Friday, December 8, 2017

Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming.  See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains.  You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.

James 5:7-8



December 8, 2017 | Written by George Gaskin

“Be patient.”  After reading these verses, I realized I couldn’t quite define patience, so, like any good millennial would do, I Googled it: “The capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.”  To be patient is to rock along in life, doing your thing, unfazed by the bumpiness of it all.

I love the image of a farmer patiently waiting for the land to “yield its valuable crop.”  There’s not much you can do to make a stalk of corn grow faster.  You make sure the conditions are appropriate to facilitate growth, and then you wait patiently.

It’s easy to be impatient for the Lord’s coming.  It doesn’t take much for me to throw up my hands, exclaim exasperatedly that the world is going to hell in a hand basket, and say, “Hurry up, Lord…save us!...do something.”  Impatience is easy because it exculpates me from my responsibility to make the world a better place.

But that’s not how James instructs us to be.  Like a farmer who dutifully tills the soil,plants the seeds, and patiently waits for the rain, we are to love our neighbor, seek justice, and patiently be the body of Christ in this broken world.

Paradoxically, then, it seems the best way to hasten the saving of the world is to not, in fact, rush it.  Rushing it is a symptom of wanting God to do all the work for us.  But I think God works through us, not outside of us.  The more patient we can be, waking up every day and doing those small things that we know are right and true, focusing on what we can do in this present moment to make the world a tiny bit better, the riper the conditions will be for the Lord’s coming.

Prayer:  Lord, when we feel frustrated by slowness of your coming, grant us the patience to be unfazed, and to continue to rock along doing your work each day.  Amen.


Thursday, December 7, 2017

But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

Mark 13:32



December 7, 2017 | Written by Kathleen Thompson

Jesus is sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the Temple.  Four of his disciples have pressed him to put a time frame on what he’d said about not one Temple stone being left upon another.  Jesus then described the end of the age, and issues a dire warning.  How often do we ache to pinpoint the when of a situation?  When will this child ever be potty trained, a teenager get home from the prom, or my shattered kneecap healed...when, when, when?

Vladimir Nabokov says in his memoir, Speak, Memory, “I do not believe in time.” Like Jesus, he is being both literal and figurative. He is speaking of timelessness, a quality few of us possess. Betty Clapper did. She and I bonded from that first morning walk in Prattville. Her last spring she rallied from her hospital bed at home as if she had plenty of time left, as if she could set out for an animated walk with me and Tommy around Hunting Ridge. Her departure came all too soon on July 25, 2012. I still don’t know her age. Her boys didn’t include it in the obituary.

“Be alert,” Jesus warned his disciples. I could write a book on Betty’s alertness, of the ways she lived out the teachings of Jesus and thereby, as sister/mother/mentor, taught me.

Prayer:  Father, help me to live in your spirit in the here and now, and to let the worry wheels of the past and the future stop their futile spinning. Amen.


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,  the desert shall rejoice and blossom;“For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water;”  

 Isaiah 35: 1, 6 and 7



December 6, 2017 | Skirting the Storm by Malcolm Carmichael

Our tired mission team finished work on the grounds of the Methodist Day Care station at Alcalde in the high desert of northern New Mexico.  It was another late July afternoon near the end of the week’s assignment and the weather had, as usual, been dry, the sky clear.  The hot land seemed lifeless, void of color, distinction and expectation.

At sunset a storm arose in the desert with blinding rain, lightning and heavy air that transformed the landscape.  Water rose quickly in the arroyo near the highway and in minutes wildflowers emerged in the sand and the scent of pinyon pines stung our eyes.  Life appeared in the desert and we ran laughing from our cars to embrace the rain, washing the dust from our sunburned skin.  

I was reminded of the happening near Alcalde years afterwards through the painting “Skirting the Storm” by Karen Schmidt, seen below.  The painting depicts a lone car on a desert highway under dark purple clouds.  The tiny car lights shine in the distance like harbingers of advent.  I realized that waiting does not necessarily mean idleness.  Sometimes the storm is not to be avoided but engaged with; welcomed.

Prayer:  Jesus Christ is like a storm in the desert.  After His brief coming everything was changed. Amen.


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end."  

Luke 1: 30-33



December 5, 2017 | Written by Reina McFarlin

Our family is expecting two new babies around Christmas this year. The joy and excitement are growing in our family as the due dates move closer.  Preparations are being made. It is hard to wait.  Advent is the time for our Christian family to plan, celebrate, and hope for the future as we prepare for the birthday of Christ. God's love for each of us is so great it overwhelms the enormous love we feel and know in our families when a child is born. This Advent, pause, take time to reflect on the birth of Jesus, Son of the most High, God's amazing love for us, and feel peace.

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank you for the gift of your son, Jesus.  Thank you for your amazing love for us. Guide us to share your love.  Give us peace.  Amen.


Monday, December 4, 2017

You are the light of the world.  A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:14-16



December 4, 2017 | Written by April Sides

It was the thrill of the Christmas season – to go “Christmas light looking” with my dad at the wheel of the family van, mom riding in the passenger seat, and my brother and me on the bench seat in the back.  We would drive through our neighborhood and a couple of others close by to see the exciting displays folks put on their houses and front lawns.  My brother and I looked for the houses with the biggest, boldest show of lights.  I remember thinking maybe our house, with the meager icicle lights and window candles weren’t the highlight of other families’ Christmas light looking drives. How often do we compare our light to others?  During this Advent, let your light shine in the way only you can so that all those who know you will praise our Father in heaven.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to shine for you during this season of Advent and throughout the year.  Amen.

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Sunday, December 3, 2017

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.  She wrapped him in clothes and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Luke 2:6-7



The First Sunday of Advent

Written by Romona Shannon

As this Advent begins, and we prepare spiritually for Christmas, I find myself reflecting on how Jesus came to us as a baby in all humility and helplessness.  Scripture tells us, “there was no room for them in the inn," consequently Jesus was born in poor circumstances, a stable.  Jesus comes to us among the poor and down trodden, the sick and dying, the hungry, the oppressed, the sad and lonely.  

This Advent, let us ask ourselves, “How can I make room in my heart for those whom I find to be poor and unlovely in my life?  How can I welcome Christ in the people who annoy me and who are different from me? How can I welcome Christ in the strangers and friends I see daily?”

Following Jesus can be challenging, but this Advent may our Christ-like love help us “make room” for others.  

Prayer:  “There was no room for them in the inn,” but Lord please help us this Advent to make room for Christ in our hearts.  Amen