home, in a very unimportant village in the uplands of a small Roman province.
Life in such a place might have been uneventful. But the Light, kindled in Bethlehem and then streaming from the cottage window in Nazareth, has illumined the world for two thousand years. It is in the glow of that bright beam that I wish you all a blessed Christmas and a happy New Year.
I would like to read you a few lines from ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’, because I am sure we can say with Mr Valiant for Truth, these words:
“Though with great difficulty I am got hither, yet now I do not repent me of all the trouble I have been at to arrive where I am. My sword I give to him that shall succeed me in my pilgrimage and my courage and skill to him that can get it. My marks and scars I carry with me, to be a witness for me that I have fought his battles who now will be my rewarder.”
I hope that 1958 may bring you God’s blessing and all the things you long for. And so I wish you all, young and old, wherever you may be, all the fun and enjoyment, and the peace of a very happy Christmas.
Every year at this time the whole Christian world celebrates the birth of the founder of our faith. It is traditionally the time for family reunions, present-giving and children’s parties.
A welcome escape, in fact, from the harsh realities of this troubled world and it is just in times like these, times of tension and anxieties, that the simple story and message of Christmas is most relevant.
The story is of a poor man and his wife who took refuge at night in a stable, where a child was born and laid in the manger. Nothing very spectacular, and yet the event was greeted with that triumphant song: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill towards men.”
For that child was to show that there is nothing in heaven and earth that cannot be achieved by faith and by love and service to one’s neighbour. Christmas may be a Christian festival, but its message goes out to all men and it is echoed by all men of understanding and goodwill everywhere. …
“Oh hush the noise, ye men of strife, and hear the angels sing.” The words of this old carol mean even more today than when they were first written.
The first Royal Christmas Message televised in colour, 1967
Modern communications make it possible for me to talk to you in your homes and to wish you a merry Christmas and a very happy New Year. These techniques of radio and television are modern, but the Christmas message is timeless.
You may have heard it very often but in the end, no matter what scientific progress we make, the message will count for nothing unless we can achieve real peace and encourage genuine goodwill between individual people and the nations of the world.
Every Christmas I am sustained and encouraged by the happiness and sense of unity which comes from seeing all the members of my family together.
I hope and pray that, with God’s help, this Christmas spirit of family unity will spread and grow among our Commonwealth family of nations.
We are celebrating a birthday – the birthday of a child born nearly 2,000 years ago, who grew up and lived for only about 30 years.
That one person, by his example and by his revelation of the good which is in us all, has made an enormous difference to the lives of people who have come to understand his teaching. His simple message of love has been turning the world upside down ever since. He showed that what people are and what they do, does matter and does make all the difference.
He commanded us to love our neighbours as we love ourselves, but what exactly is meant by ‘loving ourselves’? I believe it means trying to make the most of the abilities we have been given, it means caring for our talents.
It is a matter of making the best of ourselves, not just doing the best for ourselves.
I was glad that the celebrations of my mother’s 80th birthday last summer gave so much pleasure. I wonder whether you remember, during the Thanksgiving Service in St. Paul’s, the congregation singing that wonderful hymn “Immortal, Invisible, God only wise”.
“Now give us we pray thee the Spirit of love,
The gift of true wisdom that comes from above,
The spirit of service that has naught of pride,
The gift of true courage, and thee as our guide.” …
In difficult times we may be tempted to find excuses for self-indulgence and to wash our hands of responsibility. Christmas stands for the opposite. The Wise Men and the Shepherds remind us that it is not enough simply to do our jobs; we need to go out and look for opportunities to help those less fortunate than ourselves, even if that service demands sacrifice.
It was their belief and confidence in God which inspired them to visit the stable and it is this unselfish will to serve that will see us through the difficulties we face.
Christ not only revealed to us the truth in his teachings. He lived by what he believed and gave us the strength to try to do the same – and, finally, on the cross, he showed the supreme example of physical and moral courage.
That sacrifice was the dawn of Christianity and this is why at Christmas time we are inspired by the example of Christ as we celebrate his birth.
It is no easy task to care for and bring up children, whatever your circumstances – whether you are famous or quite unknown. But we could all help by letting the spirit of Christmas fill our homes with love and care and by heeding Our Lord’s injunction to treat others as you would like them to treat you.
When, as the Bible says, Christ grew in wisdom and understanding, he began his task of explaining and teaching just what it is that God wants from us.
The two lessons that he had for us, which he underlined in everything he said and did, are the messages of God’s love and how essential it is that we, too, should love other people. …
The message which God sent us by Christ’s life and example is a very simple one, even though it seems so difficult to put into practice.
