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1 Samuel 1:1-28; Luke 1:26-38 (1 Samuel 1:17)

Question for reflection:
Reflecting on the Old Testament text, in what ways does Hannah model for the church how to live faithfully in our time?


Prayer for the day:

Hear our prayer, O God. We want to find a meaningful wholeness within the fragments of our lives. Reveal yourself to us. Renew our hope. Amen.

 ~ Stan Dueck, Director for Transforming Practices

Congregational Life Ministries of the Church of the Brethren is offering these simple prayers and questions in connection to this year’s Advent Devotional written by Sandy Bosserman, a former district executive and ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren. (Available from Brethren Press in print and E-Book formats). Join us as we look and listen for the coming of the Word through the reading of scripture, Sandy’s reflections, times of prayer, and conversations on this blog.

Parting words

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Romans 16:25-27 (16:25, Message)

Question for reflection:
In what ways do you use the gifts God has given you as a source of strength? How have you praised God for these gifts?


Prayer for the day:

The heavens proclaim the wonders of God. We rejoice in the Savior’s coming. Strengthened by the gospel give us vision to be instruments of your peace. Amen.

 ~ Stan Dueck, Director for Transforming Practices

Congregational Life Ministries of the Church of the Brethren is offering these simple prayers and questions in connection to this year’s Advent Devotional written by Sandy Bosserman, a former district executive and ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren. (Available from Brethren Press in print and E-Book formats). Join us as we look and listen for the coming of the Word through the reading of scripture, Sandy’s reflections, times of prayer, and conversations on this blog.

Who shall remain nameless

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Judges 13:2-24

Question for reflection:

When have you been surprised by the simplicity of God’s work?


Prayer for the day:
God of the named and unnamed, forgive us for the quest for fame and for fixing our eyes on the notable, for we know that you work in mundane ways to redeem the world. Open our eyes that we might look for your Son in the most humble of places that we might find in our neighbors the source of our salvation. Amen

 ~ Josh Brockway, Director for Spiritual Life and Discipleship

Congregational Life Ministries of the Church of the Brethren is offering these simple prayers and questions in connection to this year’s Advent Devotional written by Sandy Bosserman, a former district executive and ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren. (Available from Brethren Press in print and E-Book formats). Join us as we look and listen for the coming of the Word through the reading of scripture, Sandy’s reflections, times of prayer, and conversations on this blog.

Blessed Arrival

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2 Samuel 6:12-19

To Ponder:   I Shall Dance as David Danced
One of my earliest memories of church in Nairobi, where I grew up, was singing everyone in the congregation singing the praise and worship song “Dance as David Danced”. It was the “youth service” which was known for a lively music group – guitars, bass, western drums, African drums. And if that weren’t enough, there were three women who regularly sat in the row in front of us who brought their own percussion instruments – tambourines, shekeres, and sistrums. They did not just shake their instruments, they shook their whole selves –from the tops of their heads to their feet. Being a shy, uncoordinated child I was completely mesmerized by their extravagantly printed and embroidered dresses, their flamboyant hand motions,Shekere and way all their hips moved in unison. I had never seen anything like it in church in America. It was too much and I wanted to look away. It was not enough and I wanted to join in. In the next decade, it would become my normal church experience but at that moment I was an outsider looking in.

The Old Testament rituals of moving the ark and the expectations of Hebrew royalty, can seem strange. I am again a foreigner watching others praise and worship in the Lord. My eyes seeing but my heart not comprehending: I’m part judgmental and part jealous – longing to join in. To let go and just be unselfconsciously joyous from head to toe.

Prayer for the day:
Oh God of Dance and Music,
Invite me to join your song. Teach me Your rhythm.
May my heart, ears, and eyes recognize the joy from every nation, every tribe, and every language as we praise the Lord. I pray that I may join in that Great Multitude.
Amen.

~ Gimbiya Kettering, Intercultural Ministries Coordinator
Save the Date: May 1-3 for “All God’s People Say Amen” Intercultural  Retreat in ANE.

