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Advent Daily Devotional 2008


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									                                                                                                the return of Christ the King in his Second Advent. Thus, Advent is far more than simply
                                                                                                marking a 2,000 year old event in history. It is celebrating a truth about God, the
                                                                                                revelation of God in Christ whereby all of creation might be reconciled to God. That is a
                                                                                                process in which we now participate, and the consummation of which we anticipate.

                                                                                                         In this double focus on past and future, Advent also symbolizes the spiritual

           Advent                                                                               journey of individuals and a congregation, as they affirm that Christ has come, that He is
                                                                                                present in the world today, and that He will come again in power. That acknowledgment
                                                                                                provides a basis for Kingdom ethics, for holy living arising from a profound sense that
                                                                                                we live "between the times" and are called to be faithful stewards of what is entrusted to
                                                                                                us as God’s people. So, as the church celebrates God’s inbreaking into history in the

      Daily Devotional                                                                          Incarnation, and anticipates a future consummation to that history for which "all creation
                                                                                                is groaning awaiting its redemption," it also confesses its own responsibility as a people
                                                                                                commissioned to "love the Lord your God with all your heart" and to "love your neighbor
                                                                                                as yourself." (Taken from “Advent” by Dennis Bratcher).

            2008                                                                                        The verses that have been used are taken from The Daily Lectionary, which is
                                                                                                arranged in a two-year cycle. This Daily Lectionary comes from The Book of Common
                                                                                                Prayer of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States, and is also used by
                                                                                                many Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians and other mainline Protestants. You are
                                                                                                encouraged, when possible, to read the entire scripture passage from your own Bible,
                                                                                                as many times only a partial scripture was printed in this devotional.

                                                                                                        Many thanks go to the writers and artists who contributed to this devotional.
                                                                                                This diverse group of men and women, boys and girls come from eleven different
                                                                                                countries and even more diverse faith perspectives. They are united, however, in their
                                                                                                love of God and commitment to grow as disciples of Jesus Christ through the power of
             Santiago Community Church                                                          the Holy Spirit. We invite you to pray for each writer as you use this devotional.

                    Santiago, Chile
       “Advent Daily Devotional 2008” was written by those who attend Santiago                  Sunday, November 30
Community Church in Santiago, Chile. Advent is the beginning of the Church Year for
most churches in the Western tradition. It begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas
                                                                                                Psalm 146
Day, which is the Sunday nearest November 30, and ends on December 24. If
Christmas Eve is a Sunday, it is counted as the fourth Sunday of Advent, with
Christmas Eve proper beginning at sundown.                                                      As I read these words, I started thinking about the Advent traditions my family
                                                                                                had growing up. My mother, having been raised a strict Catholic, was full of
        The word Advent means "coming" or "arrival." The focus of the entire season is          tradition and the Advent wreath was the most visual one our family had for
the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ in his First Advent, and the anticipation of   Advent. Being one of five children in the family, we all wanted to blow out the
candles after each meal and that was memorable. But, what I remember more           Words written in the scripture lesson, although written hundreds of years
than the candles was the prayer my mother taught us to say before we lit them       ago, still hold true to us today and bring us peace, strength and
and after we blew them out at the end of the meal:                                  guidance.
       “Come into my heart Lord Jesus!                                              My faith is ever deepening and over the course of the year I have felt the
        Come in today.
                                                                                    Lord work through me and those whom I hold dear. Feeling strength
        Come in to stay.
        Come in to my heart Lord Jesus.”                                            when I am weak, focus and clarity when times are challenging and God's
                                                                                    love when I fail has been inspirational to me this year. I have come to
Between teaching, planning for holiday travel and rushing to prepare for next       have a more profound understanding of what forgiveness and grace is
year, I put God further down on my list of priorities. I am rushed to finish the    and am learning to really listen to the Holy Spirit guiding me.
school year and pack for travels. However, Psalm 146 reminds me right away
to “Praise the Lord.” I do not think to praise God during Advent. Unfortunately I   We look to the future with hope and although we may face challenges
have often been starting my Advent a few days before Christmas, usually on the      ahead, we have faith in the love of our Father and his assurance of that
flight home. But why not praise God as part of Advent? What a perfect time to       love everlasting.
praise God and prepare my heart.

