Singing Christmas Carols, Touching Lives

 

On 23 December 2011, 6:00 PM, the Glenfield Baptist Church home group went to one big rest home. There we sang Christmas carols in their lounges, rooms, and hallways.

We just found great time singing and sharing the Christmas message to elderly folks who were awake.

We were singing in one room when one staff approached us. She invited the group to sing to a dying occupant.

As we sang “Silent Night”, the folks of the elderly who was about to rest in peace were teary-eyed. I saw the rest home staff crying too.

When Sharon and Jewel sangChristmas Isn’t Christmas Til it Happens in Your Heart“, the message of the song and the scene in the room, the elderly who’s dying moved every one of us.

I was just holding my tears for I was already crying inside. I suppose the dying person can hear the song too.

I felt sad thinking that one person listening to “Christmas Isn’t Christmas…” won’t hear songs again here on earth. Joyful of the thought she will be singing with Jesus Christ and the saints in heaven.

As I joined in singing the chorus I saw one woman in the room. She’s probably a daughter of the elderly. She was listening intently with very sad countenance, her eyes staring afar.

Truly, we feel sad when our loved one dies but Christmas is our hope for everlasting life. And what joy would it be when you are singing and celebrating Christmas with the grand celebrator, Jesus Christ.

Sharing the Christmas Spirit through caroling is one Christmas season that I and my family will never forget.

Christmas 2011 is very memorable not only because it was our first Christmas in Auckland but most of all we shared Christmas and touched lives through caroling.

Children and adults are excited as they wait along the streets to see what’s coming up for the annual Santa Parade.

People waiting for the Santa Parade Auckland 2011 to start.

Will God find the same excitement and anticipation when Jesus Christ comes again?

Let’s keep watching and praying. Who knows tomorrow will be TRUE CHRISTMAS again!

Gaining the Blessings of Christian Love

 

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. 1 Peter 1:22

When Pastor Colin learned that we’re moving to Timaru, he told me right after one Sunday worship service, “Please don’t go without us praying for you”. Knowing and experiencing how important prayer blessing is, I told him we will still be here next Sunday.

We are set to leave for Timaru on 14 August. This is a big move for our family but we have to because a relevant job opportunity has come.

Living in North Shore area, particularly in Glenfield and Forrest Hill suburbs in the past nine months, we have fostered relationships among church mates and a group of Filipinos.

Pastor Colin (left) and Tony came to help us deal with our remaining furniture.

As we were packing our things and finding ways how to dispose our car and the few pieces of furniture, I can’t help but think how one could easily dispose material things when moving.

I mean, you can sell or give your things easily but you can never let go of the friendships that you have made, especially when they are bounded in Christian love.

We can’t avoid feeling sad realizing that we won’t be seeing Glenfield Baptist Church for some time. Still, we rejoice in the truth that Christian relationships are the treasures that one could have forever, both on earth and in heaven.

So, on 12 August 2012, we attended worship service at Glenfield Baptist Church. Pastor Colin called us to the altar and he and the congregation prayed for us. I won’t say it’s our last worship service with them.

Glenfield Baptist fulfils the meaning of church to us and I’m sure the welcome won’t end each time we visit. Growing up experiencing the power of prayer, I don’t want to miss any opportunity of gaining the blessings of Christian love wherever I am.

In moving to Timaru we are embarking on a new chapter of our faith journey in New Zealand. So far, it is through the prayers of friends and family that we have achieved tremendously in faith. Glenfield Baptist Church has provided us the needed sanctuary.

Our hearts are forever grateful for all of you. Let us pray without ceasing as our faith journey continues.

From time to time, the home group holds shared meal. After the worship service on 12 August, they held a shared lunch to bless our trip and spend time in fellowship.

Please read “How God Builds GBC through the Home Group” and be inspired.

Miracle of God’s Abounding Love in Jesus Christ

Our family is greatly amazed by the miracle of God’s abounding love in Jesus Christ.

Glenfield Baptist Church received officially into the membership our family on July 1, 2012 and I believe this is a wondrous miracle of God’s abounding love in Jesus Christ.

What makes the act wonderful is that through confession of faith, willingness to join consistently in worship and other activities, and growing in fellowship in the Body of Christ, the church accepts into His fold of believers.

Indeed, Jesus Christ has elected us to be eligible children of His Kingdom. Take note that in John 1:12, God has given us the power to become His children to those who receive and believe Christ.

