Daily Devotion – December 31, 2017

Luke 2:36-38

There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband for seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.


Reflection by Ellen Green

The prophet Anna is a remarkable figure because she was among the first people to recognize in Jesus the marks of a messiah who was foretold in Hebrew scripture. Jesus was just an infant. Yet Anna encountered that infant and was filled with hope and faith in God’s desire to redeem her community.

This is a story about seeing a bud and envisioning it flowering. What allowed Anna to see the way she did?  According to Luke, Anna’s defining trait is that she’s steeped in tradition and prayer. For us, too, familiarity with scripture and devotion to spiritual practices enable us to see the world as budding with the potential for redemption.



God, as we begin the new year our hearts are full of hope – or at least the desire for it. Let us be like Anna, who imaginatively envisioned the coming of your Kin-dom. May we see all around us the budding of redemptive love. Amen.

Daily Devotion – December 30, 2017


From January 05, 2017

Written by Anthony Robinson

Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.” – Luke 18: 10

The Pharisee prays, “God I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector here. I fast twice a week, I give a tenth of all my income.” Meanwhile, the tax-collector says, “God be merciful to me, a sinner.” The tax collector, said Jesus, went home justified.

The Pharisee is almost a cartoon of the self-righteous person. It’s easy to poke fun at him. Harder to identify with him.

My work puts me in many different congregations, both UCC and others of the mainline Protestant tradition. Almost without exception in these congregations these days, I hear something that goes like this. “We thank God that our church is welcoming, inclusive, broad-minded and accepting, and not like those other churches or Christians who are close-minded, judgmental, ignorant and intolerant.”

Doesn’t that sound a bit like the Pharisee?

While I am grateful for our generally broad-minded and open-hearted approach, I doubt that any church is or can be “fully inclusive.” It’s a worthy aspiration and we ought not abandon it, but we remain sinners who will never fully achieve it.

Even more important — is there not a danger that we find our righteousness in our own actions, our enlightened views or inclusivity, and not in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ?

Many today are anxious about the future of the church and their own congregations. We posit various explanations for our problems and propose, and try various solutions. My own view is that our great risk is that we become as the Pharisee, who was in many ways a good, even an exemplary person.

But like him, we make our Christian faith about our activities, our views, our values and, just maybe, how we are superior to some other Christians or people.

When this happens Christian faith has been fatally misunderstood. It’s not about us. It’s not about our views or virtues, our work or achievements. It’s not even about our welcome or inclusivity. It’s about God. God who alone knows the human heart. God who justifies the ungodly.



“God, be merciful to me a sinner. Amen.”


About the Author

Tony Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher, and writer. He is the author of many books, including What’s Theology Got to Do With It: Convictions, Vitality and the Church. You can read Tony’s “Weekly Meditation” and “What’s Tony Thinking?” at his website, .

Daily Devotion – December 29, 2017

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him.  It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.  Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,

“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”

Luke 2:25-32

Reflection by Matthew Alexander

Christmas Day has now come and gone and the gift of Christ’s light into this dark world has been received.  The promise of hope and peace has been held.  For many of us, that means going back to our regular routines of life; work, paying the bills and running the kids around.  Of course, it shouldn’t be the end with an immediate return to our daily routines.  The gift of Christmas should be only the beginning.  Much like when a child is born the work is not over but just the beginning.  For Howard Thurman, Christmas is just the beginning.

Howard Thurman was an African American author, theologian, civil rights leader and a mentor of Martin Luther King, Jr.  His radical theology of nonviolence influenced a generation of civil rights leaders.   In his poem, “The Work of Christmas,” he urges us not to let Christmas Day be the end of our work but the beginning.

The wait is over now the real work of Christmas begins.

When the song of the angels is stilled,

When the star in the sky is gone,

When the kings and princes are back home,

When the shepherds are back with their flock,

The work of Christmas begins:

To find the lost,

To heal the broken,

To feed the hungry,

To release the prisoner,

To rebuild the nations,

To bring peace among brothers,

To make music in the heart.


May we not let Christmas Day be the end of our work of bringing light and peace into the world.  May we strive to continue to seek out each day ways in which we can allow Christ’s promise of love, peace, hope and joy transform us.



Show us the light, Lord.  Instill in us peace, Lord.  Grant us rest in love, Lord.  May we find comfort in Your presence among us so that the work of Christmas may continue.  Amen.

Daily Devotion – December 27, 2017


Luke 1:37

For nothing will be impossible with God.


Devotion by Julia Shiver

What a bold statement!  Stated in the positive it reads “Everything is possible with God.”  Does that mean all my wishes and prayers will be answered?  Absolutely not!

This has been a long, difficult year for me, as it has for many of us.  And God has certainly not answered my prayers the way I thought they should be answered!  I started losing the sight in one eye earlier in the year.  God did not reach down and immediately repair my sight.  But God led me to doctors and new medications that have restored my sight.  As well as to groups who help pay for my treatments.  Is that a miracle?  Absolutely!

I offer up prayers to God every day.  Will I get my every prayer answered the way I want, in the timing I want?  No.  Does God hear my every prayer and desire? Yes.  And all my faith rests in that knowledge.



Loving God, thank you for hearing our prayers, whether spoken aloud, or cried deeply from our inmost being.  We have faith that you will answer our prayers in Your time and in Your way.  Amen. 

Daily Devotion – December 26, 2017

Luke 1:30-36

The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren.