I am always moved by those words in St. John’s Gospel which we hear on Christmas Day – “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not”.
We have only to listen to the news to know the truth of that. But the Gospel goes on – “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God”.
For all the inhumanity around us, let us be grateful for those who have received him and who go about quietly doing their work and His will without thought of reward or recognition.
They know that there is an eternal truth of much greater significance than our own triumphs and tragedies, and it is embodied by the Child in the Manger. That is their message of hope.
We can all try to reflect that message of hope in our own lives, in our actions and in our prayers. If we do, the reflection may light the way for others and help them to read the message too. We live in the global village, but villages are made up of families. …
I hope you all enjoy your Christmas. I pray, with you, for a happy and peaceful New Year.
“Blessed be the peacemakers,” Christ said, “for they shall be called the children of God.” It is especially to those of you, often peacemakers without knowing it, who are fearful of a troubled and uncertain future, that I bid a Happy Christmas.
It is your good sense and good will which have achieved so much. It must not and will not go to waste. May there be still happier Christmases to come, for you and your children. You deserve the best of them.
At Christmas I enjoy looking back on some of the events of the year. Many have their roots in history but still have a real point for us today. I recall, especially, a dazzling spring day in Norwich when I attended the Maundy Service, the Cathedral providing a spectacular setting.
The lovely service is always a reminder of Christ’s words to his disciples: “Love one another; as I have loved you”. It sounds so simple yet it proves so hard to obey. …
If only we can live up to the example of the child who was born at Christmas with a love that came to embrace the whole world. If only we can let him recapture for us that time when we faced the future with childhood’s unbounded faith.
Armed with that faith, the New Year, with all its challenges and chances, should hold no terrors for us, and we should be able to embark upon it undaunted.
St Paul spoke of the first Christmas as the kindness of God dawning upon the world. The world needs that kindness now more than ever – the kindness and consideration for others that disarms malice and allows us to get on with one another with respect and affection.
Christmas reassures us that God is with us today. But, as I have discovered afresh for myself this year, he is always present in the kindness shown by our neighbours and the love of our friends and family.
Christmas is the traditional, if not the actual, birthday of a man who was destined to change the course of our history. And today we are celebrating the fact that Jesus Christ was born two thousand years ago; this is the true Millennium anniversary.
The simple facts of Jesus’ life give us little clue as to the influence he was to have on the world. As a boy he learnt his father’s trade as a carpenter. He then became a preacher, recruiting twelve supporters to help him.
But his ministry only lasted a few years and he himself never wrote anything down. In his early thirties he was arrested, tortured and crucified with two criminals. His death might have been the end of the story, but then came the resurrection and with it the foundation of the Christian faith.
Even in our very material age the impact of Christ’s life is all around us. If you want to see an expression of Christian faith you have only to look at our awe-inspiring cathedrals and abbeys, listen to their music, or look at their stained glass windows, their books and their pictures.
But the true measure of Christ’s influence is not only in the lives of the saints but also in the good works quietly done by millions of men and women day in and day out throughout the centuries.
Many will have been inspired by Jesus’ simple but powerful teaching: love God and love thy neighbour as thyself – in other words, treat others as you would like them to treat you. His great emphasis was to give spirituality a practical purpose. …
To many of us our beliefs are of fundamental importance. For me the teachings of Christ and my own personal accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to lead my life. I, like so many of you, have drawn great comfort in difficult times from Christ’s words and example.
I believe that the Christian message, in the words of a familiar blessing, remains profoundly important to us all:
“Go forth into the world in peace,
be of good courage,
hold fast that which is good,
render to no man evil for evil,
strengthen the faint-hearted,
support the weak,
help the afflicted,
honour all men.”
It is a simple message of compassion… and yet as powerful as ever today, two thousand years after Christ’s birth.
Anniversaries are important events in all our lives. Christmas is the anniversary of the birth of Christ over two thousand years ago, but it is much more than that. It is the celebration of the birth of an idea and an ideal. …
I know just how much I rely on my own faith to guide me through the good times and the bad. Each day is a new beginning, I know that the only way to live my life is to try to do what is right, to take the long view, to give of my best in all that the day brings, and to put my trust in God.
Like others of you who draw inspiration from your own faith, I draw strength from the message of hope in the Christian gospel.
The Founder of the Christian Faith himself chose twelve disciples to help him in his ministry.