So, as I begin this Advent season by inviting Baby Jesus into my heart…to stay.
To make this invitation sincere, I will prepare my heart for Jesus by praising
God for everything he had done for me today, this week, this year.

Carey Sonnenberg                                                                    Penelope Lawrie, UK, wife, mother & teacher
The United States of America
Teacher, student, youth director

Monday, December 1
                                                                                    Tuesday, December 2
1 Thessalonians 1: 1-10
                                                                                    You will be ashamed because of the sacred oaks in which you have delighted;
As we approach Christmas, we prepare ourselves for the great                            You will be disgraced because of the gardens that you have chosen.
celebration and thanksgiving for the life of Jesus.                                 You will be like an oak with fading leaves, like a garden without water. Isa. 1:29-30
Rick and I have commented several times, that the one memory from last year              Every day many events are changing our lives. The development of
that our children have talked about most, has been a trip we made to Rocky               these large changes in the world and our environment often makes us
Point, Mexico, In our trip we delivered coloring books, crayons, and bags of rice        hesitate, and in some cases lose confidence and also faith.
and beans to a poor community. As we went down the neighborhood with a                   Strength and patience help us to face all obstacles with intelligence, to
trusted missionary, we had family upon family greeting us with smiles and hugs           confront with wisdom all the consequences of these changes, and to
to thank the boys for their kindness.
                                                                                         avoid doubt.
It was such a simple thing, but yet it had such a significant impact to all of us.       Hope can help us to reach glory in these complicated days.
That experience has changed our perspective of the Thanksgiving and
Christmas season. The true lasting memory for last Christmas came from
giving to those most in need, not from receiving. We tested it. Upon writing             Cristian Carrasco, Chile. Sales Manager
this, we gave the boys 10 seconds to tell us what gifts they received for
Christmas last year. As their eyes rolled up in thought, they could barely come
up with one. It has been the giving that they have remembered most, not the

As difficult as it is in today’s rushed culture full of traditions and obligations, we
will once again try our best to somehow make sure our “garden gets some
water”. That somehow we can “delight in good choices” and see our children’s
excitement as we help others in need. God calls us to make righteous choices
and with these choices our hearts will be filled with the love and care that we
receive from our Lord Jesus Christ.

As a side note, I must share some of the classic and unforgettable comments
made by our children during this experience. Nathan was completely wide-eyed
as he exclaimed, “No fair, they get to build their own houses out of trash.” Riley
marveled excitedly and said, “They have smiles on their faces even though they
are playing with a coke bottle full of sand with a bag at the end as a parachute!”

Rick and Elizabeth Tesman, USA. Parents, enjoy church, sports and the outdoors.

Wednesday, December 3

1 Thessalonians 2:13-20
                                                                                         Thursday, December 4

                                                                                         1 Thessalonians 3:1-13 with reference to Luke 20:27-40. Youth Bible.
Judgement day, God as a protector, Sadducees trying to trick Jesus and      “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing. (v.2)” You
a letter from Paul to the Thessalonians, those were the choices. Paul’s     are the only good thing that exists. Away from you, there is no
letter struck a chord because perhaps the Thessalonians in 45AD had         goodness in me. Born stubborn and fearful, what kind of person
the same worries as me in 2008 – how am I supposed to be able to            would I have become if you hadn’t found me when I was young?
interpret the Bible and say something useful about it? Have I understood    Only you can wash away my sticky ego, and change me into a
what Jesus meant in the Sadducees story? Shouldn’t I, can’t I, wait for     good being.
someone more knowledgeable to explain it to me? Maybe I should ask
Paul/David directly, they know the answers. However, it is clear that the    “You have assigned me my portion and my cup (v.5)”- my mission
Thessalonians didn’t stop because Paul was not with them and they           on earth and your abundant support for its fulfillment. Whenever
didn’t grumble when ‘only’ Timothy arrived to see how they were getting     my cup feels too heavy, you on the cross tell me to pray, “Yet not
on. They were exploring, questioning, loving and growing faithfully         my will, but yours be done.” I know you prepare human sorrow
together, trusting that they were able to communicate directly with God     and suffering for your greater purpose. Make me “poor in spirit”
and learn for themselves.                                                   day by day. Empty me of my proud, selfish thoughts, so that I can
                                                                            be a cup to carry your goodness to others.
We, the congregation, undoubtedly draw strength and wisdom from the
teaching of clergy but that is not to say that we can’t try to draw         “You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with
conclusions on our own. Perhaps ministers, vicars, preachers, get just      joy in your presence. (v.11)” The world staggers and is falling
as much joy from watching an individual grappling with questions and        (Isaiah 3:8), but you have shown me “how to live in order to please
growing in faith, as Paul did from hearing Timothy’s account of the         God (I Thessalonians 4:1).” As long as I am embraced by your
Thessalonians.                                                              presence, my cup overflows with your love, blessing and joy. May
                                                                            my offering be as pleasing to you as the poor widow’s two coins
                                                                            (Luke 21:4). How thankful I am that you came down to earth to
Sarah Lyle, UK, hydrogeologist and lover of all things outdoors.            give away your life so that I may live.

