December 2014


 

This is the final installment of Advent Prayerscapes for 2014.  If you are subscribed to follow this blog or are following us on Facebook, you will see our regular daily devotions appearing again on Ash Wednesday as Lent begins.  Thank you for your support of the Christmas Offering and of Disciples Mission Fund throughout the year, which makes possible this publication and other vital ministries of the Regional Church!

Read Galatians 4:4-7

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.

 

from Pastor Doug McDaniel

First Christian Church, Bluefield

Christmas 2014 has come to a close, and my new assortment of ties hang neatly in the closet and I will proudly wear them all. Oh no, I won’t! Who in their right mind is going to wear a neon green tie that barks, “Who Let the Dogs Out?” Not me! Oh, and that plaid thing that Granny sent me from Sheboygan, I think she re-gifted a tie that Pop wouldn’t wear from the 40’s. Don’t these people know what I need?

Gracious sakes! Aren’t we a fickle bunch? God sent us the Greatest Gift of all time, because He knows our need. The question is, do we need His gift? For some of us, Jesus is like that tie that still hangs in a dark closet where it can’t be seen or worn. He knows we are starving to death and in need of nourishment. He is well aware of our thirst and our need of a quench. Christ is our all sufficient portion! Jesus is still calling us to take up our cross and follow Him. Take time to adorn yourself with Christ!

When we fail to know our need of you, Lord,

reveal yourself again,

so that in finding you we will learn anew

the greatness of your saving grace. Amen.

Advertisements

Read Hebrews 1:1-12

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.

For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you”? Or again, “I will be his Father, and he will be my Son”? And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.”

Of the angels he says, “He makes his angels winds, and his servants flames of fire.” But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the righteous scepter is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.” And, “In the beginning, Lord, you founded the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like clothing; like a cloak you will roll them up, and like clothing they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will never end.”

 

from Rev. Kevin Bowers

First Christian Church, Weirton

By any chance do you find you’re a bit tired today? Maybe even wearing a bit thin (or perhaps really thin) today?   Has the holiday finally caught up with you in a way you wish it hadn’t. Take a moment and think about what it means in Hebrews 1:3, “the Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.”

This Son of God whose birth we celebrated just a couple of days ago is the radiance of God’s glory. That same glory and radiance are also available to you and me, through the Newborn King.

Do me a favor, take a moment, close your eyes and bask in that radiance and glory. Bask in the radiance and glory of God’s love; God’s forgiveness; God’s majesty; God’s grace and all the other good and perfect gifts which we have been given through Jesus Christ. When I do this, my day doesn’t seem nearly as exhausting.

Dear God we thank you that Jesus is the gift that keeps giving.

We have a living present of your love.

Let us take time today and every day

to bask in that love. In Jesus name, Amen.

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 Dorothy Brownlee

Chapel Hill Christian Church, Wellsburg

How long will it take you to share with others what you received for Christmas? The weeks leading up to Christmas Day were filled with countless hours of finding the perfect gift. Our reading tells us we need not ask or search any longer. There is nothing we can do to obtain this perfect gift.

When we are washed in the waters of baptism we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and the hope of eternal life. This gift of God’s grace, in the human form of Jesus Christ, gave us what our righteous deeds did not earn for us and what we did not deserve. As we celebrate Christ’s birth in these days of Christmastide, follow his life, grieve his death, and stand in awe of the resurrection, we should be overwhelmed with opportunities to confess that, “I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God and I accept Him as my Lord and Savior.” This is the gift we should share with others, not only at Christmas but always. How long will it take you to share God’s Christmas gift with others?

Gift-giving God,

we give you our joy-filled thanks

for the perfect gift you have given us.

Remind us always of the need to share it with everyone! Amen.

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. Thaddaeus B. Allen

Regional Minister

The Light of the world has come. Like John we bear witness and give testimony to the light, and in doing so we bear witness and give testimony to life. Light and Life and God are present in the Incarnate One, Jesus.

Last night the Church circled around the Christ Candle and in this holy act we proclaimed to the world that at life’s center stands our God. We bear witness to the truth that darkness and fear will be taken over by the light. The warmth of the candle gives witness to our God who has formed us into one human family.

