Dr. Jody Ray

A.J. Gordon was the great Baptist pastor of the Clarendon Church in Boston, Massachusetts. One day he met a young boy in front of the sanctuary carrying a rusty cage in which several birds fluttered nervously. Gordon inquired, “Son, where did you get those birds?” The boy replied, “I trapped them out in the field.” “What are you going to do with them?” “I’m going to play with them, and then I guess I’ll just feed them to an old cat we have at home.”

When Gordon offered to buy them, the lad exclaimed, “Mister, you don’t want them, they’re just little old wild birds and can’t sing very well.” Gordon replied, “I’ll give you $2 for the cage and the birds.” “Okay, it’s a deal, but you’re making a bad bargain.” The exchange was made and the boy went away whistling, happy with his shiny coins. Gordon walked around to the back of the church property, opened the door of the small wire coop, and let the struggling creatures soar into the blue. The next Sunday he took the empty cage into the pulpit and used it to illustrate his sermon about Christ’s coming to seek and to save the lost — paying for them with His own precious blood. “That boy told me the birds were not songsters,” said Gordon, “but when I released them and they winged their way heavenward, it seemed to me they were singing, ‘Redeemed, redeemed, redeemed!'”

This is Advent, and the message of these times is the song of those wild birds. It’s the song sung in every carol this season: Redeemed! It’s the meaning behind every gift given under the tree: Redeemed! It’s the Word the shepherds heard: Redeemed! It’s the assurance Mary received: Redeemed! It’s the star the Wisemen followed: Redeemed!

You and I have been trapped by sin, but Christ has purchased our pardon. The person who has this hope in their heart will sing, and you know the song: “Redeemed, redeemed, redeemed!”

I hope you’ll join us in the coming weeks for all the opportunities to see the signs of Christmas. Here are just a few ways you can do that:

  • First, this Sunday we continue our Advent series titled, “Foretold: The Coming of the Christ.” We will also receive Holy Communion at the 9:00 and 11:15 services.
  • Then on Friday, December 10, at 7:30 pm and again on Sunday, December 12, at 6:00 pm, you can experience the joys and sounds of Christmas through our chancel choir. This year’s “Carols for  Christmas” is going to be special! I promise you don’t want to miss it.
  • On Christmas Eve, there will be four services on the main campus at 3:00, 5:00, 8:00, and 11:00, and one at our north campus at 4:00. Please visit Mt Bethel’s website at to get more detailed information.

Will YOU hear the song this season? Will YOU see the signs this Christmas? You can if you will stand up and open your eyes. It is all around. Can you see it?

Finally, I want to extend a personal, “ThankYou; job well done” to our church staff and volunteers for sacrificing their time to help us decorate and light the campus for the season, and also to our Children’s, Youth, Media, Music, Kitchen, and Discipleship teams, along with the countless volunteers (and anyone else I may not have mentioned) who made this week’s Bethlehem Walk a special evening for all who attended. The joy you shared and the faith you demonstrated with this community will not soon be forgotten. To God be the glory always!