                                                                            Taeko Kushiro, Japan

Friday, December 5
                                                                            Saturday, December 6
Psalm 16    (New International Version)
Psalm 20 (New International Version) A psalm of David.                       Psalm 150

With confidence and authority, the psalmist showers God’s blessings on       I have been a member of Santiago Community Church for over twenty
his people: “May the Lord answer you when you are in distress… may he        years, from the time I first came to Chile as a young wife and mother. My
give you the desire of your heart…” He knows the Lord saves his              Christian faith continues to grow as my children have grown to young
anointed, encouraging us to trust in the Lord. Then comes the final plea:    adulthood. My life here would not have been the same without my bible
“Answer us when we call!”                                                    study group. One of my greatest joys is the time of year when we go on
        Knowledge, trust and hope.                                           retreat together, away from the cares and responsibilities of home and
        In a recent conversation, our eight-year old grandchild challenged   family, sharing spiritual bonds of friendship, fellowship and learning,
my assertion that the heart responds to an electrical impulse. “You need     singing praises and exulting in the marvels of God’s creation.
wires and plugs for electricity,” she said. “Trust me, Grandma. I know.”
        Her certainty reminded me that my understanding of all things,       As we take walks along the rugged coastline under the mighty heavens,
electrical or otherwise, seems to be lessening with the passing years.       listen to the resounding cymbals of the waves, the washing rhythm of
Like her, I was once as sure of my facts. David’s psalm counters this        harp and lyre of the sea, hear the trumpet of the wind to the strings and
fuzziness and leads back to a simple truth: that we are both children of     flute of a glorious sunset over the Pacific Ocean, our hearts cannot but
God. That he will bless us. That no matter what the future holds, we can     sing praises to the surpassing greatness of the Lord. As our minister
trust him to answer our prayers.                                             David told us recently, the Celts call those places where heaven and
                                                                             earth seem to meet, “thin places”. There we do rejoice, as we hear
                                                                             everything that has breath praise the Lord. How good it is to take time to
                                                                             praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!
Ellen Hawkins
Canadian writer and hiker

                                                                             Tessa Too-Kong
                                                                             Born in Guyana (formerly British Guiana)

