Sunday Evening, Christmas Eve      

Read Luke 2:1-20

from Thaddaeus B. Allen, Regional Minister

Our regional church center is a busy place.  For the past year we have been blessed with the staff of a foster care agency sharing space with us.  They are an alive group!  And they are doing God’s work for sure.  From time to time I get to catch a glimpse into the lives of families.  Families are complicated; nothing easy about them.  Some families seem to be marked by confusion and hurt more than others.  And yet, in the midst of it all, is love.

This week. while getting signed in to a conference call, the head of the foster care division presented me with a newborn baby boy.  She was loading the car and needed a holder!  I will tell you that I was with humbled and filled with joy.  As I held the baby, he took hold of my finger.  In that very moment, it became clear that I was no longer holding him, but he was holding me.

A child is born who holds us.  Tonight, we catch a glimpse into the life of the holy family.  It is our own family that we see, for we are all part of the one family of God.  This is humbling, and yet it is sure to fill our lives with joy.

Hold us, dear God, in your love and peace.  Amen.

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Prayerscapes for Advent is published by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in West Virginia and Pennsylvania.  WV and PA Disciples ministers have given themselves to this wonderful project, which continues through Sunday, Jan. 6.  Lenten Prayerscapes will be coming soon, so please 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.

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.

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Advent 1: Dec. 3

Read Mark 13:24-37

from Thaddaeus Allen, Regional Minister and President

Beware and keep alert!  Good words for Christians to consider as we approach and enter into the holy season of Advent.  We live and find our being in the very presence and peace of God, and we do not want to become numb or unaware of this graceful reality. These days are good days for us to sharpen our senses and to expand our vision.  The act of keeping alert is discipline that shows our love for God and all that is God’s.

Where do you see Christ in the world?  Where is Christ at work in you?  Where is Christ leading us on this journey of waiting and watching?  Answers may appear on the scene in the strangest of hours and the most unlikely of people.  Beware of this too.  So, in this holy season, sisters and brothers, keep awake!

Keep us mindful and watchful, good and gracious One.  We love you and trust you with these days and with every moment of life that you have given us.  In Christ’s holy name.  Amen

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Prayerscapes for Advent is published by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in West Virginia and Pennsylvania.  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.

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.

Read Matthew 27:11-54

The witnesses declared “Truly this was God’s Son!”  In fact, the Resurrection called all of humanity and all of creation to make the good confession together.  All that was confessed. Today, with all that we are and have, we too confess and declare: “We believe!”  Today, we are remaking the good confession, and this sets the course for all that we are.

Easter cries, trumpet sounds, organs playing, children marching, flowers blooming, Bread and Wine being shared, and a word of belief bear witness to the truth of God’s Son who is alive in our midst.  Happy Easter to Easter people!

Giver of every perfect gift, we thank you for life and life abundant in our risen Savior Christ Jesus.

Thaddaeus B. Allen

Regional Minister

Prayerscapes is presented by the Order of Ministry of the Christian Church in WV and the Christian Church in PA.  It is made possible for your free use because of your faithful support of Disciples Mission Fund,  for which we all give thanks.

We are truly grateful for the lives and work of our beloved ministers throughout the regions of WV and PA, and for their contributions to this effort. 

We look forward to seeing you again in Advent (begins Dec. 3), so don’t cancel your subscription!

Read Joel 2:1-2, 12-17  

God calls us to return with “all your heart,” and to “return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.”   The good news, brothers and sisters, is that we are being called together again this Lent, for we are too important to be left alone on this journey.  Lent can be a very powerful time of renewal.  A solemn and reverent assembly of God’s very own (infants, youth and those who have the Gift of Years) is given a call to worship.

Thus, holy Lent is a time of great gathering of Christ’s Church.  The body of Christ is being consecrated and sanctified in the great anticipation of God’s grace and forgiveness.  We are not just being called into a private time of reflection and examination, although this is never to be underestimated.   This year, let us be mindful that the community of the baptized is being called collectively to turn to God.   Let us be open to all that God wants us to have and to experience.  Even in the midst of a world that too often times makes no sense, our God calls us home to grace, mercy, halted anger, abundant steadfast love, repentance, and a peace that passes all understanding.  Together we are called towards God in these important and life giving holy days.  Let us go together.

May we return to you Dear God with loving and trusting hearts.   May we be made one and share this gift with your world and children everywhere.

Thaddaeus B. Allen, Regional Minister

Friday, Jan. 6: Feast of the Epiphany              Read Matthew 2:1-12

from Thaddaeus Allen, Regional Minister and President:

The Church through our Middle East Initiative of Global Ministries sent me to Bethlehem recently.  There were other stops, but today Bethlehem is before us.  It was moving to be in the place where Jesus was born.  Like the wise men’s was, ours was a journey of distance.  Like the wise men, we were not locals.  Like the wise men experienced, there was a palpable sense of both joy and deep reverence that I experienced.  It was moving to meet with our Global Mission Partners who are doing such important work in the land of Jesus’ birth.  Sadly, the work being done is not always received as a special guest, and it is often treated as an unwanted foreigner.

I am touched by the ways in which our partners give gifts and find other roads if needed to steward the gospel in their midst.  The treasure chests of the church are opened wider because of our witness in Bethlehem.  When we came to the place where Jesus born, like the wise men, we could not help but kneel down and pay homage.  Today is a day to be overwhelmed with joy.

O Revealed Christ, make your presence known in our world today, beginning with our lives and the life of your beloved Church.  Bring light to all through the gifts we have been given in your coming.  We offer ourselves, our very best, to you.  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.

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.

This ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in West Virginia is supported by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund.

Read Luke 24:1-12

from Thaddaeus B. Allen, Regional Minister

Sometimes it seems we need to see things for ourselves in order to believe. Peter demonstrates this nicely for us today. The reality of the Risen Christ, who stands in our midst and in whose peace we abide, is something for us to experience. First-hand testimony of life is a grace, and it can prompt us to look more closely and carefully for the signs of life and life abundant in our own experiences. So on this beautiful morning when the Church brings first-hand testimony of the Resurrection, take this and run to the tombs of your life. Perhaps we will see for ourselves, with our very own eyes, that places of death and entombment are the places in life where Jesus can roll away the stone that suffocates.

The story of this day is of life. Experience this anew. Receive it gladly and believe! Look closely and with your very own eyes for the signs of God’s gracious presence in our midst. He is not dead – he lives! Because he lives – so do we! Run to your life and receive it in all of its beauty and abundance. Believe for yourself!   Christ is risen, he is risen indeed.

For the gift of the Resurrection, and for life abundant, we give thanks and praise!  Alleluia!