In this country and throughout the Commonwealth there are groups of people who are giving their time generously to make a difference to the lives of others.
As we think of them, and of our Servicemen and women far from home at this Christmas time, I hope we all, whatever our faith, can draw inspiration from the words of the familiar prayer:
“Teach us good Lord To serve thee as thou deservest;
To give, and not to count the cost;
To fight, and not to heed the wounds;
To toil, and not to seek for rest;
To labour, and not to ask for any reward; Save that of knowing that we do thy will.”
It is this knowledge which will help us all to enjoy the Festival of Christmas.
Religion and culture are much in the news these days, usually as sources of difference and conflict, rather than for bringing people together. But the irony is that every religion has something to say about tolerance and respecting others.
For me as a Christian one of the most important of these teachings is contained in the parable of the Good Samaritan, when Jesus answers the question “who is my neighbour?”
It is a timeless story of a victim of a mugging who was ignored by his own countrymen but helped by a foreigner – and a despised foreigner at that.
The implication drawn by Jesus is clear. Everyone is our neighbour, no matter what race, creed or colour. The need to look after a fellow human being is far more important than any cultural or religious differences.
Now today, of course, marks the birth of Jesus Christ. Among other things, it is a reminder that it is the story of a family; but of a family in very distressed circumstances. Mary and Joseph found no room at the inn; they had to make do in a stable, and the new-born Jesus had to be laid in a manger. This was a family which had been shut out.
Perhaps it was because of this early experience that, throughout his ministry, Jesus of Nazareth reached out and made friends with people whom others ignored or despised. It was in this way that he proclaimed his belief that, in the end, we are all brothers and sisters in one human family. …
It is all too easy to ‘turn a blind eye’, ‘to pass by on the other side’, and leave it to experts and professionals. All the great religious teachings of the world press home the message that everyone has a responsibility to care for the vulnerable.
Finding hope in adversity is one of the themes of Christmas. Jesus was born into a world full of fear. The angels came to frightened shepherds with hope in their voices: ‘Fear not’, they urged, ‘we bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Saviour who is Christ the Lord.’
Although we are capable of great acts of kindness, history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves – from our recklessness or our greed.
God sent into the world a unique person – neither a philosopher nor a general, important though they are, but a Saviour, with the power to forgive. Forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith. It can heal broken families, it can restore friendships and it can reconcile divided communities. It is in forgiveness that we feel the power of God’s love.
In the last verse of this beautiful carol, O Little Town of Bethlehem, there’s a prayer: O Holy Child of Bethlehem, Descend to us we pray. Cast out our sin and enter in. Be born in us today.
It is my prayer that on this Christmas day we might all find room in our lives for the message of the angels and for the love of God through Christ our Lord.
At Christmas I am always struck by how the spirit of togetherness lies also at the heart of the Christmas story. A young mother and a dutiful father with their baby were joined by poor shepherds and visitors from afar. They came with their gifts to worship the Christ child. From that day on he has inspired people to commit themselves to the best interests of others.
This is the time of year when we remember that God sent his only son ‘to serve, not to be served’. He restored love and service to the centre of our lives in the person of Jesus Christ.
It is my prayer this Christmas Day that his example and teaching will continue to bring people together to give the best of themselves in the service of others.
The carol, In The Bleak Midwinter, ends by asking a question of all of us who know the Christmas story, of how God gave himself to us in humble service: ‘What can I give him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb; if I were a wise man, I would do my part’. The carol gives the answer ‘Yet what I can I give him – give my heart’.
For Christians, as for all people of faith, reflection, meditation and prayer help us to renew ourselves in God’s love, as we strive daily to become better people. The Christmas message shows us that this love is for everyone. There is no one beyond its reach.
On the first Christmas, in the fields above Bethlehem, as they sat in the cold of night watching their resting sheep, the local shepherds must have had no shortage of time for reflection. Suddenly all this was to change. These humble shepherds were the first to hear and ponder the wondrous news of the birth of Christ – the first noel – the joy of which we celebrate today.
[Centenary of the start of World War I, 1914-1918]
‘Reconciliation’ by Josefina de Vasconcellos at Coventry Cathedral
In the ruins of the old Coventry Cathedral is a sculpture of a man and a woman reaching out to embrace each other … inspired by the story of a woman who crossed Europe on foot after the war to find her husband.
In 1914, many people thought the war would be over by Christmas, but sadly by then the trenches were dug and the future shape of the war in Europe was set.
But, as we know, something remarkable did happen that Christmas, exactly a hundred years ago today.
