I am not getting better so today I started some antibiotics. However, we decided to go to church and scuttled in to the back row. It is a church that we had visited the last time that we were in Luang Prabang. Rob took notes since my ears were stopped up and my hands needed to be free for nose-blowing.
It was a different worship leader, a young girl. She asked, in English and looking directly at us, if there were any first time visitors in the congregation. Technically, it was our second time but everyone turned around and looked at us so we stood and introduced ourselves.
Next, we sang and clapped to the recognizable song, Blessed Be The Name that was sung in Lao. Then there was a more reverent heartfelt song that was sung with no clapping. Lastly, we sang the Doxology with hands turned upward.
There were several times that people spoke in unison. I thought that it was The Lord’s Prayer or perhaps the Apostles Creed?
Prayers are always recognized by eyes closed, heads bowed and an Amen at the end. Some pray with open hands, others with their hands on their heart, or hands crossed over their heart, or praying hands.
The memory verse was said by one side standing in unison followed by the other side, but not everyone participated.
The offering girls came bearing red and blue bags. Pon was asked by the pastor to be our English translator. We appreciated his efforts since he had a young daughter and wife attending the service.
There weren’t as many people in the congregation this week. The church had sent people out to the villages to invite them to the Christmas service and celebration. This is a huge outreach for them. How different from America where Christmas is a family affair!
I have heard that 90% of money collected is used for the entertainment of the saints and 10% for mission. It should be the opposite. There is never a time when this is more evident than at Christmas in America.
Hebrews 4: 12-13
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.
The first section is about life. The second section is about how mighty God is.
On the day when our life is over, we have finished our work on earth. There is nothing left to do.
In the meantime, the purpose of our lives is to follow God’s path. Know right from wrong.
John 1:1 says:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The Bible is the word. The word is life. Jesus is the Bible in human flesh.
Hebrews 1: 1-3
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
As it says in Isaiah 66:18, the Lord knows all that you are doing and thinking.
For I know their works and their thoughts; the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues. And they shall come and see My glory.
There is nothing God can’t see. We can help each other other by praying and helping each other stay on God’s path. The evil spirits never leave us alone.
During the sermon the pastor put his hand on his heart, his finger to his head, and held up his Bible. I think that hand gestures add to communicating what is being said.
I really think that a forward thinking church would have an easel on the podium and have an artist draw the sermon as it unfolds.
As I ponder Christmastime in America, I know that every sermon is based on the Christmas story and that on each Sunday, there will be the lighting of the Advent Candles.
Advent actually is a term adopted from Latin adventus “coming; arrival”, translated from the Greek word parousia. In the New Testament, this is the term used for the Second Coming of Christ.
Advent marks the beginning of the Christian calendar. Christians celebrate and anticipate the “coming of Christ” from three different perspectives:
1) The physical nativity in Bethlehem when the Christ child was born to save the world, also known as the First Coming.
2) The reception of Christ in the heart of the believer in that Jesus has come into your heart.
3) The eschatological and much anticipated Second Coming of Jesus who comes to judge the world.
Each candle has significance.
Hope: Waiting for the Messiah. This purple candle breaks the darkness to bring light into a broken world.
Peace: Peace on Earth Good Will Toward Men. This purple candle reminds us that peace begins within the hearts of men.
Love: Love Came Down at Christmas. This pink candle reminds us of the great Love that was wrapped up in a baby. Jesus was gifted to the world.
Joy: The World Rejoices at the Good News. The final purple candle means that we can rejoice that God has put His great plan of salvation in motion.
Because Christ came the first time, we can live with hope, peace, joy, and love till He comes again.