                                                                             Monday, December 8

Sunday, December 7                                                           Luke 21 v20-28; 1 Thessalonians 5 v1-11.
                                                                             New International Version
                                                                                “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for
A first reading of Luke 21v20-28 appears to offer a terrifying vision of        this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5: 16 – 18 NIV
God’s potential to inflict his wrath upon the Earth. As we grapple with the     Women’s Devotional Bible
images of ‘anguish and perplexity’ and ‘great distress’ it seems natural to
feel a little uneasy and to question our hope in a loving and merciful Lord.            What began as a romantic getaway at a chateau in the Loire
Yet amidst this chaos and confusion, the message to us as Christians            Valley turned into a nightmare when I awoke during the night to find my
seems clear. Instead of turning and running, chased on by fear, we are          skin crawling with bedbugs. The bugs wrangled their way into our
instructed to ‘stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is      suitcases and when we arrived back at our apartment in Paris, so did
drawing near’. Indeed, ‘God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to           they! In those torturous two weeks of battling with those bedbugs, never
receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (1 Thessalonians 5 v9).        once did it cross my mind to thank God for them. Why would I? Who
                                                                                could give thanks at a time like that?
In times of crisis or uncertainty, the act of standing up and having faith,             You may have heard of Corrie ten Boom from her biography The
whether in ourselves or others, can be extremely difficult. Fears and           Hiding Place. After having been shipped off to a notorious women’s
doubts often hinder our ability to trust sufficiently in our own strengths or   concentration camp – Ravensbruck, she complains about the lice that
beliefs. Yet the promise of redemption offered to us through faith in Jesus     infested their barracks.
Christ is too important to allow weakness and fear to take the upper                    One day, Betsy said to her, "We need to give thanks to God for
hand. We can ensure that we are well equipped, however, by putting on           the lice."
‘faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet’.               Corrie said, "Betsy . . . I am not going to thank God for lice."
The period of Advent offers us the perfect opportunity to do exactly this,              Betsy said, "but Corrie, the Bible tells us, 'In everything give
as we look forward with hope to the coming of Jesus, realise the great          thanks.' "
love of God in sending his son to die for us, and rekindle our faith through            As it turns out, Betsy was right – because of these bugs, the Nazi
Jesus’ life, most importantly his dying and coming again.                       guards would not enter their barracks. Thus, the sisters were free to lead
                                                                                their bunkmates in Bible studies, which certainly would have ended had
                                                                                the lice not been there to keep the guards out.
                                                                                        Betsy serves as an amazing example of redemptive grace, healing
Isabel Gammie, London, UK. English Language Assistant.                          love and steadfast joy that God calls us to. Help me, Oh Lord, to give
                                                                                thanks in all circumstances and to be joyful always, even for bugs.

                                                                                -Katie Gallery Fox, USA (South Carolina), but really a global nomad now.
Tuesday, December 9                                                             Spends most of her time volunteering, painting and reading.
                                                                                Wednesday, December 10

                                                                                “Then I heard the voice of Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for
                                                                                us?” And I said, “Here I am; send me!” And he said, “Go and say to this
people, ‘Keep listening, but do not comprehend, keep looking, but do not             What is the Lord telling me in this passage as I await the celebration of
understand.’ Make the mind of this people dull, and stop their ears, and shut        his birth and coming? I am reminded and blessed through the Advent
their eyes, so that they may not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears,   Daily Devotional to TRUST in HIM. He has always been there for me. He
and comprehend with their minds, and turn and be healed.” Isaiah 6: 8-10             has always blessed me with His Love and the wonderful gifts of life that
Sometimes understanding the Bible isn’t easy. Sometimes engaging with                manifest his unconditional love for us all.
scripture means being willing to leave questions unanswered, and reading
                                                                                     In the past two weeks the Lord has blessed me, my wife Pirjo, and our
parts that seem unfair, antiquated, or that we simply disagree with.
What does this verse mean? God seems to be commanding the prophet                    son Emil. After a long period of concerns, the Lord gave us peace of
Isaiah to turn people away from God. Some commentaries say that while                mind. He has reminded me of the wonderful gift of life and friendship,
these verses are written as a command, they are actually intended to be a            drawing me closer to Him through Christianity and Discipleship Explored.
prediction of Israel’s reaction to Isaiah’s difficult task. As a lay person, it’s    Having been asked to coach a fellow Christian brother in the company,
hard to know what to make of it.                                                     never knowing, nor previously sharing with anyone at work my faith in
                                                                                     Christ Jesus our Lord, he has given me the strength to open up to many
I wonder what Isaiah made of this message. I wonder if his reaction was “I           in the workplace about my faith through blessing me with this Advent
volunteered to be your servant, and now you want me to do WHAT?” I can               Daily Devotional contribution, and not feel discomfort, nor be afraid of
remember times in my work life when I wanted to say to my superiors, “You            what people might think.
want me to do WHAT?” in response to a seemingly illogical or unreasonable
request! And certainly I think all of us had the childhood experience of             Leading up to Advent, I pray to our Lord for guidance through his words
thinking that our parents were unfair and unreasonable.                              in Psalm 37:1-18 to actively trust in Him, be patient, not give in to anger,
Yet we are called to continue on this faith journey in the midst of this             nor envy, not aspire to mundane short lived glories or desires, but to
uncertainty. The Bible doesn’t always make sense to us. God’s will isn’t             follow in His path and be fulfilled with His unconditional love for us,
always clear. And yet our faith tells us that God is with us and, in the end,        knowing that as long as we seek Him, He will always be there for us.
God’s will will be done. In this season of Advent, as we deal with the               Amen.
ambiguity of modern life and try to make sense of Jesus’s teachings and the
rest of the Bible, let us approach the scriptures with an attitude of patience,      Elias Georges Chowdhury, Finland (family); France (motherland); UK (at
openness, and wonder. After all, the Israelites were expecting a mighty              heart). Chemical and Process Engineer.
warrior to rebuke their enemies, but the savior instead came in the form of a
baby born in a barn to a poor unwed mother.
Jennifer Spande, USA, working mom and armchair theologian wannabe