Without any instruction or command, the shooting stopped and German and British soldiers met in No Man’s Land. Photographs were taken and gifts exchanged. It was a Christmas truce. …
For me, the life of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, whose birth we celebrate today, is an inspiration and an anchor in my life.
A role model of reconciliation and forgiveness, he stretched out his hands in love, acceptance and healing. Christ’s example has taught me to seek to respect and value all people, of whatever faith or none.
Sometimes it seems that reconciliation stands little chance in the face of war and discord. But, as the Christmas truce a century ago reminds us, peace and goodwill have lasting power in the hearts of men and women.
On that chilly Christmas Eve in 1914 many of the German forces sang Silent Night, its haunting melody inching across the line.
That carol is still much-loved today, a legacy of the Christmas truce, and a reminder to us all that even in the unlikeliest of places hope can still be found.
Queen Elizabeth II became the longest-reigning British monarch on 9 September, 2015
It is true that the world has had to confront moments of darkness this year, but the Gospel of John contains a verse of great hope, often read at Christmas carol services: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it”.
One cause for thankfulness this summer was marking 70 years since the end of the Second World War. …
At the end of that war, the people of Oslo began sending an annual gift of a Christmas tree for Trafalgar Square.
It has 500 light bulbs and is enjoyed not just by Christians but by people of all faiths, and of none. At the very top sits a bright star, to represent the Star of Bethlehem.
The custom of topping a tree also goes back to Prince Albert’s time. For his family’s tree, he chose an angel, helping to remind us that the focus of the Christmas story is on one particular family.
For Joseph and Mary, the circumstances of Jesus’s birth – in a stable – were far from ideal, but worse was to come as the family was forced to flee the country.
It’s no surprise that such a human story still captures our imagination and continues to inspire all of us who are Christians, the world over.
Despite being displaced and persecuted throughout his short life, Christ’s unchanging message was not one of revenge or violence but simply that we should love one another.
Although it is not an easy message to follow, we shouldn’t be discouraged; rather, it inspires us to try harder: to be thankful for the people who bring love and happiness into our own lives, and to look for ways of spreading that love to others, whenever and wherever we can.
At Christmas our attention is drawn to the birth of a baby some two thousand years ago. It was the humblest of beginnings, and his parents, Joseph and Mary, did not think they were important.
Jesus Christ lived obscurely for most of his life, and never travelled far. He was maligned and rejected by many, though he had done no wrong. And yet, billions of people now follow his teaching and find in him the guiding light for their lives. I am one of them because Christ’s example helps me see the value of doing small things with great love, whoever does them and whatever they themselves believe.
The message of Christmas reminds us that inspiration is a gift to be given as well as received, and that love begins small but always grows.
Today, we celebrate Christmas, which, itself, is sometimes described as a festival of the home. Families travel long distances to be together.
Volunteers and charities, as well as many churches, arrange meals for the homeless and those who would otherwise be alone on Christmas Day. We remember the birth of Jesus Christ, whose only sanctuary was a stable in Bethlehem. He knew rejection, hardship and persecution.
And, yet, it is Jesus Christ’s generous love and example which has inspired me through good times and bad. Whatever your own experience is this year, wherever and however you are watching, I wish you a peaceful and very happy Christmas.
The Christmas story retains its appeal since it doesn’t provide theoreticalexplanations for the puzzles of life. Instead, it’s about the birth of a child, and the hope that birth 2,000 years ago brought to the world.
Only a few people acknowledged Jesus when he was born; now billions follow him. I believe his message of peace on earth and goodwill to all is never out of date. It can be heeded by everyone. It’s needed as much as ever.
Messiah is an English-language oratorio composed in 1741 by George Friedrich Handel, with a scriptural text compiled by Charles Jennens from the King James Bible, and from the version of the Psalms included with the Book of Common Prayer.
In Part I the text begins with prophecies by Isaiah and others, and moves to the annunciation to the shepherds, the only “scene” taken from the Gospels.
In Part II, Handel concentrates on the Passion and ends with the “Hallelujah” chorus.
In Part III he covers the resurrection of the dead and Christ’s glorification in heaven.
When King George II attended a royal performance of Messiah he stood up for the Hallelujah Chorus in honour of the King of kings. When the king stood everyone in his presence had to stand. So it became the tradition for the audience to stand up when the Hallelujah Chorus is sung, as millions of us have done in honour of the King of kings.
Chorus — Isaiah 9:6
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.
Pifa (Pastoral Symphony)
Soprano Recitative — Luke 2:8-11, 13
There were shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night.
