December 25, 2018

John 1:1-14

Longing for the Christ

The Holy Spirit inspires wise teachers who tell us to be comforted by our yearning to feel the presence of God, for this yearning is truly our Creator yearning for us, individually and as a human race. As John writes, the yearning of our Creator for union with man and with all of his creation is birthed in the light of Jesus. In him was life, and that light was the life of men. v. 4.

This year during my meditations and private worship, more than in any year of my life that I can recall, I have had a near constant yearning and longing to see, feel, and touch the Creator. These soul desires most often feel like a beautiful passion which provides comfort and joy.

But sometimes the yearning feels more like an ache, especially now in what feels like the most troubling times of my life, living in a broken and violent world with dark words, dark fears, and dark acts of sin. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. v. 5.

If those who actually experienced the intense light in Jesus’ eyes beckoning them did not recognize the truth and power of the divine indwelling in human hearts to transform ourselves and the world, what hope do we have more than two thousand years later? I find hope knowing that for those first disciples who listened and said “yes” to the light in Christ, the entire outcome was not yet known. Both crucifixion and resurrection lay ahead. What caused them to say yes that we can recapture now? The raw power of that recognition moment is our light path out of our current darkness.

We must ground truth our knowing the outcome with the raw power of the awakening light within us. Through contemplative prayer and quiet seeking we must meet Jesus in the moment, in the mutual recognition of hearts if we hope to transform ourselves and our dark world.

This one thing that I desire - just to see the beauty of your face (a paraphrase of Psalm 27:4)

- Debra Cannon


December 24, 2018

LUKE 1:46-55

Mary rejoiced. Upon greeting her cousin Elizabeth, and greeting the miracle of new life, Mary rejoiced.

And in her rejoicing, an outward and audible praising, we are reminded of the very most basic tenets of human civility and our call as Christians.

Be reverent: Luke’s account uses the word “fear” which for me internally translates as reverence. We revere the God that can strike fear in creation through natural calamity but also awes us with an exploding and endless natural world of resource and abundance.

Be not prideful: Being “proud” and “prideful” are different only semantically — we should be inwardly proud of our accomplishments, our possibilities and those things we “achieve” through God’s guidance. But we must stop short at “proud’s” evil stepsister, “pridefulness” – for therein lies a sense of arrogance and superiority.

Be humble: Humility is hard, because a part of it is an unwillingness to acknowledge goodness for outward gain or accolade. The humble among us don’t know they’re humble unless someone dare speaks it aloud. But the heart of a humble person beats only to serve others with no expectation of personal gain.

Be hungry: “Hunger” is a both literal and figurative necessity. Our hunger helps our brain to guide the hand to truly nourish the body to fuel it to do good works. And so too, our communion with God and others teaches us to listen to our soul’s hunger to be fed by the spirit, and in feeding our own yearning, may we learn to hear and see other’s needs and humbly offer ourselves as servants.

Be faithful: But none of the above “rules to live by” happen without faith. The faith that by adhering to the simplest of these elements of Mary’s rejoicing song, we are doing the will of God. Faith is hard, but if we reverently and humbly bow before God and at the feet of others, our corporal and soulful hunger will be sated through God’s grace.

Something to sing about indeed.

- Stephen Moseley (2013)

December 23, 2018

Luke 1:39-45

Now at this time Mary arose and went in a hurry to the hill country, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. And she cried out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! “And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? “For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.”

Recently, I took the seminary students I am teaching to visit Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church. We had attended a Shabbat service the month before, and I wanted to expose them to the beauty of the Greek Orthodox tradition in my continuing attempt to broaden their experience with other faith traditions. A friend who attends there gave us the tour and was sharing the beliefs specific to their tradition—one being their perspective of the Virgin Mary. He referred to this text and told us that they do not worship Mary, but “venerate” her. In other words, they show her great honor as the Theotokos, the bearer of Christ. They believe that the Virgin Mary is an image of the Christian goal of becoming Christ-like, of theosis. One Greek Orthodox site states, “Just as the Theotokos gave birth to Christ in a bodily way, so we must, St. Maximos the Confessor teaches, give birth to Christ in a spiritual way. In so doing, we imitate her practical spiritual life, including the purity and humility by which she formed her free will into perfect obedience to the Will of God.

This is a beautiful perspective of Mary. She was indeed a special person to be chosen by God for such a role. As we approach these final days before Christmas, may we approach the celebration of the physical birth of Christ with this role in mind. May we seek to give birth to Christ in a spiritual way, with purity and humility, as we seek to be his love in the lives of those we encounter. Our nation and our world are in dire need of this love.

