December 2008


Read Matthew 25:31-46

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory.  All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.

Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;

for I was hungry and you gave me food,

I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,

I was a stranger and you welcomed me,

I was naked and you gave me clothing,

I was sick and you took care of me,

I was in prison and you visited me.’

Then the righteous will answer him,

 ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food,

or thirsty and gave you something to drink?

            And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you,

or naked and gave you clothing?

And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’

And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’

Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels;

 for I was hungry and you gave me no food,

I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,

I was a stranger and you did not welcome me,

naked and you did not give me clothing,

sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’

Then they also will answer,

‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty

or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison,

and did not take care of you?’

Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’  And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

 

  From  Rev. Donald Snyder, Beckley First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

            Whether it is “evens and odds” or “rock, paper, scissors” kids know how pick teams.  Being on the right team is important, but being picked first even more so.  In this parable of Jesus the Lord is picking “teams,” but not so much for competition as reward. 

            The harsh reality of the Lord’s word sends a chill down most of spines because of the finality of them.  On the one hand this parable is a living reminder of Jesus words, “Not everyone who calls me “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven.” 

            On the other hand, the story reveals that our relationship to Jesus involves love in our dealings with others when the Lord comes to us.   Jesus came to be the Savior, and a part of salvation is living it out in love.  The simple command of Jesus is to “love one another.” 

            We have come to both the stable and the cross and experienced the love of God in Christ for salvation.  That gracious gift is lived out not only in our life of faith, but also a life of love for those around us.

Help me, O God, to live out Christ’s example of love and faithfulness in this new day and throughout the year.

 

These daily readings are offered by the Order of Ministry

of the Christian Church in West Virginia for your Advent journey.

They may also be accessed online or subscribed for email delivery at:

prayerscapes.wordpress.com

 

Do not reply to this email.  For Questions, contact Rev. David Chafin

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Read Ecclesiastes 3:1-13

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

            a time to be born, and a time to die;

a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

a time to kill, and a time to heal;

a time to break down, and a time to build up;

a time to weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;

a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

a time to seek, and a time to lose;

a time to keep, and a time to throw away;

a time to tear, and a time to sew;

a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

 a time to love, and a time to hate;

a time for war, and a time for peace.

 

What gain have the workers from their toil?  I have seen the business that God has given to everyone to be busy with.  He has made everything suitable for its time; moreover he has put a sense of past and future into their minds, yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

 

I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live; moreover, it is God’s gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil.

 

  From  Rev. David T. Chafin, Deputy Regional Minister

            This text is not just “for the Birds.  It speaks of life in the new  millennium, just as well as it did in the ‘60’s and in Solomonic times.  For all our sophistication, we still partake of the human cycles of birth and death, laughing and weeping, sowing and reaping, war and peace. 

            On the cusp of a new calendar, I can’t help but wonder how all these things call to us to “turn” (a word not in the text, but certainly in the folk hit that we remember).  It may not be not so much in the extraordinary events of our lives that we are summoned to turn our lives toward the God, as it is the mundane. 

            The writer could think of nothing better for us than to “be happy, enjoy ourselves,…eat and drink, and take pleasure in our work.”  Maybe those are the noblest goals and the best stewardship of our time we can imagine for 2009.  Perhaps living such a life would truly reflect a turning for us and for earth’s history. 

May this new year be blessed with a new awareness of how blessed we are in the mundane, simple things, O God.

 

These daily readings are offered by the Order of Ministry

of the Christian Church in West Virginia for your Advent journey.

They may also be accessed online or subscribed for email delivery at:

prayerscapes.wordpress.com

 

Do not reply to this email.  For Questions, contact Rev. David Chafin

Read Titus 3:4-7

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.

This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

 

  From Pastor Rae Browning, Cumberland, MD First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

            Eternal life is my inheritance, and can be yours.  I am saved by the grace of God through Jesus when I accepted Him as my Lord and Savior.  My life would be lost in all that I do if I would not have come to the table with Jesus.

            Each Sunday when we gather around the table of the Lord, We   remember the sacrifice he made for all. We beg for forgiveness for the wrongs we do, and ask that mercy be granted to us and all who are God’s children. The saving grace given to all of us through God’s love and   kindness in sending His Son is the greatest gift that we can receive.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for life which is made new by your gracious       invitation.  Amen.

 

These daily readings are offered by the Order of Ministry

of the Christian Church in West Virginia for your Advent journey.

They may also be accessed online or subscribed for email delivery at:

prayerscapes.wordpress.com

 

Do not reply to this email.  For Questions, contact Rev. David Chafin

Read Isaiah 52:7-10

How beautiful upon the mountains

are the feet of the messenger who announces peace,

who brings good news,

who announces salvation,

who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”

Listen! Your sentinels lift up their voices, together they sing for joy;

            for in plain sight they see the return of the LORD to Zion.

