This booklet is a daily guide to prayer during the 2022 Advent season. Each day is broken into three parts: scripture, a simple meditation, and a prayer. Here are my suggested uses for this devotional booklet:
1. Read the scripture, even if you don’t read my little commentary! 2. Read the reflections if you have time. I promise to have taken some time and conversed with the text before coming to a conclusion about what it might mean for us that particular day.
3. Pray the prayer, or pray your own prayer. It will be short (Martin Luther said, “The fewer the words, the better the prayer).
My personal prayer for each of you using this devotional in 2022 - 2023 is that Jesus will be born again into your heart and into your life!
Rev. Jamie Brame, FCC Wilson Interim Minister
Sunday, November 27
Ecclesiastes 3: 1
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.
“Happy New Year!” Usually, we wait until January 1 to begin saying this to others, but as a Christian who attends church, you also know that the “liturgical year” begins with the first Sunday of Advent. Our worship year begins back in the Hebrew Bible, where the expectation of and hope for a Messiah was born. So, we reach into that part of the Bible as we begin Advent.
It’s time for us to move into this new season of the church year, to set aside time for new habits and practices. Today is a day for setting simple goals: to remember what some like to say is the “reason for the season.”
Let’s begin with hope and expectation during these following days. Look for the spiritual gifts of Christmas. Soften your heart. Slow down.Try not to over-commit. Pray daily.
There’s a time and season for everything.
Prayer: As we move into a busy season, help us to take a breath each day: a breath full of you, our God; in Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
Monday, November 28
Psalm 10: 1
Why do you stand far off, God? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? Being asked to take time for God during the busyness of December is a slap in the face for some people. “God doesn’t take time for me!” we might hear them say.
How often are we actually listening and looking for God?
We've seen how often complaints against God are lodged by impatient people who quit trying after one or two brief attempts.
A 10-year-old in my Sunday School class in Dublin, GA, figured it out. When asked if God still spoke to people in modern times, little Mandy spoke up: “Yes, God does. But people don’t take the time to learn God’s language.” Let's take time. Someday, we will see that God is never far off. Someday, we’ll understand God’s language.
Prayer: We will search for you, God, in all the places you dwell. For your dwelling place is with people. Here we are: please help us to see you, in Christ’s name we pray, amen.
Tuesday, November 29
From John 1 In the beginning the Word was; and the Word was with God; and the Word was God….And the Word became flesh and lived among us.
Someone occasionally asks me if I believe in the Word of God. I say, “Yes. And I accepted him as my Savior.” Inevitably, I get a confused look.
The Word of God, according to the Gospel of John, is not a book, but a person, a real live blood-bones-skin-muscle human being. Of course, the Bible is also called the Word. John, though, felt that God spoke clearest by sending a human message: Jesus. Jesus is all we need to know about God.
We are in a time of waiting and expectation. We’re waiting for Jesus to be revealed to us once again, and we’re praying that that revelation will help us to grow in faith and understanding. We’re praying that we will be renewed in faith and gain new knowledge about God. We’re looking for the true Word of God in the person of the Savior.
Prayer: Show yourself to us, Christ Jesus, so that this time of Advent may be as meaningful to us as to those people long ago who awaited the coming of the Messiah, in your holy name we pray, amen.
Wednesday, November 30
Micah 5:2 But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from old, from ancient times.
Bethlehem plays an important part in the stories of Jesus’ birth. It was a very small place, not much of a village. There weren’t tons of inns, and if folks were staying there, it’s likely they were staying in tents. Still, it is the place of the Savior’s birth, and for us it will always be larger than life.
It just proves again that you don’t have to be rich, famous, powerful, or anything like what we too-often value in our culture: Jesus wasn’t just born in a stable, he was born in a place that was barely on the map! Yet out of these humble beginnings came the Lord of all creation, and it is the birthplace of our faith.
Prayer: Help us not to look for you among the rich and famous, Lord Jesus, but among the poor and forgotten. For, like your birthplace, it is in those unexpected and even unworthy places that you still dwell. We pray in your name always, amen.
Thursday, December 1
Isaiah 52: 15b For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand.
Isaiah is talking about the impact of the suffering servant, the one we believe to be Jesus the Christ. This is a statement about faith: Isaiah sees that the impact of the suffering servant will be more than what is obvious and more than is even understood by our thought processes.
