December 4, 2011

posted 2 Dec 2011, 09:08 by C S Paul

December 4, 2011

SERMON OF THE WEEK 
                                   (Prepared by: Rev. Dr. V KurianThomas Valiyaparambil)
Provided by Mr. K. Kuriakose

This Sunday we celebrate the birth of St. John the Baptist.
Gospel Reading: (Luke 1:57-66)

Birth of John the Baptist

57 Now Elizabeth's full time came for her to be delivered, and she brought forth a son. 

58 When her neighbors and relatives heard how the Lord had shown great mercy to her, they rejoiced with her.

59 So it was, on the eighth day, that they came to circumcise the child; and they would have called him by the name of his father, Zacharias. 

60 His mother answered and said, No; he shall be called John

61 But they said to her, There is no one among your relatives who is called by this name. 

62 So they made signs to his father what he would have him called. 

63 And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, saying, His name is John. So they all marveled. 

64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed,and he spoke, praising God. 

65 Then fear came on all who dwelt around them; and all these sayings were discussed throughout all the hill country of Judea. 

66 And all those who heard them kept them in their hearts, saying, What kind of child will this be?And the hand of the Lord was with him.

Message:
John was the son of Zachariah and Elizabeth. Angel Gabriel announced his birth to his father Zachariah and gave him the name John, which means "God is gracious." While still in his mother's womb, he recognized the presence of Jesus by leaping when Mary visited Elizabeth. The angel Gabriel had previously promised Zachariah that John would be filled with the Holy Spirit while in the womb.

John left his parents to live the life of a prophet in the desert. He preached in the desert dressed like an Old Testament prophet, wearing a garment made from camel-skin and eating locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed the Kingdom of God and the coming judgment, and inviting people to accept baptism as a sign of their repentance. His ministry resembled that of the prophets. His message disturbed many of the powerful people of the time. His message has been spread throughout the region of Galilee that made the way for many of them go to him and began to confess their sins and accepted baptism from him.

John showed humility when he did not want attention on himself but directed people to Jesus. Many of them began to wonder if John was the Messiah. He assured them that he was not. He proclaimed that his ministry was preparing for the coming to the Messiah. When Jesus came to John for baptism, John said, "He is the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world." Jesus had begun his public ministry after receiving baptism from John. After giving the baptism to Jesus, John turned his attention to Jesus as he declared, "He must increase and I must decrease." John condemned the marriage of Herod to his brother's wife Herodias. This is to tell us that everything allowed by the law is not necessarily morally right. Herod had John arrested and put in prison. John stood up for the truth but unfortunately had to pay a high price. His courage to uphold the dignity of marriage and condemning the adulterous relationship of Herod to Herodias resulted in his death by beheading in prison by orders from King Herod.

Jesus has told of John, "John is more than a prophet. No man born of woman was greater than John." He is the messenger who came to prepare the way for our Lord. It meant that John the Baptist represented the climax of a long tradition of prophets. John was the climax of the law. He lived in the wilderness, a life without any worldly luxury. He had renounced the joys of family life and completely dedicated to the mission of preaching by calling upon people to the observance of God�s laws.
 
                                             Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ 

Author: Lew Wallace

PART ONE

Biblical references: Matt. 2:1-12, Luke 2:1-20

Three Magi have come from the East. One, Balthasar, sets up a tent in the desert. Melchior, a Hindu, and Gaspar from Athens join him and as the three men each tell their stories and they realize they have been brought together by their common goal. As they prepare for the journey to come, they see a bright star shining over the region, and they take it as a sign that they are to leave. They follow the star through the desert towards the province of Judaea.

At the Joppa Gate in Jerusalem Mary and Joseph are traveling through on their way from Nazareth to Bethlehem. They stop at the inn at the entrance to the city but there is no room. Mary is pregnant and, as labor begins, they head to a cave on a hillside behind the inn and here Jesus is born.