Thursday, December 11
                                                                                     Friday, December 12
PSALM 37:1 – 18                        Trust the Lord                                Psalm 31                                          (New American Bible)
Psalm 31 seems to be written from an incredibly stressed-out, yet            At times we experience great losses, and the difficulties or
strangely hopeful, place. This psalm is a prayer, a plea, a cry in the       disappointments in life may seem overwhelming. We resist change and
midst of distress, for God’s help:                                           try to protect ourselves, and those we love, but life seems to overpower
                                                                             all our efforts. Nothing we do succeeds in reversing events. Losing loved
       My strength has failed through affliction, and my bones are           ones, living far from familiar homes, missing family and friends who live
       consumed…I am like a dish broken… Into your hands I commend           far away, aging… these are things that we all have experienced and that
       my spirit, you will redeem me, O Lord, O faithful God.                leave us with feelings of sorrow and grief and loss.
It is also a petition, written from this broken place that weaves back and
forth with two images of God. One is of a loving God who embodies            In this season of Advent, though, we are reminded how blessed we are
strength and goodness -- You are my rock and my fortress.                    by our Lord’s love, and that we are never alone. I am certain, as is the
                                                                             psalmist, that our pleas to God are always answered, for He is faithful
The second is an image that seems to revel in a God who smites his           and He favors each one of us. When we find ourselves in the depths of
enemies….let them be reduced to silence in the nether world. Let the         the greatest despair, He is there, always. He waits for us to merely look
dumbness strike their lying lips.                                            up, and ask Him for help; He lifts us up from the pit with His enduring
                                                                             love and gives each of us reasons to hope, opening our eyes to all the
Isn’t that the dual reality I struggle with, that we all struggle with,      possibilities for joy.
especially when stressed out, overwhelmed or vulnerable? The search
for faith in an all-loving God and through that faith a connection to all    As we near Christmas and its celebrations – celebrations of love and
human beings, mixed with an undercurrent that revels in the misfortune       family and friends and Christ’s coming – our joy is multiplied by the
of someone who “gets what he deserves.”                                      knowledge of God’s love for all of us. This time of year, we are all waiting
                                                                             – from children waiting for Christmas morning with eagerness and joy, to
So the central question: How to live more fully in the hopeful place, that   adults looking forward to the holidays and the time to be with family and
quiet spot that allows our best to shine through? What are the               friends. I never knew Christmas, though, until I finally understood what
possibilities for meditation and prayer to help us become less broken,       we are really waiting for – our Savior, coming to us as a baby on
more whole and at peace?                                                     Christmas, with promises of rejoicing to come in the morning, and His
Into your hands I commend my spirit;                                         love to clothe us with joy.
you will redeem me, O LORD, O faithful God.
                                                                             Richard Simon, USA, astronomer, husband and father
Steve Reifenberg, USA, educator, lover of Patagonia

Saturday, December 13                                                        Sunday, December 14

Psalm 30
                                                                             Hebrews 12: 18-29                                               NASB
Life always brought them to many places with many options and many
questions. For the most important one God answered them sweetly: This
is exactly what I want to do with your heart: to destroy it, to melt it. I want
to shake you, to burn your arrogance, your pride, to create in you a faith
that can´t be shaken, just like my Kingdom.
Surprised and still unbelieving they allowed God to judge them, to
become less so He could become greater.

