Advent devotions contributed by our member, Janet Ichida
A new devotion is added every day during the Advent season, November 30 – December 25, 2014. Scroll down to read today’s devotion, or download prior devotions.
I love the holiday season and am thrilled when Advent rolls around. The first things I must do each year are get out our dusty Advent wreath and pick some devotional for Bob and I to use. Every night for as long as we have been a family, we gather together after dinner and do some sort of special preparation while lighting the candles one by one. Stephanie was always part of this time perhaps playing a carol on the piano or making a special ornament. We always read a holiday picture book; I have quite the collection. Once she moved out, it somehow became difficult for Bob and I to make this nightly routine a priority. I tried different devotions, but could never fit one for the two of us. I knew others in our congregation had this same problem, so I asked Pastor if I could write some special devotions and goodness sakers, here we go.
I have included a short Bible passage from the ELCA readings, followed by discussion questions aimed for adults or items for a personal journal. Then I wrote some questions for kids if that is what you need. I conclude each day with some Words to Ponder and a short prayer. I hope you find this useful and make an effort to remember the reason for the season. Will you make reading these words (or others like them) a priority for this Advent season? Will you be prepared?
Wednesday, December 24, 2014: Christmas Eve
Luke 1: 39 – 55
39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”
46 And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, 49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me holy is his name. 50 His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. 51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. 53 He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful 55 to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.”
Discussion / Journal Questions
- In what ways has God blessed you?
- In verse 52, it says God has “brought down rulers from their thrones.” Why then are there terrible and cruel rulers throughout the world?
- In what ways has God been merciful to you?
- Will you continue to do daily devotions now that Advent is almost finished?
Questions for Little Ears
- God blesses people with many things. Some people are fast runners or can do a great job adding numbers. With what things did God bless you?
- God has done many great things. Can you name three of them?
- God will be with you forever! Do you know anything else that lasts forever?
- Did you like answering these questions? Would you like to do them more often?
Words to Ponder
The big day is almost here. For the Ichida family, Christmas really began after the early Christmas service on the 24th. We went home for fattening snacks and watched Miracle on 34th Avenue, opened one gift, then went back to the 11:00 service. Roger Simonis always concluded the service by checking his watch and then saying, “May I be the first one to wish a Merry Christmas.”
Today’s verses hint that Christ’s birth is on the way. Mary meets with her older cousin Elizabeth, also surprisingly pregnant for a different reason. Elizabeth really is too old to bear a child. She had faced facts and given up! Luke describes both she and her husband as “very old.”(I would be curious how he would describe Bob and me.) The future John even “leaped for joy” upon hearing Mary’s greeting. Now that is one happy baby.
Are we that happy? Sure the good moods are more plentiful now that Santa is finally packing his sleigh. We’re even ready to gather with some less than joyful relatives for the sake of maintaining that good will for all. In fact we feel pretty darn proud of ourselves for managing to keep that smile on our faces during at least most of the festivities. We will dress just as directed, pile in the car and head off to our destinations.
I must admit that my mind is focusing too often on 10% cute kid in the manger, 75% presents and 15% calorie laden foods. (Just pass the Wodka cookie platter one more time!) To give myself a little credit, those presents I first envision don’t have “To Janet” on the gift card for I love picking out gifts for Secret Santa, needy families, beloved co-workers, and my wonderful family. It’s time I can issue my thanks for the son-in-law who manages to put up with me, the daughter who has been magically transformed into this Christian Martha Stewart and a husband whom I daily walk hand-in-hand with as we face the future together. Oh yeah, there are one or two or eighty-nine presents for my precious grandchildren. (I am a grandma, you know.)
I need to do better at my priorities. This holiest of holy days I must keep gazing at that manger for maybe 50% of the time. (There I go with my numbers again!) That number may surprise you, and you might even wonder why in the world Pastor would let me pen these devotions. Let me continue. The other 50% must be to keep peeking at the sky or watching at the door for I believe with 100% of my soul that Jesus Christ will come again! He will come with all of the fanfare that the angels can offer. (Even more than our Extravaganza!) The angels will be singing, the stars will be shining, the earth will be trembling and shaking in the world’s delight. And then it will happen. Jesus will hold his hand out for me! Glory halleluiah! I have my line memorized; I have been prepared. All I need to say is, “I believe!”
You see, Jesus was born this night and yes it was in a manger to a frightened young couple in a faraway land. We have to remember there is more! He was born so he could die on the cross for you and for me. He was born so he could come again and lead us on to a place glistening with joy. I believe!
God, thank you for this holy night. May I gather with my church family and probably even cry while singing Silent Night. Let me remember to focus on my Christian family throughout the world and pray for those who are yet to believe. In the coming year, may I bring at least one new believer to your manger and then look patiently to the skies as I wait for your return. Amen
Copyright (c) 2014 Janet Ichida
This Week’s Devotions
Third Week of Advent
Second Week of Advent
First Week of Advent