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Introduction to Reflecting the Light

Visit the home page of fbcmac.org each day to read a devotional for the day.

This is the message we have heard from Christ and declare to you: "God is light; in God there is no darkness at all."† I John 1:5

Jesus said: "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."† John 8:12

Our theme for Advent 2011 is: Reflecting the Light. Light is a metaphor used throughout the Bible. Jesus teaches that "God is light" and that in God "there is no darkness". Jesus claims his connection to God with these words: "I am the light of the world".

Moving toward the winter solstice with shorter and darker days, we are deeply aware of the darkness. Sometimes we look around and see only darkness. After ten years our nation continues to fight two wars causing so much suffering and asking so much of soldiers and their families; our economy remains fragile and many remain unemployed; others wrestle with health issues or grieve over the unhealthy choices of loved ones. Many of us worry over the future that our children and grandchildren will inherit. Sometimes all we see is darkness.

Yet, into the darkness the light comes. The light of Godís love enters into the darkness and offers hope. The light of Jesus teaches us how to live and love, illuminating our path.

Looking around we now see that we journey, not alone, but in the company of sisters and brothers in faith who walk with us, sometimes steadying† or carrying us, reminding us of Jesusí words, "wherever two or three are gathered in my name, there I am also".

Jesus reminds us that the light of God that was in him is also reflected in us. Jesus said, "Whoever follows me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life."

In this Advent devotional you will hear voices from the life of First Baptist Church. Each of the writers have responded to one or both of the following questions: How do you experience the light? How do you reflect the light?† Our hope is that these reflections will encourage each of us to reflect upon our own journey of faith.

This advent season, as we await the birth of Christ, let us look for and bear witness to the light. For the good news is that the darkness of any given moment will never have the last word.

May the light of Christ be with you.

Pastor Kent Harrop

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A reading to be used while lighting the first candle in your Advent Wreath

RESTORE

Scripture readings: Psalm 80:1-7; 17-19

Today we enter Advent, a season of possibilities, a time of "not yet".†But daily lives reflect human struggles. Sometimes we are surrounded by brokenness-in our lives, among our friends and families, in our worldwide family.†Hope seems a far off vision, yet we yearn for it to fill us.†We cry together.

Restore us, O God, let your face shine, that we might be saved.

When hope is lost,

Restore us, O God.

When people are hurting,

Restore us, O God.

When nations are fighting,

Restore us, O God.

When children are hungry,

Restore us, O God.

Restore us, O God of life.†Bring us closer to hope, the hope that lights the way on the journey to Bethlehem.†During this season of waiting, may we be open to signs of your restoring love.†As we light this first Advent candle, let us pray for Godís restoration in the midst of brokenness and despair.

Restore us, O God, let your face shine, that we might be saved. Amen

Suggested song:† O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
By Beth A. Richardson, 2011 Alive Now
Permission granted to use in corporate worship setting


Monday, November 28, 2011

Light

How does one experience the Light of God? Or perhaps the same question phrased as, "How is God revealed to us?" On his way to Damascus Paul, among other things reported having seen a brilliant light and was struck dumb. Unfortunately, not many of us can report as having had this Road to Damascus Experience, that is, a mystical or calamitous event worthy of only being explained by Divine intervention. In this scientific age we have also become somewhat skeptical if not downright unbelieving of anyone making such a claim. However, I for one believe God is revealed, experienced, or lights the way, if you will, on a regular basis.

Light to be experienced has to be contrasted with something. If you put a lit candle in the bright sun, it will be visible, but will pale in comparison to the effect of the same candle in a dark room. Similarly, in order for Godís light to shine it often appears brilliant only when we can identify the dark against which it is contrasted. How can you to make the presence of God contrast with the events around you? The key for me is the love Jesus proclaimed.