In the pasturelands outside the city, a group of seven shepherds are keeping watch over their flocks. Angels from heaven announce the Christ's birth. The shepherds hurry towards the city. They are rebuked by one of the men supervising the khan but nevertheless, inspired by the angels' message, they enter the caves on the hillside and worship Christ.

They spread the news of the Christ's birth and many come to see him. The Magi arrive in Jerusalem and inquire for news of the Christ. Herod the Great is angry to hear of another king challenging his rule and asks the Sanhedrin to find information for him. The Sanhedrin brings out a prophecy, written by Micah, telling of a ruler to come from Bethlehem Ephrathah, interpreting it to signify the Christ's birthplace.                              
                                                            

BOOK FIRST - CHAPTER XII

The eleventh day after the birth of the child in the cave, about mid-afternoon, the three wise men approached Jerusalem by the road from Shechem. After crossing Brook Cedron, they met many people, of whom none failed to stop and look after them curiously.

Judea was of necessity an international thoroughfare; a narrow ridge, raised, apparently, by the pressure of the desert on the east, and the sea on the west, was all she could claim to be; over the ridge, however, nature had stretched the line of trade between the east and the south; and that was her wealth. In other words, the riches of Jerusalem were the tolls she levied on passing commerce. Nowhere else, consequently, unless in Rome, was there such constant assemblage of so many people of so many different nations; in no other city was a stranger less strange to the residents than within her walls and purlieus. And yet these three men excited the wonder of all whom they met on the way to the gates.

A child belonging to some women sitting by the roadside opposite the Tombs of the Kings saw the party coming; immediately it clapped its hands, and cried, "Look, look! What pretty bells! What big camels!"

The bells were silver; the camels, as we have seen, were of unusual size and whiteness, and moved with singular stateliness; the trappings told of the desert and of long journeys thereon, and also of ample means in possession of the owners, who sat under the little canopies exactly as they appeared at the rendezvous beyond the Jebel. Yet it was not the bells or the camels, or their furniture, or the demeanor of the riders, that were so wonderful; it was the question put by the man who rode foremost of the three.

The approach to Jerusalem from the north is across a plain which dips southward, leaving the Damascus Gate in a vale or hollow. The road is narrow, but deeply cut by long use, and in places difficult on account of the cobbles left loose and dry by the washing of the rains. On either side, however, there stretched, in the old time, rich fields and handsome olive-groves, which must, in luxurious growth, have been beautiful, especially to travellers fresh from the wastes of the desert. In this road, the three stopped before the party in front of the Tombs.

"Good people," said Balthasar, stroking his plaited beard, and bending from his cot, "is not Jerusalem close by?"

"Yes," answered the woman into whose arms the child had shrunk.

"If the trees on yon swell were a little lower you could see the towers on the market-place."

Balthasar gave the Greek and the Hindoo a look, then asked, "Where is he that is born King of the Jews?"

The women gazed at each other without reply.

"You have not heard of him?"

"No."

"Well, tell everybody that we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him."

 Thereupon the friends rode on. Of others they asked the same question, with like result. A large company whom they met going to the Grotto of Jeremiah were so astonished by the inquiry and the appearance of the travellers that they turned about and followed them into the city.

So much were the three occupied with the idea of their mission that they did not care for the view which presently rose before them in the utmost magnificence: for the village first to receive them on Bezetha; for Mizpah and Olivet, over on their left; for the wall behind the village, with its forty tall and solid towers, superadded partly for strength, partly to gratify the critical taste of the kingly builder; for the same towered wall bending off to the right, with many an angle, and here and there an embattled gate, up to the three great white piles Phasaelus, Mariamne, and Hippicus; for Zion, tallest of the hills, crowned with marble palaces, and never so beautiful; for the glittering terraces of the temple on Moriah, admittedly one of the wonders of the earth; for the regal mountains rimming the sacred city round about until it seemed in the hollow of a mighty bowl.

