Advent Daily Devotions

 

As we enter the very holy season of Advent, we join together from wherever we are and Prepare the Way of our Lord!

Let’s pause day by day for special Advent devotionals, created by McFarlin UMC clergy and staff

Monday, December 21

written by: Maggie McClure

McFarlin United Methodist Church

Modern Worship Leader

Read: Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26

“I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord, forever; with my mouth I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations. I declare that your steadfast love is established forever; your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens.” (v. 1-2)

Reflect: The Christmas season means a lot to me. It is such a joyous time as we celebrate the birth of our Savior. During this time we reflect on the past year and look forward to all that God has in store for us in the new year. We reflect on our faith, the hope we have, the amazing and unending love that God has for us, the peace that he has given us, and the precious gift of Jesus and the light he brings to the world. I am so thankful for all these gifts, and I love expressing my gratitude through worship. I’ve experienced and recognized God’s peace more this year than I ever have in my life. Although 2020 has been full of uncertainty, God’s comfort and assurance have kept me grounded and moving forward. My heart is so grateful for the promises that God has made — that we will get through this — and God is making us stronger through this refining process and waiting period.

Pray: Holy God, your faithful love never ends! It is as sure and dependable as the sky over our heads. Help me to offer you my worship and my thanksgiving this year; to declare to any who will listen that “You are my God, and I am your beloved child.” May your Spirit be at work in my life through worship, opening my eyes to the light of your presence wherever I may be. Amen

Today: Do a random act of kindness for someone you encounter.

Tuesday, December 22

written by: Michelle Dykes

McFarlin United Methodist Church

Director of Children’s Day

 

Read: 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16

“Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever.” (v. 16)

Reflect: Christmastime organically brings me feelings of peace and joy as my family and friends make an extra effort to engage and pour into each other. However, this Scripture reminds me that God is often directing us to a purpose greater than our personal agendas, ideologies and even traditions, as he did with David. This Advent, God is redirecting my heart from the comfort and ease of just being with and investing in “me and mine.” God is not asking me only to make space for Jesus, but he is reminding me boldly to BE like Jesus. Like Jesus, I will open my heart to serving all of God’s people. Like Jesus, I will advocate and fight for systems and rules that honor and respect all of God’s people. Like Jesus, I will be a safe haven to love and care for all of God’s people. This Christmas season, and in all of the seasons to follow, will you join me in opening your heart to God’s great purpose? Will you make space for and care for each and every human as God’s precious child?

Pray: Lord our God, you have revealed yourself as one who wishes to bring about justice and true peace among people. You have called us to follow you. Be present with your Church, Lord, as we respond to your call. Open our eyes to the downtrodden. Fill us with compassion for the plight of others. Lead us into ministries that serve the least and the last. Have mercy, O Lord. Bind up the wounds of all your people. Lift up the lowly. Fill up the hungry. Give us the courage to love as you love. Amen.

Today: Make a list of the blessings you have received and thank God for each one.

Wednesday, December 23

written by: John Morrow

McFarlin United Methodist Church

Associate Director of Music Ministries & Principal Organist

 

Read: Matthew 1:18-25

“She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (v. 21)

Reflect: Candles flicker from the homes of a small Palestinian village, a gentle wind blowing across the dunes, fragrant nardin and muskroot fill the air. Joseph cannot fathom this — his betrothed, full of grace. He tosses and turns, forcing his eyes shut. How can you sleep when you are worried about tomorrow? The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness — Isaiah. “HINEI, HAALMAH HARAH VYOLEDET BEN VKARAT SHMO IMMANU-EL.” This was Isaiah’s promise — but this was not that prophet. A virtuous rose blooming in the desert. “Could it really be ...” thinks the carpenter, “Yesterday I wept between agony and resentment, but you provided balm, O God. I must spare her pain or anguish — “Be still. You are My beloved, Joseph.” Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God ...  “Prepare ye the way of the Lord.” Eyes springing open, lungs parched for air. Joseph’s heart swells with understanding for Mary. Her trust had become his sure foundation. “O Zion,” he shudders, aghast with hope, “your rescuer is drawing near.” Each year, we relive these inexplicable stories of faith with new and sweeter accord. St. Francis of Assisi reminds us that “all the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.” When it seems exactly impossible and there is no hope to be found, God is with us.

Pray: Holy God, in a couple of days we will be celebrating the birth of Christ. Though I am complicit in the frenzy of consumerism, the unreality of expectations, the tension of gift giving, and the pressure to gather, I long for your peace. Restore my soul and refresh my spirit, O God, and prepare the way of peace in my heart. Let your face shine upon me that I might be saved once again by your light. Amen.

Today: Go for a walk, or take a look out the window, and spend some time thinking about those things that weigh heavily on your heart and mind and pray for God’s peace to comfort you.

Thursday, December 24, Christmas Eve

written by: Pastor Wendi Neal

McFarlin United Methodist Church

Senior Associate Pastor

 

Read: Luke 2:1-7

“And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” (v. 7)

Reflect: I have a number of nativity scenes in my home and I’m sorry to say that more than one is missing baby Jesus. How did that happen? I’m not sure. I guess I will take comfort in knowing that the real Jesus isn’t confined to a manger anyway. You and I encounter Jesus all the time in all sorts of places. We discover him whenever and wherever we are moved by the truth that Jesus was born humble and poor and that God still has the softest of places in his heart for those for whom Christmas may not be a time of cheer. And Jesus is right here in our own hearts moved by God’s great love for us so that we are moved to love all of God’s children the way he loves us. Take a moment this Christmas to see and hear this holy story again, and know that this birth long ago has come to you once more and is good news for you and all the world. We can’t keep Jesus in the manger. For, in amazing ways Jesus will keep breaking free and making his way into the world, into your life and into every heart.

Pray: Advent God, I have journeyed with you to Bethlehem’s stable and a newborn king, my ears attuned to the song of angels, eyes alert for Bethlehem’s star. Forgive me if on my journey I was distracted by the tempting offers of this world. Keep my heart aflame today with the hope of Christmas and the promise of a Savior. Amen.

Today: Join in North Florida MCC’s Christmas Eve worship service today online and come experience Drive By Communion at Jewish Family Services from 6:30-7pm, and tell a friend about it.

Friday, December 25, Christmas Day

written by: Pastor Rockford Johnson

McFarlin United Methodist Church

Senior Pastor

 

Read: John 1:1-14

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (v. 1-5)

Reflect: Good News of great joy for unto us is born a Savior! In this Christmas Day Scripture reading, John affirms that the genuine light of God shines like the glaring and glorious declaration of headlights in the night, so welcome to someone lost and alone in the darkness and hoping for rescue. Our celebration today is that the glory of God shines true and full and bright in Jesus Christ and enlightens everyone. John Wesley, founder of Methodism, talked about how the grace of God enables our “spiritual eyes” to perceive the work of God wooing all people to the Light of the World. As E. E. Cummings wrote in a poem, “now the ears of my ears awake / and now the eyes of my eyes are opened.” By the great and amazing grace of God we are enabled to see the presence of God in Jesus the Word made flesh walking through the pages of all four Gospels and into our lives. On this holy Christmas Day let us celebrate together the truth of grace that God’s shining love in Jesus also opens the heart of any person’s heart to receive the love of God by faith and to be born of God as children of God. Joy to the world! The Lord is come.

Pray: Jesus Christ, Light of the World, I believe. I believe that in the beginning was the Promise and the Promise was with God and the Promise was God. I believe in the infinite, nurturing creativity of God, in the incarnate, crucified humility of God, in the intimate, inspiring generosity of God. Jesus Christ, Light of the World, I believe. Praise be to God! Amen.

Today: Read the entire Scripture passage for today with those you are with and offer a prayer of thanksgiving for Christ our Lord, God’s greatest gift.

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