Jesus

A Responsibility to Serve

I was shocked and horrified to hear about the terror attacks in Paris on Friday night, as you usually don’t hear about terrorist attacks on that kind of scale.  Watching a video about how the event unfolded brought me to tears, as I thought about the loved ones of those affected.

However, I felt worse when I read about the terrorist attacks in Beruit and Baghdad, occurring on Thursday and Friday respectively.  So many horrific acts taking place around the world in a short time span cut me to the core and broke my heart, especially when you look at them alongside all of the wars, natural disasters, crimes, illnesses and acts of violence happening in the world today.

All I could think about was how the Lord is removing his presence from the earth, as Jesus prepares to make His return to this earth very soon, because we can’t take much of this cruel, twisted world much longer.  Everything that is taking place is simply too much bear.

What got to me most though, was how little is being done to prepare for His soon coming.  I will fully put my hands up and admit that I’m not doing enough, despite having a ton of ideas and desire to spread as much love as I can.  As a church, we need to be reaching out to our communities, helping when we can, spreading love rather than passing judgement, and making ourselves known.

I watched a sermon by Pastor Kelly yesterday, entitled ‘Spider-Man, Saved for Service’, which was completely relevant at this present time.  God has saved us from sin, so that we can go out into the world to serve others, but how many of us can say that we’re doing that?

The world is in desperate need of our service, so we need to stop being lazy and lackadaisical, watching the days go by, and do something.  We are living in a time that will continue to get worse, rather than better, making it exceedingly important for us to spread as much love as we can and bring hope to the lives of others.

Jesus is coming soon and I don’t want anyone to be left behind.  He has given us great power, and with that comes great responsibility.  I want to tap into that power and take up that responsibility.  Will you?

My Top 5 Christmas Carols

As I shared my Top 5 Hymns with you a few days ago, I thought I’d keep in with the theme and share my Top 5 Christmas Carols.  Christmas Carols are some of my most favourite things to sing ever and since the festive season is my favourite time of the year, it just makes sense that I love to sing these songs.  Again, this list is in no particular order, because I simply couldn’t find it in me to rank these lovely songs.

 

5. The First Noel

The First Noel is one of the sweetest songs you will ever sing, with its soft, soothing tune and lyrics that somehow remind me of childhood.  I love sitting down to worship with my family and singing the chorus, “Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel / Born is the King of Israel”.  It feels so special.

 

4. We Three Kings

If The First Noel somehow reminds me of childhood, then We Three Kings definitely reminds me of my childhood.  I used to enjoy singing this song at school and I’m sure that it was my favourite Christmas Carol as a child.  I remember loudly surging into the chorus going, “Oh–oh”.  For me, it is just so much fun to sing.

 

3. Silent Night

Silent Night is another really sweet song, with great words to meditate on while singing and swaying along.  I love the beautiful way I’m reminded of my Jesus’ birth through the words and I especially love the first verse: “Silent night, holy night / All is calm, all is bright / Round yon Virgin, Mother and Child / Holy infant so tender and mild / Sleep in heavenly peace / Sleep in heavenly peace”.  The words are so calming, right.

 

2. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

This is such a great Christmas Carol!  I love the key changes, I love the tune and I love the energy of the chorus, which slightly contrasts the softer sung verses.  O Come, O Come, Emmanuel is usually one the first Christmas Carols I request to sing during family worship, with my favourite part of course being, “Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel  / Shall come to thee, O Israel”.

 

1. O Come, All Ye Faithful

O Come, All Ye Faithful is definitely one of my all time favourite Christmas Carols.  I like singing the uptempo tune, I like the lyrics, and I’m also a big fan of the Kirk Franklin version of this song, which sounds amazing.  However, the main reason I love this song is because of its simple chorus, which sounds so great as a song on its own — I’ll never forget one of the Christmas services at church when my uncle slowed it right down and all of us in the congregation sang, “O come, let us adore Him / O come, let us adore Him / O come, let us adore Him / Christ the Lord”.  It was beautiful.

