Advent: A Calendar of Devotions 12/06/2019

Isaiah 30:19-26

“Truly, O people in Zion, inhabitants of Jerusalem, you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when he hears it, he will answer you. Though the Lord may give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself any more, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Then you will defile your silver-covered idols and your gold-plated images. You will scatter them like filthy rags; you will say to them, “Away with you!” He will give rain for the seed with which you sow the ground, and grain, the produce of the ground, which will be rich and plenteous. On that day your cattle will graze in broad pastures; and the oxen and donkeys that till the ground will eat silage, which has been winnowed with shovel and fork. On every lofty mountain and every high hill there will be brooks running with water—on a day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall. Moreover the light of the moon will be like the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, like the light of seven days, on the day when the Lord binds up the injuries of his people, and heals the wounds inflicted by his blow.”

In the reading today, we learn that in Isaiah 29 and 30, that Israel was under siege and many thought they should seek aid from outside their nation with Egypt, some even thought it prudent to do so. Had they forgotten how the Egyptians treated them in Moses’ day? Had they forgotten the promises from God, their Creator?

Are you feeling the crunch of getting everything done for the holiday season? Are you stressing trying to do it all yourself? It is extremely easy to fall into the “if I don’t do it, no one will” attitude during holidays and for some of us (me) even on a daily basis. A lot of the time this can be simply our own perception of a situation or task. Other times, it’s that whatever the “particular thing is” is important to us and holds meaning to us personally. I not here to point fingers or to even tell you you’re right or wrong. The message on my heart is this…Advent is all about the Christ child being born and His sacrifice for us. Trust in God & Seek His guidance. Create memories, not misery. Seek community with your friends and family, if possible hold onto and celebrate traditions but also be open to making new traditions.

I found myself stressed out earlier today, reminded of the X, Y and Z that needed to be done and it had not. I realized that somehow in the midst of my busy week I completely missed a day of blogging! I was so frustrated with myself and disappointed in my time management. I came home from work and had some household things to do and then decided I would just do what I could. I told myself that missing a day would not be as negative as what I created in my mind. I trust in God to use this for His purposes, not mine. God’s timing, not mine.

Prayer:

Lord, you know my every need. In this season of anticipation, I wait for you, placing my whole trust in your supply. ~Amen.

~Peace & Hope~

References:

https://www.biblegateway.com/

Advent in Narnia: Lucy 12/05/2019

Follow along in the book, “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe,” chapters 1-2.

Jeremiah 1:6-8 (CEB) “Ah, Lord God,” I said, “I don’t know how to speak because I’m only a child.” The Lord responded, “Don’t say, ‘I’m only a child.’ Where I send you, you must go; what I tell you, you must say. Don’t be afraid of them, because I’m with you to rescue you,” declares the Lord.”

Hello friends-

I hope you are enjoying the story lines from the novel, “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” and from the “Bible” as much as I am writing about them. The story takes us back to chapters 1-2 of the novel which takes us on a journey with Lucy through the wardrobe and meeting Mr. Tumnus. We have learned many characteristics about Lucy and the kind of girl she is. She is adventurous, as evidenced by exploring the house and entering a room with only a wardrobe in it. Her curiosity is heightened as she opens the doors of the wardrobe and it’s filled with clothing, mostly furs and coats. I imagine Lucy being short and perhaps even reaching up towards the coats as she peeks her head in the wardrobe, maybe hoping to find a hiding place from her siblings. Lucy displays bravery as she forges ahead further and further into the wardrobe with the coats dangling in front and above her. Lucy is inquisitive and when she experiences a strange sensation under her feet she is not frightened, but eager to discover what it might be. Lucy, begins to notice that she is no longer shuffling past the furs and coats and that the wooden floor of the wardrobe has changed to snow underfoot. She noticed the snow on the ground and on the trees and a lamppost shining brightly. She also encounters a strange, stranger by the name of Mr. Tumnus, and she is not afraid.

This reminds me of the pure curious spirit and resilience of children. In the scripture reading for today, we read about God’s call to Jeremiah. He shows us a different side of children’s pureness in personalities, perhaps Jeremiah was shy and lacking confidence. Much different than what we read about Lucy. *Reference listed below provides some insights to Jeremiah’s age at his calling. He may have been between the ages of 14-17, considerably older than Lucy.

