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Advent Devotions 2021

Welcome to Advent!

There are many ways to prepare for Jesus’ coming into our lives. One important way is to set aside time to be quiet, offer prayers, hear the stories of God’s plan for Jesus’ birth, and think about what it all means for us and the church. Taking time each day to prepare for Christ’s birth can include everyone in the family or just yourself for some spiritual time alone. Find a quiet time; early in the morning, a sunny winter afternoon, during the evening meal, or before bed to gather together or take your alone time, and read, reflect, and pray in this Holy time.

Week Two:

On the night that Jesus was born, Mary experienced true joy in the most humble conditions. In that moment, we were given an incredible gift that gives us a reason to rejoice always. What are the things in your life that seem like they’re not blessings? Through thought and prayer, what can you take from those things and turn into joy, even if it’s only a small piece of it?

Prayer for each day:

God of joy and sorrow, we unceasingly give you thanks for the ultimate gift of love and hope—a gift that not only is the source of our joy, but also knows the depths of our sorrow. Amen.

Suggestions for Families with Children:

Begin to talk about the animals who lived in the stable. Start to set them up where you think they’d be in there. Discuss what it would be like to live in there WITH them! You could even make a pros and cons list. Don’t forget to move Mary and Joseph day by day, closer to the stable of your nativity set. Until they are in the stable on Christmas Eve.

Monday Read Matthew 1:20-21

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’

“Do not be afraid.” Fear is a powerful emotion that motivates us to take action so that we can lessen the threat of danger related with the situation. So many times throughout the Bible, we are reminded not to be afraid, but to trust in God.

Joseph was afraid. Mary, with whom he was betrothed, was with child conceived by the Holy Spirit, but their families and their community did not know this. As Joseph was contemplating what action he should take to protect Mary and himself, the angel of the Lord told Joseph not to be afraid but to have faith in God.

Through faith, Joseph answered the Lord’s call that led to the miraculous birth of Jesus, according to God’s plan for the world.

We all face fear! Fear of natural disasters, fear of crime, and fear of terrorism around the world. God tells us, “Do not be afraid.” We can bring our fears to God in prayer and know that God will never forsake us.

We praise God for relieving us of our fears.

Tuesday - Read Isaiah 9:6

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

If Jesus blew out a birthday candle on His Birthday, What would Jesus wish for? Would he wish that we would live according to the very peace that He inspires in us? Or maybe that we would follow His teachings? Or maybe that we would embody the love revealed through the Everlasting Father and spread that love to others?

Jesus Christ is indeed the gift that we are given, and with acceptance of this gift comes the responsibility to honor and to respect it and to live by the wisdom that Christ gave to His disciples. What we receive not only changes our lives, but also the world... and isn’t that the gift that humankind really needs?

Wednesday - Read Luke 2:10-12

But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’

We are all looking for a sign of hope when times are hard. When your everyday is shaken by the sudden death of a loved one, by a lost job or a disaster, or by a serious illness, it’s natural to look for the kind of obvious sign that the shepherds saw. But signs only come when you’re making time to listen.

ThursdayRead Matthew 1:22-23

All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: ‘Look the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they will name him Emmanuel’ which means, ‘God is with us.’

This passage reflects the purity of New Testament beginnings. It shows a glimpse of the master plan God has in store for Jesus as well as for us. A small and innocent baby will transform into something far greater.

God is with us in many ways. He is present in many forms.

In the season of Christmas, it is easy to get sidetracked and to miss out on the real messages. However, by remembering that God is with us, uplifting us in times of need and giving us faith, we can stay true to celebrating the birth of Christ.

FridayRead Isaiah 9:7

Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.

We often rush through the days, hurried and increasingly tired, while thinking about our to-do lists and how we will juggle all the activities of the week. We find ourselves over-programmed, distracted and not present. Is everything on the list really necessary? What can we take off of our plate? Are we making time for those we love the most? Are we making time for God? How do we slow down?

SaturdayRead Psalm 98

O sing to the Lord a new song,
  for he has done marvellous things.
His right hand and his holy arm
  have gained him victory.
The Lord has made known his victory;
  he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations.
He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness
  to the house of Israel.
All the ends of the earth have seen
  the victory of our God.

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;
  break forth into joyous song and sing praises.
Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre,
  with the lyre and the sound of melody.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
  make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord.

Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
  the world and those who live in it.
Let the floods clap their hands;
  let the hills sing together for joy
at the presence of the Lord, for he is coming
  to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
and the peoples with equity.

Our world yearns for joy. Real, lasting, deep joy. We are overwhelmed by misconceptions of things that we think will make us happy. But what we crave deep within our souls is the gift of God-given joy that doesn’t fade in a moment. Joy that doesn’t fizzle and fade depending on the circumstances of any given day. We crave a joy that can persevere amidst the very real weight of our days. We can celebrate with joy always knowing that when we draw near to God, Our bad things turn out for good. Our good things can never be lost. And the best things are yet to come… We put God in our center.

Sunday - Read Ephesians 2:8-9

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast.

What is a gift? A gift is something that becomes yours when it is given to you. A gift is something that is given because of the generosity and love of the giver. A gift is something to be treasured because of the love of the giver. It is something for which we ought to be thankful for.

The value of a gift is based on the love of the giver, not on how much was spent. A gift is given unconditionally.

Salvation is a gift. God saves us with His grace. We are embraced in His love. God is reaching out to us, inviting us to life everlasting with Him. All beginning with the miraculous birth of one tiny baby.