I read this as a statement about how we come to faith: we see and understand more than we are capable of because of God’s action in our lives. Faith is not something we earn but something that shakes us out of our preconceived notions into a way of knowing and experiencing that is given to us by God.
It is our hope, always, that we will grow beyond what we are capable of understanding into a faith that is more than knowledge and logic and calculation. We hope to see what we are not told and understand what we have not heard.
Prayer: God, during Advent, expand our minds that we might see as you see: the world, the cosmos, as a whole, and because of that, we can better understand the meaning of the Christ Child, for it’s in his name we pray, amen.
Friday, December 2
Psalm 133: 1 How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live in unity.
As a Duke Divinity School graduate, I receive monthly emails that share what’s going on at the school. Most of my teachers have died, but some of the newer ones make me wish I could go back to school. One of those is Dr. Kate Bowler, a church historian. In 2015, she was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer; since then, she has written about her experience and taken to her podcast (“Everything Happens”), talking with thinkers from around the world. She says that to get through life, we need community; individualism will only take us so far.
Christianity is not a faith for individualists; it’s a faith of community. “Church” is not a place “I” go to in order to feed “my” soul. It’s a community of people on a journey together. Our stories and histories are intertwined. We learned during Covid that when we are together, we are more whole than when we are alone and separate. The Psalmist today reminds us that we are, perhaps, at our most faithful when we worship and work together in unity. Jesus wasn’t born just to Mary and Joseph but to all of us, together.
Prayer: Make us one, gracious God, as you and your son and spirit are one, in the name of the three in one, the perfect community, we pray, amen.
Saturday, December 3
Genesis 1: 1a
In the beginning, God….
This is my favorite scripture some days! It’s simple, and my poor brain can wrap itself around the words, if not the actual concept. “The Beginning:” it needs the capital letters, doesn’t it? Even though it’s not really a “one moment” kind of event, it seems like a place in time somewhere when God started “doing.”
Whenever life gets to me too much, I remember how small we really are. No matter who we are in humanity’s eyes, we could actually be nothing in God’s. All of the people we idolize today will be just a footnote in history. How many of us really think much about Atilla the Hun? I used to get up in arms about this President or that Senator: they are all mostly dead now. Even the ones I liked.
But God goes on and on. And because of Jesus, you and I are never just a footnote in God’s book: we are each and all dearly loved. As Desmond Tutu reminds us, “For God, you are special, with a specialness that is not replicated.”
Prayer: We thank you, loving God, that you are in charge. Help us to know how much you love us, that you created us to be yours forever, in Christ’s name, amen.
Sunday, December 4
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God…, Prince of Peace.
There are not too many of us who do not recognize this verse, and some can hum along some of Handel’s Messiah as we read it.
Fewer of us will make the leap to these words of Jesus: Peace I leave with you… not as the world gives do I give to you (John 14: 27). The world’s idea of peace and Jesus’ peace are two very different things. The absence of war and conflict is not what Jesus means, although that is certainly part of it. Peace must include justice, equality, acceptance, includedness: in other words, God’s love for everyone.
It is our prayer on this Peace Sunday, that we - and everyone in the world because of our faithfulness - will someday experience this peace that Jesus hoped to bring into the world: not as the world gives…. Let not your hearts be troubled.
Prayer: We know, loving God, that we are unable to create peace without you. Make us people of love, that your true peace may come on earth, in the name of the Christ who is coming again into the world we pray, amen.
Monday, December 5
1 Kings 19: 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.
Or, “...a still, small voice.” We know the story of Elijah and the cave, a place he went to escape persecution, to gather his spiritual strength, to find some peace, and to listen to God. He didn’t recognize God in a powerful wind, or in an earthquake, nor in fire. After all the tumult, though, a gentle whisper barely brushed past his awareness, and there is where he found God.
We also crave some emotional event as God comes close to call us to service, to let us know God’s presence. We want handwriting on the wall, or an audible voice speaking clearly.
Yet, God arrives almost hidden, like a baby wrapped in cloth hiding in a feeding trough full of straw. We are not called, always, to proclaim, to witness aloud; sometimes, we’re called to be still, to be silent, and bear witness to the gentle whisper.
