Love

Advent is the period of time leading up to Christmas each year. It is a time for reflection and meditation as we prepare for Jesus’ arrival. Each Sunday, we light another candle in an advent wreath. The wreath is evergreen and circular, symbolizing the everlasting love of God, and the candle’s symbolizing Jesus’ soon arrival as the light of the world. Today is the second sunday in Advent. Churches lit the candle of love this week. 

December 9, 2012 by F. Richard Garland
 Malachi 3:1-4
“See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. “The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight — indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts.

“But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? “For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fuller’s soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness.

“Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.”

Reflection
Christmas is intended to be a transforming event, not a lovely interlude in business as usual. What we do in Advent in preparation for Christmas will be our means of getting ready for a new way of looking at life — a new way of living.

The Prophet Malachi speaks of a messenger:
. . one who will prepare the way of the Lord
. . . one who reminds us of the covenant of God
. . . . one who refines and purifies us in faithfulness

How then do we prepare to be transformed by the coming of the Lord?
. . by allowing the light of hope to awaken our spirits?
. . . by making room for the Lord to write the covenant on our hearts?
. . . . by living in gratitude for what we receive in the Lord?

If we prepare ourselves by renewing our covenant with God, then we will be truly transformed as Christ comes again into our lives.

Candle Lighting Liturgy

See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, says the Lord of hosts.

[Here relight the first Advent candle.]

The light of hope has awakened our spirits.

A voice cries out in the wilderness, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”

Renew in us your covenant, O God, that we may be ready for the dawn of your salvation.

We light a second candle to bring light to every darkness, and to guide us in the way of peace.

[Here light the second Advent candle.]

With gratitude for your light, O God, we will prepare to welcome a new birth of your love.

Music

  • “Prepare the Way of the Lord,” 207, The United Methodist Hymnal
  • “Sanctuary,” 2164, The Faith We Sing
  • When Prophets Come


Frohe Weihnachten

Wednesday
Charlie Warren
Luke 1:32-33
With Christmas coming up fast, I figured it’s never too early to remember not just the birth of Jesus, but the prophecy of his birth. This is a part of the conversation between the angel Gabriel and Mary. I think remembering of this passage is important because our exposure to the Christmas story has trivialized the incomprehensible nature of God sending himself to live with us. It’s important to not to forget that we have a God that cares for us so much that he desires for us to have an intimate relationship. My favorite part of this verse is the end. There truly is no end to the Kingdom of God, and because of this everything in this world is of Him. So this Christmas season, remember that God not only is among us, but that we are of Him. That stranger on the street, your one friend that always gets on your nerves, and yourself. So treat others how God treats us; with love. 


God, help us remember that we are all children of God, and that You want us to treat each other with the respect Your creation deserves. Amen

Joyeux Noel

Tuesday
Will Harper
1 Corinthians 16:13-14
As we approach this season of Christmas, we are reminded now more than ever, to love our neighbors, and as Christians, we are called to serve others with our whole heart, to spread faith, hope, and love. If your family is anything like mine, when you walk in the door back home, you are slapped in the face with the words faith, hope, and love, on every Christmas decoration in every square inch of the house, and if you’re anything like me, you see that as the new normal and start to ignore it like regular house decorations. However, this year I’ve been trying to think of something about faith, hope, love, etc. whenever I see it slapped on some piece of decoration instead of ignoring it, which has been leading me to be more excited about this Christmas season than I have been in years past. So during this season I encourage you to take a minute and think about whatever those cheesy decorations or posts have written on them, let them help remind you that this is the season to go to others with open hearts and show the world what we believe in as Christians.
 
God, I pray that during this time we are able to take in all that is around us, and that we may see opportunities to help those near us, help us to guide ourselves and others to You so that we may be able to spread that word that You are God. Thank you, Amen.

Buon Natale

Monday
Ruth Hallstead
Matthew 5:14-16
Jesus’ birth was marked by a star. Its incredible light led the wise men to visit him, and when they found him “they were overjoyed”! While we may not be able to follow a star to find Baby Jesus, he is in our hearts. So we should be overjoyed as well! And that star? Its light is still around. We are called to show that light to others, to lead them to Jesus, or at the very least show them His love. Especially in this season of cold, short days and hectic busyness, we can be a light to those around us. Whether we bring that light through a smile, a hug, holding a door open, or simply taking a moment to enjoy the moment we’re in, we have the power to bring the joy of Jesus’ birth this season. He was a light in the darkness, all those years ago. Now it is our turn. Take the light within, and shine it brightly. Don’t hide it under a bushel. And certainly don’t let anyone blow it out!
 
Lord,
You bring light to the darkness. We are overjoyed to be able to be in Your presence, especially in this season of joy and stress, of bright lights, and sometimes darkness. Allow us to spread Your joy and light to those who need it this Christmas. Help us to keep Your light bright, no matter what.
Amen

P.S. Sorry if This Little Light of Mine is stuck in your head now

Hope

This advent, we’ll be sending out United Methodist readings every Sunday. In churches throughout advent, one candle is lit each week to symbolize preparing for Jesus. Advent is a wonderful time of reflection and preparing, it can be similar to Lent in that way. This is a time of anxious anticipation and excitement that can be very life-giving. Use these readings to prepare yourself for Jesus’ arrival!


Advent Wreath Meditations: Year C, Advent 1 (Candle of Hope)
Originally published December 2, 2012
by F. Richard Garland


Jeremiah 33:14-16
“The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah.
“In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.
“In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety.
“And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.”

Reflection
The Season of Advent is an invitation to meditate on the promises of God. Here is what the prophet Jeremiah sees:
. . . a righteous leader will spring up
. . . one who will carry out justice and righteousness
. . . one who brings salvation and safety for the people

How then do we live as those who believe that the promises of God will be fulfilled?
. . . as those who lift up their souls to God?
. . . as those who walk a path of love and faithfulness?
. . . as those who work for justice and righteousness?
. . . as those who live in the light of hope?

If we are alert to the promise of the Lord and live in the light of hope, we will be truly blessed as Christ comes again into our lives.

Candle Lighting Liturgy (this is read as the candle is being lit)
The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promises I have made.
To you, O Lord, we lift up our souls: In you, O God, we trust.
The one who is coming will show us the path of steadfast love and faithfulness.
Teach us your ways, O God of our salvation. We light this candle in the sure hope that God??s promises endure.
[Here light the first Advent candle]
We will live in the light of hope as we await the coming of the Lord.
 
Music
“Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus,” Stanza 1, 196, The United Methodist Hymnal
“Song of Hope,” 2186, The Faith We Sing
The Promise of the Lord by F. Richard Garland

(From https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/2012-advent-wreath-meditations-advent-1-garland)

Feliz Navidad

Friday
David Conour
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
Christmas time is here, and it’s easy to get caught up in all of the insanity of the holiday season. Everything moves so fast. We have exams, final projects, graduations (for some), plus trying to spend time with your friends before we all leave for Christmas break. It can get pretty hectic, and it can be easy to let the time with friends fall by the wayside in lieu of all of the schoolwork that comes with the end of a semester. After all, there will be plenty of time to hang out after everything is done right? Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. A lot of people leave as soon as they’re done with exams, sometimes people are graduating, and other times you just forget to reach out to people before break starts. As we enter these final weeks, I encourage you to keep the relationships that you’ve formed and developed over this semester on your mind, and make sure to let those people know what they mean to you.
 
Father God,
Thank You for the many friends that You’ve put in my life. Thank You for the time that I’ve had with them. Help me make sure I let them know how much they mean to me as this semester comes to a close.
In Your Son’s holy name I pray,
Amen.