Jesus made a new heart, a place where He could be born and a place
where the freedom to choose from many possible journeys in this life on
earth, will always lead to the one that will be preserved in the end: the
path He has set for us through his Word, through faith in Christ, and
especially through His Grace – everlasting Life.

Rocio Rodriguez Leon, Costa Rica, Home-maker

Friedrich Speidel, Canada, Adventurous geologist

                                                                                  Joachim Speidel, age 13. Artist, born in Panama but has also lived in
                                                                                  Costa Rica and Peru.

                                                                                  Monday, December 15
                                                                                  Psalm 41 and Luke 22:39-53
This year has been a difficult one for many events that have taken place      and the government will be on his shoulders.
in my life.                                                                   And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
                                                                              Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6)
There have been times when I have wondered where God is when it
hurts. I never thought that being a happy and positive person I would one      I've been waiting for my girlfriend for 15 years. I've been craving for her.
day see everything as black and negative.                                     I've prayed a lot that I may finally find her. Either in church, or in
                                                                              Jerusalem, or in a coffee place surrounded by happy couples, or alone
I started therapy with a psychologist about a month ago and on the third      as I smoke a cigar listening to a Leonard Cohen song. She will be the
meeting she suggested that the very best place to be was in my church,        one who will bring happiness to me in love; who will share with me my joy
with my brothers and sisters in the faith, and to think about all the good    and my sadness as well; who will kiss me; who will give me her wise
things I have received from God in my life. I have said as the psalmist: “O   advice; and who will allow me to have delightful moments of pleasure,
Lord have mercy on me; heal me, for I have sinned against you” Psalm          both by day and by night.
41: 4 when I doubt about your love for me, when I ignore those who are
less blessed.                                                                 As I'm in this quest, I've been getting ready for her. I've been learning to
                                                                              dance; I've been trying out words of healing if she's sad; maybe I will
Now I see things differently, I look at the pictures of Martin my one year    learn to cook. I want to be her best boyfriend, and to give her the greatest
old, only grandson where he smiles and looks so happy. I thank God for        raptures she may have ever dreamt of.
his many blessings.
                                                                              Advent is also a moment of waiting. We are waiting for the Messiah. It's a
“I will praise you forever for what you have done, in your name I will hope   moment to believe that He will finally arrive, and to trust Isaiah's word,
for your name is good. I will praise you in the presence of your saints!”     because God is speaking through his mouth. But if we are believing, if we
Jesus asked his disciples: “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray so          are waiting, we must be ready to welcome him.
that you will not fall into temptation “. Luke 22: 46 Let´s not sleep in
faith, let´s not forget the weak and the sick for God has promised to         Do we believe? And if we do, how are we getting ready?
deliver us in times of troubles. (Psalm 41:1)
                                                                              Ricardo Arturo Pulgar
May this new Advent Season bring us new hopes and prepare our hearts          Graduate in Economics at the Catholic University of Chile.
for the birth of our everlasting Saviour Jesus. God bless you, all!           He's researched counterterrorism and counterfeit.
                                                                              He likes playing the piano, writing poetry, dancing and going
Hector Barrientos, Proud Grandfather, Teacher of English at Liceo             to the theatre. He speaks four languages (English, Spanish, French and
Andres Bello, La Florida                                                      Hebrew).
Tuesday, December 16                                                          Wednesday, December 17

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,
                                                                     The Advent season is a time of waiting and preparation. Just as in
                                                                     Matthew 3.1-12, we find John the Baptist was proclaiming and preparing
                                                                     a way for our Lord. Verse 3 quotes: This is he who was spoken of
                                                                     through the prophet Isaiah. “A voice of one calling in the desert,
                                                                     Prepare the way for the Lord, Make straight paths for him.”

