Read Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19

During a workshop on prayer, I gave the participants an exercise on thanksgiving.  They were to make a list of everything they were thankful for on one of the worst days of their lives.  After ten minutes I asked the participants to share this experience of offering a sacrifice of thanksgiving.  A woman in the back of the room continued to write as the sharing began.  Finally, with a catch in her throat, she commented on her experience.  “My young adult son died three months ago of cancer.  It was a terrible time for us, but I realize through this exercise how much I had to be thankful for.  A nurse who was so kind.  Friends who stood with us.  My son’s freedom from a body of pain into eternal life.  I wrote three pages and I could still write more!”  She had found the hand of God through her sacrifice of thanksgiving.

St. Ignatius taught that the greatest sin is ingratitude.  Ingratitude shuts down our connection with God.  But when we give a sacrifice of thanksgiving, especially during painful times, God’s love can pour into us and give us what we truly need to become: “more than conquerors.”

Lord Jesus, forgive our sin of ingratitude.

Show us how to give a sacrifice of thanksgiving every day of our lives.

Janet Hellner-Burris

Christian Church of Wilkinsburg, Pittsburgh, PA


4th Sunday of Advent, Dec. 18              Read Matthew 11:2-11

from Janet Hellner-Burris, Christian Church of Wilkinsburg, PA:

There is a lot of going in the Christmas story.  Mary goes quickly to Elizabeth with the news of her pregnancy.  Mary and Joseph go on a dangerous 70-mile trip to Bethlehem.  The shepherds go to the manger in haste.  The Wise Men go on a perilous two-year journey across the desert.  Each going is for a telling – a telling about Jesus.


During December, our lives are full of going here and there to get it all done. Yet what is all our running around telling others about Jesus?  If someone audited how we use our time, energy and money during December, would they conclude that our going is about telling and being the good news of Jesus?


In our scripture, John the Baptist is sitting in a dark prison cell waiting for someone to go and tell him about Jesus.  Who in your life is sitting in darkness and in the prison of depression and despair, addiction and poverty, grief and loneliness?  Find a way to go to them to tell and be the good news of Jesus.

Jesus, we confess that much of our going in December does not honor you.  Forgive us and send us to those who need us to go, tell, and be your good news.  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

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