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Serving Without Fear by David Fulk

An Advent Devotion
The Canticles of Christmas
Week Three: The Benedictus

Sunday, December 17

Luke 1:67-80

“…guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1:79)

I love when Don Brown gives the story behind a hymn. The back story for any song makes it more meaningful. This is the case with the Canticle (Song) of Zechariah. The back story is Luke 1:5-25; 57-66. I hope you’ll read it now. It helps us understand why Zechariah’s pronouncement was so unexpected and beautiful.

There’s no question that on the day of John’s naming, Zechariah was overcome. What new father isn’t? I remember vividly the deep emotion I felt when I first saw Davis’s feet, and a moment later, his red hair. Fortunately—and to everyone’s relief in the delivery room—I made no pronouncements!

But after being mute for nine months, Zechariah suddenly speaks, proclaiming God’s redemptive promise and what his son will do to fulfill that promise. Soon everyone in the region knows this boy named John will play a key role in God’s plan to redeem the world.

The canticle says God enables us to “serve him without fear.” Surely John had no fear. Anyone who eats locusts has no fear! And he would need to be fearless to prepare the way of the Lord.

Centuries later, Zechariah’s words allow us to prepare the way for Jesus to come again. I pray we might claim for ourselves and offer to others the words of the canticle this Advent: that salvation and forgiveness are for all God’s people; that we can be light amidst the world’s darkness; and that we allow God to guide us in the way of peace.

In doing so, may we, like John, become strong in spirit so we might serve the Lord without fear.

by David Fulk

 

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What Do You Think? by Sanford Beckett

An Advent Devotion
The Canticles of Christmas
Week Two: The Magnificat

Saturday, December 16

Matthew 21:28-32

“What do you think?” (Matthew 21:28)

Jesus asks, “What do you think?” He then tells the story of a father who asked his two sons to do something. The first son said “No,” but changed his mind and did the task. The second son said “Yes,” but never did the task at all. Neither son, a hero.

Advent can find us caught in “No and yes” or “Yes and no” situations. How do you deal with them? For instance, another Christmas party you don’t have time for? Another donation? One more unrealistic expectation from family? Choosing the right answer can be tough.

Jesus further complicates his conversation with the religious leaders in this passage when he says, tax collectors and prostitutes will enter the kingdom of God ahead of them. Imagine their reaction! May not have been a greater insult!

I wonder sometimes, if all of us aren’t caught up in the same failing Jesus is accusing these religious leaders ofthat is, assuming we have the one true insight into God’s kingdom. Advent, at least for me, offers that trap. It’s like this. Because we know the Christmas story so well, do we ever hear anything new when it is read? We know the songs of Advent because we have sung them our entire lives, but do we hear the words?  Do we take the opportunity to gain new insights into God’s kingdom when we sing a carol?

How will it be for you this Advent? Will you live in the trap of “No is yes,” and “Yes is no?” Will you open your eyes and ears this Advent Season and experience God’s kingdom as if you are experiencing it for the first time?

“What do you think?”

by Sanford Beckett

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Quiet Peace by Laura Rodgers

An Advent Devotion
The Canticles of Christmas
Week Two: The Magnificat

Friday, December 15

Habakkuk 3:2-6

His glory covered the heavens and his praise filled the earth. His splendor was like the sunrise. (Habakkuk 3:3-4)

Living in land-locked Missouri has its advantages, but as I get older, my heart longs more and more for the beach. When I retire, I hope to spend a lot of time there. This past year, I was fortunate to be on the beach twicespring break in Galveston, Texas and a September weekend in Clearwater, Florida.

On the first trip, I so enjoyed our balcony, which was about 100 yards from the water with an unobstructed view of the Gulf. Every morning I took my book, my phone and my coffee outside and spent some time there before the rest of my family crawled out of bed. In the relative quiet, as I watched a hotel employee vacuum and clean the pool area below, I would gaze out over the sand and palm trees to see the waves rolling in. Then the first light would appear as the dark blue sky gave way to shades of light blue, pink, yellow, and bright orange, and the sun’s rays shone outward to reveal the beautiful March day ahead. Quite a difference from the chilly morning we left behind at home, and it was splendid. On the first morning we were there, it took my breath away. On each of the subsequent mornings, the sunrise and the peaceful quiet allowed me to breathe in deeply and enjoy the refreshment that comes from vacation and time away from the daily routine of work, home, school and other responsibilities.

Like the glory of a beautiful sunrise, that quiet peace can be splendid. Life is busy. December is busy. Today marks a halfway point to the month and all its preparation and celebration. For each of us on this Advent journey, I pray for times of quiet peace. May we consciously breathe it in and let it fill our lungs, and indeed our very souls, with calm.

by Laura Rodgers

 

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