As the story of Lucy and her siblings continue we will read about more adventures of Lucy and her sense of wonder, trust and bravery. As Advent continues, I look forward to reading and sharing more about Lucy ‘s inspiring spirit, her confident bravery and her keen sense of wonder, not to mention her willingness to walk through a doorway.

Questions for Reflection:

• How has God helped you face a call or experience you didn’t feel ready for? *I was called to a leadership role within my church and I was reluctant to answer that call. I thought that by being in a leadership position I would not be feed spiritually, at least in the manner I was used to and liked.

• How did that call or experience affect your life? *Answering the call to be an active leader within my church continues to bless me on a daily basis. My heart is overflowing with the joy I receive through this and other experiences. I am spiritually feed in many more ways than I ever imagined.

• What about the Advent season most arouses your sense of wonder? *It feels like I’m hearing the nativity story for the first time, each time. I keep a nativity on my fireplace mantel year around because of the wonderment and precious gift given to the world from God.

• What does that wonder lead you to want to explore? *I am seeking to live into the life God created me for. Eager and curious to learn more and to read more and to be in more conversations that further the Kingdom of God.

• Are any “wardrobe doors” catching your attention right now? *YES

~Peace~

References:

http://www.biblegateway.com/

https://biblehub.com/commentaries/jeremiah/1-6.htm

Advent: A Calendar of Devotions


Thursday, December 5, 2019

Isaiah 54

“Sing, O barren one who did not bear; burst into song and shout, you who have not been in labor! For the children of the desolate woman will be more than the children of her that is married, says the Lord. Enlarge the site of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left, and your descendants will possess the nations and will settle the desolate towns. Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed; do not be discouraged, for you will not suffer disgrace; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and the disgrace of your widowhood you will remember no more. For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called. For the Lord has called you like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, like the wife of a man’s youth when she is cast off, says your God. For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with great compassion I will gather you. In overflowing wrath for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you, says the Lord, your Redeemer. This is like the days of Noah to me: Just as I swore that the waters of Noah would never again go over the earth, so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you and will not rebuke you. For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you. O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted, I am about to set your stones in antimony, and lay your foundations with sapphires. I will make your pinnacles of rubies, your gates of jewels, and all your wall of precious stones. All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the prosperity of your children. In righteousness you shall be established; you shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear; and from terror, for it shall not come near you. If anyone stirs up strife, it is not from me; whoever stirs up strife with you shall fall because of you. See it is I who have created the smith who blows the fire of coals, and produces a weapon fit for its purpose; I have also created the ravager to destroy. No weapon that is fashioned against you shall prosper, and you shall confute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindication from me, says the Lord.”

Peace shall not be removed!

Every week at my church we greet one another at the beginning of each service and we share in communion. I used to not venture too far from my seat during the “meet & greet” part of the service, but lately I want to meet as many people as I can. I get energized by seeing my friends and family, my faith community and I just can’t hide it! I find myself wanting to make sure each person knows that someone “sees” them and that someone is happy to see them! I do this for no other reason than it fills me with joy, hope and peace! Isaiah tells us in chapter 54:10, “…my covenant of peace shall never be removed.” God has a long history of covenants, establishing them and keeping them. It doesn’t matter what circumstances life throws at us, God’s promises are true and He is always with you. We are never alone and even in what seems like our darkest moments, we can hold onto God’s promises. We can always rest in the “PEACE” that only God can provide, when storms rage and the enemy is circling, do not lose HOPE!

Peace is not the absence of chaos or conflict, but rather finding yourself in the midst of that chaos and remaining calm in your heart.

~John Mroz

“Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.”

~Unknown

Biblical meaning of PEACE in the Old Testament: The most comprehensive description of shalom is a cosmic order ordained by God through creation (Gn 1) and established with God’s people in the covenant (Ex 20–23). In this cosmic order each part finds its meaning and function as it conforms to God’s purpose. Shalom describes the “realm where chaos is not allowed to enter,” chaos being understood as sickness, war, social strife, or the violation of the covenant.

