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Daily Devotion – December 31, 2012
12.31.12

Colossians 3:16-17

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another
in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and
spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in
the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

 

Reflection by Geoff Heilhecker

 

I often wonder if my thoughts, prayers, ideas even actions
can be constituted as worthy of GOD; I just don’t see myself as a religious
leader or insightful?  This time of year we ask our children if they have been good and to be that way all year long;
but have you thought about all your “work” during the year?  I am right now and I have to say I might never
come off the “naughty list”. Have you looked outside of yourself and tried to
do more for those around you, not for praise or have to, but because you want
to give that little something without wanting to be known?

 

This time of year always forces people to express and
physically demonstrate the good word and deeds that GOD expects. We just need to
be the stewards of the message and attitude the whole year long.

 

It’s easy for me to sit here and type what I want to do and
say; and as with anything, it is the getting up and doing that is always the
hardest. So when you hear and sing the songs on Sunday think about what you are
doing, where is that energy going, and will it follow you out and about.   

 

Prayer: 

May the wisdom, gratitude in our hearts, praises to God
spill over into everything we do all year long. 
Amen.



Daily Devotion – December 30, 2012
12.30.12

Colossians 3: 14-15 

Peace Be With You 

Above all, clothe yourselves with
love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of
Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body.
And be thankful. 

 

Reflection by Monty Wyne

 

“Above all, clothe yourselves
with love…” says the passage. Love is the universal unifier. This is what
brings us together versus pushing us apart. A heart filled with love can
fulfill other hearts, for love is the spirit of joy and acceptance. 

Love also fosters peace and
forgiveness—the attitude of peace that Christ alone can give. Carry peace in
your heart and one can dispel the attitude of bitterness, distrust and hatred.
This is what should rule in all human relationships. 

As we sing every Sunday at the
end of our service, “Let there be peace on earth, the peace that was meant to
be.” And we end by singing, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with
me.” Let us embody that message and share it with those we come in contact with
day to day and hopefully make a difference in this complex world. 

 

Prayer: 

Dear God, 

Let us all pray for peace and
good will on this earth. For it is in peace that we find forgiveness. And in
forgiveness we find love.    Amen

 



Daily Devotion – December 29, 2012
12.29.12

Colossians 3:12-13

12 As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion,
kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. 13Bear with one another and, if anyone has a
complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has
forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

Reflection by Jean Ward

Christmas, so wonderful, brings out the best in us – acts
of kindness, examples of humility, meekness and tender mercies.

With each Advent candle we lite we pray for Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. We pray
that our spirit and lives be filled with these blessings. But to receive these
gifts of Christmas there is one thing we must do. That is to forgive. In our
humanity we have our “complaints” against others. We must “add
forgiving one another” and we have the most perfect example, “even as
Christ forgave you, so you also must do “, and in doing so you will
receive the Hope, Peace, Joy and Love of Christmas !

Prayer:

Our Father,
forgive us as we forgive others. Thank you for giving us Your Son, our Savior,
Jesus Christ. Thank you for all the gifts of Christmas and help us keep the
spirit of Christmas long after the candles of advent have been extinguished. Let
us continue to forgive so we may have more Hope, Peace, Joy and Love in our
hearts and lives.  Amen



Daily Devotion – December 28, 2012
12.28.12

Luke 2:41-52

Now every year his parents
went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve
years old, they went up as usual for the festival. When the festival was ended
and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his
parents did not know it. Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they
went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives
and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search
for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the
teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him
were amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him they
were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us
like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great
anxiety.” He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know
that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said
to them. Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to
them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased
in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.

 

Reflection by Diane Ingram

 

Whenever we read anything, our tendency is to place it within our own cultural
context.  With these verses, my first
thought is — Mary and Joseph didn’t miss him for three days?  Three
days
?  I can identify more easily
with Mary mentioning her great anxiety

And, identifying with Mary, the mother, I recall and appreciate the wonder of
12-year-olds.  At the upper edge of
childhood, a 12-year-old can be full of questions, wit, originality, and
enthusiasm, so engaging that a mother goes from worried brow to hiding a smile
many times a day. 

This child whom Luke describes, this Jesus, with his young mind already turning on
eternal subjects, must have enchanted—or disturbed—those in the temple listening
to him, watching him. It would have been his 12-year-old nature to ask
questions long since trampled down by those set in their ways, sure of their
opinions. He would have brought new life, an unmasked countenance. I doubt that
he was always serious; his wit would have surfaced.  I doubt that his eyes were always steady and
intense; there would have been lively flashes there, question marks. 

We know next to nothing about Jesus’s youth, but we do, thankfully, have this
scene when he was still a child, already compelling. 

Prayer: 

Thank you, God, for the
wisdom of children, for the many ways they are our teachers.



Daily Devotion – December 27, 2012
12.27.12

 

Psalm 148

 

Praise for God’s Universal Glory


 1 Praise the
Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
praise him in
the heights!
2 Praise him, all
his angels;
praise him, all his host!


