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Category: Advent

Advent Devotion – Wednesday, December 25 – Christmas!

So the shepherds hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told” (Luke 2:16-20).

Emmanuel… God with us! He came back for us. He didn’t leave us. He remembered us. Just as Mary treasured up all these things in her heart, are you able to “treasure up” the goodness and love of God this Christmas?

Take a moment and “treasure” our Lord. Merry Christmas!

Jim Howard, pastor

Advent Devotion – Tuesday, December 24

November and December are stressful months for me at work. It is great to have Thanksgiving and Christmas, but the real significance of these days are often lost in the shuffle of daily pressures. When I start to feel this way, I must remind myself that I COULD NOT BE MORE BLESSED!

Christmastime is stressful for many—even believers. I get it! So many feel financial pressure to buy gifts; are reminded of rifts between family and friends; and they feel the full depth of emptiness in their souls because they do not have the blessing of Jesus’ “living water” in their lives.

It takes deliberate prayer and reflection on God’s grace to even begin grasp the magnitude of Jesus’ entry into broken humanity. You and I know the Christmas story and I can recite it pretty much verbatim, but when was the last time you really prayed for peace, rest, and understanding to absorb God’s amazing gift and grace?

As I write this I can think of three DCC members and one neighbor (two are mothers of young children) who are battling cancer. I can think of several who are battling other significant obstacles in their lives. One dear Brother in Christ is in hospice. My heart aches for the family of Ken Jones, whose wife will experience Christmas without their husband and father because of a tragic fall fighting a structure fire earlier this month. I struggle to answer, “Why?” It seems so unfair!

Christmas is the first earthy revelation of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. I am not worthy of any of these, but still (you and) I can receive the gift of life! Enjoy the Christmas season for all it’s worth. Praise Jesus for my daughter who makes the house look like Christmas and ensures Christmas carols are prominent.  

No matter what is happening in your life, rejoice in the Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love of Jesus. The fourth to last paragraph in the Bible says, “Whoever is thirsty, let them come; and whoever wishes, let them take the FREE GIFT of the water of life.” A FREE GIFT that really means something! That is my prayer for you and our church this Christmas season.  “The Spirit and the bride say, Come!” (Rev 22:17, slightly rearranged).

Merry Christmas!

Bruce Butler, elder

Advent Devotion – Monday, December 23

At this time of year we hear the carols of Christmas in church, in the stores we visit, in our homes—the songs proclaiming Christ’s birth—his coming to earth to bring Peace To All Men, Joy to the World and a Holy, Silent Night. 

Amidst this message we hear of shootings in schools, in business places, in churches and synagogues, we see an incivility between each other most of us have never experienced before, we watch our loved ones suffer with disease, we observe “labeling” that causes divisiveness and we spend a lot of energy trying to protect our children, our homes, ourselves from the evils that seem to be growing in our world. 

Where is the Peace, Joy, Tranquility Jesus talked about while he was with us? The world screams the message that these illusive things are possible through our own doing—meditate on something, volunteer in a soup kitchen, play more, exercise more, eat less, etc. etc. 

As Christians we know in our hearts that it is only because Jesus was born and died for us that we have hope that the Peace, Joy and Love so sung about at this time of year are possible even now. He prompts us to pray more, give more, be more grateful, commit more “random acts of kindness”—when those actions come from Christ in us we truly do experience Peace on Earth and Joy in the World. 

Think of the changes we would see if everyone was motivated by the hope and love Jesus’s birth brought to humanity!

Merry Christmas!

Judy Morgan, elder

Advent Devotion – Sunday, December 22

“He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.”  ~ John 1:10 ~

This last weekend I attended Jonah and Luca’s first piano recital. It was captivating in a way that caught me off guard. As they sat there with their best little boy postures and played what they had been taught, I was struck by the purity of their innocence and by their willingness and ability to take part in the creating of music; creating, as it were, beauty from nothing. 

