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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..."


Table of Contents

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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 terri ed when they rst 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 ful llment 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 A ame 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 lling 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 unful lled 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 t 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 ful llment 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 rst week of Advent is the me to consider ful lled 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 re ect 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 sacri ce 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 s ed 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 puri ca 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 ame 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 anc who was already there Before she boarded the space ship she made a telephone call to Mars so she could speak with her anc 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 rst 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 lled 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 su er 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 nd 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 o cials 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 eld No one there but a few scraggly shepherds who sent you to a stable in town The stable was a place lled with cob webs dust animal lth and smelly air A stable in an unremarkable li le town was just not a 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 camp re 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 nd him in the faces of the poor the disenfranchised the marginalized and the voiceless May I be so moved that I cannot ignore their su ering 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 de nitely 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 o er 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 rst loved us AMEN Pastor Garry Fisher Community Congrega onal Church South Bend Indiana G sh52 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 Su ce 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 signi cant 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 nd 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 rm 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 rm 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 nd peace in spiritually focusing our thoughts on our rela onship with God The world will draw us away it will nd 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 nd 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 di cult 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 sacri ced 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 sacri ce 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 rst 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 bene t of medical assistance or even a decent place to go through labor and delivery We tend to read the Advent Scriptures and be sa s ed 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 signi cance 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 rstborn 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 signi cant and magical about coming together to celebrate the birth of the Savior Jesus Christ When we gather under the umbrella of Christmas joy we nd 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 rst 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 nd 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 rst 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 ve 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 rst 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 di erence 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 di erent 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 o ce 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 over ow 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 lled 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 nd 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 signi cant Love s purpose is to discover the best in the Other What would be the best gi we could give to Jesus Ourselves being lled 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 Sacri ce and o ering 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 sacri ce 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 e ort 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 speci c purpose Look I have come to do Your will v 9 Our High Priest Jesus o ered himself to God as one sacri ce 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 sacri ce had a purpose built on God s love for us John 3 16 and the sacri ce was made willingly Jesus o ered himself Jesus sacri ce 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 ne 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 di erent 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 di erently and a surprise Today I look at Christmas from a di erent 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 rst 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 lled 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 oor 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 o er 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 o 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...