December 2016


Saturday, New Year’s Eve      Read Ecclesiastes 3:1-13

from Kevin Arensman, Sayre Christian Church, Sayre, PA:

These are wonderful words to ponder on New Year’s Eve, especially the later words, “to be happy and to do good…(to) eat and drink, and find satisfaction…this is the gift of God.”  You might be planning a little of that tonight.  Hopefully, you are planning “to be happy and to do good.”

 

Good news!   God is mighty and mysterious, and God has a plan: Birth and death, weeping and laughing, etc.   Nothing that happens falls outside of God’s divine plan to reconcile all of creation to God’s self.  But, we still have choices.  Will we join God in the fulfillment of that plan or drag our feet along the way?

 

You are invited to join God in reconciling all that you can: relationships, goals, stewardship, communities, churches.  You are also invited to enjoy life; good times and bad; to make the best of every moment, to “eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all (your) toil.”  Of course, the best way to enjoy life is to love, serve, seek justice and give mercy; to do it with others, and with God.  I hope you will enjoy New Year’s Eve.  Even more, I hope you will find joy in God, in the New Year!

 

Mighty and Blessed Creator, we thank you for your mighty purposes.  We thank you for the opportunity to join you in your purposes.  Lead the way!  Amen.

 

Friday, Dec. 30            Read Hebrews 2:10-18

from Valerie Parsons, Island Christian Church, Wheeling, WV:

Today’s scripture speaks to humanity, and so often this year the awful ways we have treated each other – even those who claim Christ – have broken my heart. Many felt justified to act upon hatred, racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia; all just synonyms for fear. Sacred scripture was misquoted, misused, and abused to cause suffering. Countless acts of evil were perpetrated. The worst of the darkness in humanity was on full display, and that showed me very deeply the darkness in myself, as I so often needed to check my response.

 

Christmas has always been my favorite time of year. But it seems to me, especially this year, we all have an even greater need to celebrate the coming of the Light. We await the birth of Christ as a baby in a manger. God, somehow still fully human, he knew all the temptations, weaknesses, and suffering of being flesh, blood, and bone, and yet he was perfect. He became our merciful and faithful high priest. He seeks us, and he understands that those awful gaps in our characters, when we can check ourselves and surrender them in prayer, are the very cracks through which the Light pours in!

 

Lord, as we make our human journey from the darkness into Light, help us to live always in your Love. Amen.

We express our gratitude to the ministers of the regions who have offered their devotional thoughts and prayers through this project, which is sustained by your gifts to the Christmas Offering for Regional Ministry.  To contribute to the offering, please visit the following pages:  Supporting the PA Region   or    Supporting the WV Region  Gifts received by Jan. 6 will be credited to your congregation for 2016 in Yearbook Reporting.

Prayerscapes is published by the Christian Church in West Virginia and the Christian Church in Pennsylvania for the not-for-profit distribution of their members and friends in the ecumenical church.  ©2016. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, Dec. 29       Read Hebrews 1:1-12

from Doug McDaniel, First Christian Church, Bluefield, WV:

In this westernized culture I have bought into and perpetuate, the driving idea is that bigger is better. I go for the biggie fry and the ultimate colossal extra ginormous burger with extra crispy bacon, and extra secret sauce, and extra jalapenos. It doesn’t matter to me that it is 10,000 calories, and that eating it will leave me with a week’s worth of heartburn and acid reflux. It’s bigger and it’s better, and I had a dollar off coupon for goodness sake, and I’ve got to have it! But, is bigger really better?

 

Our Hebrews passage speaks to the enormity and the sheer vastness and not to mention the awesomeness of our Savior, and it leaves me challenged during the Advent Season. In my own craze for bigger and better, have I, in turn, minimized the One that sits at His appointed position? Jesus is from eternity to eternity; and I have to ask myself, what could I possibly know about bigger and better? Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.

 

Open my eyes, Father, that I may see the Son. Amen.

Wednesday, Dec. 28    Read Galatians 4:4-7

from John Crist, Pittsburgh, PA:

The Lord’s Prayer begins with the address: “Our Father.”  For those of us raised in Christian families, we learn of this introduction at an early age.  Addressing God as Father comes to us through the teachings of Jesus.  To those around Jesus who first heard of this introduction, it was shocking.  It implies an intimacy between the one praying and God.

 

The Apostle Paul elaborates on the importance of this introduction.  To those in the Galatian churches raised on the premise that one was initially treated as a slave and not fully a family member until their father, “at the appointed time,” deemed them mature enough to be accepted as a son, this was shocking indeed.  Rather, says Paul, through Christ we are brought into the family of God by our faith.  To be “a child of God” was also to be “an heir.”  In addition, as heirs, we then share with Christ in his glory.

