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2015 Daily Devotions

Thursday, Decebmer 10, 2015

Kris Baker

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

A Word of Hope
Kris Baker Today has been designated by the United Nations as Human Rights Day. The following is from www.un.org

"Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December. It commemorates the day on which, in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 1950, the Assembly passed resolution 423 (V), inviting all States and interested organizations to observe 10 December of each year as Human Rights Day.

This year's Human Rights Day is devoted to the launch of a year-long campaign for the 50th anniversary of the two International Covenants on Human Rights: the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which were adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 16 December 1966.

The two Covenants, together with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, form the International Bill of Human Rights, setting out the civil, political, cultural, economic, and social rights that are the birth right of all human beings.

"Our Rights. Our Freedoms. Always." aims to promote and raise awareness of the two Covenants on their 50th anniversary. The year-long campaign revolves around the theme of rights and freedoms -- freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear -- which underpin the International Bill of Human Rights and are as relevant today as they were when the Covenants were adopted 50 years ago."

It is this campaign's attempt to provide all humankind "freedom from fear" that caught my attention. With all of the violence and hatred in the world today, a true sense of being free from all fear seems nearly impossible. Not that we all walk around constantly looking over our shoulders, but we are now constantly being told, particularly in large public venues, to "Be aware of your surroundings and report any suspicious behavior." Even with this command tucked potentially out of sight in the back corners of our consciousness, it still provokes at least a twinge of fear within us. Yet, God tells us, "Fear not." "Don't panic. I'm with you. There's no need to fear for I'm your God. I'll give you strength. I'll help you. I'll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you." I suspect that I am not alone in wondering what the help looks like and what the grip feels like as there are moments when we are struck with the reality that at any moment we may become a helpless target.

in a society where children are gunned down in their elementary school classrooms, drivers are shot for going too fast or too slow, young people are killed while enjoying a concert or a sporting match, workers are injured and murdered while trying to do good in their small corner of the world, it is hard to think about living a life completely free of fear, even with God's promise of keeping a firm grip on us. Our comfort comes in the knowledge that wherever we find ourselves, God is there with us. Though admittedly, as humans, it is sometimes hard for us to appreciate and find consolation in that knowledge when we find ourselves in the midst of tragedy or moments of gripping fear.

As we journey through this season of Advent awaiting the new life given to us in the birth of the Christ-child, let us keep our eyes on a longer journey, the one that will take us to the place and life where we are all free, equal, and loved.

"Comfort, comfort now my people; Speak of peace so says our God. Comfort those who sit in darkness, mourning under sorrows load. Cry out to Jerusalem of the peace that waits for them; tell her that her sins I cover and her warfare now is over." Amen

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Wednesday December 9, 2015

Donna Jackson
Lay Leader

The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. John 1:4

A Word of Hope
Donna Jackson The Christmas season is always so bright! As a child I waited anxiously for the Christmas tree lights to be strung on the tree and as an adult I love seeing the holidays filled with light. The manger story talks about the shining star which lights the way for the wise men. Many holiday songs declare the light as Holy and how we are to let the light in, shine through us and let it surround us as the promise of Gods eternal love.

There are millions of lights on trees, wreathes, houses, stores, our bow ties and even on our pets. The street lights are garnished with festive ornaments and luminarias will light the paths for parties as well as lighting the paths to worship.

While living in California I attended the most beautiful festival of lights held every year in New Port Beach along the waterway. Once a year, boaters with nothing more in common than the sea, would festively decorate dingy boats and massive yachts. These strangers would come to together, slowly cruise along the shore line filled with spectators anxious to experience Christmas music, watch dancing Santa’s and be in awe of a radiantly lit manger scene.

I remember thinking then how extraordinary it would be if only we could float side by side with our brothers and sisters of varying status and beliefs more often than once a year. I believe that’s what God had in mind and we are reminded how Jesus was sent to be the light of the world always, and in all times and to all people everywhere.

