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Mission Devotional - Christmas Day

Opening Prayer: O Great Light of the world, shine on us, dwell in us, and allow us to celebrate your coming into our darkness this day. Give us the joy of those who have been rescued from darkness and despair by the coming of your light and your hope. Amen.

Scripture: Isaiah 9:2-7

Journal: What does it mean to you today that the light has come into our darkness? What hope does it give you? What joy does it produce in you? How is God calling you to walk in the light this day, and every day?

Reflection: Christmas tries to point to an inner light, a tree of lights inside the house of our being, and invites us to come close and ponder its beauty. We notice this light because it is contrasted with an outer darkness. And it defies this darkness, refusing to allow the outer world to dictate the terms of existence.

Yet it is important to note the darkness does not go away. Although it is not the overwhelming power it pretends to be, darkness plays an essential role in becoming conscious of the revelation. "What has come into being in him was life and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it" (John 1:4-5).

The Christmas revelation can be phrased: no matter how severe the darkness of the outer world is, it cannot overcome the inner and transcendent light. Although we do not always reflect on it, there is an edge to Christmas, and in-your-face attitude. Chesterton put it simply and well: "A religion that defies the world should have a feast that defies the weather." So I wish you a defiant Christmas. - John Shea

Prayer for the church, for others, for myself

Carlos and Sandy Rios are planting Rivers of Grace Bible Church in the San Andres area of Guadalajara, Mexico. The church is growing and many new families have begun attending. Pray today that the Lord will send new people who can be trained as leaders from a socioeconomic group which doesn't naturally seek leadership positions. Pray today for a period of adjustment for Carlos and Sandy who just returned to Mexico from home assignment.

Christian Leadership Concepts (CLC) is an organization that seeks to find and deploy the natural male disciple-makers in our city, asking them to pour into other men via a two-year disciple-making process. Pray today for the men currently in the two-year discipleship groups.

Closing Prayer: O God, the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. For those who lived in a land of deep shadows - light! sunbursts of light! You repopulated the nation, you expanded its joy. Oh, they're so glad in your presence! Festival joy! The joy of a great celebration, sharing rich gifts and warm greetings. The abuse of oppressors and cruelty of tyrants - all their whips and cudgels and curses - Is gone, done away with, a deliverance as surprising and sudden as Gideon's old victory over Midian. The boots of all those invading troops, along with their shirts soaked with innocent blood, Will be piled in a heap and burned, a fire that will burn for days! For a child has been born - for us! the gift of a son - for us! He'll take over the running of the world. His names will be: Amazing Counselor, Strong God, Eternal Father, Prince of Wholeness. His ruling authority will grow, and there'll be no limits to the wholeness he brings. He'll rule from the historic David throne over that promised kingdom.

He'll put that kingdom on a firm footing and keep it going with fair dealing and right living, beginning now and lasting always. The zeal of God-of-the-Angel-Armies will do all this. Thank you, thank you, thank you! (The Message)