When you see others loving through their concern for the hungry, homeless, disease ridden with such things as soup kitchens, free clinics and clothing for warmth, you are experiencing the handiwork of God. When we hear reports from our missionaries in Latin America, the Congo or Thailand we are experiencing how these folk are reflecting the light of God made possible in part by the mirrors we hold. The huge numbers of efforts to relieve the suffering in the world contrast sharply with the injustices created by the scramble for power and wealth, senseless wars and misguided idealism. God is not just glowing, She is bright star, a beacon guiding those of us attempting to follow the one commandment, love one another. Let us polish our lenses, kick up the power and add to Her brightness.††
James Duke


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Wise Ones came and left together.†

They endured the darkness and found

the Light Ö not alone but in community.†

And it is in community that we find the

collective wisdom and resources to know

the Light of all people that shines in the

darkness and has not been overcome by it.
James Schwarzlose

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Reflecting the Light

To me, the Light and Love are synonymous. I see this Light in the selfless actions of the people around meógiving generously of their time, emotional energy and money to help others, willing to take the risks and make the hard choices that love requires.††

I experience the Light in the love of my family and of my friends who reach out to me. I experience it when people forgive me for my shortcomings and when I have avoided opportunities to offer kindness.††

I am touched and moved by the Light that I experience and I try to reflect and share that Light in similar ways, although I often fall short of my own expectations.††

I donít pretend to comprehend the source of this Light.†

I am content to call it the Sacred.†
Judee Kunze

†Thursday, December 1, 2011

What I have done or could do to share the Light of God:

This Halloween, I went trick-or-treating for UNICEF.

12.1_Devotional_Momo.jpg

Words and illustration by Momo

Friday, December 2, 2011

"You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven."

Matthew 5:14-16, New Revised Standard Version

"Hereís another way to put it: Youíre here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. Weíre going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you donít think Iím going to hide you under a bucket, do you? Iím putting you on a light stand Ė shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, youíll prompt people to open up to God, this generous Father in heaven."†

Matthew 5:14-16, from Eugene Petersonís "The Message"

"This little light of mine, Iím gonna let it shine. This little light of mine, Iím gonna let it shine. This little light of mine, Iím gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shineÖ" Ė Harry Dixon Loes, songwriter, circa 1920

Music is such a great, great tool for teaching children. Once something has a melody put to it, the chance of a child forgetting it (even well into adult-hood) is very slim. When I taught preschool, phone numbers still only required seven digits and those seven digits fit perfectly to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (which is also the same tune as the Alphabet Song in case you were curious..).

During a fall learning unit on personal safety, it was just standard operating procedure to teach each of the children his or her phone number by putting it to music. It has been years since any of my five children have had our old phone number from Medford, but if you ask any of them what it was, chances are theyíll sing to you, "7 7 3 5 9 8 2, 7 7 3 5 9 8 2Ö." (Iím smiling as I type this because I am singing along while I imagine you singing along as you read!)

I turned 50 this year, yet when I read Matthew 5:14-16, I am once again a young child in my Sunday School class at the Chapel on Beall Air Force Base in Marysville, California, and I am singing "This Little Light of mine, Iím gonna let it shine," while waving my light - which is simply my right handís index finger - up above my head. (Again, I am singing while I type, and imagining you singing as you read.) All this to say, light has been synonymous with Godís love for me literally for as long as I can remember. You can imagine my delight when I hear our FBC children singing that same song every 5th Sunday when Chris Lay leads them in our 5th Sunday music time. Where do I experience the Light? Right there in the childrenís presence while they sing; sharing the steps with them for the Childrenís Story; hanging out in the youth rooms at Sunday nightís youth groups; at Third Street Pizza with our high school students; and, yes, even singing (?) and dancing with pie tins alongside some of our youth leaders on Sunday morning in worship. I experience the Light of Godís Love in every encounter, both small and large, with all of our children and youth, and I hope that I share it back as well.

I love Eugene Petersonís translation above - "We are here to be the light that brings out the 'God-colors' in the world." What are Godís colors? What is the color of love, of justice, of peace, of equality, of kindness, mercy, grace, forgiveness, of inclusiveness? And a more-important question, how do I shine Godís love (Godís light) in such a way that it shines brightly upon those things Ė those key tenets of my faith? How does my faith speak into the God-colors, and how does it do it in a way that resonates with our children and youth?

