Ruth Hallstead

79 posts

Peace

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.”

Reflection
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.

Music

  • “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”

Joy


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.”

Reflection
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.

Music

  • “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”

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