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Category: Devotions

Advent Devotion – Thursday, December 5

The Best Gift

Recently my sweet daughter asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I said with absolute sincerity, “Nothing but time spent with you,” (and, I have enough boots). She acquiesced (well, I think she did—It’s not Christmas yet), but she reminded me that we do spend time together. I realize that I receive the gift of my child frequently and at a meaningful level. A gift that is a consistent presence in my life. And still, it’s the gift I continue to desire the most. Time with the ones I love. 

It makes me wonder, is that the gift God wants, too? Time with me, his child?

The birth of Christ is a gift to humanity. God showing his people that there is hope, through relationship with him, and he showed us his full understanding of our human experience by sending his son to experience it with us. Our human hearts and desires were part of Jesus coming to guide us into relationship with God and each other.

Nothing wrong with Christmas socks, fluffy slippers and Christmas treats. But, if they didn’t happen, would I have the gifts I desire the most?  

I would. Wow!

“And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life” 1 John 5:20.

May your Christmas be rich in Gods gifts!

Jude Mitchell, church lady

Advent Devotion – Wednesday, December 4

As Advent is upon us this year, I am inspired by many of the things that the Season brings, most notably the idea of compassion and selflessness. These are exhibited throughout the Bible and most specifically in Christ our Lord.

Whether it was the Samarian woman at the well, the leper, the Roman Centurion, the blind man, the lame, the hungry, or the sick woman. Jesus had a heart and a spirit of love for each and every one of these folks and as well as for us today.

If we could demonstrate just a glimmer of the Love that he has shown for the world, we would be able to show folks what Christ did for each and every one of us.

So, a challenge for each of us this Advent let us show an extra bit of compassion and selflessness to the world today:

  • Maybe – take the extra minute and really listen to that person that needs someone to talk to,
  • Maybe – let that person in line in front of you,
  • Maybe – help a family at the grocery store by paying part of their bill,
  • Maybe – donate to a group that will use it for the benefit of others,
  • Maybe – any of a countless number of things.

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

Jim Anderson, elder

Advent Devotion – Tuesday, December 3

The Intrusion of God into time. What does that really mean? A onetime event in history that shatters the Eastern idea that time is eternally cyclical. It shatters the humanistic idea that the universe has no inherent worth, that it is all an illusion. Time and history are not “a tale, told by and idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

We are not “dust in the wind.”  

“The Jews, first, stand right at the center of the perennial attempt to give human life the dignity of a purpose” (Paul Johnson). The biblical view of creation is the first time in history that a “covenantal” view of time itself was introduced to human history.  

The truth is that God is engaged with history. That we can play a role in what God is doing in the World… that what we do, however small, has an effect on history. In any other worldview there is no significance to time, history or freedom.  

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (Gal 5:1). We have, in this created freedom, significance. Our choices have meaning in history. There is a role for us to play within God’s plan. This is the significance of Christmas.

 As Nike says: Do it!

Tim Seeling, elder

Advent Devotion – Monday, December 2

The Advent season as a child was always very exciting to me and my sister Connie. We were only 13 months apart, so we were almost twins! The season always began with baking cookies with my grandmother. She made the best Christmas cookies and she baked a delicious coffee cake every Saturday. A great memory of Christmas Eve was singing in the children’s choir and being part of a Christmas program. I remember being part of an outdoor manger scene with real animals and a “live” baby Jesus. It was cold outside, but it always was special. After the Christmas Eve service, we would eat dinner and then read Luke 2—the story of the birth of Christ. On Christmas Day we returned to Church where it was packed with lots of people, special music and a bell Choir.

At the age of 8, we learned the truth about Jesus (rather than Santa) at Christmas. From that time on, we drew names at Christmas and learned that Christmas was more about giving than receiving. We learned that God loved the whole world and gave his Son Jesus to us (John 3:16).  This baby in the manager would come as a gift to us and be the Savior of the world.

Advent prepares us for the coming of Christ. I love sending Christmas cards and writing a special note in them. The cards that my husband and I receive at Christmas time are saved and the sender of the card is prayed for during the year. My prayer for advent is that one more person hears this amazing story and wants to accept Jesus into their life. Merry Christmas!!!!!!!!

Barb Hofmeister, elder

Advent Devotion – Sunday, December 1

The Surprise of Christmas! This year during the Advent season, the children will lead us. We will be looking at the various surprises that they have identified! “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified” (Luke 2:8-9). Apparently we are not the only ones surprised!