It is my hope and prayer that I am a person that reflects Godís light in such a way that all people, but especially our young people, recognize and long for the God I love Ė the God of love, justice, peace, equality, kindness, mercy, grace, forgiveness, and inclusiveness. It is my hope and prayer that the "Story on the Steps"; that pizza outings; that cookies and cupcakes in the lunch room at school; that jumping and hopping around while a guitar plays - it is my hope and prayer that each of, and all of, those things, reflects upon our children and youth that God is love - simple, pure, fun, active, gracious, forgiving, peaceful, kind love.†

"Hide it under a bushel? NO! Iím gonna let it shine. Hide it under a bushel? NO! Iím gonna let it shine. Hide it under a bushel? NO! Iím gonna let it shineÖlet it shine, let it shine, let it shine."

~~barbara galbraith

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Guide our days upon this earth.
Illumine our paths.
Be thou our inmost joy,
Our true security;
And, in the midst of all
Uncertainty, our lasting peace.

Sudha Khristmukti
Photo by Wendy Heston

Sunday,†December 4, 2011

A reading to be used while lighting the†second candle in your Advent Wreath

PREPARE

Scripture reading: Mark 1:1-8

Listen to the voice of one crying out in the wilderness.

Prepare the way of the Lord.

The time is coming, John the baptizer tells us. Now is the time to prepare for the coming or the Christ child.

Prepare the way of the Lord.

Make rough places smooth.†Straighten the crooked places. Prepare all the paths so that hope may find its way.

Make room for the Holy One.†Empty out a space in the inn, in the stable, in the corners of our hearts.†Make room in the busyness, in the crowds, in our filled-up, frantic lives.

Prepare the way of the Lord.

Heed the call to prepare space in our hearts and lives for Christís birth.†As we light this second candle of Advent, let us pray for wisdom and courage to prepare ourselves to receive Godís holy child.†

Listen to the voice of the one crying out in the wilderness.†Prepare the way.

Prepare the way of the Lord.†Amen

Suggested song: Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus
By Beth A. Richardson, 2011 Alive Now†
Permission granted to use in corporate worship setting


Monday, December 5, 2011

Itís easy to see God in the sunlight.

Everything is illuminated and clearly defined. Godís presence is as ubiquitous as the particles that make up the sunís rays.

But what of the night? Does the moon offer the same spiritual feeling?

It does for me.

I harbor fond memories of walking home on winter nights in New England. The air so cold it hurt to draw it into my lungs and froze the hair in my nostrils when I did. The only sound was the faint crackle of frozen tree branches and my steps crunching in the frozen powder snow.

It was easy to feel abandoned and isolated then, an insignificant spec, a hairsbreadth away from falling off the planet into the dark and hostile space around me.

But the moon was overhead.

Pearly-soft light bathed the street and surrounding woods like the snow that fell from the heavens.

And I never felt alone.

Even on the darkest nights, when the moon was between phases, a canopy of bright and mysterious stars shined bright against the black winter sky, bringing the same comfort for my trek.

God is in the moon, too.
Dave King


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

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The Dark

There can be no light without the dark

And so I wonder, is God not also with me in my blindness

Is it not in the quiet that I hear the voice of love most clearly

Is it not in my loneliness that the touch of a friend is the most welcome

Is it not the first blossoms of spring that smell the most sweet

I thank you God for the dark

For it is the dark that gives birth to your eternal light

Rob Porter
Photo by Wendy Heston

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Reflecting the Light

How do I experience the Light? One of my favorite ways to experience the Light is in nature where I am using all my senses. I can hear the whispering of pine trees in the forest as a surge of wind passes through, I can see the Light in the glistening dew drops of water on blades of grass or newly fallen maple leaves. I can feel the warm sun upon my skin as it bathes me with its brilliance. I can smell the fragrance of flowers in the garden. I can taste the sweet juiciness of fresh-picked strawberries, peaches and blueberries. All these experiences allow me to be in the present moment and walk in beauty.

