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Church Clothes by Carrie Bartlow

An Advent Devotion
The Canticles of Christmas
Week Four: Gloria in Excelsis Deo

Friday, December 29

Isaiah 61:10

“…For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness…" (Isaiah 61:10b)

I was eight. 

I’d spent the night at a friend’s house, knowing I’d be attending her family’s church the next morning. After getting ready, I emerged from the bathroom wearing a dress and sandals.  She sat playing Nintendo in jeans and a t-shirt. 

“Aren’t you going to get dressed for church?” I asked. 

“Already did,” she said, her eyes fixed on Tetris. 

“Your parents let you wear that to church?”

“Yeah. They say it doesn’t matter what you wear. It just matters that you’re there.”

I don’t know why I’ve remembered that conversation after all these years, because most days I can’t remember to grab my lunch on the way out the door!

Sunday mornings at our house usually involve a struggle with kids about wearing church appropriate attire.  As the discussion escalates, there’s often a voice in the back of my mind whispering “It doesn’t matter what you wear. It just matters that you’re there.”

Sundays would be easier if, instead of fighting the athletic shorts and flip-flops, I could open each of our closets to find garments and robes designed with us in mind. And, what if these pieces covered us with grace, forgave us of sin, and helped us do as Jesus would do? 

Maybe that’s exactly what I find as I select our clothes each Sunday morning. They’re not robes, but each piece represents a fresh start. A new day. Another chance to forgive and be forgiven. An opportunity to “show up” for a God we love.

What if instead of worrying about the way we look, we worry more about the way we act?  What if instead of tearing others down, we consider the ways He has built us back up, time and time again, extending grace and forgiveness, despite the sin that is hidden under each robe? 

I hope we might find that all that matters is that we’re there.

Carrie Bartlow

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Battle Buddies by Drew Kingery

An Advent Devotion
The Canticles of Christmas
Week Four: Gloria in Excelsis Deo

Thursday, December 28

John 1:1-18

We have all had that one person who always had our back, always stuck with us through thick and thin. A friend of mine calls people like this, battle buddies. I think that is very applicable. These friends are our confidants, encouragers and co-conspirators. Some of these friends are with us for a season or two and some are part of our lives to this day. In high school my battle buddy was Rick. We were thick as thieves as the saying goes.

Rick and I were in all our sports and activities together. During basketball season we would go to Clem’s café in Kearney and have dinner, then go to my house and play ping pong or pool until time to catch the bus to wherever we had to go play that night. We are still friends to this day. We coached fast pitch softball together for years and have gone on golf trips together. I’m sure you get the picture.

In the first verses of today’s scripture passage, John talks about the Word being with God in the beginning. I like to think this is saying that Jesus was at the start and has always been with us through all we go through our whole lives. He is not with us for a season or two but for all seasons.

In verses 9 and 10, John talks of Jesus being the light that the darkness cannot apprehend. By accepting Him, He calls us children of God, and we receive His grace. The light of Jesus guides us and shows us the path we should follow. The path is not always easy but with Him we can do all things.

In verse 14, John says the Word became flesh. Jesus came to live among us. He teaches us how to treat our fellow humans. His coming gives us grace and salvation. As we go through this Advent season, let us give praise for the Word becoming flesh and living among us. Let us give praise for the light and grace that Jesus brings into our lives.

Drew Kingery

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Standing on the Edge by Eric Zahnd

An Advent Devotion
The Canticles of Christmas
Week Four: Gloria in Excelsis Deo

Wednesday, December 27

Galatians 4:4-7

“Now that we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts. . . .You are no longer slaves. You are God’s children, and you will be given what he has promised.” Galatians 4:6-7

“I promise you’ll love it.”

“No!  I don’t want to do it!” replied a genuinely terrified 10-year-old Benjamin Zahnd.

“Just try it with me,” I said, doing my best to reassure my child. “I promise nothing bad will happen. We’ll have a great time.”

I could actually relate to his fear as we stood at the edge of a platform, high above the treetops, more than 200 feet above the ground. I had never been on a zip line myself, though it really did seem like others were having a good time.

The parents and children in front of us each took their turn, strapping themselves into harnesses in tandem, hooking into the line above, and then leaping off the edge for an exhilarating ride through the trees of a Mexican forest, finally landing at the other side.

After several minutes calming and encouraging my son, he finally worked up the courage to pull on the harness.

“You promise it will be okay?” he asked.

“I promise,” I responded. “I’m your dad, and I only want what’s good for you.”

As much as I wanted what was good for my son that day in a sweltering jungle, I know the all-loving and all-powerful God wants what is good for us even more. As today’s passage from Galatians reaffirms, God sent us his son Jesus so that we could be free—free from our fears, our doubts, our sins, and our shortcomings.

We are God’s children, Paul writes, and God wants to give us everything he has promised.  Sometimes, though, it takes courage to accept those promises:  We must be willing to leap into the unknown, confronting the fears of an uncertain world by accepting the certainty of God’s love for us.

So we leapt into the sky, father and son together. Just as I promised, he loved it. And I hope he knew I loved him, just as our God loves us and yearns to fulfill every good thing he has promised.

Eric Zahnd

at Wednesday, December 27, 2017 | 0 comments
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