Seek to be the peace you are searching for in the world. Step out in faith at the next “meet & greet” share yourself with your community and extend the peace of God to and with your friends and family. ~Amen

Making Peace

BY DENISE LEVERTOV

A voice from the dark called out, ‘The poets must give usimagination of peace, to oust the intense, familiar
imagination of disaster. Peace, not only
the absence of war.’
But peace, like a poem,is not there ahead of itself,
can’t be imagined before it is made,
can’t be known except
in the words of its making,
grammar of justice,
syntax of mutual aid.

A feeling towards it,
dimly sensing a rhythm, is all we have
until we begin to utter its metaphors,
learning them as we speak.


A line of peace might appear
if we restructured the sentence our lives are making,
revoked its reaffirmation of profit and power,
questioned our needs, allowed
long pauses . . .

A cadence of peace might balance its weight
on that different fulcrum; peace, a presence,
an energy field more intense than war,
might pulse then,
stanza by stanza into the world,
each act of living
one of its words, each word
a vibration of light—facets
of the forming crystal.

Prayer:

Peaceful Lord, make your peace known to me in this season of Advent. In our preparations and anticipation, make your presence known to me. ~Amen.

~Peace & Hope~

References:

https://www.biblegateway.com/

https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/peace-bible

Advent in Narnia: A Great Light 11/30/2019

Hello my dear, dear friends! My apologies, somehow I skipped Chapter 3 in the book, I have edited the previous entries. Thank goodness I caught this early, during the first week of Advent. Chapter 3 is titled, “The Great Light” and it mirrors the “London Blitz” story line of “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.”

Scripture: Isaiah 9:2, 4-6

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness— on them light has shined. For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. For all the boots of the tramping warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire. For 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.”

When you read the verses from Isaiah 9:5, did you just skim over the words that described war and blood? Did the words register in your mind? “For all the boots of the tramping warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire.” ~Isaiah 9:5

When thinking of Christmas, our thoughts do not quickly turn to war, violence, cruelty or suffering. Generally speaking, we think of the birth of Jesus, decorated trees, gift buying, gift giving, social gatherings, and family. At the time Isaiah’s writings, war was looming for the Israelites and Judeans. Violence was very real for the Jews of Jesus’ time, as they were under Roman rule. And, for Lucy and her siblings they had been sent away from the city where war was raging, the London Blitz, with bombings and fires. Narnia, itself was in a state of war as well, the White Witch had frozen everything and the creatures lived in fear. Of the cold and darkness, violence and war both God and Aslan made promises of light and peace.

Darkness is real, we all walk with darkness or some kind of danger overshadowing our lives, for Lucy and her siblings it was war and violence that took them from their home and parents. For the Israelites, it was rumblings of war and occupation by foreigners and being exiled from their homeland. Today, darkness overshadows the lives of many and comes in the form of bullying, poverty, health concerns both physical and emotional, and broken relationships to mention but a few.

Friends- I tell you there is HOPE! Jesus Christ is our hope, our light that illuminates all darkness. In addition, we can and should be a light to one another. When we have the power to make a positive difference for another person, we need to seize the moment! I personally have found it to be equally beneficial in healing my own wounds and it lights up my darkness as well. To change someone’s outlook, we simply need to take notice of them. Let them know they are visible. When people no longer feel invisible they begin to see a sun rising in the distance! How amazing is that(?)!

This week of Advent has been about HOPE! The HOPE in the birth of Jesus! The HOPE in Jesus’ Second Coming! Renewed HOPE in one another!

Questions for Reflection:

• What darkness looms in your life or community right now?

• What “boots” or blood-stained clothes are you longing for God to destroy?

• Holidays can be very difficult and dark for many people. A suggestion by the author Heidi Haverkamp, is to consider drawing or doodling a picture that depicts what darkness feels like. Then draw or doodle a picture of the light you are longing for.

Here’s a copy of doodle drawings: The first one I call “Faceless” and the second one, “Star of Bethlehem.” I have seen a great light and His name is Jesus!

* If you do not have access to a therapist, consider calling the National Suicide Prevention Hotline(1-800-273-8255). This service provides confidential support to anyone in distress and can provide crisis resources for you and your loved ones. Don’t feel like talking on the phone? Send a message to the Crisis Text Line. No matter how dark things seem, remember that you have options.

