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Sep 25, 2019

Few or Many?

“Then one said to Him, ‘Lord, are there few who are saved?’…” -Luke 13:23
“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands…” -Revelation 7:9


Statistics are strange things and not always able to tell you the exact truth of a matter, just like political polls trying to predict an election outcome and proving to be very wrong. This is either because people lie in a poll or the pollster isn’t interested in the truth as much as trying to manipulate voters toward his preferred result.
When you try to figure out the population of people who belong to each major and minor religion in the world, you also wonder how accurate those numbers are in exactly pin-pointing the character of peoples’ hearts. If you go by the latest guesstimated numbers of professions of belief, you still find Christianity to be the biggest world religion at something like 32% of the 7.7 billion world population, which is to say, on the other hand, 68% or 5.2 billion people are allegedly declared non-Christian, if indeed there really are 2.5 billion genuine Christians otherwise in the world today.
If these guesstimates are anywhere near accurate, you might be able to determine on these statistics alone the answer to the question, “Are there many or few who will be ultimately saved?” It is a question often asked, for the Bible has verses supporting both perspectives: many and few. While 2.5 billion is a great number, it is still only 32% of the total world population. Consequently, there are a lot fewer from the total population who are presumably on their way to heaven. Additionally, in order to arrive at a conclusion, you also need to figure in all those who once lived in history and have already died.
Is this a valid question to even ask? Will there be many saved or few? The answer, in any case, is in the hands of the sifter and determiner of everyone who enters the courts of heaven and the new heavens and new earth. We are reminded in this regard of the Old Testament prophet Elijah telling God there were no others besides himself who were obedient to Him in the entire nation of Old Testament Israel. God then told Elijah that there were actually “7,000 who had not bowed their knee to Baal.” God knew them, not Elijah.
There is report that there is a great evangelization to Christ in Muslim communities today, not through human evangelists or missionaries, but through dreams. If true among them, could it not be true in other areas and religions of the world? God is capable of bringing many to His Son through His own means, though He often enlists you and me to assist in that great task and joy.
A dear friend and pastor, now in heaven, conjectured often that God would further populate heaven with the millions of world-wide aborted babies, swelling heaven’s numbers. Again, you and I do not know what God is doing at any given time in the hearts of people all over the world. He is the drawer of hearts and the cultivator of the world’s vineyard. He, through His Holy Spirit, will persuade men and women to His Son through whatever path He desires. We will discover one day for certain who our brothers and sisters in Christ truly are. Will there be surprises? I do not doubt it. Elijah was very surprised. If him, why not you and me?
The words of Revelation 7:9 echo God’s ancient challenge to Abraham: “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them…so shall your descendants be” (Genesis 15:5). Can you picture Abraham scanning the night sky, realizing he couldn’t even begin to number those stars? Not even astronomers can come close; the universe is so vast, so infinite! The Apostle John got to see Abraham’s believing seed gathered in. Like Abraham, his head spun. He too saw “a great multitude which no one could number.” So it shall be.


“Ten thousand times ten thousand
In sparkling raiment bright,
The armies of the ransomed saints
Throng up the steeps of light.
‘Tis finished, all is finished,
Their fight with death and sin;
Fling open wide the golden gates
And let the victors in.”
(First verse of Henry Alford’s hymn, “Ten Thousand Times Ten Thousand,” 1867)
 


