Fifth Sunday in Lent, Mar. 18

Read John 12:20-33

From William B. Allen

Regional Minister Emeritus

Here we are late in the Lenten season and the mood is becoming more intense.  The arrival of Greeks wishing to see Jesus may sound to us like just another event in Jesus’ journey.  But on second look it is much more than that.  The arrival of Greeks at the Passover festival was unusual and Jesus took it as a turning point in his ministry.  His response to the request to see him was not, “Sure, bring them over.”  It was, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”

The arrival of the Greeks was a sign that the mission of Jesus was no longer to Judea and Samaria alone but was now to the whole creation. This was the moment for which he had come into the world.  It would require his death and resurrection, which he likened to a grain of wheat falling into the ground in order to bear much fruit.  Talk about love!

While those around him had trouble understanding what was happening, Jesus knew that God was driving out evil from the world and drawing all people to Jesus, himself.

This is a powerful prelude to the events of Holy Week and a sure sign that God’s activity is aimed at saving us and giving us abundant life.


Holy God, thank you for the events we celebrate in these days, which mark our lives with love, compassion and new from you. Amen.


Monday: Christmas Day

Read John 1:1-14

from William B. Allen, Regional Minister Emeritus

St. John’s gospel opens with a very different Christmas story than Matthew and Luke.  No stable, no angels, no wise men here.  What we have is a powerful, dramatic, and beautiful description of what happens when God enters the world where we live – and chooses to live among us.

This is not easy stuff, but it is powerful and vitally important.  It informs us that Jesus Christ is not just a special person, good friend, role model.  Such descriptions sell him far short and are not helpful to us.

Here we learn that Christ is God! To speak of “Jesus & God,” as I often hear, is a complete misunderstanding of what’s going on. Our gospel informs us that the eternal Christ is the creative power of God who brings all things into being.  He takes on flesh and blood and moves in with us to bring great gifts.  The real Christmas gifts, if you will – life, light, glory, grace, and truth – are given from the eternal realm where he lives, to the earthly realm where we live.  These are gifts that only God can bring.

In this Christmas season, let’s take a look around at the world where we live and the people we live with, and be aware that it is also the world where God chooses to abide with us – because God declares that the world is good, and God loves us!  Let us look for and seek to participate in life, light, glory, grace, and truth (John’s words).  This indeed is the story of Christmas.  It is the antidote for much of the confusion that bedevils our thinking today.

Let’s not be those who “did not accept him” when “he came to his own people.”  That would be to miss Christmas.  Let us watch for him and accept him with all his hope, peace, joy, and love.

Lord Jesus, come to us again, and again and again. Come to us in a stable, by a lakeside, on a mountain, on a cross, in our daily lives. Help us to recognize you and accept you.  Thank you for your Christmas gifts.  Amen.

Read Isaiah 50:4-9a

Today we meet the “Suffering Servant” of Isaiah.  This is most appropriate for our Good Friday meditation, as the Servant foreshadows the meaning of suffering and obedience which Jesus presents in his passion.

The Servant, like Jesus, is sorely persecuted: “I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting.”  But this is not a lament or a complaint as we often hear from those who are abused.  It is a psalm of confidence and assurance.

The Servant is constantly aware of God’s presence and compassion throughout his ordeal. “The Lord God helps me; therefore, I have not been disgraced… I know that I shall not be put to shame; he who vindicates me is near.”  This total awareness of God’s abiding care is evidenced by the fact that the Servant is given “the tongue of a teacher [to] sustain the weary with a word.”  His ears are opened “to listen as those who are taught.”

In the midst of distress, the Servant and God are in a remarkable relationship of love.  This psalm is a demonstration of God’s love for and delight in us and an invitation for us to share that love and delight.  Jesus’ giving of himself in the crucifixion is the powerful act that binds us to our God in the best and also the worst of times.

Loving God, open our ears to hear your word, free our tongues to share your love.  Let us know that in the suffering and death of your Son he saves us and binds us to your constant care, whatever our situation.

William B. Allen

Regional Minister Emeritus

1st Sunday in Advent, Nov. 27   Read Matthew 24:36-44

from William B. Allen, Regional Minister Emeritus:

We begin the new church year (Year A in the lectionary) with a gospel reading from St. Matthew – this is the year in which we focus on Matthew’s gospel.  Our text is Mt. 24:36-44 which lifts up the major Advent theme of watchfulness, vigilance, being aware of God’s movement in our midst.