And lo! the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Chorus — Luke 2:14
Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth, good will toward men.
Chorus — Revelation 19:6, 11:15, 19:16
Hallelujah! for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.
The Kingdom of this world is become the Kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ;
and He shall reign for ever and ever.
King of kings, and Lord of lords.
Lyrics: Holy Bible, Authorised Version, 1611, arranged by Charles Jennens, 1741
In the Foreword to this book Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II wrote:
As I embark on my 91st year, I invite you to join me in reflecting on the words of a poem quoted by my father, King George VI, in his Christmas Day broadcast in 1939, the year that this country went to war for the second time in a quarter of a century.
I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied, “Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light, and safer than a known way.”
Mark gives a vigorous, concise account of Jesus. The narrative moves swiftly. A brief prologue leads immediately into Jesus’ ministry as he appears proclaiming and demonstrating the kingdom of God. Kingdom life fills the pages.
Central to that drama is the cross. Mark has been described as a passion narrative with an introduction. Jesus is introduced as the Son of God in the first verse. Chapters 1‑8 reveal the mystery of the Son of God seen in Jesus’ three year ministry based in Galilee.
Then the drama shifts in chapter 8 with Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah. Jesus immediately predicts his death and prepares his disciples for it (8:31; 9:30‑31; 10:32‑34). The Messiah must sacrifice his life. The way of the Son of Man is the way of the cross. Chapters 11‑16 describe that final week in Jerusalem.
This book follows the story of Jesus using lectionary readings from the year of Mark (Year B). The readings include passages from other gospels as well, especially John.
Relational Bible studies
These relational Bible studies help you explore and live kingdom life: to love God with your whole being and to love others. At best, our love for God and for one another is but a small reflection of God’s love for us. These studies can help that love to grow. Choose the sections most suitable to you or your group.
You can use this book for both personal and group study:
Personal study, which may be in preparation for a group session or just for your own interest, will involve reading the Bible passages and thinking about the questions for yourself. You may want to keep a note book or journal of your insights or discoveries. If these readings are used in your church on Sundays you may want to reflect on the study after the Sunday and also read the next study in preparation for the following Sunday. You may have a friend, or friends, with whom you would like to discuss some of the issues, and these studies give you plenty of ideas for doing that as well.
Group study involves you with others. These studies invite you to relate together at the beginning, to respond to the Bible material in personal ways and to reflect on its meaning in your own lives and circumstances.
The studies help you share your ideas and discoveries as you study the Bible together. These relational studies invite you to interact at both a content and a personal level. You can share your pilgrimage with others. You journey together. You support and encourage one another.
The New International Version as well as the Revised Standard Version were used in writing these studies, so it will be helpful for group leaders to refer to those in preparing for each study. Any versions of the Bible can be used with the studies, of course, and comparison of different translations and study notes often adds helpful insights.
Your group will be able to move more freely through each study if you all read the passages at home first. That will make you familiar with the Bible material so that you can then interact on it together in the group. The gospel reading is the focus. The other readings are referred to during the study and can be included that way.
A rough time guide for each study would be to allow about 15 minutes for the Relate section, about 30 minutes for the Respond section and another 15 minutes for the Reflect section. Sometimes you will go longer than that, especially at the end. Allow adequate time to conclude in prayer together or in other appropriate ways.
If you have a group of more than five or six people, you will usually gain more from these studies by working in small sub‑groups of about three to five. This can be done in many ways. One good way is to begin in the whole group for the Relate section, read the scripture together in the whole group, and then move into small sub‑groups for the rest of the study.
Sometimes you may want to start in small sub‑groups of two or three, then study the Response section together in the whole group, and finish by following the Reflect section in smaller groups.
Story-tellers of good news ~ Results in healed families, freedom, love, less violence and addiction, redemption, hope, divine favour, grace, they pray and God moves.
Share to inform and inspire others.
West Africa: Dramatic transformation among Muslim peoples.
“Dramatic transformation is the key to rapid multiplication of churches among Muslims,” says Jerry Trousdale of missions organization CityTeam International.
He relates the story how one time their West African ministry partners were having their midday prayers, when they suddenly were surrounded by Muslim leaders. The team had been seeing breathtaking breakthroughs among highly resistant Muslim peoples, so they had anticipated opposition. They had reason to be fearful, but kept praying. Surprisingly, the Muslims just stood around them observing the proceedings and making no signs of hostile intentions.
“We beg you: could you please send us the story-tellers?”
