Advent 2015 Devotional

November 29 - First Sunday of Advent

The Great Adventure: Looking for the Lord

December 12 - Second Saturday of Advent

The Meaning Behind the Season

November 30 - First Monday of Advent

Hearts Aflame to Hope for Adventure

December 6 - Second Sunday of Advent

Hanukkah...and so it begins!

December 5 - First Saturday of Advent

All I Want for Christmas

December 2 - First Wednesday of Advent

An Adventure in Prophesy

December 3 - First Thursday of Advent

A Spirit of Advent'ure

December 4 - First Friday of Advent

God's Wish List

December 7 - Second Monday of Advent

Adventure to Mars

December 9 - Second Wednesday of Advent

A Curious Guest List

 

December 8 - Second Tuesday of Advent

"Be Enough"

December 1 - First Tuesday of Advent

Waiting, Anticipation, and Hope, Part of the Great Adventure

December 10 - Second Thursday of Advent

The God Who Risks

December 11 - Second Friday of Advent

"Hitch Your Wagon..."

Introduction

Table of Contents

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Click the          on the bottom of each page to return to the table of contents.  

December 13 - Third Sunday of Advent

Your Love Stands Firm Forever

December 15 - Third Tuesday of Advent

Traveling Mercies

December 18 - Third Friday of Advent

Charity or Change?

