OHIO VALLEY DISTRICT
December 2017 / January 2018
Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus
There is always a moment when the Holy Days (Holidays, right?) of the Christmas Season come alive for me. Something catches my attention and pulls me into the heart of Christmas. Often it comes in some family moment – a first Christmas, Christmas through a child’s eyes. Sometimes it comes through signs and symbols – lights, Advent Wreaths, festive holiday decorations, the Nutcracker. It is often through music – a Christmas cantata, a carol, a startling new version of a beloved hymn. A few years back it came when I first heard Andrea Bocelli sing What Child Is This? with Mary J Blige, the hip hop artist.
Deeply engrained in my own experience is the Word. It is the moment each year when the Word comes alive, when we once again feel the pulse and experience the energy and beauty of the miraculous, when we truly hear the Story that transforms and brings new life to all who truly listen. It came early this year when Lynelle and I attended worship on the first Sunday of Advent at the Sherrodsville Calvary UMC. Pastor Ken Ogg came down the aisle dressed as Joseph and proceeded to tell the story of Joseph as found in Matthew 1:18-25, powerfully dramatizing the words, This is how the birth of Jesus took place.
Something about that message resonated deep within my soul. The character of Joseph came alive for me as he wrestled with the news that Mary was pregnant. He did not know she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit. The Scripture tells us Joseph was a righteous man and did not want to humiliate her, so he decided to call off their engagement quietly. An angel from the Lord appeared in a dream and told Joseph not to be afraid, not to be offended; Mary was carrying a child conceived by the Holy Spirit. In the dream, the angel said these remarkable words: “She will give birth to a son, and you will call him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
Thou shalt call his name Jesus. Did you know that the name Jesus appears over 500 times in the Gospels? Throughout the New Testament the name Jesus appears 909 times. Why is that? Because it is our favorite name for our Lord. Because it is the most beloved name and title given to the Christ by his followers. Joseph and Mary did not choose the name; God sent the name Jesus through an angel so that Joseph would get it right.
To follow up, in devotion I opened the Bible to the place that so often speaks to me and resounds in my heart. In the first chapter of the Gospel of John, we hear these words: “From his fullness we have all received grace upon grace; as the Law was given through Moses, so grace and truth came into being through Jesus Christ” (John 1:16-18). It is Jesus who has made God known.
In these days when strife and contention and threats great and small are in the air, remember that Jesus is the one from whom we all have received grace upon grace. Remember that it is Jesus who brings us grace and truth. That, beloved people of the Ohio Valley, is what we need most today from the One who will save us from our sins. May it be so in our thoughts, words, actions and dreams.
Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus!
Ohio Valley District Office:
Rev. James Winkler
352 Canton Rd.
Wintersville, OH 43953
Office Hours: Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
(Summer Hours beginning June 21
Monday thru Thursday
8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m
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