They came, at length, to a tower of great height and strength, overlooking the gate which, at that time, answered to the present Damascus Gate, and marked the meeting-place of the three roads from Shechem, Jericho, and Gibeon. 

A Roman guard kept the passage-way. By this time the people following the camels formed a train sufficient to draw the idlers hanging about the portal; so that when Balthasar stopped to speak to the sentinel, the three became instantly the centre of a close circle eager to hear all that passed.

"I give you peace," the Egyptian said, in a clear voice.

The sentinel made no reply.

"We have come great distances in search of one who is born King of the Jews. Can you tell us where he is?"

The soldier raised the visor of his helmet, and called loudly. From an apartment at the right of the passage an officer appeared.

"Give way," he cried, to the crowd which now pressed closer in; and as they seemed slow to obey, he advanced twirling his javelin vigorously, now right, now left; and so he gained room.

"What would you?" he asked of Balthasar, speaking in the idiom of the city.

And Balthasar answered in the same,

"Where is he that is born King of the Jews?"

"Herod?" asked the officer, confounded.

"Herod's kingship is from Caesar; not Herod."

"There is no other King of the Jews."

"But we have seen the star of him we seek, and come to worship him."

The Roman was perplexed.

 "Go farther," he said, at last. "Go farther. I am not a Jew. Carry the question to the doctors in the Temple, or to Hannas

the priest, or, better still, to Herod himself. If there be another King of the Jews, he will find him."

Thereupon he made way for the strangers, and they passed the gate. But, before entering the narrow street, Balthasar lingered to say to his friends, "We are sufficiently proclaimed. By midnight the whole city will have heard of us and of our mission. Let us to the khan now."

(to be continued)


Laughter the Best Medicine

Laughter and Relationships

Mutual laughter and play are an essential component of strong, healthy relationships. By making a conscious effort to incorporate more humor and play into your daily interactions, you can improve the quality of your love relationships— as well as your connections with co-workers, family members, and friends.

Bringing more humor and laughter into your life

Laughter is your birthright, a natural part of life that is innate and inborn. Infants begin smiling during the first weeks of life and laugh out loud within months of being born. Even if you did not grow up in a household where laughter was a common sound, you can learn to laugh at any stage of life.

Begin by setting aside special times to seek out humor and laughter, as you might with working out, and build from there. Eventually, you’ll want to incorporate humor and laughter into the fabric of your life, finding it naturally in everything you do.

Here are some ways to start:

Smile. Smiling is the beginning of laughter. Like laughter, it’s contagious. Pioneers in “laugh therapy,” find it’s possible to laugh without even experiencing a funny event. The same holds for smiling. When you look at someone or see something even mildly pleasing, practice smiling.

Count your blessings. Literally make a list. The simple act of considering the good things in your life will distance you from negative thoughts that are a barrier to humor and laughter. When in a state of sadness, we have further to travel to get to humor and laughter.

When you hear laughter, move toward it. Sometimes humor and laughter are private, a shared joke among a small group, but usually not. More often, people are very happy to share something funny because it gives them an opportunity to laugh again and feed off the humor you find in it. When you hear laughter, seek it out and ask, “What’s funny?”

Spend time with fun, playful people. These are people who laugh easily–both at themselves and at life’s absurdities–and who routinely find the humor in everyday events. Their playful point of view and laughter are contagious.

Bring humor into conversations. Ask people, “What’s the funniest thing that happened to you today? This week? In your life?”


Story of the week

The Story of Rose

The first day of school our professor introduced himself and challenged us to get to know someone we didn't already know. I stood up to look around when a gentle hand touched my shoulder. I turned around to find a wrinkled, little old lady beaming up at me with a smile that lit up her entire being. She said, "Hi handsome. My name is Rose. I'm eighty-seven years old. Can I give you a hug?" I laughed and enthusiastically responded, "Of course you may!" and she gave me a giant squeeze. "Why are you in college at such a young, innocent age?" I asked. She jokingly replied, "I'm here to meet a rich husband, get married, have a couple of kids..." "No seriously," I asked. I was curious what may have motivated her to be taking on this challenge at her age. " I always dreamed of having a college education and now I'm getting one!" she told me.

