Sitting by the Christmas Tree
In our home, we celebrate the season of Christmas by leaving our tree up until at least Epiphany. I love the practice of celebrating the liturgical season of Christmas (December 25-January 5). I feel like I have more time to sit by the Christmas tree after everyone else is done celebrating Christmas. The presents have all been unwrapped and the must do list is done. I’m sitting in the living room with all the lights off except the Christmas tree writing this now. It is a silent night with time to think about hopes for this new year and time to give thanks for those I love. It is a holy night feeling God’s love in the midst of this sacred time. It is a time to remember Christmases past and ways I have celebrated throughout my life. Merry Christmas!
What traditions of this season make it meaningful for you?
How do you celebrate in unique ways?
A New Year!
When the year draws to an end, I want to mark the occasion. My husband and I remember the year that is ending through the memories we have collected in our jar. While I don’t want to add another item to my to do list, I do want to look ahead to the new year with hope.
To prepare for this prayer for the new year, gather some paper and a pen and find a comfortable place to sit. When the questions come up in the prayer, pause. Take time to write and reflect.
God of yesterday, today, and tomorrow,
A new year is approaching. After reflecting and remembering this year, I want to look ahead with hope. I wonder what this new year will bring. For your guidance as the new year begins, I pray.
What are my hopes for myself for the new year?
What are my hopes for those I love for the new year?
What are my hopes for where I live, my country, and this world for the new year?
Faithful God, hear my hopes for this new year. Amen.
“When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him.
‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’
He said to him, ‘“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’ –Matthew 22: 34-40
Leviticus 19:18 – love your neighbor as yourself
Deuteronomy 6:5 – love God with all your heart
Deuteronomy 10: 19 – love the stranger
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 – time for everything including love
Micah 6:8 – love justice
Matthew 5: 43-48 – Jesus reminds us to love our enemies
John 15: 9-17 – “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you…”
1 Corinthians 13 – the love chapter
What surprised you about how and where love is mentioned in the Bible?
Where do you find love this Advent season?
How will you share love this Advent season?
“Let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, so that those who love your name may exult in you.”
Psalm 16:11 – In God’s presence there is joy.
Psalm 30:4-5 – Joy comes in the morning.
Matthew 2: 10 (story of the wise men is 2: 1-12)
Luke 1:44- John leapt for joy in Elizabeth’s womb when Mary arrived
Luke 2:10-angels bring shepherds new of joy
Philippians 1: 3-5-I thank God for you.
What surprised you about how and where joy is mentioned in the Bible?
Where do you find joy this Advent season?
How will you share joy this Advent season?
Not too long ago I had a call from my supervisor asking me to stop by her office. Maybe you are one of those people whose mind doesn’t jump to the worst case scenario immediately. I am not. While driving to her office, I wondered what I had done wrong. Had I missed visiting a new patient? Did I offend a patient or family member? Did I chart incorrectly? The questions ran through my mind as I tried and tried to figure out why I was being called to her office. When I arrived, she thanked me for my work and gave me a bag full of goodies as appreciation for all the good work I was doing. I shared with her how I had been worried the entire time I was driving to her office. We laughed. I wish I could say that I learned my lesson and never worry about being called to the office. It isn’t true. I try. And because I felt so much love and appreciation when I received this bag of goodies, I wanted to share it with you. Know that you are loved and the work you do makes a difference in the lives of many others. You are enough. You are God’s beloved.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not let them be afraid.” – John 14: 27
Many times in Old Testament people are told to “go in peace.” For example Jethro to Moses in Exodus 4:18 and Eli to Hannah in 1 Samuel 1:17.
Psalm 29:11 – “May the Lord bless his people with peace.”
Psalm 34:14 – “Seek peace and pursue it.”
Isaiah 9:6-7 – A child has been born to us.
Matthew 10: 34-39-Jesus did not come to bring peace.
Luke 1:79 – Zechariah speaking
Luke 2: 14- angels to shepherds
What surprised you about how and where peace is mentioned in the Bible?
Where do you find peace this Advent season?
How will you share peace this Advent season?
Years ago, I was asked by a church to lead a four-week Advent study. I’ve always loved the ritual of the Advent candle lighting, so for the study I decided to explore where does the Bible mention hope, peace, joy, and love. Each Sunday in Advent, we met and opened our Bibles together. It was such a rich experience that I’d love to do that again here on my blog. Each Monday morning, I’ll share Scriptures for the next week of Advent. I do my sharing a week early to help out any clergy friends in need of inspiration. Bring your Bibles and read through the Scriptures listed.
I’ll invite us all to reflect on these questions-
What surprised you about how and where hope/peace/joy/love is mentioned in the Bible?
Where do you find hope/peace/joy/love this Advent season?
How will you share hope/peace/joy/love this Advent season?
And since Advent begins on Sunday, we’ll start right away with hope.
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’
The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him.
Psalm 33:18, 22- God’s eye is on those who hope in God’s steadfast love.
Psalm 39:7 – My hope is in the Lord.
Psalm 42: 1-5 – My soul longs for God. God is my hope.
Psalm 71: 5, 14 – “I will hope continually.”
Jeremiah 17: 5-13 – verse 7 trust can be translated as hope. Hope/trust?
Romans 4:13-25 – Abraham’s hope
1 Corinthians 13:13 – faith, hope, and love abide
What surprised you about how and where hope is mentioned in the Bible?
Where do you find hope this Advent season?
How will you share hope this Advent season?