December 25th Advent Devotional

Merry Christmas!

Sandy Safford

Luke 2:8-20

The day has come, the one we have been waiting for this Advent. Mary and Joseph are in Bethlehem and the time came for the baby to be born. Mary gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger. The coming of the Messiah, the birth of the king of kings was announced to the shepherds on the hillside watching their sheep. “Do not be afraid” the angel of the Lord said. We have heard these words before in the days of Christ’s coming. But fear is a natural reaction to the unknown, to what is new, changing and especially to angels appearing. But here is reassurance and encouragement as the shepherds tremble. “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11)  This was God’s promise to the shepherds and to all people and they were told where to find the baby. But wait! The sky filled with the heavenly host, and the angel praised God saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom God’s favor rests.” The shepherds go and find the baby Jesus, just as the angels told them. Now they too share the story and spread the word of God’s promise for all people, a Savior has been born! Merry Christmas!

Father, God may we remember this day of Christmas all year long and celebrate your promise for all people. Amen.

©2018 by individual authors and Facebook Narrative Lectionary Group. This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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December 24th Advent Devotional

Silent Night

Chris Deacon

Luke 2:1-14

One of my favorite Christmas memories growing up was going to our church’s Christmas Eve service. It ended with us lighting candles, singing “Silent Night” and departing in silence at midnight. One particular year, I was driving to my parents’ after the service. It seemed the whole town was asleep. I saw very few other cars and I drove in silence the entire way. It was very peaceful and very holy.

 

Was the night that Christ was born really silent? Bethlehem was overflowing.

Every inn in the city was full. I used to live in a small, rural town of about 2000. Once a year, there was a huge arts and craft drive that would bring in 10,000 visitors. When a small town has several times it’s population visiting, it is never quiet! We can’t forget that Jesus was born in a manger. There were donkeys, sheep, goats, possibly chickens. It is hard to believe that it would have been silent.

Maybe, the whole world fell silent and entered into peace to welcome the Christ child. Jesus could calm the storms and walk on water, a little quiet would be nothing for him! Or maybe, Jesus was born into a loud, noisy world. Babies crying, animals braying, a city overflowing with people. Maybe, that is the point. This perfect child was born into a noisy, flawed, broken world. Maybe that is the point of Christmas, that God entered into a noisy, flawed, broken world to redeem it. It may not have been a silent night, but no doubt it was a holy night!

Almighty God, on this day we prepare to finally welcome the Christ child. We welcome him into a world that is dirty, broken, and loud. Just as he came to redeem this world, help us to further your kingdom here on earth until he comes again. Amen

  

Rev. Chris Deacon is the pastor of the United Parish of Bowie, a joint UCC/PC(USA) congregation in Bowie, MD. He is also the author or “Louder than Words.”

©2018 by individual authors and Facebook Narrative Lectionary Group. This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

December 23rd Advent Devotional

Belonging

Tara Wilkins

Matthew 1:18-25

The time is nearly here. Our Advent expectation will soon be fulfilled! We listen with anticipation to the angel’s words to Joseph. He wanted to do the right thing. Marrying Mary gave her a sense of belonging and the safety necessary for the birthing of a Savior. His gift to her, though, must have been isolating for him.

Mary and Joseph were bound together by their secret request from God. Their lives had a purpose, a Holy call that reminded us all that even in the most arduous times, God is with us.

The Christmas story portrays a reality that people still face today. Mary and Joseph experienced rejection and persecution. They became refugees seeking asylum. People then and now forgot that if we all belong to God, then we also belong to one another.

Sociologist Brene Brown writes, “We seem to have forgotten that…we’re connected to one another by something greater than group membership, politics, and ideology—that we’re connected by love…No matter how separated we are by what we think and believe, we are part of the same spiritual story.”

Our spiritual story is still being written. This year may we take a chance to befriend someone on the margins, someone who also belongs to God. “Do not be afraid”, the angel said. “God is with us”.

Loving God, help is to love without fear, as You have called us to do over and over. May we reflect your love in the world, Amen.

 Rev. Tara Wilkins, pastor at Bridgeport United Church of Christ in Portland, Oregon, and executive director of the Community of Welcoming Congregations.

©2018 by individual authors and Facebook Narrative Lectionary Group. This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

December 22nd Advent Devotional

Born In an Instant!

Wayne C. Drueck

Isaiah 66: 7-11

 

Before the birth of our first child, my wife was in labor for 19+ hours. Everyone was ultimately fine, but it was a long, painful wait. Can you imagine the contrast in Isaiah 66 where a mother gives birth before labor even begins? I think my wife might have traded places, given the choice.

The mother that Isaiah describes is giving birth to a nation. Mother God is creating again and that creation is nearly instantaneous. “Who ever heard of such a thing… Can a nation be born in a day…come to life in a second?”