 

This spiritual move from slave to heir was difficult for the Galatians to grasp.  How could this be?  They never heard of such a thing.  I wonder if the radical nature of this claim is the opposite of our situation: Once experiencing loving and nurturing families, and therefore accepted as heirs, do we take these words, “Our Father,” for granted?

 

Help me to know you, O God, as the one who has given yourself so that I might be known as your child and heir, through Jesus Christ.  Amen.

We express our gratitude to the ministers of the regions who have offered their devotional thoughts and prayers through this project, which is sustained by your gifts to the Christmas Offering for Regional Ministry.  To contribute to the offering, please visit the following pages:  Supporting the PA Region   or    Supporting the WV Region  Gifts received by Jan. 6 will be credited to your congregation for 2016 in Yearbook Reporting.

Prayerscapes is published by the Christian Church in West Virginia and the Christian Church in Pennsylvania for the not-for-profit distribution of their members and friends in the ecumenical church.  ©2016. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, Dec. 27         Read Luke 2: 41-52

from Jacque Parlato, Central Christian Church, Huntington, WV:

Today, we find Jesus in the place between the infancy narratives and his ministry as an adult.  At first glance, it is all too reminiscent of life with youth when they begin to test the waters of independence. However, this is a turning point in the life and ministry of Jesus, where the message of him being the Messiah is revealed in his words and wisdom.

 

Today’s reading focuses on the importance of the temple in Jesus’ life, the significance of growing in knowledge, and the authority of Jesus as a teacher, even as a ‘tween’.  Today is known as the Feast of the Holy Family, and my hope is that we might reflect on our communities of faith as one family, one Body of Christ.  I pray that we not only seek to honor relationships with all of God’s children, but that we have a continual desire to grow, listen learn and teach our children, yet we are also willing to let them share their wisdom with us, so that we will listen and let wisdom be revealed in return.

 

We give thanks, O God, that you have set us, like your own beloved Son, in the midst of human families, where your love and your light can truly be revealed.  Help us to listen and to learn together.  Amen.

Monday, Dec. 26          Read Luke 2:21-40

from Shawn Van Dyke, Schuylkill Haven, PA:

The day after Christmas I will be in Oregon in the shelter of the family who named me and blessed me.  Our families gave us our names and identities, they nurtured and taught us.  Most often they were the ones who introduced us to God.  When we were infants they carried us to worship to dedicate our lives to God, to acknowledge we have been designated as holy to the Lord.  As we grew physically, they helped us to grow spiritually in our relationship with God.  Guided by the Holy Spirit, we were called to a righteous and devout life, offering to God our continual and joyful praise.  Through worship and scripture we see the light of Christ, revealed as the source of salvation.  In that light, we grow strong in faith and wisdom, for the favor of God is upon us, on Christmas Day, and the day after, and the day after that.

 

I give my praise to you, O God, for the gifts that have brought me to this day, blessed by you beyond all measure.  Fill my heart with thanksgiving and my lips with words of praise. Amen.

Sunday, Dec. 25: Christmas Day         Read John 1:1-14

from Thaddaeus Allen, Regional Minister and President:

The light shines in the darkness!  This is the gospel, the very good news of God in Jesus Christ.  The darkness of the world has been dealt with and light is on the scene.  And God so loved us that a witness, too, was born.  John’s call was to testify to the light, the true light that enlightens all!  And today, we, too, are reminded of our calling to be witnesses to the great light that is the Christ child.  On this feast day when we experience afresh the incarnation, we are free to tell it from the mountaintops that Jesus Christ is Lord.  We are free to engage in acts of love and charity that make it clear in the darkest places of our neighbor’s lives that light has arrived on the scene.  We have seen God’s glory, and we have the grace of living within God’s very family.  This we must share!  We are called to be witnesses to this marvelous act of God’s grace on us all.  Merry Christmas!

We give you thanks, O God, for the gift which you alone could give us – your very Self – and for the opportunity to share you with the world for which you have come to offer yourself in love.  Amen.

We express our gratitude to the ministers of the regions who have offered their devotional thoughts and prayers through this project, which is sustained by your gifts to the Christmas Offering for Regional Ministry.  To contribute to the offering, please visit the following pages:  Supporting the PA Region   or    Supporting the WV Region

Prayerscapes is published by the Christian Church in West Virginia and the Christian Church in Pennsylvania for the not-for-profit distribution of their members and friends in the ecumenical church.  ©2016. All Rights Reserved.

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