Daily devotionals written by Rev. Glen Stoudt, our Minister of Spiritual Direction based on beloved Advent and Christmas carols.
Week Four – Love
… love’s pure light, radiant, beams from Thy holy face, with the dawn of redeeming grace …
Sound familiar? That’s right, it’s from the third verse of Silent Night. And when I contemplate this final week of Advent, it’s one of the images of sacred Love that warms my heart – Love’s pure, radiant light beaming from the faces of those who show me God’s goodness and grace.
I catch glimpses of this loving light on the faces of children, family, friends, and even strangers, whether they intend it or not. And it dawns on me, that’s because every one of us not only reflects the love we experience (which is a good thing); each of us also is filled with Christ-like Love as a grace-gift from God to share with others.
As you enter into this fourth week of Advent, keep your eyes and ears, your hearts and minds open to Love’s pure light in others, and also make a conscious effort to illuminate those you meet along the way with the radiant beams of love which brighten you from within.
Favour Finds Faithfulness
Read Luke 1:26-49
Luke’s telling of Mary’s faithfulness, as she awakens to the realization of what it means to “find favour with God,” (1:30) is compelling. In these few verses “favour” is used three times.
Pause for a moment with an open heart and soul; use your spiritual imagination to picture yourself hearing a heavenly voice mysteriously calling you “favoured one.” (1:28). Can you hear it? Can you believe it? Can you trust it? That’s how Mary’s advent-ure begins, with a greeting she could have never imagined, until … she does.
Of course, she felt perplexed and pondered what all this meant. (1:29) Undoubtedly, she had difficulty understanding how it could happen to her. (1:34) Yet, she was able to say yes, “here am I; let it be with me according to your word.” (1:38)
Much like Mary, for the most part, each of us feels quite ordinary too, until … we too risk accepting that God favours us.
Now, “favour” may not mean what you’re thinking.
It doesn’t ensure endless happiness, or success, or security.
It doesn’t promise that you’ll always be right, or respected, or inspired.
It doesn’t protect you from sadness, or sickness, or selfishness.
It doesn’t make you immune to deceit, or disaster, or even death.
What “favour” does, though, is to enfold you in the warm, welcoming embrace of the Holy Spirit and entrust you with nurturing the goodness and grace that is being conceived and born within you. (1:35). That is, when you are willing to imagine how you and Mary have more in common than you may have ever thought possible.
Her faithfulness lives in you and me as a sacred trust and a living legacy that God hears us, and believes in us, and trusts us to bring love to life in our generation. And with that trust, perhaps together we can sing along with Mary, “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.” (1:46-48)
Continuing with the Advent Season Devotionals, we enter into the fourth week where the theme is “Love”. Today, the devotional is presented by Rev. Molly Bell and is based on the hymn, “A Light Is Gleaming”, Voices United #82. https://youtu.be/IAjKU_dNdvg
Lori Lynn Penny
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
“The Representation of Chaos” is the overture to an oratorio titled The Creation (Die Schöpfung)by Austrian composer Franz Joseph Haydn. It premiered in Vienna on March 19, 1799, at the Burgtheater.
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Haydn’s depiction of chaos begins with a single note played in unison by the full orchestra. It is devoid of melody, harmony, and rhythm. But from this musical nothingness, a second note creates an interval, and a third note creates a chord. Although the conventions of tonality are continually frustrated, the fundamental materials of music are ingeniously assembled.
And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning…
Both functionally and symbolically, Christ is the source of our faith.
For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible.
We wait in loving expectancy for the One whose leadership will bring harmony – a pleasing arrangement of parts – to all creation…
Continuing with the Advent Season Devotionals, we enter into the fourth week where the theme is “Love”. Today, the devotional is presented by Rev. Caroline Penhale and is based on the hymn, “Love Is the Touch”, found in More Voices #89. https://youtu.be/sr33Z0QJpBE
I like the idea of gifting complete strangers on behalf of a family member who seems to have ‘everything’ except perhaps true love.
I was thinking this morning before I got out of bed how love and kindness makes the spirit shine a billion times brighter than what good fortune could ever do.
I suppose the thought came into my mind thinking of Scrooge in ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens. The 1800’s English world and attitudes that he inhabits and exhibits is not a lot different than our own here in the developed world in modern times. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Luckily in the story, Scrooge learns his lesson about kindness before it is too late. Scrooge finds redemption.