December 14 - Third Monday of Advent

The Gift

December 16 - Third Wednesday of Advent

Travel Adventure

December 19 - Third Saturday of Advent

Christmas in July

December 17 - Third Thursday of Advent

Christmas in Nigeria

December 20 - Fourth Sunday of Advent

Let Your Love Grow

December 21 - Fourth Monday of Advent

Let Your Love Know

Devotional Entry Form

December 22 - Fourth Tuesday of Advent

Let Your Love Flow

December 23 - Fourth Wednesday of Advent

Let His Love Bestow

December 24 - Christmas Eve

Mysterious Package

December 25 - Christmas Day

Christmas as Adventure

  INTRODUCTION    Your editors sincerely pray that these pages may be a blessing in this Holy season for all of our readers. We continue to be encouraged by the breadth and depth of thought as we gather and assemble the devotional submissions from our friends around the nation. There are many familiar names and faces represented among our writers, and we are also very pleased to include writings from several first‐time Advent’urers for Advent 2015. This booklet is an expression of the tradition we cherish in Congregationalism ‐ that everyone, lay or clergy, has something to contribute to the health of the Body of Christ represented in our National Association. To our writers, thank you for taking the time and making the investment to write for us! Many blessings for a truly inspiring Advent and Christmas! Lori Wiley and Terry Bobzien, co‐editors As you enjoy this Advent Devotional, write an entry for next year! The best time to write an entry is during its season. The theme for Advent 2016 is “From Darkness to Light ‐ Isaiah 9:2,” and is due August 15, 2016. The theme for Lent 2017 is “What Wondrous Love is This?” due by November 1, 2016. Watch the NACCC website, emails, and other communications, for up‐to‐date information about the Devotionals. You are encouraged to send entries for the Advent 2016 or Lent 2017 Devotionals to Rev. Terry Bobzien (terrybob@gmail.com). May the Holy Spirit inspire your writing for the glory of God and the building up of Christ’s Church. On a personal note, many thanks to Rev. Dr. Lori Wiley for welcoming me to this team two years ago. Due to time constraints, this is Lori’s last rotation as Devotional Editor. Thank you, Lori, for your hard work, organization, and Spirit‐ sense! May God continue to bless your work in ministry. Terry Bobzien
   INTRODUCTION      Your editors sincerely pray that these pages may be a blessing in this Holy season for all of our rea...
First Sunday of Advent 11/29/15 The Great Adventure: Looking for the Lord  When the angels had le them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ Luke 2:15 The shepherds were terrified when they first experienced the glory of the Lord. The glory of the Lord had angels and unknown appari ons connected with it. Yet the shepherds changed from being fearful to being curious. Let us go to Bethlehem and see what the Lord has revealed through the angels. Because the Lord revealed that the Son of God was born nearby in Bethlehem, the adventure con nued from hillside to town. This scripture describes the excitement of the shepherds as they went to see what they had heard about ‐ the reality and truth of the Lord’s message. Adventure can be a daily thing, beginning with an a tude of curiosity towards God’s Promises. We can be afraid of what we may learn or who the Lord will make us out to be. But if we pray for courage we may be blessed as the shepherds, were to see the fulfillment of God’s promises all around us. PRAYER: Lord, we ask that You grant us courage to look and see what You have done, what You are doing, what You can do, and what You will do, as we claim Your promises for ourselves. Let this Advent be a daily adventure. AMEN Rev. Steven DeGangi Grace Lower Stone Reformed Church Rockwell, North Carolina Steven.DeGangi@gmail.com
First Sunday of Advent  11 29 15  The  Great  Adventure   Looking  for  the  Lord   When the angels had le them and gone i...
Monday, First Week of Advent 11/30/15 Hearts Aflame to Hope for Adventure  Then [God] said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it… ‘Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” So I prophesied as commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet ‐ a vast army. Ezekiel 37:9–10 God brought the prophet Ezekiel to see irreversible death in a valley of bones, probably the scene of a terrible ba le. This vision had scary sounds as bones ra led, and came back together. You can imagine Ezekiel being creeped out by the experience. Can you imagine him jumping a li le as the dead came back to life, not just as zombies, but as real, living, laughing people? Many of us enter the holiday season looking at all we have to do, and it may seem that our lives are set, our schedules impossible, and our hopes unreachable. Perhaps we think how red we already are. Others of us may wish we could do more, but our bodies just can’t. And some of us are grieving deeply over those who have passed. So we wait in darkness, promised that the light of Jesus will come, but how can our “dry bones” ever have real life again? Only through the Holy Spirit filling us. PRAYER: Come, O Holy Spirit, and make us come alive again. Breathe, O Spirit, into us so that we may have hope that Jesus is indeed coming to bring life, eternal life. AMEN Rev. Doug Gray First Church of Squantum (Congrega onal) Quincy, Massachuse s
Monday, First Week of Advent  11 30 15  Hearts  A   ame  to  Hope  for  Adventure   Then  God  said to me,    Prophesy to ...
Tuesday, First Week of Advent 12/1/15 Wai ng, An cipa on, and Hope, Part of the Great Adventure  A man named Simeon … eagerly an cipated the restora on of Israel… Luke 2:25 CEB One of the great aspects of Advent is the buildup of an cipa on as we wait for the arrival of the birthday of Christ. Christ embodies all that we hope for, so we are willing to wait. But think about wai ng in your own life. When I do that in terms of my family, I think about some very close rela ves who lived all their lives wai ng and hoping for things that never came. Life was being lived, not in joy, but almost as a misery to be endured, in hopes that at some point, before they died, what they wanted out of life would arrive. I watched these loved ones live and die unfulfilled lives. Advent has much to teach us. Are we wai ng for and an cipa ng the right things in life? We have to be careful. First, what we need to be hoping for is not our personal life’s dream, but the arrival of Christ in each aspect of life’s journey. It is this very personal step by step walk with Jesus that turns our current living into eternal life in the now. Second, we have to be careful not to have an overly preconceived picture of what Christ’s arrival in our lives will look like or result in. Take the example of Jesus’ birth. The family of Israel had been wai ng, watching, hoping, and an cipa ng the arrival of the Messiah for thousands of years. But no one expected that the Promised One would arrive as he did, be as he was, or address the issues of life in the manner that he did. They totally missed his advent. It is easy for us to miss Christ’s arrival when we are convinced in our minds that his arrival for us will be a certain way. Wai ng, an cipa on, and hope are best lived out with an open mind. It makes life an adventure instead of something to be endured. PRAYER: Lord, we too are excited about Your arrival. Everything important in life depends on Your arrival in our lives. You alone are our hope and our salva on. We understand that Your arrival will not fit our preconcep ons. Enable us to process the thoughts we have about ourselves, life, and You, in such a way that we do not miss Your unique arrival in our own lives today. AMEN Douglas Kelchner, Pastor Thomas A. Edison Congrega onal Church Fort Myers, Florida pastor@taecc.com
Tuesday, First Week of Advent  12 1 15  Wai ng,  An cipa on,  and  Hope,  Part  of  the  Great  Adventure   A man named Si...
Wednesday, First Week of Advent An Adventure in Prophesy    I bring you good news that will cause great joy. 12/2/15 Luke 2:10 NIV Many of us who face health issues or emo onal transi ons, call these passages journeys. I am calling my current medical interlude an adventure. The word evokes an element of excitement, the opportunity to overcome odds, the chance to learn new lessons and acquire new skills. This adventure has also included the blessing of prophets; those who have said the words I needed to hear when I needed to hear them. So many miracles are about ming, as are the words of a prophet, who is o en disguised as a friend. A prophet's words bring comfort in the dark of the night, when the op mism that you use as a weapon against despair, deserts you. They bring hope as you sit in the doctor's wai ng room. They bring joy in their fulfillment when good news is received. Rev. Terry Bobzien, on more than one occasion, has unknowingly prophesied to me with a scripture on Facebook, that went straight to the heart of my fears, and comforted me. I believe prayer informs us regarding when to speak and what to say, and even what to post on Facebook! The first week of Advent is the me to consider fulfilled prophecy about Christ, but it doesn’t end there. May our words bring peace, hope, and dings of great joy. The gi of well spoken words, words of wisdom, words that build up, words that encourage and comfort, is a precious gi ; a gi that we can all give and receive. This is the season of gi giving. What gi s of words can we give? PRAYER: Dearest God, may our hearts be open to Your leading and may our words always be seasoned with grace. AMEN Barbara Erlendson Third Congrega onal Church Middletown, Connec cut barbaraerlendson@gmail.com
Wednesday, First Week of Advent An  Adventure  in  Prophesy      I bring you good news that will cause great joy.  12 2 15...
Thursday, First Week of Advent 12/3/15 A Spirit of Advent’ure  What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9 NRSV As I approach the half‐century mark on planet Earth, I’m realizing that my spirit of “Advent’ure” could use a jump‐start. Along life’s journey, the wide‐eyed awe I once felt at this me of year gave way to moderate enthusiasm, and then to just a vague and mild warm‐fuzziness. In recent years, even a bit of “ho‐hum, nothing new under the sun” has crept into my Advent mindset. Do you remember that Joni Mitchell song, “The Circle Game”? The refrain goes like this: And the seasons they go round and round And the painted ponies go up and down We're cap ve on the carousel of me We can't return we can only look behind From where we came And go round and round and round In the circle game With age and experience, it’s easy to lapse into this almost melancholy a tude ‐ passive, fatalis c, resigned to bland repe on. But I think it is refreshing for us to remember that, in Jesus, God did do something truly new, something exci ng and revolu onary! Indeed, part of what we celebrate during this season is the reality that God can burst into human history in remarkable, surprising, transforma ve ways. A er all, God has done it before! And so, this Advent, let us embrace an Advent’urous spirit, knowing that God just might do something truly new at any moment! PRAYER: God of surprises, You unques onably have the power to amaze. You call us to be open to holy adventures beyond our expecta on, and even beyond our imagina ons. May we be open to being awe‐struck and wide‐eyed this Advent. In Jesus’ name we pray. AMEN Rev. Rob Fredrickson, Associate Minister Ozaukee Congrega onal Church Gra on, Wisconsin rcf474@gmail.com
Thursday, First Week of Advent  12 3 15  A  Spirit  of  Advent   ure   What has been is what will be, and what has been do...
Friday, First Week of Advent 12/4/15   God’s Wish List    If the willingness is there, the gi is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have. 2 Corinthians 8:12 NIV A li le girl was talking with her mother about what she hoped to receive at Christmas. She stopped when her mother said: “What are you giving God for Christmas?” The li le girl said she did not know what God wanted for Christmas, and she was not certain there was anything she could give God. But it is an important ques on. What is on God’s Wish List for Christmas? Any items that we might be able to give? The Magi brought their gi s of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, and presented them to Jesus. Advent is the me when we decide what we will give to Jesus. How about mending a quarrel with someone? Encourage someone to a higher level of living? Help someone place faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord? Forgive someone who has wronged you? Visit a friend you have not seen in a long me? Take me to listen to another person tell you of a painful situa on and then pray for that person? Would those be on God’s Wish List? As soon as Thanksgivng is over, the decora ons for Christmas start to appear. Lights and nsel on decorated trees, and images of Santa Claus abound, along with the music of the season. It seems as if we are trying to get ourselves into the mood. But Christmas has less to do with us than we think. PRAYER: Lord, remind us that Christmas is not our holiday. It was not planned by us. It happened because that was the way God worked. You are here because God chose to send You. It’s not about us. It’s about God at work in our world. May our “Christmas lists” reflect that. AMEN Rev. Dr. Lowell W. Linden, Minister Emeritus First Congrega onal Church Redlands, California lowelllinden@aol.com
Friday, First Week of Advent  12 4 15    God   s  Wish  List      If the willingness is there, the gi is acceptable accord...
Saturday, First Week of Advent   All I Want for Christmas    ..I am come that they may have life and have it to the full. 12/5/15 John 10:10 “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth, my two front teeth, my two front teeth…,” remember that holiday melody? Not exactly a tune that s mulates worship, but it does express the desire of a youngster dearly missing two front teeth while an cipa ng the arrival of teeth that must last a life me. Now in my seventh decade, I’m keenly aware of how precious these life me teeth are. Accrued birthdays annoyingly reveal that this life, teeth included, comes with an expira on date unknown to us. But we’ve been given a promise of something abundantly wonderful and beyond our expira on date. The promise of abundant life applies, not only to our present existence that is daily being expended, but also refers to our everlas ng existence in heaven, which was exclusively secured for us through Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross. But this is the Christmas Season. Why speak of the Cross? Ah, because all I want for Christmas has been provided through the frailty of a li le baby of poor standing. The Messiah, Jesus, was born into this world to bring Divine iden ty to people who have no enduring social status of any kind. Jesus reduced his amazing Self to a small infant whose Heavenly Father prepared a future we never would have imagined. Through faith, Jesus transforms people of no standing into children of the Most High God. “All I want for Christmas” is completely sa sfied in my Savior! Knowing that truth makes the joy of the season shine brighter! PRAYER  Thank You for sa sfying my “want” with what is truly my “need;” forgiveness and reconcilia on to You with a heavenly and everlas ng future. AMEN Helen Cunningham Congrega onal Chris an Partnerships First Congrega onal Church Kingston, New Hampshire hc6645@gmail.com
Saturday, First Week of Advent    All  I  Want  for  Christmas      ..I am come that they may have life and have it to the...
