December 2013


All-powerful, ever-living God,
we thank you for the human birth of your Son,
which is the source and perfection of our Christian life and worship.
Number us among his people,
for the salvation of all mankind is found in him,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.
Amen.

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Please support the Christmas Offering for Regional Ministries. Visit http://www.wvdisciples.org/support. Gifts received will be credited to your WV Disciples congregation for Yearbook mission giving in 2013 if received by Jan. 6. Bless you for your generous support!

Mighty God, Giver of life and strength, as the passing year leans into yet another, we pray that your abounding grace will be revealed in the world, as we who claim Him have found it revealed in our own lives through the giving of your Son to be our Savior. May that revelation be made obvious by the way we order our daily living, the simplicity of our trust in your provision, and the generosity with which we greet our fellow creatures; for in you alone do any of us find our breath, and in reaching toward you alone may our search for meaning find fulfillment. These and all of our prayers we offer in the name and spirit of the Christ who journeys into this new year with us. Amen.

from David Chafin, Christian Church in West Virginia

Please support the Christmas Offering for Regional Ministries. Visit http://www.wvdisciples.org/support. Gifts received will be credited to your WV Disciples congregation for Yearbook mission giving in 2013 if received by Jan. 6. Bless you for your generous support!

God of incarnation, you wonderfully created
and yet more wonderfully restored
the dignity of human nature;
grant that we may share the divine life
of the one who came to share our humanity, Jesus Christ, our Saviour
who is alive with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Amen.

from Bosco Peters, Book of Prayers in Common, 2013

Please support the Christmas Offering for Regional Ministries. Visit http://www.wvdisciples.org/support. Gifts received will be credited to your WV Disciples congregation for Yearbook mission giving in 2013 if received by Jan. 6. Bless you for your generous support!

Saturday: December 28       

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 David Chafin, Deputy Regional Minister

            Endings, beginnings, all wrapped up in an often perplexing poem that John brings forth as a presentation of Christ’s coming to our world.  Whatever the cosmic dimensions of this text, it surely means that nothing can ever be the same for us who have heard it.

As our year winds toward an end and yet another lurks upon the horizon, we have many unanswered questions to carry with us.  But surely we can know this much:  We have met the Living Word, and nothing can ever be the same.  Old habits, old hurts, old grudges may die hard, but die they must, for we have encountered the Word.  New ways of living, new perspectives on life’s meaning, new avenues for connecting with others, all are brought to life.

Are we ready for a new day – for God’s new day?

Arouse in us, O Lord, the new possibilities

born in this season and in every ending and beginning,

and attune us to finding your Word at work within them,

and in doing so, to seeing your Word revealed within us.

________________________

We are grateful for your support of Disciples Mission Fund,

the Annual Fund of the Christian Church in West Virginia,

and the Christmas Offering for Regional Ministry,

all of which makes this project possible.

Visit http://www.wvdisciples.org

for other publications and information about our ministries.

© 2013  Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in West Virginia.

All rights reserved.  These devotions may be copied  or linked for non-profit distribution with attribution to the authors and the copyright notice above.

Friday: December 27   

Luke 2:41-52

Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends.

When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.”

He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them. Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.

 

from Daniel Harry, Community Christian Church, Beech Bottom

             We hear it all the time. Ask anyone and they will tell you:  “Christmas is about family.”

Of course, it isn’t.  Christmas is about the birth of Jesus. Luke’s scripture reminds us of the relative unimportance of the family. The boy Jesus gets left behind by his family when they depart Jerusalem. When they discover he’s missing, they find him in the Temple with the elders.  Jesus is surprised his parents didn’t know he would be about “his Father’s” business.

With that expression, Jesus establishes that Christmas is about family – but not the family we are thinking of.  It is about the family of God, of which all people are a part. The birth of Jesus makes possible the Christ event that saves the world, and makes us blood relatives in the blood of Christ.  In preparing for Christmas let us remember to include our greater family.

May our lives reflect a new way of living

in relationship with you and with your world, O God.

__________________________________

We are grateful for your support of Disciples Mission Fund,

the Annual Fund of the Christian Church in West Virginia,

and the Christmas Offering for Regional Ministry,

all of which makes this project possible.

Visit http://www.wvdisciples.org

for other publications and information about our ministries.

© 2013  Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in West Virginia.

All rights reserved.  These devotions may be copied  or linked for non-profit distribution with attribution to the authors and the copyright notice above.

Thursday: December 26      

Luke 2:21-40

After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. 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 Judy Bennett, Island Christian Church, Wheeling

            I don’t wait well.  I am impatient to a fault.  I don’t like waiting in line, nor waiting in traffic, nor waiting for someone who’s late in showing up.  And when you get right down to it, I sometimes find it hardest of all to wait for God.  When I’m in fervent prayer for something, I know that God will show up in God’s time, but sometimes I just wish God’s timing were more like mine.

Simeon and Anna were two aging Jews clinging tightly to hope – the hope that God would come in power and save God’s people.  While they waited and hoped, they didn’t sit idly by, but continued serving God as they could.  Their service kept them in tune and able to recognize God’s arrival – even when it certainly wasn’t what they expected, and indeed arrived as a baby in arms – a baby who they called Jesus.

May this Advent season find us hopefully waiting, serving, and ready to recognize every gift of God being sent our way.

God of light and love, may this time of our waiting be full of hope that we may see your salvation anew,

as once again you revive us with your presence.

__________________________________

We are grateful for your support of Disciples Mission Fund,

the Annual Fund of the Christian Church in West Virginia,

and the Christmas Offering for Regional Ministry,

all of which makes this project possible.

Visit http://www.wvdisciples.org

for other publications and information about our ministries.

© 2013  Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in West Virginia.

All rights reserved.  These devotions may be copied  or linked for non-profit distribution with attribution to the authors and the copyright notice above.

Christmas Day: December 25  

Luke 2:8-20

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see–I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.

The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

 

from Thaddaeus B. Allen, Regional Minister

            Reflections of the Christ abound in this wonderful lesson and still abide in the lives of the faithful today.  What a gift to find this child of Bethlehem, full of life and promise, alive and present to the whole wide world!

The first witnesses of the Christ child were changed.  They were moved to praise, and sing, and seek, and even store up treasures that can only be kept in the heart.  The light of God was now to be reflected anew in the lives of these witnesses.

We too are witnesses to the incarnate God with us.  On this holy day, we are moved and called again to reflect the love of Christ who has come into the world.  We are the light of the world, and we have much to share.  The giver of all grace has  assigned his disciples to be grace bearers.

May all who come into contact with our lives find the reflection of Jesus in us.  This birth gives life, and bears great light to this very day.

O Christ, Light of the World,

as you came to us in the misty distant past,

come to us again in ways that reveal to us who you are,

so that we may be born anew.

__________________________________

We are grateful for your support of Disciples Mission Fund,

the Annual Fund of the Christian Church in West Virginia,

and the Christmas Offering for Regional Ministry,

all of which makes this project possible.

Visit http://www.wvdisciples.org

for other publications and information about our ministries.

© 2013  Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in West Virginia.

All rights reserved.  These devotions may be copied  or linked for non-profit distribution with attribution to the authors and the copyright notice above.

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