                                                                      We also should be preparing our hearts, minds and our spiritual lives to
                                                                     be focusing on the birth of our Lord Jesus into this world. Where are we
                                                                     in the midst of this season? Frantically shopping, working, planning
                                                                     Christmas activities and parties, or are we listening and waiting? Should
                                                                     we plan our lives in minute detail?

                                                                     In Psalm 50 verse 1: "The Mighty One, God the Lord, speaks and
                                                                     summons the earth, from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets.
                                                                     From Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth."

                                                                     What do we gain from so much planning, when God holds our future in
                                                                     His hands? Yes we should plan for His arrival and should be constantly
                                                                     prepared..... but the rest we must leave up to Him who has the eternal
                                                                     plan for us.

                                                                     As we await yet another Christmas Season, let us once again remember
                                                                     the significance of His birth. What it has meant to our lives. Let us keep
                                                                     close to Him who guides and nourishes us through His word, the Bible
                                                                     that we may truly be prepared and waiting... not only this Advent season,
                                                                     but forever.

                                                                     Penny Reid, Originally from the UK, but now permanently in Chile.
                                                                     Mother, grandmother, nature lover and walker (along flat paths).
Grania McKittrick , age 7. Chilean/British. Loves hockey, drawing,   Member of the Women´s Forum and Monday Morning Bible Study group.
strawberries and cream!
Thursday, December 18                                                Friday, December 19
Psalm 50 and Matthew 3:1-12.                                         Matthew 11:2-15                                 New International Version
                                                                             “Oh, look! Look up high in the tree at what I have found! I can’t believe it! Are
                       A Case of Mistaken Identity                           you ready? Do you have your camera ready? Take a look at this! It is
                                                                             unbelievable!” I heard these words endless times during the week that I toured
“When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples      around Costa Rica, visiting tropical and rain forests. The guides are all about
to ask him ‘Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect             building expectation and excitement.
someone else?’”
                                                                             In face of this high-energy banter, my inner process transformed. At first, in
                                                                             reaction to these words, my thought process was “Wow! This is exciting! What
John was sent to prepare the way for Jesus, and when John heard what         am I going to see this time? Will it be a toucan?” I would go through my mental
Jesus was doing, he still did not recognize in Jesus the expected            checklist of all of the animals that I was expecting to see but had not yet had the
Messiah. “How is that possible?” we might ask.                               opportunity, and I would eagerly look through the binoculars. However, as the
                                                                             days went on, my attitude began to change. My excitement began to be tainted
Mark reports that the disciples did not understand Jesus’ mission right up   with cynicism as yet another sloth was pointed out. I found my thought process
to the end: on the road to Jerusalem, Jesus corrects, even rebukes, his      to sound like the following: “Hmm… will it really be something new and exciting,
disciples for their misunderstanding of him and of his kingdom. (See         or is it just hype? I have seen enough sloths. Will I ever get to see a toucan?”
Mark 8:31-9:1, 9:31-37, 10:33-45). Again, how is it possible that they did
not understand what was right before them?                                   Today’s reading begins, “As the people were filled with expectation, and all
                                                                             were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the
                                                                             Messiah…” (Luke 3:15) For generations the Jews had been (and still are) on
The Messianic expectation was that Jesus would do justice and establish      the lookout for the Messiah. Here we have another reference to their
his kingdom by defeating the Romans militarily. In other words, they         expectation and their questioning despite the multi-generational wait.
expected violence and domination to be Jesus’s means of establishing
justice. Unequivocally, Jesus says, “No!” to this. The kingdom looks like    How am I doing in this re-invented wait of Advent? What are my expectations
this, he says: “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have       like this far into the season? Am I still actively preparing myself for Jesus´
leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news     birth? Is my expectation like that of the Jews, or have I allowed the pre-
is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on        Christmas activity to turn my Advent preparation into a cynical toucan search?
account of me.”

What is our Messianic expectation? Who will arrive on Christmas Day?         Shana Harrison, U.S.A (Arkansas), Adores children and those who are
Danette Beavers, USA, Wife/Mother

Saturday, December 20
                                                                             Sunday, December 21
Luke 3:15-20                                                 NRSV
                                                                             Ephesians 6:10-20                                  New International Version
How do you wear your armor from God? Is it light and easy to carry,
hardly noticeable as a part of who you are and how you live?
Or does it weigh heavily? And shift sideways a little every now and then?
Do bits fall off and have to be retrieved?