This Christmas season we will sing our wonderful and joyful Christmas songs, enjoy the sweetness of the Advent candles, decorate our homes, and enjoy the sweetness of true friends. We will, for a brief moment, reflect on the birth of Jesus! But there is so much more… there were many involved in the coming of this baby. Jesus, who left the glory of heaven for a messy, sinful world. Mary, who submitted to the will of God even though it cost her her integrity in front of all of her people. The Shepherds who were terrified. The Magi who traveled a great distance to see for themselves. And us… who gaze with deep gratitude at the Surprise of Christmas

Remember to stop, rest, and gaze this Advent season.

Warmly in Christ,

Jim Howard, pastor


Advent 2018 – Monday, December 24

What Does Christmas Sound Like?


During Christmas time, one thing I’ve noticed is that there is a veritable smorgasbord of sounds. From music and carols to the ringing of Salvation Army bells, so many sounds bring us into the season through our auditory memory.

I loved hearing the subdued voices of my family as a child, as treats and surprises were planned, and now as an adult, as our loves conspire to provide for and surprise each other. Hearing the whispered, low-toned communications fuels a sense of anticipation, fun and even a sense of being precious to someone.

I wonder if the Wise Men approached the manger with such a sense of awe and anticipation. Were their voices subdued in excitement as they approached Christ in the manger, with their gifts? Were they hushed by the importance of what they found by following the star?

“Faith is believing that all power can’t be seen”.  (Sometimes we can hear it …)


Jude Mitchell
Church Lady

Advent 2018 – Sunday, December 23

The Sounds of Christmas

Having just visited a foreign country, the notion of the sound of things is very present to me. The Chinese language, a Muslim prayer call, a Thai TV commercial—they all sound so strange and inaccessible and they leave me a stranger standing on the outside of a wall with no apparent door through which to pass. Of course, to those on the inside, these sounds are so close and familiar so as to be indiscernable; woven into the everyday fabric of normalcy.

As a Christian, often I find that the sounds of Christmas, of the Christian faith, are too close. Songs of celebration speak of a Holy night, a Savior’s birth, the coming of a King who rules the world “with truth and grace,” the “Lamb of God” and the “Lion of Judah.” To me, standing inside this Christian edifice, these words and phrases pass unimpeded through the filters of my mind; barely recognized for what they represent. To one on the outside, they must seem as foreign as a Thai menu or a Chinese wedding.

Perhaps a helpful activity this Christmas would be to step back and listen to the sounds of Christmas with new ears. Allow yourself to be a foreigner again. And perhaps the good news message of hope that first landed on the ears of the shepherds and literally changed the world will stir your heart, liven your step and embolden your heart to live with strength, beauty, love, grace and hope.

Rob Schmidt, worship

Advent 2018 – Saturday, December 22

A reflection on the feel of Christmas.

When I think of the things that my sense of touch tells me about Christmas, many things come to mind. Let’s list some of them:

  • The feel of evergreen needles as you decorate the tree
  • The crinkling of paper as a gift is opened
  • The feel of the outline of an ornament as it is placed carefully on the tree
  • The sticky feel of a candy cane as the wrapper is removed
  • The numbness of my fingers as I hang the last light on the roof of the house
  • The feel of the straw as a manger scene is put in place

In the proper setting at this special time of year these all remind me of the Christmas story and the tremendous impact it has on our world and on my life personally. As our sense of touch this Season reminds us of Christmas let’s pause and express joy in the Reason for the Season. Perhaps it will even happen as you handle a gift that you are considering buying for someone you love, and you remember the Great Gift we were given.

Paul Wardlaw, elder

Advent 2018 – Friday, December 21

Recently my son and daughter-in-law rescued a puppy from a nearby shelter. After a couple weeks, they realized the dog was deaf, apparently from contracting parvo in her early months. This was not as great a challenge as you would think, since the dog’s other senses were more acute, and she typically stayed close to her owners. Their greatest revelation was that, lacking the ability to respond to voice commands, the dog learned by observing her owners.

Our children are in their twenties now. As I look back at my parenting efforts and the resulting positive impacts on my kids (thank God!), I realize they learned far more by watching me than by listening to me. Much of the energy I burned crafting a verbal message apparently paled in comparison to their observing how I conducted myself in various situations, how I treated others, spoke on the phone, etc. While I’m certain both words and actions work together to create the strongest impact, a living example is often more powerful than the message.

God provided many lessons through intermediaries in the centuries leading up to Christ and sometimes revealed himself through impossible deeds. Eventually, He saw the need to show us what holiness and love looked like: Jesus Christ. Perhaps the most powerful lesson we have received is revealed by his actual presence as his Son in human form.

Like many of you, I sometimes struggle with what to “say” when presenting my faith to others. This lesson provides comfort that ears and eyes will open up as people see Jesus in my visible actions. My prayer is that I always remain attuned to what God wants to accomplish through me today, if only by example.

John 1:14 “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.”

Kevin McDonald, elder