The Season of Rejoicing Is Here!

Anyone else ready to kick off Christmas—the season of rejoicing—in song? If so, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve often celebrated the yuletide season here on the blog by inviting you to join in a favorite Christmas carol, and I’d love to do that again this year. No better way to welcome the season of rejoicing, right?

As always, I encourage you to sing all the verses of the carol and to consider its words with fresh eyes. As you do, you’ll find a wealth of treasure in its message and your spirit will soar in worship of the One whose birthday we celebrate this month.

This year let’s raise our voices together in worship as we sing “Good Christian Men, Rejoice.” It has become a favorite of mine in recent years as I sing it during my own personal worship times. I think you’ll understand why as you refresh your memory with its message.

So join me, friends—the season of rejoicing is here! Let’s rejoice together!

Good Christian Men, Rejoice

Good Christian men, rejoice
With heart and soul and voice;
Give ye heed to what we say:
News! news!
Jesus Christ is born today!
Ox and ass before Him bow,
And He is in the manger now:
Christ is born today!
Christ is born today!

Good Christian men, rejoice
With heart and soul and voice;
Now ye hear of endless bliss:
Joy! joy!
Jesus Christ was born for this!
He has opened heaven’s door,
And man is blessed evermore:
Christ was born for this!
Christ was born for this!

Good Christian men, rejoice
With heart and soul and voice;
Now ye need not fear the grave:
Peace! peace!
Jesus Christ was born to save!
Calls you one and calls you all
To gain His everlasting hall:
Christ was born to save!
Christ was born to save!

(Latin carol, 14th century; translated by John M. Neale)

“‘. . . my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,’” Luke 1:47

*What Christmas carols help you ring in the season?

*Flickr photo by ishane, Creative Commons License

Christmas Poem 2016: A Christmas Letter to God

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*Holiday blogging break details at end of post.

Believe it or not, friends, I’ve been writing an annual Christmas poem for thirty-four years now. That’s a long time by anybody’s standards, isn’t it?

Sometimes I wonder how I’ll be able to come up with an idea for yet another Christmas poem, but I really shouldn’t worry. God is always faithful to give me the seed of an idea and then guide me as I write, helping me to find just the right words or turns of phrase. Yes, it usually takes a lot of trial and error to get there, but God is faithful to help me birth the finished project.

All of our abilities come from him, don’t they? I’m so grateful he’s given me the privilege of touching people’s hearts and lives through the written word. May you be blessed by this year’s poem, my friends!

A Christmas Letter to God

Dear Lord, Christmas finds us sending greetings
To loved ones far and near,
Cards and letters filled with love
And wishes for the coming year.

This year I long to send this letter
Overflowing with thanks and love
To you, my God, my Lord, my Savior,
My King and Counselor from above.

My message this Christmas is simple, Lord,
As I think of you coming to earth,
Coming to live among us,
Bringing new life, giving new birth.

My heart and my pen cry out today,
“Thank you, Father, for sending,
Thank you, Jesus, for coming,
Thank you, Spirit, for staying!”

With love,
Cheryl, 2016

“‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ (which means ‘God with us’).” Matthew 1:23 NIV

*What’s one thing you’d want to tell God if you wrote him a Christmas letter?

*I’ll be taking a blogging break until after the first of the year while everyone is busy preparing for and celebrating Christmas. May you enjoy sweet times with loved ones and have a truly blessed celebration of our Savior’s birth, my friends. See you in 2017!

*Flickr photo by E V Peters, Creative Commons License

Season of Anticipation

5387409984_a2e741f923_z*Giveaway winner announced below!

Ah, the days leading up to Christmas… Such a season of anticipation. We find ourselves looking forward to many things with excitement — visits with family and friends, giving our loved ones special gifts, indulging in our favorite holiday treats, helping make Christmas a little merrier for a hurting soul, or carrying out our well-loved traditions. We each could add our own personally anticipated events to the list, couldn’t we?

I pray that reflecting on the coming of our Savior and time spent worshiping Him will be at the very center of our season of anticipation this year. Let’s take time each day to celebrate the fact that our Savior was indeed born so many years ago. Let’s not wait until Christmas Eve to begin our Christmas worship.