Break forth together into singing, you ruins of Jerusalem;

for the LORD has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem.

The LORD has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations;

 and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.

 

  From Rev. Magdalyn Sebastian, Wheeling First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who  announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation.

            What makes holy ground holy, and can holy ground consecrate those who stand upon it?

            Our passage from Isaiah suggests that mountains – already regarded as holy places that transcend the earthly and heavenly realms – have the ability to make holy the one who stands in that transcendent place bringing Good News.

            In a post-Easter light, we read into this passage the joyful anticipation of salvation through the person and life of Jesus Christ – the Ultimate Good News.  But what about those who have not heard?  Does not this passage suggest that we are called to announce the Good News of peace and salvation through Jesus?  Could it not also suggest that our faithful proclamation from the sacred mountain top has a consecrating effect on us?  Holy, beautiful feet.  

Lord God, help us not to keep Good News to ourselves this Advent.  May we proclaim the coming of the Lord standing on beautiful, mountaintop feet.

 

These daily readings are offered by the Order of Ministry

of the Christian Church in West Virginia for your Advent journey.

They may also be accessed online or subscribed for email delivery at:

prayerscapes.wordpress.com

 

Do not reply to this email.  For Questions, contact Rev. David Chafin

Read Hebrews 1:1-4

 

Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds.

 

He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

 

  From Pastor Judy Bennett, Wheeling Island Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)    God still speaks to us today – on that we would probably agree.  But in this Advent season, are the prophets’ voices loud and clear or drowned out by the extraneous noises of everyday life? 

            During this season in which we commemorate the coming  of  Jesus, the Son of the living God, into our lives – does it make a difference?  Or are we like Dickens’ Scrooge and exhibiting  a “Bah!  Humbug!” attitude? 

            We are the prophets.  Let us spread the news far and near.  Christ was born!  Christ has died!  Christ is risen!  Christ will come again.    

Enable me, O God, to sift through the noise of the season and listen to the quietly powerful sound of your coming.

 

These daily readings are offered by the Order of Ministry

of the Christian Church in West Virginia for your Advent journey.

They may also be accessed online or subscribed for email delivery at:

prayerscapes.wordpress.com

 

Do not reply to this email.  For Questions, contact Rev. David Chafin

Read Luke 2:22-40

When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him.  It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.

Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,

“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,

according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation,

which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,

a light for revelation to the Gentiles

and for glory to your people Israel.”

And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him.  Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary,

“This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel,

and to be a sign that will be opposed

 so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed

–and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day.  At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.

The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.

 

  From Pastor Judy Bennett, Wheeling Island Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

            A baby in the house!  There’s nothing quite like it.   Mary, Joseph, Simeon and Anna, each with their own deep emotions and amazement, just as we when we behold the miracle of new life. 

            In this holy season, we need to encounter the Baby anew.  Meet Jesus again for the very first time.  Allow the Spirit to speak to us through the mystery of it all.  Hold the Baby so close that we become as one.   Allow our eyes to see and our minds attempt to understand the salvation that God has prepared for all people. 

Make me anew, O God, as I embrace the Holy Child in gratitude and wonder.

 

These daily readings are offered by the Order of Ministry

of the Christian Church in West Virginia for your Advent journey.

They may also be accessed online or subscribed for email delivery at:

prayerscapes.wordpress.com

 

Do not reply to this email.  For Questions, contact Rev. David Chafin

Read John 1:1-14

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.  He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.  He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.  The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him.  He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.  But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

 

  From Rev. David T. Chafin, Deputy Regional Minister

            Perfect mystery, yet nothing could be plainer to our eyes and ears this day:  God’s glory is revealed in the living Word.  The One who was to come has now appeared, and we have witnessed the appearing in the most awe-inspiring and yet simple way—the birth of a baby.

            Strange, isn’t it, that God would make such a low-key entry into our lives?  And yet it makes a lot of sense.  This is the same God who has come among us throughout history in a myriad of quiet ways, inspiring wonder where we might never expect to experience it, bringing life into being with only a word!  Be awake to the wonder with me. 

We praise you, God of Glory—high and lifted up, and walking here, earthbound among the lowly—for your living Word, alive and with us now and forever!

 

These daily readings are offered by the Order of Ministry

of the Christian Church in West Virginia for your Advent journey.

They may also be accessed online or subscribed for email delivery at:

prayerscapes.wordpress.com

 

Do not reply to this email.  For Questions, contact Rev. David Chafin

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