Archive for December, 2011

Daily Devotion from the Church Health Center – Luke 2:39-40

Friday, December 30, 2011 – First Sunday after Christmas, Year B

Luke 2:39-40When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom, and the favor of God was upon him.

I wish more was known about the childhood of Jesus. What games did he like to play? Did he show consideration to his friends at an early age? Every once in awhile, while my grandson is playing with me he will just say out of the blue, “I love you.” I bet Jesus said things like that to Mary and Joseph.

Prayer: God of wonder, we offer a special prayer today for our children. Help us nurture them well so they will grow into the people you want them to be. AMEN.

Daily Devotion from the Church Health Center – Luke 2:22-24

Thursday, December 29, 2011 First Sunday after Christmas, Year A

Luke 2:22-24When the time had come for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), as they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

Throughout Leviticus, if one could not afford a lamb or other expensive animal for a burnt offering, one was allowed to substitute “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.” As this is reflected in the passage today it is yet another example of Jesus’ humble beginnings.

Prayer: Almighty God, you could have chosen a royal family for your son, but you chose a young girl and a carpenter. Help us see your handiwork in each person we see today. AMEN.

Daily Devotion from the Church Health Center – Galatians 4:4-7

Wednesday, December 28, 2011 – First Sunday after Christmas, Year B

Galatians 4:4-7But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child, then also an heir, through God.

Young Mary looked down from atop her donkey and said, “Joseph? It’s time.” She then gave birth to a child of great promise in the most humble of places…a stable. Nothing is impossible with God.

Prayer: God of promise, many children will be born today. Help each parent to see the promise in their child that you see. AMEN.

Daily Devotion from the Church Health Center – Isaiah 61:11

Tuesday, December 27, 2011 – First Sunday after Christmas, Year B

Isaiah 61:11For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown to spring up, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.

There are a special set of volunteers at the Church Health Center known as Master Gardeners. They painstakingly care for our flower beds and numerous green spaces. Their efforts allow a beauty on our campus that would otherwise be unavailable. I like to think God tends to us with the same care and concern.

Prayer: Loving God, may the spirit of Christmas bring new life within us throughout the year to come. AMEN.

Daily Devotion from the Church Health Center – Isaiah 61:10

Monday, December 26, 2011 – First Sunday after Christmas, Year B

I wish for each of you reading this rich blessings throughout the Christmas season. The lectionary texts for the first Sunday after Christmas include: Isaiah 61:10-62-3; Psalm 148; Galatians 4:4-7 and Luke 2:22-40.

Isaiah 61:10I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

I love the image of being clothed by God. It suggests an intimacy to the relationship I often overlook. Ours is not a God “over there” absent from us, but a God uniquely and miraculously connected to us.

Prayer: God of deliverance, God of justice, you have clothed us with your best. Help us live into the people you want us to be. AMEN.

Daily Devotion from the Church Health Center – John 1:1, 14

Friday, December 23, 2011 – Christmas Eve & Christmas Day, Year B

John 1:1, 14In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

“God So Loved the World” is an anthem often sung at Easter, but I couldn’t help singing that one phrase over and over again this morning. God became human, became flesh, and lived among us. That is the gift of Christmas.

Prayer: Everlasting God, you understand us better than we understand ourselves. Help us to better see ourselves and each other as if we are looking through your eyes. AMEN.

Daily Devotion from the Church Health Center – Luke 2:8-9

Thursday, December 22, 2011 – Christmas Eve & Christmas Day, Year B

Luke 2:8-9In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.

The image is a powerful one for me: sweaty, grimy laborers in a field who are suddenly given the gift of being the first to know that Christ has been born. Then with what seems to be little debate, they decide to go to Bethlehem to see with their own eyes what had just been revealed to them.

Prayer: Almighty God, grant that each of us might have the faith and trust of a shepherd this and every day. AMEN.

Daily Devotion from the Church Health Center – Luke 2:7

Wednesday, December 21, 2011 – Christmas Eve & Christmas Day, Year B

Luke 2:7And Mary gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Jesus had humble beginnings for sure, but on the night he was born, Jesus was homeless. In fact, Joseph will soon whisk his family off to Egypt to protect his son which means Jesus faced homelessness for much of his childhood.

Prayer: Loving God, keep us mindful of all your children this and every day. AMEN.

Daily Devotion from the Church Health Center – Isaiah 9:7

Tuesday, December 20, 2011 – Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, Year B

Isaiah 9:7His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

“There shall be endless peace…” Of all the lectionary passages for Advent and Christmas, the most meaningful ones for me are those describing the peace that only God can bring – wolves living with lambs, swords turned into plowshares.

Prayer: Gracious God, help us be the peacemakers that you want us to be. AMEN.

Daily Devotion from the Church Health Center – Isaiah 9:6

Monday, December 19, 2011 – Proper I, Year B

Christmas Day is almost here, and there are many scriptures offered for this week in the lectionary. Known as Proper I, the first readings for us include Isaiah 9:2-7; Psalm 96, Titus 2:11-14 and Luke 2:1-14, (15-20).

Isaiah 9:6For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

My family loves music. As I child, I can remember Handel’s Messiah playing from the music room with some regularity, particularly at Christmas and Easter. As the choir reaches this verse, it is impossible for me to hold back a smile and join in the joyous singing.

Prayer: Almighty God, this is an emotion-filled week for many of us. Bless our joys this week and when necessary, grant us comfort from our sorrows. AMEN.

Daily Devotion from the Church Health Center – Luke 1:34-37

Friday, December 16, 2011 – Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year B

Luke 1:34-37Mary said to the angel, “How can this be since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; for this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.”

“For nothing will be impossible with God.” That short sentence sums up the message of this season for me. During Advent of each year, we are challenged to visualize a world where “the wolf shall live with the lamb” and to recommit ourselves to walk faithfully into that vision.

Prayer: Almighty God, nothing is impossible with you. Work through us in amazing ways so that we can live in your peaceable kingdom. AMEN.

Daily Devotion from the Church Health Center – Luke 1:47-49

Thursday, December 15, 2011 – Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year B

We read what is often called Mary’s Song from Luke 1:47-49My 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.

When I read this passage during Advent each year, I picture a young woman in a long white gown, dancing and spinning and singing these words while beating a tambourine. But Mary was a teenager from a modest if not poor background, so musical instruments, dancing lessons and gowns were unlikely. God can work through anyone…even each of us.

Prayer: Gracious God, you take us as we are and do amazing things. We pray that you will continue to work through each of us. AMEN.

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December 2011

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