Advent Week 2 – Day 1

Peace: Week Two – Day One

Comfort, O Comfort my people, says your God. – Isaiah 40:1 (NRSV)

This passage is spoken over the people of Israel at the end of their exile. Is read in God’s own voice, and He is calling out to Israel to give them comfort at the end of their trial. It’s an important verse in the book of Isaiah because it presents a huge shift in the message of the book. In fact, some people call the following few chapters the “Book of Comfort” because the tone is one of support and encouragement.

When you think of the word “comfort,” what images come into your mind? Maybe you think about a warm, safe blanket on a cold, rainy night. Maybe you imagine a good hug from a dear friend that you received just at the right moment.

There are lots of things we use to inspire comfort during this time of year. Hot cocoa in a good mug after a long day. Bright lights on our homes when the night lasts so long. Bells that spark music when we least expect it.

The Christmas season is definitely a time when we need comfort; comfort food, comforting friends, and comfortable clothes on those cold winter nights. You, or those close to you, might need a little extra comfort during this season, especially when we remember all the people who cannot celebrate this season with us.

Today, take time to reflect on the images of comfort which surround you. Candles, hugs, and Christmas cards are full of warm wishes and messages of comfort. Resist the urge to get caught up in the stress and materialism of our world. Embrace the Sabbath rest of God. Find your favorite image of comfort and put it in a prominent place. Put a candle on your desk at home or a Christmas card on your bathroom mirror. God wants you to enjoy His comfort this season, and if you get the chance, offer someone else a little comfort too!

Hark the Herald Angels Sing

Enjoy Kari Jobe and the rest of the playlist below.

Imagine going about your daily routine, getting the grunt work done, and running into an unknown figure bringing you a message. I think I would personally be frightened and bewildered, so the “Fear Not” would be comforting to me. I might be assessing the area as well. In our day and age, this could be some new hologram or device projecting a figure, trying to sell me something I don’t want. Then there was the next part… SUDDENLY, A choir of ANGELS, singing about the Glory of God! Nope, not a hologram, this is truly from God!

‘And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” ‘ Luke 2:10-14

Advent Day 5

Hope: Week One—Day Five

But those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. – Isaiah 40:31 (NRSV)

This year has felt like a marathon. There has been so much stress, anxiety, bitterness, and obstacles. Nothing has been normal. I feel like if I hear the phrase “uncertain times” one more time I am going to explode. We really need some certain times if you ask me. We need new energy. We need some encouragement.

In Hebrew, the word “wait” can also mean “hope.” We talked about the connection between waiting and hoping in our last devotion. We discussed how God calls us to practice hope with patience and imagination. But this verse introduces another element to hope which God promised to provide: strength.

Waiting can take a lot of energy out of you. Without God’s intervention we can become discouraged or exhausted by the circumstances in which we find ourselves. But God promised if you wait for Him, if you put your hope in Him, He will renew your strength. It is a message of endless endurance and profound support. Isaiah presents us with a heroic image of a runner who never gets tired, and paints us a picture of a majestic bird soaring above all troubles.

This verse reminds me of where we find hope in our Christmas hymns. There’s a line in “O Holy Night” which goes: “A thrill of hope – the weary world rejoices, For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!”

I love the idea that hope is thrilling. There’s an energy and strength behind hope. It feels like electricity animating our very bones.

The hope of God is not a weak and fragile thing. God’s hope is dynamic and strong. It energizes us in the midst of “uncertain times.” It makes us agile enough to overcome the most challenging of obstacles. God’s hope is thrilling and brings joy to all the world.

Maybe this seems unattainable to you. Maybe you are weary from a year of uncertainty. Engage God in conversation. Ask for the strength and thrill of hope this Advent.

Tonight is the NIGHT – OAKWOODMS CHRISTMSAS MOVIE NIGHT @ STARS AND STRIPES

Oakwood Middle School Family Movie Night @ Stars & Stripes Drive-In Theatre.

All Middle School Families are invited to this FREE EVENT for a night of laughs and celebration to start off the Christmas Season. 
MOVIE NIGHT SIGN UP LINK 

Movie Time 7pm – Running TIme 1hr 37min

WE HAVE PLENTLY OF ROOM FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY AND YOUR FRIENDS AND SOME OTHER PEOPLE!!!! 
Watch in the comfort of your car, bring some lawn chairs to sit up front, bring your own food or buy at the concession stand.

Advent Day 4

Hope: Week One – Day Four

From ages past no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who works for those who wait for him. – Isaiah 64:4 (NRSV)

What a mysterious passage! This verse sets up an interesting theological idea. The first half of the verse talks about how amazing and powerful God is. From generation to generation there has never been anyone more marvelous than our God. God is the creator of the world and Savior of all humankind.

This week in Advent, we are focusing on the spiritual discipline of hope. Being good at hope (and yes, you can be good at hope) means you must have two things: patience and Imagination. Consider what it means to be patient. Nobody hopes for things they already have, rather we have to wait for the things we are hoping for. Verse four says that God only works for those who wait on Him, not the people who rush to get things done their own way. But we shouldn’t just sit around waiting for God to work without any idea of what we are looking for.

Think about it this way: there was once a little girl who was participating in a scavenger hunt. As she wandered through the yard she got more and more upset because she couldn’t find any of the clues that her parents hid for her. Finally, she gave up and asked for help. When her brother came over, he easily found one of the clues and handed it to the little girl. She was shocked! The little girl had walked past the clue a dozen times, but she didn’t realize that’s what she was supposed to be looking for. She lacked the imagination to see what was right in front of her. Today’s passage calls us to practice hope with patience and imagination. We are not supposed to wait around doing nothing and expecting God to act. We must remember what our God is like and then live into the expectation of what God will do. Take time today to ask God for the right combination of patience and imagination.

Advent Day 3

Hope: Week One – Day Three

Make your name known to your adversaries, so that the nations might tremble at your presence! – Isaiah 64:2 (NRSV)

This has been a pretty crazy year with the pandemic, celebrity deaths, and a vicious presidential election. We’ve seen politicians on all sides behave badly and struggle to provide good leadership for our country. The way we do school and church has changed in ways we wouldn’t have imagined beforehand. We missed big events and milestones all in the hope that we could keep each other safe and healthy. 2020 has been tough; if 2020 was a food, it would be toothpaste-covered orange slices. But this verse is one we need for today. It’s about hoping for a better future.

In the second half of this verse, Isaiah asks that God might make the nations of the world tremble. He doesn’t specify which nations; he probably means all nations. It’s tough to say what is going on exactly, but it’s a pretty good bet that it had not been a good year. If we think about the historical context, this was likely written during the exile when all of Israel was under the thumb of foreign enemies. For Israel, things were rough, and it felt like the whole world was turning against God. So, what does Isaiah want? He’s not interested in maintaining the status quo. Isaiah wants God to shake things up!

Advent is the beginning of the church calendar, and this prayer seems to be a wish list for God to do new and exciting things with the new year. Remember that this week in Advent we are focusing on hope. As Christians, we are called to live with the hope and anticipation that God is still working in the world.

Imagine what the new year will be like for just a minute. How would you like for God to shake things up in our world? How would you like God to shake things up in your community or your school? Take some time today to ask God to shake things up. Tell Him what you might want this to look like. Allow the hope of Christ to shape your vision for the future during this Advent season. Rest in the hope that God wants to shake things up!