Congregational Life Ministries of the Church of the Brethren is offering these simple prayers and questions in connection to this year’s Advent Devotional written by Sandy Bosserman, a former district executive and ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren. (Available from Brethren Press in print and E-Book formats). Join us as we look and listen for the coming of the Word through the reading of scripture, Sandy’s reflections, times of prayer, and conversations on this blog.

Exact imprint

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Hebrews 1:1-4

To Ponder:   The Worth of a Thousand Words
Studies suggest that, on average, we speak over 15,000 words a day. Most of those words seem to spill from me without really thinking about them: Starting with mumbled morning greetings and a somewhat clearer query about the status of coffee. My words just stack up: Logistics of a single-car family, endless games of peekaboo with my toddler, while petting the neighbors yappy dog, many-many phone conference calls for work, the mailman, calls from my parents or friends wanting to be in touch, the woman in line behind me at the grocery store who is also playing peekaboo with my daughter, family dinner, then bedtime story. Then I get to talk my husband, another grown up, in full sentences and multisyllabic words.

In the Bible, it keeps coming back to the word. In the beginning there was the word. The tongue is mightier than the sword. And blessed are those who read the words of ending revelations. And Jesus, as a reflection of God, sustains all things with his powerful word. And yet, once we claim an identity as Christians, we our also seen as reflections of God and our words a reflection of our faith.

Prayer for the day:
Dear God, thank you for the gift of words, of language and stories, and Your word.Open my ears to hear your reflection in others. Make me mindful of how powerful my words are in how others see You and me.
Amen.

~ Gimbiya Kettering, Intercultural Ministries Coordinator
Save the Date: May 1-3 for “All God’s People Say Amen” Intercultural  Retreat in ANE.

Congregational Life Ministries of the Church of the Brethren is offering these simple prayers and questions in connection to this year’s Advent Devotional written by Sandy Bosserman, a former district executive and ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren. (Available from Brethren Press in print and E-Book formats). Join us as we look and listen for the coming of the Word through the reading of scripture, Sandy’s reflections, times of prayer, and conversations on this blog.

When God gets in the way

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Mark 9:9-13

Question for reflection:
I like the comparison that Sandy uses towards the end of the devotional between the disciples and modern day students. As a recent college graduate, the phrase, “Is this going to be on the exam?” is one that is all too familiar. You start college (or really anything new) with all these passions and excitements. Then after one bad grade or one tiny screw up that pressure to succeed, to get the perfect grades no matter what, those feelings start to creep in. Suddenly, our focus shifts. We might not get as excited as we once did. The Romans text (Romans 9:33) makes it quite clear: we will find God and even our passions when we open our eyes to the “stones” and start viewing them as part of the journey, not just something that is in the way.

What stones are you facing in your life right now? What is a way you might view your “stone” differently?

Prayer for the day:
God, give us the ability to look at the stones in our life in new ways. Amen.

~ Laura Whitman, Special Projects Coordinator

Congregational Life Ministries of the Church of the Brethren is offering these simple prayers and questions in connection to this year’s Advent Devotional written by Sandy Bosserman, a former district executive and ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren. (Available from Brethren Press in print and E-Book formats). Join us as we look and listen for the coming of the Word through the reading of scripture, Sandy’s reflections, times of prayer, and conversations on this blog.

Rich Day

By Cliff Kindy, December 8, 2014

The three-member Brethren Disaster Ministries (BDM) team and the four-member Mission 21 team ate breakfast early to head out to the building project site of the Lifeline Compassionate Global Initiatives (LCGI). LCGI is an interfaith nonprofit focusing presently on this effort to house those displaced by the attacks of Boko Haram in northeast Nigeria.

Samuel Dali, who participated in the dedication and is President of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN), estimates that as many as 170,000 EYN members may be presently displaced from their homes as a result of the conflict ravaging northeast Nigeria. But many other Christians and many Muslims are also displaced by that fighting.

So Marcus Gamache and the LCGI committee have been building relationships, buying land, registering the 63 families and 394 people with the Nigeria security office and securing funding so that today’s dedication service could move ahead. Those are the families and the people who will settle this newly-purchased farm land. The community will lie on the edge of the rugged foothills of the mountains on the north edge of Abuja, the capitol of Nigeria.

