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2017 Daily Devotions

Daily Devotion Friday, December 15, 2017

Scripture

Staying on Track

12-14 I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.

15-16 So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it. Philippians 3.12-16 (MSG)

A Word of Hope

At some point most of us church folk consciously decide that we wish to live lives that are different and better, because we intend and desire God to be part of our lives. This may happen gradually and quietly or dramatically, but once we make a start on the Christian journey, life is rarely the same again.  

But in “reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out” for us, there are also often unanticipated consequences. Being a Christ-follower is never a passive activity, where you just coast along and all is just sweetness and light.  Being a Christ-follower can be demanding, inconvenient, and costly, and it definitely requires more than simple occasional church attendance. In fact, if you originally were considering “something less than total commitment,” you have certainly reckoned incorrectly.  As Paul says, “God will clear your blurred vision,” and get you back on track, because God has plans for you.

God is counting on those who have said “yes” to Jesus, in the same way that a parent expects a lot from a child. That’s what happens when love is involved.  For us that means active engagement in service, prayer, study (to learn more about God), worship, and giving (which is not just about money – it is a way that we share our love and do God’s work). Why must we do these things? Because through such actions we are continually transformed and grow closer to God.   

Paul knew that the Christian journey required striving, and that we all get tired. But one of the wonderful aspects about how we practice our faith is that we do so in community. When one of us falters, becomes fatigued, or frustrated, when we think this Christian journey is just too demanding…we siblings in the community are there to say, “Yes, you can!” Or “Don’t miss this, you really will benefit!” Or, “You’ll be blessed by it, I know you will!” It is our job to encourage, nudge, and celebrate with our fellow Christian journeyers. 

By God’s grace, we are on the right track. When the road gets bumpy, remember that you only have to look over your shoulder and a fellow trekker is right next to you ready and willing to lend support and blessing.

Prayer

Gracious God, we acknowledge that it is you who provides the light for our faith journeys, and we could not persevere without love that light brings forth. Give us strength to continually strive for total commitment as Christ-followers, and help us to share with one another the courage that you inspire within us. -In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Devotion Author

Patricia Bjorling

Daily Devotion Thursday, December 14, 2017

Scripture

I will stand at my watch post, and will station myself on the rampart;

I will keep watch to see what [God] will say to me, and what the answer

            to my complaint will be.

Then the Lord answered me and said: Write the vision:

            Make it plain on tablets, so that a runner may read it….

If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come…Habakkuk 2:1-3

A Word of Hope

Remember that song “Something’s Coming” from West Side Story? “Something’s coming, I don’t know what it is but it is gonna be great…” There’s a driving rhythm and strong sense of anticipation in the song. It has you leaning in, rushing forward toward the moment when that “miracle due” comes true.  Yet in spite of the urgent expectancy Tony feels, he has a sense that he must “wait for it.”  As the days hurtle toward Christmas with a pace that sometimes seems unstoppable, we would do well to wait, to listen, and to “keep watch to see what God will say.”

Actually, West Side Story holds more resonance for us during Advent than we might imagine. The young people live in a world of violence, the divisions of race and “clan,” a world where many are crippled by low expectations. Yet Tony and Maria are dreamers. And their love, idealistic as it is, leads Tony to risk all to bring peace between the rival gangs—even at the cost of his life.

Like the prophet Habakkuk in today’s scripture, I have been waiting for a vision for our distressed country. The glimpses that are coming are rooted in the nature of Jesus’s incarnation. It was a radical act of God’s imagination, a radical act of Divine Love.  In the incarnation, God conceived a new path to intimacy with us, but in that relationship God would become achingly vulnerable. What does it mean for love to come that far, to risk that much? What response should it call forth from us?

Perhaps we must step out from behind our protective walls and climb up on the ramparts to engage in the struggles of the revolutionary love heralded by modern prophets like Rev. Dr. William Barber II.  This love “resists all policies, actions, and rhetoric that puts people in harm’s way,”  “refuses to mirror the hatred and vitriol we oppose,” and “fights for justice through the ethic of love.”  http://www.revolutionarylove.net/

Prayer

Give us courage, O God, to engage in the struggle. Amen.

Devotion Author

Dr. Pat Saxon

Daily Devotion Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Scripture:

In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all God’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.

Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.

Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense.  When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of God. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to God. And he will go on before the Messiah, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the son of God.”                                                    Luke 1:5-17 (NIV)

Word of Hope:

This scripture is foretelling the birth of John the Baptist, the cousin of Jesus. John the Baptist will prepare people for the coming of Jesus. I love this story. In the following verses, Mary will be visited by the Angel Gabriel (the same angel who visited Zechariah), who will inform her that she will give birth to a son who will be called the son of the Most High. Mary then visits her aunt Elizabeth, who, on hearing Mary’s greeting, feels John leap for joy within her womb, in recognition of the coming of Jesus.

This sets the tone of excitement and anticipation for the coming of Christ. Advent is like this for me, a time of excitement and anticipation. Often, I find that the season passes by too quickly. I have to be purposeful in how I focus on Advent, so that I can slow down enough to find joy in the season and not be overwhelmed by shopping and other preparations for “the perfect Christmas.”

One practice that helps me is to light the candles of an Advent wreath at home each day during Advent. I read an Advent devotion after lighting the candles. These devotions are available from several sources; I have several books of Advent devotions. If you would rather, you can just sing a Christmas carol or hymn each day after lighting the candles. Don’t let the lack of an Advent wreath stop you from observing Advent in this way. A simple votive candle can stand in for an Advent Wreath. 

Prayer:

Magnificent God, help me to prepare my heart for Your gift, the coming of your son, Jesus.

Devotion Author

Molly Sutton, COH member

Daily Devotion Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Scripture

And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.  From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name.  Luke 1:46-49

Words of Hope

Today we commemorate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the pregnant Madonna, and how fitting it is that she is celebrated on the Christian calendar before the incarnation of Jesus on the twenty-fifth.  You may reverently kneel and pray in homage to her at the right side front of the Cathedral of Hope sanctuary.

Mother Mary first appeared emerging from the sunlight and having the moon at her feet to Juan Diego on December 9, 10 and 12 in 1531 and said, “My dear little son, I am the ever-virgin Mary, Mother of the true God who gives life and maintains its existence. He created all things. He is in all places. He is Lord of Heaven and Earth.  All those who sincerely ask my help in their work and in their sorrows will know my Mother's Heart in this place. Here I will see their tears; I will console them and they will be at peace."

The bishop of the region was dubious of Juan’s vision and asked her for a sign, so Mary made Castilian roses bloom, a flower not native to the area.  Juan Diego gathered them up in his tilma and when he opened it and let the roses fall in front of the bishop, the image of the Lady was imprinted on the cloth.  The tilma was made of cactus fiber and today is housed in the most visited shrine in the Americas in Mexico City, and still shows no sign of decay, a miracle in itself, since cactus fiber fabrics usually rot within fifteen to twenty years.

Prayer:

O most holy Mother, I beg you to obtain for me pardon of all my sins, abundant graces to serve your Son more faithfully from now on, and lastly, the grace to praise Him with you forever in heaven.

Devotion Author

Teddy Mowrey

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Childcare is provided at all Sunday and Wednesday services.

Sundays
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9 & 11 a.m. – Children’s Church
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1 p.m. – Sunday Worship in Spanish

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7:15 p.m. – PULSE Service

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