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Sep 18, 2019

Many Pigs, One Man

“Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned.” -Luke 8:33


This is a strange story to say the least. A quite deranged man met Jesus directly as He got out of a boat with His disciples in the country of the Gerasenes. This man had lived as what you might call a maniac: He wore no clothes, was homeless, slept among the tombs of the dead, and was not sociable in the least. He, or rather the demons in him, spoke with accurate knowledge of who Jesus was, rightly knowing His identity. Jesus knew why this man was not in his right mind. He knew demons dwelled in him, and He knew these demons knew Him. Asking the possessed man his name, Jesus received the reply, “Legion,” alluding to the fact of a great many within him.
The cure for this man was to rid him of the demons, restoring him to who he was in God’s image. Apparently, it was not an easy task for Jesus to cast them out of this man because the demons adamantly refused His command to leave. They must go somewhere, and they did not want to be cast into the abyss. So, they begged Jesus to allow them to enter into a nearby herd of around 2,000 pigs. Jesus acquiesced to their request. Why? We don’t know. We do know that it would not go well for the pigs. As it happened, the demons drove the pigs to their destruction. They rushed over a steep cliff into the sea below and drowned. I imagine the drowned pigs, now possibly worth nothing, could at least be salvaged for food if tended to quickly, but this was a lot for the herd’s owners to deal with rapidly.
Nothing is said of any liability incurred by Jesus and His disciples in the herd’s destruction. Onlookers would possibly blame Jesus for what they witnessed, or this was a complete mystery to them. Demons and demonology were not an exact science for normal human beings. They were oblivious to any accurate diagnosis of this man’s malady, and not being able themselves to cure him or even know demons possessed him, it was in any case beyond them.
Did these demons have to go somewhere? Did they have to go into the pigs? Did Jesus have other options? We do not know. What we do know is that the demons were better to be in the pigs than in the man.
The ASPCA spends a lot of money on advertising to raise funds to care for mistreated, abused pets. They know how to tug at the heart-strings of pet owners and many others who are hurt by the pain caused to these discarded and neglected animals. It is a most noble cause, for sure, yet the same is not afforded human babies in the womb who are about to be torn limb from limb, burned alive by caustic chemicals, have the arteries and veins in their necks snipped, and many other truly appalling means to snuff out their lives, regardless of the pain they feel. In fact, such is not allowed to be displayed on television or even discussed in any media. It is covered up as though such does not happen tens of thousands of times a day all over the world.
In this historical story told of Jesus, who is truly more important: one man or 2,000 pigs? Are 2,000 pigs of more value than a dirty, smelly, homeless man? Jesus did not think so! The pig owners and many onlookers did. Jesus drew this comparison very pointedly by allowing the demons to do what they requested. We do not know their destination after the pigs drowned. Perhaps they could have gone to such before destroying these pigs. In any case, they destroyed them. Still, Jesus draws this obvious comparison. Was this man’s life worth more than all these pigs?
You are perhaps as enthralled by the restoration Jesus performed on this poor man as the many who were amazed by what they personally witnessed. They observed this man before and after and were astounded by the complete transformation. We do not know if the cost of the destruction of 2,000 pigs was satisfactorily resolved, but we do know that an eternal soul experienced newness of life which extended beyond this life into eternity. We will actually be able to sit down in time eternal with this man and hear his story from his own lips.
The account tells us about more than the restoration of a man. It tells us the real value of one created in God’s image – an image which animals do not share. Animals are an amazing part of God’s creation. Their amazing colors, unique creations, shapes, and instincts are infinitely beautiful. They appeal to the senses of observant and caring animal lovers, which we all should be. However, these do not have God’s full image in them as do men, women, children, and infants. Jesus came to save sinners such as us. He immensely loves those He died to redeem. Animals are not sinners, though; they are not moral beings. We need to love our fellow human creatures made in God’s image as He does. We must love them, serve them, and seek their salvation with the same love He lavishes on us! Are they more valuable to us than many pigs?


“Taste the goodness of the Lord: Welcomed home to His embrace, all His love as blood out-poured seals the pardon of His grace. Can I doubt His love for me when I trace that love’s design? By the cross of Calvary, I am His and He is mine.”
(Third verse of George Robinson’s hymn, “Loved with Everlasting Love,” 1890)
 


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Sep 17, 2019

Studying the Bible with Other Believers

Are Bible studies really that important? If we’re honest, many of us likely believe that we already check off enough boxes on the “Christian to-do list.” We read our Bibles, go to church, say our prayers, listen to Christian radio, and refrain from using curse words. We have busy schedules and don’t feel like we can make time for any more appointments, so we often let Bible studies fall to the bottom of our priority list and don’t think twice about it. This is a dangerous habit to develop as a believer, however. Studying the Bible with other Christians is extremely beneficial for our relationships with God.
Why is it important to study the Bible with other believers? In short, because the Bible tells us to. In Colossians 3:16, Paul writes, “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit…” He continues in Hebrews 10, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Under the influence of the Holy Spirit, Paul instructs us to let the message of Christ dwell among us, to not give up meeting together, and to teach, admonish, and encourage each other in our fellowship.
If we are faithful to meet with other believers to study the Word of God and pray together, we will experience the following benefits:

  1. God’s presence. God will be with us when we gather together. In Matthew 18:20, Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” When we join together in prayer, reading the Scriptures, and pursuing of our Savior, we are unified in His presence. He is there with us as we join together as the body of Christ.
  2. Accountability. We will find accountability amongst other believers. Proverbs 27:17 tells us, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” This verse refers to an Old Testament practice in which one iron blade was used to sharpen another blade until both became more effective tools. Without each other, both blades would be dull. Similarly, believers “sharpen” one another by holding each other accountable in their walks with the Lord. When we gather together as brothers and sisters in Christ and openly share our struggles and failures, we learn how we can help hold each other accountable to stay faithful to our calling as children of the King.
  3. Fresh perspectives. We all come from different backgrounds with different experiences, and consequently, our viewpoints can vary widely. Meeting with other believers to discuss the Bible can bring about lots of different perspectives on Scripture and spiritual matters. This is healthy as it enables us to interpret Scripture through different lenses than we might personally have and exposes us to wisdom outside of our own mindset. We may find ourselves learning things that we never would have considered if we weren’t in community with other believers.
  4. Encouragement. Meeting together as like-minded believers can be greatly impactful on our faithfulness. Hebrews 3:13 says, “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” We are naturally sinful, and Satan seeks to devour us, but when we gather with our brothers and sisters in Christ to learn about God and grow in our faith, we encourage each other to stay faithful to Him and not fall prey to Satan’s lies. This encouragement is vital both when we are spiritually weak and when we feel spiritually strong. We will have highs and lows in our walks with the Lord, but having other Christians to walk beside us and encourage us in our journeys is infinitely valuable. We were created for community; we need it for spiritual survival.

Bible studies can take many different shapes and forms. It may be just you and one accountability partner reading the same book of the Bible together and chatting about it on the phone a few nights a week. Perhaps it’s a group of men meeting at a coffee shop one morning a week before work to discuss the Bible passage from Sunday’s sermon. Maybe it’s a weekly women’s Bible study at your church. You can use an official, organized, biblically-based curriculum or simply read through a book of the Bible; the structure doesn’t matter, just make sure you are meeting with other believers on a regular and consistent basis to dive into the Scriptures and pray together.


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Sep 10, 2019

The Interminable Wail

“Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of Him. Even so. Amen.” -Revelation 1:7


