Tag Archives: Advent 2014

Advent: Day 16

* 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 15 December                     

Read: Isaiah 42:10-17

(light three candles)

Reflection

The ancient world had gods for every territory. There were gods of the seas, gods of the valleys, gods for the desert spaces and still other gods for the mountaintops. And it did not stop with physical terrain. There were gods for war and gods for the harvest. The underlying belief was that the uniqueness of each space and the seasonal and tribal circumstances determined which god needed to be appeased in order to ensure survival and well-being. A persistent, if not pervasive, fear lingered: the gods were just as volatile as any greedy human, but more powerful. Joy lasted as long as your gods were properly attended to through sacrifices. Any possibility of joy vanished when the gods of another town, tribe, people proved themselves greater than yours through war. Military might and the gods of war are not new inventions.  Continue reading

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Advent: Day 15 – Third 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

Third Sunday of Advent: December 14 – Everlasting Joy

Our Context  

Joy so often seems like one of those fairy tale illusions: an impossible legend of a life lived happily ever after. The contemporary narrative of our lives is a little more sobering and less dramatic. After we’re born, we go to school to get an education to get a good job to afford a decent life – all so that we can retire well and escape from work and responsibility for a few years before we die. Somewhere along the way, we might get married, have kids, and even live to see our grandkids, or if we are particularly blessed, our great-grandchildren. But for the most part, we settle for the trinkets of our culture: constant entertainment, exotic vacations, and weekend getaways.

We know almost nothing of the joy that springs from gratitude. We can barely fathom a joyfulness that deepens and matures in the presence of tragedy or provides strength to endure the unexpected trials that will come our way. Happiness born from stable circumstances or our pleasure-filled escapes from reality serve as substitute sweeteners. That deeper and more elusive joy seems to be little more than a rumor of a world so very different from our own. Where is the joy that will light our way?  Continue reading

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Advent: Day 14

* 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: 13 December                

Read: Isaiah 42:1-9

(Light two candles)

Reflection

There are many things we seek to establish. On a playful side, we establish house rules and ground rules before starting games in order to avoid potential conflict. More significantly, most of us seek to establish a positive reputation and a good name for ourselves. Athletes seek to establish personal bests and world records. As a society we want to establish a rule of law, schools and foundations, churches and institutions. We strive to establish ourselves in a profession, to establish safe neighborhoods, and to establish a better life for our kids. Continue reading

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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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