Written by Rebecca Dingman - Heartland Church - Fort Wayne, IN
Artwork by Rhonda Bailey
Let the windows of my soul
show the kindness of Your heart.
Let the tongue that sings of praise
tell the stories of Your love.
Let the words of my heart
speak the truth of Your Word.
Let the world of creation
know the promise of Your Son.
Let the light of Your joy
bring the strength of Your grace.
I pray for every
They will understand
Written by The Rev. Dcn. Nathan Sharp - St. Patrick's Anglican - Lexington, KY
Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said…
“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body have you prepared for me;
in burnt offerings and sin offerings
you have taken no pleasure.
Then he said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,
as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”
…And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Hebrews 10:5-7, 10)
As a teacher, I spend most of my day with middle school and high school students. And like them, I sometimes face the pressure to feel, do, or experience something new. This has often led me to try and come up with something unexpected to grab my students’ attention or something novel to make a routine lesson feel exciting or worth learning.
Over time, however, I’ve realized that my students’ perspective of who I am and how I act toward them has a much greater impact on whether or not they’ll listen than anything I can come up with to try and convince them that the subject matter is important.
When the author of Hebrews reminds us that Christ’s sacrifice is once for all, you’d think the magnitude of a statement like this and the response it might elicit would stick. Easily distracted and faced with the daily temptations of life, however, our hearts are prone to wander.
I think somewhere in these observations is the lesson God has been trying to teach me this Advent season. The lesson that despite the many ways we as humans try to wander or try to somehow make the Gospel more relevant, God’s promise and His gift still stand - unchanged and eternal. In this I am reminded that no matter how many times I experience Advent or the Christmas narrative, the story’s familiarity can never become a substitute for its significance. And God’s action of love toward humanity can never be replaced by our actions toward Him.
Much like my students, I am learning that my teacher Jesus has demonstrated not only Who He is, but the extent to which He was and is willing to go to redeem us. I find it much easier to listen and obey when I rest in this truth than when I let the pressures of a weary world suggest that the climax of the Gospel needs dressed up or revitalized in order to be embraced.
So, this Advent I am resting in something unchangeable. I am resting in the Prophet’s reminder that Christ’s coming forth is from of old, from ancient days (Micah 5:2). I am resting in Mary’s declaration that God’s hand has been at work in redemption from generation to generation (Luke 1:46–55). And with great anticipation, I echo the Psalmist’s prayer for restoration and the continual presence of God (Psalm 80:3, 7).
This Advent, I am thankful that even in the lectionary, beforehand determined, God is at work teaching me. As we journey toward Christmas together, may we wait on the coming of our Lord, in active remembrance and anticipation. For the One who calls us near has kept His word and this truth is once for all.
Written by Beth Bankert - Heartland Church - Fort Wayne, IN
Artist: Deana Harvey
“Then Mary said, ‘Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her” (Luke 1:38 NKJV).
I've been reading "The Christmas Story" in the Gospels as I do every year at this time. I have been infused, empowered, and encouraged with great hope and expectation for new things. The enemy has infiltrated our nation. Our lives, our homes, and our country need God’s love and the leading of the Holy Spirit like never before. It is much like it was in Bethlehem on that starry night when people were tired, grieved, and fearful.
But nine months before, a virgin called Mary said yes to God during a visitation by an angel, and the world would never be the same. Joseph had a dream, an angel spoke to him, and he awoke with a bold yes to God. Miles and miles away, Three Wise Men saw a star in the East declaring the birth of the King of the Jews, and they began a long journey after saying yes to God. Saying yes to God changes people, circumstances, and history. This is one time when saying yes brings no regrets. And the ultimate, utterly fantastic, and almost unbelievable yes to God was when a heavenly Jesus came humbly to our world as a flesh and blood baby and turned it upside down but right side up!
We all have daily opportunities of saying yes to God. But what stops us? Does fear of pain or loss of something dear? Or the uncertainty of what God might ask? This one thing I know and believe with all my heart: God will never, ever ask me to do something that is not in my best interest. It will always be something that will grow me to be more like Jesus and move closer to Him.
I'm not saying it will be easy to follow through on your yes to God. It wasn't easy for Mary, Joseph, The Three Wise Men, or Jesus. They sacrificed much. One, even His life. But think about after they followed through with their yeses. Mary gave birth to the Son of God and had the honor and privilege of raising Him. We still talk of her beautiful willingness today, two thousand years later. The same for Joseph. Imagine the conversation The Wise Men had on their trip home. Being able to bear gifts and bow down in worship before Him and participate in interrupting the plan of the enemy to kill our mighty King before He had a chance to lead. And when Jesus said, “Yes,” our world was lit up like fireworks in July. Darkness was overcome, true fellowship with our Holy God was made available, and so much more.
Saying yes to God, means saying no to everything that STOPS us from saying yes. The Kingdom of God needs men and women, who are ready and willing to say yes to God. Before the new year begins, will you pray and ask Father God what He is asking of you? Then meet with a trusted friend, pray, and do not let fear sway your answer. You won't forget or regret saying yes to God.
Father Tim, a character in Jan Karon’s Mitford Series books, started each day with this simple prayer, “Lord, make me a blessing to someone today.” Many times, that is exactly what God is asking of us. It is that simple.
Written by Kate Krumreig - Communications Director, ADGL
I pray for peace. A LOT.
I pray for peace to surround those (especially my family and friends) who are in pain, who are grieving, who cannot sleep.
I pray for peace to overcome anxious and fear-filled minds and hearts when they are unable to be settled.
I pray for peace to remain with those who have finally found some quiet in their lives after having struggled for so, so long.
I pray for peace within my community, our nation, and the world, that people will lay down their swords - physical, emotional, verbal, and psychological alike - and love one another as Jesus commanded.
I pray for peace in the waiting for anything and everything.
As I ponder the ways in which I pray for peace, I find myself wondering if Mary and/or Joseph prayed for peace as they prepared to usher the Savior of the World into it. Did others pray for peace FOR Mary? For Joseph? Their young lives were flipped upside-down so quickly. I can only imagine the unease, fear and anxiety that must have flooded them and how much the slightest ounce of peace would have benefitted them in a time like that: a time that was not dictated by their own will but by God's.
Can you imagine THAT kind of waiting? Can you imagine the NEED for peace in their lives as they waited and prepared according to God's will?
Do you feel like you're in THAT kind of waiting yourself? Might you know someone who feels that way? Waiting for who knows what to happen next, just hoping that the right thing will come of it and that you're worthy enough to take part in it?
Do you NEED that kind of peace, too?
Ask God for it. Pray for it. Humbly request it and patiently wait.
He will answer.
He will give you perfect peace in His time, according to His will for your life.