Second Sunday of Advent 12/6/15 Hanukkah...and so it begins! Then came the Feast of Dedica on at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon's Colonnade. The Jews gathered around him, saying, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly." John 10:22‐24 It is a blessing for the heart when the observance of the Jewish Fes val of Hanukkah and the beginning of the Chris an Advent Season fall very near one another! Across the world there is a sense of awe for the Almighty, a sense of renewed expecta on, a sense of intense gra tude for God's gi of Miracles! What a mighty and awesome God we serve! Throughout all me and into eternity, our God reigns, and is Sovereign over all that is! Come, let us begin our journey, let us feel an excitement for the Miracles that have been given by our gracious God! Let us rejoice for the freedom that returned to our Jewish ancestors, their victory over oppressors, the purifica on of their holy ground, God miraculously delivering them from pagan persecu on. PRAYER: We thank Thee, Lord, for this deliverance, and for the celebra on of remembrance during Hanukkah, the Feast of Dedica on, the Fes val of Lights. We thank Thee for the provision of the flame of light, burning strong and steady, represen ng Your presence among Your people. We thank Thee, Lord, for the greatest Light of all, the Light of the World, Your incarnate presence, Jesus Christ, among Your people. We rejoice for the freedom that is given us from the oppression of our sins. We thank Thee, Lord, for the Advent Season in which to prepare our hearts for such great blessing. O Lord Our God, as we step forth into this sacred me of remembrance, prepara on, and prayer, we ask that our hearts remain at all mes focused on You. We ask that You grant us understanding of both the depth and true meaning in the miracles You have provided. For truly, O Lord, we no longer have to ask, "How long will you keep us in suspense?" The Word tells us plainly, The One who has come is the Christ, the Messiah, the Savior, the Light of the World. And it is in Jesus’ Holy Name we pray, AMEN Rev. Lin McGee Re red Pastor and Minister of Music Winsted, Connec cut rainbowbells@sbcglobal.net
Second Sunday of Advent  12 6 15 Hanukkah...and  so  it  begins   Then came the Feast of Dedica on at Jerusalem. It was wi...
Monday, Second Week of Advent 12/7/15 Adventure to Mars    The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. Gala ans 5:6 NIV Ray Bradbury wrote a story about some pioneers who were leaving from Independence, Missouri. They were not going west, but they were going into outer space. They were traveling by space ship, and not by covered wagon. A young woman was about to make the trip to Mars. She was going to meet her fiancé, who was already there. Before she boarded the space ship she made a telephone call to Mars so she could speak with her fiancé. She needed to be reassured she was doing the right thing. There was a great deal of electrical interference, and the only word she heard from him was the word ‐ LOVE. That assurance was enough for her, and she boarded the space ship to travel to Mars. Much the same communica on is coming from God to all of us at this me of year...Through all of the interference, and there is much, is one word that comes to us: LOVE. That one word from God is assurance enough for our lives to embark on any Advent’ure. PRAYER: Thank you, God, for persevering, in spite of much interference, in sending us The Message of Love through Jesus Christ. Amen Rev. Dr. Lowell W. Linden, Minister Emeritus First Congrega onal Church Redlands, California lowelllinden@aol.com
Monday, Second Week of Advent  12 7 15  Adventure  to  Mars       The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself th...
Tuesday, Second Week of Advent 12/8/15 “Be Enough”    A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamenta on, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more. Ma hew 2:18 I had been involved in development work with partners from Nigeria since the mid‐ 70’s. When I returned in 2001 to teach an MBA course, the en re class was comprised of indigenous senior level decision‐makers. The leaders in our class worked mostly in faith‐based, Chris an organiza ons. It was clear from the first day that I was the person in the room who would learn the most during this two week intensive execu ve course. Five of them gathered for Vespers each evening, and prayed that the Lord’s presence would “be enough” for their people during these leaders’ me of study away. At their invita on, I joined them one evening. The most memorable lesson was what “be enough” meant. We were in the season of Advent, so the rota ng worship leaders framed their devo ons around the overarching theme of the Lord’s coming. The leader on the night of my visit was a kind but serious person, named David. A er reading the above Scripture, David told in a ma er‐of‐fact way about the kidnapping, rape, and murder of three girls from his agency’s boarding middle school. He then began to weep as he recounted the mee ngs with the girls’ parents to tell each of their daughter’s fate. Mathew 2:18 (see above) is being re‐lived in Nigeria. As to the girls from his school who had died so violently, David had come to believe that their stories would help inspire a movement in northern Nigeria of women whose Spirit‐ filled lives would lead to the libera on of the people who are being oppressed by the radical extremists. My understanding of the meaning of the Lord’s presence with us was forever altered and deepened by what I learned during that advent Vesper service. So was the way that I follow Jesus. PRAYER: O Holy Parent, David reminded us of the innocent children and Your innocent Son, called to suffer a martyrs’ death, as the means of libera ng the world from sin and sin’s unjust consequences. May those martyred for their faith always bear witness to the spiritual powers of darkness and to us as well, of that sacred libera on through Christ. AMEN David Black, President Emeritus Eastern University Thomas A. Edison Congrega onal Church Fort Myers, Florida Davidblack0326@gmail.com
Tuesday, Second Week of Advent  12 8 15     Be  Enough         A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamenta on, Ra...
Wednesday, Second Week of Advent 12/9/15 A Curious Guest List  “... you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:12 NRSV Suppose you received an invita on to a end the Angelic Chorus the night Jesus was born. If you were invited, who else might be on the guest list? Religious officials? Poli cal leaders or Presiden al candidates? Hollywood stars? Certainly the rich and famous. For such an occasion you would have put on your best suit. Maybe you would have splashed on some cologne, run a comb through your hair, and polished your boots. But when you got to the place, it was a field. No one there but a few scraggly shepherds, who sent you to a stable in town. The stable was a place filled with cob webs, dust, animal filth, and smelly air. A stable in an unremarkable li le town was just not a fi ng place for a king to enter this world. There was a manger, but no proper royal bassinet. It was a dumpy old barn, and not a sterile hospital suite. The audience was a bunch of mu on punchers fresh from the pasture’s campfire ‐ not royalty, rabbis, and priests. There were no trumpets announcing a Savior’s birth. The only sound was the rhythmic grinding of a cow’s molars as she lazily chewed her cud. The whole evening turned out to be not at all what you had expected. This most unusual scene is exactly what God had in mind. The plan was a people’s Savior. It was the beginning of the life on this earth of One who would say, “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Ma hew 25:40) From the very beginning, it was clear this child was surely going to know the meaning of “the least of these.” PRAYER: Help me to see Christ in the less than obvious places. May I find him in the faces of the poor, the disenfranchised, the marginalized, and the voiceless. May I be so moved that I cannot ignore their suffering. AMEN Rev. Dr. Jerrold Jones, Re red Pastor First Congrega onal Church Greenville, Michigan Daclamrev1@gmail.com
Wednesday, Second Week of Advent  12 9 15  A  Curious  Guest  List      ... you will    nd a child wrapped in bands of clo...
