Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Luke 1:38
Mary was willing to allow Christ to grow within her and be born to human life. As his mother, she assumed all the earthly responsibilities that go with bearing a child. This was no ordinary child to be born, can’t you imagine what a leap of faith and trust this must have been on her part?
You and I also have the opportunity to allow Christ to be born in us, which requires a leap of faith on our part too! Now, we’re not talking about another physical birth, but, instead, a growing presence of the same spirit that was in Jesus that animates and leads our desires, plans, and actions of love and service right now, in 2017!
As we approach Christmas, I’m looking forward to remembering, rejoicing and renewing my gratitude to God for sending Jesus, and entrusting me with that Holy Spirit of Christ so that I too can join Mary in saying, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”
“But for you who revere my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings.” Malachi 4:2a
Of all of the promised blessings that come our way with Christmas and the birth of the holy child – perhaps this is the most essential. Healing. We all need healing… Broken hearts. Wounded spirits. Severed relationships. Physical pain and illness. Emotional struggles. Grief. Addictions. The list goes on and on – and if you are human, you have experienced some or all of these.
And so we come to Advent to wait – asking to once again receive the blessings of the season. As the hymn, “O Little Town of Bethlehem” so poignantly reminds us, “How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given; so God imparts to human hearts the blessings of his heaven. No ear may hear his coming, but in this world of sin, where meek souls will receive him still, the dear Christ enters in.”
May we each be open to receiving the dear Christ once again.
Suzan N. Meyer
Perhaps nothing is more needed in our world than Peace.
What we experience on a daily basis is division and hatred between nations, ethnicities, races, tribes, and peoples. Constant division and warfare on so many levels breeds a hardness, a defensiveness, and an aggression that further separates and alienates.
The prophet Isaiah proclaims that in our broken world God is establishing a deep root and sending up a “shoot”. There is a wisdom and a justice that is the way of peace. The “wolf will lie down with the lamb, the leopard with the kid, the lion and the calf, and a little child shall lead them.”
As we prepare to welcome the “little child” this Christmas let our prayers rise for peace. As this “little child” taught us, let our prayers be not only for our friends, but also “for our enemies”. (Matthew 5:44). Pray for a peace that is God’s peace, uniting all in a kingdom of love. Isaiah says in this peace is the glory of God.
Prayer: Lord, as part of my preparation for your coming this Advent I pray for the world, our nation, our community, my home and my heart. Let the Peace of Christ abide in all these places that the glory of your coming might be fully known. In the name of the coming Prince of Peace I pray. Amen
Blessings for a wonderful week of Advent,
“For a child has been born for us, a son given to us;” Isaiah 9:6
Israel and Judah, both in dire straits, ripe for invasion by foreigners, were completely muddled in their thinking about God. Driven by fears, superstitions, trust in false gods, they couldn’t find much hope or possibility for good in their current situation. Does that sound anything like modern times, from headlines we hear on the 24-hour news channels from around our world?
In the midst of that, Isaiah, filled with hope and trust in the Lord, was living in a new reality, one that already believed in the existence of a savior long before Jesus was even born! This was no dream, in his mind it was actual fact, something already accomplished.
What is Jesus calling us to believe in as established fact this Advent, even as life sometimes seems to be in tatters around us? A greater sense of his presence day by day? A more harmonious family life? Greater respect for each other, no matter the color of our skins? An appreciation for all people, no matter their social status or the jobs they have. The questions could go on and on.
No matter the question, Advent signals a reminder for us not to despair. Just like Isaiah, the “hope of the world” can live afresh in each of our hearts!
At this time of year, when I hear the words, “In days to come…” my mind immediately goes to my to-do list. In days to come I have to finish my Christmas shopping, get my house decorated, mail Christmas cards, plan and prepare meals, attend Christmas events and parties, and as if that isn’t enough – make a road trip to South Texas to celebrate my twin sons’ 33rd birthdays! In days to come, I am going to be exhausted!
But Isaiah used those words in a very different context. Isaiah told the people that “the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established” in days to come. And, Isaiah continued, “Many peoples shall come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.’” Isaiah 2:3
I guarantee you that you and I are going to be busy during these next few weeks. In the midst of the activity, will we choose to come to the house of God, to learn his ways, to walk in his paths? Will we choose to celebrate Advent as we treasure and share the hope that we find in Jesus?
