During the Advent season, church members shared their thoughts about the time awaiting Christ’s birth. If you missed any, you can read them here.
By Pauline Coffman
Apparently, some who live with the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict every day are able to see beyond the losses they have suffered and are imagining a new world where peace is possible. Just as we hear of vaccines that might be ready early next year, there is hope! Let us lift our eyes to the wider world as we wait for the Christ child. Read the entire Advent Devotional.
By Bob Bell
As Christians we must speak out for peace. Our mission is to end armed conflicts, and promote organizations like the United Nations to work for peace. The words of the spiritual “Down by the Riverside” will be our prayer. Read the entire Advent Devotional.
By Beth Dickerson
The gifted Roman Catholic theologian and priest Henry Nouwen said, “To wait with openness and trust is an enormously radical attitude toward life. It is choosing to hope that something is happening far beyond our own imaginings. It is giving up control over our future and letting God define our life.” Read the entire Advent Devotional.
By Karen Christopher
As a community of faithful people, First United is full of hope! I love that about our community. Sure, we’ve had some dark days over the years. Days that seemed full of despair rather than of hope. But I look back at those times and am reminded that we were indeed hopeful. We know hope is something God promises us even in the darkest of times. Read the entire Advent Devotional.
By Sallie and Mark Smylie
In this Advent season, we live with hope for the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy — a day when peace, justice, kindness, and mercy rule. We bring this hope to life in the present when we live as disciples of Christ: when we feed the hungry and clothe the naked; when we provide aid for those who are persecuted or displaced by war; when we take steps to stop gun violence; and when we are a kind, compassionate, and caring people. Read the entire Advent Devotional.
By Anne Koerber
In this Advent season, I work to find my place in God’s creation, which includes bad leaders and devastating microbes. I pray that each of us may find guidance for our lives, for our roles and for our actions, as we worship God and await her Redeemer. Read the entire Advent Devotional.
By Betsy Samore
There is not a quiet and orderly peace within my household’s walls. Rather, it is a loud and raucous peace with baby toys strewn about the house and a constantly messy kitchen. But there is peace in knowing that we are all helping each other through this difficult time. Peace in knowing if each person is still healthy. Peace in knowing that if one of us is sick, they will not be alone. Read the entire Advent Devotional.
By Lois Thiessen Love
We are confronting much racial injustice and heightened conflict this year. May we open ourselves to the challenge of learning and understanding the harms that have been done and to the opportunities before us to promote racial healing and restoration, to creating justice and peace — that mercy and truth meet and then justice and peace will kiss! Read the entire Advent Devotional.
By Leah Beckwith
Promised Savior, I adore Thee,
Son of David, Son of God!
What can mortals bring before Thee?
All is thine on earthly sod.
Take my heart and let it be
Filled with love, dear Child, to Thee.
Read the entire Advent Devotional.
By Tara Dull
Over the years as an adoption social worker, I’ve seen up close women facing unplanned pregnancies. I have seen the tears, loneliness, despair, and fear. Surely those are natural, human responses. Ones that Mary shared with us. So often during Advent we look to Mary as the beatific servant, enthusiastically heeding Gabriel’s command, “Be not afraid.” We paint her as fearless. As if her fearlessness was a sign of faithfulness. Yet we know that feeling fear does not mean we’re not trusting God. Fear and trust often hold hands. Read the entire Advent Devotional.
By John Edgerton
Do not lose heart! You are not alone! In the race to redeem the earth from climate catastrophe, there are many people working for solutions. Grid-level battery storage, graphene-based filters to desalinate water on a nano level without heat or electricity, there’s even a guy making houseplants glow in the dark in order to replace electric streetlights with (and I cannot emphasize this enough) huge glow-in-the-dark ferns. Read the entire Advent Devotional.
By Quinn G. Caldwell
Theologians would say we’re stepping out of ordinary time, or what they call chronos, and catching a glimpse of God’s time, or what they call kairos. In chronos, minute follows minute, and you can only go forward; that’s where we live most of the time. But for God, in kairos, every moment is one, and your first Christmas, your last Christmas, this Christmas, and the redemption of the whole world are all happening right now, forever. Read the entire Advent Devotional.
By Melinda Haag
Our literary and biblical canons are full of incredible and somewhat improbable adventure stories. Imagine this one: a dusty three-day trip, on a donkey, to comply with a required census, so taxes can be paid, and with a 9-month-pregnant fiancé. And Joseph, still overcome with the reality that his life is going to take him on an unplanned journey, forgets about a making a reservation for a place to stay. Read the entire Advent Devotional.