I know I struggle with my armor - ¨this belt of truth, breastplate of
righteousness, ready feet, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and sword
of spirit.¨ It is a lot of armor to carry around all the time.

As I travel through my life I know bits of my armor do fall off and move
out of place. I am aware of this and so I work hard to replace the
rebellious bits, to wear this full armor from God comfortably and with
complete conviction.

This awareness helps me to focus more on my Christianity, on how God
works in my life and how I should work at being a better Christian. It
makes me reflect, read, pray and make changes.
I would love to be able to wear my full armor of God lightly, easily, and
happily, so it is a complete and permanent part of me. This is my
challenge. I suspect it may take a life time.

How do you wear your armor?

Jenny Woodfield, Mother, Teacher, Baker, Friend

                                                                             Josh Tweed, age 8. Canada, avid reader and loves sports.

Monday, December 22                                                          Tuesday, December 23
A prayer based on today’s bible readings: Psalm 66, 67/Isaiah 11:10-
16/Rev. 20:11-21:8/Luke 1:5-25 from NIV                                       Psalm 89: 1-29 (NIV)

                                                                              My beloved grandmother recently passed away at the age of 98 years.
How awesome are your deeds, God. Let all the earth praise you.                During her lifetime she saw many changes, from cars which she learned
You are the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.                   to drive, to computers which she never could understand. She also
                                                                              outlived many important people in her life including my grandfather,
We confess our sins to you and earnestly repent.                              family members and friends. Over the past several years, when she was
Your word has come to us that all your people will share in the               not in good health and often alone, I remember wondering what it was
inheritance of the new heaven and the new earth, where you will live          that kept her going, content and always kind. Verses 16-18 of Psalm 89
among them.                                                                   clearly explain to me what my grandmother always understood, that the
                                                                              Lord is our shield and strength.
We give you thanks for that promise and for gathering your people from
all corners of the earth.                                                     Throughout the year, and in particular at this time of year, our lives seem
                                                                              filled with important tasks and urgent deadlines. This Psalm reminded
John the Baptist was set apart from the time before his birth to proclaim     me of what I know in my heart—although I am often unwilling to let it
the coming of your son. As advent is coming to a close and we will soon       steer me—the fact that all I really need to be happy and protected is
celebrate the anniversary of the first coming of Jesus, we pray that your     God’s love.
Spirit will guide us to live lives in expectation of his second coming. May
we, by doing so, lead others to salvation.                                    On Christmas Eve and everyday let us thank God for the love that he
                                                                              showed us through the gift of his son Jesus by rejoicing in His name and
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon           exulting in His righteousness.
                                                                              Laurie Kelly, USA
Amen.                                                                         Wife and mother

Arina Lewis, Born in the Netherlands, immigrated to Canada as a
teenager and have wandered the globe since marrying Dale. Mother of
Jonathan and Janelle.

Wednesday, December 24                                                        December 24th continued
Psalm 89: 1-29 (Extreme Faith, Contemporary English Version)

Our Lord, you bless those
who join in the festival
and walk in the brightness
of your presence.
We are happy all day
because of you,
and your saving power
brings honor to us.
Your own glorious power
Makes us strong,
and because of your kindness,
our strength increases.
our Lord and our King,
the Holy One of Israel,
You are truly our shield.

Lord we should always be happy because you love us. I have learned
that you bring honor to the world and forgive us. You always put us on
the right path, but sometimes we go on the wrong path because we do
not listen to you and do the wrong thing. Even then we know that you
are with us, and you indicate the right way. That’s why I always know you
love me a lot, and I will always love you. We thank you for the gift you
gave us on Christmas Eve when you sent Jesus to teach us more about

Antonia Bignotti Kelly, Chile
4th grade student
Loves spending time with friends, ballet and TP club
                                                                            Madeline Woodfield, age 9. Australian who has lived in Peru, Canada
                                                                            and Chile but never Australia! Enjoys swimming, kayaking and skiing.
Christmas Day

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