3 Praise him, sun
and moon;
praise him, all you shining stars!
4 Praise him, you
highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens!

5 Let them praise
the name of the Lord,
for he
commanded and they were created.
6 He established
them for ever and ever; he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed.


7 Praise the
Lord from the earth,
you sea
monsters and all deeps,
8 fire and hail,
snow and frost,
stormy wind fulfilling his command!

9 Mountains and
all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars!
10 Wild animals
and all cattle,
creeping things and flying birds!


11 Kings of the
earth and all peoples,
princes and all rulers of the
earth!
12 Young men and
women alike,
old and young together!

13 Let them praise
the name of the Lord,
for his
name alone is exalted;
his glory is above earth and
heaven.
14He has raised up
a horn for his people,
praise for all his faithful,
for the people of
Israel who are close to him.

Praise the Lord!

 

Reflection by Don Tawney Sr.

In this dark and depressed world, we know so very little
of the world of light and praise which our great God and Savior Jesus Christ
deserve and receive.  Reading this Psalm, our understanding is broadened just in
a tiny way.  The strongest telescope cannot enable us to see the heavens of
heavens God has created. 

We can know by the scripture that there is a world above
us where angels, beyond number, are continually worshipping and praising God. 
They were created by God. However, He doesn’t need them to praise Him, but it
delights Him.  God made you and me; He doesn’t need our praise, but it delights
Him that we love and adore Him.  We were made for God: to serve Him with a
delightful heart.  All on this earth, with the capacity we have, are to praise,
love, and worship Him, the God who brings Life and Light to this dark
world.

Prayer: 

All the darkness, all the darkness, cannot put out
the Light.  Satan’s power, evil power cannot put out the Light.  Thank you
heavenly Father for the Light of the world, Jesus Christ.

Amen

 

 



Daily Devotion – December 26, 2012

1 Samuel 2:18-20, 26

The Child Samuel at Shiloh

Samuel was ministering before
the Lord, a boy wearing a linen ephod. His mother used to
make for him a little robe and take it to him each year, when she went up with
her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. Then Eli would bless Elkanah and his
wife, and say, ‘May the Lord repay you with children by
this woman for the gift that she made to the Lord'; and
then they would return to their home.

Now the boy Samuel continued
to grow both in stature and in favour with the Lord and
with the people.

 

Reflection by Lynne Buell

Samuel’s mother, Hannah, and Jesus’ mother, Mary, although their births were nearly 1,000
years apart, were aware that their sons were destined to serve God. 

As Samuel’s story begins, Elkanah’s wife, Penninah, was fruitful and gave him a
child every year. But Hannah was getting on in years, and her intense praying
for a child was sadly mistaken for being drunk with wine. Hannah’s desire for a
child was above and beyond what most women craved, so she vows to hand her child
over to the temple to serve God. Samuel was born; Hannah fulfills her promise
and dedicates her child to God knowing the challenges he will face. Every year
Samuel receives new clothes from his parents. 

Mary is a virgin who was conceived by the Holy Spirit; Joseph, her
soon-to-be-husband, almost calls off the marriage but is approached by the angel
who tells him of the importance of this child that Mary carries. Unlike Hannah,
Mary is reluctant to give her child to the temple. It’s almost like she senses
the danger Jesus is in (or did she know) of Herod’s plan to destroy her newborn
son. 

Samuel’s attire was a linen ephod…apparently a garment worn by some Israelite priests.
Jesus, it is said, wore plain linens, long robes and simple sandals. 

Now it’s time to move on to beyond the splendid birth of Jesus; to learn what His
birth means, and about the prophets’ stories leading up to His birth. Why Jesus
was born….how do we compare our lives to some of these stories?  How do we
live in Christ?

Prayer:

Lord, I am ready to hear more about the stories in the Bible. I yearn to be able to live my life in
Christ.

 

 

 



Daily Devotion – December 25, 2012
12.25.12

John 1: 1-18

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.  What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. 

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.  He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.  He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.  The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 

He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him.  He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.  But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. 

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.  (John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me.’”)  From his fullness we have all received grace upon grace.  The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.  No one has ever see God.  It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.

Reflection by Gabriela Mills

The “Word” of God, God’s laws, God’s love throughout time eternal, the law of love that created the stars, the moon, the sun continues to create among us, continues to love us, and it is this love that binds our world together.   God’s “Word,” more than simply speech, “was with God, and the Word was God.”  The divinity that is eternally present throughout all of creation was then made flesh and took the form of our brother Jesus.  In his fully human form, Jesus was fully involved in all aspects of society and saw the “world,” the imperfect social systems that were created by humans, and continued to demonstrate love to those who would accept it.  He continued to shine the beacon of light on the failed social relations around him, but this was too much for some – “his own people did not accept him.” 

Thankfully, “From his fullness we have all received grace upon grace.”  God’s grace is inexhaustible!  The love of God, lived in the example set by Jesus, is given to us voluntarily and is never ending.  Hallelujah!