 

Songs about the birth of my Jesus just seem to be the best, so I have to give a special mention to Angels We Have Heard on High, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, Joy to the World and O Holy Night.  I can’t wait to start singing Christmas Carols now, so tell me, what are your favourites?

Wrap Me in Your Arms

William McDowell has a beautiful song, Closer/Wrap Me in Your Arms, which has become my prayer and cry to God over the past months.  I fell in love with this song the first time I heard it, because of its sweetness and because every single lyric relates to me and my life.  This is a special song that could relate to anyone.

I love that this song feels like a prayer from the very beginning, as I sing along to the words: “Into your arms / I’m drawing near again / To dwell with you / It’s my only heart’s desire / It’s my only heart’s desire”.  Whenever I sing this song, I am coming into my Lord’s arms to spend time with Him, praise Him, talk to Him and have Him in my heart.  It also feels like I am personally asking Him a question, because I want dwelling with Him to be my only heart’s desire and I am begging for Him to help me get there.

The funny thing is that tears sometimes fill my eyes as the choir come in and sing: “All I can do / Is fall on my knees and cry / Cleanse me with fire / And purify my heart”.  I have cried out to God to take my whole heart and fill the void that has opened there.  I have asked Him to cleanse my heart and take the place of all others, but I guess that there is something that I am holding back, because I am struggling to give God my whole heart and let Him take control.

So then, I ask Him to, “Draw me close / Closer than before / Closer than I’ve ever been”.  I want to grow closer to God each and every day, so that we in effect become totally connected.  I want Him to hold me close, so that He guards me and my heart from harm, hurt and pain.  I want Him to draw me close so that I become a better a person, a happier person and a person who is fully at one with herself.  I want to be so close to God that nothing else matters and I become like Him.

The song transcends into the next phase as the words, “Wrap me in your arms”, are sung repeatedly.  The repetition of these few powerful words signifies how important and effective they are.  As I ask God to wrap me in His arms, I can feel Him wrapping His arms around me and holding me close at that moment when I need Him.  All I want is for Him to hold me and hug me to give me the strength and compassion that I need to carry on, because I cannot make it without Him.

The lyrics, “Wrap me in your arms”, were the first words that entered my head when I was reading the Sabbath School lesson that so deeply touched my heart.  A woman, who was trying her hardest to be just like Jesus, felt Jesus’s strong, loving arms wrapped around her, and as she sat in His arms, she looked into His eyes to see what He could see.  It was all too much for her to see the anguish of humanity, but Jesus held her close and kept her safe, just like He does for so me and so many others.

However, the part of the song that really gets to me is when the voices come together and sing: “Take me to that place Lord, / To that secret place where / I can be with you / You can make me like you / Wrap me in your arms / Wrap me in your arms / Wrap me in your arms”.  This is my favourite part, as I really cry out to the Lord and pray hard.  I am begging for God to take me, mould me and make me like Him, because I have tried so hard and fallen numerous times.  It is only God who can fully change me and I want Him to do that by wrapping me in His arms and taking me to that place where He can make me better.

In my Sabbath School lesson, Jesus brought that woman to a place where He could hold her in His arms, and not only see people through His eyes, but also feel their pain through His heart.  He wanted her to love them in the way that He loves them and make a difference in their lives, which is exactly what I want to do.  However, in order to be more like Him, Jesus told her that she should come back into His arms more often.

I want to be like Jesus and be at one with Him, and I would happily come into arms to make that happen, as there is no place where I feel more safe, secure and loved.  I also hope to take that safety and stop living in fear, take that security to make myself feel whole and take that love to share it with others.  So again, I pray this prayer: “Take me to that place Lord, / To that secret place where / I can be with you / You can make me like you / Wrap me in your arms / Wrap me in your arms / Wrap me in your arms”