After class we walked to the student union building and shared a chocolate milkshake. We became instant friends. Every day for the next three months we would leave class together and talk nonstop. I was always mesmerized listening to this "time machine" as she shared her wisdom and experience with me. Over the course of the year, Rose became a campus icon and she easily made friends wherever she went. She loved to dress up and she reveled in the attention bestowed upon her from the other students. She was living it up.

At the end of the semester we invited Rose to speak at our football banquet. I'll never forget what she taught us. She was introduced and stepped up to the podium. As she began to deliver her prepared speech, she dropped her three by five cards on the floor. Frustrated and a little embarrassed she leaned into the microphone and simply said, "I'm sorry I'm so jittery. I gave up beer for Lent and this whiskey is killing me! I'll never get my speech back in order so let me just tell you what I know."

As we laughed she cleared her throat and began, "We do not stop playing because we are old; we grow old because we stop playing. There are only four secrets to staying young, being happy, and achieving success:

* You have to laugh and find humor every day.

* You've got to have a dream.

* When you lose your dreams, you die. We have so many people walking around who are dead and don't even know it!

There is a huge difference between growing older and growing up. If you are nineteen years old and lie in bed for one full year and don't do one productive thing, you will turn twenty years old. If I am eighty-seven years old and stay in bed for a year and never do anything I will turn eighty-eight. Anybody can grow older. That doesn't take any talent or ability. The idea is to grow up by always finding the opportunity in change."

* Have no regrets. The elderly usually don't have regrets for what we did, but rather for things we did not do. The only people who fear death are those with regrets."?

She concluded her speech by courageously singing "The Rose." She challenged each of us to study the lyrics and live them out in our daily lives. At the year's end Rose finished the college degree she had begun all those years ago.

One week after graduation Rose died peacefully in her sleep. Over two thousand college students attended her funeral in tribute to the wonderful woman who taught by example that it's never too late to be all you can possibly be.

These words have been passed along in loving memory of ROSE. 

(Author Unknown)

Did You Know ?

·         In Shakespeare's time, mattresses were secured on bed frames by ropes. When you pulled on the ropes the mattress tightened, making the bed firmer to sleep on. Hence the phrase......... "goodnight, sleep tight."

·         Bulletproof vests, fire escapes, windshield wipers, and laser printers were all invented by women.

·         Bats always turn left when exiting a cave!

·         Bruce Lee was so fast that they actually had to s-l-o-w film down so you could see his moves. That's the opposite of the norm.

·         There are no words in the dictionary that rhyme with orange, purple and silver.

 

The Power of Positive Thinking

by Norman Vincent Peale

Chapter 4

Try Prayer Power

IN A BUSINESS OFFICE high above the city streets two men were having a serious conversation. One, heavily troubled by a business and personal crisis, paced the floor restlessly, then sat dejectedly, head in hand, a picture of despair. He had come to the other for advice, since he was considered a man of great understanding. Together they had explored the problem from every angle but seemingly without result, which only served to deepen the troubled man's discouragement. "I guess no power on earth can save me," he sighed.

 The other reflected for a moment, then spoke rather diffidently. "I wouldn't look at it that way. I believe you are wrong in saying there is no power that can save you.

Personally, I have found that there is an answer to every problem. There is a power that can help you." Then slowly he asked, "Why not try prayer power?"

Somewhat surprised, the discouraged man said, "Of course I believe in prayer, but perhaps I do not know how to pray.

You speak of it as something practical that fits a business problem. I never thought of it that way but I'm willing to try prayer if you will show me how."

He did apply practical prayer techniques and in due course got his answer. Matters ultimately turned out satisfactorily.