~Peace~

References:

https://www.biblegateway.com/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeannecroteau/2018/11/26/dealing-with-holiday-depression-you-dont-have-to-suffer-alone/

Advent in Narnia: The Bread of Life 12/04/2019

Today’s chapter continues to discuss Edmund and his fixation with “Turkish Delight” or as C. S. Lewis calls it in his book, “bad magic food.” Edmund no longer has an appetite for regular and nutritious food. He becomes addicted to the “bad magic food” both physically and spiritually. He is under the power of the White Witch and he doesn’t seem to notice.

“Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” ~John 6:32-35

Have you ever been in a similar situation? Many things can become addictive and unhealthy. Spending too much time on social media; time online gaming; watching TV; medication, alcohol, caffeine, food, sports…get the idea. None of these are necessarily bad, they just need to be in moderation. Time management can help accomplish moderation, making a list of things you want to complete in a specific time frame can help; relying on a trusted friend to talk with when you’re struggling. *I used to be obsessed with watching TV, I would record all my favorite shows and on my weekends I would watch them. I basically barricaded myself in my home and literally camped out in front of my TV for hours. One day I decided, I can’t live and continue this weekly cycle. I gave my TV away and over time I didn’t really miss it. It’s been more than 5 years and I just recently started thinking about getting another TV. I feel I’m more disciplined now, I’m not going to make any rash decisions.

Jesus tells us that He is the Bread of Life! What does that even mean? Jesus feeds us spiritually through relationship with Him! Indeed, we all are hungry in real ways and in those situations God is providing, He may not be sending mana from Heaven to us, but He most certainly uses other humans to provide life sustaining nutrition to those in need.

Are there things you practice to stay healthy with Jesus? Here’s a few suggestions:

• Read your Bible

• Attend a worship service

• Join a group that participated in activities you enjoy.

• Spread the love of Jesus with someone new every day!

• Pray in the morning.

• Pray before bed.

• Pray in the i between time.

Questions for Reflection:

What are some “bad magic foods” in your life?

Do you ever hunger for Jesus? Describe what that feels like?

When thinking about Jesus as the “Bread of Life, what images come to mind?

Finally, from those imagined images what do they mean for your spiritual growth within the your church community and your relationship with God?

~Peace & Hope

References:

https://www.biblegateway.com/

https://biblia.com/

Advent: A Calendar of Devotions 2019

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Isaiah 4:2-4

“On that day the branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and glory of the survivors of Israel. Whoever is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy, everyone who has been recorded for life in Jerusalem, once the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and cleansed the bloodstains of Jerusalem from its midst by a spirit of judgment and by a spirit of burning.”

Below is a hymn I found that was written using the passage of Isaiah 4:2-6. It was written by Thomas H. Troeger. Audio files: MIDIRecording 

In the midst of our preparation and anticipation of Jesus’ arrival as the baby born in Bethlehem, do you think it’s rivals with that of the people of the that time in history? Do we still seek the Star of Bethlehem and the arrival of the King of kings? The followers of Jesus and His disciples expected Jesus’s return to be imminent, during their lifetime. Since that time, more than 2000 years ago countless individuals have believed that they too would see Jesus’ return as promised in the scriptures.

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. “But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” ~Matthew 24:35-37

Perhaps, the idea of being lazy, displaying a lackadaisical view of scriptures as they relate to Jesus’ Second Coming. This might explain some of us when it comes to expecting Jesus’ imminent return. Being ready, being prepared is more about the little things we do every single day than a huge overreaching plan with hash marks of completion. The Bible tells us in Hebrews 12:1, “ Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Live everyday in anticipation of Jesus’ return and you will always be prepared, the plan is to be Christlike in everything we do and do all for the glory of God. In Jesus only is our HOPE!

Prayer:

Lord, may the preparations we make to remember your birth also serve as a reminder of your promise to return. May we be ever vigilant for your return, knowing that through our baptism into your death and resurrection we are invited to participate in the glory you promise to restore. ~Amen.

~Peace & Hope~

References:

https://hymnary.org/

https://www.biblegateway.com/

Advent in Narnia: Turkish Delight 12/03/2019

Companion reading is chapter 4, “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe”

– Isaiah 55:2a

“Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?”