Thursday, Second Week of Advent 12/10/15   The God Who Risks    The Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name the child Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14 Nothing ventured, nothing gained. That's how one old saying puts it. Ya go a give, before ya get. You can't get something for nothing. Life can be a risky business. In this passage from Isaiah, King Ahaz was under a great deal of stress. His nearest poli cal neighbors, the King of Israel and the King of Aram, had joined forces to a ack him. Ahaz was not an especially religious man, so he was somewhat surprised to receive a visit from the prophet. It isn't that he didn't know Isaiah. He and the young preacher were cousins. It's just that he didn't take religion very seriously. Two enemy armies at your doorstep, now that's serious. The prophet then delivered a challenge from the Lord. "Ask God for a sign," he said, "high as the heaven or as deep as the grave." The King said No. He had enough trouble with his neighbors. He didn't want to risk making trouble with God, too. But God gave the sign anyhow, and in doing so, God took a great risk. In becoming Immanuel, the God‐Who‐Is‐With‐Us, the Lord risked it all to obtain the greatest victory of all. The Creator entered crea on to demonstrate what love really is. Jesus is the demonstra on of God's love toward us, and in that, he showed us that loving others, however risky it may seem, is definitely worth it. This Advent season, as we look forward to the coming of the Savior, let us commit ourselves to demonstra ng Divine love by becoming involved in some way with the lives of others who are in need. It may be risky, but, as Jesus demonstrated, it will be worth it. PRAYER: O Immanuel, thank You for risking the best heaven had to offer. You chose to love us before we loved You. Now, because we have received Your love, we can dare to love others, not with our own love, but with the love of God shed abroad in our hearts. We love, because You first loved us. AMEN Pastor Garry Fisher Community Congrega onal Church South Bend, Indiana Gfish52@gmail.com
Thursday, Second Week of Advent  12 10 15    The  God  Who  Risks      The Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the yo...
Friday, Second Week of Advent 12/11/15 “HITCH YOUR WAGON…” “…Where is the One Who has born King of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him…..” Ma hew 2: 1,2 The expression of “hitch your wagon to a star” comes from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay wri en in 1862, and refers to pulling from the universe the energy and wherewithal to accomplish great tasks. The Magi, reputed to be magicians and astrologers, had followed a moving star that they had seen arise in the East. Scripture is unclear about the me frames, the place of origin, the route and the manner of transport. Suffice it to say that they had hitched their wagon to a star to go on an Advent’ure. It is the account of the magi that adds royal credence, of a sort, to this birth. This Advent’ure of the Magi provides a lesson for each of us. With the God of the universe, and the power of the Holy Spirit, we can accomplish what would seem to be not only improbable but impossible things. How many have accomplished more than a dream, less than a century ago, or even a few years ago? Appliances, space travel, medical procedures, hand‐held computers… The lesson of the Magi is for us not to let our dreams fade away, but to hitch our wagon to a star, draw inspira on, energy, and stamina from the Lord, and go and do the improbable and the impossible. It was Jesus who said that if we believe, we would do even greater things than he had done. What is keeping us from our Advent’ure of following the Star? PRAYER: O Lord, please grant me the wisdom to trust You to do that which we can only dream. Help us “hitch our wagon” to Your Bright and Morning Star. AMEN Rev. Bobbie Chapman Founders Congrega onal Church Harwinton, Connec cut revbac@aol.com
Friday, Second Week of Advent  12 11 15     HITCH  YOUR  WAGON             Where is the One Who has born King of the Jews ...
Saturday, Second Week of Advent 12/12/15   The Meaning behind the Season   For God so loved the world that God gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in the Son shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through the Son. John 3:16‐17 NIV Christmas has no significant meaning for many in the rural areas of Nigeria. To them it is just another day; another day to farm, to go to the market, and to do their normal daily rou nes. I am always looking for new ways to make Christmas meaningful to people in rural villages. The truth is that Christmas can be meaningful to them if and only if Christ is meaningful to them. Unless they realize who Christ is, what he has done for them, and unless they have a personal encounter with him, Christmas remains just another day to them. We always need to remind ourselves that Jesus is the reason for the season. In the Western world, it is easy to be caught up in the fes vi es and splendor of Christmas to the extent that Christmas becomes just a season or a holiday. We must therefore be careful to make sure that Christ is at the center of our Christmas. Otherwise we, like many in rural areas of Nigeria, have missed the true meaning of the Season. Christmas is all about the uncondi onal love of God revealed in Jesus, the Savior of the world. Is Christ the center of your Christmas? Let us find new ways to make Christ the focus of Christmas this season. PRAYER: Dear Jesus, please show me new and exci ng ways to make You the focus of my Christmas. AMEN Ma hew Oladele, Director Christ to the Villages Mission Shao, Kwara State, Nigeria mshola@lycos.com
Saturday, Second Week of Advent 12 12 15    The  Meaning  behind  the  Season    For God so loved the world that God gave ...
Third Sunday of Advent 12/13/15 Your Love Stands Firm Forever  I will sing of the LORD's great love forever; with my mouth I will make Your faithfulness known through all genera ons. I will declare that Your love stands firm forever, that You established Your faithfulness in heaven itself. You said, "I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant, 'I will establish your line forever and make your throne firm through all genera ons.' Psalm 89:1‐4 We are about to get busy!! Busy, busy ‐ that seems to be the theme of the Season. Yet Advent should be a me to slow our pace, and find peace in spiritually focusing our thoughts on our rela onship with God. The world will draw us away; it will find many things for us to do. How many things will we try to accomplish, and how many deadlines will we try to meet before we fall in a heap and are forced to say 'No'? We must not let Christmas be a busy, commercial me of rushing, racing, and exhaus on. Struggling to get the cards out, arrive at the get‐togethers, and endure endless shopping and wrapping, will never bring us to the point where we are able to sing of the Lord's great love, or to make God’s faithfulness known to all genera ons. We live not only busy mes, but also in perilous mes. We must become inten onal in our pledge to God to focus on the true ma ers of faith as we prepare our hearts, lives, and homes for the glorious day of the Christmas celebra on. In Christmas we celebrate The Greatest Gi On Earth, the birth of our Lord and Savior. Focus on what really ma ers for this Season and Forever! PRAYER: Gracious Lord, we thank you for the wondrous gi of Your Holy Word, the strength and faithfulness of Your love, and the Salva on given through Jesus Christ. We ask that You strengthen us during this me when there seems so much to do, and help us to focus on the things that ma er to Your heart. Help us find peace, Lord, as we seek to draw ourselves and others closer to You. In Jesus Name we pray, AMEN Rev. Lin McGee Re red Pastor and Minister of Music Winsted, Connec cut rainbowbells@sbcglobal.net
Third Sunday of Advent  12 13 15 Your  Love  Stands  Firm  Forever    I will sing of the LORD s great love forever  with m...
Monday, Third Week of Advent 12/14/15 The Gi   On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped the child. They opened their treasures and presented the child with gi s of gold and of incense and of myrrh. Ma hew 2:11 Two years ago, at the end of the school year, I received a present from one of my students who was rather difficult to deal with, not only for me but also for some of the other boys in my class. There would be the usual parent‐teacher conference when an incident happened, and there were many such mee ngs. I opened the present and was shocked to see a pair of headphones like the ones he had brought in for show‐and‐tell the month before. He had received them for his birthday. I knew that they were quite expensive, and had men oned to him that they would be perfect for taking on a plane. “I used up all my birthday money and allowance, so that I could buy them for you, Mrs. Hellam. I knew that you always love me and want me to be good.” Even though I felt as if I should not accept such an expensive gi from a nine‐year‐ old boy, his mother said that I would break his heart if I didn’t take them. More than two thousand years ago, the magi saw the star showing the way to the King of Kings, and brought him gi s of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Their gi s paled in comparison to the gi from God of his only Son, sent to die on the cross for our sins. I can only imagine how it breaks God’s heart to see the number of his children who do not accept the gi of eternal life bought by Jesus’ sacrificed life, because God loves us. PRAYER: Heavenly Father, this Advent season, may we be always mindful of the most priceless and precious gi of Your Son, Jesus, whose sacrifice on the cross was the gi that breaks Your heart when we refuse to accept him. Help us to graciously accept him more fully this Advent. AMEN Connie Hellam Church of the Oaks Del Rey Oaks, California crhellam@gmail.com
