Almost unspeakable

2013 Advent good_news_hi_res   Matthew 2:16 -18

Prayer for the day:
Soften my heart O, God, that I might have compassion for those who are forgotten, oppressed, and hurt. Harden my resolve, that I might have the courage not to look away but to hear their stories and learn their names. Move my hands, that I might be a servant of peace.


Question for reflection:

As a pacifist, New Testament Christian, I often like to gloss over the genocide, civil war, and violence of the Old Testament. Matthew 2 is a reminder that it continued even after Jesus was born and continued after Jesus died and continues today –2000 years later. Sometimes, my prayers for peace feel so ineffectual and vague against the tide of violence reported in the local news broadcast and global current events. I wish I could do more. How can I hold in my heart the seeming contradictions of God’s loving mercy and the violent realities of our times?

~ Gimbiya Kettering,  Intercultural Ministries 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 Tim Harvey, pastor of Central 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, Tim’s reflections, times of prayer, and conversations on this blog.

Significant sacrifice

2013 Advent good_news_hi_res  Matthew 2:13 -15

Prayer for the day:
God of us all, open my eyes and heart to those near neighbors and the wider global community to those who are building new lives for themselves among strangers –as immigrants, refugees, travelers, and searchers. May I welcome them as you have you have welcomed me.


Question for reflection:

Once upon a time, it was not uncommon for generation after generation of a family to live in the same town, surrounded by the same neighbors, extended family, and attend the same church or temple. However, our modern society is much more transient as we travel for education, jobs, and other opportunities. I cannot help but imagine Mary and Joseph, parents of a newborn, in a new neighborhood, and missing home. They were probably in desperate need for a casserole. It is easy to remember to give to soup kitchens, family shelters, and gifts for children programs during the holidays but the need is year round. Who is new in your neighborhood, sacrificing the familiarity and safety of home for their children? How can we support them through our congregations and charitable donations?

~ Gimbiya Kettering,  Intercultural Ministries 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 Tim Harvey, pastor of Central 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, Tim’s reflections, times of prayer, and conversations on this blog.

By another road

2013 Advent good_news_hi_res  Matthew 2:12

Prayer for the day:
The unfamiliar path is ahead –and I need courage to continue though it may be longer, steeper, and overgrown. You know how I fear being lost even though you have promised to leave all the 99 sheep to find the lost one. Soften my heart O, God, that I may trust the direction you lay before me.


Question for reflection:

It can be hard to change our plans –especially after we have so carefully plotted out our route and packed for the journey. Especially when explaining the reasons for the change has to do with the “still, small voice” of God – the warning that comes as dream, not as a burning bush. Have you ever had to change your plans based on a call or feeling that you knew was divinely inspired, but could not explain in the moment? What did you learn on the other road? Where did it lead you?

~ Gimbiya Kettering,  Intercultural Ministries 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 Tim Harvey, pastor of Central 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, Tim’s reflections, times of prayer, and conversations on this blog.

 

Authentic worship (2)

2013 Advent good_news_hi_res  Matthew 2:7-11

Prayer for the day:
Accompanying, wise God, prepare me for the journey that the days, weeks, and months ahead will bring. Please use the gifts and talents that You have given me to serve and bless others in the upcoming year.


Question for reflection:

The transition from the old year to the new year is a time for reflection on our life’s journey. Considering 2013, which of your gifts and talents did you offer to God, your community, and the wider world? As you look ahead to 2014 and prepare for a new leg in the journey, what do you want to bring along with you? Are there skills or gifts that you are feeling a need to develop or focus on in the new year?

~ Gimbiya Kettering,  Intercultural Ministries 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 Tim Harvey, pastor of Central 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, Tim’s reflections, times of prayer, and conversations on this blog.

Authentic worship (1)

2013 Advent good_news_hi_res  Matthew 2:7-11

Prayer for the day:
Thank you, God, for all we have and all we are. May we be fully attuned to you, responding in faithfulness to your reconciling love. Amen.


Question for reflection:

What gifts have you offered to Jesus in response to his presence in your life?

~ 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 Tim Harvey, pastor of Central 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, Tim’s reflections, times of prayer, and conversations on this blog.

Silence amid chaos

2013 Advent good_news_hi_res    Matthew 2:10

Prayer for the day:
O Jesus, light of the world. In you, God broke the hold of darkness on the world of the principalities and powers. The child brought near the salvation of God, and our hearts flowed with joy and thanksgiving. Amen.


Question for reflection:

What experiences have filled you with joy and gratitude? How did you see God in those moments?

~ 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 Tim Harvey, pastor of Central 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, Tim’s reflections, times of prayer, and conversations on this blog.

Thermostat or thermometer?

2013 Advent good_news_hi_res   Matthew 2:1- 6

Prayer for the day:
We gather to greet Jesus, the child of peace. O God, you welcome us when no one else offered a place to us. Free our voices to praise you. May our hearts be renewed to living the good news. Amen.


Question for reflection:

What do you know about Jesus, and what are you doing with what you know?

~ 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 Tim Harvey, pastor of Central 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, Tim’s reflections, times of prayer, and conversations on this blog.

The first responders

2013 Advent good_news_hi_res    Luke 2:15-20

Prayer for the day:
God of glory, you meet us in unexpected places just as you encountered the shepherds. O God, may the prompting of your spirit move us to praise you so that others discover the new life you offer. Amen.


Question for reflection:

Note that the shepherds left glorifying and praising God (verse 20). Is
there anything in your life or experience right now for which you can praise God? Is there anything you are thankful for?

~ 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 Tim Harvey, pastor of Central 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, Tim’s reflections, times of prayer, and conversations on this blog.

When God calls

2013 Advent good_news_hi_res  Luke 2:8-14

Prayer for the day:
The heavens and the earth rejoice. Thank you, God, for the glad tidings you bring through Mary and Joseph. May our celebration of the child, Jesus, awaken in us the good news, and proclaim, “Glory to God in the Highest, and peace be with you.” Amen.


Question for reflection:

How do you, or do you want to, live your life in response to the gospel?

~ 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 Tim Harvey, pastor of Central 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, Tim’s reflections, times of prayer, and conversations on this blog.

Making room for Jesus

2013 Advent good_news_hi_res Luke 2:1- 7

Prayer for the day:
Lord, you came to a family who was welcomed into a home when there was no room. On this day when we celebrate the gift of salvation in the miracle of life, open our eyes to those around us seeking welcome. May our homes and our churches be places of refuge and rest. May our embrace be one that reflects your love made tangible in the welcome of a child. Amen


Question for reflection:

Who do you need to make room for today?

~ 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 Tim Harvey, pastor of Central 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, Tim’s reflections, times of prayer, and conversations on this blog.