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Friday, Feb. 16

Read Genesis 9:8-17

From William Flewelling

Proctor, WV

In the heavens beauty beckons

as the sun arraigns the rain.

There, the bow in splendor arches

circling the wide earth below.

Then remembrance floods the moment,

love divine, compassion reigns

to attain the sacred story,

God’s eternal covenant.

 

As with Noah in the freshness,

once the Ark had settled still,

now the fresh compassion hurries

to complete the promise forged.

In the time of lean perversion,

in the hour of dismal turns,

yet remembering the promise

God arrays the rainbow arch.

 

Now, in this compassion-meadow,

as we satisfy thy call,

come into remembrance ever,

Lord, the lure to honor love.

For in your love we answer hope,

and by your love do we rise,

rise into compassion’s fullness

to abide thy buoyant care.

 

(Hymn Meter: 8.7.8.7.D        Suggested tune: Austria)

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Thursday, Feb. 15

Read Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

From Shawn Van Dyke

Schuylkill Haven, PA First United Church of Christ

Jesus doesn’t seem a likely advocate for secrecy.  Yet in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus launched into extended instruction about secrecy.  “When you give, do so in secret; when you pray, pray in secret; when you fast, fast in secret.”

During Lent, church tradition encourages us to add spiritual disciplines like giving, praying, and fasting. The intent of these disciplines is to imitate Christ who prayed and fasted regularly to know God’s will.  This is the reason Jesus encourages us to practice secrecy in our spiritual discipline: we give, pray and fast not to impress others but to please God.  When God sees our efforts, we will be rewarded with a fulfilling relationship with God.

 

Giving God, teach us to put aside earthly treasures

 of possessions, profit and power, so we may receive the reward of unity with You, our ultimate treasure.  Amen.

Thursday: Dec. 21

Read Psalm 89:15-29

from Cletus Hull, Lower Burrell, PA Trinity United Christian Church

When I begin each day spending time in God’s word. I am amazed at how quickly I forget by 9:00 AM what I read at 6:00 AM. My mind is prone to wander with the occurrences of the day. Yet, suddenly, my thoughts traveled back to one verse for this Advent reading:

“And I will make him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth. My steadfast love I will keep for him forever, and my covenant will stand firm for him.” (vs.27)

Christopher Wordsworth, an Anglican Bishop and a nephew of the poet William Wordsworth, called Psalm 89 the “Carol of Christmas.” That specific verse from Psalm 89 was a healthy reminder for me at this time of year as I have been busy with packing, shipping, and traveling. Certainly, many of these activities are necessary, but I must be intentional with not replacing my endeavors with Jesus. Christ is the gospel. That is why he came, died, and rose again. This reminder contains the hope that we trust and proclaim in the Christmas carols.

We miss the point if we think the psalmist is referring to King David. The writer is worshipping the One to come from the lineage of David – Christ, the Savior. I needed that reminder amidst the busyness of working in the parish and attending the numerous events of the season. Jesus remains standing firm with us in the middle of our Advent sojourn.

Gracious God, remind us in this moment that you are present,

 for your steadfast love keeps us firm in your care. Amen.

Tuesday: Dec. 19

Read 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16

from Bill Garrett, Levittown, PA United Christian Church

What a wonderful message, especially so close to Christmas! Only six more days until Christmas! Time to really get busy finishing up with the Christmas gift list. And, by the way, what gift will I give to God this year? Surely, I can’t forget this most special gift to give.

That’s what King David thought. Not a Christmas gift to give to God, but what gift to give to God. After all, God had already given David so much. Surely David should give something to God in return. So, how about a new castle? A really wonderful and impressive palace, just like David’s.

It must have made sense to David, and even Nathan, the priest, thought so as well. But God didn’t. The simple point of God’s denial of David’s plan to build a wonderful palace for God was that David’s plan would put David in the middle of everyone’s thoughts. “See what David is doing for God? How wonderful that David, our King, now takes care of God.”

God’s desire was for the people to remember that it was God who made things happen. It was God who would create and re-create the creation. Not David. Not us, either.

What gift should we give to God during this season? How about we open ourselves to God’s presence in our lives in such a way that we will see and feel what God has for us? What is it that God wills for us to be and do in a world broken and searching for hope and peace and faith and love?

Let us, during this wonderful season, be willing to offer ourselves to see what God will make of us. God doesn’t need a mansion. God simply needs us to remember who is God.

Open us to your vision, O God, and restore in us our trust in you.  Amen.

Monday: Dec. 18

Read Psalm 89:1-8

from Del Parris, Lost Creek, WV

As we celebrate JOY during this Advent season, one cannot help but note the joy in these opening words of the Psalmist’s hymn.  While this Psalm expresses both joy and disappointment (by the end), the writer does not seem able to suppress his joy in the Lord.  His joy is based on his experience of and faith in the love and faithfulness of God.  The celebration of Christ’s birth should be a time of joy as we also affirm what God has done for us and reaffirm our faith in God’s love and faithfulness.  It seems to me that our greatest witness to our faith is to be joyful people.

Dear God, help us to join Paul in “rejoicing always,”

that others may see our joy and celebrate your love and faithfulness with us.  Amen

Friday: Dec. 8

Read Isaiah 40:1-11

from Darrell Pierce, Clarksburg, WV

This scripture is probably best remembered for its use with the coming of John the Baptist, but I would like to concentrate on the comfort mentioned in the first verse.

Jesus has not only paid for the curse due us for our sins, but has also given us blessings far beyond any reward we deserve for whatever good we may have done.   What a comfort!

We are his sheep and when we hurt, he gathers us in his arms and whispers words of love and encouragement.   What a comfort!

The day will come when all creation will come under his power and his rule.  Then all trouble and strife will be ended forever.   What a comfort!

The birth of every child is its own miracle and has its own reasons for celebration.  Still, it is not the birth itself that is the main reason for celebration. It is the thought of what the child may grow to be and the things that child may someday accomplish. We celebrate the birth of Jesus for the miracle it was.  We celebrate the birth of Jesus for what he accomplished in his maturity.  We celebrate the birth of Jesus because of what he will do at the close of the age.  As we look back to Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection and forward to his second coming, who could blame us for saying, “What a wonderful comfort!”

Dear Lord, for Your willingness to be our comfort, we thank You.  For the comfort of Your life, death, and resurrection, we thank You.  For the comfort of Your promises for the future, we thank You.  May we dedicate our lives to You so that others may be comforted as well.  Amen

We are pleased to announce that Prayerscapes for Advent is ready for publication.  WV and PA Disciples ministers have given themselves to this wonderful project, which will provide daily devotions in your inbox from Dec. 3 through Jan. 6.  We hope you will share the word with others who would appreciate receiving them, and direct your friends to https://prayerscapes.wordpress.com.  They also will be published daily on our Facebook pages.

Booklets have been prepared for printing in your local church, and information on the process of making booklets to share in your congregation or with others can be found in this release.

All of this is made possible because of your faithful support of Disciples Mission Fund, and the Christmas Offering for Regional Ministries.  Please consider how your gifts will help us continue our work, and encourage others toward generosity in this vital mission.

We look forward to sharing these holy days with you.  May grace abound in this season!

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