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Time to Tune by Heather Lewis

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

Monday, December 18

Psalm 125

“whose hearts are in tune with you.” Psalm 125: 4b

My senior year of high school I was one of three drum majors for our marching band. As drum majors, one of our jobs was to make sure the band was in tune before we marched onto the field for our performance. Each of us had a tuner—a small black box with a white screen and a needle that moved from side to side. We made our way down lines of the nearly 300 band members, stopping in front of each person to place the tuner in front of them. They would play a note and the needle would swing back and forth, stopping in the middle if they were in tune. If it stopped to the right or left of center, it meant they were sharp or flat.

They needed to make an adjustment so they could be in tune.

As I read Psalm 125, the phrase that stuck out to me was, “O Lord, do good to those who are good, whose hearts are in tune with you.” I love the idea of my heart being in tune with God. Many days it is not. On Dec. 18, I will be up to my ears getting ready for Henry’s birthday (Dec. 21) and finishing preparations for Christmas.

An adjustment will be needed for my heart to be in tune with God.

The most effective way I know to do this is a simple prayer from author Brennan Manning: “Father, I belong to you.” During a chapel service in college, he taught us to breathe in as we said the word “Father” and breathe out during the words “I belong to you.” Five simple words that bring my heart back to center every time– in tune and ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

by Heather Lewis

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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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