Monday, Third Week of Advent  12 14 15 The  Gi     On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and th...
Tuesday, Third Week of Advent 12/15/15 Traveling Mercies  While they were there, the me came for the baby to be born. Luke 2: 6 When a woman is pregnant, doctors warn against travelling any distance especially in the last month or so before the expected delivery date, so as to avoid jostling or anything else that might result in a premature delivery. Turn the clock back more than two thousand years and consider a young girl, perhaps no older than twelve, pregnant with her first child, due for imminent delivery, traveling about ninety miles, either walking or riding a donkey. There were rough roads, exposure to the elements, probably infrequent stops and none of the “comforts” of home or the companionship of female family. Mary was on quite an Advent’ure and had been for nearly nine months. Visited by an angel, impregnated by the Holy Spirit (a nice story?), trauma zed in telling Joseph and the anguish over his reac on, then a long physical journey (Mary may not have known of the prophecy of Bethlehem), and then a “messy” delivery without benefit of medical assistance or even a decent place to go through labor and delivery. We tend to read the Advent Scriptures and be sa sfied that Mary did as the Lord asked, without really considering what that involved and what it says to us. Following The Lord can be trauma c, “messy,” hard, and seemingly impossible. It is never as simple or as gra fying as we might wish, but to do less is to cheat ourselves out of the greatest Advent’ure. When we think of Mary, let us remember her Advent’ure and not get bogged down by our own temporary inconveniences in doing as the Lord asks. PRAYER: O Lord, let it be with me as You have said, not just in the abstract but in the ni y‐gri y of life. AMEN Rev. Bobbie Chapman Founders Congrega onal Church Harwinton, Connec cut revbac@aol.com
Tuesday, Third Week of Advent  12 15 15  Traveling  Mercies   While they were there, the me came for the baby to be born. ...
Wednesday, Third Week of Advent 12/16/15 Travel Adventure    Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because Joseph was descended from the house and family of David. Joseph went to be registered with Mary to whom he was engaged and who was expec ng a child. While they were there, the me came for Mary to deliver her child. Luke 1 4:6 NIV In November 2014 I returned from an eight day tour of Israel just a couple of weeks before the beginning of Advent. I was s ll trying to wrap my mind around all that I had seen and done in Israel. I thought about our group riding in a comfortable air‐condi oned bus as we traveled around Israel. Then I thought of the pilgrimage Joseph and Mary had as they traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem. We could travel it in a couple of hours with the bus, but they walked. That would be a trip of several days. Bethlehem is in the mountains, so toward the end of their travel, it was a steep climb up the mountain. We o en get caught up in the birth story and miss the significance of Joseph and Mary as they made their pilgrimage to Bethlehem. God got them to where they needed to be when they needed to be there. God will do the same for us today, if we ask for guidance and listen to hear God’s direc ons. PRAYER: Our heavenly Father, during this season we celebrate the birth of your Son. Lord, help us also to remember the earthly parents, Joseph and Mary, who listened and followed Your direc ons. Help us to be diligent followers as well. AMEN Rev. Jerry Turner Arbor Grove Congrega onal Church Jackson, Michigan Jerryturner4705@gmail.com
Wednesday, Third Week of Advent  12 16 15  Travel  Adventure      Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to...
Thursday, Third Week of Advent   Christmas in Nigeria 12/17/15 Mary gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:7 Christmas has always been a me of reunion with friends and family members who might have been away for some me. There is something significant and magical about coming together to celebrate the birth of the Savior, Jesus Christ. When we gather under the umbrella of Christmas joy, we find that peace, love, hope, and unity are nurtured in our lives. During my early years as a young boy in Nigeria, I remember looking forward to Christmas. It was a me when many friends and rela ves would travel home. I knew that old faces would be seen, pleasantries would be exchanged, and all would be welcomed and loved. Joseph and Mary travelled to Bethlehem of Judea just before the birth of Jesus. Joseph was returning home, but there was no place for them to stay. We wonder about Joseph’s parents and grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins. None of them had room? The inn was jam‐packed because other travelers came to par cipate in the census decreed by Quirinius, the governor of Syria. But what about family? Was it because they were shunning Mary? So Jesus was born in a manger. The King of kings and the Lord of lords was born in a lowly state. How ironic! The King of glory was born in a stable, surrounded by animals. The first Advent’ure of Christmas was one of humility. Let us remember that humility is a key component to the celebra on of our Lord’s birth. This Christmas season let us find new ways to prac ce humility. PRAYER: Lord Jesus, let my life emanate Your love, seasoned in true humility. AMEN Ma hew Oladele, Director Christ to the Villages Mission Shao, Kwara State, Nigeria mshola@lycos.com
Thursday, Third Week of Advent    Christmas  in  Nigeria  12 17 15  Mary gave birth to her    rstborn, a son. She wrapped ...
Friday, Third Week of Advent   12/18/15 Charity or Change?    God has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and li ed up the lowly. Luke 1:52 In 2011, my first year serving Plymouth Church, I introduced two new programs during the Advent season. One was an Angel Tree in our Fellowship Hall, where members could pick up tags, and purchase Christmas gi s, mostly necessi es, for needy families in the area. The other was a five‐week food collec on for Interfaith Ministries’ Opera on Holiday, a program that distributes nonperishable food, fresh food vouchers, winter wear, and blankets to low‐income families and individuals. Both the Angel Tree and Opera on Holiday collec on have been extremely popular with the congrega on. Last year we collected double the food items we had our first year. It does my heart good to see members bringing in sacks of grocery items and pondering over what type of tennis shoes a 14 year‐old boy might prefer. But lately I have been thinking about the difference between charity and change. In 2013, Opera on Holiday served 11,706 individuals. In 2014, that number jumped to 12,341. This is not good news! Charity may get a person through today, but tomorrow they are going to be hungry again. Charity maintains the status quo and assures that the “least of these” will come back for a handout again next me. Change, on the other hand, can li up the lowly so that they no longer need the handout. What if the church’s focus over the next year were to work to change the social structures that keep people in poverty. What would that look like and where would we begin?* PRAYER: Loving God, let us ponder these things in our hearts and may our souls magnify You in all our ac ons. AMEN. Rev. Karen Robu, Associate Minister Plymouth Congrega onal Church Wichita, Kansas krobu@plymouth‐church.net * Recommended reading: When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbe & Brian Fikkert.