Glenfield Baptist Church transcends God’s awesome power when she accepts those who believe, receive and live for Christ.

We are grateful for the worship experience, the warm fellowship and prayer-life experience that our family avails and shares with Glenfield Baptist. Glory and honor be unto our great Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Our gratitude to Boyet and Sharon Quimba for paving the way to our worship and service at Glenfield Baptist. Of course, the Home Group, Glenfield Baptist’s house church unit, plays important role in facilitating belongingness and acceptance to new pilgrims like us.

Indeed, there is power in the blood of Jesus Christ, uniting people to His name, regardless of culture and race.

Let the miracle of God’s abounding love, our brotherly love in Jesus Christ, continue forevermore!

Two Reasons We Must Want To Serve God

 
Is serving God an option or obligation?

Do we need the dramatic, mystical, and awesome meeting with God to assure us of our calling to serve God?

We focus on Isaiah 6:1-8, as our model of God’s commissioning His chosen messenger.

Probably, we grew up hearing when we were kids in Sunday school and reading when we were grown and matured, similar Bible stories and settled with the idea, that those who serve God have to experience what prophets, like Isaiah, had experienced.

You have probably heard some Christians giving the familiar excuse not to serve God because “I didn’t hear God’s call”.

Can we not see Isaiah’s commissioning on the perspective of Isaiah, who was at the temple, praying, worshipping, and most of all, expressing his want to serve God? And that, the vision that came to him was affirmation of his expression of wanting being God’s messenger?

It is my conviction that our wanting to serve God is not based solely on a dramatic, mystical, and supernatural meeting similar to Isaiah’s vision. Without such “special” event makes us easily opt out from serving God.

I have noted that lots of us Christians would choose to make selective service and would easily reserve those “bigger” tasks to people who have special calling.

What would make us want to serve God today? Let me cite two things why we must want to serve God.

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in as far as Isaiah is concerned; he was able to do his wish to serve God.

His aspiration to serve God led to his commissioning and he successfully discharged of his mission as the one whom God has sent to prophesy to His people.

The crucial question and challenge for us today is “What would make us want to serve God today?”

The Urgent Need to Serve

Perhaps you would agree with me that we are in a worse situation than during the time of Isaiah. Do you know why?

In Isaiah’s time there was no Internet or digital media that remnants of “sons and daughters of Sodom and Gomorrah” use today to promote immorality and greed.

At least, in Isaiah’s time the world view is just within the areas of Judah and Jerusalem and neighbouring countries. There were no weapons of mass destruction to lives and properties.

Sad to say, the progress of modern technology and the progress of scientific knowledge, which allowed man to live in comfort and prosperity, have made him turn away from God.

In the time of Isaiah, at least the enemies of Israel acknowledge that the God of Israel is strong and mighty. Today, the enemies of God-believers proclaim the non-existence of the Great Almighty God.

If our present generation is worse than Isaiah’s time, then as people of God, are we not supposed to commit to serve God with more intensity today?

The church is given to commit for the keeping of faith. The invitation and calling of God has been given through the Lord Jesus Christ, his life, death, resurrection, and coming again.

This is the Good News that we must PRESERVE and SERVE to our fellowmen.

Partakers of the Body of Christ

What would make us want to serve God is the living fact that we are partakers of the body of Christ.

If you say that you won’t serve God because you are not called and there’s no special event to attest that, then you are wrong.

Let us be reminded that every month we partake of the Lord Supper.

God, revealed in Jesus Christ, whose life we celebrate in the Lord Supper, is our dramatic, mystical, and supernatural encounter with God.

The invitation has always been given and offered to us in the bread and the cup.

I believe that when we receive the bread and the cup we summon ourselves to take part in the life of the body of Christ, which is the living church.

When we partake of the bread and cup of the Lord Jesus Christ, the voice of God has always been there asking, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us? ”

When we partake of the bread and cup of the Lord Jesus Christ, we commit our lives in responding, “Here am I. Send me!” until the Lord Jesus Christ comes.

May these two things, the urgent need to serve and our partaking in the body of Christ, make us thirst to serve God while we are able and available.

AUTHOR’S NOTE:

This blog post has excerpts of the sermon I delivered at Glenfield Baptist Church. My gratitude and appreciation to Pastor Colin Hopkins, Pastor Andrew Monk and Glenfield Baptist Church for giving me the opportunity to share God’s message on 10 June 2012.

