By Rev. Alan Dicken - Friday December 22, 2017
Scripture: Please Read Isaiah 61:1-4 -- What does this have to do with Christmas? There aren't even any shepherds, or angel proclamations. There are no stars or inns. There are no virgins or miraculous birth or dreams or nativity scenes or jingle bells or carols. There is not a single reindeer! Not. One.
By Lucas Lerma - Thursday December 21, 2017
Scripture: Please Read Luke 1:46b-55 -- From time to time, we fall into the anxiety of what Christmas present we're going to give to our friends/family. We get to a point sometimes that this is the only thing we think about. As Christians we are called to turn our attention from the worries of the holidays and rejoice for what they stand. We are called to a time of celebration, not a time of worrying what scent to have in our home or what decorations need to be prepared. The holidays should never be a burden, but rather a time of joy and laughter.
By Gena Stone-Phillips - Wednesday December 20, 2017
Joyful Optimism -- This is my favorite time of the year. From Thanksgiving to the season of Advent you can usually see a twinkle in my eye, a smile on my face and a song on my lips. For me this feeling of joy comes almost every year and transcends age and circumstances. 2017 has been a challenging year filled with uncertainties not just for me but for the country. I can't help but wonder if I will have adequate health care coverage after I retire. I watch CNN and wonder if a war with North Korea is inevitable? There are mass killings, wildfires and hurricanes, global warming; these are uncertain times in which we live. As we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Savior how can we not be optimistic? We have only to believe in his saving grace and trust him in the practical matters of life. I will put away the worries and uncertainties at least for a season.
By Rev. Dr. Tom Stephenson - Tuesday December 19, 2017
Conspire with Me -- Scripture: Please Read Luke 1:46-55 -- In 2006, a small group of pastors gathered to conspire against Christmas. Actually, they were resisting the Western idea of Christmas where we worship the day, adore the gift-giving, and glorify the season and its trappings. Thus began the mission of The Advent Conspiracy (adventconspiracy.org,) an adventure in conspiratorial worship and significant giving with an eye and heart prophetic economics, justice and a genuine encounter with the incarnate Christ. There must be a better to reflect and observe God's self-investment in human flesh.
By Candis Wilson - Monday December 18, 2017
Scripture: Please Read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 -- "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” -- What does this really mean? Are we supposed to always go around with a smile on our face, pray every waking moment, and be happy with every situation? Impossible right? Can you honestly say that you rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in everything? Joy and happiness are not something that you can turn "on” and "off” like a light switch. We all have our bad days and moments where being upbeat and joyful are the last things on or minds.
By Rev. Kevin Phipps - Sunday December 17, 2017
Scripture: Please Read Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11 -- This passage from Second Isaiah is written to people who have watched their world collapse around them. Great Israel, the very chosen ones of God, have been conquered by the evil Babylonians. They have been forced into exile, at least the lucky ones. The unlucky ones have had to stay in Jerusalem and see their former holy places desecrated. There is only a memory of the greatness of days gone by. And in the midst of this seeming doom and gloom, the prophet of YHWH dares to proclaim the 'year of the Lord's favor.' The prophet says, that even in the midst of their terrible circumstances, there is good news for the oppressed, the broken hearted can be healed, and the prisoners will find release. The prophet even goes on to suggest that instead of ashes, the people of God will be wearing garlands and their oil will be of gladness instead of mourning.
By Rev. Dr. Eric Brown - Saturday December 16, 2017
The Coming of Christ Gives Hope -- Scripture: Please Read Isaiah 40: 1-11 -- The more things change, the more they stay the same. A statement made often in the book of Ecclesiastes, "There is nothing new under the sun.” We are living in a time of social upheaval, some of it caused by natural disasters, some caused by human beings in high places. There remains uncertainty about national healthcare. Will we actually go to war with North Korea? Hurricanes have caused devastation in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Florida, and Texas. Portions of California have been burned to the ground by wildfires.
By Rev. Heather S Schimmel - Friday December 15, 2017
Scripture: Please Read 2 Peter 3: 8 – 15a -- There are times when I'm not patient. And some days I think God moves TOO SLOW! Waiting is not an easy thing to do and in times of stress can be almost painful. There have been times I my life recently when waiting on God has seemed so hard. I wanted to know the answers NOW. I would cry and argue with God, but somehow God always found a way to remind me that the timing I wanted wasn't the best thing for us. God's timing was better and I needed to wait and learn in the waiting time. There were lessons I needed to experience in the wait that would impact the future God was calling me into.
By Anne C. Sowell - Thursday December 14, 2017
Scripture: Please Read 2 Peter 3: 8 – 15a -- Advent is the time of year when those of us professing a relationship with GOD spend time in meditation about his birth, stage reenactments of his birth and offer sermons from the gospels of his coming into this world. Mark 1 tells of John the Baptist preparing the way for the coming of Jesus.
By Rev. Enrique Ocasio - Wednesday December 13, 2017
Comfort, comfort my people in Puerto Rico -- Scripture: Isaiah 40:1-2 “Comfort, comfort my people! says your God. Speak compassionately to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her necessary service has ended, that her penalty has been paid, and that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” -- The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season began on June 1st, 2017 and ended November 30th, 2017. On September 2017 the small island of Puerto Rico in the Caribbean was hit by the worst hurricane of its history.