By Anne Koerber
I chose to write about the Magnificat because it reminds me of one of the songs we sang in choir, back when we could sing together in church. Since I was raised a Unitarian, Jesus didn’t mean much to me as a child (and I still struggle with understanding him as an adult). I was taught to think of the virgin birth as a “myth.” But singing those words is always moving to me. Singing makes Mary’s conception and pregnancy soul expanding (magnifying!) for me. Read the entire Advent Devotional.
By Heather Vanderberg
I’m all for a little escapism, but it’s important to remember that the problems we see in our modern world are not new: Jesus was born into a time of political and social darkness. Those waiting for Jesus’ birth were waiting and watching the arrival of the Messiah to give them freedom from oppression. And He came! But, then, why do the times still feel dark? Read the entire Advent Devotional.
By Ken Honderich
My sister. Marilyn is gone. Gone at a time when our world’s health separates us, at a time when our nation and our family is so divided that we cannot come together to mourn or to celebrate her wonderful 90 years of life. Read the entire Advent Devotional.
By Alicia Reese
Many in our midst have had a loved one die recently. And we are all experiencing some kind of grief or loss in our lives. Have you been able to sit and rest on your “sorrow stone?” This evening will be our Blue Christmas service, I wonder if this might be an opportunity for you to do just that. Whatever you are going through or struggling with or whatever or whoever you are grieving, know that you are not alone. Read the entire Advent Devotional.
By Art Spooner
Am I more like Lucy? Or am I more like the dwarfs? Our culture is full of dwarfish thoughts and dwarfish events; I am constantly amazed at how easy it is for me to get caught up in them. When I find myself caught up, I need to be reminded of the reality of God’s love. It’s only after I hear the trumpet call of the angels — “Fear not!” — that I can also hear Aslan’s welcoming shout — “Come further up. Come further in!” Read the entire Advent Devotional.
By Jane Barker
During this time of hope and waiting, find a way. Find a way to be kind. Find a way to share hope. Find a way to extend a hand of friendship or, really, just put one foot in front of the other and continue. Continue on a journey to love, and to hope, and to kindness. Peace be with you. Read the entire Advent Devotional.
By Linda Sandman
I still sing “Silent Night” to my Mom. She is 93 years old and lives in a retirement community nearby. We now wear masks in each other’s presence, so I won’t sing with her in person this year due to safety precautions. But I will still sing – over the phone or Zoom, if need be. And we will most likely cry together, again. Because love is powerful and transcends distance. It transcends troubles. It even transcends death, as my grandmother’s spirit fills our hearts with love as we sing. Read the entire Advent Devotional.
By Len Palombi
Gather friends and cast your hopes
Into the fire as it snows
And stare at God through the dark windows
Of the longest night
Of the year
Read the entire Advent Devotional.
By Bob Haisman
To my mom, the importance of Mary was what she symbolized. Jesus, the son of God, was born to a poor, marginalized, “nothing” who had no wealth, no privilege, no status — except that she gave birth to the Son of God! My mom sometimes struggled to explain it, to articulate it, but when she heard the “Ave Maria,” she felt it glorified — not the rich, famous, and powerful — but the least among us. For my mom, “the Mary miracle” was that this young woman was the one whom God chose to give birth to his son, the One who would transform the world. Read the entire Advent Devotional.
By Chris Damon
We are in a timeframe that might be called a “pregnant pause” – a phrase with a bit of double meaning given the circumstances of Mary and Joseph at the time we commemorate. Google tells us that “pregnant pause” can be defined as “a pause that gives the impression that it will be followed by something significant.” But I think this is more than just an impression of something significant coming. Read the entire Advent Devotional.
By Harriet Hawkins
Christmas is not a date. It is family and friends. Christmas is love and caring and sharing. And Christmas is hope — the hope that the Christ child brings to us. So rather than lament what I do not have, I am choosing to embrace this new kind of celebration. I will miss the hugs, though. And I look forward to the spring when I can hopefully see and hug my family in person. Read the entire Advent Devotional.
By John Edgerton
I’ve stopped hoping that on Christmas morning I might awake to find my heart’s desire has been made real. True, my heart’s desire has shifted to be more like “I want a robust national public health plan” or “I want our country to move forward on racial equity.” And that’s not the sort of thing that can fit under a Christmas tree. … These are the gifts that God has promised. They are waiting for us, like a surprise. Like a gift wrapped in bands of cloth and laying in a manger. Read the entire Advent Devotional.
By John Borrero
Children have taught me that there is something in their rose-colored view of the world that is available to us as well. Even for adults, Christmas is the culmination of a year’s work, punctuated by a celebration of togetherness. It is the caterpillar that was 2020, transforming into the butterfly that we hope 2021 will be. It is opportunity delivered to people in the birth of a new year. Christmas is all of these experiences for all of us. Maybe it always has been. Read the entire Advent Devotional.