Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Advent Devotion for November 30

God of December darkness and Christmas light, … Deepen my longing, heighten my expectation, and make pregnant my hope. I know that within my heart is a Bethlehem: a place where light shines with tender memories. A place where angelic voices sing loud and clear. A place of wonder and awe, delight and calm. … God of December darkness and Christmas light, journey with me during these days so that I may know and prize my Bethlehem moments. Amen.
(Larry James Peacock, Openings)


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Advent Devotion for November 29

We give out love in boxes
Wrapped, tied, tagged.
But the first Christmas gift
was a love that needed no adornment
or disguise;
a love
that wrapped itself
around out tired hearts forever.
(Kari Hill, Alive Now! Nov/Dec 1984

Monday, November 28, 2011

Advent Devotion for November 28

Waiting in Hope
Wait in hope, hope in God, believing that we already possess what we hope for.  In this season of sacred quiet amidst profane noise; of sacred, patient calmness amidst profane frantic rushing; of sacred contemplation amidst profane activity; of sacred fasting amidst profane feasting— we who have been baptized into new life experience ourselves as strangers in a strange land.  We find ourselves drawn away from the tinsel and and carols of our profane world into the sanctuary of sacred time and space, where we might learn what it means to wait for the coming of what has already come.   (John Westerhoff III, A Pilgrim People)

Advent Devotion for November 27

Today is the first day of Advent.  It is a season of expectant waiting for the coming of Christ - of preparing our hearts to once again receive the gift of Jesus.  Between now and Christmas we will be replacing our usual Facebook "Moment for Reflection" feature with a daily Advent devotion.  We hope that these prayers, poems, and short meditations will help focus your spiritual preparations for Christmas and serve as a quiet oasis in the busyness of this season.

We Wait in Advent
"Waiting is the most trying of godly endeavors because it brings a halt to our own individual nature.  Ours is to lunge forth with predetermined notions and solutions.  Faith in waiting sits still and expects the fulfillment of God’s promises.  One promise is that if we sit still, we shall know."  (Donell Crosby, Alive Now! Nov/Dec 1986)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Preparing for Sunday: Christ the King

This Sunday marks the close of the Christian liturgical year and is traditionally observed as "Christ the King" or "Reign of Christ" Sunday.  The Revised Common Lectionary assigns these readings for the day: 
Ezekiel 34:11–16, 20–24
Psalm 100
Ephesians 1:15–23
Matthew 25:31–46

This Sunday we'll be using the readings from Ezekiel and Ephesians.  We'll be taking a look at the proclamation that is considered the first creed of the Church: "Jesus is Lord".  The question you're invited to ponder in preparation for worship this week is, "What does it mean to you to proclaim that Jesus is Lord?"

See you on Sunday.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

I Thought You Were Jesus

One night a man was walking down the street when he was suddenly attacked by a group of thugs.  He was beaten, dragged into an alley and left for dead.  As he was lying bleeding on the ground, he looked up into the dim amber light in the alley and saw the face of another looking at him.  He felt the touch of someone's hands lifting his shoulder.  At that moment, he lost consciousness. 

In the hospital, when he regained consciousness, he remembered the face in the alley and asked, "Is the one who helped me here?  I want to speak to him."  "Yes," the nurse answered, "He is here and has been waiting to see you."  When the man walked into the room, the one who was injured said, "I want to thank you for helping me in the alley this evening and I want to tell you something.  When I looked up into that dim light and saw your face, I thought you were Jesus."  The man smiled and said, "When I heard your voice calling for help, I thought you were Jesus."

Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.”  (Matthew 25:45)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Honoring the Saints on the Balcony

Today is All Saints' Day - a day for remembering and celebrating "all the saints who from their labors rest".  Presbyterian preacher John Buchanan uses a metaphor for the communion of saints that he says “ought to be told at least once a year.”  The image originated with renowned preacher, author, and seminary professor Carlyle Marney (1917-1978).  Buchanan writes:  
Marney used to say that your personhood, your personality, persona, is like a house, and it’s a fairly elaborate and complex structure.  Some are fancy.  Some are sophisticated.  Some are simple and functional.  Some are ostentatious.  Some are modest.  Each has a number of rooms:  a formal parlor for greeting guests, a family room, bedroom, kitchen.  Marney said each of us has in the structure of our persona a basement where the plumbing is [located] and the trash is stored.  NO need to spend your life down there, Marney used to say.  Everybody has a basement.  Come on up into the sunshine.  Sometimes we act as if the plumbing and trash bin are all there is to us, Marney observed.

And if you come upstairs and step outside onto the lawn and look up, you will see that the house that is you has a spacious, gracious balcony.  There are people up there on your balcony.

Marney was a Southerner, so his balcony was white wrought iron with wicker rocking chairs.  There are people in the rocking chairs on your balcony sipping iced tea or bourbon, depending on whether you are a Baptist or Presbyterian, Marney used to say.  The people on your balcony are the strong, positive influences in your life.  Your heroes and heroines.  Your models and mentors.  Your parents are probably up there ... your grandparents.  There are some folk up there you never met but they influenced and helped shape you and there are some really big names up there:  people whose lives inspired you from afar and called deeper faith out of you and courage and stamina and love and discipline.
The people on your balcony are your saints.  The way to observe All Saints’ Day is to walk out onto your lawn, look up and greet them.  Call the roll.  Name them.  Wave to them.  Your saints – your dear ones – the great ones and small ones:  your mother and father maybe, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King, your old coach, your piano teacher.*
The folks on our life’s “balcony” are our mentors, models, prophets, teachers, witnesses – our saints. They're the faithful who went before us, and in whose footsteps we tread.  On this All Saint’s Day may we remember them all with gratitude.  And may the example of their lives inspire us to be mentors, models, prophets, teachers, witnesses – to be saints – for those who follow us.