Matthew quotes Jesus: “About that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”  And he refers to those who were caught unawares when Noah’s flood came upon the earth; about workers in the field and women grinding meal who will be surprised by the activity of God.  And finally, Jesus is quoted, “Therefore you must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”


Advent invites us on an exciting adventure – watching for the activity of God, every day, in everyone we meet, in every circumstance of life.  Have a great journey to Christmas.


Teach us watchfulness, O God, as we await the coming of the Savior.  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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This ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in West Virginia is supported by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund.

Read Luke 23:50-56

from William B. Allen, Regional Minister Emeritus

Holy Saturday offers us a little time – between the poignant drama of Good Friday and the glorious celebration of Easter – to step back and reflect on the meaning of the momentous events by which we are saved.

On this off day between the monumental days of our faith, Luke offers us a succinct and meaning-packed description of Jesus’ burial that allows us to consider our relationship to the central mysteries that shape our lives.

We have a “good and righteous man named Joseph” who stepped forward to claim the body of the Lord.  This had to be a courageous act as it placed him in opposition to the huge majority of the Sanhedrin (the ruling, religious council) of which he was a member but which had overwhelmingly requested the crucifixion of Jesus.  He also had to go before Pilate and ask for the body.  Might this be an invitation to step forth from the crowd and honor our Lord?

The protocols regarding the honoring of the Sabbath and preparing the body were carefully observed.  Might this be an invitation to perform our spiritual life with decency and order (as opposed to haphazardly and carelessly)?

Jesus’ body was placed in a brand new, rock-hewn tomb.  Might this be an invitation to give our very best to Christ? Just some things to consider on this day of reflection.

Lord Jesus, Give us courage to serve and honor you,

to bring to you our best,

to love you with the tenderness of Joseph of Arimathea. Amen

Read John 1:1-18

from Rev. Dr. William B. Allen, Regional Minister Emeritus

Christmas is the sign to us of how much God loves us and how much God wants to be in a vital relationship with us. When we wander, drift or run away from God, God gently – or dramatically – calls us back.

Christmas is one of those dramatic instances where God calls us back. The prologue to John’s gospel takes the Christmas event from being something that happened long ago and far away, with stables and shepherds and kings, and makes it very close at hand. The Word of God, Jesus Christ, bursts on our world with life and light.

The problem arises when we fail to recognize or accept this Word who dwells among us. Then all that life and light and glory become obscure to us. Like when we walk into a crowded room and don’t recognize even dear friends, until we’ve been there a few minutes. Let’s look around and behold the glory God is presenting us in Christ.

This Word of God, Jesus Christ, brightens the darkness of the world we live in – with all its illness, war, sorrow, anger – and brings life, makes us children of God, and imparts to us “grace upon grace.” What a gift! Happy Christmas.

Loving God, awaken us to your Word who lives among us, enlightens our world and gives us grace upon grace.

Sunday: Nov. 30

Mark 13:24-37
“But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory. Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
“But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake–for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”

from Rev. Dr. William B. Allen
Regional Minister Emeritus
This passage is part of Jesus’ response to Peter, James, John and Andrew who – after he had predicted the destruction of the temple – had asked him, “[W]hen will this be and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?” We are dealing with the end times or the culmination of history as we know it.
These kinds of passages (often called apocalyptic) raise lots of questions and rarely provide satisfactory answers, although they do give rise to lots of discussion – sometimes valuable, sometimes not. What we want to do is glean the core message and not get waylaid by things that leave us puzzled.
The core message here is to stay alert to things that are going on around us. Jesus says, “Beware, keep alert…” “Keep awake.” We want to stay tuned in to the people around us, the events that are happening, and the discoveries that are being made, for the Holy Spirit is in these. We live in an exciting time, bursting with God’s activity. Let’s not miss it just because we have prejudices, and fears. The Advent message calls us to live in confidence and love.
God of love and power, open our hearts and minds to behold your vibrant presence
around us and within us as we await the birth of your Christ
in all its glory and mystery.
Give us faith to step forth into your future. Amen.


As you have been blessed by the gift of God in the coming of Christ at Advent, please consider how your giving for the Christmas Offering to support Regional Ministry may bless the whole Church and world.  You may give through your local Disciples congregation, or at  Congregations of the WV Region’s congregations whose members give online will still receive credit for the gift for Yearbook outreach reporting.