Merry Christmas
from Ministries of Pastoral Care
December 22, 2011

Greetings from Gino Vaccaro

 

Gino

 

Greetings Sisters and Brothers in Christ, 

 

It is a joy to know that God's people from all over the earth and from each great strand of Christianity are on the verge of celebrating the birth of Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords. We as Protestant, Orthodox and Catholic have a common love, our greatest and most precious love, in Jesus Christ. It is a wonder that God sent his little baby son into this world. To be born from a mother and to be raised by a mother and father and a community. Christmas is our beautiful story. Someday when every knee shall bow and tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, we shall all shout with glory and praise for this amazing miracle of mercy and love. Have a very merry and blessed Christmas, my beloved friends. 

 

Yours in Christ,

Gino Vaccaro

 

Greetings from Cesli Vaccaro

 Cesli Vaccaro

Greetings, brothers and sisters in the Lord!!! I miss being together with you, enjoying time in worship, fellowship and prayer. During this Christmas season as we celebrate the miracle of Jesus' birth all around the world, I am reminded of the reality of God Himself coming to us in such a humble way.

 

Long ago, God revealed His plan to the shepherds through a heavenly host of angels. He directed the wise men who studied astrology to the Christ-child by a brilliant eastern star. He enlightened Joseph through a dream. And God comes to each of us today exactly where we are. He desires to intimately connect with us. He wants to let us know how deeply He loves us.

               

May we respond graciously to His transforming presence in our lives. May we embrace our Lord in the same tender way we would the baby Jesus, had we visited Him in Bethlehem. May the Lord bless you and keep you in His love. Merry Christmas!!     -Cesli

 

Greetings from Tommy Briggs 

 

Tommy Briggs

As I reflect back on 2011,  one of the great joys of this year was watching and praying for the leadership transition in Ministries of Pastoral Care and being a part of the Core Team of MPC.  To me, It has been a reminder of Lord's Providence, His Love, His Graciousness and His Goodness.  In His Love, I send greetings and the blessings of His Season. 

Tommy Briggs Sr.

 

 

Greetings from Sarah Groen-Colyn

 

Sarah

 

Dearly beloved,

 

What joy we share as we celebrate the Incarnation!  This true story of God taking on flesh is the love story that binds us together.  Through the incarnation, Christ is present to every wound and struggle we know, imparting His very life to us.  When God saw His creation of man and woman, He said, "It is good."  And when Christ was made man, He restored this goodness to us forever.  

 

For those of us in the Northern hemisphere, today is the darkest day of the year, just before the dawn of Christmas.  What a beautiful symbol of Christ's light entering the world, right when we need it most.  This holy babe came with a sword with which He most lovingly and powerfully separates good from evil, light from darkness.  In His obedience to the Father He won victory over darkness.  And He has poured out His Spirit upon us, empowering us to speak the truth.  Praise God for the word He is sending, speaking light into this darkened world.  With delight, we join together in affirming, "Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you."  Alleluia!

 

In His love,

Sarah Groen-Colyn

 

 

Known By Heart: On the value of memorizing Scripture

By Sarah Groen-Colyn

 

You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul. Deuteronomy 11:18

 

Many of you keep a prayer journal as taught by Leanne in Listening Prayer.  As she writes, "The Bible - the revealed word of God - is a vital part of prayer."  Committing a verse, passage, or chapter to memory is a wonderful way to pray the words of scripture.  Allow me to highlight some of the wonderful fruit of memorizing scripture, and suggest some practical strategies for learning scripture by heart. 

 

Integration of head and heart.  Becoming whole in Christ includes healing of the split between head and heart that, left untouched, would diminish our ability to listen to God and obey His word.  Many of us come from traditions in Christendom that study scripture intellectually, filling us with head knowledge about the Bible.  By contrast, memorizing scripture passages that have gripped us in a special way helps God's living Word move from our head into our heart, deepening the healing of that schism that has afflicted us all.  Memorization is a potent way to "eat the scroll" so that it feeds every fiber of our being.

 

Deeper immersion in His word.  Memorizing scripture takes time and repetition.  As we repeatedly recite a passage, the Holy Spirit breathes life into us.  The time we spend memorizing soaks our soul in the goodness and truth of our Lord.  Spending the time it takes to memorize allows us to become more deeply acquainted with the passage, its symbols and images, and its resonance with the whole of scripture.  As I commit the words to memory, Christ addresses me personally, and my heart responds to Him.  Lately I've been learning Psalm 71.  One short phrase, "My song shall always be of you," brings a smile to my lips every time I speak it out.  This smile originates from the depths of my being as this phrase proclaims a profound truth of who I am in Christ. 

 

Membership in the Church.  When we learn a piece of scripture by heart, we take the divinely inspired, humanly expressed words and we make them our own.  We take our place in the fellowship of believers, saying, "Yes, these are my words too."   These words come to life when we recite them as our own and we are united in the communion of saints in a special way.  When I speak out David's words from Psalm 71 and tell my own story through them, I am lifted up into the great cloud of witnesses.  I receive a vital antidote to the lie that I am alone.  And I take my rightful place in both receiving the words of life, and adding my own voice to the eternal proclamation. 

 

Strategies to help us in this practice.  I believe that the process of memorizing scripture is prayer itself, and that the Holy Spirit is at work within our minds and hearts, engraving the words deep within us.  But it is also a good example of the role of moral effort in the ongoing process of becoming in Him.  I can't just go to sleep with my Bible under my pillow and let God decide which passage to record in my memory.  I'd encourage you to watch for a verse, passage, or chapter that shimmers in a special way for you, and commit yourself to learning it by heart.  Explicitly ask God to empower you to memorize the words, and to minister to you through the process.  You may find it helpful to write out the passage on index cards, one sentence or phrase at a time.  You might like to record your own voice reciting the passage.  Engaging your whole body by standing, gesturing, and letting your face show what the words mean to you will deepen your grasp of the scripture. 

 

Greetings from Norman Arnold

 

Christmas is a time for giving and receiving.  As we celebrate the birth of our Saviour Jesus, it is important to reflect upon the reality of the gift of the Incarnation.   The gift truly received,  opened and embraced is the embodiment of the Living Christ with us and within us.   Praise and honour to the Lord for His gift to us and as we give Him the Glory, He in turn glories in us.   What an awesome wonder.  

Blessings in Christ, Father Norman

 

Greetings from Sile Ellison-NiChionna

 

Hear the herald voice resounding;

'Christ is near', it seems to say,

'Cast away the dreams of darkness,Sile

Welcome Christ, the light of day!'

 

Wakened by this solemn warning,

Let the earth-bound soul arise;

Christ her sun, all sloth dispelling,

Shines upon the morning skies.

 

So when next he comes with glory,

Shrouding all the earth in fear,

May he then as our defender

On the clouds of heav'n appear.

 

(6th Century. Translated by E. Caswall 1814-78)

 

May we all enter into the fullness of Advent and be ready for the coming of our Lord Jesus.

REGISTRATION NOW OPEN FOR THE 2012 MPCS!   

 

Registration for the 2012 MPCS is now open! 

 

The 2012 MPCS will be held Monday, June 25 - Saturday, June 30 at Wheaton College. 

 

 For more information and to register, go to http://ministriesofpastoralcare.com/store or visit our website at http://www.ministriesofpastoralcare.com.

AUDIO FILES AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE!   

 

Audio recordings from the 2011 MPCS are available for purchase and download as MP3 files.  You may purchase files individually, or purchase the entire collection of 22 files for $180. To browse the collection of audio files and to purchase them, go to http://mpcs.myshopify.com  

 

 

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Ministries of Pastoral Care
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