How do I reflect the Light? This happens best when I am feeling the Love of God. I am not looking for approval, I am not comparing myself to others and I am not judging myself. Reflecting the Light can happen when I smile at a stranger, brake for a pedestrian, or simply by opening a door for someone. I reflect the Light by encouraging and coaching my students, or by simply being present when they share their pain and joy.

I also reflect the Light when I am singing with others. It doesnít matter if I am singing in the worship team, the choir or in the congregation. The joy and the Spirit just move me!†††
Emily Kerrigan

Thursday, December 8, 2011

What I have done or could do to share the Light of God:

Hugging, holding hands, kissing, helping friends,
being polite, being thankful.
12.8_Devotional_Jackson.jpg

Words and illustration by Jackson

Friday, December 9, 2011

Psalm 21:7 "The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?"

Even in the Old Testament people described God as "light." We know God as light as we study and examine the life of Jesus who came to show us the attributes of God. Weíve all experienced Godís compassion, mercy, forgiveness, love, patience, kindness, goodness and gentleness.

To know Jesus inspires me. I pray that He will bring people into my life that I can love and encourage. And that He will open my eyes to the needs of people around me.

So I try to live each day with hope and expectancy as God continues to change and transform me.†

The Lord is my light and my salvation.
Myrtle Fricke

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Jesus Light

It was a gag gift or meant to beóa nightlight in the shape of Jesus, his sacred heart exposed like a patient halfway through a bypass.

But my daughter, two and a half, laid hold of him and took him to her room and there he abides with her, shining heart and all.

And each night her litany of prayer includes Mommy, and Daddy, and Rachel, and "my Jesus light."

He doesnít give a lot of light, this four-watt Jesusóenough to read by in a pinch and to keep the monsters under the bed.

But heís there all night, every night friend to the fearful sacramental plastic gift of Godís unfailing grace.

O sweet daughter may it ever be so; the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.
Glenn Schwerdtfeger

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

A reading to be used while lighting the†third candle in your Advent Wreath

Scripture reading: Isaiah 62:1-4; 8-11

Rejoice greatly in the Lord. Proclaim Godís greatness everywhere. For God loves justice and hates wrongdoing. God binds up the brokenhearted and comforts those who despair.

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exult in my God.

Proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners.†

Proclaim comfort to those who mourn.

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exult in my God.

Proclaim the year of the Lordís favor, Godís righteousness for the poor, the outcast, the vulnerable.

I†will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exult in my God.

Proclaim the coming of hope in a tiny baby, the birth of righteousness and peace for all the nations.

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exult in my God.

Spirit of God, anoint us as messengers of your good news to all people.†

As we light this third candle of Advent, let us proclaim the promised coming of Christís righteousness through Jesus Christ.

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exult in my God.† Amen

Suggested†song: Lift Up your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates
By Beth A. Richardson, 2011 Alive Now†
Permission granted to use in corporate worship setting


Monday, December 12, 2011

Life-giving Light

We live in a wooded area and are surrounded by trees. Even when the bright summer sun is shining, the woods remain mostly shaded, with only concentrated rays of sunlight occasionally breaking through.

As I walked by the kitchen window one day, I saw a rusty brown spot in the woods that Iíd never noticed before. On closer examination, I realized it was a white-tailed deer taking a midday rest. When I checked the spot a few minutes later, the deer was still lying there, although no longer highlighted by the sunlight. The sun had imperceptibly shifted its position and was now shining its light on other objects.

I never noticed that fallen tree, I thought. I looked out again a few minutes later and the sunís spotlight revealed yet another scene.

During my reveries, I learned something new. I knew that some flowering plants turn to the sun, basking in the rays while they can. But that day I realized that even the huge trees towering overhead lean towards the one spot that will provide them the most sunlight.

Several years ago, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. It has weakened my right side, and I walk with a limp. As I was admiring the flora and fauna of the woods that day, I understood that just as those trees were leaning to the sun for its life-giving rays, so also my MS-induced limp has caused me to lean towards my life-giving Savior. I know that God does not cause disease. But God can use it for good, and so can I!
Sherry J. Mitchell

Tuesday,†December 13, 2011

Matthew 5:14-16 "You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."

