2018 Advent Devotional

Our prayer as you join in this daily Advent devotional is that you discover Jesus in a deeper way. Follow along below each day. Also, get each day’s devotional straight to your inbox by signing up here.

December 1, 2018

Rev. Robert Hasley

A season of joy... Every year we spend the four weeks of Advent in joyful preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. The images of our family gathered around the dinner table enjoying conversation and home cooked delicacies, raising candles high as we sing together Silent Night at the Christmas Eve Service, and reading the Christmas Story before we open gifts placed under the Christmas tree bring a smile to our faces and warmth to our hearts. As 2018 comes to a close may we savor every moment of the joy we feel getting ready to welcome the Christ-Child into our heart and into our home.

Scripture: Mark 1:2

...as it was written about in the prophecy of Isaiah: Look, I am sending my messenger before you. He will prepare your way

Response

Lord, prepare our hearts and minds as we anxiously await the Christ-Child this season. May we remember the special moments we have had this year.

December 2, 2018

Rev. Allison Jean

During this busy time of year, I often find myself at parties and events thinking longingly of my pajamas and my favorite chair at home. As soon as I get home though, I find myself making to-do lists, wrapping presents, putting up Christmas lights, or preparing food to take to the next potluck event. How many of us can truly say our homes are “quiet resting places”? Many times, we allow the busyness of the rest of our lives to infiltrate our sacred spaces, our homes, our places of rest and family. How can you make your home a quiet resting place in the midst of the busyness of the season?

Scripture: Isaiah 32:18

Then my people will live in a peaceful dwelling, in secure homes, in carefree resting places.

Response

Gracious God, help me to remember to be still during this season amongst the constant busyness.

December 3, 2018

Dr. Scott Engle

There is the Christmas of our dreams and then there is the reality. Christmas trees, tinsel, lights, gingerbread... we had them all when I was a boy. But I also remember that one of the Engle boys always seemed to have his nose out of joint on Christmas. In fact, I’ll bet that there were family issues at the holidays even in the ‘50’s. For even when it comes to Christmas, we often see the light of the incarnation only dimly. Whatever Christmas dreams we cherish, they will, in the end, be unsatisfying unless they are fully grounded in the truth of Emmanuel.

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:12

Now we see a reflection in a mirror; then we will see face-to-face. Now I know partially, but then I will know completely in the same way that I have been completely known.

Response

O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel, that mourns the lonely exile here until the Son of God appear. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

December 4, 2018

Len Wilson

A famous writer said, you can’t go home again, which is perhaps an attempt to articulate both the yearning and the just-out-of-reach feeling we have about “home.” The classic song, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” was written for weary soldiers on the battlefront. The war is long over, yet the song remains, because just as then, Christmas rarely lives up fully to our dreams. Our dreams can only come true when we understand what the Bible really means about home. In God’s eyes, home is where righteousness is - that’s a churchy word for everything good, and beautiful and true in life. That we will one day get to go to such a place is the promise God gives us through Jesus.

Scripture: 2 Peter 3:13

But according to his promise we are waiting for a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.

Response

Gracious God, surround those who cannot be “home” for Christmas this year and let us not forget to remember everything that is good and beautiful and true in life for that is what God intended.

December 5, 2018

Rev. Jimmy Decker

Homecoming celebrations are interesting to me. The fanfare and parades, the decorations and pageantry. All to celebrate former members of an association and welcome them to the place they once called home. Ironically enough, this is what God has been at work doing since the beginning. Since our fall, God has been working to make this place home again, and welcome us back. That is the promise first made to Jacob and we find peace in knowing that the promise is made to us as well. We get the opportunity to come home in the best possible way. We have been called to experience the greatest homecoming we could imagine, because it’s a homecoming to our very first home.

Scripture: Genesis 28:12-15

He dreamed and saw a raised staircase, its foundation on earth and its top touching the sky, and God’s messengers were ascending and descending on it. Suddenly the Lord was standing on it and saying, “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will become like the dust of the earth; you will spread out to the west, east, north, and south. Every family of earth will be blessed because of you and your descendants. I am with you now, I will protect you everywhere you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done everything that I have promised you.”

Response

Lord, may I be reminded this season of where my home truly is. Thank you for working so hard for our homecoming.

December 6, 2018

Rev. Kim Meyers

I love collecting different Nativity scenes. It is my favorite thing to unpack and set up each Christmas season and gives me great sadness to put them away each year. So, about five years ago I decided to keep a few out around my home. I had a friend ask me, “Why do you have a Nativity scene on your shelf? It is July.” I paused. The gut response was because I love this gift and I did not want to put it away. The deeper and truer response is this scene reminds me where I came from and where I am going. This manger was messy and random, yet out of that came our hope and our Savior: this is where my foundation is.

Scripture: Matthew 7:25

The rain fell, the floods came, and the wind blew and beat against that house. It didn’t fall because it was firmly set on bedrock.

Response

This season, as we think about that babe lying in a manger may we rejoice in hope knowing our Savior as our foundation.

December 7, 2018

Rev. Arthur Jones

We all come from somewhere – even Jesus. God chose to come from a place called Nazareth – a small town west of the Sea of Galilee. This place wasn’t special or large – but it was home. It was the place that he knew and loved. But home doesn’t always feel like home; Jesus once decided to go back home, but it wasn’t the same place. They didn’t accept him (and even tried to throw him off a cliff). What Jesus created with his disciples is a new family – brothers and sisters. Maybe home is hard for you, but with God and our church we can create a new home. A new place to be from! God can make us a home again.

Scripture: Matthew 2:23

He settled in a city called Nazareth so that what was spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled: He will be called a Nazarene.

Response

Gracious and loving God, thank you for this church, thank you for a new place to be from, thank you for bringing me home again.

December 8, 2018

Rev. Robert Hasley

The prodigal son left home to travel to a foreign land where he squandered the wealth that he had inherited from his father. His choices eventually led him to a job in a pigpen, hungry and alone. With no place else to turn, he chose to return home. Home was where he received gifts of hope, love, and joy. These are the same gifts that God has prepared for us to unwrap at home on Christmas Day.

Scripture: Luke 15:23-24

Fetch the fattened calf and slaughter it. We must celebrate with feasting because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life! He was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.

Response

On Christmas Day when we see gifts galore, may we be reminded of our true gifts of hope, love and joy that have been prepared for us by God.

December 9, 2018

Rev. Allison Jean

Christmas wishes are common traditions this time of year. Children are encouraged to make wish lists for Santa and even adults wish for things: the joy of Christmases past, getting our shopping done early, a wish for the perfect Christmas dinner with family and friends. Yet Christ does not encourage us to have wishes - as Christians we are taught to hope. The hope expressed in today’s scripture and the hope that Jesus teaches us is not for ourselves, but it is a collective hope for all people. Jeremiah the prophet is not speaking to individuals, but to an entire group of Israelites. Wishes are for me, but Christ’s hope is for all. Where do you see true hope in this season?

Scripture: Jeremiah 29:11

I know the plans I have in mind for you, declares the Lord; they are plans for peace, not disaster, to give you a future filled with hope.

Response

Now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in you.

December 10, 2018

Dr. Scott Engle

Christmas is God’s fulfillment of his promise to make all things right, for the incarnation is God doing for us what we are unable to do for ourselves. Christmas is the doorway to heaven, to a world put right. What do you think such a world would look like? In the Bible, the pictures of God’s new creation are always concrete: people will build houses, live in them, sit under trees and talk in peace, turn their spears into pruning hooks, and so on. I often express it as getting to hug my grandad again, to smell his pipe, and enjoy the long-awaited reunion. How can our Christmas be a foretaste of heaven?

Scripture: Isaiah 65:21

They will build houses and live in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.

Response

Think about what a foretaste of heaven means to you. What would that look like? Is there a long-awaited reunion you’d like to experience?