One might assume that since Boko Haram says it is Muslim, displaced EYN members might not welcome a home next to a Muslim family. But this interfaith planning group has realized that building good relationships across faith lines is one way to break down those animosities that lead to war.

BDM and Mission 21 have funded and encouraged the efforts of LCGI. A line of men and women, some of the ones who will soon move into these homes, carried blocks from where they were formed down the road to the first home where they became the foundation. A bore hole will be dug this next week to provide the water needed for this large construction project. Marcus estimates that the community of homes should be completed by March.

Four EYN pastors and their families are among the new settlers. A worship center for Muslims and one for Christians will be part of this new community. Spiritual undergirding will be essential for this new beginning.

This is a small start with thousands of people yet to settle temporarily or permanently, but the LCGI committee trusts this site can supply a model that will inspire others. The riches of God are new every morning.

 

 

Amazing mantle

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2 Kings 2: 9-22


Question for reflection:

Whose mantle do you carry? What have they taught you about faith?

Prayer for the day:
Creating God,  you have called together your people through Israel, the prophets, and through your son Jesus Christ, and in your people you have brought into being a great cloud of witnesses. By our baptism we have joined the cloud, receiving the gifts of your people and have taken on the mantle of being Christ-like witnesses to the world. Embolden us in this season of Advent that we might proclaim with the confidence of your prophets the Good News of God with us. Amen

 

~ Josh Brockway, Director for Spiritual Life and Discipleship

Congregational Life Ministries of the Church of the Brethren is offering these simple prayers and questions in connection to this year’s Advent Devotional written by Sandy Bosserman, a former district executive and ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren. (Available from Brethren Press in print and E-Book formats). Join us as we look and listen for the coming of the Word through the reading of scripture, Sandy’s reflections, times of prayer, and conversations on this blog.

Stretching Exercises

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Psalm 125


To ponder:

As I left the grocery store, a man stretched out his hand and asked me for several dollars to buy some food. Keeping his eyes on the sidewalk, he explained that his family was hungry and he didn’t have any money. Reaching into my purse, I handed him some money in response to his need, which he gratefully accepted before entering the store. Was he telling me the truth? I don’t know. What I do know is that Jesus calls us to feed the hungry and in doing so, we feed Jesus. Let us welcome those who have need into our hearts this Christmas. In doing so, we welcome Jesus.

Prayer for the day:
Stretch us, God, to see Jesus in those whom we meet along the way to Christmas. Then stretch us to respond in the spirit of Christmas with love and kindness. Amen.

 

~ Kim Ebersole, Director of Family Life and Older Adult Ministries

Congregational Life Ministries of the Church of the Brethren is offering these simple prayers and questions in connection to this year’s Advent Devotional written by Sandy Bosserman, a former district executive and ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren. (Available from Brethren Press in print and E-Book formats). Join us as we look and listen for the coming of the Word through the reading of scripture, Sandy’s reflections, times of prayer, and conversations on this blog.

Parting Words

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1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

To ponder:
Sometimes we place such high expectations on ourselves and others as Christmas approaches! We strive to decorate our homes, prepare tasty holiday treats, and finish shopping for everyone on our lists even as we carry out our everyday tasks and responsibilities. No wonder we are stressed to the max some days. As we continue to prepare for Christmas, may we take Paul’s words to heart: rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances. The Lord Jesus Christ is coming!

Prayer for the day:

God of wholeness and well-being, help us remember what is truly important this Advent season and keep us ever full of joy, prayer, and thanksgiving as we prepare for Christ’s coming. Amen.

 

~ Kim Ebersole, Director of Family Life and Older Adult Ministries

Congregational Life Ministries of the Church of the Brethren is offering these simple prayers and questions in connection to this year’s Advent Devotional written by Sandy Bosserman, a former district executive and ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren. (Available from Brethren Press in print and E-Book formats). Join us as we look and listen for the coming of the Word through the reading of scripture, Sandy’s reflections, times of prayer, and conversations on this blog.