Imagine, for a moment, that you are outside on a dark, cold, and clear evening. Youíre alone. The moon is full, with the gentle glow it contains flowing out to illuminate the clouds around it. You drive to Glacial Rock off on Highway 18 and hike to what, at the time, feels like the top of the world. You sit. You breathe. You feel lonely, but stave off the feeling by searching within yourself for the deeper connection to the earth, to nature, to the cold air, and to the gentle Light that envelopes you peacefully. It seems to emanate from the stars and the moon and some other unknown source. Though there isnít any human-made light within a mile of your sight, you are not in the dark. You feel connected to something larger than yourself. You are no longer alone.†

Now, imagine true loneliness, such as when your family is far from you, or when those you interact with on a day-to-day basis are as cold as that evening on the rock.

You have no where to go, no one to call, and no one who loves you. Sure, you see people at the grocery store, but always receive a vacant expression from the woman who rings your groceries each time youíre there. Or when you go to church, you sit in the back, and though people greet you, they do not ask about your life or what your favorite kind of pie is or what you are doing the coming week.

The Christmas season has often been credited as a "warm" time of year regardless of the chilly weather, but in the hustle and bustle of buying gifts, baking cookies, singing carols, and sledding, we often forget about those who experience Christmas without a family or community. Sometimes, we need to remind ourselves Christmas is a holiday intended to bind rather than alienate. If we are to reflect the Light we experience individually (such as when we feel connected to everything around us on those cold night hikes), we must remember to invite others who are often forgotten to experience the joys of Christmas with us.
Jamie L. McDonald

Wednesday,††December 14, 2011

God shines his light down on me in many ways. Some I probably donít even notice. Hereís an example, his light shines down on me when I use my many talents such as teaching Eowyn new things, making Baby Rowan smile, and writing creative stories.

His light is always with us, even when it is raining. Right here in our hearts!
By Annie Elizabeth


December 15, 2011

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I Experience the Light†

I experience the light when I gaze into my daughtersí beautiful eyes.

I experience the light when I see my husband smile down at our girls while they are playing.

I experience the light in the sheer joy my girls enjoy coming to church every Sunday.

I experience the light with each touch and loving smile my baby enjoys from our church family on Sunday morning.

I experience the light in the dear smile of a friend across the sanctuary.

I experience the light as I feel music swell within me on Sunday morning.

I experience the light in warm meals lovingly prepared and graciously delivered by our community to friends in need.

I experience the light in taking part in blessing quilts that were painstakingly crafted and compassionately delivered to our veterans.

I experience the light in missions both past and present to aid those in need.

I experience the light as I step out into a crisp autumn morning, take my first breath, and feel the Love of God within me.
Raina Banu-Clayton
Photo†of Raina and†daughter, Rowan, taken by Raina's mom, Karen Maier†††


Friday, December 16, 2011

A diamond shines no brighter
than that lovely Christmas star.
It shines in all its brilliance;
it's seen from near or far.
A symbol of the Christ child
as He lay upon the hay,
it tells to all the waiting world
a King was born that day.
O Bethlehem Star keep shining -
give us faith and hope and love.
Keep our thoughts forever turning
to the Savior up above.
Give us strength and hope and courage
to do our best by far
and never falter in our faith
as we watch that Christmas star...

Elktownship Poems

Saturday, December 17, 2011

What I have done or could do to share the Light of God:
Giving hugs, helping, being polite and sharing.

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December 18, 2011

A reading to be used while lighting the†fourth candle in your Advent Wreath

RECEIVE††

Scripture reading: Luke 1:26-55

During this season of giving, we pause to open our hearts, our minds, our spirits to receive Godís blessing.†We proclaim with Mary,

My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in my Savior.

We have witnessed Godís restoration in the midst of brokenness.†We have prepared ourselves for Christís coming.†We have proclaimed with faith the promise of Godís generous righteousness.

My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in my savior.

