Advent Daily Devotion

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Advent Daily Devotion Dec 5

December 5

You Are Never Alone~ By Christy Mossburg, Director of Christian Education

  “I can’t bear to see the boy die.  She sat at a distance, cried out in grief, and wept. God heard the boy’s cries, and God’s messenger called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “Hagar! What’s wrong? Don’t be afraid. God has heard the boy’s cries over there!” Genesis 21:16b – 17

As a parent or someone about to be a parent, it’s easy to relate to the fear in Hagar’s narrative. Can’t you just feel it? An icy, pit-in-your-stomach kind of fear that can paralyze you. This is a fear that is always peering around a corner in parenthood, just waiting to show it’s ugly head.

From the time your precious baby is conceived, and you’re paralyzed with fear over whether this will be a successful pregnancy after losing so many others to the time that they go to college and you watch them leave your home, driving a car several hours away with all of their belongings in tow. The one common denominator in all of these scenarios is that you’re constantly fighting back fear. It’s part of parenting. That realization that you alone cannot protect them from the world.

If you happen to be the parent of a child with any type of medical condition, you likely feel this fear on a more regular basis than most. Though in my case the doctor was wrong, I’ll still never forget the moment that she told me she was pretty sure my young daughter had leukemia. Never in my life have I felt more naked and alone before God. It’s one thing to battle your own health issues, which I have had my share of, but it’s a completely different feeling to watch your child suffer and to be helpless to do anything about it. I’ve experienced this with both of my children and wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

How have I made it through these moments? Miscarriages, pregnancies that were high-risk, sick kids, injured kids, kids having surgeries, and then the inevitable - kids leaving home as young adults? Only one thing has worked on a consistent basis. I’ve put it all in God’s hands. I know from Hagar’s story, as well as many other stories in the Bible, and from my own experience that God IS here. God hears your cries, He hears the cries of those you love, and He will be with you. You are never alone.

Advent Daily Devotion Dec 4

Monday, December 4

God Can and Does Meet Us Where We Are~ By Rev. Jeff Matsler

I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed.

Luke 1: 3-4

Frankly, the opening scenes in Matthew and Luke’s gospels seem a sorry place to begin a religious story – they tell of a tumultuous time filled with corrupt politicians, inept clergy, government plots and cover-ups and even mass killings.  They highlight families dealing with issues ranging from parental stubbornness and divorce to teenage pregnancy, as well as incidents regarding the plights of the homeless and the refugee.  Their world is a mess.

 

 Sound familiar?  If we’re honest, our world – and our families – look a lot like Matthew and Luke’s report. It seems despite all we do to ensure things go as planned, they never do.  Our families are not perfect, no matter how hard we’ve tried to make them so. No matter how successful we may be, loss, disappointment, and failure are a part of life.  And it’s not just us.  We find ourselves in a broken world, full of broken people.

 Advent is the time to remember Christ comes into our broken lives and provides the missing element needed to restore order.  The term Luke uses to describe this – (λόγων / Logos) – is the same word John’s gospel uses to describe Jesus’ role not only in our lives but in all of creation.  We regularly translate it as, “Word,” but a more accurate translation of the Greek is “Form” or “Order” (in ancient Greek, the term means ‘framework’ – the form that determines how everything is built).  Even as the Gospels provide order and clarity to our experiences, God’s presence in the form of the Christ Child breaks into our messy lives, providing structure in the midst of the chaos. 

No matter what’s going in your life today – no matter how messy things have become – Advent is a time to remember God can and does meet us where we are, with a plan that brings order (salvation) to our broken, messy lives.

Rev. Jeff S. Matsler is an ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church and a US Army Chaplain.  He currently serves as the US Army’s Bioethicist and teaches Ethics at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Bethesda, MD.  He is a member of the Northwest Texas Conference and an Affiliate Member of the CUMC Charge Conference.  His family (Michelle, Mary Elizabeth and Taylor) are members of Calvary UMC. 

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