Friday, Third Week of Advent     12 18 15  Charity  or  Change       God has brought down the powerful from their thrones,...
Saturday, Third Week of Advent 12/19/15 Christmas in July  Be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 1 Timothy 6:18 NIV Advent is a good me to think about Christmas in July. Sound strange? Well, it isn’t at the Congrega onal Church of the Chimes in Sherman Oaks, California. Each year the church puts up a Christmas tree in the narthex of the sanctuary, and for a month members bring new unwrapped toys and games to the Worship Service. We adopt families which are chosen by the Los Angeles Children’s Bureau. The en re family submits some of their needs and wishes for presents, and churches like ours provide these families with a Christmas they would not otherwise enjoy. At the end of the month the Los Angeles Children’s Bureau picks up the boxes of gi s and distributes them to families in need and/or crisis. Think of the impact in a child’s life. Christmas in July? How unexpected! How different! What a blessing! There is so much giving that is done around Advent and Christmas me. This Advent be Advent’urous. Plan now to be Christ’s blessing to children next Summer. PRAYER: Thank you, God, for the opportunity to bring the message of Chris an love to children, when they least expect it. Show us how to be more Advent’urous. AMEN Rev. Dr. Thomas Richard, Interim Minister Church of the Chimes Sherman Oaks, California office@churcho hechimes.org
Saturday, Third Week of Advent  12 19 15  Christmas  in  July   Be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to s...
Fourth Sunday of Advent 12/20/15 Let Your Love Grow  How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? 1 Thessalonians 3:9‐13 NIV As we live through the season of Advent, we prac ce a counter‐culture ideal: that wai ng is an integral part of preparing for the arrival of Christ. Not Christmas, mind you: Christ. We live as Advent People when we realize our faith is God‐dependent. God clears the way for fellowship, both with God and with each other. Walking in the faith God gives us, we lean on God and are freed from the pressure to have to perform or produce. We rely on God because we really have no other op on. How can we thank God enough? We live as Advent People when we realize our faith is inter‐connected. How can we thank God enough, not just for God’s generic blessings, but for each other? No ce that phrase “because of you”. It reminds us that we prompt each other to thank God! We are reminders of God's presence for one another. We live as Advent People when we realize our faith is inter‐dependent. What is lacking in our faith? When we live as Congrega onalists, we cover each other's blind spots. We all are dependent on others to help us shore up the weak areas in our faith. We are suppliers of perspec ve on what God is doing among us. We live as Advent People when we realize our love is to be Abundant. There is a wonderful phrase in verse 12: “increase and overflow”. May our love for God increase, and spill over into our love for one another. In “May the Lord make your love…”, we see that God's is working for us. PRAYER: Lord, as we enter into this last week of Advent, we are called to wait and prepare for Your coming. We ask that You make us Your Advent People. Help us live out love that is abundant, and faith that is dependent on You. We ask that You link us together in Christ as we move into Christmas. AMEN. Rev. Ed Backell Warden Community Church Warden, Washington edbackell@gmail.com
Fourth Sunday of Advent  12 20 15 Let  Your  Love  Grow    How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy w...
Monday, Fourth Week of Advent 12/21/15 Let Your Love Know  And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless un l the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ — to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:9‐11 NIV As we get closer and closer to Christmas, a ques on arises: How do you select gi s for those you love? We try to take into account their needs and desires and hope to find the “perfect” gi . With that in mind, if you were to give a gi to Jesus this Christmas, how would you choose it? One thought is to give Jesus something he is already invested in, something in his area of interest. Paul, in his le er to the church at Philippi, describes the rela onship Paul has with his fellow disciples as a partnership. He reminds his readers (and us) that together we par cipate in the Gospel. God's work among us is not occasional, sca ered, or singular. Rather, God works among us as a people, God’s people. So, one of the gi s we give Jesus is our coopera on with fellow believers, serving as the Body of Christ. A second thought about giving a gi to Jesus this Christmas is to look for the best gi you can give. This might seem obvious – of course you're going to give a King the best gi you can – but let's be honest, many of us take God's constant presence in our lives for granted. This some mes means that we don't truly contemplate giving anything significant. Love's purpose is to discover the best in the Other. What would be the best gi we could give to Jesus? Ourselves, being filled with Christ's righteousness, to give glory back to God. What does Jesus want for Christmas? YOU! All of you, working with him – to be presented to the Father as a precious gi . We are to be re‐gi ed to God! PRAYER: Lord, as we prepare to welcome You on Christmas Eve, we are caught between the happiness that we are called Your Advent People and the expecta on that You will come to us. This middle ground, this having‐and‐s ll‐wai ng, calls us to live our lives with both expecta on and trust. May Your grace, love, and power be known in us as we wait… and live. AMEN Rev. Ed Backell Warden Community Church Warden, Washington edbackell@gmail.com
Monday, Fourth Week of Advent  12 21 15 Let  Your  Love  Know    And this is my prayer  that your love may abound more and...
Tuesday, Fourth Week of Advent 12/22/15 Let Your Love Flow  Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, with thanksgiving... and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4‐7 In my mind, it wouldn't be Christmas me without the Charlie Brown Christmas Special. There is a line from the soundtrack: “Christmas me is here; We'll be drawing near...” That music runs through my head when Advent starts. We are, in a very real sense, “drawing near” to God, even as God incarnate draws near to us. As we prepare for Christmas, there are many details to care for, such as travel arrangements of loved ones, meal planning; decora ng the house, even last‐minute shopping in some cases! The prophet Zephaniah (3:17) talks about how God takes care of details in our lives. God is with us, sings over us, and gathers us home. It is almost a descrip on of the Christmas holidays. With this in mind, is it any wonder that we pass on Christmas cheer? We are told to rejoice, 'to be full of cheer'. This fullness of joy is the very heart of the Advent message: Jesus is coming! As my children were growing up, there were a few mes when gi s would require assembly, and that meant reading the instruc ons (eventually). Paul's words in Philippians read like assembly instruc ons: use all the parts, contact customer support and ask ques ons, use thankfulness to assemble your requests to God. I'm reminded of the par ng words of the narrator from A Christmas Carol: “And it was always said of [Scrooge] that he knew how to keep Christmas well if any man alive possessed the knowledge.” We can experience the same kind of change that Scrooge did and we too, can keep Christmas well. PRAYER: Lord, in this Advent season, we look for You, wai ng for Your arrival, at the same me aware of Your presence among us. Thank you for this “both‐and” state; that we can see You at work in our lives, and also recognize that You are coming again for Your Church. May our me of watching and wai ng for You refresh our ability to see Your Spirit at work in the world… and in our lives as well. AMEN Rev. Ed Backell Warden Community Church Warden, Washington edbackell@gmail.com
Tuesday, Fourth Week of Advent  12 22 15  Let  Your  Love  Flow   Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again  Rejoice...