The lighted Christ candle is a powerful symbol to the world that God is in God’s world, and we are keenly aware that we live squarely in God’s presence and God’s own peace. This presence and peace we know in the Christ Child.

The Light of the world has come. And on this holy day, we joyously sing, and give testimony, and bear witness: God is with us, and God calls us too to be the light of the world.

We bow in your presence and peace this day,

and give great thanks for the gift of the Christ, your very Son.

Shine brightly on all your world,

we pray with Christians everywhere. Amen.

Read Luke 1:1-20

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

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.”

So 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 Rev. David Chafin

Deputy Regional Minister

Some people really prefer that life offer them no surprises. When I find myself surprised, even with an unexpected joy, what I usually do is…wait for it…nothing. Often, I think that the suddenness of it all sets me aback, to the extent that I don’t quite know what to do with myself. Too easily, I get lost in the shock itself, or the wonder of it all.

But when these people who had so much less than I to hope for were startled with the news of God’s defining act of salvation, they wasted no time. They moved with great haste to find the Holy Family – to tell the very subjects of the news they’d just received what was happening through their natural human experience of bringing a child into the world – of the proclamation of the angel, the chant of “Glory to God in the highest, and peace to God’s people on earth!” All the world changed that night for these common laborers, for that family, and for people like you and me.

If we allow ourselves to be shaken with this startling news of a Savior born to us, how can we sit still? We may not fully understand it. I’m pretty sure those shepherds didn’t. But we must tell it, friends, tell it tonight, and hurry up about it. Christ is coming; Christ is here! Good news: Merry Christmas!

All your world is awakening to your presence, O Christ.

Be born in us anew, and send us forth

to tell and to be your Good News in all the world! Amen.

Read Isaiah 62:6-12

Upon your walls, O Jerusalem, I have posted sentinels; all day and all night they shall never be silent. You who remind the LORD, take no rest, and give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it renowned throughout the earth. The LORD has sworn by his right hand and by his mighty arm: I will not again give your grain to be food for your enemies, and foreigners shall not drink the wine for which you have labored; but those who garner it shall eat it and praise the LORD, and those who gather it shall drink it in my holy courts.

Go through, go through the gates, prepare the way for the people; build up, build up the highway, clear it of stones, lift up an ensign over the peoples. The LORD has proclaimed to the end of the earth: Say to daughter Zion, “See, your salvation comes; his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.” They shall be called, “The Holy People, The Redeemed of the LORD”; and you shall be called, “Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken.”

from Rev. Dr. Larry Grimes

Bethany College Office of Church Relations

 

It is hard, very hard, to believe in good news.

 

Far easier to believe ISIS will swarm the Mexican border,

that Ebola will ravage this land,

than to believe that you and I are “Holy People,”

for so God has named us.

 

Far easier to believe those paid to promote paranoia,

than to accept that we are “The Redeemed of the Lord,”

for so God has named us.

 

Far easier to retreat into cocooned lives,

of anxiety and fright, lives tired, insignificant and resigned,

than to know that we are named “Sought Out” by our God.

 

Far easier to go negative, to become cynical,

than to rejoice in God who is with us,

and who has named us “A City not Forsaken.”

 

Enable me to believe your unbelievable, O God,

that I may rejoice! Amen.

Read Titus 2:11-14

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.

 

from Rev. Jamie Gump

Madison Avenue Christian Church, Huntington

The grace of God has appeared, Love has appeared, in the form of Jesus the Christ, bringing salvation to all. Salvation to all. To you, to me, to all. Not just to me and those who think like me. Not just to you and those who believe like you believe. To all. Salvation to all!

Why to all? So that by living in this love, in this grace, in this salvation, all may be transformed, changed into people who live with discipline, honor, morals – excited about doing good deeds under Godly guidance. Salvation has come to all so that God’s realm may come – here on earth just as it is in heaven.

In this season, we look forward to celebrating the arrival of the One who brought us the grace of God. We pray earnestly that we might live more fully in the grace that is ours.

Help me, O God, to know that your amazing grace

of which I sing, is grace you have given for all! Amen.

Next Page »