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Mission Devotional - December 23, 2016

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, the journey to Bethlehem has indeed been a long one, and it has not been easy to watch and to wait and to stay alert and ready for your coming. And now we find ourselves near the end of the journey, ready to welcome and receive you anew into our hearts and lives and world. So come, Lord Jesus! Come into your world and bring us the life and the love and the hope for which we have been so deeply longing. Amen.

Scripture: Luke 2:1-5

Journal: Where are you in your journey to Bethlehem? What has the season of Advent been like for you? Are you ready for the Christ to be born anew in your heart?

Says a country legend told every year:
Go to the barn on Christmas Eve and see
what the creatures do as that long night tips over.
Down on their knees they will go, the fire
of an old memory whistling through their minds!

I went. Wrapped to my eyes against the cold
I creaked back the barn door and peered in.
From town the church bells spilled their midnight music,
and the beasts listened -
yet they lay in their stalls like stone.

Oh the heretics!
Not to remember Bethlehem,
or the star as bright as the sun,
or the child born on a bed of straw!
To know only of the dissolving Now!

Still they drowsed on -
citizens of the pure, the physical world,
they loomed in the dark: powerful
of body, peaceful of mind,
innocent of history.

Brothers! I whispered. It is Christmas!
And you are no heretics, but a miracle,
Immaculate still as when you thundered forth
On the morning of creation!

As for Bethlehem, that blazing star

still sailed the dark, but only looked for me.
Caught in its light, listening again to its story,
I curled against some sleepy beast, who nuzzled
my hair as though I were a child, and warmed me
the best it could all night.
(Christmas Poem by Mary Oliver)

Prayer for the church, for others, for myself

Paul and Dori Pittman currently serve as area directors for United World Mission's Latin America region. Paul is also project coordinator of UWM's Cuba Partnership Project. Pray today for UWM's Cuba Partnership Projects that God will raise up partner churches in the U.S. and Canada who will catch the vision to reach Cuba for Christ. Pray today also for a healthy recovery for Dori who was scheduled to have a pacemaker inplanted earlier this month.

Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) is committed to the evangelism of boys and girls through Good News Clubs, the Tennessee Valley Fair and any other means to reach the children of the Knoxville community. Good News Club is a ministry in which trained teachers meet with groups of children in schools, homes, community centers, churches, apartment complexes and just about anywhere the children can easily and safely meet with their parent's permission. Pray today for the families of the children that attend the Good News Clubs each week that they may know and understand the love of Jesus.

Closing Prayer: The time is near, Lord Jesus. We are filled with joyful expectation of your arrival. Prepare our hearts to receive you, whenever and however you choose to come. Amen.