Archive for the ‘Faith Resources’ Category

The season of Advent provides a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the fulfillment of God’s story in the form of unfolding promises.  As we wait for the coming of Jesus on Christmas, we also cling to hope as we await God’s promises to be completely fulfilled.  You are invited to enter this story each day during Advent by reading a passage of scripture, perhaps while lighting candles on an Advent wreath.  A time of silent prayer and reflection is encouraged along with singing a verse of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”  This faith practice works well individually or with loved ones.  Many people choose to use an Advent devotional as a prayer before an evening meal.

Luke 1:5-25 – Zechariah & Elizabeth

In the days of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah. His wife was a descendant of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Both of them were righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord. But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were getting on in years. Once when he was serving as priest before God and his section was on duty,he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and offer incense. Now at the time of the incense offering, the whole assembly of the people was praying outside. Then there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified; and fear overwhelmed him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink; even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Zechariah said to the angel, “How will I know that this is so? For I am an old man, and my wife is getting on in years.” The angel replied, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. But now, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time, you will become mute, unable to speak, until the day these things occur.” Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah, and wondered at his delay in the sanctuary.When he did come out, he could not speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary. He kept motioning to them and remained unable to speak. When his time of service was ended, he went to his home. After those days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she remained in seclusion. She said, “This is what the Lord has done for me when he looked favorably on me and took away the disgrace I have endured among my people.”

QUESTION FOR REFLECTION
Have you ever watched God’s work unfold while unable to speak because of your unbelief?
(if you choose, share thoughts in the comments below)

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
 that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to you, O Israel.

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Daily Advent devotions are now available at PastorMattStaniz.net.  Each devotion includes a passage of scripture (based on the Jesse Tree tradition) along with a related visual image, a question for reflection and a verse of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”.  These devotions are crafted to be shared via social media, preferably with a daily link or tweet. I suggest writing and scheduling all tweets in advance for daily delivery (using TweetDeck, HootSuite, or a similar platform).  Some sample tweets:

Today’s #AdventDevotion:  The Birth of Life http://wp.me/p1zQon-8o

An act of generosity that seemed impossible. Today’s #AdventDevotion. http://wp.me/p1zQon-fr

You are invited to share these devotions with your own social network as a way to share your faith.  Congregations and other public ministries are invited to share these via Twitter, Facebook, websites, email, or any other form of communication that works in your context.

Titles and Shortlinks for all devotions:

WEEK 1 (December 1 – 7, 2013)

Sunday – The Birth of Life – http://wp.me/p1zQon-8o

Monday – Adam & Eve – http://wp.me/p1zQon-e6

Tuesday – Noah – http://wp.me/p1zQon-ee

Wednesday – Abraham – http://wp.me/p1zQon-ek

Thursday – Isaac – http://wp.me/p1zQon-eq

Friday – Jacob’s Ladder – http://wp.me/p1zQon-eD

Saturday – Isaiah’s Prophecy – http://wp.me/p1zQon-eG

WEEK 2 (December 8-14, 2013)

Sunday – Joseph’s Coat – http://wp.me/p1zQon-eK

Monday – Moses & the Law – http://wp.me/p1zQon-eM

Tuesday – Aaron’s Blessing – http://wp.me/p1zQon-eP

Wednesday – Samuel – http://wp.me/p1zQon-eU

Thursday – David – http://wp.me/p1zQon-f1

Friday – The Shepherd – http://wp.me/p1zQon-f5

Saturday – Solomon- http://wp.me/p1zQon-f8

WEEK 3 (December 15-21, 2013)

Sunday – Elijah – http://wp.me/p1zQon-fr

Monday – Elisha – http://wp.me/p1zQon-fv

Tuesday – Isaiah – http://wp.me/p1zQon-fy

Wednesday – Jeremiah – http://wp.me/p1zQon-fA

Thursday – Nehemiah’s Prayer – http://wp.me/p1zQon-fE

Friday – A New Voice – http://wp.me/p1zQon-fG

Saturday – Zechariah & Elizabeth – http://wp.me/p1zQon-fI

WEEK 4 (December 22-25, 2013)

Sunday – Mary – http://wp.me/p1zQon-fK

Monday – The Magnificat – http://wp.me/p1zQon-fN

Christmas Eve – The Birth of Christ – http://wp.me/p1zQon-fS

Christmas Day – The Word Made Flesh – http://wp.me/p1zQon-fV

The season of Advent provides a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the fulfillment of God’s story in the form of unfolding promises.  As we wait for the coming of Jesus on Christmas, we also cling to hope as we await God’s promises to be completely fulfilled.  You are invited to enter this story each day during Advent by reading a passage of scripture, perhaps while lighting candles on an Advent wreath.  A time of silent prayer and reflection is encouraged along with singing a verse of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”  This faith practice works well individually or with loved ones.  Many people choose to use an Advent devotional as a prayer before an evening meal.

Hebrews 1:1-14 – A New Voice

Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you”? Or again, “I will be his Father, and he will be my Son”? And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.”Of the angels he says, “He makes his angels winds, and his servants flames of fire.” But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the righteous scepter is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.” And, “In the beginning, Lord, you founded the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like clothing; like a cloak you will roll them up, and like clothing they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will never end.” But to which of the angels has he ever said, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”? Are not all angels spirits in the divine service, sent to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?

QUESTION FOR REFLECTION
How is God, revealed in Christ, still speaking today?
(if you choose, share thoughts in the comments below)

O come, O Wisdom from on high,
embracing all things far and nigh:
in strength and beauty come and stay;
teach us your will and guide our way.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to you, O Israel.

The season of Advent provides a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the fulfillment of God’s story in the form of unfolding promises.  As we wait for the coming of Jesus on Christmas, we also cling to hope as we await God’s promises to be completely fulfilled.  You are invited to enter this story each day during Advent by reading a passage of scripture, perhaps while lighting candles on an Advent wreath.  A time of silent prayer and reflection is encouraged along with singing a verse of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”  This faith practice works well individually or with loved ones.  Many people choose to use an Advent devotional as a prayer before an evening meal.

Nehemiah 1:5-11a – Nehemiah’s Prayer

I said, “O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments; let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Both I and my family have sinned. We have offended you deeply, failing to keep the commandments, the statutes, and the ordinances that you commanded your servant Moses. Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples; but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are under the farthest skies, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place at which I have chosen to establish my name.’ They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great power and your strong hand. O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name.

QUESTION FOR REFLECTION
How is your own brokenness and sin a part of the brokenness and sin of the world? How does God respond?
(if you choose, share thoughts in the comments below)

O come, O Branch of Jesse, free
your own from Satan’s tyranny;
from depths of hell your people save,
and give them vict’ry o’er the grave.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to you, O Israel.

The season of Advent provides a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the fulfillment of God’s story in the form of unfolding promises.  As we wait for the coming of Jesus on Christmas, we also cling to hope as we await God’s promises to be completely fulfilled.  You are invited to enter this story each day during Advent by reading a passage of scripture, perhaps while lighting candles on an Advent wreath.  A time of silent prayer and reflection is encouraged along with singing a verse of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”  This faith practice works well individually or with loved ones.  Many people choose to use an Advent devotional as a prayer before an evening meal.

Jeremiah 31:31-34 – Jeremiah

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says theLord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.

QUESTION FOR REFLECTION
What covenant (promise) is God writing on your heart?
(if you choose, share thoughts in the comments below)

O come, O King of nations, come,
O Cornerstone that binds in one:
refresh the hearts that long for you;
restore the broken, make us new.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to you, O Israel.