December 11, 2018

Rev. Jennifer Powell

My home is different this year for many reasons: I got married, moved to a new home, and in September my son, Tim, died in a car accident. Grief is an old friend of mine, having previously lost my first husband and my youngest son. Grief is a lot like Advent. There is an overwhelming feeling of chaos and darkness, waiting for the light that is to come. There are hints and promises that things will be better someday. I chose today’s scripture for my son, Tim’s memorial service in September. I think it is appropriate now as we anticipate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. My home is profoundly different, but nothing, even death, will separate us from God’s love. There is hope!

Scripture: Romans 8:38-39

I’m convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord: not death or life, not angels or rulers, not present things or future things, not powers or height or depth, or any other thing that is created.

Response

Lord, I ask for comfort for those persons who need it most this season. May they feel your presence especially if this year is profoundly different for them. May we all be reminded that nothing will separate us from your love.

December 12, 2018

Rev. Jimmy Decker

It’s alway interesting to watch people hope for the future, namely their future “forever home.” It’s going to be the place where they have everything they want and need. The hope they have for it is unwavering. I often think about what my faith might look like if I were to have that same hope in the promises of God. Namely, a home that will be safer and more loving than any home we have previously experienced. Christmas time is a time of hope, but not just hope in the magic of Santa, but hope in the reality of God’s gift to us. The gift of a home that we will live in. Our true forever home.

Scripture: Psalm 91:1-2

Living in the Most High’s shelter, camping in the Almighty’s shade, I say to the Lord, “You are my refuge, my stronghold! You are my God—the one I trust!”

Response

God, our hope is in you. During this joyful season may we be reminded of God’s gift to us.

December 13, 2018

Rev. Kim Meyers

This verse is one that I often go to about this time in the season of Advent. This week is typically when the holiday parties are in full swing, the list is looming, and if I allow it the meaning of Christmas becomes focused on the outward (parties, gifts, work, baked goods) instead of the true reason we celebrate Christmas. This time of Advent is meant to let us prepare for the birth of Jesus. Prepare is defined as (someone) ready or able to do or deal with something. The prophet Isaiah reminds us in faith we will be strong. This reminds me that when I am exhausted I am typically putting my focus and energy where it does not need to be.

Scripture: Isaiah 40:31

but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength; they will fly up on wings like eagles; they will run and not be tired; they will walk and not be weary.

Response

Lord, help me to put the outward distractions aside and to remember the true meaning of Christmas and to focus on that meaning.

December 14, 2018

Rev. Arthur Jones

One of the most outlandish stories in scripture is of a man possessed by a legion of demons. Jesus evicted the demons into pigs that ran off a cliff. The man was healed. Jesus asked him to go back home to tell them about the grace and mercy of God. Jesus needed this man to go and tell others about what God has done. Our stories are probably not this fantastic, but they are this powerful. This Christmas, we are to tell the story of God to the people that will believe us. As we are only a week and a half away from Christmas, who are you supposed to tell about the grace and mercy of Jesus? Christmas is a story after all...

Scripture: Mark 5:18-19

While he was climbing into the boat, the one who had been demon-possessed pleaded with Jesus to let him come along as one of his disciples. But Jesus wouldn’t allow it. “Go home to your own people,” Jesus said, “and tell them what the Lord has done for you and how he has shown you mercy.”

Response

Share the incredible story! Think of those who may truly need to hear about the grace and mercy of Jesus. God, help us to remain open to sharing the story with those we encounter this season.

December 15, 2018

Rev. Robert Hasley

As I asked those of us at the dinner table to bow our heads for the Christmas Day blessing, my eight-year-old niece spoke up. “Stop, Uncle Papaw! You are not praying right,” she said. Then, Callie proceeded to get up, walk over where I was seated, and readjusted the way I was holding my hands. “There,” she said approvingly, “It will work now.” It always works out well whenever we do the things to make Christ and others feel welcome in our home.

Scripture: Matthew 19:14

“Allow the children to come to me,” Jesus said. “Don’t forbid them, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to people like these children.”