When the Christian leaders finished praying, the group approached and turned out to be a delegation of Muslim civic leaders from a distant region. They had come with their imam and with a request. They said: “We have not come to harm you, but we beg you – could you please send us the story-tellers?” They meant the Christian workers who were making disciples by telling stories. The Muslim leaders from this community had observed other communities in their area that had become Christian, and they had noticed a dramatic change in people’s lives. They wanted the same thing in their community!
After some rearranging of schedules and responsibilities, the ministry was able to send out a team of storytellers to the distant village. Nobody imagined at the time that events like these would be repeated again and again, and that even entire mosques would come to faith in Christ. “When Muslims observe the types of dramatic transformation that only the gospel can bring in individuals, families and whole communities, they are often jealous to experience the same,” explains Trousdale.
MARKS OF TRANSFORMATION
What does transformation look like among Muslim-background believers? These are some of the most common changes seen among Muslims who accept Christ:
1. Healed families.
In families where women and children have been treated almost as slaves, wife beating becomes no longer acceptable, and love begins to heal broken marriages. Children are given permission to attend schools and are treated with new appreciation. Fighting between parents and children diminishes. Polygamy is no longer the choice of Christian men, and prostitution dies out.
2. A Spirit of Freedom.
When people discover freedom, it affects everything in their lives. They find release from fatalism, they are willing to try new things, and they expect God to bless their lives.
3. A Spirit of Love.
Many Muslim people report that God puts love in their hearts for the first time. In many cases, they have a new passion for fellow Muslims who are still in the mosque.
4. Diminished violence.
There have been instances in which, upon becoming Christians, former Muslims refuse to participate in ongoing ethnic warfare. In one case, when the Christian men were called to account for why they no longer ‘supported the tribe’, they shared the message of Jesus. This caused tribal elders to rethink their reasons for fighting, and the fighting stopped. Today, the two men who stood up for their conviction, are church planters.
5. Less addiction.
The levels of addiction to alcohol, khat, and other things that consume people’s lives are greatly diminished as these people receive prayer for deliverance.
6. Redemption and hope.
Historically, when lost people become obedient disciples of Jesus, they typically exchange fatalism for optimism, have new energy and initiative, and become more productive people. In addition, they abandon expensive addictions, and they see the blessings for God on their family situation.
7. Evidences of Divine favour.
Many new Christians share with joy how, after they became followers of Jesus, and during a time of prolonged drought, the Lord caused it to rain on their farms or on the pasture where their livestock was, but not on their neighbors’ land. And it became so obvious that the Muslim neighbors came to them to find out why these Christians had such favor. Farmers in every region that City Team International workers have interviewed report that, since they have become Christians, they have begun praying over their fields and have ceased using Muslim or spiritist blessings on their land, and their harvests have dramatically increased.
8. Grace in persecution.
Many new Christians in Muslim areas face harsh persecution. But these believers, though persecuted in cruel ways, have been transformed so deeply that they find the courage to speak a blessing on their persecutors. This forgiveness in the face of persecution can, over time, be the way that God gets into a persecutor’s heart to transform it as well. Numerous Muslims who formerly persecuted the Muslim-background Christians in their areas have come to faith as a result of those whom they persecuted responding with grace and kindness to the evil things done to them.
9. Freedom from demonic oppression.
Many Muslims have experienced years of torment from demonic powers. But when they repent of sins and receive Jesus as Lord, those spirits are successfully cast out. These deliverances are very tangible witnesses of the power of the gospel in Muslim families.
10. The power of individual prayer.
Common people discover that they can pray and God moves. Even the Muslims see this and thank God for the changes in the communities, as many who used to disturb them are now peaceful Christians.
Source: Jerry Trousdale
Joel News International 872.
Introduction1 Love God:Faith in God – God our FatherFollow Me – Jesus our LordFilled with the Spirit – God’s Spirit our Helper2 Love Others:Love one anotherServe one anotherEncourage one anotherConclusion
Jesus was wholly obedient in different ways at different times as a child, a student, a carpenter, a teaching rabbi, a healer, a sacrifice. We can obey in our different situations.
