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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


Feliz Navidad

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,

Merry Christmas

Hannah Alford
Luke 2:13-14
The Christmas season is not just the presents, Christmas trees, or Santa; it’s a time for us to remember all God’s glory that he brought to the world when Jesus was born. It is a reminder of how something so small, has the potential for great and wonderful things. So take time out of this Christmas season, and think about all the blessings you have and really try to see God’s glory around you every day. How have your friends supported you over this past semester? How have your teachers helped you grow? Where do you find an abundance of love and acceptance? God’s glory may not be as obvious as a host of angels singing praise in blinding light (although that would awesome if it was) but it’s there and sometimes it just takes a few minutes out of your day in quiet prayer and meditation to begin to see it or even just taking a brisk walk can help! This is truly the most wonderful time of the year so breathe in the cold air and appreciate it!
Hey God,
Thank you so much for this beautiful campus that we go to. Thank you for our relationships that you help foster and thank you for the impact you’ve made in our lives. Help us to see your glory through our everyday life and to not get wrapped up in the stress of Christmas season. In Your precious and holy name, I pray,

Da Vinci was born on a Thursday (Told you it wasn’t much they had in common 🙂

Fully Known

1 Corinthians 13:12

Fully known. How many people fully know you? You can probably count them on one hand. How powerful is it to be around someone who knows all of you and still loves all of you? If you’ve never experienced that, let me tell you, it is incredible. They call you out when you’re being dumb, and they’re not afraid to be completely truthful with you. God knows all of us. He knows our flaws, our fears, the things that keep us awake at night. Where we struggle and where we shine. And He will never forsake us. He loves all of us. The darkest and brightest, the things everybody knows, and the stuff few have ever seen. And He never gives us up. Is there stuff you try to fix up, to clean up, to work on alone? Stop trying to hide from God. He knows it all already, and wants to take it away from you. He wants to carry your burdens for you, in fact He already is. So stop trying to hold on. Let go. Give it to Him, and go run into His glory and grace.

Go give Known by Tauren Wells a listen to add to your devotional time

You know me. Yet You still love me. Help me to stop trying to avoid telling you things and asking for help. You already know what is going on in my head and my heart. Give me the strength to let go and lean into You always and forever.

The Peace that Passes Understanding

Philippians 4:4-7

This verse is really powerful for me, especially the last part about the peace that transcends understanding. God’s peace is too much for us. We cannot possibly understand the depth of His grace, love and the peace He gives us. How amazing is that? Definitely something to rejoice about! God wants to take our fears, our worries and our requests away from us and leave us with peace. Let Him. As life starts to speed up with finals and Christmas on the horizon, look to this verse to step back. Use it as a meditation, taking one verse at a time and really leaning into what that means for you. Keep it in the back of your mind throughout the day, and use it to guide your prayers today.

You are greater than I can even understand. Today, guide my thoughts as I take a deep breath and step back so I can step into Your love. Help me give You my pain, my stress, my worries, everything Lord. Allow me to rejoice in Your peace and power.

Christ at the Center

Colossians 3:12-17

As you’re preparing to either be really excited or incredibly stressed between 2:30 and 6:30 today, take a moment to center yourself this morning. Spend some time looking over these verses. Think about your thoughts and actions. Do people know you’re a Christian by your actions? Does the love of God show through you? Is everything you do done with Christ at the center? Think and pray over this and open your heart to hear what God is leading you towards.

Check out Jesus at the Center by Israel and the New Breed for some background music to your devotional time

Dwell in me. Let my actions lead others to you. Help me to have gratitude in my heart. Be with me this day and always as I seek to put you at the center of it all.