Advent Devotions

“The highest, most holy

Light of light eternal

Born of a virgin, a mortal he comes;

Son of the Father

Now in flesh appearing

O Come, let us adore him,

Christ the Lord!”

Verse two of “O Come All Ye Faithful”

2022 Devotions

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9 (NIV)

Do you remember the television show “Mission Impossible”? The head of the Impossible Missions force, Mr. Jim Phelps listens to a tape that will self-destruct in five seconds. He is given a choice to accept the assignment or not.

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“Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.” Matt. 25:40. 

Jesus was answering His hearers when they asked, “When did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee” (Matt. 25:37-39)?

I cannot envision Jesus as a carpenter or preacher in Palestine, some two millennia ago, challenging the religious practices of His time.  I do not see Him as artists through the ages have seen him; their art is from their own imagining of Him.  But how He actually appeared in human form to people is not significant; it is what He said and did that has endured through time and guides us even now. He showed us how to live, teaching us that He comes to us in part through others.  

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“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music; make music to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing, with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn—shout for joy before the Lord, the King.” (Psalm 98:  4-6)

God appeared in me and still appears to me through the treasure of holiday music.

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For this is the message you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 1 John 11

Growing up, one of my main influences in the church was Fr Christopher Morley.  Fr Morley was a Benedictine monk and part of the Order of the Holy Cross in the Episcopal church.

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Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.” John 14: 19

Science has proven the certainty of many things we cannot see – light, wind, sound, and even WiFi. How do we know these things to be true? Because of the evidence. We can sense it, feel it, or hear it.

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The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined. – Isaiah 9:2 NRSV

In my childhood, my family attended my father’s childhood church, which was in a rural Connecticut “post card” community of dry-fitted stone walls and shipping heritage.

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So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” Luke 2:15

As Goshen Valley concludes another year of ministry, I am reminded of our “Bethlehem”. That being the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer.

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If I were to name this Advent Devotion, I would simply call it ‘Unlikely Places.’

‘… for now He shall be great to the ends of the earth; and He shall be the one of peace.’ (Micah 5:4-5)

We’ve all heard stories of a seemingly unremarkable person – coming from a rather unlikely place – doing quite remarkable things

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“A new command I give you. Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”  John 13:34

I’ve come to realize that love is the most important trait or emotion both for people and societies.  Lack of love has caused human misery and death throughout history.  What greater celebration could we have than to celebrate the coming of love into the world in the person of Jesus.

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This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

1 John 1: 5

This holiday season seems to be busier than usual as we try to pack in all of the holiday things that we have missed out on for the past few years: the advent celebrations, the school plays, the concerts, the family visits. We all want to experience the bright light that is Christmas. However, some people might still be feeling more darkness than light.

“Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.”  (James 4:  10)

My church family recently celebrated All Saint’s Sunday and soon will celebrate first Advent.   As we commemorated the saints, we remembered anew who and more importantly what the saints were.

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In the beginning, was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made, that was made. In him was life and the life was the light of men.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth. John1:1-4, 14a

On Christmas day last year the James Webb Space Telescope was launched from the Centre Spatial Guyanais to conduct infrared astronomy to view objects too old, distant, or faint for the Hubble Space Telescope. We are now able to look further into space than ever before.

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“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”

Jeremiah 29: 11

When I was in college, I decided to spend three summers working as a camp counselor for Luther Springs in Florida. I had never heard of this camp nor had I ever visited it, but I decided to go and take up this opportunity. These were some great summers filled with memories, growing in my faith, discerning my life plan, and making some really great friendships.

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And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.  No one has ever seen God.  It is God the only son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known. John 1: 14 & 18

There seems to be a bit of haze that has come over the season of Advent in recent years.  Advent means “Coming” and it features introspection and expectation as we anticipate the first (and maybe the second) comings of Jesus into our world.

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…let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:16 (NRSV)

Angel Chimes were part of my family’s dining table during Advent. When the candles were lit, their heat powered the flight of brass angels, and the strikers attached to the angels created a cheerful ting, ting, ting, ting as they passed over the chimes. The light of the candles sparkled the eyes of everyone around the table. Jesus had come to bring joy.

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The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. John 1:5

As someone who lives with depression, especially Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD), I wait in anticipation for December 22nd, the day after the winter solstice, the longest night of the year. I long for the light and sun, like a turtle warming in the sun on a log. As such, I have been drawn to the introduction of John’s Gospel, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” The light and love of Jesus overcome depression, grief, despair, and eventually even death.

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They said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?’“ Luke 24:32

Anyone on our staff can tell you that I am a planner. I am often the one urging that it’s time to plan out our calendar far in advance, giving detailed instructions for upcoming events, and purchasing supplies long before we will use them. Of course, it doesn’t always work out that way.

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