Day 30: God has spoken by a Son

Hebrews 1:1-4

God sure is patient……..and persistent.

God revealed himself to us, not through one prophet, but through many – not just once, but many times – not in just one way, but various ways.

We did not listen.

Did He give up on us? Did He leave us? Did He demand we try to find him? No.

So in an effort to get our attention, God gets creative. He sends his Son. He sends his Son so we can experience him in a form we understand, a form that is real, a form that can speak to us with

Words
And
Actions.

God has proven that He is limitless and that He’ll go through extraordinary lengths to make Himself known to us. God’s best is saved for last; His spoken Word is through His Son.

Merciful Father,
Shine into our hearts the reflection of your glory, wisdom, and patience, O God, and open our minds to the knowledge of your word. We give you thanks that you not only speak your Word to us, but you show it to us through the blessed gift of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Julie Stambaugh

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Day 29: Saved through water and the Spirit

Titus 2:11-37
Christian Conduct

So, here’s the thing. I served in the Peace Corps in a community in Honduras with a population of about 3,000. There were three Peace Corps volunteers in our town and everyone knew everything we said and did. There was no electricity and, quite frankly, I think we were the town’s entertainment. It was an adjustment for me to make the transition from living in relative obscurity with lots of privacy to living such a public life often in the spotlight. I found myself making better decisions about my choices knowing full well that everything I did was seen and everything I said was heard. At the end of my two years in that town, one of my neighbors said to me, “You’re a Christian aren’t you?” I said, “Yes, I am.” She said, “We could tell by how you lived.” So, what if we tried to live that way all the time. What if we made decisions assuming everything we do is seen and everything we say is heard. I ask God for wisdom to make good choices every day and I thank God for grace when I fail.

Dear God, help us to remember that you see everything we do and hear everything we say. Help us to make choices that bring you joy and witness to your love. Amen

Sally Hoh

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Day 28: Jesus is presented in the temple

Luke 2:22-35

29 “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”

Simeon’s song of joy at meeting the long expected Messiah may be the center piece of this reading, but it also speaks to the presentation of Jesus as the first born son and dedicating him to the Lord, and to the prophesy Simeon gave to Mary “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

All through Advent we waited for and prepared our hearts for the coming of our Lord, and he finally arrived to all of us at Christmas. Now as we celebrate this Christmastide and the artificial sides of “Xmas” are behind us, we look forward to the arrival of the Magi at Epiphany. And yet, even as we celebrate Simeon points us to the cross as the main event of Jesus life: “and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

So let us always sing with joy for the Lord and Savior who came down as a babe and who’s path led directly from the Manger to the Cross, and then to the empty grave on Easter. Julius Cesar wrote “ I came, I saw, I conquered.” Jesus came, taught, died, and conquered death.

Prayer: Heavenly Father we thank you for the entirety of the gift we celebrate at Christmas – Jesus life, death, and resurrection, all as a gift for our overwhelming sins. Please hear our grateful hearts as we sing your praise. Amen

Peter Riley

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Day 27: The Word became flesh

John 1:1-14

1.” In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God and the word was God.
All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.
Jesus came to us as the “Light that shines in the darkness.”
We are so blessed to celebrate the incarnation of Christ. So that the Son of God became
Son of man that we as sons and daughters of men through Him might become the sons an
daughters of God.

“And the word became flesh and lived among us .We are so blessed by this wonderful miracle and
blessing.”.

Heavenly Father, we thank you for the miracle of your son. We are blessed to be your children. Use
our lives and talents for your glory.
Through Jesus Christ Our Lord, Amen.

Merry Christmas,
Leon and Pam Pisano

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Day 26: A Son is given!

Isaiah 9:2-7

This passage originally served as an oracle for the coronation of a Judean king, probably good king Hezekiah. We consider it an oracle for the coronation of Jesus, our “King of kings and Lord of lords!” Jesus, born in a manger, washed in water, rubbed with salt, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and circumcised on the eighth day, was truly human. The names given for the divine Son on His coronation day are “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace”.

It was said when Steve and I went to India in 1959 with a newborn son that we were so blessed to have a son given to us. And so we were! There is rejoicing in India at the birth of a son…lineage is assured, a dowry will not be needed at the time of marriage, and hope for the future of the family enterprise is assured (There is a son to work in the fields or in the business. There is a son to perform the last rites when father dies).

Now, 54 years later, sons continue to be the sex of choice in India. India’s daughters continue to seek justice. Patriarchy aside, the message of “a child has been born for us, a son given to us” is a cause for rejoicing! God comes to us as a baby son in a manger. He is terribly, simply with us. And our shadows with arms outstretched to receive Him, fall across the manger in the form of a cross.

Dear God, you have given us your Son Jesus, your only Son and we accept this gift with praise and thanksgiving.

Barbara Kolumban Schmitthenner

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Day 25: Heralds announce God’s salvation

Isaiah 52:7-10

Christmas Day! The comfort promised in Isaiah 40:1 has been delivered. We see the return of the Lord. What do we do? We sing for joy. “Break forth together into singing…for the LORD has comforted his people.”

As I count my 39th Christmas Eve on the organ bench at St. James, I think of the many sermons, the choir anthems, the postludes, but most of all the glorious singing by the faithful assembly. From the spirit filled entrance of “O Come, All ye Faithful” to the haunting beauty of “Silent Night” to the rousing “Good Christian Friends, Rejoice”- God’s word is proclaimed! Glory to God in the Highest!

“Listen! Your sentinels lift up their voices, together they sing for joy.” We join in that song, proclaim the good news and pray for peace this Christmastide and throughout the year.

Let us pray: “Heaven’s arches rang when the angels sang, proclaiming the royal degree; but in lowly birth didst thou come to earth, and in great humility: O Come to my heart, Lord Jesus; there is room in my heart for thee.” Amen
SBH 433 (2) – Emily E. S. Elliott

Timothy Braband

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Day 24: The birth of Jesus

Luke 2:1-20

It was a cold December night many years ago when we sat on bleachers watching this passage acted out in front of us. We had taken our Girl Scout Troop to see a live nativity. We thought it would be a great experience for them.
Off in the distance we could see the shepherds were watching over their flock by night and an angel came and told them of the wonderful news of the birth of the Messiah. I can’t imagine how terrified they must have been, yet excited for the amazing news.

We looked in another direction and could see the “little town of Bethlehem”. It was much as I had pictured it in my mind. Mary and Joseph passed by us on a donkey and headed to the town. As in Luke’s passage, there was no room in the inn- but the stable was available.

Imagine how Joseph and Mary felt as they traveled to Bethlehem and how weary they must have been. To find there was no room to stay and that the baby would be born soon must have been frightening. We also know that Mary was thinking of all of this and his future.

Jesus was born in that lowly stable and placed in a manger. An angel “hung” in the sky and watched over the place where he lay. The shepherds came down by us and went to that stable. Oh and yes… there was a bright star in the sky over the stable to point the way.

I can remember this experience vividly and the mixed emotions of wonder, awe and humility as I watched the story unfold. I felt like I was there at our Savior’s birth. It is an experience I will always treasure.

I love this passage from Luke AND the season AND the joy it brings. Each year in December we celebrate this blessed birth of our Lord. It is a wonderful time of year as we are reminded of the incredible gift God gave the world in the form of this little baby born in a humble stable.
I wish you, your family and all your loved ones a joyful, blessed Christmas!

Dear Heavenly Father,
“She gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth.” I can still picture it. Thank you for the gift of your son, our Savior and the gift of unconditional love. May we remember this blessing in our lives every day of the year! Amen

Shirley Sanders

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