One good way to do this is with music. As you sing the carols of Christmas this holiday season, truly think about the message of each verse. With songs that have become so familiar, it’s easy to merrily sing along but fail to actually hear the messages of the carols with our hearts. Let’s not miss those messages this year. Let’s sing with our hearts.

There’s no better time to start than now. Join me in hearing afresh the message of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” as we sing our worship today! (This is one of several versions of the Latin hymn, author unknown.)

“O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Oh, come, our Wisdom from on high,
Who ordered all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

Oh, come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Oh, bid our sad divisions cease,
And be yourself our King of Peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!”

“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” Matthew 1:23 KJV

*What special things are you anticipating this Christmas season?

*The winner of the Kick Off the Holiday Giveaway is . . .  Joanna! Congrats and Merry Christmas, Joanna! I’ll put your copy of Mother of the Bride along with the Starbucks gift card in the mail today!

*Hope you enjoyed this encore presentation of one of my December 2010 blog posts!

*Flickr photo by johanneschnelldorfer, Creative Commons License

Kick Off the Holiday Giveaway!

11377205686_d2fd287fe8_zNow that Thanksgiving has come and gone, let’s kick off the holiday season with a little giveaway. You may remember that I’m doing most of my giveaways through my Life Notes newsletter now (sign-up is free on the right sidebar), but I can’t let the Christmas season go by without playing Santa here on my blog. It’s just part of who I am! :)

This Christmas I’m giving away a $15 gift card to Starbucks as well as a signed copy of my book Mother of the Bride: Refreshment and Wisdom for the Mother of the Bride. Most everyone enjoys getting a gift card to Starbucks, and if you’re not a mother of the bride, you can give the book as a gift or donate it to your public or church library. I would love to see the book make its way into more libraries!

To be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment on this post by noon (CST) next Monday December 5th. I’ll announce the winner the next day in my regular Tuesday blog post. (Because of high shipping costs, you must have a U.S. mailing address to be eligible to win.)

Any comment will do, but maybe you could tell me what you will do with the book if you win. Are you a mother of the bride who will hang on to it for dear life? Will you give it as a gift? Will you donate it to a library? Maybe you will keep it for future use. Or maybe you just want a copy of my book and don’t have one yet. Believe it or not, you don’t have to be a mother of the bride to enjoy reading it! Lots of personal stories included and wisdom that can be applied to a variety of situations.

You may earn an additional entry if you’re a current or new Life Notes subscriber (sign-up is free on the right sidebar), and you can earn another entry if you Like (or have already Liked) my Cheryl Barker, Writer Facebook page. Just mention if you’ve done these things in your comment to get your extra entries!

Now here’s to a blessed holiday season to one and all. May you each feel our Savior’s presence in a wonderful way this Christmas season!

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 NIV

*Flickr photo by Daniel Y. Go, Creative Commons License

Christmas Poem 2015: Divine Delivery

11393706364_38f8638c39_z*I’ll be taking a blogging break until after the first of the year—unless I hop on here to share a photo. May you enjoy sweet times with loved ones and have a truly blessed celebration of our Savior’s birth, my friends. Enjoy my annual Christmas poem—and see you in 2016!

Divine Delivery

This time of year I hear echoes
Of angels on parade,
When God sent his Son as a newborn babe
When a divine delivery was made.

No gift before or since
Can match our Savior’s birth,
Except the divine delivery from sin
His blood shed for all on this earth.

But as we make our way through life
God’s miracles we still need,
His hand, his help through our heartaches,
Precious divine deliveries indeed.

So if any among you are hurting today
And need to know hope lives,
Just lift your eyes and hearts to God,
For divine deliveries he still gives.

“May the God of hope fill you with all
joy and peace as you trust in him . . .”
Romans 15:13a

*In gratitude for the divine delivery God
sent our family on January 3rd when Kristin
and Shawn became parents to twin sons,
Isaiah and James. Yes, hope lives—and our
joy knows no bounds!

*When has God blessed you with a divine delivery? Or are you waiting on one now?

*Flickr photo by Conal Gallagher, Creative Commons License