Now we stand with welcome hearts, waiting to receive.†Our spirits hunger for the coming of hope.

My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in my Savior.

Fill us, O God, with restoring love.†Prepare us for the coming of your Holy Child. Encourage us to proclaim the good news to all people.

My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in my Savior.

Like Mary, we are Godís lowly servants.†As we light this fourth candle of Advent, may we receive with Maryís openness and trust.†Let us prepare to receive Godís gift of hope.

My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in my Savior.†Amen

Suggested song:† Lo, How a Rose Eíer Blooming
By Beth A. Richardson, 2011 Alive Now
Permission granted to use on corporate worship setting


December 19, 2011

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Seeking the Light in the Depths of Winter

"I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them." Isaiah 42:16 NIV

In our journey to experience and reflect the Light of God, hear new meaning and promises in this familiar passageópromises for the winter sports enthusiast.

God promises that he will lead the blind to places that are unfamiliar. During a snowstorm, we can sometimes find our sight confused as terrain can change rapidly as conditions change. Exploring terrain for the first time after a fresh snowfall can be a journey that brings new perspective to familiar and unfamiliar paths alike.†††

God promises to turn the darkness into light. In the depths of a cold, grey, depressing, northwest winter, the sun can often be found shining on the mountain. The clouds that mire the valley do not encumber the mountain peak.

God promises to make the rough places smooth. How does God do this? Snow! Snow is the most important part of the sport. For a skier, snowshoer or snowboarder, the first flurry of snow is eagerly anticipated. It is a sign that after a long, rainy, hot, rainy summer, it will soon be time to journey to the mountain.

When clouds darken the sky or snow falls and confuses your sight, do not be afraid. Look at the surface of the snow and how it makes rough places on the mountain or outside your window smooth. Look in wonder and think of the words of God in Isaiah: "I will not forsake them." God will not forsake you this winter. May Godís Light and mercy fall upon you and your loved ones this season. Amen
JP Bierly
Photo by JP Bierly

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

"The Lord is my light and Salvation. Whom then shall I fear?" Psalm 27:1

How can the words "Light" and "Fear" be in the same sentence?

One of my night-time rituals is locking all the doors and turning on the outside lightsóin addition, I have a couple of motion lights. I do this to feel safe and not afraid to be alone.

Light literally dispels darkness, whether with a flashlight to see where we are going at night or to discourage mischief ó "men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil." John 3:19

I love the idea of a "Motion Light."† If we believe Godís light shines through us, then we may never know who has triggered our "Motion Light" and received Godís light through us. That is how we reflect Godís light. I walk into someone's "Beam" every Sunday here at FBC and even though they may never know it, I receive Godís light and am blessed through them. óIt works both ways.

I am dreading the dark long nights as we move toward winter solstice, but I am not afraid. The real light, Godís light, is everywhere if I but look for it.

Prayer: God, "our Light," thank you for lighting our way in the dark and keeping us safe from evil. We pray to be faithful in "letting" your light shine through us to others and to acknowledge your light coming from them... Amen†
Reita Lockett

Tuesday, December 21, 2011
Born as Light

The sorrow of the world weighs heavily; this darkness fills the night.

In this silent waiting time we long for peace, we pray for healing, hope, for all ó for children everywhere.

And he comes in grace from heaven and humblyóborn as light by a star, born to carry our sorrow and sin.

The waiting is overóeternal good news, Christís light shines for all who will see.
Roberta Porter

Thursday, December 22, 2011

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Solstice Celebrations

This summer my family had another trip of a lifetime, to float for 10 days on the Kongakut River through the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. We were above the Arctic Circle on June 21st which was the Summer Solstice this year. This opportunity allowed us to be in the most remote part of Alaska, where the sun is never lower than 45 degrees above the horizon. I was reminded of how dependent the earth is on light.†

We saw only the hardiest species living in the Arctic: grizzlies, wolverines, foxes, caribou, and they survive because they hibernate or migrate to warmer areas in the winter. Trees above the Arctic Circle are challenged by 9 months of low light and the ones that have survived are dwarf varieties that evolved a way to produce chlorophyll in their bark. In this environment I was struck by the survival of the flowering plants which need to grow and reproduce in a few short months before becoming dormant in the permafrost.†

Our trip made me realize I take for granted living in a place that has more equal distribution of light and dark, day and night, sun and moon. I also gained respect for the natives who live just outside the refuge and how they focus on a subsistence lifestyle with the seasonal changes in the light. Experiencing this vast wilderness with 24 hour sun reinforced for me that God is indeed the "light of the world" and intends for us to be good stewards of the earth.

