December 21 Devotional

Come to Stillness: Take a few minutes to allow your mind and heart to be still before God.

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, Thou Son of the Most High, Prince of Peace, be born into our world. Wherever there is war in this world, wherever there is pain, wherever there is loneliness, wherever there is no hope, come, thou long-expected one, with healing in thy wings.

Holy Child, whom the shepherds and the kings and the dumb beasts adored, be born again. Wherever there is boredom, wherever there is fear of failure, wherever there is temptation too strong to resist, wherever there is bitterness of heart, come, thou blessed one, with healing in thy wings.

Saviour, be born in each of us who raises his face to thy face, not knowing fully who he is or who thou art, knowing only that thy love is beyond his knowing and that no other has the power to make him whole. Come, Lord Jesus, to each who longs for thee even though he has forgotten thy name. Come quickly. Amen. (The Hungering Dark by Frederick Buechner)

Scripture Reading for the Day: Isaiah 42:1-9

Reading for Reflection: New is something we all deeply long for. In fact, which one of us is not excited about a new beginning, or a clean slate, or a new lease on life, or a brand new heart? Who among us is not thrilled at the prospect of all the old and the worn out and the broken being done away with in favor of the new, and the fresh, and the whole. But I’ll be the first to admit that as much as I yearn for all things to be made new, I don’t want it to cost me anything. I don’t want it to be a process that is slow and difficult, arduous and long. I want it to just suddenly appear, to be as quick and as easy as possible - like waving some sort of magic wand.

New birth, however, does not come easy. In fact, the birthing process is often a long and painful one. I guess that’s why they call it labor. And the necessity of this labor is not only true of physical birth, but of spiritual birth as well. That does not mean that we can somehow work our way into some new state of being or of seeing. The new thing, whatever it may be, must be conceived in us, and that is something that we ultimately have no control over; no more control than Mary had as the Spirit came upon her.

The birthing of this new thing, however, is a different story. The birthing process, the process of bringing this new thing into existence, requires a labor - a labor that is likely filled with much pain and turmoil and struggle. A pain and a turmoil and a struggle that is offset, however, by the overwhelming joy of seeing this new thing being brought into existence - being born either among us or within us. Therefore, it is a labor that is both purposeful and hopeful. It is a labor that, to borrow a phrase from a popular Christmas song, is a labor of love.

Reflection and Listening: silent and written

 

Hymn for the Day

Prayer: for the church, for others, for myself

J. and C. are working in a Creative Access country for World Outreach. J. is developing an entry platform using sustainable technologies that will provide income and economic development among the people they are ministering to. Pray today for God’s will to be evident as the team is in the process of exploring a new partnership with a large Business as Mission organization.

The CSPC Special Needs Ministry reaches out to families touched by a disability and offers support to those who are constant caregivers. Opportunities for respite care are given to these families by loving, trained volunteers who offer their services several times a year through a program called Buddy Blast. This involves a variety of activities such as play time in the gym, movies, crafts and games. Pray today for Knoxville families who are touched by a disability and for the volunteers at CSPC who lovingly reach out to them.

Closing Prayer: O Lord our God, may something new be born in us this day, as well as this season. This season where we celebrate your birth into this cold and cruel world. This season where we rejoice over your amazing arrival to live among us; to give us light and life and hope and peace. We pray this in the name of your Son Jesus. Amen.