Bad habits often linger. I have a terrible habit of sometimes spontaneously letting out a “bass-scream” upon clumsily dropping something somewhat valuable or immediately when perceiving something going really wrong. It scares my wife, of course, who understandably thinks the situation must be much worse than it is. She can attest to this! This type of scream is not what Revelation 1 is referring to. What John describes as a “wail” really is heart-rending, terrifying, and interminable.
You would first think that Jesus Christ’s return to the earth would be a quite joyous event, welcomed by most, even those not expecting Him to return. Yet, we read that “people from all the tribes of the earth will wail on account of Him.” Yes, those who actually pierced Him, as well as those who would have if they could, and including those who regularly “pierce Him” with mind, tongue, and behavior will wail.
There is no sound so grief-stricken or utterly painful as the wail of a thoroughly devastated individual, or much more, an enormous multitude of such individuals. The sound becomes too miserable to bear. A wail is a most disconcerting cry to hear. This wail is much more than mere sniffling and crying; it is a loud, distraught, uncontrollable cry of anguish. It is the ultimate wail! After all, it concerns ultimate things.
Why wail? Very possibly because an entire lifetime of wrong thinking and erroneously conceived philosophies of life have suddenly gone down the drain, Myriads of books laboriously written are consequently proven to be based on a lie. Whole careers founded on alleged “myths” of the Christ and the denial of true religion are determined to be a colossal waste of a one and only life. Projects pursued, goals sought, massive resources misdirected, and erroneous dreams dreamt, all based on a thorough going deceit by Satan, even obliviousness.
For, the truth is Jesus lives! Jesus is affirmed as the only way, the only truth, and the only life! Consequently, the wails which will arise, and for which there is no opportunity for the slightest redress, are beyond the pale. No words can do justice to describe such agonizing loss. This arises from the stark recognition that it is now too late. The sands of time have run out. All is consummated. There is no “do over.” It is done!
Capturing in your mind and heart this true, promised result is what drives many believers to strive to win others for Christ while there is still time, devoting all energies to winsome, yet persistent, persuasive evangelism. Any speech from your mouth which sets forth Jesus Christ and His good news will be used by the Holy Spirit for good. Yet, even such an enlightening of this agonizing wail of so many must be given over to Jesus to find supernatural rest in Him alone, or else this knowledge will truly consume and eat away at you. It is a painful thing to witness people in such utter regret, with a vitriolic anger for being terribly wrong when they believed they were so right. You must now strive while there is yet time to turn peoples’ hearts away from a wail to Jesus.
This scene of wailing is starkly unforgettable, but it is yet future. This has not happened, but it most certainly will. What manner of people should we be? How should we then live? How can we prepare for such an all-consuming event like this?
The Apostle John is directed to paint this awful scene for us for a purpose. One, that we may not be caught off guard ourselves. Two, that we might be fully prepared to see and hear what we will really see and hear. Finally, that we ourselves might be fully ready to meet the Lord at His return. For it is either wail in anguish or rejoice with great joy the moment Jesus appears on the clouds.
There are only two kinds of people who witness the Lord’s return: those who will wail and those who will be happy beyond measure. None will be neutral, for oblivious neutrality is a total myth. There are only these two final conclusions.
Scripture is quite clear: This happens in the twinkling of an eye, a lightning flash, and it is totally unexpected. Consequently, “Today is the day of salvation.” Today, preparation is meticulously made; today is your most important day, as tomorrow will be when it arrives. This is simply not the time to procrastinate. After all, He has wasted no words in warning you.


“Great God, what do I see and hear? The end of things created! The Judge of mankind doth appear on clouds of glory seated! The trumpet sounds; the graves restore the dead which they contained before. Prepare, my soul, to meet Him.”
(First verse of anonymous stanza of hymn, “Great God, What Do I See and Hear,” 1802)
 


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Sep 10, 2019

This Month at PAYH: Monthly Newsletter, September 2019

Colonel-Ken

A New Sheriff in Town

Our new Chief Operations Officer, Colonel Ken Vaughn, begins work this week and is planning to hit the ground running. With the full blessing of our founder, Glenda Anderson, Colonel Ken is committed to supporting Paul and Glenda’s intent for our home to be Christ-centered, striving for excellence in all we do. Founded on faith, strength, and discipline, Paul Anderson Youth Home is not a juvenile facility nor a prison farm, but an exceptional home, established by a champion, to give young men a second chance.
Speaking on his new role, Colonel Ken commented “I’m a big believer in Providence. After serving our nation for 32 years, I prayed that God would make me His instrument and give me the opportunity to continue to serve others. Through His perfect will, God has used my experience as an officer, volunteer, counselor, and father to prepare me for this role. I am grateful and humbled thatGod has called me to be here. The rest of my life starts right now.”
Please pray for God’s wisdom and blessing upon him as he transitions into his role and prepares to lead PAYH.

