Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Family Advent Devotions - Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Advent Wreath

Consider choosing a different family member to to read each part.

Opening Prayer:  Dear God, thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus, to be our Savior.  Send Him now and everyday to our hearts and help us to be ready for His coming again on the last day. Amen.

Bible Passage:  Psalm 89:14-16  Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Mercy and truth go before Your face.  Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! They walk, O LORD, in the light of Your countenance.  In Your name they rejoice all day long, And in Your righteousness they are exalted. 

Meditation:  Perhaps you picked up an Advent Table Tent at one of our worship services.  You'll notice that there are five candles pictured on each side.  If you put a little candle in the middle, you can see that on each side a candle is "lit" until all four are lit on the Sunday before Christmas.  

About two hundred years ago in Germany a pastor thought of the idea of an Advent wreath. He had a mission school for poor children, and the children would often ask, "How many days until Christmas?"  The pastor put candles on a wagon wheel and lit the candles every day to show the children how close it was to Christmas.  

I think there are two reasons why children love Christmas so much.  One is that we get to give and get gifts.  Have you started talking about your Christmas lists?  The other is that Christmas isn't really an "adult" celebration.  It's a celebration about a baby.  Are there any other celebrations on our calendar like that?  

What a special baby He was!  Our Bible passage today mentions "righteousness," "justice," "mercy," and "truth."  People knew all these things came from God.  But when Jesus came into our world, everyone saw that this really was God's Son because He brought all these things to us!  Sin makes us sad.  We hurt ourselves and others when we do bad things. But righteousness and mercy make us joyful.  Righteousness is when we do the right thing, and mercy is when God still loves us even though we don't always do the right thing.  God wants to take us away from all the bad things of this world, and that is why He sent us His perfect Son - the baby Jesus. 

For Discussion:  What are some of the bad things in this world that make people sad?  What are some of the good things Jesus did to make people joyful?  How does Jesus still help us to be joyful?

Prayer:  Dear Jesus, thank You for bringing everything that is good into this world and into our hearts.  Thank You for teaching us what is right and for forgiving us when we sometimes do what is wrong.  Help us everyday to live in Your light.  Amen.  

Hymn:  "The Advent of Our King"
by Charles Coffin, 1676-1749
Translated by John Chandler, 1806-1876

Click here for the melody.

1. The advent of our King
Our prayers must now employ,
And we must hymns of welcome sing
In strains of holy joy.

2. The everlasting Son
Incarnate deigns to be;
Himself a servant's form puts on
To set His servants free.

3. O Zion's Daughter, rise
To meet thy lowly King,
Nor let thy faithless heart despise
The peace He comes to bring.

4. As Judge, on clouds of light,
He soon will come again
And His true members all unite
With Him in heaven to reign.

5. Before the dawning day
Let sin's dark deeds be gone,
The old man all be put away,
The new man all put on.

6. All glory to the Son,
Who comes to set us free,
With Father, Spirit, ever One,
Through all eternity.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Budded on Earth to Bloom in Heaven

     When my family went to Idaho this summer, we visited one of the Nez Perces Indian Reservations.  On this reservation there is a cemetery with graves of both Indians and missionaries.  I found an inscription on one of the grave-stones that really impressed me.  Alvina Moore lived only six years on this earth from 1914 to 1920.  Her grave is marked with a stone that has a lamb and below that her name, the name of her parents, and then this beautiful little phrase:  “Budded on earth to bloom in heaven.”  What a beautiful way to look at life!  This is a good life that God has given us no matter how long or short it is.  It is a good life because in Christ it is never just a faded or fading flower, but rather a flower that will live on forever in heaven.  Embrace it with faith, thanksgiving, wisdom and joy in Jesus.  Live it for God’s purposes of salvation and for His eternal glory.  

     From the sermon "Are You Ready?" 2 Timothy 4.6-8
     All Saints Celebration, November 4, 2012