In the book, we have now met Lucy’s brother Edmund and he is now in Narnia after following Lucy through the wardrobe. Edmund quickly finds himself alone, cold and hungry. He is quickly seen by the White Witch and she takes keen advantage of the situation.

This passage reminds me of a saying I heard a lot when I was a kid, “If it seems too good to be real or true; it most likely is!”

The White Witch, gave Edmund what he wished for, Turkish Delight! Not just any Turkish Delight either, this was by far the best he had ever tasted and he loved it, loved it so much he could never get his full of it. But, the White Witch having her own agenda tricked Edmund by giving him something that was enchanted and caused an unhealthy and destructive sensation for Edmund. He ate and was never satisfied, the more he ate, the more he craved it. Edmund got to the point that Edmund did not want or desire any other foods.

From the surface, we might look at Edmund and pass some judgment upon him or offer some aged advise about a number of things from tunnel vision, selfishness, even addiction. It’s always seems easier to find the faults in others than in ourselves.

“Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.” ~Matthew 7:3-5

Are there things in your world trying to convince you of certain expectations during this season of Advent? Things telling you that in order to have a happy Christmas you must do this or that? Family traditions and making beautiful memories are indeed part of the Advent season, a note of cautionary advise: traditions can be modified and time together is always memorable, breathe and allow the Holy Spirit to awaken your yearnings and desires for HOPE, PEACE, JOY and LOVE! Feed your soul and your body for eternal life. We can all learn from Edmund.

Questions for Reflection:

• Is there a Christmas food that you are craving this season, does it offer an illusion of fun, fantasy, happiness or joy?

• What truly sustains you during the Advent season. Perhaps make a list and then from that list look deeper, does it increase your stress level or decrease it? What might you change on your list? From your list, is God the focal point or just background?

• Things to consider that can increase your joy during this Christmas season. Let go of expectations; let go of grudges, choose joy in all your preparations. Fill your thoughts with “God is Love” or “Come, Lord Jesus,” instead of “Hurry! Hurry!” Or “Just, Get It Done!”

~Peace~

References:

https://www.biblegateway.com/

https://www.inliterature.net/

https://goodnewsshared.wordpress.com/2015/11/01/daily-bible-verse-matthew-73-5/amp/

Advent: A Calendar of Devotions

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Reading: Isaiah 11

“A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins. The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. he cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den. They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious. On that day the Lord will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remnant that is left of his people, from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Ethiopia, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the coastlands of the sea. He will raise a signal for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. The jealousy of Ephraim shall depart, the hostility of Judah shall be cut off; Ephraim shall not be jealous of Judah, and Judah shall not be hostile towards Ephraim. But they shall swoop down on the backs of the Philistines in the west, together they shall plunder the people of the east. They shall put forth their hand against Edom and Moab, and the Ammonites shall obey them. And the Lord will utterly destroy the tongue of the sea of Egypt; and will wave his hand over the River with his scorching wind; and will split it into seven channels, and make a way to cross on foot; so there shall be a highway from Assyria for the remnant that is left of his people, as there was for Israel when they came up from the land of Egypt.”

This week the word we use during Advent is HOPE! We are in HOPE for the Christ child to be born and the Second coming of Christ to take His children home, home to the Kingdom He has prepared for all believers. My prayer for all of us journeying this Advent season is that in the midst of waiting in anticipation for the baby to be born fulfilling the prophecies and promised foretold in the Old Testament but yo also not lose sight of the Second coming of Christ also promised in the Old Testament and preached by the Disciples of the New Testament. What a glorious coming to all believers. Keep your HOPE active and alive in the present along with seeking it in the future. My the HOPE of Jesus shine in you, through you and around you this beautiful season.

Prayer:

Prince of Peace, we await your return. In our waiting, let our preparations for your return be favorable in your eyes. May our witness to your love and grace invite others to join the kigdom-building work you have invited us to be a part of. ~Amen.

