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Advent Calendar: Do Something New

2 Corinthians 5:16-17                        (Common English Bible)

So then, from this point on we won’t recognize people by human standards. Even though we used to know Christ by human standards, that isn’t how we know him now. 17 So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived!

 

The story of Advent is God doing something new in the world: coming to us in the person of Jesus Christ. God does this new thing in order to do something new in us. Jesus comes that we might become something new, a new creation. How are you being part of God’s new creation this Advent? What new thing is God working in your life?

 

I’m posting a reflection on the daily Scripture reading from the Advent calendar we shared at Hopewell. Here’s what we’re using if you’d like to join us! https://thomasmousin.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/advent-calendar-2016.pdf

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Advent Calendar: Share Abundantly

John 10:10                   (New Revised Standard Version)

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

This is one of my absolute favorite verses. Jesus comes for abundant life, which is a promise not only for the future but also for today. God’s abundant life brings hope and healing to us today. The promise of Advent is a birth, but it’s so much more than that. It’s the birth of a Savior. It’s the birth of one who comes to offer us abundant life.

 

I’m posting a reflection on the daily Scripture reading from the Advent calendar we shared at Hopewell. Here’s what we’re using if you’d like to join us! https://thomasmousin.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/advent-calendar-2016.pdf

Advent Calendar: Reach Out

Gen 31:49                    (Common English Bible)

[Laban] also named it Mizpah, because he said, “The Lord will observe both of us when we are separated from each other.

The story of Laban and Jacob is one of two tricksters constantly trying to get the better of the other one. Jacob has a long history of getting ahead by tricking his brother, but then Laban turns the tables on him. They never manage to see eye to eye even after becoming family. Finally they at least reach an understanding to find peace between them.

In Advent we talk about Jesus coming into the world in order to bring peace. Is there a relationship in your life that needs peace? Could you reach out to begin reconciliation this year? Perhaps you’ll find in making the first move that the other party is also willing to move on.

 

I’m posting a reflection on the daily Scripture reading from the Advent calendar we shared at Hopewell. Here’s what we’re using if you’d like to join us! https://thomasmousin.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/advent-calendar-2016.pdf

Luke 1:1-20                 (Common English Bible)

Many people have already applied themselves to the task of compiling an account of the events that have been fulfilled among us. 2 They used what the original eyewitnesses and servants of the word handed down to us. 3 Now, after having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, I have also decided to write a carefully ordered account for you, most honorable Theophilus. 4 I want you to have confidence in the soundness of the instruction you have received.

5 During the rule of King Herod of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah. His wife Elizabeth was a descendant of Aaron. 6 They were both righteous before God, blameless in their observance of all the Lord’s commandments and regulations. 7 They had no children because Elizabeth was unable to become pregnant and they both were very old. 8 One day Zechariah was serving as a priest before God because his priestly division was on duty. 9 Following the customs of priestly service, he was chosen by lottery to go into the Lord’s sanctuary and burn incense. 10 All the people who gathered to worship were praying outside during this hour of incense offering. 11 An angel from the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw the angel, he was startled and overcome with fear.

13 The angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah. Your prayers have been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will give birth to your son and you must name him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many people will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great in the Lord’s eyes. He must not drink wine and liquor. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before his birth. 16 He will bring many Israelites back to the Lord their God. 17 He will go forth before the Lord, equipped with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will turn the hearts of fathers back to their children, and he will turn the disobedient to righteous patterns of thinking. He will make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

18 Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure of this? My wife and I are very old.”

19 The angel replied, “I am Gabriel. I stand in God’s presence. I was sent to speak to you and to bring this good news to you. 20 Know this: What I have spoken will come true at the proper time. But because you didn’t believe, you will remain silent, unable to speak until the day when these things happen.”

 

I don’t think we tell people enough that encountering the divine is risky; you might leave different than you approached. Zechariah would have known this as a priest, but he still gets a first-hand lesson. Even though Zechariah is incredulous about the angel’s announcement, he does listen. Later in Luke 1, he will share the angel’s words with his newborn son.

Advent is full of these pronouncements about what God is doing in the world. It’s exciting, sometimes terrifying, and always new. People never leave the same, but the end result is always good. What is God speaking to you during this season? How are you preparing to respond?

 

I’m posting a reflection on the daily Scripture reading from the Advent calendar we shared at Hopewell. Here’s what we’re using if you’d like to join us! https://thomasmousin.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/advent-calendar-2016.pdf

Psalm 100                    (Common English Bible)

Shout triumphantly to the Lord, all the earth!

2   Serve the Lord with celebration! Come before him with shouts of joy!

3 Know that the Lord is God— he made us; we belong to him.

We are his people, the sheep of his own pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanks; enter his courtyards with praise!

Thank him! Bless his name!

5 Because the Lord is good, his loyal love lasts forever;

his faithfulness lasts generation after generation.

 

This season gets incredibly busy. With all the parties, shopping, and extra events, it’s easy to forget that we’re leading up to something besides a holiday. We’re moving towards a celebration, this wondrous new thing God has done.

Amidst all the excitement, it’s important to step back and remember why this season is so important. Psalm 100 is helpful reminder to take a pause and worship. Worship isn’t restricted to one day a week; every moment can be an act of worship. How can you pause today and make a joyful noise to the Lord?

 

I’m posting a reflection on the daily Scripture reading from the Advent calendar we shared at Hopewell. Here’s what we’re using if you’d like to join us! https://thomasmousin.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/advent-calendar-2016.pdf

Proverbs 19:6               (Common English Bible)

Many seek favor from rulers;

everyone befriends a gift giver.

We’re entering a season of gift giving. We hear often this time of year, “It’s better to give than receive.” This proverb helps us see why. People like generous people better. We’re drawn to those who are generous, whether with their time, talents, or praise. However, living a generous life isn’t just a good strategy for connecting with people. We were made for generosity.

All people are made in God’s image and God is generous. God is so overwhelmingly generous with love that God created all there is. In Advent we celebrate God’s generosity of being born into our world so that all people might know God. How are you practicing generosity this season?

I’m posting a reflection on the daily Scripture reading from the Advent calendar we shared at Hopewell. Here’s what we’re using if you’d like to join us! https://thomasmousin.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/advent-calendar-2016.pdf

Advent Calendar: Wake Up Early

Romans 13 :11-14              (Common English Bible)

11 As you do all this, you know what time it is. The hour has already come for you to wake up from your sleep. Now our salvation is nearer than when we first had faith. 12 The night is almost over, and the day is near. So let’s get rid of the actions that belong to the darkness and put on the weapons of light. 13 Let’s behave appropriately as people who live in the day, not in partying and getting drunk, not in sleeping around and obscene behavior, not in fighting and obsession. 14 Instead, dress yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ, and don’t plan to indulge your selfish desires.

 

I like knowing what time it is. Whenever I don’t have a watch, I feel a little off-balance. It helps me keep track of my day and return to tasks when I get distracted. Keeping time is valuable for me, which makes Paul’s words here particularly poignant.

Paul says we know the time; it’s time for us to start living the way God intends. It’s time to pay attention to our behavior and see that it reflects our faith. The time has come to live into the promise of Jesus’ birth and ministry. Advent prepares us to respond to the gift of grace that Jesus’ birth represents by patterning our lives after his example.

 

I’m posting a reflection on the daily Scripture reading from the Advent calendar we shared at Hopewell. Here’s what we’re using if you’d like to join us! https://thomasmousin.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/advent-calendar-2016.pdf