Stories from the Home

Hurricane Dorian
DorianOur campus and young men were very blessed to be spared the destruction of Hurricane Dorian. There was no damage to our physical structures and no large trees were felled. However, for many people in harder-hit areas, the effects were anything but mild. The Bahamas suffered an especially large amount of damage, and relief efforts are currently underway. A number of organizations are involved, including Samaritans Purse. We ask that you join us in prayer for the thousands who have lost their homes and/or loved ones. Should you feel led, you can support the ongoing relief efforts at samaritanspurse.org.
Wings of Hope
BarronOn leave from the USMC, Barron, one our past young men, came to visit the PAYH young men. While he was with us, he took time to speak to the young men about duty, honor, his experience in the military, and how the discipline he learned at PAYHprepared him to become a Marine. He told the young men that they have an opportunity through Christ to make something of their lives, and to make a valuable contribution to society. Barron is set to deploy later this year.
Tait’s Graduation
Tait-GraduationWe are incredibly proud of Tait and his achievement in finishing the PAYH program. His testimony is one of the best we’ve had the privilege to share. Tait went from living on the streets with no future to a life filled with new hope in Christ, as he was saved and baptized at PAYH this past May. Hear his incredible story in his own words atpayh.org/tait.
 
 
 
 
 

Upcoming Event: Founders' Day

Founders-DayAs many of you know, it’s been 25 years since Paul Anderson was called home to be with the Lord. This October, we are celebrating Paul and Glenda’s life and ministry with a very special Founders’ Day. The program will begin with a special presentation by strong man Tim Fox, who will be performing such feats of strength as bending rebar, breaking baseball bats, and driving nails through boards with his hands (which was one of Paul’s favorite’s). Afterward, we will have a father / son softball game with the PAYH young men. Kids can play in the bouncy house and slide, and some of our staff will find themselves precariously perched above a dunking booth. A delicious dinner, catered by Papa Buck’s Barbecue, will close out the evening.

Upcoming Event: Christmas Play

Christmas-Play
As we look forward to the Christmas season, one of our favorite ways to celebrate God’s marvelous gift of His son is through our annual Christmas Dinner Theater, to be held December 5th & 6th at First Baptist Vidalia. During this time, guests will be treated to dinner and a special production of “It’s Never Too Late” showcasing our PAYH young men. Through them, we will get to know 3 soldiers from the Vietnam era: their hopes and dreams, Christ’s impact on their lives, and how through Him it’s never too late to make things right.
Limited seating available. For tickets, please visit payh.org/Christmas or call us at912-537-7237.


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Sep 05, 2019

Parakletos

“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. You know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” -John 14:16-17


