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Pastor's Notes

On A Midnight Clear

The Bible doesn’t tell us, but I wonder how many times the shepherds got to tell their story. Perhaps years after the birth of Jesus, an occasional traveler would come to Bethlehem enquiring where they might find “One of those shepherds.” Perhaps it was a familiar question that most of the locals had been asked many times. And perhaps their well worn answer was always ready - “The only one left lives in the last house on the right as you leave the town heading north.” So, following in the footsteps of the curious ones of long ago, off we go - wondering if this excursion will really be worth the time and effort.

Bethlehem is not very big. A few minutes walk and soon enough, there’s the house! Drawing closer, we see a stooped and very old man busying himself with some little chore just outside the doorway. He’s home! But is he really one of those shepherds from all those years ago? Did he really see the angel Gabriel? Did he really hear him declare the Savior’s birth? And … did he really see the sky fill with shining angels … and hear them all sing? And last of all … did he really get to see the Little Savior!?

In spite of our skepticism, we’ve felt driven to come here. We really want to know the truth. We’ve got to settle this once and for all! We’ve met our share of tricksters and learned some humiliating lessons as they played on our blatant naivety. But we’re wiser now. We’re confident we’ll tell fact from fiction this time around, and the old man won’t pull a fast one on us.

As we draw close, the stooped old man turns to face us. Seeming to read our minds and know our purpose, his gentle demeanor invites our eager enquiry. And so we ask, getting straight to the point!

He drops what he’s doing and seems to gaze within us, discerning the sincerity or otherwise of our intent. He’s probably had his share of mockers as we have of tricksters. Seeming to sense our benign purpose, his kind old face breaks into a joyous smile “Yes, I’m one of the shepherds … in fact the only one left,” he replies. “And yes I was there! I saw it all! I heard it all! It was a night I will never forget!” As though on angel’s wings, his mind seems to rapidly yet gracefully glide back to another time - a time more glorious than any other - a time forever etched upon his memory. We stand and gaze upon the joyous little man as with a simple but moving eloquence he recalls again the glory that earthly kings have never seen. He captures our minds and takes them with him to that wondrous night so long ago. So Spirit-filled does he become! So powerful the passion and persuasion of his testimony that our skepticism is soon no more. He’s not a trickster! We believe! Praise God! We’re so glad we came!

Okay, in case you hadn’t noticed, I’ve indulged poetic license in all of the above. While I think it’s conceivable that the shepherds were asked more than once to retell their story, all else I’ve written is imaginary. Period. However, while I have no use for Christian fiction, I’ve gone this route to illustrate a salient point: While some would have believed the shepherds, some must have questioned their story of that eventful night.

Luke 2:18 tells us that all who heard the shepherds story “wondered at those things.” While some doubtless believed, others must have considered fanciful and fictitious that which the shepherds so enthusiastically declared! To be honest, I can’t fully blame the naysayers. After all, who could have possibly seen the likes of such a thing? While on the other hand, how can the one who’s seen that thing ever do it justice? How can they adequately describe it and make it believable through the woeful limitations of human language? Such is the amazing and wondrous quandary that can ensue when God gives frail humans a glimpse of heaven’s boundless glory!

Yet while others might doubt, the shepherds believed! How could they do otherwise? It was an undeniable case of once seen never forgotten! Following the appearance of the angel to the shepherds, we continue the narrative from a well-known source:

“The heavenly messenger had quieted their fears. He had told them how to find Jesus. With tender regard for their human weakness, he had given them time to become accustomed to the divine radiance. Then the joy and glory could no longer be hidden. The whole plain was lighted up with the bright shining hosts of God. Earth was hushed and heaven stooped to listen to the song,—
‘Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, good will toward men’

As the angels disappeared, the light faded away, and the shadows of night once more fell on the hills of Bethlehem. But the brightest picture ever beheld by human eyes remained in the minds of the shepherds.” Desire of Ages, p. 48,49.

While we missed out on that glorious event, we haven’t missed out on what it brought. God has given to us a Savior. Though hiding His Divinity in our humanity, Jesus still retains a glory that can still be seen - through the eye of faith. As we contemplate His great condescension and sacrifice, may we behold the brightest pictures of His love for us. Regardless of scoffers and unbelievers who would deny the testimony of what we’ve seen and know about Jesus, let us keep those bright pictures ever in view. And as we do, may our witness possess a power and influence that touches the hearts of doubters and scoffers. God has a bright picture to show them too, if they’ll look and believe.

Finally, let us look forward to seeing the brightest of all pictures ever beheld by human eyes. Far brighter than the night when Christ was born, will be the far brighter day of His soon return. Then, as never before will Jesus set the sky ablaze to create a scene of unimagined glory, that all will see and believe, both the saved and the lost! So let us contemplate these things and give thanks for the coming of Emmanuel - God with us!

Mike Thompson, Associate Pastor


Take Charge Of Your Health

Join us virtually, Monday, December 7 at
7:30 PM for Dr. Ing’s next lifestyle presentation entitled, “Trust, Choices
and Success!” All are welcome! Invite a friend. Zoom Meeting ID: 861 5980 5630.
Food Pantry 492x336
Food Pantry
Our Food Pantry is open this Wednesday, December 9 from 10AM to noon. This is an ongoing community service program to help all in need, especially during these difficult times. If you're looking to give of your time to a worthwhile endeavor, contact our church office who will put you in touch with our Community Services Director.
Media Training December 492x336
Broadcast Television & Camera Training
Want to grow and develop certain skills? Want to be involved in preparing people to meet Jesus when He returns? Then become involved in Central's Media Ministry. Attend their next training on Wednesday, December 16 @ 6:45PM in the sanctuary. You'll be glad you did.
Noel Triumphant
Fountainview Academy Presents
Mark your calendars for Noel Triumphant, a virtual Christmas concert for all presented by Fountainview Orchestra & Singers. This year Fountainview will hold their concert online December 11 @ 5PM. Simply go to NoelTriumphant.com to view, and for all other details. We anticipate that Fountainview will be with us live next year.
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Annual Year-End Love Offering
It’s our Annual Year-End Love Offering on Sabbath, December 19, 2020. Thank you for your ongoing support. You can remit your gift one of three ways: (1) Mail or drop off (see address below); (2) Via www.saccentral.org (click on the “Donate” button and choose “Year-End Love Offering”) (3) Through the AdventistGiving app (again, choose “Year-End Love Offering).
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Ten Days Of Prayer
Join us on Zoom each night from January 6-16, 2021 for 30-minutes of Bible study and prayer during the global Ten Days of Prayer. This year's theme is Seeking Revival. To join us use Meeting ID 846 1396 0364, click here, or call in at 1 (669) 900-6833. This event is for all ages.
L.I.F.E Groups 492x336 Slide
LIFE Groups
Learning from the Bible; Inspiration through prayer; Fellowship with one another; Evangelize the community
“The formation of small companies as a basis of Christian effort is a plan that has been presented before me by One who can not err. If there is a large number in the church, let the members be formed into small companies, to work not only for the church members, but for unbelievers also.” - Evangelism, p. 115

Your Monthly Manna

"Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, good will toward men." Luke 2:14
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