Posts Tagged ‘Advent wreath’


Trentville UMC Strawberry Plains, TN


Third Sunday in Advent – Joy

Father, as I pause in my prayers and think of the third Advent candle – joy – I let my mind wander over the many thoughts surrounding “joy” and am surprised to find the phrase, “there is no joy in Mudville tonight, the mighty Casey has struck out…” comes to mind.

And I have to ask Lord, is that a sign of our culture – that our “joy” is dependant on our team winning; on a player getting a hit, or a homerun; or a touchdown, or a free-throw, or any other corresponding phrase for victory? Is it dependant on the marketplace or the world stage? Is our “joy” based on our being “successful…”? Is it that fragile?

I think of Biblical uses of the word, “joy” and find my heart embracing, “weeping endures for a night, but joy comes in the morning” and “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”

And I remember that Elizabeth’s son John, “leaped for joy” in her womb upon hearing Mary’s voice. And that Mary’s spirit “rejoiced in God” at Your choosing her as Your Son’s mother…”

And then there is that ultimate, “Behold I bring you good news of a great joy, which shall be for all people, for unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord!” and I stop there, and I realize, “this” is the “joy” that the third candle represents. That if not for this one single “joy” no other joy would be possible.

Christ brings the “joy in the morning.” He is the “Good Shepherd” who goes after the one lost little lamb. He is (not to be cliché, but) “the reason for the season”; He is the joy of my life and the salvation of my soul, and You, my Father, made it all possible…

You, are concerned about my joy.

You, want me to be happy.

When I think about all the things that bring me joy – my husband, my children, my family, and yes, even success in the “marketplace” I humbly realize that all of this would be just fleeting fancy without the real joy of knowing Your Son. And I pray Lord; lead me to lead others in knowing this permanent, concrete, solid, never failing, and always eternal Saviour – Jesus – our true Joy!

And it is in His name I pray – Amen


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Hanging of the Greens – A Word on Peace


This Advent wreath is from my friend’s church McBurg United Methodist Church

Devotional for Hanging of the Greens service 2016

I just want to share a brief word for this second Sunday in Advent and our Hanging of the Greens. All over the world – either last Sunday or this Sunday – churches are participating in this “Hanging of the Greens” service. This is a “traditional” service. What is it that tradition or routine brings us? Often times it brings us “peace”.

When there are times in my life, when things are “unpeaceful” the one thing that brings me peace (don’t laugh) is the very ordinary chore of doing laundry. I know that seems funny, but when I was a teenager my daddy wore uniforms in his work, and every week on Thursday, he would take his dirty uniforms to work and pick up clean ones. There was just something about that mundane, but routine task that gave me peace during those troubling teen years. No matter what was happening – on Thursday – Daddy took his uniforms to work. You could count on it.

These past few weeks have been very difficult for the people of Tennessee. For many, their lives will never be the same again – but even in that – there can be simple things that bring peace and comfort. I pray that the tradition of this service and the comfort of the familiar hymns during this Advent and Christmas season will bring you peace.

Hear these words from Isaiah 9:6-7 “For unto us a Child is born. Unto us a Son is given. The government will rest on His shoulders. And He will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of His father David for all eternity. The zeal (The NLT says, “the compassionate commitment”) of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this!”

Has this prophecy been fulfilled yet? Part of it has. The Child was born – Jesus was born just like you and I were born. He came as a human to live a righteous life. And, the Son was given – the perfect Lamb given in sacrifice for the sin of mankind. That has been fulfilled. The second part of that prophecy has not been fulfilled – yet – but we can be assured that it will be. Because the first part has been fulfilled – we know that the second part will be as well because “the compassionate commitment of the Lord of Hosts will accomplish this” – and that brings us peace – even in the most uncertain of times!


Let us pray:

Father, as our second Sunday in Advent brings the message of peace, I have to wonder – what is peace, really? It’s so much more than the absence of war. It’s more than a shaky truce or a temporary lull. It’s more than a momentary laying down of arms or a brief respite from conflict.

No, true peace wells up within us within times of war, within the ravages of the fiercest actions, and during the times when the whole force of hell assaults our souls. “The Peace of God,” said the apostle Paul “surpasses all understanding.” And Christ, Himself, said, “My peace I give you – not the kind the world gives. So don’t be afraid.”

True peace, Father, comes from You. It’s nothing we can conjure up, nothing we can “talk ourselves into” nothing we can “will” to be – it comes, (yes) comes from Thee.

So, how can we explain the conflict of the shaking hands and the calm heart? How can we understand the fear that ravages our minds while a peace pervades our soul? It doesn’t make sense Lord, but we’ve been there.

We’ve felt our hearts cry “Peace! Peace! The Peace of the Most High Sovereign God surrounds you and controls your being!” and all the while our minds are trying to grasp the reality of the moment – the pain that comes with uncertainty and fear, when our stomach turns and our limbs weaken…

And finally, we fall to our knees, grasping the promise that You made to never leave nor forsake us – and peace comes upon us, and we feel Your love.

It doesn’t always “change the moment”; there may still be “bullets” flying all around, whether actual, or figurative (sometimes the “figurative” ones hurt the worst!) But it changes us! And that is, what Peace is.

Thank You Father – we love You and Praise You in the Name of the Prince of Peace – Amen.



And now let us receive our tithes and offerings.

Prayer: Gracious and Eternal God – bless the gift and the giver – and give them peace. Amen.



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