~ Peace & Hope~

References:

https://artandtheology.org/tag/isaiah-11/

https://www.biblegateway.com/

Advent: A Calendar of Devotions 2019

Advent: A Calendar of Devotions 2019

By: Teer Hardy

Monday, December 2, 2019

“If it had not been the Lord who was on our side —let Israel now say— if it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when our enemies attacked us,  then they would have swallowed us up alive, when their anger was kindled against us; then the flood would have swept us away, the torrent would have gone over us; then over us would have gone the raging waters.  Blessed be the Lord, who has not given us as prey to their teeth.  We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped.  Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” ~Psalm 124

This first week of Advent, churches light the first candle symbolizing HOPE! Our hope in is nothing but the blood of Jesus!

Advent is an opportunity for us to reconnect with with God, to focus ourselves towards our spiritual relationship with Jesus and reminds us of the Incarnation, we see in flesh and blood that God has not and will not abandon us. We are reminded of God’s promises to all creation as we journey through this Advent season.

This week seek HOPE, look for HOPE, create HOPE, give HOPE and accept HOPE!

Prayer:

O God, you promised to never abandon Israel.  In this season of hope, remind us that our hope is in you and not in our own hands.  As we anticipate the hope that is to come in the manger, we remember the hope that you, O God, extend to us. ~Amen.

~Peace & Hope~

References:

Advent: A Calendar of Devotions 2019

By: Teer Hardy

Publisher: Abington Press

Advent in Narnia: Repentance 12/02/2019

Matthew 3:1-6, “In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’” John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.”

Companion reading is Chapter 2 of “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.”

On the one hand Mr. Tumnus has been waiting in anticipation of meeting a human and was prepared, he thought to kidnap and turn over them over to the White Witch, but quickly realizes in his heart to do so, would be wrong. Doing what’s right is sometimes the bravest act we can do. On the other hand, what relief Mr. Tumnus must have felt when he told Lucy the truth, it must have been very freeing. Repenting of our mistakes and sins to God is freeing, this is also true when we seek forgiveness from individuals we have wronged. I have experienced the freeing feeling of forgiveness and it is as if a weight had been literally lifted right off my shoulders. When we carry unnecessary burdens, guilt and shame it causes much pain. That pain goes beyond just ourselves, it has a cascading effect on all of our relationships and often we try to push God away. When I have been in the midst of these experiences I know God is still with me but my guilt distracts me and I feel like I need to keep God at a distance. Selfishly thinking I can fix or hide whatever “it” is from God. How very foolish of me, I am hurting myself and God with my stubbornness.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines REPENTANCE as:

• to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one’s life.

Advent is a season of preparation, anticipation and waiting. We learn from the story that Mr. Tumnus had previously made an agreement with the White Witch that if he ever encountered a human child, he would hand them over to her. As the story progresses, we learn that Mr. Tumnus decides to place himself in danger by not reporting Lucy and seeks forgiveness from Lucy for wanting to cause her harm.

Today, the Christian Church celebrates and recognized the First Sunday of Advent. Over the next four weeks we will prepare our hearts for Jesus’ birth through Hope-Peace-Joy-Love.

Some interesting correlations between John the Baptist and Mr. Tumnus: they were both hairy, wild men who lived on or near the borders of two kingdoms. Mr. Tumnus met Lucy at the border between Narnia and the Wardrobe. The people of Judea traveled to meet John at the Jordan River. John, too stood at the border between what has been/what is and the kingdom to come through Jesus. People come to the Jordan to confess their sins and to be baptized by John. This was their preparation and anticipation of the coming of Jesus, though at the time they did not fully know what that meant.

Advent is a “borderland” season, a new year is coming, we are waiting for the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day and His coming again, The Second Coming of Christ!

Questions for Reflection:

• Does Advent feel like a strange time of the year to ask for forgiveness? Why or why not?

• What ways might you pursue repentance and forgiveness in your life? A few suggestions offered are to write a letter to God; reach out to someone you have been estranged with; talk with a spiritual leader; or perhaps consider a rite of reconciliation.

Tomorrow’s companion reading is chapter 4 of “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.”

~Peace & Hope~

References:

orthodoxyforeveryone.com

https://rochester.kidsoutandabout.com/content/lion-witch-and-wardrobe

https://www.biblegateway.com/

https://www.merriam-webster.com/

https://www.shmoop.com/lion-witch-wardrobe/