Skip to main content

Posts

Strange Christmas | Devotions for Advent and Christmas

“Advent” means “arrival” or “coming,” and it’s a season of the year that Christians have observed for centuries as a time of anticipating the birth of Jesus. For many of us, however, December flies by with a flurry of activities that can leave us worn out and feeling just glad that it’s over at the end of the month. It can be the most stressful time of the year. But what if “the Christmas season” actually brought us closer to Christ? What if we were able to create some space to really feel the longing for Jesus to arrive, to be born anew in our lives? What if there were time for reflection and refocusing, such that we could truly receive and experience the gifts that Jesus brings—love, peace, joy, and hope?

This blog of daily devotions is offered as one simple tool to help us connect with Christ more deeply in the days leading up to and after Christmas. It will follow the rhythm of our Strange Christmas series, publishing reflections Monday through Saturday around the themes of LOVE …
Recent posts

Advent Day 14- JOY

Tuesday, December 18, 2018
Luke 1:46-55
46 And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
47     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
    of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49     for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
    holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
    from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
    he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
    but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
    but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
    remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
    just as he promised our ancestors.”

What would make you burst into spontaneous, uninhibited, celebration?  What could cause you to pump your fist, jump around the room, let out a loud, happy shout and throw your hat…

Advent Day 13- JOY

Monday, December 17, 2018
Luke 1:11-17
11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. 16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

Zechariah and Elizabeth knew what it was like to wait. They knew what it was like fo…

Advent Day 12- PEACE

Saturday, December 15, 2018
Phil 4:4-9
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Do  not be anxious about anything. Really? Anything? Living up to that command may seem like a tall task for many of us. There are so many things that cause us anxiety, and this season of the year can sometimes amplify stress and pain and worry. …

Advent Day 11- PEACE

Friday, December 14, 2018
Luke 2:22-32
22 When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”
25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salv…

Advent Day 10- PEACE

Thursday, December 13, 2018
Luke 1:26-38
26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So t…

Advent Day 9- PEACE

Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Luke 1
Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word.3 With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

There are four biographies of Jesus, or what we commonly call “Gospels,” in the Bible. And of them, the writer, Luke, spends the most time describing the events surrounding Jesus’ birth. He sets up that narrative with these introductory remarks in Luke 1:1-4. It’s important for us to recognize that when Luke sat down to write about the life of Jesus, he was not just on a spiritual high conjuring up a new religion. No, he was collating eye-witness accounts. He had taken great care to track down what actually hap…

Advent Day 8- PEACE

Tuesday, December 11, 2018
Isaiah 11
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
    from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
2 The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
    the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
    the Spirit of counsel and of might,
    the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—
3 and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.
He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
    or decide by what he hears with his ears;
4 but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
    with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;
    with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.
5 Righteousness will be his belt
    and faithfulness the sash around his waist.
6 The wolf will live with the lamb,
    the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together;
    and a little child will lead them.
7 The cow will feed with the bear,
    their young will lie down together,
    and the lio…