Peace and Grace to you.

- Jackie L. Halstead


December 22, 2018

Luke 1: 26-38

“Hail, Mary, full of grace. Our Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.”

Mary wakes from sleep to angel brilliance. In an instant she knows, and she accepts the holy life within her. The air is sweet and cool with the freshness of new beginnings. This unique life will be revered.

Tears of gratitude stream down her face as she ponders the awesome wonder of living and loving for humankind’s sake.

We remember the history. The Holy One knows the whole world of humankind and sees how the earth is ravaged, making life terrible for one another and turning many into ruins. Out of God’s infinite and eternal love, the Father sends the Son to enter all this, to save it. And then sends the announcement to Mary.

We look at all the people on the earth – races and ethnic groups; some at desks and some at wars; they laugh, play, weep, struggle; they are infants, grown, dying. God watches and feels.

We listen to the riot of sounds – music and machines; friendly chatter and angry shouting; computers and hand grenades; mobs and riots. God listens and thinks.

We move into the frantic activities of earth – speeding, constructing, fighting, playing, imploding. God works, laboring among humankind initiating hope with the promise of his Child.

God hopes in us as we remember, look and listen to our world. May God also open us to the blessings of new life promised first to Mary.

- Julia Keith


December 21, 2018

Micah 5:2-5

Today in Sunday school we talked about Micah being a prophet who foretold the birth of Jesus. We also talked about how it was amazing it was that 700 years before Jesus was born Micah predicted what would happen and where. I really like this part where he says “he will surely become great throughout the earth; he will become one of peace.” Micah’s words are needed today as much as they were needed in his time and the times of Jesus.

-Roman Dixon

Other fun facts from of our class discussion:

  • Micah was born in Judah; we have a Judah in our class.

  • Micah = “Who is like the Lord”

  • Micah is also a famous musician at Vine Street

  • All the kids in class know someone named Micah outside of church

  • The Book of Matthew references Micah’s prophesy

  • Jesus came to guide us like a shepherd guides his sheep

Questions that arose:

  • Why was Micah chosen by God to be a prophet?

  • How did he receive this knowledge from God?

  • Why was Micah labeled as a minor prophet rather than a major prophet?

- 4th - 6th grade Sunday School Class


December 20, 2018

Luke 3: 7-1

7 John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves,”We have Abraham as our ancestor”, for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 9 Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” 10 And the crowds asked him, “What then should we do?” 11 In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” 12 Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, “Teacher, what should we do?” 13 He said to them, “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.” Soldiers also asked him,”And we, what should we do?” He said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.” 15 As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah. 16 John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

Intuiting a coming, cosmic change, John spoke in the traditional Hebrew prophetic voice, to warn common folk of what he understood as God’s coming: a fiery judgment for their sin. And what is sin but willful separation from God. John offered baptism to folks to repent of their sin, exhorting even the resented tax-collectors and distrusted soldiers, to give up their unjust acts, and to strive for a righteous daily life.

In a sense, John’s ministry was a bridge, helping us to cross from the ancient Hebrew understanding of God’s relationship to us, to an incredible new understanding that Jesus was bringing to the world. John was certainly preparing the way for God’s new kingdom to come, but not a coming that any at that time could possibly imagine. In truth, it’s taken humanity two thousand years to grow into even partial understanding of this remarkable, holy gift that God has given us: God’s Self, through Jesus Christ, God with us.

- Marjorie Taggart

December 19, 2018

Isaiah 61:10-11

One thing that stood out to me in this passage was the unconditional belief that God has a plan for each and every one of us. Even through seemingly-perpetual struggling, through all of the ups and downs, God will always be looking out for his people. Perhaps nothing symbolized this more than the metaphor of the bride with her jewels. When we picture someone on their wedding, usually they are enjoying one of the best days of their life; God's love can also create a similar feeling when we put our faith in his ability to guide us through life.

Another metaphor that I liked was that of plants springing up in a garden, which I at first thought of as God's people - the plants - springing up on the earth - God's garden. Yet upon further looking, I also found that this could be applied on a smaller scale as different aspects of a person shooting up to express themselves. Maybe these could be doing a good deed, giving time to charity, or simply going to church on Sunday. It would be foolish to think that we act in God's ways 100% of the time, and God is able to forgive us every time. This only makes performing those good deeds so much more rewarding, so I challenge myself and all who may read this to try and do a good deed and make God happy during this holiday season.

