Advent: Day 13

* 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

Friday: 12 December                   

Read: Isaiah 40:21-31

(Light two candles)

Reflection

We live in a culture that sees self-sufficiency as a necessary and defining mark of our transition into adulthood; and we have wholeheartedly and almost unquestioningly embraced that value. It’s not simply an immigrant work ethic that has coaxed us into pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. No, it’s much more. We idolize independence, whether in the form of a driver’s license or the sudden riches of a lottery win or the lifestyles of professional athletes and Hollywood stars. Continue reading

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Advent: Day 12

* 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

Thursday: 11 December                   

Read: Isaiah 40:1-5

(Light two candles)

Reflection

We are so often our own worst critics. As with the psalmist, we can honestly cry out in anguish that we know our sins and they are ever before us. How desperately we need this word from God! “Comfort, comfort my people. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for.” Comfort. Tenderness. Not characteristics that we typically associate with God. No matter how many times we hear about God’s love and even the number of times we sing about God’s love, we have a tendency to view God with fear that at any moment he will punish us. It’s as if we walking on egg shells around God. Continue reading

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Advent: Day 11

* 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: 10 December                   

Read: Isaiah 35

(Light two candles)

Reflection

There is challenge with looking ahead and anticipating what God will yet do: we still have to live today. It’s not just the first-world problems, but the more substantive challenges that are common to all of us. While we wait for the day when God makes all things new, violence surrounds us, racism and classism divide us, corrupt politicians and law enforcement officials protect themselves, abortion whether at the beginning or the end of life is celebrated, greedy corporations and financial managers take advantage of us, war and sex scandals undo us, death is still with us. Continue reading

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Advent: Day 10

* 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: 9 December                       

Read: Isaiah 25

(Light two candles)

Reflection

“There are two things that are certain in life: death and taxes.” This centuries-old adage surfaces each spring as the deadline for filing tax returns approaches. As much as we would like to avoid and resist both of them, both death and taxes are part of the fabric of our world. Yet, it is not taxes so much that we afraid of. No, our impending death is what lurks in the shadows of our thoughts. We would like to tell ourselves, “We’re going to die, so relax. Don’t get stressed. Enjoy life.” And for most of our days that is how we live.
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Advent: Day 9

* 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

Monday: 8 December                       

Read: Isaiah 12

(Light two candles)

Reflection

There is an old English word that occasionally surfaces in conversations about marriage engagements. In the past, we would say that a couple who intended to marry were betrothed to each other. The root for betrothedtroth – is related to our more common word truth. But there is a subtle and important difference. Truth is about technical accuracy: “The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” Truthfulness describes reality with unquestionable facts. However, troth approaches reality according to the certainty of covenantal relationships. It’s not that what happened is unimportant. Rather, troth operates on the belief that the most trustworthy facts of reality are relational. Continue reading

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Advent: Day 8 – 2nd Sunday

* 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

Second Sunday of Advent: 7 December – Unshakeable Peace      

Our Context               

Our attempts at peace are so fragile. But really, how could they be more than that?  Almost since the beginning, we have distrusted each other and hidden ourselves in shame. We live not as human beings, but as suspicious beings. We doubt each other’s sincerity. We question each other’s motives. We look to protect ourselves first and only trust others as long as they agree with us. How can there be peace, when everyone is a potential enemy? And when we pause long enough and our honest enough with ourselves and each other, we realize that we do not have peace with each other because we do not have peace with God. Where is the peace that will light our way? Continue reading

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Advent: Day 7

* 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

Saturday: 6 December                  

Read: Isaiah 11:1-9

(Light a candle)

Reflection

Attempt to imagine a world without war or rumours of war, without the threat of violence anywhere – not even among the animals. The ripple effects of such a reality are almost beyond our comprehension. For a moment consider some of the changes. Financial shifts would occur – no defense contractors and billions of dollars would be available in government budgets. Some changes we desperately, desperately long for already – no military funerals; no child soldiers; no mass displacements and refugee camps; no beheadings; no rape; no terror. Other shifts would be trivial and seem almost comical – how do you do a nature documentary without the pervasive predator-prey tension? It is nearly impossible for us to conceive of that world. Continue reading

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Advent: Day 6

* 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

Friday: 5 December                  

Read: Isaiah 9:2-7

(Light a candle)

Reflection

A whole new reality suddenly bursts into being within this passage. Darkness is cast off. Oppressive yokes and chains are broken. The battle garments – stained as they are with the mingled blood of victims and perpetrators – are burned. This new reality is announced in harvest-style celebrations. Do you hear the relief in the soldiers’ voices? They are celebrating because war is over. There are no more battles to be fought, no more fear of impending threat or sudden attack. And Isaiah’s audacious assertion is that this peaceable kingdom will arrive with the birth of a child.  Continue reading

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Advent: Day 5

* 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

Thursday: 4 December                  

Read: Isaiah 8:11-18

(Light a candle)

Reflection

We are quick in our culture to use God’s name how ever and whenever we want. Just a few chapters before this one, Isaiah sees God seated in the heavenly throne room. His response to this encounter is to cry out “Woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips.” We need not listen long before realizing that Isaiah could just as easily have been talking about our day and age as his own. From OMG in our texts to Jesus’ name as a way of punctuating our sentences with anger or surprise, we have made the holy into a flippant and cheap way of expressing ourselves.  Continue reading

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Advent: Day 4

* 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: 3 December                  

Read: Isaiah 4:2-6

(Light a candle)

Reflection

Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken describes in wistful terms how each choice we make and each way we take leads to another way, so that it is impossible to go back and start our journeys over. Through a mixture of not doing what we should do and then doing what we should not do, we find ourselves entangled in broken relationships with each other and estranged from God. Continue reading

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