Response

God, may all those who spend time in our homes during this joyful season feel welcome and loved.

December 16, 2018

Rev. Allison Jean

The incarnation, God choosing to dwell in human flesh, the life of Jesus Christ, is the most incredible miracle in history. There are so many reasons that the joining of God and humanity in one person is amazing, but for me, the incarnation reminds me just how important and valuable our human experiences are. Jesus chose to become human, which shows that humanity and human experience have incredible beauty. Jesus incarnate shows us the full and abundant life that we can have in Christ. Yet I find myself taking so many things for granted. I forget that through God’s grace I can appreciate the beauty around me and even within my own life, my own home. How can you see the beauty surrounding you today?

Scripture: John 1:14

The Word became flesh and made his home among us. We have seen his glory, glory like that of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

Response

Gracious God, you made the decision to dwell among us in human flesh. May I be reminded of the miracle that is and to not take my own human experiences for granted.

December 17, 2018

Dr. Scott Engle

What are your dreams for this Christmas? What would make it perfect? Or, to turn it around, what would you like to be missing from this Christmas? Heaven is like that. It is real, it is to be touched and enjoyed. It is the concrete realization of all our hopes in Christ. Seven hundred years before Jesus, Micah brings the simple word that God’s kingdom, heaven, is without fear. Imagine that. A world absent of fear. A world where lions lie down with lambs. As we approach Christmas, what can you do to make this a no-fear, no-anxiety, no-stress Christmas? How can you make Jesus part of Christmas as you never have before?

Scripture: Micah 4:4

All will sit underneath their own grapevines, under their own fig trees. There will be no one to terrify them; for the mouth of the Lord of heavenly forces has spoken.

Response

God, as we imagine your kingdom without fear, may we continue to strive to bring a piece of that kingdom of heaven to earth.

December 18, 2018

Len Wilson

Is your home a place of security and comfort? Unlike today, ancient homes were not understood as castles for locking away the world. In the first century, a thief could literally dig through a home’s outer wall to steal a person’s possessions. This is why people would come up with other methods to hide their valuables, such as burying them. If an ancient home wasn’t a symbol of security, then what was it for? Most homes had only one room, and even a larger home couldn’t have accommodated many. Instead, front doors opened to a courtyard shared with others. Home was about being a part of a community. When scripture tells us the Word became flesh, it means Jesus made his home among us, together.

Scripture: John 14:1

“Don’t be troubled. Trust in God. Trust also in me.

Response

This season, may we be like Jesus and make our home among others. May we remember that scripture tells us to be part of a community.

December 19, 2018

Rev. Jimmy Decker

The first woodworking project I ever made for my wife was a coffee shelf. It is far from perfect, but we both love it. There’s beauty in being able to build something. It may not look exactly how you dreamed it would look, but you built it out of a passion to create something. Our home here on Earth with God is something we are called to build. Not just with words but with our actions. The Kingdom of God, our home, is here with us in Christ, but it’s not complete. We are invited to continue the work that was started with the first disciples like Paul: the work of building our home here.

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 3:9-11

We are God’s coworkers, and you are God’s field, God’s building. I laid a foundation like a wise master builder according to God’s grace that was given to me, but someone else is building on top of it. Each person needs to pay attention to the way they build on it. No one can lay any other foundation besides the one that is already laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Response

During the season of preparation known as Advent may we continue to work on building the kingdom of God here on earth as we are called to do.

December 20, 2018

Rev. Kim Meyers

On December 15, 2011 my faith life changed. My husband got very ill and ended up in the ICU with bacterial meningitis. He is now fine, but each day of his recovery was a roller coaster. The only constant in this process was my faith. My vision of what Christmas is did not involve illness or hospitals. I was thankful that he was going to recover and also angry that he was so sick. It is hard to be thankful and angry at the same time, but each emotion was real. I focused on the good because the good was awesome. He was with us. We had an imperfect Christmas, full of wonderful joy and saddening sorrow; such is life.

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:1

We know that if the tent that we live in on earth is torn down, we have a building from God. It’s a house that isn’t handmade, which is eternal and located in heaven.

