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God Knows. . . by Abby Bland

An Advent Devotion
The Canticles of Christmas
Week One: Ave Maria

Friday, December 8

Jeremiah 1:4-10

 “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.” (Jeremiah 1:5a)

God has a beyond intimate knowledge of God’s creation. God knows why I’m anxious before I do, God knows the unhealthy habits and tricks I use to cope. God knows the ways those habits affect my relationships and my health. I can be a real mess sometimes.

Yet, God loves me. To prove this, God became a human who died and rose again, though we’re not to that part of the story yet. Advent reminds us to pace ourselves and not jump to the redemption. For me, this year particularly, Advent is a time to reflect on why Jesus had to come in the first place.

I gave my life to Jesus during Advent almost eight years ago. I gave, and continually give, my life to Jesus because of his deep commitment to humanity. When my faith is weak, the only way the gospel retains any power is by retelling the story, and remembering Jesus’ commitment. Jesus died for me because I am worth dying for, but also because I needed someone to die for me. You cannot have one without the other. God knew that humanity couldn’t orchestrate our own redemption, so God came down to point us back to the Way from which we’ve wandered.

Advent renews God’s call. God calls each of us, just like Jeremiah. God tells Jeremiah not to be afraid, for God will rescue him. Notice, God does not promise nothing bad will happen. God promises rescue, and then promptly tells Jeremiah that he is to uproot, destroy, and overthrow. There are systems in our world that need to be overthrown because of their overt oppression of the marginalized. When Gabriel greets Mary many years later, he tells Mary not to be afraid and that Jesus’ kingdom will be established forever. These days, I find myself asking: what kind of kingdom did Jesus come to establish? How can we make the world around us reflect that kind of a kingdom?

by Abby Bland

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The Power of Imitation by Becky Gossett

An Advent Devotion
The Canticles of Christmas
Week One: Ave Maria

Thursday, December 7

1 Thessalonians 1:2-10

You paid careful attention to the way we lived among you, and determined to live that way yourselves. In imitating us, you imitated the Master. Do you know that all over the provinces of both Macedonia and Achaia believers look up to you? The word has gotten around. Your lives are echoing the Master’s Word, not only in the provinces but all over the place. The news of your faith in God is out. We don’t even have to say anything anymore—you’re the message! (1 Thessalonians 1:5, 7-10)

Wow, that was quite a compliment given to the people of Thessalonica! By imitating Paul, Silas, and Timothy who brought the Good News, the Thessalonians imitated the Master. Their reputation was excellent and others could learn about Jesus by watching them. Imitation is a powerful tool.

My friend who teaches fourth grade told me about the way she often wrangled her hair into a bun held by pencils as the day got busy. Over the first few weeks of school, she noticed a few students who began to do the same pencils-in-the-bun thing. This helped her be keenly aware that she was being watched closely and was mindful to use her power carefully. Some parents may remember a time that their young child said something surprising (and slightly inappropriate!), only to be told by the child, after a reprimand, that they learned it from a relative. Oops! Imitation is a tricky thing; it can be used for good, or . . . well, you know.

In the Bible, we have the perfect model in front of us.

During this Advent season, will we consider Mary’s blind obedience and love as worthy of imitation? Will we strive to be more like those shepherds who reverently honored the newborn baby Jesus? Can we look at our Savior’s life, from humble birth in a stable to death on the cross, and think about him as our primary model to imitate? I wonder if we will carry our imitation into Walmart when we are last-minute shopping, and into Price Chopper when the checkout line is way too long.

Who will we imitate this Advent season? Who will imitate us?

by Becky Gossett

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Finding Peace by Brandon Greason

An Advent Devotion
The Canticles of Christmas
Week One: Ave Maria

Wednesday, December 6

Michah 5:1-5a

And he will be their peace. (Micah 5:5a)

One of our favorite movies to watch each year during the Holiday season is “Christmas Vacation” starring Chevy Chase. I’m sure many of you have seen this movie. The protagonist, Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase), becomes obsessed with hosting the perfect, fun, old-fashioned family Christmas with both sides of his family lodging in his house for a few days. 

Needless to say, the perfect Christmas does not happen. From the moment people arrive, a tumultuous, chaotic scene plays out in the days leading up to Christmas. It is not until the evening before Christmas, when the house is a wreck, his boss is kidnapped by a family member, and he doesn’t receive his annual work bonus, that Clark finds his peace amid the chaos. During the holiday season, many of us can relate.

We all long for peace—in our relationships, in our careers, and especially in our world. We see chaos play out before our eyes on a daily basis. Though chaos surrounds them and a siege may be laid against them, Micah tells his people a ruler will rise up for them bringing strength and security.  Micah says “…he shall be the one of peace.”

Where do we find peace? I daily find peace in the smiles and laughter of my two boys. And in the bedtime routine as I watch them peacefully close their eyes and drift off to sleep. But perhaps a more important question, not only in this season but daily, is this:  do we allow ourselves to be used as instruments of God’s peace?

by Brandon Greason

at Wednesday, December 6, 2017 | 0 comments
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