In the glow of 24 hour sun 6 months ago, we celebrated the Summer Solstice with rituals reflecting on our life blessings and leaving behind our worries, fears and hurts. It was magical to be in this environment with friends and family - never dependent on man-made light, because it was never darker than the usual light on a cloudy winter afternoon in McMinnville. Unfortunately, I wonít be in 24 hour darkness today on the Winter Solstice, but I plan to reflect around a fire like I did in the Arctic, celebrating all that is good and letting go of things I canít change, rejoicing in the hope of the light filled days to come.††
Devotion and photo by Susan Chambers

Friday, December 23, 2011

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Offer the little you have.

Little is more than enough.

For what is the moon

But a pitted mass

Of rock and clay?

Yet, how beautifully

She reflects the light

Of Creationó

And oh, how constantly

We love her!
Angie Scheerer

Saturday,†December 24, 2011

Children of Light

Children of light marching through the valley
Fear not the shadows up ahead
Courageous in both mind and body
Bring now new life to those thought dead

Not by the sword will victory be won
Not by the gun will freedom reign
Only the love that knows no boundaries
Can heal the wounds of selfish gain

Children of light marching through the valley
Fear not the shadows up ahead

Children of light marching through the darkness
Within your hearts you bear love's flame
Shine forth the light that cannot be conquered
Bringing peace to a world in pain

Never by force will victory be won
Never by fear will freedom reign
Only the love that knows no boundaries
Can free a soul from hatred's chains

Children of light marching through the darkness
Within your hearts you bear love's flame

Children of light marching to Godís mountain
Behold the glory of love's throne
Sing out the words that cannot be spoken
Reap now the joy that you have sown

Only by truth will victory be won
Only by peace will freedom reign
Only the love that knows no boundaries
Can save the world from mammon's bane

Children of light marching to God's mountain
Behold the glory of love's throne
Sing out the words that cannot be spoken
Reap now the joy that you have sown

Sing out the words that cannot be spoken
The spirit of truth has brought you home

Song written by Rob Porter

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A reading to be used while lighting the†Christ candle in your Advent Wreath

REJOICE

Scripture reading: Isaiah 52:7-10

Christ Jesus comes to us this day. With the angels we sing, "Glory to God in the highest heaven".

Together we sing for joy.

A baby has been born in Bethlehem.†With the shepherds, we kneel before the manger of hope.

Together we sing for joy.

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings us good news, who announces salvation, who says to us, "Your God reigns."

Together we sing for joy.

Sing out with praise! Hope has come to us: to poor and to rich, to old and young, to the infinite sky and the reaved earth, to people of all nations and all hues of color.

Together we sing for joy.

Break forth together in singing! Jesus is born!†As we light this candle, the candle which represents Christ, let us sing with praise and joy, for Hope is born today.

Together we sing for joy.†Amen

Suggested song:†Joy to the World
By Beth A. Richardson, 2011 Alive Now†
Permission granted to use in corporate worship setting

Merry Christmas
Thank you for reading our Advent Devotional

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2014-06-11:
Pastor Mike's blog
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2013-08-30:
Recent Updates
[6.25.24] Added July Tidings to the Tidings Newsletter page; updated Kids and Youth What's Happening page, and Kids and Youth "Sunday Mornings" inform

2013-04-25:
New Policy on Blessing of Same Gender Unions
New Policy on Blessing of Same Gender Unions Unanimously Approved Motion from First Baptist McMinnville Official Board, April 10, 2013 The Official