The very idea of a Holy Spirit in Christianity is a strange concept to unbelievers. It really shouldn’t be though, considering all the paranormal, science fiction, extraterrestrials, ghosts, demons, etc. of modern filmmaking and books. Nevertheless, the idea of a Triune God is something which many, even some professing Christians, struggle to understand or believe. There simply is nothing in life to which we can compare this concept to assist our understanding. The Trinity is simply and primarily a matter of faith. God reveals this about Himself in His Word, and we accept it by faith as true.
When we consider life as human beings, we find it, when not weighed down with its problems, an intriguing adventure. In reality, it is all you know. You have nothing else with which to compare the life you are now experiencing but with others around you. After all, we do not now communicate with those beyond the grave. You begin life and live life as the “whole enchilada.” It is your first and last experience, so to speak; we know from the Bible there is simply no “do-over” to your life now.
However, what life presently requires for you to keep your head above water is something quite extraordinary. It necessitates some help, yearns for a comforting hand, and desires a personal advocate. This is exactly what Jesus describes the Parakletos to be – the one whom both the Father and the Son sends to you after Jesus took leave of this earth to return to the courts of heaven.
The Parakletos is actually the third person of the Trinity, one God in three equal persons. Jesus says this “Spirit” is the one He will send to “take His place” and provide His presence to you. The Greek word “parakletos” means “helper,” “advocate,” “comforter,” and “counselor.” It is “comforter” which has captured the heart of most as a favored way to speak of this Holy Spirit. He can be to you the essential comforter in your life until you see Jesus face-to-face. Right now, you do need a comforter, a helper, an advocate, and a counselor all rolled into one. Jesus tells you the Parakletos is just this.
Jesus’ disciples were clearly worried when He ascended into the clouds that He would leave them completely alone. Pentecost erased such worries. Having touched, handled, seen, and communicated with Jesus, they were at a loss while waiting in obedience to Him in Jerusalem, until the Holy Spirit proved His presence and power with visible and palpable signs. He was the fulfillment of Jesus’ promises.
The Parakletos is not only a gift to the disciples but also to the whole church and, of course, to you personally. Read John 14 and 16 and think on Jesus’ promises concerning this Holy Spirit. His tasks are defined and specific. He brings to your mind the words of Jesus, while also reemphasizing them over and over, that you might both act on them and love them.
This Spirit convicts of sin. He helps you combat the evil one, Satan; He exposes his deceit and his deceitful ways. He gives you answers to Satan’s charges and lies, just as Jesus answered him with the right answers during His temptation in the wilderness.
Study this temptation well because all of Satan’s temptations fall into some realm of the same three categories. The devil, of course, variously clothes these temptations to specifically fit you: your personality, your desires, your strong and weak spots. Nevertheless, these are the same categorical temptations which fit us all simply because we are sinful humans with similar corruptions.
The Spirit’s chief purpose, however, is to glorify Jesus. His focus is on the Savior and His work for your salvation. He does not direct attention to Himself so that you do not make Him the most prominent person of the Trinity to the exclusion of the Father and the Son. Clearly, the Spirit does everything to lift up Jesus!
Remember, of the three persons, it is Jesus who is the particular arch-enemy of Satan and the sinful culture he designs in “his” fallen world. All three – himself, the culture, and a fallen world – attack Jesus with Satan’s direction, his cunning, and his chameleon-like masks; Jesus is the primary hated one, a universal swear word, the one who is a stumbling block and offense to every unbeliever. It is against the current and entire politically correct culture to even publicly mention Jesus’ name or speak of Him as He truly is: the sole path to the Father. No other religious figure in the world receives such opprobrium. Oh, how they hate to hear such language of exclusivity! Do not be surprised: You, being publicly united to Jesus, will be under similar attack by Satan, sin, and the world.
Jesus is the cornerstone of your life. He is the foundation without whom you would collapse. He is your all-in-all. It is this same Spirit who points you to the truth of Jesus’ union with you.
The Spirit was evident as a co-active part of the creation while He “hovered over the waters” in Genesis. He is referred to throughout the whole Old Testament, even appearing in Isaiah 11:1-5 and 42:1 as one of the three persons of the Triune God. Do a study with your concordance of “Spirit” in the Old Testament to see for yourself His activity in concert with the other two persons.
He empowered certain Old Testament figures to perform specific tasks, He gave utterance to the prophets in inspiring their writing of God’s Word, He convicted people of sin. In the New Testament, the Spirit came to permanently indwell each born again believer when Jesus completed His ministry on earth and ascended to the courts of heaven. In fact, it is the Spirit who accomplishes your new birth. We cannot survive without this Parakletos to take us through this life all the way to glory.
He will provide interpretation to your groanings, communicating them through your Mediator, Jesus, to the Father. You may not understand all this; it is mystifying, but the Spirit understands. He will enlighten your mind and stretch your faith to understand all this yourself.
It is this Triune God who saves you. All three are active in setting your journey to heaven. Praise the Spirit for bringing spiritual reality to you when you were not physically able to see your Savior with your eyes, touch Him with your hands, or embrace Him with your arms.
The intimacy of this is spiritually known now, but one day in your new body it will be known physically as well. Millennia ago, Job expressed by faith, “In my flesh I will see God.” The Spirit sovereignly interjects Himself into your personal being, bridging the gap of faith to sight. Neither you nor I fully comprehend this, but your Comforter brings it to fruition in your spirit. Jesus promises Him to you for just such a purpose! The Spirit testifies with your spirit that you are a true child of God (1 John 4).


“Come, O come, Thou quickening Spirit, God from all eternity! May Thy power never fail us; dwell within us constantly. Then shall truth and life and light banish all the gloom of night.”
(First verse of Heinrich Held’s hymn, “Come, O Come, Thou Quickening Spirit,” 1664)
 


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