Category Archives: devotional

Delight

4th Sunday of Advent – Joyadvent-1883840_1280

Reading: Isaiah 62

Navigating our emotions can be a tricky thing, especially when we find ourselves falling in love with another person. Within a couple months of when we started dating, on a romantic stroll down Homestead Drive in Mount Hope – complete with a light Christmas snow falling – I told Hennie that I loved her and wanted us to get married someday. We had hinted at the possibility before then, but that was the first awkward moment of me laying all my cards on the table. My gushing emotions that night started a conversation that led to our formal engagement the following September and to our wedding the year after that. Continue reading

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Coming Home

Third Sunday of Advent – Joy

 

Reading: Isaiah 43:1-7

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God’s people had been in exile, far from home. They had lived among a people who did not know God, or care for God. Their lives had been shaped by their absence from the Promised Land. The last time they had seen their homes, they had been marched away as captives. The sinking realization that their sins had finally caught up with them took hold of their hearts and their imaginations. Isaiah’s message comes to them as they are far away from home, and as they feel far away from God.  Continue reading

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In That Day

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Second Sunday of Advent – Peace

Reading: Isaiah 12

“Where were you when…?” has unfortunately become a question in which we share our personal experiences of communal suffering and brokenness. Each generation seems to have a singularly epic and often tragic moment that seals a particular “that day” into their collective memory.

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Enough is Enough!

candle-1883641_640Advent marks the beginning of the Christian calendar, a way of marking time through the story of our redemption in Jesus Christ. The year begins with a season of waiting and expectation as we celebrate Jesus’ birth and anticipate his return.

I’ve written a daily devotional for Advent this year. The devotional is a companion resource to a sermon series I’m leading in the congregation I pastor. The sermons and the devotional focus on “Hearing the Good News of Jesus Christ through Isaiah”. As a way of sharing a bit of this journey with you, I am posting the devotional entries for each Sunday on this blog. Continue reading

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Hashtagged Laments: Praying Psalm 13

Hear Our Cries, O Lord: (Psalm 13:1-2, NIV)

“How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?”

#Aleppo #AlyanKurdi #Syria

“How long will you hide your face from me?”

#ReturnOurGirls #childsoldiers #MMIW

“How long must I wrestle with my thoughts…”

#endthestigma #poverty #homelessness

“…and day after day have sorrow in my heart?”

#SandraBland #PhilandoCastile #TerenceCrutcher

“How long will my enemy triumph over me?”

#DoctrineofDiscovery #NativeLivesMatter #lament

 

Look on Us and Have Mercy: (Psalm 13:3-4, The  Message)

“Take a good look at me, God, my God;”

#Orlando #genderequity #bodyshaming

“I want to look life in the eye,”

#incarceration #lynching #deathpenalty

“So no enemy can get the best of me…”

#misogyny #humantrafficking #residentialschools

“or laugh when I fall on my face.”

#refugee #immigrant #saytheirnames

 

We Long for Your Deliverance: (Psalm 13:5-6, ESV) 

“But I have trusted in your steadfast love;”

#MotherEmanuel #FaithfullyLGBT

“my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.”

#withjusticeforall #untilallarefree

“I will sing to the Lord,”

#blessingnotburden #reconciliation

“because he has dealt bountifully with me.”

#KyrieEleison

Amen. 

 

 

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Ashes & Snow

IMG_0859I went to the Ash Wednesday chapel service at Redeemer University College this week. I found a place toward the back simply to sit and be still. The house lights were down, making solitude possible even in a crowd of familiar faces.

The simplicity of the worship proved powerful. Song followed by a well read passage of scripture; another song with a two-part reading of scripture; an invitation to come forward while a the musicians led another song; and then a closing blessing and a final song. The darkness of the space, the richly voiced scripture readings, the soft rising and falling of contemplative singing allowed for surprisingly deep stillness in a short 30 minute service. Continue reading

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A Christmas Farewell

IMG_4066Now that the garbage and recycling have been picked up, only a few remnants of Christmas remain in our house. There’s that one card stuck on the wall still, the decorative fake tree guarding our front door, and a few remaining bites of Margaret’s speculaas cookies in the kitchen. Oh, and lest I forget, the string of lights above the gutter, waiting for a warmer day, when I can pull the ladder out to take them down. With New Year’s resolutions disciplining our bellies and school rhythms regulating our sleep schedules once again, our Christmas celebrations have been done around here for a few days already.

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Christmas Day! Jesus Christ is Born!

* This post concludes a series of Advent devotionals that was posted daily during Advent 2014. For an intro to this series of posts, please read the initial post here

Christmas Day: December 25 – Jesus Christ: God with Us!

Our Context   

What more can we say? God has entered our darkness and turned it into light. We were hopeless; but in Jesus Christ, God has filled us with an overflowing hope. We were without peace; but in Jesus Christ, God has enveloped us in his all-encompassing shalom. We were without joy; but in Jesus Christ, God has given us the gift of a joy that endures all circumstances in eager anticipation of Jesus Christ’s return. We desperately needed to be loved; and in Jesus Christ, God has lavished upon us the glorious riches of his love.  Jesus is the life that lights our way!  Continue reading

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Advent: Day 25

* This post is part of an Advent devotional being posted daily during Advent 2014. For an intro to this series of posts, please read the initial post here

Wednesday 24 December                   

Read: Isaiah 65:17-25

(light four candles)

Reflection

Have you noticed what’s missing from the nativity scenes that adorn our mantels? Blood, dirt, and manure. Mary has just given birth in a back room used for the animals! Yet, Mary’s clothes inevitably fall gracefully down her side with pleated folds protecting her modesty. Did she do a quick change of clothes after the messiness of birthing a baby? And her smiling face looks so freshly washed – no sweaty, dirty smudges, not a hair matted to forehead or cheek! Joseph stands peacefully by her side, though they’ve just finished a journey and his wife is giving birth to a child that is not his own. Continue reading

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Advent: Day 24

* This post is part of an Advent devotional being posted daily during Advent 2014. For an intro to this series of posts, please read the initial post here

Tuesday 23 December                

Read: Isaiah 61:1-3

(light four candles)

Reflection

Each Sunday in Advent last year and this year our church has proclaimed the Good News through a simple call and response between our children and the adults. The children gather at the front of the sanctuary. While facing the rest of those who have gathered that morning, they declare in a loud voice: “Jesus is coming!” To which the adults respond: “He’s almost here!” This simple act reminds us that our act of remembering Jesus’ birth is intended to deepen our anticipation and longing for the day when Jesus will return.

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