The Great Commission is a call to obey everything Jesus commanded. That’s not easy! But Jesus reminded us that he now has all authority in heaven and on earth and he is with us to the end of the age:‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’ (Matthew 28:18-20)This book is about learning to obey Jesus as we love God who loves us totally. Jesus said, “If you love me you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15, 23). The greatest commandments of all are to love God and love others. …We encourage Christians, especially leaders, to obey what Jesus told us to do. All Christians love to speak and sing about Jesus but we may not follow his instructions. So I wrote a mission book about how Jesus trained his followers: Jesus the Model for Short Term Supernatural Mission.It’s the first in my Great Commission Series and this is the second book in that series.Jesus taught his followers to do what he did. He commanded them to love one another as he loved us. He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God, to heal the sick and to cast out unclean spirits. I hope this book will help you do what Jesus told us to do. Jesus said that all the commandments could be summed up in two: loving God and loving others.‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it:
‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 22:37-40).Jesus described our neighbour as anyone, especially those in need. He said that we would keep his commandments because we loved him.Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. (John 14:23)God our loving Father expects us to believe in Jesus, his Son, to trust him and to obey his teaching and instructions.And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as He gave us commandment (1 John 3:23).What is obedience?Jesus told a parable about two sons whose father told them to work in his vineyard (Matthew 21:28-32). One son said he would go but he did not. The other son said he would not go but changed his mind and went. The one who said ‘No’ but then went was more obedient than the one who said ‘Yes’ but didn’t go. The story shows how we can repent, change our mind and obey.Jesus’ parable of the two sons encourages us to repent, turn around, and obey even if previously we did not. Often we may feel guilty that we are not obeying Jesus fully and wholeheartedly. When we pray we may remember how we disobeyed or were half-hearted or reluctant to obey. We can repent, and obey.Some of Jesus commands seem hard for us to obey: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you; whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me; carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; sell your possessions, and give alms; those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples (Luke 6:27-28; 9:23; 10:4; 12:33; 14:33). And that’s just a few of his instructions!We’re not all called to be Saint Francis or Mother Teresa. But we are called to follow Jesus – and that’s a challenge. Jesus’ instructions can shape our attitudes and actions. We may live it out in different ways in different places, but his commands will always guide us as we are led by his Spirit. Jesus was wholly obedient in different ways at different times as a child, a student, a carpenter, a teaching rabbi, a healer, a sacrifice. We can obey in our different situations. Our obedience springs from love and flows strong in God’s love. We love Him because he first loved us (1 John 4:19).
Jesus reveals himself to those who obey him in love: “The person who has My commands and keeps them is the one who [really] loves Me; and whoever [really] loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I [too] will love them and will show (reveal, manifest) Myself to them. [I will let Myself be clearly seen by them and make Myself real to them.]” (John 14:21 Amplified)
This is a remarkable work and something quite unique that I’ve not come across before (and believe me I’ve seen most ideas). There is a huge appetite for devotional type books and I’m sure that this one will appeal to many people. Russ Burg (USA)
* Most wonderful devotional from Narnia
One of the most interesting devotionals ever! As a huge fan of all things Narnia, I am so grateful for this deeper aspect of the truths in C.S. Lewis’ stories. Geoff Waugh did a great job in crafting such a book as this. What a wonderful addition to any collection, and an inspiration to know Jesus more deeply. Belinda S. (Amazon Customer)
* Enhance your wonder and love of Christ
You can read the Narnia tales as just good stories, but CS Lewis wanted people to see more. This book will help you see the many links with Jesus, the Lion of Judah. Use this to enhance your wonder and love of Christ. Rev Dr John Olley (Perth, Australia)
* Best companion work I know of
Many people have fallen in love with the timeless classics of the Narnia series. Yet few stop to think how closely the story is a parallel universe to the real world in which we live. If you want a serious and detailed look at how this works in Lewis’s work then I cannot think of any other resource of this calibre. Either for a young person who is interested in exploring more, or as a resource on a pastor’s desk, it is an invaluable companion to the original series. (Amazon Customer)
* An unusual and fascinating book
Geoff Waugh explores fascinating layers of meaning in C. S. Lewis’s children’s classic. Aslan, the triumphant lion, is revealed as a reflection of Jesus. The book includes devotional meditations using Bible references. (Amazon Customer)
* Worth your time – rich teaching
Whether you are familiar with Narnia teachings, or this is new to you, Geoff Waugh faithfully puts together the many layers of meaning in the meanings of the Lion Aslan as portrayed in each of the books of the series. This is a great companion when you read, and is a stand-alone teaching on the depths of teaching that C.S. Lewis weaves into Aslan’s character. Definitely worth your time. Steve Loopstra (USA)
The triumphant Lion of Judah features this way in these stories:
Creator and Sustainer in The Magician’s Nephew.
Saviour and Redeemer in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
The Way, the Truth and the Life in The Horse and His Boy.
Restorer and Commander in Prince Caspian.