- Dominic Miller


December 18, 2018

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

Finding Peace Among the Hectic

The holidays can be so hectic! To-do lists are jotted on our iPhones or scraps of paper. We delight in deleting items or crossing them off. Can we get these tasks accomplished? Will we make it in time? In a cursory look at I Thessalonians 5:16-24, we see another to-do list, and we notice some holiday words like joyful, thankful, and peace.

Ugh, another to-do list? Always be joyful? Never stop praying? Be thankful in all...? How can I do these things? These are impossible, aren’t they? We can do these things, but not on our own! The answer is in the last two verses of the section, “Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and make your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful” (NLT). Thanks be to a faithful God, we can...

Be joyful!

Pray regularly.

Keep the fire of the Holy Spirit burning brightly.

Listen to God’s Word.

Don’t believe everything I hear, but do believe in God’s Words.

Recognize and flee evil.

Hold on to the good.

Paul’s benediction tells us that the God of peace, the Holy Spirit within us, helps us complete this list of tasks. Our faithful God gives us the power to accomplish these. Happy holidays indeed!

-Deb Holloway

December 17, 2018

Zephaniah 3:14-20

To see our Lord as a “mighty warrior.” It seems very...old testament, very old, very antiquated, somewhat distant from how we relate to the Lord in our daily twenty-first century lives.

A MIGHTY warrior. It brings out images of brute strength, of war, of swords and shields, of armour and cavalry. 

When reading or watching the atrocities being committed overseas by terrorists in Nairobi or Syria, it is not hard to imagine a righteous and mighty warrior setting things right with the wave of a sword. It appeals to that part of me that craves instant justice but not the part of me that understands that everlasting justice did not come to Earth as a sword but as Jesus. A man who when confronted with the sword chose peace, a man who met death and conquered it. A mighty warrior whose weapon was compassion, whose armour was understanding. 

This passage implores Israel, and by proxy all of us, to sing and rejoice because the battle has already been fought for us and won. That can be difficult sometimes when we continue to battle one another and we know there’s so much work left to do. But I count it as a great blessing to know that our faith will be rewarded with a victory of a peace. 

- Doug Branson(2013)

December 16, 2018

Luke 1:68-79

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a mighty savior for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us. Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors, and has remembered his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham, to grant us that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins. By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

December 15, 2018

Isiah 61:1-4

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to provide for those who mourn in Zion— to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory. They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.

December 14, 2018

Luke 3:1-6

In this passage we meet John the Baptist, described as coming at the perfectly appointed time in history to ready the world for the birth of Christ. John the Baptist is an outsider, one who comes from “the wilderness” to travel “into all the country around Jordan,” preaching and baptizing, preparing the way for the Messiah. So the figure of John himself is an unconventional, slightly otherworldly one, made even stranger by his having been the subject of prophesy many years before. From Isaiah:

A voice of one calling in the wilderness,‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low.The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth.And all people will see God’s salvation.’”

The passage includes what we might call history-we are told the specific year of Caesar’s reign, including fairly detailed information about the political milieu-but the heart of the reading is really mystery: the mystery of the wilderness figure of John the Baptist, the echoes of ancient prophesy portending him, the strangeness of his message. We are reminded of the mystery not only of Christmas, but of Christ himself. Christmas reminds us of the center of our lives as people of faith, and the beauty in its mystery.

- Linda Crenshaw

December 13, 2018

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 fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine 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.

December 12, 2018

1 Thessalonians 3:12-13

“May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.” (NIV)

You can feel it in the air. Sometime after the madness of Black Friday and the beginning of Christian radio playing Christmas songs 24/7 something changes. It’s there in the smiles of random strangers. The politeness displayed in the checkout line. A lighter mood seems to permeate work and neighborhoods and lives. Hard to put your finger on exactly. But something is different at least for a few weeks leading up to that day.

What’s in the air? In a word: love. When Jesus first entered our world as one of us, he puts a face to love. God’s love. His love. Our world was permeated to its core. Much of the time it is obscured and fleeting. But around this time of year, it seems to surface through tangible acts of kindness and giving. And for the briefest of times, we catch a glimpse of what could be.

- Randy Halstead


December 11, 2018

Jeremiah 33:14-16


A New Day Is Coming


“I will fulfill the good promise I made.”

Pestilence. Famine. Invasion. Death in the streets. Jeremiah first made these dire proclamations. Then in today’s text, he announces a stunning reversal: Israel and Judah can expect redemption, a restoration of the throne and priesthood.

