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Light in the Darkness by Loretta and Charlie Hughes and Shae Crane

Friday, December 7 
John 1:1-18 

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out.” (John 1:5)

In the first paragraphs of his Gospel, John says the WORD is the LIGHT and the LIGHT is Jesus. Later Jesus tells us the WORD is LOVE. We focus today on the verse, "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out." God's light extinguishes any darkness we encounter. 

In our family's life, as in other families’ lives, we have experienced seasons of light and darkness. Upon the arrival of each of our four children we experienced and shared the LIGHT of God's love. The addition of grandchildren and great-grands again ushers in the LIGHT. Opportunities for service both at home and abroad remind us we bring God's LIGHT to others. While teaching 20+ years in the pre­school Sunday School, precious children have been God's LIGHT in our lives. 

During the dark days of extended illness, the LIGHT came through the darkness in the form of words, "You are loved" and many acts of simple kindness. As I read scripture and listened to sacred music, God's LIGHT began to permeate my thoughts and fill my spirit with LIGHT. 

Our granddaughter Shae shares a significant event where she sought God's LIGHT. Her story follows.

This verse really hit home for me. One of the hardest moments in my life was filled with unbelievable darkness. This moment happened when I was eight years old. My mother was in the ICU at Kansas City Research Hospital holding onto her life. My sister and I were too young to go into the ICU, so the nurses let us stand outside the door with our grandfather. As I stood by my grandfather's side, I was frozen with fear by the way my mother looked. She had a breathing tube down her throat and looked so lifeless laying there. I couldn't bear the sight of my mother looking like that, so I turned around. While my grandfather still had his arm around me I prayed to God. I said, "Dear God I know this decision is yours to make and I can't change that. But I beg for you not to take my mother right now. I still need her here with me, but if it is her time to go, then I will have to accept that." God gave me five more amazing years with my mother before it was time for her to go home. One of the most amazing things for me was in this hard time, darkness was not able to conquer. This prayer was the LIGHT in my overwhelming darkness. 

This Advent Season we are challenged to prepare our hearts to be the LIGHT of God's love. "This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine!" 

Loretta and Charlie Hughes, Shae Crane

at Friday, December 7, 2018

"The Waiting is the Hardest Part" by Andrew Nash

Thursday, December 6 
Luke 21:25-36

“Be careful or your hearts will be weighed down….” (Luke 21:34)

The first Gospel passage of the Advent calendar is probably not a passage most people expect. There are signs of the apocalypse, warnings against drunkenness and a fig tree parable. Real Christmas spirit stuff here, right? 

The lesson here is about faithful waiting. It’s a passage that can be summed up with a Tom Petty lyric: “The waiting is the hardest part.” This passage is somewhat meant as an antidote to anxiety. Jesus is teaching us how to wait for the right way, no matter what we are waiting for: 

  1.  Don’t be distracted. The dangers mentioned here are carousing, drunkenness and life’s anxieties. But Jesus could have mentioned smartphones, bowl games, travel, and family budgets. Don’t get caught up with the unimportant and make time for what’s important. 
  2. Be confident that it’s worth the wait. “Your redemption is drawing near.” Think about the restaurants you’re willing to wait for because of the quality of their food. We’re not willing to be as patient for fast food. Why? Because we’re confident that what we’re waiting for is worth the patience.
  3. You’ll know. When I was single, I had anxiety about my future spouse. Would I know she was the one? How would I know? And yet, I knew Alyson was the one within a week or so. The first paragraphs of this passage answer the question “How will we know when it’s happening?” with “You’ll know.” God will be with us while we wait and make our path obvious.
  4. Stay vigilant. Faithful waiting is not passive. It’s a call for engaged, active patience. “Stand up!” “Be ready!” Like a baseball player waiting on the next pitch, we’ve got to be prepared so that we don’t let moments pass us by.

Andrew Nash

at Thursday, December 6, 2018

Sisters by Lydia Bunch

Wednesday, December 5
1 Thessalonians 3:9-13

"And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all just as we abound in love for you." (1 Thessalonians 3:11)

Before my sister was born, my parents taught me to say "my sister is my best friend.” It was a mantra we repeated (or was more often quoted at us when we argued), but a reminder nonetheless that we had a friend in each other before we had anyone else. Now as a parent, and after helping Gideon prepare for the birth of his brother, I understand that my parents hoped that Abigail and I would have the same love for each other that they had for us.

Expecting a baby is exciting, but it is also stressful and filled with unknowns, especially for the new siblings. In the same way that Paul seeks to encourage and guide the church in Thessalonica, or parents prepare a child for a new sibling, so we also must prepare ourselves during Advent for Jesus' birth.

Jesus' arrival, and eventually his ministry were huge disruptions to religious and social systems. Perhaps during this season you can embrace that disruption and explore what it would mean for you to "increase and abound in love for one another and for all" in the same radical ways that Jesus showed love.

Lydia Bunch

at Wednesday, December 5, 2018