Breathe, and listen…
Prayer: As we take our next breath, gracious God, may we sense your presence, quiet as a whisper, barely audible, yet full of glory and love, in Christ’s name, amen.
Tuesday, December 6
Psalm 42: 1 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.
Martin Luther, the great church reformer, had a dog, Tolpel; his name means “fool.” Luther wrote and told stories about his dog. My favorite: once at dinner, Luther was sharing a meal with students and looked over at the dog, who was watching every morsel that moved from plate to mouth, and Luther said, “If I could only pray the way that dog watches the meat!”
Prayer is, simply, being present with God. God is always there, but are we always aware of that presence? Do we long for God like the deer longs for water? As we say we wish for peace, or we want a deeper faith, or a better understanding of God, the only way is this: to spend time with God.
With attention, let us learn to pray, to breathe, to listen, to love.
Prayer: May we seek you, eternal God, and may our attention be on you and the things that are yours, for we pray in Jesus’ name, amen.
Wednesday, December 7
Isaiah 2: 4 He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
Some of us wait all year to hear these words of hope, this long sentence that’s part of the Messianic promise of Isaiah. They are words that seem like an impossible dream. Yet we hear them and read them again and again and claim them as part of our faith.
This is a message of peace and love and hope for us all, that one day we will either change humanity into a less violent species, or God will make the change for us. The coming of Jesus is, I believe, the beginning of God’s way of changing us. The rest, so they say, is up to us.
Prayer: Loving God, you sent the Savior to be a teacher of peace, unity, love, and understanding between people. Teach us how to solve the problems of our world creatively, without hate, but with your love; in Jesus’ holy name, amen.
Thursday, December 8
Luke 1: 26 - 27 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.
In the Roman Catholic calendar, today is the observance of the “Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.” There is nothing in the Bible that tells us anything about Mary other than she was a young girl when her son was born. Little else is known about Mary. She is mentioned in the Gospels as one who followed Jesus. She was present at his death. Then, we lose her to history and to the legends that grew up around her. Even the Koran (Qur’an) includes part of a chapter about her. Few of us knew that!
Mary followed Jesus throughout his ministry; she was a faithful mother as well. I would guess that more than once, Jesus sat and discussed his ministry with her, teaching her as well as being comforted by her presence. Whoever she really was, we take a moment today to remember her and honor the One she brought into our lives: Jesus the Christ.
Prayer: We thank you for Mary, your servant, the mother of our Savior, Jesus. May she teach us about humility and faith and love, in her son’s name we ask this, amen.
Friday, December 9
Luke 1: 12 When Zechariah saw the angel, he was startled and was gripped with fear.
Here’s the short story of Zechariah’s: he was John the Baptist’s father. He was a priest, whose “team” of priests sometimes had to go to the Temple to serve (like our Elders and Deacons, who are also on a schedule of service). An angel appeared to him while he was serving to tell him his elderly wife, Elizabeth, was going to have a baby. Because of his doubt, the angel silenced him until John’s birth.
I would have had the same reaction that Zechariah had. Sometimes, the truth is that when God actually shows up in our lives, we can sometimes find it unbelievable!
Maybe we should do things to make it easier for us to encounter God: read the Bible; worship weekly; pray daily; maybe even meditate in some form. These practices are meant to help us recognize that God never just appears, that God is with us, every single second of our lives. Slowly, with practice, we can begin to see God more clearly.
Prayer: Help us each day, God, to take time to be with you so that we may see that you are always here; in Jesus’ name, amen.
Saturday, December 10
From Psalm 46: 10 Be still and know that I am God.
Everyone should have a little quiet time every day.
I was taught this in college; there is no memory that any of my Sunday School teachers ever mentioned it, and if any pastor said it from the pulpit, I missed it. But it’s one of the wisest things I’ve ever heard.
Musicians practice to become masters of their instruments; singers sing to make their voices stronger; athletes practice to better their chances of being successful. Yet, people of faith can go for long periods of time when they don’t actually do anything of faith except, maybe, “be nice.”
Sometimes we cry, with the Psalmist, “My God, my God, why have you forgotten me?” Jesus certainly did, from the cross, and we know that Jesus actually did pray daily. As one of my teachers said, “If Jesus had to pray, think how much more you and I need to!”