PHOTO CREDIT: Glenfield Baptist Church Good Friday Program Cover

To Be Certain in Times of Life’s Uncertainties

 

Have you heard of somebody who claims that he or she never experienced life’s uncertainties?

Jesus said, ” Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

Somehow, despite careful planning, preparation and calculated implementation of our plan in life, along the way something unexpected happens and suddenly we are in a very uncertain situation.

I like Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English‘s definition of “uncertainty” which says, “a situation which you are not sure about because you do not know what will happen”

Yes, “uncertainty” is that situation in life when you aren’t really sure of the outcome and all you can do is give your best at the given moment and leave the results to the Almighty God.

For all uncertainties that I experienced and I am facing in life, I learned two essentials things that give me assurance and strength:

Faith in the Divine Providence

You have to trust Jesus Christ who said “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

Surrender to His Will

Your faith will assure you that the Lord God Almighty has prepared the best solution for your uncertainty.

When you have entrusted your uncertainty on God’s hand and believe that He has the best option for you, then you must surrender to His will.

Of course, it is not easy to go through life’s uncertainties. I must say that it is through prayers and supplication, the intercession of your brothers and sisters in faith, that you will avail much to carry you through trials in life.

The message of Rev. David Jeremiah titled “Slaying the Giant of Worry” explains eloquently how we may overcome worry that may beset us in times of uncertainties.


 
My gratitude to our home group in Glenfield Baptist Church for sharing this video. The fellowship and Christian love that you share is great encouragement and blessing to us. Thank you.

PHOTO CREDIT: The Sparrow by Jose Telesforo Limbaga

 

We welcome your comments. Also, please share this post by clicking the “SHARE” button below and select Facebook, Twitter, or other social media sites or like this post by clicking the “LIKE” button below. THANK YOU.

Singing Carols as Christmas Gift

 

Glenfield Baptist Chuch Home Group

Filipino singers sing Philippine carols as Quinton of South Africa (standing left) and Kelly of South America (sitting right) listen.

We joined our Glenfield Baptist Church home group in singing to residents of rest homes in North Shore, Auckland.

When the home group set the schedule for caroling, we (I, Jewel and Jadyn) were all excited. Jewel and I were most excited to see Jadyn experience for the first time what Christmas caroling is.

Unlike my childhood caroling stints where we expect a gift from the household, the Glenfield Baptist Church home group is doing caroling as Christmas gift.

On December 16 and 17, we went singing Christmas carols to four rest homes and two households.

What a joy to see the bright and happy faces of senior citizens as we sing carols. Some sang along with us when the carols we’re singing are familiar to them.

There were a few who cried upon hearing the Christmas songs. They probably remembered their families and friends during Christmas seasons when they were still young or when they were with their families in celebrating Christmas.

Singing Christmas carols to the elderly is a very enjoyable, meaningful and memorable way to proclaim Christmas.

Though it’s a traditional Christmas melody, Jadyn and Noynoy practiced “Away in a Manger” for their special presentation. Watch Jadyn and Paul’s duet by clicking on the “Play” button of the video clip below.

Sharing the Spirit of Christmas in Auckland through Caroling

Glenfield Baptist Church Home Group

The Home Group caroling in one of the rest homes they visited. Grant (w/ guitar) is the leader-conductor of the group.

I never thought that Caroling would be an early Christmas treat for my family. For two days in a row (Dec. 16 and 17), we went with our church home group singing Christmas carols to senior citizens in rest homes and some in their own houses.

Since our arrival at Auckland in November, we attended Glenfield Baptist Church. We participated in the church’s home group that meets every Friday evening. Caroling is the home group’s Christmas season activity.

Christmas caroling in the Philippines

I’m a veteran “caroler” having been singing Christmas songs in cantatas since my primary years in the Philippines. When I was a kid, the Christmas season is not complete without the yearly “Daigon” (local term for caroling) with playmates.

For our instruments, we made our improvised tambourine from flattened soft drink bottle crowns. Our drums were made of empty powdered milk or Milo tin cans with plastic or rubber (deflated balloons) sheets as drum heads.

As soon as school closes for the Christmas vacation, we would go caroling from house to house almost every night. After a couple of songs, a member of the household would come out to give us money, usually peso coins. Perhaps some household could not tolerate our shrill voices and noisy instruments that they would just give money even if we haven’t performed our repertoire.

Hey, what’s up for the Christmas season? Please share it by posting a comment. Merry Christmas!