After their performances, Pat Schmidt sat down to play her pieces. Pat, if you don’t know her, sustained a severe brain injury and lay comatose for 40 some odd days after being caught up in a tornado. Many years of therapy and rehab later, she had regained much, but not all of what she had lost only to be set back again by a skiing accident and then later a fall down the stairs. Now she manages as well as she can, and to watch her inspires awe. She sits and focuses all of her attention to her hands that don’t quite know how to listen and obey. With an indominable spirit she aims at the keys, striving to wrest order from a profound disorder. With painful deliberation she played O Little Town of Bethlehem

I marveled at her incredible determination and was moved to tears as I listened to her eek out this simple Christmas hymn. The whole experience left me appreciating the elegant simplicity and beauty of God’s created order, how well it works, how fragile it all can be, how much I can take it all for granted and how, thanks to the fierce spirit of a woman like Pat, it all comes so stunningly into focus. The world was made through Jesus. Children of innocence, a woman of titanic courage, music… these all reflect the glory of God and he has given me a mind to apprehend and appreciate all of it. 

Emmanuel… God with us… In moments like this, I realize that you are intimately closer than we know. Help us to recognize you and your handiwork as we wind our way through life and may this recognition spurn us onward with a burning and brilliant hope that one day you will reconcile completely all things to yourself (Col 1:20).

Merry Christmas!

Rob Schmidt, the new pastor of worship and arts!

Advent Devotion – Saturday, December 21

Who’s Coming for Christmas?

Many families include a nativity set as part of their Christmas decorations. My wife has collected many variations and loves having them about. Of all our decorations, the crèche is likely the most visually specific storyteller in the house.

So, what is communicated by the arrangement of this annually repeated farmyard scene? Mary, Joseph, and Jesus are certainly the centerpieces. Animals of various kinds are scattered around. Magi and “the” star are often included, even though they didn’t appear in the sky and arrive in Israel for months or even a couple of years later (Mt 2:1-15). Maybe we should put them in another room, or on a table across the room travelling towards Bethlehem? Angels appeared outside of the town to the shepherds, and are never said to be at the manger location (Lk 2:8-15). Maybe we should acquire multiple shepherds, then show some with the family at the manger, and others hearing from the angels on the other side of the room? (I know…now we have split up the set into THREE locations!)

While this may be silly nitpicking, why not take advantage of the storytelling opportunity by highlighting some of the unusual details? It may be fun and eye-catching for those who come around for Christmas to notice who came for the first Christmas.

Merry Christmas!

Mark Hill, pastor

Advent Devotion – Friday, December 20

I’m feeling very thankful this Advent season. I love my family, my community, and I realize I live a very fortunate life. But those aren’t the things I’m most thankful for right now. I’m most thankful for the gift of Hope.

You see if this life here on earth is all there is, then I’m really not that interested. What inspires me is knowing that this isn’t the end of story— Jesus came to earth and gave his life so that we could know him and know that we get eternity with him. All pain and hurt will be gone and love will prevail.

I want to be a part of that story— A story of Hope!

Merry Christmas!

Darla Schmidt, administrative assistant

Advent Devotion – Thursday, December 19

This Advent season we have been highlighting the various “players” in the Nativity story. How often have we talked about the Virgin Mary or the animals surrounding newborn Jesus but not stopped to interpret or investigate what each of those players brought to the birth story?

The Angels and Shepherds were tasked with the amazing job of announcing the birth of our Savior. I mean, wow! Can you imagine being the bearer of that news? If you’ve ever played the game Telephone you know how things can get lost in translation… no pressure!

Then there were the animals who gently and sweetly looked down at baby Jesus and “meowed” or “mooed” at his cuteness… or wait, did they? Intuitively we think that a manger should be filled with all sorts of animals but the Bible never mentions any in the story of Jesus’ birth…

The Wise Men followed on their camels to bring the infant Jesus gold, frankincense and myrrh… oh wait… they didn’t arrive until Jesus was older! And there are no accounts of them riding camels…

Then the sweetest, most amazing piece of the story, Joseph and Mary. How terrified the Virgin Mary must have been to face a town full of people that couldn’t find her a place to lay her head let alone have a BABY! What mother wants to give birth anywhere other than those cozy birthing rooms in our local hospital?!

