Janice Hall Heck

Finding hope in a chaotic world…

Archive for the tag “Birth of Jesus”

Sunday. Advent Week 4.

At Margate Community Church in Margate, NJ, for the four weeks preceding Christmas, we unfold the drama of the birth of Christ as it happened over two thousand years ago.
This is the fourth week in Advent, and this morning we lit the fourth candle on the Advent Wreath representing LOVE. This candle is sometimes called the Angel’s Candle because the angels announce the birth of Jesus. The fifth candle in the middle of the wreath represents the birth of Jesus, and that will be lit at the Christmas Eve candlelight service.

Advent Week 4 - LOVE

Advent Week 4 – LOVE

Appearing on the Advent calendar this week: more animals in the manger scene, a peace dove, and Joseph standing by the manger. All is ready.


But the baby has not yet been born. The manger is still empty.


The major event is yet to come.

See other weeks in Advent:
Advent Week 1: Preparing for the Birth of Christ
Advent Week 2: Peace
Advent Week 3: Joy

Sunday. Advent Week 3: Joy

Advent Week 3. The third candle in the Advent Wreath represents JOY:  The Joy that comes with knowing that God keeps His promises, and especially the promise recorded by the Old Testament prophet, Isaiah:

Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel–God with us. Matthew 1:23 (quoting Isaiah 7:14)


The shepherds were in the fields outside Bethlehem, watching over their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared to them and said:

Don’t be afraid! I bring you good news of great joy! The Savior has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David. And this is how you will recognize him: You will find a baby lying in a manger, wrapped snuggly in strips of cloth.  Luke 2:10-12

A host of angels in the heavens sang this message of joy:

Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to all… (Luke 2:14)


On the children’s advent calendar, the Three Wise Men and their entourage (represented by two camels)  follow a bright star (upper left on the calendar) to find the baby Jesus.

Once again  the star appeared to them, guiding them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was.
When they saw the star, they were filled with joy!
They entered the house where the child and his mother, Mary, were and they fell down before him and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Matthew 2:9

Bethlehem 12-14-13 Photo Credit: Mike of Educational Opportunities Tours

Church of the Nativity (built above the traditional birthplace of Jesus), Bethlehem 12-14-2013 Photo Credit: Mike of Educational Opportunities Tours

We feel great joy as we celebrate the birth of Christ on that cold night in Bethlehem so many years ago. This joy comes with knowing that God keeps His promises.

Our choir sang of that JOY in a Christmas Cantata by John Purifoy during today’s morning service:

Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones
Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus
Joy to the World
While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks
Songs of the Angels
Gloria in Excelsis Deo!

One year ago, I was in Bethlehem in Israel with six friends and Mike, our tour guide from Educational Opportunities.

Janice at the manger scene and Christmas tree in Bethlehem square, December, 2012

Janice at the manger scene and Christmas tree in Bethlehem square, December, 2012

This week, Mike is leading another tour group in Israel, and it is snowing. Look for pictures and a video at https://www.facebook.com/mike.eotours

Joy to the world. Peace on earth.

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