We may have Edison to thank for lighting our light bulbs, technology to thank for our colorful, wireless blinking lights and the media for bringing the awareness of Christmas trees being lit up all over the world. And let us not forget the beautiful lighting of the menorah!

This year as we finally got the Christmas tree stand to cooperate, unraveled the lights we pledged to never use again, picked up the broken pieces of ornaments we loved, we also took time to give thanks. We have God to thank for the birth of Jesus and the promise of everlasting love. Not just at Christmas, but every day of the year.

God of mercy and everlasting love fill out hearts with Christmas spirit every day of the year that we might be the light for all we meet. Amen

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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Winner Laws
Cathedral of Hope Member, Brite Divinity School Student

Every day he was teaching in the temple, and at night he would go out and spend the night on the Mount of Olives, as it was called.” Luke 21:37 NRSV

A Word of Hope
Winner Laws Traveling to and from work every day can sometimes be pleasurable, annoying, frustrating, or even calming. Can you imagine being in traffic and enjoying it? There are some people in this world that take the time to pray, enjoy the weather (rain or sunshine), talk to God, listen to music, or just enjoy the solitude of traveling to and from work. They are literally enjoying every moment of their daily commute or travel adventures.

Take a moment and look through Jesus’ eyes as he daily went to the temple to share knowledge and wisdom. At night, He returned to the Mount of Olives – His home – His refuge for the evening. I wonder if He encountered any “traffic.” Did anyone follow Him home asking for more advice or wisdom about a resolution to a particular problem?

It is paramount for us to plan our travel ahead of time. It is sensible to focus, strategize, hope, and anticipate outcomes while traveling to another city, state, country, or just across town. It is best to set expectations with others before traveling from home to your ultimate destination. When traveling by airplane, car, bus, train, or some other form of transportation, do know when will you arrive? Do you know when will you have to return home? It is a good idea these days to let your family, friends, or co-workers know your plans whether we travel for work or for the holidays.

No matter when you travel or who you travel with, remember God is with you at all times.

Dear God: As we travel to and from our destinations daily, please bless us with your traveling grace and mercy. We will cherish the moments of being in the presence of our co-workers, our family, and friends of choice, or being alone with you. In the name of Jesus, Our Savior, we pray. Amen!

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Monday , December 7, 2015

Dan Peeler
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare
Minister for Children and Families

“And the Word became flesh and lived among us…” John 1.14a

A Word of Hope
Dan Peeler Every year at Advent time we do a lot of Gospel juggling between the birth narratives according to Luke or Matthew. Were the Magi in Luke or Matthew? Which told about the shepherds? Which had no room in the Inn? The subplot details can often obscure the central theme. We usually overlook completely the most succinct of all the birth stories in a third Gospel, John, who begins his writing with the beautiful poem equating the Word to God, and clearly summing up the incarnation for us in the above scripture. In Luke, Jesus’ mother also humbly reinforces the “word” metaphor: “Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’”(Luke 1.38)

The word became flesh the first time in the most natural of ways, by gestating and finally springing forth from the womb of Mary. But how do we give birth to the Word, to Jesus, today? To me, Advent is our season of gestation, the days when we should first set aside time to grow spiritually ourselves as the noted Christian mystic, Joan Chittister, observes, “We live and breathe, grow and develop in the womb of God.” In our awareness of this, we then have the opportunity to meditate on the miracle of the Word actually developing and growing within our own beings. We can be like Mary, who lived and contemplated and matured in the womb of God while simultaneously carrying God in her own womb. The Presbyterian chaplain and author, Loretta Ross-Gotta, speaks of this Advent miracle:

“We create holy ground and give birth to Christ in our time not by doing but by believing and by loving the mysterious Infinite One who stirs within. This requires trust that something of great and saving importance is growing and kicking its heels in you.”

May we be the humble vessels of your Word becoming flesh once again this Advent Season.

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