November 2011


Wednesday: Nov. 30

 Ps. 85:1-7

LORD, you were favorable to your land;

            you restored the fortunes of Jacob.

You forgave the iniquity of your people;

            you pardoned all their sin.

You withdrew all your wrath;

            you turned from your hot anger.

 

Restore us again, O God of our salvation,

            and put away your indignation toward us.

Will you be angry with us forever?

Will you prolong your anger to all generations?

Will you not revive us again, so that your people may rejoice in you?

 

Show us your steadfast love, O LORD,

            and grant us your salvation.

 

            from Rev. Richard Howard, First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Morgantown  

            Psalm 85 has long been associated with Advent, especially verses 8-13, which look toward a future salvation.  We miss a rich lode of meaning, however, when we pass by verses 1-7, which in their “already here/not yet” nature are in one respect more directly relatable to the Christian experience of salvation. 

            The phrase “restored the fortunes” in verse one signifies that salvation has already once come to the people of God, which for Christians is echoed in the life, ministry, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.  The words of verse 1 articulate the remembrance of a past deliverance that evokes laughter and joy among God’s people.  Yet verses 4-7 reveal the reality that we have yet to experience the full fruits of that salvation. 

            These seven verses reveal the message that the people of God are called to live by both memory as well as hope – to remember the gift of salvation that God gave to us in Jesus, and to place our hope in the fullness of the kingdom that will surely break into human history, when all things on earth and in heaven will be renewed.  Such is the hope of Advent – we celebrate the gift of salvation while we also pray for salvation.  We remember that which has come before, and we look forward with hope for all that is yet to come.

 

May your promise be fulfilled in us, O God, in our waiting for you.

Advertisements

Tuesday:  Nov. 29

Isa. 40:9-11 

Get you up to a high mountain,

            O Zion, herald of good tidings;

lift up your voice with strength,

             O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings,

lift it up, do not fear;

say to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God!”

 

See, the Lord GOD comes with might,

            and his arm rules for him;

his reward is with him,

            and his recompense before him.

He will feed his flock like a shepherd;

he will gather the lambs in his arms,

            and carry them in his bosom,

                        and gently lead the mother sheep.

 

            from Rev. Jayne L. Chafin, Parkersburg, WV

            Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you how much I love Christmas.  I love the sights and words and sounds, the hustle and bustle, the shopping and singing, the decorating and baking, you name it. Not so much the snow, except on Christmas Eve, after we’re safely home from church services, when I like to bask in the wonder of the silence of the evening, with gently falling snow that blankets the earth, maybe even listening to this text as it’s sung in Handel’s Messiah.

            It’s a great time, a great season to lift up our voices, not fearing (whether it’s too early, or too loud, or not politically correct) and shouting to the whole world “Here is your God!”  Christ, the Light of the World, the Great Shepherd, the Messiah is coming not only in might, but with love and care.  How can we not praise! How can we not shout! How can we not blanket the world in Christ’s love!  How can we not feel the love of Christ gathering us in his arms!

 

Teach me to shout from the mountaintops and even from the valleys
 that You are here with us, O God,
 so that all the world may proclaim your love in our lives!

 

Monday:  Nov. 28

Mark 13:24-37 

            “But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.  Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory.  Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

             “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near.  So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates.  Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place.  Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

             “But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.  Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come.  It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch.  Therefore, keep awake–for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly.  And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”

            from Rev. William Flewelling, Proctor, WV 

               In eager watchfulness
               we turn to seek the hour,
               the long unknown prodigious time
               that fills your promise, Lord.
 
               The readiness of time
               to welcome you, O Lord,
               is as the moment of delight
               that blossoms at your joy.
 
               Inclement in the throes
               of unknowns wrought of strife,
               we turn in faithfulness to hope
               to satisfy your will
 
               We watch in wonder, stir
               to gather in your way
               as faithful till the dawning day
               when you, O Lord, appear.
 
  (SM, suggested tune: St. Thomas; CANTICA SACRA CCLXXII)

First Sunday of Advent: Nov. 27

Isa. 40:1-8

Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God.

Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term,

             that her penalty is paid,

            that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.

A voice cries out:

            “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD,

            make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low;

the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.

 

Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,

            and all people shall see it together,

                        for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

 

A voice says, “Cry out!”

And I said, “What shall I cry?”

            All people are grass,

                         their constancy is like the flower of the field.

             The grass withers, the flower fades,

                        when the breath of the LORD blows upon it;

                        surely the people are grass.

             The grass withers, the flower fades;

                        but the word of our God will stand forever.

 

             from Rev. Dr. Sharon E. Watkins, General Minister and President

            On a recent bicycle trip, I wished for the valleys to be lifted up and mountains made low! When you’re travelling under your own steam, the lay of the land becomes important.

            In this passage, travelling under their own steam has gotten God’s people lost in the wilderness of life.  They’ve travelled far away from God. But God has not forgotten them. 

            Here the Holy One speaks a word of comfort and of hope. A straight, smooth highway will be opened up and the people will find their way back home to the glory of life in God.

            Circumstances of life – and sometimes our own stubborn fault – can get us into difficult terrain. But God does not forget us. God offers us comfort and hope and a way back home.

 Dear God, in this Advent season, remind us that you are near,
and that the way back to you is always open.

Friends,

Your recent sneak preview of Rev. Patty’s devotion was due to the slip of the finger.  Our apologies…although his words are well-chosen and excellently offered.  May we all be mindful of the power of the unretractable “send” button, and learn to fear it appropriately. 

Mea culpas all around,

The Editor

 Isa. 61:4-11 

They shall build up the ancient ruins,

            they shall raise up the former devastations;

            they shall repair the ruined cities,

                        the devastations of many generations.

Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks,

foreigners shall till your land and dress your vines;

             but you shall be called priests of the LORD,

            you shall be named ministers of our God;

            you shall enjoy the wealth of the nations,

            and in their riches you shall glory.

Because their shame was double,

 and dishonor was proclaimed as their lot,

            therefore they shall possess a double portion;

            everlasting joy shall be theirs.

For I the LORD love justice, I hate robbery and wrongdoing;

I will faithfully give them their recompense,

            and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.

Their descendants shall be known among the nations,

            and their offspring among the peoples;

all who see them shall acknowledge

            that they are a people whom the LORD has blessed.

 

I will greatly rejoice in the LORD,

my whole being shall exult in my God;

             for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation,

            he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,

                         as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,

                        and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

For as the earth brings forth its shoots,

and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,

            so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise

                        to spring up before all the nations.

 

            from Rev. Joshua Patty, Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Fairmont

            When I was a kid, I remember being picked on at school.  One day, I told myself, I would get what I deserved.  One day, instead of teasing, there’d be praise.  Instead of rumors, truth.  Instead of rejection, inclusion.  One day.

            The ancient Jews looked for such a day too.  When they’d be admired as the chosen people of God, priests to the Gentiles, richly rewarded for their faith.  One day they’d get what they deserved.

            During Advent, we look toward one day too, but I wonder if we’re still fighting old battles, looking for vindication in other’s eyes.  Perhaps we could anticipate the justice of the Lord, where like perfectly fertile ground, “righteousness and praise will rise before all the nations.”

            One day, for all of God’s children, we will share a restored relationship with God, through his Christ, our savior.  Praise, truth, welcome, peace.  One day.

 

Come, bring the day, O God,

that all your children may know your reconciling grace.