Merry Christmas

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I have enjoyed sharing with all of you the daily devotional during the Advent Season. May God Bless you and your family this Christmas Season. As we prepare to enter the New Year may God continue to shine a light through any darkness and be a beacon of hope.

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Christmas Eve Devotion

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Titus 2:11-14

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.

We have been waiting for this day for a month. And it still has snuck up on us for some reason. Could it possibly be that we are missing the snow and it does not quite feel like Christmas with all of the rain and 50 degree weather?

We come together this evening, regardless of what the weather may be telling us, to celebrate the birth of Jesus. We come to worship and praise God for the gift of Christ being born over 2000 years ago in the most unlikely of places. Today that place may be in the most desolate places in the world. Christ was born to bring hope and a promise of saving grace. This year that hope could be shared in many places throughout the world. In the midst of the violence that is still taking pace in our country and world, God breaks through with the promise of a life that sheds all of the unnecessary things and leaves us simply being in God. May this Christmas Season bring you joy and a passion to go out and share this wonderful news.

Let us pray.

God Incarnate, we give thanks for the birth of your Son, Jesus Christ. May we celebrate this Christmas season by caring for our neighbors and being filled with your love that overflows. AMEN.

 

Advent Devotions December 23

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2 Peter 1:16-18

For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain.

Just a couple of days until Christmas and we have a reminder of the glory of Christ from a testament attributed to Peter. A reference to the Transfiguration highlights the connection between Christ and God. This connection brings an understanding of everything that has transpired from the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

We like to be able to make connections within our own lives to events that transpire around us and to the people that we know. These connections put everything in their proper places and helps us learn from each other. These words in 2 Peter bring about an authority that it comes from someone with a close connection to the early church and someone that personally knew Jesus. This carries merit during the early days of the Christian church just as it helps to know certain people to get certain jobs or positions today.

The one true connection that matters though is the relationship that one builds with Christ. A relationship that can help lean and guide in everything.

Let us pray.

God, we give thanks for those that walked with Christ and we ask that he walk with us today. May you guide us Jesus in all that we say and do. AMEN.

Advent Devotions December 22

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Ephesians 2:13-18

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father.

Today is the Winter Solstice, which is the shortest day of the year. It is the day that we see the least amount of daylight and thus also the point from which the light starts to breakthrough the darkness and our days once again start getting longer.

Many churches on this day, or around this time of the season, will have what they call a Blue Christmas service. For many folks that suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), the short days and the absence of sun heading into the winter can be downright depressing. Blue Christmas can be for these folks. It can also be for  those that simply do not equate Christmas to a joyous time, either there have been some deaths of loved ones that have happened around this time or simply they have bad memories of Christmas past. We must remember that while we rejoice in Jesus’ birth, others are dreading what the memories of the Christmas season may bring.

Let us pray.

Comforting God, be with us on this shortest day of the year, bringing the promise of light to banish the darkness. Be with those whom Christmas does not bring joy and instead an uneasiness. Bless them and provide them peace. AMEN.

Advent Devotions December 21

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Colossians 1:15-20

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.

The imago dei, or image of the invisible God. We too are told that we are created in the image of God, yet we struggle with what God’s being is actually like. God is all in all! There are no defined parameters for God in the world. It is only our human tendency to want to place those parameters and physical limitations on the God that we worship and praise.

Christ being born incarnate of Mary, lets us place a face to God in our world and time. It is in Christ that God is able to relate to so many people throughout the world, over 2.1 billion Christians. We are called to continue the proclamation of Christ and baptize in his name. There may be many different ways that we hear this calling, as is apparent in the many different denominations within the Christian church. We all return to the same God though, in whose image we were created.

Creating God, be with us this week as we approach Christmas as may we be filled with your Spirit. Fill us with love for our neighbors and reach out to those in need. AMEN.

Advent Devotions December 20

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Micah 5:2-5a

But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days. Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has brought forth; then the rest of his kindred shall return to the people of Israel. And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth; and he shall be the one of peace.

A prophecy of the leader that will come out of the town of Bethlehem. Much like many of the other royal psalms that speak of the shepherd or king that will come to rule with peace.

This points towards Jesus as we open up this fourth Sunday of Advent and continue to wait in the midst for the birth of the newborn king. The signs and the prophecies continue to point to Jesus as we venture into various verses of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) throughout this Advent Season. It is a season for us to wait. It is also a season for us to prepare. Through these scriptures, Christ is present and alive among them and is evident that he does not come to us in just the New Testament. As Christ can be present among us today in every bit of our lives, he was also present with our ancestors more than 2000 years ago, back to the beginning of time. The Christ that is, was, and will be.

Let us pray.

Eternal God, we give thanks for prophecies point us towards your son, Jesus Christ. We ask that he may continue to guide us today, tomorrow and into the future to come. AMEN.

Advent Devotions December 19

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Isaiah 66:7-11

Before she was in labor she gave birth; before her pain came upon her she delivered a son. Who has heard of such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall a land be born in one day? Shall a nation be delivered in one moment? Yet as soon as Zion was in labor she delivered her children.Shall I open the womb and not deliver? says the Lord; shall I, the one who delivers, shut the womb? says your God. Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice with her in joy, all you who mourn over her— that you may nurse and be satisfied from her consoling breast; that you may drink deeply with delight from her glorious bosom.

The image of mother is very strong in this passage as the author refers to Israel returning to their homeland after the time of exile. This is the time to rejoice and celebrate for everything that they need is present.

The return from exile was a long time coming through many struggles and hardships. The book of Isaiah takes the reader through all of these from pre-exile to a time of exile and then post-exile. It is a story of the people and one that spans a long length of time. As Isaiah comes to a close, the story of the people does not. They have returned to their promised land and it is here that they may be satisfied with everything that is necessary for a good life.

We too, enter into these dark times of life where we may feel as though we have been exiled. God is present in those times whether we sense it or not, just waiting for the right time for us to return to God’s love.

Let us pray.

Loving God, we pray for those times in our lives that are dark and at times appear hopeless. May you break through the darkness with your light that brings hope and promise. AMEN.