“O house of Judah, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!” Isaiah 2:5
Suzan N. Meyer
It’s been said the longer you watch the night sky, the more stars you begin to see.
Advent invites us into a season of watching and waiting. With the prophets of old and the wise men of the Gospels we watch and wait for “a Star to come out …”
When these words were first uttered the Star was “not now” and “not near”. But as we watch we can rejoice that the Star is near, that the celebration of Jesus birth is soon.
In this Advent we join in the joy of the age old “watching party”. The star of our Lord is rising. May God fill our hearts with wonder as we watch and wait.
Prayer: Lord, let me take time during this busy season to step outside, look into the night sky, and know that as the stars shine in the heavens so your Star would be rising in our lives. In the name of our coming Christ I pray. Amen
Blessings for a great week!
“Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers….” Romans 13:11
It’s the time of year – Advent – when we are reminded that waiting and watching for Jesus not only has taken place the first time, in history, but still takes place today. It’s true, Jesus has been born already, we are celebrating a historical fact, but in reality there is more to this season than opening a book of history.
In all the rush and hubbub of modern life, it is often hard to take time to take a breath, and think about our faith in Christ, the meaning of his presence with us, and the power it has to change not only our life, but the lives of everyone. I’m glad we have a chance to ‘reboot’ our way of living and loving every year at this season, it’s good to think about these things through the eyes of the ones who first saw him.
The prelude on Sunday morning is based on a hymn in our hymnal titled “Wake, Awake, for Night Is Flying”, sometimes called “Sleepers, Awake!” in other hymnals. It is about the joy and celebration of the arrival of Jesus, and the new life he brings. Let’s all wake up this year, reconsider the gift God has given us in Jesus, and joyfully go into new realms of life and service with him!
This beautiful passage in Isaiah begins with the words, “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.” Isaiah 40:28
I don’t know about you – but I have known and I have heard – and yet, there are days that I walk around choosing darkness rather than light. There are times that I am so overwhelmed by my “to do lists” that I forget to simply stop and be still in the presence of the everlasting God, the creator. There are seasons when I choose to put my faith in my own hands and my own efforts, rather than choosing to wait for the Lord. Inevitably, those are the very times that weary me most.
And yet, if I continue reading Isaiah, I hear the good news my weary soul craves. “Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31
As we enter the season of Advent – a time of waiting – may we be mindful of what we are waiting for. This holy child can and will be born to us again this year…bearing gifts of hope, peace, joy and love.
Suzan N. Meyer
As a child I came into the Christmas season with Great Expectations. I had my wishes and list all written and ready.
As an adult I still enter Advent with Great Expectations. The prophet Isaiah says, “The glory of the Lord is to be revealed and we shall see it together.” There are moments of God’s goodness and love in the weeks ahead that we will experience together.
At the same time, to more fully embrace these experiences I will need some “Great Excavations”. Again the prophet says, “Prepare the way of the Lord”. There are valleys that need to be lifted, mountains that need to be leveled, rough places smoothed out, and crooked places straightened. I need to prepare the way by honestly and humbly looking at my life – my thoughts, my words, my actions – and asking where do I need to make some changes? Where to I need to ask for forgiveness, give forgiveness, adjust what I am doing so that I can embrace what God is doing more fully?
Advent is coming. Jesus is coming. It’s time to get ready. Make your list of what you need to focus on and let the Spirit guide you into the changes where you’ll experience the glory of the Lord.
Prayer: Lord, thank You for Your coming. Thank you for your call to get my heart ready so that I might more fully receive You and all that your Advent means to me. In the name of the coming Christ I pray.
“O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good” Psalm 106:1
Remembering what God has done, being grateful, joyful: sounds like Thanksgiving to me! The psalmist, after having recapped the story of the founding of Israel, remembers that God is behind all good things, that life and trust in God is the best thing. On this day after our national celebration, I hope you are filled with memories of warm times with family and friends, good food and a renewed sense of God’s care in your life.
This next year, continue to make thanksgiving a daily habit. How easy it is, in the face of bad news, disappointment and the stresses of life, to retreat from a thankful heart to a place of fear. Remember to “Praise the LORD! Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever”…and ever…….and ever!