Each of these characters has an amazing and crucial part in making the story of Jesus’ birth perfectly imperfect. A baby who could have entered the world as a grown man, a King, entered the world in a manger (perhaps with the company of animals?). Imagine how humbled we would be for the Lord to choose us as unknowing participants in a story such as this. 

Merry Christmas!

Julie Andrews, children’s ministry director

Advent Devotion – Wednesday, December 18

Dear Jesus,

As we approach the Advent of your birth on earth as a human… God we tend to focus a lot on gift giving, parties and fellowship. It’s easy to get caught up in these things, especially when kids are in the household, and allow the enormity of what actually happened to and for humanity as a result of your birth to be secondary. I plead guilty! I feel blessed though that your Spirit keeps reminding me of your presence and the gifts you have given and continue to give for me/us. While grateful everyday Lord, this time of year inspires a special sense of gratitude to you. When I look back on the year of blessings, love and hardships, it is easy to see your involvement in everything. Your love for us is incredibly amazing. Even when we are experiencing frightfully dangerous situations. When all is good, it’s easy to be grateful. But when life is scary… that’s when I really need to draw closer you LORD. Thank you for being there. I’m looking forward to eternity with you.

Happy Birthday Jesus!

Mike Kermode, food bank director

Advent Devotion – Tuesday, December 17

GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN…Over the hills and everywhere!

When Kevin and I were first married we volunteered with Alpine Resort Ministries, conducting Mountain Top Worship Services for Vail Resorts during the ski season. This was perhaps our first experience as a couple to participate in outreach ministry and share the GOOD NEWS of CHRIST with others in an awesome, incredibly beautiful, non-church setting!

We’d grab our ski gear and head to the top of Vail Mountain near present day Two Elks Lodge (back then – a small outpost cabin). There Kevin would invite skiers/boarders to join us for an outdoor worship service, open to everyone! A rustic cross placed in the snow designated our gathering place. Booklets of music (including “Go Tell It On the Mountain”) were passed out and worshippers were encouraged to sing along to a song or two, followed by scripture and a short devotional message. We encouraged everyone to pray with their eyes “open” to experience the beauty of God’s creation from the mountain top!

Most days we enjoyed beautiful winter weather. It was glorious to be worshipping together, and to have curious onlookers join us by the cross in the snow! On the blustery, cold and bitter days of winter it was difficult to be enthusiastic…but the genuine, simple message of Christ was shared from a mountain top with anyone who would listen.  

A challenge as a Christian in sharing our faith with others is finding the right opportunities and feeling empowered by the Holy Spirit to offer the gift of Jesus! What better time than Christmas to do this, especially living in our beautiful mountains! God uses the imagery of mountains in scripture to proclaim his power and majesty! So “Go Tell it On the Mountain…” on a ski lift, in a lift line, the warm chalet, from a beautiful mountain top… that JESUS CHRIST is born! (Isaiah 52:7).

Merry Christmas!

Cindi McDonald, elder

Advent Devotion – Monday, December 16

Everywhere we look there are happenings in the world that can cause us to feel a variety of things. Ongoing wars over territory, race, and even religion. Families separated, their possessions seized. Judgment based on class, gender or skin color that causes real harm. People shouting at each other without being able to listen, judging and labeling while problems go unsolved. All of these lead to fear of showing vulnerability, charity and generosity to others because it may cause us to lose something we believe to be scarce.

I have good news: we do not have to live out of a scarcity mindset. We live out of abundance. And in Christ, there is an abundance of mercy… freedom… dignity. We do not have to be afraid to grant to others what we enjoy, because it is not a zero sum game. He grants to us what He has freely and with abundance. We know this to be true with the spiritual. It is true with the material and social aspects of life as well. We can have confidence in working to counteract suffering or oppression when we see it, without fear of oppression in return. We can give freely of our resources, knowing He has provided all that we need – because we have a promise that, even if we suffer for a little while, in the end all things will be made right. We can show true love to others, just like He has shown us.

In his Name, all oppression shall cease.

Merry Christmas!

Shane Ardell, tech & web support