Guide and Guardian in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
Revealer and Victor in The Silver Chair.
Judge and Conqueror in The Last Battle
C. S. Lewis wrote:
The whole Narnian story is about Christ. … The whole series works out like this.
The Magician’s Nephewtells the Creation and how evil entered Narnia.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the Crucifixion and Resurrection.
Prince Caspian, restoration of the true religion after corruption.
The Horse and His Boy, the calling and conversion of a heathen.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the spiritual life (especially in Reepicheep).
The Silver Chair, the continuing war with the powers of darkness.
The Last Battle, the coming of the Antichrist (the Ape), the end of the world and the Last Judgment
He is the High King above all kings, the King of kings and Lord of lords.
He is the son of the Great Emperor beyond the sea, beyond the world. He spoke and sang before the creation of the world and brought the world into being.
He commands legions of creatures and people in many worlds. Some creatures loyal to him may seem strange to us, and many of them fly. They worship him and serve him wholeheartedly.
His word is always true. You can depend on him totally. He never lies.
He appears unexpectedly and makes things right. He gave his life to conquer evil and ransom the guilty rebel. He rose again by dawn and appeared first to loving, caring young women.
He has enemies in this world and in other worlds but he defeated them and they are doomed. They tremble at the sound of his name.
All who trust in him are forgiven and set free. He breathes life into hearts of stone. His breath gives life.
He reveals himself to all who choose to follow and obey him, and the more they know him the more they love him. The more you know him the bigger he becomes to you. He loves with unending love.
He chose Peter to lead under his authority and to reign with his royal family. They failed him at times, as we all do, but he always sets things right when anyone asks for his help, trusts him and follows him.
He has all authority in this world and in other worlds. Multitudes love and serve him now and forever. You can talk to him now and always.
He is the subject of this book and many other books. He calls you to respond to him, to believe in him, to love him and to live for him.
He is the Lion of Judah.
Photos include Dunluce Castle, the Lewis homes, Jerusalem, Mount of Olives & Emblem of Jerusalem
One of the most popular Lion stories is about Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis.
The stories of Aslan illustrate in fairy tale the greater story of the Lion of the tribe of Judah hidden within the Narnia stories. Replying to a child’s inquiry about the lion’s name, Lewis wrote. “I found the name in the notes to Lane’s Arabian Nights: it is the Turkish for Lion. I pronounce it Ass-lan myself. And of course I meant the Lion of Judah.”[i] The Aslan passages echo and reflect the greatest story of all, the story of the Lion of Judah.
Aslan reminded the children that they would know him truly in their own world when they left Narnia: “But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little you may know me better there.”[ii]
Lewis encouraged readers to make that discovery. He replied to Hila, an 11 year old girl who wrote a letter asking about Aslan’s other name: “As to Aslan’s other name, well I want you to guess. Has there ever been anyone in this world who (1) Arrived at the same time as Father Christmas. (2) Said he was the son of the Great Emperor. (3) Gave himself up for someone else’s fault to be jeered at and killed by wicked people. (4) Came to life again. (5) Is sometimes spoken of as a Lamb (see the end of the Dawn Treader). Don’t you really know His name in this world.”[iii]
Most children did. Many adults did not.
Nine-year-old Laurence worried that he loved Aslan more than Jesus. So his mother wrote to C. S. Lewis, care of the Publishing Company. She received his answer ten days later. Lewis explained, “Laurence can’t really love Aslan more than Jesus, even if he feels that’s what he is doing. For the things he loves Aslan for doing or saying are simply the things Jesus really did and said. So that when Laurence thinks he is loving Aslan, he is really loving Jesus: and perhaps loving Him more than he ever did before.”[iv]
Lewis, replying to a girl, Ruth, wrote, “If you continue to love Jesus, nothing much can go wrong with you, and I hope you may always do so. I’m thankful that you realized [the] “hidden story” in the Narnian books. It is odd, children nearly always do, grown-ups hardly ever.”[v]
The Chronicles of Narnia can help you know Aslan better in the world of Narnia and to know and love Jesus, the Lion of Judah, better also.
Jesus promised to be with us always. He is with us now, caring for us and helping us, even though we do not see him yet. One day we will see him and really know how great and good he is. Meanwhile we can talk to him in our mind and heart anytime and get to know him better from the Bible, especially through the Gospels. Why not talk to him right now?
One of his last promises is ‘Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age’ (Matthew 28:20).
[i]C. S. Lewis: Letters to Children, edited by L W Dorsett and M L Mead, Touchstone, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995, p. 29.