Response

Lord, whatever we are going through this season, whether it be joy or sorrow, help us to retain our grounding faith as we celebrate.

December 21, 2018

Rev. Arthur Jones

School is done for 2018. For those waiting for Christmas, there is nothing but anticipation between now and Christmas. But Christmas is all about anticipation. The world waited for millennia before Jesus came, and we have waited two for Jesus to come back home. It will likely not be fulfilled before Christmas, but we still wait. We wait not simply for Christmas but a better world. Christmas is the promise of the future – of a time when heaven and earth is made new again and righteousness is made home here. Our wait for Christmas is representative of our wait for something longer: Jesus to come back. We remain waiting. Come, Lord Jesus.

Scripture: 2 Peter 3:13

But according to his promise we are waiting for a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.

Response

May we continue to wait in joyous anticipation for Jesus’ return.

December 22, 2018

Rev. Allison Jean

One of the things I remember most powerfully from the day I got married was the moment our pastor said, “Remember that your marriage has not been created just for you.” No matter what your family and home looks like, as Christians we are called to remember that our homes are created not just to be places of comfort for us, but places where we are called to welcome others. It is all well and good to invite someone for dinner, but it is another thing entirely to have open, honest, meaningful conversations with others. True hospitality is not found in decorations and well cooked food. Hospitality is found in graceful vulnerability. How can you open up and be hospitable to someone today?

Scripture: 1 Peter 4:8-9

Above all, show sincere love to each other, because love brings about the forgiveness of many sins. Open your homes to each other without complaining.

Response

Our homes bring us comfort, but may they also be a place of true graceful vulnerability for ourselves as well as others.

December 23, 2018

Dr. Scott Engle

Advent is nearly over. The time has come. Jesus will assume human flesh, born to a young woman from Galilee in the merest of circumstances. Yet, angels and a star invite others to come to this birth, to share in this profound event. Magi and shepherds heeded the invitation. Even now, every Christmas is an opportunity to extend the invitation to others. Come, meet your Savior. This is the Good News you’ve been waiting for! What can you do to make Christmas a time of invitation, not merely to a party, but to encounter the light of Christ through yourself and others? Invitation and welcome. Two words that should express every Christmas.

Scripture: John 1:14

The Word became flesh and made his home among us. We have seen his glory, glory like that of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

Response

Heavenly God, may we be ready to share the good news with all those we meet, extending an open invitation for others to share in our Christmas story.

December 24, 2018

Rev. Jennifer Powell

Christmas Eve worship is a night of celebration and joy as we come together to worship with family and friends. Some of us grieve for those no longer with us. We pass the light of Christ at the end of the service, wiping away tears as we sing “Silent Night.” Remember that God entered the world as a baby just as we all did. Jesus’ first act upon entering our world in the flesh was to cry out, and with his tears and ours comes the thrill of hope for God’s kingdom to come. He is Emmanuel – God with us. This evening offers a thrill of hope to all, hope that in whatever darkness the world faces, Christ will shine his light.

Scripture: Isaiah 9:2, 6-7

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light. On those living in a pitch-dark land, light has dawned.

Response

Silent night! Holy night! Wondrous star, lend thy light; with the angels let us sing “Alleluia” to our King: Christ the Savior is born! Christ the Savior is born.

December 25, 2018

Rev. Robert Hasley

A Christmas tradition at our home is to place a dove on the top of our tree to remind us that with the birth of Christ Jesus, the Holy Spirit now resides in our hearts and in our home. We know that through the Word made flesh in Jesus Christ and the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit, God is always with us, bringing our family great peace and joy. My family and I pray that the peace and joy of Christ will be yours this Christmas Day! Merry Christmas!

Scripture: Luke 2:10-11

The angel said, “Don’t be afraid! Look! I bring good news to you—wonderful, joyous news for all people. Your savior is born today in David’s city. He is Christ the Lord.

Response

Let this Christmas, O God, fill all of us with awe and wonder at how close human life is to you.