Mission Devotional - January 2, 2017

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: John 3:1-8

Journal: What is being born anew within you during this holiday season? How will you make time and space for this new thing to grow and develop?

Reflection: The holidays are only holy if we make them so.

Otherwise, the assault of modernity - from crass consumerism to a twenty-four-hour news cycle to the compulsivity of the wired world - wrecks whatever we have left of our nervous systems, making the true spiritual meaning of Christmas seem as distant as the furthest star. It's only when we consciously carve out a space for the holy - in our heads, our hearts and our lifestyles - that the deeper mysteries of the season can reveal themselves.

The holidays are a time of spiritual preparation, if we allow them to be. We're preparing for the birth of our possible selves, the event with which we have been psychologically pregnant all our lives. And the labor doesn't happen in our fancy places; there is never "room in the Inn," or room in the intellect, for the birth of our authentic selves. That happens in the manger of our most humble places, with lots of angels, i.e., thoughts of God, all around.

Something happens in that quiet place, where we're simply alone and listening to nothing but our hearts. It's not loneliness, that aloneness. It's rather the solitude of the soul, where we are grounded more deeply in our own internal depths. Then, having connected more deeply to God, we're able to connect more deeply with each other. Our connection to the divine unlocks our connection to the universe.

According to the mystical tradition, Christ is born into the world through each of us. As we open our hearts, he is born into the world. As we choose to forgive, he is born into the world. As we rise to the occasion, he is born into the world. As we make our hearts true conduits for love, and our minds true conduits for higher thoughts, then absolutely a divine birth takes place. Who we're capable of being emerges into the world, and weaknesses of the former self begin to fade. Thus are the spiritual mysteries of the universe, the constant process of dying to who we used to be as we actualize our divine potential.

We make moment-by-moment decisions what kind of people to be - whether to be someone who blesses, or who blames; someone who obsesses about past or future, or who dwells in the present; someone who whines about problems, or who creates solutions. It's always our choice what attitudinal ground to stand on: the emotional quicksand of negative thinking, or the airstrip of spiritual flight.

Such choices are made in every moment, consciously or unconsciously, throughout the year. But this is the season when we consider the possibility that we could achieve a higher state of consciousness, not just sometimes but all the time [through the One who came to dwell among us]. - Marianne Williamson

Prayer for the church, for others, for myself

Kenton and Ariana Wood serve in Guadalajara, Mexico as a church planter. Pray today for Kenton who oversees a mother church that has six services on Sunday. Pray also for the Purépecha Indians in the nearby state of Michoacan that they may be reached with the gospel. Pray today for the Woods as they serve the people of Mexico.

Volunteers provide weekly English classes at CSPC for those who need to improve their language skills. Classes meet on Thursdays in the morning and in the evening. There is an optional Bible study held after the morning classes. The ESL students and teachers hold holiday parties, go on outings and picnics, and do other fun things together. Pray today for the students that will join the classes for the new semester.

Closing Prayer: Almighty God, who came to us long ago in the birth of Jesus Christ, be born in us anew today by the power of your Holy Spirit. We offer our lives as home to you and ask for grace and strength to live as your faithful, joyful children always. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants)