Advent Devotional Nov. 30 by Pastor Beth Hutton

2 Peter 3:8-15

“Are we there yet?” Since the invention of GPS this question has become obsolete in my car.  On long trips I can always show the kids the map and the estimated time of arrival to answer their question.

As the Christmas season begins and the focus is on the birth of a baby do you dare to think about the second coming? I know it seems a little strange to think about destruction by fire and the earth melting in the heat during this time of the year when twinkly lights are going up, trees
are being decorated, gifts are being purchased and family gatherings are being finalized.

Advent is a time of preparation, lifting up both the first and the second coming of Jesus.  What are we really supposed to be preparing for? The people reading Peter’s 2 letter were roughly seventy years out from Jesus’ death and resurrection.  Perhaps after seventy years they began
to think this second coming wasn’t really going to happen?  Have we like this early Christian community wrapped ourselves so tightly in the world that we have forgotten to prepare?

With all of the turmoil, conflict and violence in our world today it’s easy to hear the naysayers.  With all that going on do you really still believe in this Christ?  This God? “We have waited for seventy years and we could wait seventy times seven and he still won’t come.”

That’s the power of this passage.  The author remind us that God’s time is nothing like our own. Seventy years is but a moment in God’s time, like a thousand years is but a day.  We shouldn’t give up.  God keeps covenants, promises, and will return, Jesus will come like a thief in the
night, and we should be prepared.  We have this time each year to prepare ourselves and renew our lives of faithfulness and holiness.  We can turn to the New Year with hope, expectation and watchfulness.  A new heaven and a new earth may or may not come in our lifetime but we will be ready nonetheless.

Like those who this letter is meant for in the early church, we also live in equally chaotic, violent times. We may wonder where God is; what is God up to? And perhaps, as we live into Advent, the answer to our question, “are we there yet?” might just be yes. We will prepare our homes,
our church and our families to welcome the Christ into our world.  And we will have hope in a new creation, a new heaven and a new earth.

Prayer: God of the covenant, through the prophets of the past and of today you call us to live up to the challenge of the gospel if we want to be your people. Stir us up from our comfortable, self-satisfied ways. Make us restless to hasten the coming of your Son and your kingdom and fill us
with the fire of his Spirit to bring the warmth of his love and integrity into this cold, hurting world. Give us the lasting peace of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Advent Devotional ~Nov. 29, 2015 ~by Pastor Sarah

Sunday, November 29, 2015     HOPE

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah.  In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.  In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’” Jeremiah 33: 14-16, NRSV.

Come to the manger? I do not even have time to shop for groceries or hang with the kids, how can I come to the manger? Maybe those are your thoughts as we enter into this season of Advent: A season of waiting—a season of wishing—and a season of preparation. Here we are again, anticipating another season of Advent, which means preparing for Christmas, which means more work in getting ready. Sometimes it feels that we just cannot do it all. Or, maybe you are not in a position of wanting more time, but you are in a season of wishing for Christmas of the past; a time when the entire family was home. Maybe you are wishing loved ones who used to be with you could be with you once again.

Sometimes we can become so wrapped up in our own needs, wants, and desires that we forget that it is up to us to prepare our hearts to welcome the Christ Child. How do we prepare our hearts? How do we present ourselves at the manger of the baby Jesus? It begins right now, in this season we call Advent, which means “the coming.” What is so special about this season? We are waiting for the promise of God to be fulfilled. Yes, we know it was and is fulfilled in the Christ Child—the anointed one. But, is there something more? Could it be that the promises of God are really for me? Maybe, just maybe, there is a promise for me this Advent season. What promise could you look towards that would make you feel like a giddy child all over again?

Prayer: Open my heart, Jesus, so that I might be expecting you to enter in. Open my eyes, Lord, that I might see you with fresh eyes. Open my ears, Lord, so that I might hear your voice. Open my mouth, Lord, that I might speak your praise. Open my spirit, Lord, that I might receive you anew. Amen