Wednesday, Fourth Week of Advent 12/23/15 Let His Love Bestow  Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: "Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; Then I said, 'Here I am, I have come to do your will, O God.” And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Hebrews 10:5‐10 NIV One of the truisms of the holiday season is travel. People going back home from far away, or people leaving their home to celebrate in some new loca on. It seems that this me of year, people spend a lot of me, money, and effort to be SOMEWHERE. It begs the ques on of why we travel so much at Christmas. One of the main things to keep in mind is the reason for your journey. Jesus came to us for a reason. Jesus knew his journey into the world had a specific purpose. “Look, I have come to do Your will.” (v. 9) Our High Priest (Jesus) offered himself to God as one sacrifice for sins, good for all me.” (v.12) Jesus came with a purpose. God sent Jesus on his journey to Earth to open lines of communica on about God’s purpose. Jesus’ example shows us this his sacrifice had a purpose, built on God’s love for us (John 3:16), and the sacrifice was made willingly (Jesus offered himself). Jesus’ sacrifice was a pre y expensive gi . So was Jesus’ coming to this earth worth it to him? To God? To Us? Yes, it was love bestowed, blessing both the Giver and receiver. The trip was worth it. PRAYER: Lord Jesus, as this Advent season draws to a close, we remember Your promise that You will come again, that You will return to our world. Help us live expectant of Your arrival. We pray this in Jesus' name. AMEN Rev. Ed Backell Warden Community Church Warden, Washington edbackell@gmail.com
Wednesday, Fourth Week of Advent  12 23 15  Let  His  Love  Bestow   Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said  ...
Christmas Eve Mysterious Package    A person's wisdom gives pa ence. 12/24/15 Proverbs 19:11a As a child, some of my most fond memories are of Christmas Eve. My mother would invite our extended family over for Christmas Eve dinner and cook all day. She pulled out the fine china and prepared beau ful tables for our family to sit at, to enjoy the meal. It was our tradi on to open presents on Christmas Eve. A er the meal, we would go in the living room and open our gi s. I was so excited I could hardly eat my meal, because I knew presents were coming. I had visions of what my gi s would be and I couldn’t wait to open them. Some mes, I was disappointed because the wrapped package didn’t look like what I had asked for. Most mes I discovered that it was what I wanted, but my parents would make it look different in order to surprise me. Thousands of years ago, God promised the Messiah. His coming would change the world. Religious leaders con nually reminded society that the Messiah was coming. They eagerly waited! They impa ently waited! When the Messiah did come, people didn’t recognize him because he was not what they expected. He was “packaged differently” and a surprise. Today I look at Christmas from a different perspec ve. My wife and I gather with our grandchildren and watch the an cipa on on their li le faces, as they know the gi s are coming. I now know that the best thing about Christmas is not the gi s, it is the Gi that God gave us all those years ago. I now impa ently await his coming! PRAYER: Father, help us to put in perspec ve the tremendous gi that you gave us so many years ago. Help us to keep priori es straight, and wait pa ently with for our Lord’s coming. AMEN! Rev. Eric Hickman Tipton Community Church Tipton, Michigan ehickman@yahoo.com
Christmas Eve Mysterious  Package      A person s wisdom gives pa ence.  12 24 15  Proverbs 19 11a  As a child, some of my...
Christmas Day 12/25/15 Christmas as Adventure    This is the covenant I will make with them a er that me, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds. Hebrews 10:16 NIV   Every Christmas morning when I was growing up was always the same. Being the youngest of three children it was either my brother or me that woke up first, The rule was that we were not permi ed to wake up our older sister if she was s ll sleeping. This was pure agony, knowing that downstairs under the tree was filled with gi s that Santa had brought. We just knew that we had been good all year! Keeping as s ll as we could so as not break the rule, we sat on the floor by our sister’s bed and just stared at her un l she opened one eye and looked back at us. Finally we could get on with the morning! Now the next step was yelling down the stairs to our parents to let them know that we were all awake. It seemed like another eternity un l our father got up and got ready. Not wan ng to admit that our parents were actually Santa, and that they had been up un l the wee hours of the morning pu ng together our bikes, toys, and train sta on, we sat at the top of the steps peeking down for a quick look. We were never disappointed! A er all the gi s were opened Mom would made breakfast while we played with our new toys and never, ever did offer to help her in the kitchen. She took care of us with love and joy. Our parents were always easy going, loving and forgiving, generous to a fault, and always had your back. They taught us right from wrong, and as long as I can remember, it was always “Jesus loves you and there are Ten Rules to follow”. I have fallen off God’s path quite a few mes, but God is always there with his compass, the Bible, to get me back on track. God’s arms are always wide open to hold me when I return to him. God’s Words are always true, comfor ng, and wise. God never cri cizes, but gives words of strength and encouragement. Knowing Jesus is just like Christmas morning every day: Never disappoin ng, worth wai ng for, and remembering to just follow the rules. PRAYER: Lord, You said, “I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them.” Show us how to keep the “Christmas morning rules” and give us the insight to know that all Your laws are for the same reason, that we may receive Your wonderful gi s and Your Wonderful Gi . AMEN Beverley Gill, Treasurer & Trustee Ventnor Community Church Ventnor, New Jersey bev@tdassoc.com
Christmas Day  12 25 15  Christmas  as  Adventure      This is the covenant I will make with them a er that me, says the L...
Devotional Entry Format TITLE: SCRIPTURE REFERENCE: Book, chapter, verse(s), translation TOPIC SENTENCE: What is the essence of your entry? What is the Big Idea? What words should the reader carry in mind and heart throughout the day? Does your Big Idea relate to the theme of the season for which it is being written (Lent or Advent)? Does your Big Idea relate to the chosen title for the booklet? MESSAGE: Story or illustration followed by an original idea relating to the Scripture chosen. PRAYER: Write a short prayer that relates to your theme and will lift people’s hearts. Name of writer: _____________________________________ Title: (Pastor, Rev. Dr. etc.) ___________________________ Church name and city: ____________________________________ Telephone #s: ______________ (will not be printed ‐ for follow‐up if needed) Email address: ____________________________________ (permission to list: Y/N) Grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors will be corrected by the editors. Send your entry to Terry Bobzien terrybob@gmail.com, 9510 E. Market Rd. Pittsford, MI 49271 Phone Number: 517‐499‐5470 If you do not receive a reply via e‐mail, call to ensure that your entry was received. Send along or attach, if by email, a recent photo of yourself. Advent 2016: Deadline August 15, 2016. THEME: From Darkness to Light ‐ Isaiah 9:2. Lent 2017: Deadline November 1, 2016. THEME: What Wondrous Love is This? Things to keep in mind: 1) Because these entries are short, please focus on one main idea. 2) You may choose your own English translation for the lead scripture. 3) Please limit your entry to around 320 words, scripture, title, body, and prayer included. If it needs to be shortened, we will request that you cut it. 4) E‐mail addresses of authors are included to enhance communication with brothers and sisters in Christ. If you do not want your e‐mail address included, please include a statement to that effect. 5) We reserve the right to adjust language for gender neutrality.
Devotional Entry Format TITLE  SCRIPTURE  REFERENCE  Book, chapter, verse s , translation TOPIC  SENTENCE  What is the ess...