Mission Devotional - December 23, 2015

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, master of both the light and the darkness, send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas. We who have so much to do seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day. We who are anxious over many things look forward to your coming among us. We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of your kingdom. We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your presence. We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light. To you we say, "Come Lord Jesus!" Amen. - Henri J. M. Nouwen

Scripture: Jeremiah 33:14-16

Journal: What words from this passage cause hope to rise up in your heart? What life is springing up within you these days? How do the promises of God give you strength and encouragement in the midst of your current situation?

Reflection: There is a divine initiative in our every encounter with God. Even before we knew our Creator, God loved us. Even before we turned to look toward God, God was moving toward us.

Our faintest yearning for God is assurance that God is already longing for us. Our first feeble step toward God is possible because God has already been moving toward us, drawing us nearer by the divine magnet-heart of love. (How to Conduct a Spiritual Life Retreat by Norman Shawchuck, Rueben P. Job, and Robert G. Doherty)

Hymn for the Day

Prayer: for the church, for others, for myself

Lucky & Sonnet Mnisi are South African and serve in Mozambique. Lucky has pastored the Reformed Church in Mucatine, and has helped plant other churches in Gaza Province, including Chake. Lucky is a discipler of young men and has a mentoring role among those he serves. Lucky and Sonnet and their family are now living in Chokwe where Lucky pastors a church they planted. Pray today for their church family to grow in faith and learn to reach out to others in the community.

The Volunteer Ministry Center (VMC) was established in 1987 and offers specialized services to the homeless and those within our community who are in crisis. VMC's programs support its two-fold mission of facilitating permanent supportive housing for those who are homeless and providing services to prevent homelessness. Pray today for the staff of this ministry as they reach out to the homeless community during this holiday season.

Closing Prayer: O Lord, how hard it is to accept your way. You come to me as a small, powerless child born away from home. You live for me as a stranger in your own land. You die for me as a criminal outside the walls of the city, rejected by your own people, misunderstood by your friends, and feeling abandoned by your God.

As I prepare to celebrate your birth, I am trying to feel loved, accepted, and at home in this world, and I am trying to overcome the feelings of alienation and separation which continue to assail me. But I wonder now if my deep sense of homelessness does not bring me closer to you than my occasional feelings of belonging. Where do I truly celebrate your birth: in a cozy home or in an unfamiliar house, among welcoming friends or among unknown strangers, with feelings of well-being or with feelings of loneliness?

I do not have to run away from those experiences that are closest to yours. Just as you do not belong to this world, so I do not belong to this world. Every time I feel this way I have an occasion to be grateful and to embrace you better and taste more fully your joy and peace.

Come, Lord Jesus, and be with me where I feel poorest. I trust that this is the place where you will find your manger and bring your light. Come, Lord Jesus, come. Amen. (The Road to Daybreak by Henri J. M. Nouwen)