Be still today, if only for three minutes, and be aware of God.
Prayer: Make us quiet from time to time, our God, and help us know you better; in Christ’s name, amen.
Sunday, December 11
John 16: 21 A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.
On this third Sunday of Advent, we celebrate joy. A favorite hymn for this time of year is “Joy to the World.” Other hymns remind us that we are not just happy, we are overcome with joy at the birth that will be revisited in two weeks!
Joy is contagious: when we see someone with a huge smile on their face or big laughter coming from them, we easily join them, whether or not we know what to celebrate! Think of the things that bring you real joy, and then remember how much your joy is multiplied when you share it with others.
Today, our joy is for the birth of a child: the Messiah, the Savior of the world. That’s nothing to be quiet about. Laugh, sing, dance, slap each other on the back, get out the blue candy cigars, and share them with everyone: how great our joy (Joy! Joy! Joy!).
Prayer: May our joy be complete in this season of expectation and hope. May the celebration of the birth of your child fill us more than ever before, in his holy name we pray, amen.
Monday, December 12
Luke 1: 78 - 79 In your tender compassion the morning sun will rise upon us, giving light to those in darkness and guiding us in the way of peace. (translation by Sister Jean Wolbert, OSB)
This text is from the Song of Zechariah at the end of Luke 1 and comes just before the story of Christ’s birth. It is called one of the New Testament Psalms because it has the poetry and meter that many Psalms have.
God’s “tender compassion” brings a different kind of morning sun, the Son, Jesus. We don’t just celebrate any particular birth at this time of year, but the birth of our own life! Because of Jesus, the game has changed: sin is not in charge, love truly conquers all, and we are set free not just to live, but to live the lives God intends for us. We are not only given life, but the life that is gifted to us is one that is worth something in the life of the world.
Prayer: In your tender compassion, loving God, may we find ourselves born anew this season, along with your son, our Savior Jesus, in whose name we pray and live, amen.
Tuesday, December 13
Isaiah 7: 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman[a] shall conceive and bear[b] a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
A riddle: what is Jesus’ middle name (assuming, as we little kids did in the Sunday School class we were in when this riddle was given to us, that “Christ” is Jesus’ last name - which it isn’t!)? Answer: “Immanuel!”
All jokes aside, the message is simple: Isaiah is telling us that the name of the Messiah will be more than a name, it will be a condition of life. No longer will we wonder why God “no longer goes out with our armies” (Psalm 108: 11, and other places). We will know, once and for all, that God is here, with us, never to leave us feeling abandoned again.
The name Immanuel says it all: “God is with us.” It is a promise and a reality. Just as God told Moses at the burning bush, when Moses asked for God’s name: “I am who I am; I am who I was; and I am who I will be.” The Great I Am is another name for God, just as Immanuel is another name for the one who comes once again this season, Jesus.
Prayer: God, who was, who is, and who is to come: be here now with us in ways that we can recognize, in the name of Immanuel-Jesus we pray, amen.
Wednesday, December 14
Isaiah 53: 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
Isaiah contains many familiar texts that are tied to Jesus. Isaiah 53 is a Psalm to the Suffering Servant. Jesus’ own interpretation of his ministry is found best stated in Isaiah. The idea that his life was about freeing us from the bondage of guilt and from the chains of failure so that we can live the lives that God intended for us is central to our understanding of Christian faith..
So, let’s understand that being freed from sin is not an end in itself, but rather removes the impediments to our loving others. God doesn’t just call us to salvation; we are saved for a reason which is tied to Jesus’ ministry. May our Advent be about who we are called to be rather than just gratitude for being saved. Without living the lives to which God is calling us, salvation is an empty cup, and Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection don’t matter much. When faithfulness to Jesus’ command to love as we have been loved occurs, our healing “by his wounds” has meaning and value today.
Prayer: May your wounds which heal us, Christ Jesus, be the beginning of our life of love; in your name we pray, amen.
Thursday, December 15
Isaiah 45: 8 Let justice descend, O heavens, like dew from above, like gentle rain let the skies drop it down. Let the earth open and salvation bud forth; let justice also spring up. What a thought: that salvation and justice should arrive gently, like a quiet, rainy afternoon shower. If it were only true. Is it possible?
Isaiah puts these words in God’s mouth: not a suggestion to us, but a statement from God about how it is going to happen. In these sometimes dark days in history, we need to continually be reminded that God is going to do this, whether we like it or not. But the good news is this: it will happen like dew and rain rather than with force of arms and hatred and war. Good news, indeed: Someone must be coming who will shake humanity out of its bad habits into more loving and caring ways!
Prayer: O God, make it so: like gentle rain, bring justice to our world, so that all may live in peace, love, and care for one another, which we know is your intention for us; we pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.
Friday, December 16
Psalm 41: 1 Blessed are those who have regard for the weak; the Lord delivers them in times of trouble.
Throughout the Bible, the message is clear: God wants us to look after those who cannot look after themselves. Human strength is not the point of life; care and love for the marginalized is!
This is a difficult message to hear. Our culture likes the strong, the heroic, the loud, the brash, the wealthy, the winner; yet our faith goes in the opposite direction, choosing rather the broken, the failures, the poor, the rejected.
Interestingly, polls continue to show that overall, Americans like to root for the underdog! Maybe it just goes to show that some of the Christian spirit occasionally breaks through and shines some hope into an otherwise bleak landscape. If we could only translate that into a sincere love for those on the sidelines of life!
Prayer: O God, let us never forget that you call us to care for those no one else cares about, including a poor father and mother and their baby, born in the worst of conditions! We pray in his name, amen.
Saturday, December 17
Isaiah 61: 11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.
This chapter of Isaiah got Jesus in trouble at home in Nazareth: he read the first verses during worship and said, “Today, this has been fulfilled in front of you.” Oh, my.
We’ll leave that alone to look at the last verse of the chapter, our reading today. The One Who Comes is going to witness not just to Jews, but to all nations. The One we celebrate this Advent is more than just “my” Savior: he is for everyone in all places and times, and he will make right what is wrong and cause us to sing thanks and praise to God.
Christianity forgets, sometimes, that we are not the enemy of the world, but the witnesses to the good God wants to do for everyone. Jesus proclaimed this message. It didn’t go well. We are still telling it from the mountains, over the hills, and everywhere. Jesus Christ is born, and nothing stays the same!
Prayer: Make us faithful to the message of your son, not just at Advent, but every day of our lives; in his name, amen.
Sunday, December 18
Matthew 1: 20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.
Joseph has just discovered that Mary is pregnant. We discover a couple of verses before this what kind of man he is: he did not want to expose her to public disgrace, so he had in mind to divorce her quietly (vs. 19). Although he had every right to make a scene, disgrace her, and leave her to a ruined life, he chose not to do it.
This is the kind of man who influenced God’s child. We may forget Joseph, since only in Matthew and Luke does he play any part of Jesus’ story, but let’s not. Mary is exalted in some traditions, but Joseph proved his worth by honoring his betrothed and seeking to do right by her. After the angel’s visit, he was a faithful and caring husband and, we can only imagine, a great foster-father to our Savior. He’s an example for all of us not to jump to conclusions and to listen to God’s leading.
Prayer: May we, like Joseph, hear you when you speak to us, O God. May we be the kind and generous people that he exemplifies; in your son’s name, amen.
Monday, December 19
Philippians 3: 20b - 21 We eagerly await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. Transformation: everything is at stake with the coming of the Christ-child! If we are walking through Advent with that “We’ve seen it all before and know how it comes out” attitude, then here’s a warning: it ain’t necessarily so!
Jesus doesn’t come to keep the status quo safe and secure. The coming of the Savior, of God’s Messiah, is never a calm and peaceful event. Nations are shattered. The earth trembles. Individuals who were hidden in darkness shine like the sun. And through it all, God chants, “Love, love, love, love.”
God’s love changes everything. Wake up! Here comes the Ruler of Rulers! Nothing remains the same when Jesus is the one who’s coming.
Prayer: Transform us and make us courageous enough to stand with you, God, as you break into human history once again, bringing hope and justice to all, but especially to those who are imprisoned by their fears; this is our prayer in Christ’s name, amen.
Tuesday, December 20
Isaiah 40: 3 - 4 The voice of one crying in the wilderness:“Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth….”