Prayer

Holy God, holy is your name!  You alone are worthy of praise!  Let me remain ever mindful of your inexhaustible grace and help me to demonstrate your grace to others.

Amen



Daily Devotion – December 24, 2012
12.24.12

Luke 2: 15-20

 

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

 

Reflection by Duke Yaguchi

We’ve all heard the story of Jesus’ birth hundreds of times. Many of us, since we were very young children. Yet as we grow older, as with most of scripture, there is more to learn every time we hear the words.

The story doesn’t tell us how far the shepherds had to travel to find Jesus. It doesn’t say whether or not they brought their flocks of sheep with them either. It doesn’t even say how the shepherds found Jesus.

Imagine being one of the shepherds. Imagine angels coming to you announcing the birth of the savior. What would you have done? Would you have been afraid? Would you have believed? Would you have left your flock, your sole responsibility and go search for Jesus?

The angels didn’t reveal the Good News to Herod, or other high level officials. The angels didn’t visit generals or city mayors or high priests. They announced the birth of Jesus to some ordinary shepherds. We don’t even know their names. But the shepherds had great faith. They dropped what they were doing. Perhaps they drew lots and one of them stayed behind with the sheep. We don’t know. But they dropped what they were doing and looked for Jesus.

They knew Jesus was born in a stable, and He probably was the only one that day to be born in such humble beginnings. So perhaps word spread quickly and it was easy to find Him. But it is still remarkable that the shepherds dropped what they were doing just to have a glimpse of Jesus and share with Mary and Joseph what they were told.

In this age of cynicism and skepticism, after hearing about so many false prophets that end up in mass killings or mass suicide, we may be conditioned not to believe if Jesus were to appear among us now. How sad would that be, if Jesus were to appear in a neighboring county of Georgia, and we didn’t take the time to go see Him?

 

Prayer:

As we think about the birth of Jesus, let us give thanks that He came for the forgiveness of our sins. Let us give thanks that He grew up to fulfill prophecy. And let us pray for the wisdom and the strength and the courage and the conviction and the love to look for Him and follow Him when His presence is made known to us. Blessings to baby Jesus and blessings to all of you this Christmas!



Daily Devotion – December 23, 2012
12.23.12

Luke 2:8-14

The Shepherds and the Angels

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’

 

 

Devotion By Rochelle Lofstrand

 

Shepherds were at the opposite end of the social strata from King Herod and all the influential people of the day. They lived in the fields with their animals. They weren’t respected. They had no power or prestige. Yet, God’s angel came to them and said, “Unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior who is Christ, the Lord.”

This passage tells us that no matter how insignificant you think you are God knows you and you are important to God!

I’ve been collecting figurines for my crèche for years.  When I set it up each Christmas, the shepherds are always closest to the Holy Family.  I surround the baby Jesus with small lambs with the shepherds looking ever so loving at the baby. 

As we prepare for Jesus birth, let us all remember that we are all important to God, even the lowly shepherd! 

 

Prayer:

God, as we celebrate Love Sunday today, let us remember how much you love each and every one of us no matter if we are a king or a shepherd.  AMEN.

 



Daily Devotion – December 22, 2012
12.22.12

Matthew 1: 20

“As he was thinking about this [calling off the engagement quietly], an angel from the Lord appeared to him, in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the child she carries was conceived by the Holy Spirit.'”

Anthony B. Robinson

In church tomorrow, and again on Christmas Eve, Mary and her son will be in the spotlight, which is as it should be. And they will be attended, as usual, by kings, angels and shepherds.

Just beyond the bright light, however, stands another figure, one often overlooked: Joseph. He is important not for his biological contribution but for the trust, love and name he gave–gave when it wasn’t that easy to do so.

In some ways, Joseph seems like the original step parent. The kid wasn’t his own, not biologically, and yet when an angel — a messenger of God — asked, he stepped up. It was, no doubt, awkward for Joseph, but he was undeterred.

I’ve never been a step parent, but I’m pretty sure it’s a tough assignment. It looks like a constant balancing act. You’re not the guy or gal, but you are. You’re not the actual Dad or Mom, but you’re the one who’s doing the job. Negative stereotypes, as in “wicked stepmother,” add to the load.

In the next couple days, as we gather in wonder and praise around the original Holy Family, let’s also remember the ones who stand just outside the spotlight and the starlight, the step moms and dads, who though they may not be the biological parent, are doing their best to be good parents. You matter — bless you.

Prayer

Grant strength, courage and love to all parents, O God, and especially to those, like Joseph, who are parents of a different and most special sort. Amen.

 

About the Author
Anthony B. Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher and writer. His newest book is Called to Lead: Paul’s Letters to Timothy for a New Day, and he is also the author of the just-published Book of Exodus: A God is still speaking Bible Study. Read his weekly reflections on the current lectionary texts at www.anthonybrobinson.com by clicking on Weekly Reading.