How can this be? Jeremiah lies in prison at the hands his own king, Zedekiah. The Babylonians prepare to lay siege to Jerusalem. Nebuchadnezzar’s armies advance. The city is doomed. Exile awaits.

The Davidic line never returns to power and the priesthood of Levi fizzles out with the Sadducees following the year 70.

As for us, the inexcusable and tragic extremes of our own day bring death, destruction, and unimaginable suffering to millions calling for healing that only God can provide.

Jeremiah’s words offer consolation and hope while Advent faith allows us to realize the coming of a righteous Branch—in a lowly Nazarene.

May we trust in God who fulfills every good promise, anticipating a world where right relationships and just societies exist everywhere.

PRAYER:

Hope of Israel, Messiah Jesus, restore justice in all lands.


- John Shuler


December 10, 2018

Luke 21:25-36

“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world . . .”

These words could be a warning about the events of today. Look at what is happening in our world:

Hurricanes roar across the land, taking lives and leaving little where vibrant communities once flourished.

Refugees roam the world, seeking a better life and a safe place for their children to call home.

Bombs are being sent through the mail, raising fears and a sense of hopelessness.

Some powerful people will apparently say anything to get more power.

Add these terrible things to the mundane realities of poverty, sickness, the loss of loved ones . . .

It would be so easy to despair in times like these, pour another drink and drown our sorrows.

But we will not fall into that trap, because we believe that God’s reign is at hand, so close that we can reach out and grasp it, like when we reach out and hold our neighbors’ hands on Sunday morning and proclaim that “Christ is Lord, indeed!”

We have seen the leaves on the fig tree. We will soon taste the sweetness of the fruit.

Get ready. Christ is coming!


Gracious God,

Give us faith to get us through these troubled times. Give us courage and hearts like Jesus to love you and to love our neighbors. Thank you for your steadfast goodness and abiding love. Amen.

- Rachel Eva Dixon



December 9, 2018

2 Peter 3:8-15a

Wait patiently.

Be at peace.

Those seem to be the two main messages Peter has for us in this passage.

Wait patiently.

Be at peace.

Whether we are awaiting Christ’s birth or his second coming, Peter encourages us to wait patiently and peacefully.

For me, this isn’t an issue. I’m pretty good at waiting. In fact, every time I stand at the intersection between my house and EIO and the Hive, my job is to help other people be patient.

The pedestrian light at that intersection takes an eternity to turn green. I know this because I often walk to the restaurant for brunch on the weekend and I’ve stood at that intersection with many people. And the person I’m with inevitably complains about how long it takes for the light to change.

Fortunately I’m pretty good at waiting. So I know the key is to distract yourself. A watched pot never boils. A watched pedestrian light never turns green. You have to distract yourself.

My favorite distraction is the pitiful, abandoned tire repair shop across from the restaurant. It is the antithesis of EIO and the Hive in so many ways. While the restaurant is new and hip and has an angel mural painted on the outside wall that attracts tourist Instagrammers, the building that was once West Nashville Tire Repair is empty and tired. The door is water-warped and crooked. Broken shards of glass growl through the window frames like jagged teeth. The building looks like it’s been exhaling a tired and angry sigh for the last thirty years.

The crimson red paint on the dead tire store is scabbing off, revealing rotted grey wood underneath. The parking lot is cordoned off with plastic tape. A haphazard maze of cracks and dry weeds criss-crosses the surface.

The worst part is the chair that’s propped next to the door. It’s wooden and has thick padding on the seat and the back. Just enough to make you wonder what communicable diseases might be lurking in its foam. It used to be in the library, at the computer desk that provided the public with access to the world wide web.

Then the library got a furniture upgrade and the chair was downgraded to the parking lot, then to a phone booth, then to the bus stop.

At last, its tragic death march down the block ended when it collapsed next to the door in front of the tire store.

And there it has been, ever since.

You can’t just distract yourself just by loathing the decrepit tire store. The key to making time pass more quickly is imagining how the building is going to look five or ten years from now.

That’s when time starts to fly.

“I’m not sure if I want the next owner to tear the building down, or just renovate it,” I told my friend Alex last Saturday. “Either way, there’s just nowhere to go but up with this building.”

Before it was a tire store it was the Oakley Lumber Yard, a successful timber business that supplied the wood for all the houses in Sylvan Park. My mind leans toward renovating the building as I imagine timbers from decades gone by rising up from the ground and squaring off at right angles to form new walls and a roof for the tire store.

