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Page 5 of 49

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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Praise the Lord in Heaven and Earth by Shirley Pitman

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

Tuesday, December 26

Psalm 148

“Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heavens above.” (Psalm 148:1)

The psalmist exclaims, “Praise the Lord,” and calls on all in the heavens to join him. Praise also echoes from the earth, building to a crescendo as one by one all of Creation joins in the shouts of praise.

As I read through today’s passage, I was reminded of how fortunate I am to live in such an extraordinary world.

In late September, my husband and I took a trip out to Colorado to visit relatives and friends. We drove over the magnificent peaks of Vail Pass and Monarch Pass. We watched three mountain goats climb straight up the sheer ledges. We spotted bald eagles flying over the Colorado River. We took many pictures of the beautiful golden aspen trees and the snow-topped mountain peaks. It was a wonderful experience!

No matter where we have lived or visited during our 48 years of marriage, we have seen our Heavenly Father’s wondrous creations. We must never forget to praise Him for what He has provided for us.

During the Advent season, we are more aware of God’s greatest gift. “For God so love the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

What a loving Heavenly Father. Praise the Lord!

Shirley Pitman

at Tuesday, December 26, 2017 | 0 comments
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The Blessed Hope by Caroll Moore Makemson

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

Christmas Day
Monday, December 25

Titus 2:11-14

For the grace of God has appeared bringing salvation to all … we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. (Titus 2:11) 

“Christmas baby, Christmas baby,” quietly sings the grandmother as the gangly adolescent boy rolls his eyes pretending not to hear. Soon he gives way and joins in the silly routine of being rocked on her lap like an oversized baby! The memories of him being placed in her arms on a crisp December morning flood the grandmother’s mind. On that day in Advent, he was born perfect in every way. Yes, she counted his toes and fingers. He brought great joy to his people. Four anxious grandparents hovered close celebrating the news and emailing the world. This family had great hope for his future. He was a miracle of love come from God especially for this family.

The birth of a baby during Advent reverberates straight to the manger and the first Christmas. No, the grandparents weren’t hovering at the manger, the general population received the news from singing angels not email, and maybe even the parents weren’t sure what was ahead for their son. But, this baby, Jesus, was perfect, designed by God, and destined to change the world, a miracle of love come for God’s earthly family.

In the Epistle, Titus describes this holy Christmas baby, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all … we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:11, NRSV). We still hope and wait!

As baby Jesus graces our nativity sets today, the Christian world sings, bakes, dines, and unwraps, because “love was born at Christmas.”* We all have a Christmas baby to celebrate not just in the village of Bethlehem so many years ago, but wherever we may be today and for all of our tomorrows. For us, every day is Christmas as the gifts of grace and hope redeem and guide us. Thanks be to God on this Christmas Day!

Carroll Moore Makemson

 

*Rossetti, “Love Came Down at Christmas”

at Monday, December 25, 2017 | 0 comments
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