Reflection by Lynne Buell

My scripture was Luke 1:36 today, and I decided to go back to Luke 1:30-36.  One of my joys in life is singing in the choir.  Allen picked out some new pieces this year for the choir to sing for Christmas.  One piece that had an impact on me, is “Angles Are Making Their Rounds” by Pepper Choplin.  It is a beautifully composed song set to an easy going folk tune.  Below I added a youtube link if you would like to listen to it.  Close your eyes, and you can almost visualize the angels appearing to Zechariah and Joseph.

Pastor Kim’s service last week was about the fact that no one really knows when Jesus was actually born.  Does it matter when he was born?  Absolutely not.  While we may not be celebrating on the definite date of His birth, the important part of this celebration is that Jesus was born; this is the authentic proof of God’s love for us all.  This is the good news that brings us new life.

Daily Devotion – December 24, 2017

Luke 1:30-31

The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.

Reflection by Duke Yaguchi

One of the benefits of writing devotions for me is that I get to examine scripture more deeply. Here, I notice that the angel’s message is intended to calm Mary and bring her comfort. Looking back awaiting the births of my three children, I was nervous, anxious, and excited. For my first, I was mostly nervous. During the last appointment with the ob-gyn prior to delivery, I told the doctor if it came to deciding between the health of my then wife or the health of the baby, choose to save my wife. The doctor said nothing should happen, why would I bring that up. I told her, because I didn’t want her to hesitate and deliberate during delivery which could worsen the situation.

When the morning arrived, I told my wife that I had a funny dream. That we had a baby that day and that I got sick and threw up all over the house. She told me, funny, I think we’re going to have a baby today and we need to go to the hospital. I immediately ran to the bathroom and threw up. Feeling very queasy, I drove her to the hospital with a paper bag in my lap.

So, I can understand Mary being afraid. To add to her anxiety, she still had to tell her husband. It must have been very comforting to have an angel visit and tell her that God favors her!



Dear Lord, thank you for the miracle of birth. Thank you for looking upon Mary with favor and blessing baby Jesus. He is the reason for the season. Joy to the world! Amen.

Daily Devotion – December 22, 2017
Isaiah 9:2
2. The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.
Reflection by Darlene Wagner
The first half of December has been fraught with storms and illness. As I’ve become
increasingly run down from bronchitis, holiday preparations are tiresome. To top it
all off, “transgender” has made the list of words banned from official publications at
my workplace. It is difficult to get into the spirit of a Christmas created by a God
who enables His worldly followers to demean trans people.
The snowy weekend of December 9 placed me in a calm, contemplative state. Not
only did I relish being sidelined from the holiday consumer culture, the Snow Herself
felt like a purifying blanket. Snow covered everything and muffled out the din of
over-connectedness to technology. Despite the hardships of a power outage, Snow
made it an early Christmas. Silent Nature hints at a less stressful future for Monica
and I.
Meditation midst the Snow:
December Appalachian hilltop snows
In groaning blankets clothe each tree and stone,
Bright branches ice-melt taps in whispers speak:
“Dear child, give heed to still, small lessons that we teach!”

Daily Devotion – December 17, 2017

John 1:19-22

This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, ‘I am not the Messiah.’ And they asked him, ‘What then? Are you Elijah?’ He said, ‘I am not.’ ‘Are you the prophet?’ He answered, ‘No.’ Then they said to him, ‘Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?’
Reflection by Janet Derby

John seems to be very aware of who he is and what he has been called to do. He could certainly have overstated his role, or convinced himself and others of his importance, but he remained humble. As we await and anticipate the celebration of the gift of God’s presence among us, we would do well to ask ourselves the questions asked here of John. Who are we and what do we have to give to the world?

God With Us,
Help us to humbly recognize the gifts we can share with a world in need. Amen.

Daily Devotion – December 16, 2017

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.

John 1:6-8

Reflection by Matthew Alexander

We are in the season of the year where winter is approaching and darkness continues to take on more of the day.  I don’t believe its coincidence that we celebrate holidays like Hannukah and Christmas at the time of the year we do.  Hannukah is the remembrance of the everlasting light provided by God.  Likewise, we wait for the promised light coming into a dark world during the season of Advent.  We do walk around, drive around experiencing the light filling the buildings of shopping centers and the neighborhoods we visit.  We may have forgotten a lot of what Christmas is about but the light still remains with us.  Just as promised the light has not left us and remains very much a part of who we are.  We still can see that light as we travel through the darkness.  May it give us hope and comfort during this holiday season.


God of Light, Open our eyes so we can see the light in this dark world.  May it remind us that God is with us.  May it remind us that your love for us is eternal and may it gives hope in our moments of deepest need.  Amen.

Daily Devotion – December 15, 2017

1 Thessalonians 5:19-22
Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil.

Reflection by Ellen Green

In the story of Pentecost, the Spirit is described in the language of fire: as tongues of fire, coming down from heaven to alight on each believer. Contemporary Christians talk about being “on fire for Jesus.” These images capture the liveliness and urgency we can feel when we become aware of God’s presence with us and God’s call on our lives. That’s why I love the way this verse is phrased. Do not quench the Spirit! Don’t let that flame go out.

A life of faith certainly includes times of great emotion. The life we’re called to live can be risky and exhilarating and joyful. Of course, there are also times when doubt or grief or anger create a sense of disconnection—and that’s ok, too. I believe that God is with us even when we don’t feel it.

So, what fans the flames of the Spirit for you? When do you feel that fire burning low?


Come, Holy Spirit. Kindle the fires of hope, peace, joy, and love in us this Advent season. Amen.