Monthly Archives: December 2018

7 posts


SLuke 1:47-55 (NRSV)
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
“Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the mighty one has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
“His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.
“He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
“He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.
“He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his his descendants forever.”

One cannot escape the prophetic vision in the season of Advent. We see it in the selections from the Old Testament, and we encounter it in Mary’s Song of Rejoicing. In this birth, God is intent on changing the priorities of the world:
. . God looks with favor upon the lowly
. . . God scatters the proud in the imaginations of their hearts
. . . . God brings the powerful down from their thrones
. . . . . God sends the rich away empty.

Where do our lives encounter this prophetic vision?
. . Are we lowly servants upon who God looks with favor?
. . . Does our pride sometimes interfere with what God seeks to accomplish through us?
. . . . Do we sometimes let our need for power and control interfere with God’s work?
. . . . . Are we sometimes rich in things and poor in soul?

As the time of the Lord’s coming draws near, let us test and examine our ways and return to the Lord, so that Love may have a place to dwell.

Candle Lighting Liturgy

The Mighty One has done great things! Holy is God’s Name! The Light of the World is coming.

With Mary, our spirits rejoice in God our Savior.

[Here relight the first three candles]

God’s mercy endures from generation to generation for those who are in awe of God.

The proud, the rich, the mighty no longer have power over us.

The lowly are lifted up, and the hungry are satisfied.

We see the light of God shining over the land.

We light a fourth candle in anticipation of the wondrous birth.

[Here light the fourth candle.]

We will open our hearts that Love may have a place to dwell.


  • “My Soul Gives Glory to My God,” Stanza 1, 198, The United Methodist Hymnal
  • “Carol of the Epiphany,” Stanzas 4 & 5, 2094, The Faith We Sing
  • The Source of Hope”


December 16, 2012 by F. Richard Garland 

Philippians 4:4-7 (NRSV)
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.
“Let your gentleness be known to everyone.
“The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God.
“And the Peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Joy is at the heart of the journey through Advent to Christmas: Joy in the knowledge of what God has done throughout the ages, joy in the realization that God is able and that God does change things for the better, joy in the assurance that God can enter into our lives no matter what our situation may be. The Apostle Paul calls us a life of rejoicing:
. . to live a life full of rejoicing and gentleness
. . . to put aside worry in the confidence that the Lord is near
. . . . to lift our requests in prayer, with thanksgiving
. . . . . to trust that the Peace of God will guard our hearts and minds.

Let us then consider the condition of joy in our lives.
. . Do worries sometimes seem larger than our confidence that God is near?
. . . Does the busy-ness of our lives sometime interfere in our life of prayer?
. . . . Does anxiety over the big things of the world ruin the little joys of life?

Advent is a time when we can clean out the inner stables of our lives so that new life can be born, our spirits may be refreshed, and our lives may be renewed in the joy of salvation.

Candle Lighting Liturgy

The Lord your God is in your midst, rejoicing over you with gladness, renewing you in love. I will bring you home and restore your fortunes, says the Lord.

[Here relight the first two Advent candles.]

In this new light, we give thanks to the Lord.

With joy you will draw waters from the wells of salvation.

We will rejoice in the Lord always.

We light a third candle to reveal the pathway to faithfulness.

[Here light the third candle.]

As a covenant people we will seek to live in the joy of the Lord.


  • “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” stanza 2, 211, The United Methodist Hymnal
  • “In The Lord I’ll Be Ever Thankful,”  2195, The Faith We Sing
  • Come with Rejoicing”

Frohe Weihnachten

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

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

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!
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.

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


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.”

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.
“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