I enjoy listening to bass-baritone singers since that is my vocal range. Here is a video that I found from a 2009 America's Got Talent contestant. He makes me sound like a tenor with the lower range of his voice.
Advent Week Three Zephaniah 3:14-20 (New International Version)
14 Sing, O Daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O Daughter of Jerusalem! 15 The LORD has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy. The LORD, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm. 16 On that day they will say to Jerusalem, "Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. 17 The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." 18 "The sorrows for the appointed feasts I will remove from you; they are a burden and a reproach to you. 19 At that time I will deal with all who oppressed you; I will rescue the lame and gather those who have been scattered. I will give them praise and honor in every land where they were put to shame. 20 At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home. I will give you honor and praise among all the peoples of the earth when I restore your fortunes before your very eyes," says the LORD.
The third Sunday of Advent focuses on joy. Often a pink or rose candle is lit to signify the great joy that we sense when we remember the birth of Christ. The prophet Zephaniah called for the people of Israel to rejoice because the LORD was with them. Many translations of this passage say that the LORD was in their midst, or as the Contemporary English Version says “Your LORD is King of Israel and stands at your side.” The great hymn writer Isaac Watts was thinking this way when he penned our beloved Christmas carol “Joy to the World” in 1719. Joy to the world, the Lord is come! When we remember that Christ was born into this world we rejoice just as the angel announced to the shepherds in Luke 2: 10, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people.” When we radiate the joy of Christmas we can bring light and joy to a dark and dreary world full of pain and suffering. Go out and be joyful this Christmas season for the LORD is with you and he is mighty to save.
I have committed to publishing devotional material for each of my classes at Wayland this winter term. This is the second Advent devotional to celebrate the Christmas season.
Advent Week Two:
Luke 1:57-66 (New International Version) The Birth of John the Baptist 57When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. 58Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy. 59On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, 60but his mother spoke up and said, "No! He is to be called John." 61They said to her, "There is no one among your relatives who has that name." 62Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. 63He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone's astonishment he wrote, "His name is John." 64Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue was loosed, and he began to speak, praising God. 65The neighbors were all filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. 66Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, "What then is this child going to be?" For the Lord's hand was with him.
The second Sunday of Advent focuses our attention on hope. The birth of their son brought hope to Zechariah and Elizabeth. Their son John was the herald of a greater hope that was to come when Messiah would make things on earth look like they do in heaven. We remember that Jesus’ first coming into this world signaled the in-breaking of God’s kingdom here among us. Because he came into our world we can have hope in the here and now that God’s kingdom can be enacted in our lives and the lives of others.
We look forward in hope because of Jesus’ first coming. During the advent season we remember the hope that was born into this world because God came to live with us and show us how to live. May we hold on to the hope that was born in us when we trusted Christ and carry it into this season and the rest of our lives.
Matthew 24: 42-44 42"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
The first Sunday of the Advent season focuses not on Jesus’ first coming, but on his second coming. Jesus warned his disciples that his second coming would be unannounced but not unexpected. We are in the same situation that the early Christians found themselves after Jesus resurrection and ascension, we are waiting for the second coming. Waiting is something that we don’t do very well is it? We are an immediate gratification society. We want what we want and we want it now. This first week of Advent provides us an opportunity to renew our anticipation and longing for Christ’s return. We know that his return will establish eternal peace and justice and we long for the day when that will happen. In the meantime we work to help establish his kingdom here “on earth as it is in heaven.”
In his Advent address from 2002 Pope John Paul II reminded us that Advent “helps us to understand the fullness of the value and meaning of the mystery of Christmas. It is not just about commemorating the historical event; which occurred some 2,000 years ago in a little village in Judea. Instead, we must understand that our whole life should be and advent, in vigilant expectation of Christ’s final coming. To prepare our hearts to welcome the Lord who, as we say in the creed, will come to judge the living and the dead, we must learn to recognize his presence in the events of daily life. Advent is then, a period of intense training that directs us decisively to the One who has already come, who will come, and who continuously comes.”
May we have that longing for Christ’s coming renewed in our hearts and experiences.
Currie's comments were interesting and give a cue to what at least some Texas Baptist leaders envision for the future.
One particular observation caught my eye and that was his comments about Texas Baptists stepping up to the plate for world wide missions.
Currie said: "Texas Baptists should provide at least a portion of the direct funding for any Texas Baptist who feels called to serve internationally with any missions-sending agency."
World-Connex should be the mechanism to accomplish this task! I have thought from the very inception of World-connex that at least part of its mission should include sending missionaries. While modern missiological theory says that there are new ways to do missions in the post-modern era it has been true since the days of William Carey that resident missionaries are still the "bread and butter" of the mission force.
The task of missions has always been important to Texas Baptists. Let's step up and support world-wide missions and start putting our money where it should be, in financing and supporting missions around the world.
Vacation this past summer was in Washington, DC. We spent a week and had a great time. I have always enjoyed vacation destinations, but this time I was ready to stay. Perhaps one day I will get to move to Northern Virginia near the capitol and its historical places.
Here I am in the Lincoln Memorial. It was an emotionally moving experience because so much history has occurred there. Even Forrest Gump was there once!