Acrylic on canvas, 24 x 30″
One of the aspects of Advent and Christmas we often forget is how God’s birth and reign turned the world on its head. We want to think of Christ as bringing love and happiness which he certainly does. But Advent is also a time of repentance, a time to consider the ways in which we have not acted in holy and just ways. In passages like the Magnificat, we hear that the hungry will be filled and the rich sent away empty (Luke 1: 53). At this time of year, we also hear words from the prophets who warn us what will happen if we refuse to take care of the poor.
Amos warns us what will happen if we “trample on the needy” (v. 4).
Down to Earth: The Hopes & Fears of All the Years Are Met in Thee Tonight, Mike Slaughter & Rachel Billups, Abingdon Press, 2016.
In this book for the Advent season, pastors Mike Slaughter and Rachel Billups explore what it means for love, joy, peace, and hope to come down to Earth. The book accompanies a four-week Advent study that opens up Christmas to examine how one helpless baby changed everything.
What makes this a great read during Advent this year, is how relevant it is to current events. While it was written before we had two primary presidential candidates or even an election, reading it post-election is food for the soul. Slaughter and Billups acknowledge that we put too much attention on the wrong things. They write, “Or in arguing about things such as red cups, sexual identity issues, who we voted for, and where refugees should go, are we allowing these issues to create dividing lines between us?”
YouTubevotionals are designed to be used in personal devotion time, with small groups, youth groups, or Sunday school classes. To see other YouTubevotionals, click here.
In 1996 the song “Mary, Did You Know?” written by Mark Lowry, was released. Since then, it has become a Christmas standard, sung by various artists and church choirs. Lowry had pondered questions he would ask Mary if he had the chance to sit down and talk to her. Buddy Greene put music to those questions. It is hard to find a version of the song that is different. In the video below, the Singing Contractors stop their work to sing.
The Redemption of Scrooge, Matt Rawle, Abingdon Press, 2016.
There are a few things that are a must at Christmastime. The tree with treasured ornaments. The rich aromas of holiday cooking. The time spent revisiting old memories.
For me, Christmas is not complete without watching Christmas movies. At our house, it’s A Christmas Story, Elf, and Christmas Vacation. And some version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. (My favorite is still the Mickey Mouse version.) Dickens’ Carol has captured readers for centuries. His story has been retold on stage, in film and television. Quite possibly because the story of Ebenezer Scrooge is timeless.
Every Season Prayers: Gospel-Centered Prayers for the Whole of Life, Scotty Smith, Baker Books, 2016.
When it comes to prayer, one of the comments I hear often from people of faith often is, “Sometimes I just don’t have the words.” You know what that’s like. You sit down to pray and you are so overwhelmed by life that you just cannot find the words. There are feelings that our words are not elegant enough. Even though we know that God knows what is on our hearts, we are overwhelmed with wanting to give God the best.
In those times we search for a guide to prayer.