When I was a child athlete (sort of), we were taught several things: first, be a good loser; second, be a good winner; third, you’re on a team, and so work together for a win and blame no one person for losses; fourth, don’t rub it in to the losers when you win. Playing sports was not an end in itself: it was a training ground for how to live life. At some point, all that changed. Winning became the only thing. Whether it was in sports, politics, business, whatever: win at all costs, and be sure and let your opponents know you won.
God has a plan: “I’m God, I will win, and you are my beloved, and you’ll win with me.” Every valley gets lifted up, every mountain gets lowered; God does what we humans can’t: sets a level playing field for all.
Watch out: here comes God!
Prayer: Make your way straight, your valleys exalted, your mountains lowered, gracious God, and let that be a lesson to us about what you want; we pray in Jesus’ name, amen.
Wednesday, December 21
Luke 1: 68 - 79 (The Song of Zechariah, John the Baptizer’s father)
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, for he has come to his people and set them free. He has raised up for us a mighty savior born of the house of his servant, David. Through his holy prophets he promised from of old, that he would save us from our enemies, from the hand of all who hate us. God promised to show mercy to our ancestors and has remembered his holy covenant. This was the the oath that he swore to Abraham and Sarah, that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness in his presence all the days of our lives. And you, my child, will be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give his people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins. In the tender compassion of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to shine on those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
Thursday, December 22
John 3: 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
With only three days until Christmas, let’s remind ourselves of the real reason that we are celebrating. It’s not just any baby who’s being born, you know. The Savior of the world deserves a birthday party, doesn’t he?
So, let’s go ahead and celebrate in our various ways: gift-giving, getting together with family and friends, serving meals to those who won’t have a celebration without us, and many other activities that happen only at this time of the year.
Some Christian traditions frown on these things, but if I remember the Gospel stories about Jesus, I believe that he was always up for a party (yes, a party - not like those holier-than-thou movies that have an unsmiling Savior always being serious, but those wonderful portraits of a belly-laughing man who lived life to the fullest with his friends and followers). We celebrate because our Savior also loved to celebrate. I think he’d join us, don’t you?
Prayer: Make us truly joyful in the birth of your son, loving God; we pray in his name, amen.
Friday, December 23
Isaiah 40: 1 Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God.
Jesus’ life means to us that there is always love and hope. For Christians, we begin with the One Truth: God loves us all, so much that God becomes human and lives among us.
There was a farmer who wasn’t much of a church person, but his wife took the kids regularly to church. One Christmas Eve, a heavy snow began to fall right after they had left to attend the Christmas Eve service. As he sat in his den watching the snow fall, he saw a bird fly into the window: the light had attracted it, and the poor bird was stunned. The farmer went out to get it, but another, then another both did the same thing. The farmer thought that maybe he could get the birds to fly into the barn for shelter, so he grabbed his coat and went out and opened the barn door, but the birds seemed only to see the house and continued their doomed flights into the window. The farmer stood, helpless, as more and more of the poor birds hit the windows of his house.
He thought, “If only I could become a bird myself, and I could speak their language, they would follow me to safety!”
The church bells began to toll the birth of the Christ child into the world, “God with us.” Amen.
Saturday, December 24 | Christmas Eve
Luke 1: 46 - 55 (The Magnificat of Mary)
Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowly state of his servant. Surely from now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name; indeed, his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown the strength of his arm; he has scattered the proud in the conceit of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty. He has come to the aid of his child Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
Sunday, December 25 | Christmas Day
Luke 2: 1 - 7
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no place in the inn.
The story of Jesus’ birth is simple. Yet, pages and stories and books and libraries have been written about it in the 20 centuries since then. Many of us know the story by heart, having had to memorize it in Sunday School (the King James Version with all its “thee’s” and “thou’s”).
However you learned it, be like Mary and hold it close to your heart. It matters. If you’re reading this, there’s a huge chance that you follow the child who was born this day so long ago. If you’ve come this far with him during the Advent season, keep walking. He’s here with you. Immanuel: God is with us. Have a blessed and happy day!
#FCCWILSONNC A Disciples of Christ Congregation located in Eastern North Carolina
207 Tarboro Street North | Wilson, NC Corner of Vance & Tarboro Streets 252-237-4125