Jerusalem had endured generations of travail and grief. Hope was a rare commodity. But God made this birth, this “new Jerusalem,” happen in a heartbeat and, along with it, gave the promise of many more “children.”

Hope itself was born in the God-birthing of that nation. Those who once lived in sorrow could now be glad. They will be nursed and comforted as they were by their own mother, until they are safe and satisfied. They will enjoy Mother God’s wonderful glory fully and abundantly.

In the birth of the Bethlehem child, we too can find comfort even after a long, painful journey. This Advent we too can live in expectation and hope and enjoy God’s glory fully and abundantly.

God of birth and nurture, reveal to us your glory and hold us closely in Your arms.

 

Wayne C. Drueck is a retired United Church of Christ pastor living in Rothschild, WI.

©2018 by individual authors and Facebook Narrative Lectionary Group. This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

December 21st Advent Devotional

After Darkness, Light

Sergio Gonzalez

Isaiah 60:1-5

With Christmas around the corner, it’s good to remember what this holiday is about. Thankfully, today’s text is a good reminder of the “reason for the season” so to speak: that Christ is the light of the world. Having said that, if Christ is the light of the world, it assumes that the world has darkness.

Yahweh acknowledges this in the first two verses of our passage. He tells the Israelites that light has come, even though there is darkness around them. They would have understood this darkness as the fact that they were in exile. They were away from their homes, their land, and their history: slaves in a strange place. We experience exile every day. We desire life, but death occurs. We desire food, but there is starvation. We desire light, but there is darkness.

Praise God that we serve a God that acknowledges our exile! Look at the promise given to the Israelites in verses 3-5. Yahweh will gather all of Israel together to be with Him, out of the darkness of exile. This is what Christmas is about. God in Christ sees that we are in exile, far from Him, and takes on flesh so that we would be brought back to Him. And notice, the use of “we” here. Verses 5-6 implies our salvation and celebration is corporate: we celebrate with our sons and daughters, with our neighbours, with the world. Have hope, because Christ is the light of the world.

Almighty and everlasting God, whose will it is to restore all things in your well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords: Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth, divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (“The Book of Common Prayer. (1979). New York: Church Publishing Incorporated, p.236.”).

  

Sergio Gonzalez is finishing his MA in Biblical and Theological Studies at Knox Seminary and currently attends St. Aidan’s Anglican Church (ACNA) in Kansas City, MO.

©2018 by individual authors and Facebook Narrative Lectionary Group. This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

December 20th Advent Devotional

House of Prayer

Daphne Grant Urban

Isaiah 56:3-8a

The eunuchs and the foreigners were outsiders in the midst of Israel.

Eunuchs were shown that the law against them was given in love. The foreigners were treated according to their attitude, not their birth. Both of these, for the eunuchs and the foreigners, show God’s love. And as long as they observe God’s Sabbath as the foundation of his covenant, they will all be allowed to join Israel and be accepted into God’s kingdom.

Lord, the truth is yours to give and ours to receive. Open our minds and our hearts to find and accept it, especially during this time of advent, as we prepare to celebrate God’s only son’s birth. Amen.

 

Daphne Urban is a student at Luther Seminary and an ELCA Supply Pastor in Bemidji, Minnesota

©2018 by individual authors and Facebook Narrative Lectionary Group. This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

December 19th News and Notes

Stockings for Seniors

Thank you for everyone who contributed to the senior stockings!  17 were delivered to the food pantry this morning!

Christmas Eve Service

We will celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on Christmas Eve at 7:00 with a Candlelight Nativity service.  A nursery will be available and we will have glow sticks for children and those uncomfortable with candles.

Adult Sunday School

We are gauging interest in an adult Sunday School.  If you are interested in participating and/or leading, please sign the sheet in the Narthex or sign up here.

Sermons Online

Did you know that our sermons are posted on our website, usually a week after worship?  You can find them here.

De-Greening the Church

Please plan on staying after church on January 6th to remove the decorations from the sanctuary.

Annual Meeting and Chili/Dessert Cook-Off

Mark your calendars.  On January 28th, we will have our Annual Meeting and our Dessert and Chili cook-off to benefit the Mars Hill mission trip!

Two Week Outlook

Thursday, December 19th

  • Mens Night Out, 6:30 PM, Red Robin

Sunday, December 23rd

  • Worship, 10:00

Monday, December 24th

  • Candlelight Nativity Service, 7:00

Sunday, December 30th

  • Worship, 10:00, Le Quan Turner filling the pulpit

Looking Ahead

  • December 24th, Christmas Eve
  • December 25th, Christmas
  • January 6th, De-greening the Church
  • January 27th, Annual Meeting
  • April 27th, Christmas in April
  • July 7th-13th 2019, Mars Hill Mission trip
  • July 22nd-26th, Art & Music Camp