That is not to say he did not have difficulties. In fact, he had rather a hard time of it but ultimately he worked out of this trouble. Now he believes in prayer power so enthusiastically that I recently heard him say, "Every problem can be solved and solved right if you pray."

Experts in physical health and well-being often utilize prayer in their therapy. Disability, tension, and kindred troubles may result from a lack of inner harmony. It is remarkable how prayer restores the harmonious functioning of body and soul. A friend of mine, a physiotherapist, told a nervous man to whom he was giving a massage, "God works through my fingers as I seek to relax your physical body, which is the temple of your soul. While I work on your outward being, I

want you to pray for God's relaxation inwardly." It was a new idea to the patient, but he happened to be in a receptive mood and he tried passing some peace thoughts through his mind. He was amazed at the relaxing effect this had on him.

Jack Smith, operator of a health club, which is patronized by many outstanding people, believes in the therapy of prayer and uses it. He was at one time a prize fighter, then a truck driver, later a taxi driver, and finally opened his health club.

He says that while he probes his patrons for physical flabbiness he also probes for spiritual flabbiness because, he declares, "You can't get a man physically healthy until you get him spiritually healthy."

One day Walter Huston, the actor, sat by Jack Smith's desk. He noted a big sign on the wall on which were penciled the following letters: A P R P B W P R A A. In surprise Huston asked, "What do those letters mean?"

Smith laughed and said, "They stand for 'Affirmative Prayers Release Powers By Which Positive Results Are Accomplished.' "

Huston's jaw dropped in astonishment. "Well, I never expected to hear anything like that in a health club."

"I use methods like that," said Smith, "to make people curious so they will ask what those letters mean. That gives me an opportunity to tell them that I believe affirmative prayers always get results."

Jack Smith, who helps men to keep physically fit, believes that prayer is as important, if not more important, than exercise, steam baths, and a rubdown. It is a vital part of the power-releasing process.

People are doing more praying today than formerly because they find that it adds to personal efficiency. Prayer helps them to tap forces and to utilize strength not otherwise available.

A famous psychologist says, "Prayer is the greatest power available to the individual in solving his personal problems. Its power astonishes me."

Prayer power is a manifestation of energy. Just as there exist scientific techniques for the release of atomic energy, so are there scientific procedures for the release of spiritual energy through the mechanism of prayer. Exciting demonstrations of this energizing force are evident.

Prayer power seems able even to normalize the aging process, obviating or limiting infirmity and deterioration.

You need not lose your basic energy or vital power or become weak and listless merely as a result of accumulating years. It is not necessary to allow your spirit to sag or grow stale or dull.

Prayer can freshen you up every evening and send you out renewed each morning. You can receive guidance in problems if prayer is allowed to permeate your subconscious, the seat of the forces which determines whether you take right or wrong actions. Prayer has the power to keep your reactions correct and sound. Prayer driven deeply into your subconscious can remake you. It releases and keeps power flowing freely.

( to be continued)

 Just for Laughs

We're Getting A Divorce

An elderly man in Phoenix calls his son in New York and says, "I hate to ruin your day, but I have to tell you that your mother and I are divorcing; 45 years of misery is enough."

"Pop, what are you talking about?" the son screams.

"We can't stand the sight of each other any longer," the old man says. "We're sick of each other, and I'm sick of talking about this, so you call your sister in Chicago and tell her." Then he hangs up.

Frantic, the son calls his sister, who explodes on the phone. "Like heck they're getting divorced," she shouts, "I'll take care of this." She calls Phoenix immediately, and screams at the old man, "You are NOT getting divorced. Don't do a single thing until I get there. I'm calling my brother back, and we'll both be there tomorrow. Until then, don't do a thing, DO YOU HEAR ME?"

The old man hangs up his phone and turns to his wife. "Okay," he says, "They're coming for Thanksgiving and paying their own fares."


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