“I want them to rip up the asphalt and repave the parking lot,” I continued.

“And that chair… Oh my god, that chair. There’s no reason that chair couldn’t be thrown away right now. I mean, I don’t think anyone has sat in it for years. I’ve definitely never seen anyone in it and I drive by here at least twice every day. Honestly it looks like I could give it a couple of good kicks and it would fall apart. We could throw it in the dumpster!”

Then a true inspiration hits me. “Alex. We could set it on fire! That wood is so dry, you probably wouldn’t even need lighter fluid. I bet that padding would flame up right away and the whole thing would be an inferno in a matter of seconds! We could pull it away from the building. You don’t think those weeds would catch fire, do you? It’s safe. Right?”

Alex looked at me. She leaned back so slightly that it was barely noticeable. “I think,” she said as she pointed away, far away from us, “I think you could just drag the chair around to the back of the building if you really couldn’t stand to look at it anymore. That way it’s not visible anymore AND you haven’t broken any laws!”

She was right on both counts, and yet dragging the chair around to the back of the building didn’t seem nearly as satisfying. In light of my arsonist fantasies, even kicking the chair to pieces felt unfulfilling.

I needed to set that thing on fire.

“Oh look, the light’s green!” Alex exclaimed. She tugged at my arm to get me to cross the street towards brunch.

I looked longingly over my shoulder at the brittle padded library chair.

I could practically smell the smoke from the fire I had almost set.

I am pretty good at waiting.

However Peter’s words aren’t wasted on me.

The peaceful part clearly eludes me.

- Melanie Gao


December 8, 2018

Isaiah 40:1-11

God’s People Are Comforted

40 Comfort, O comfort my people,
    says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
    and cry to her
that she has served her term,
    that her penalty is paid,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
    double for all her sins.

A voice cries out:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
    make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
    and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
    and the rough places a plain.
Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
    and all people shall see it together,
    for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

A voice says, “Cry out!”
    And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All people are grass,
    their constancy is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
    when the breath of the Lord blows upon it;
    surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades;
    but the word of our God will stand forever.
Get you up to a high mountain,
    O Zion, herald of good tidings;[a]
lift up your voice with strength,
    O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings,[b]
    lift it up, do not fear;
say to the cities of Judah,
    “Here is your God!”
10 See, the Lord God comes with might,
    and his arm rules for him;
his reward is with him,
    and his recompense before him.
11 He will feed his flock like a shepherd;
    he will gather the lambs in his arms,
and carry them in his bosom,
    and gently lead the mother sheep.

December 7, 2018

James 5:7 – 10

Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming….

I must confess that I am not a patient man. I hate standing in lines. I don’t like meetings that seem to go on forever. Traffic jams, especially now in Nashville, can cause me to lose my religion. I suspect I’m not alone in my impatience.

Our modern society just makes it worse. We want everything done quickly — and new devices constantly spring up to meet those demands. 

As a child, I was especially impatient around Christmas. It seemed to take forever to finally arrive. But, waiting is a part of the birth of Jesus, especially in scripture.

Devout believers, such as Zechariah, Elizabeth, and Simeon, waited and prayed and hoped for many years before God revealed to them the news of the birth of Jesus.

Advent seems long. We wait, we pray, we meditate, week after week, Sunday after Sunday, until finally Christmas arrives. Then we celebrate. Part of the joy is the anticipation of that coming day.

God wants us to learn how to follow him and put down our demanding selves. One way God helps us do this is to say, “Wait.” That miserable, uncomfortable, sometimes painful state of silence is one of God’s most powerful tools to set us free from our drive for instant gratification.

Be patient, then, brothers and sisters. Christmas is coming.

- Jack Wallace

December 6, 2018

Isaiah 35:1-10

Scholars believe that the prophet known as Second Isaiah wrote these words to assure the Israelites, captive in Babylon, that God was still with them, that he was still in control.  Although we are not captives of a foreign power, we are still captive to the powers of darkness, to fear, anxiety, hopelessness, and despair. But God is with us as he was with the Israelites, and the promise of this beautiful passage belongs to us, too.

Dear God,

We ask that you strengthen our hands and knees that we may do your work on earth.  Open our eyes and ears to your truth and wisdom. Give us the words to encourage those on the journey with us and to sing your praise.

We ask that the desert of our despair give way to streams of hope and blossoms of joy.

And we ask that we may always walk on the Holy Way and that we may know your everlasting joy and gladness.

Amen

- Sara Tarpley