Hans Christian Andersen wrote a poignant children’s story in the 1800’s called ‘The Little Match Girl’ who dies of cold, alone in the snow and dark. She lives in a world caught up in itself and its wealth and privilege on New Years Eve. The poor are just not seen or considered by the rich. The story was inspired by Andersen’s chance encounter with a poor little girl selling matches in the streets of London and the author’s own family story.
Though a sad story, the Little Match Girl does eventually find the love and compassion she seeks in the spirit of her dead grand mother when she joins her in the afterlife. Her spirit shines there with her grandmother ‘among the stars’.
In the New Year on the next morning, all the people find is the body of a frozen little girl with a smile upon her lips. They do not know the visions she has seen. They do not know the love she has felt.
Are these 2 stories telling us anything important? I pray let us remember to show Love and Kindness to all at Christmas and everyday. That is what life is really about.
Continuing with the Advent Season Devotionals, we enter into the fourth week where the theme is “Love”. Today, the devotional is presented by Rev. Janet Nield and is based on the hymn, “People, Look East”, Voices United #9. https://youtu.be/aavZeOa5-C4
Jen Payette & family
Luke 1:46 – 55
46 And Mary[a] said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
Continuing with the Advent Season Devotionals, we enter into the fourth week where the theme is “Love”. Today, the devotional is presented by Rev. Glen Stoudt and is based on the hymn, “Fairest Lord Jesus”, Voices United #341. https://youtu.be/P7DLj37Tviw
KJV Micah 4:6-8
In that day, says the Lord,
I will assemble the lame
and gather those who have been driven away,
and those whom I have afflicted:
and the lame I will make the remnant:
and those who were cast off, a strong nation:
and the Lord will reign over them in Mount Zion
from this time forth and for evermore.
And you, O tower of the flock,
Hill of the daughter of Zion,
to you shall it come,
the former dominion shall come,
the kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem.
Perfectly Imperfect on Purpose
We are enough. Creator made us just as we are on purpose. Perfectly, imperfect with free will and creativity. We all have wants, needs, desires, abilities, disabilities. If we were perfect, how would we find meaning in our lives?
There would be no lullabies because there would be no crying babies to sooth. No poetry or music poured out in grief and joy. There would be no grief. How would we know joy! No striving to excel physically in sport or dance. Why try? We could all do it. No reason for scientific inquiry or discovery because we would all know it all. Instead, we are perfectly imperfect. We are all lame, disabled in some fashion. We are all remnants. We all at some point feel left out, or make others feel left out, discarded, excluded, not part of the whole, not part of the group. God has created with remnants. Humankind creates with remnants as well. Quilters are inspired putting remnants together to create a beautiful whole, intended to delight, comfort and give warmth. Bakers smile in satisfaction to be able to produce an extra mouth-watering cookie or tart out of a recipe that should make only twelve. Artisans create new, interesting tables from old, discarded Singer sewing machines and beautiful mosaics from broken china. Choir directors can bring voices together that though individually flawed can somehow together make something harmonious, even beautiful. We are better together.
Humankind is beautifully and perfectly imperfect and because we are, we need each other and have been gifted with the ability to pay attention. To pay attention to one another and to ‘ listen’ with our ears, our eyes, our hearts, our souls, and our intuition to each other and to the urgings of the Creator.
For each of us, our “earth walk with the Creator”  will some day come to an end. For now, let us be grateful to God for our lives, and our perfect imperfection and the opportunity to journey together. Let us gather up our fellow lame remnants, acknowledging each others’ wounds and disabilities to let each other know that they are enough. To bring them together into one beautiful whole where each nestles together creating Hope. The comfort and warmth of Peace. The Joy of belonging. Harmony, beauty and finally, Love as we recognize that we are one. Thanks be to God.
 Irene Compton—CBC radio, Friday December 10, 2021 @8:45
Continuing with the Advent Season Devotionals, we enter into the fourth week where the theme is “Love”. Today, the devotional is presented by Rev. Molly Bell and is based on the hymn, “Tomorrow, Christ is Coming”, Voices United #27. https://youtu.be/__2OG7_CoWw
Friday Day 27
Luke 2:19 (NIV) But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
Advent 1987 was a time of deep pondering of the words of Advent for me having just given birth to our second daughter during the first week of Advent. Having experienced several years of infertility treatment and the HOPE that goes along with it, that HOPE continued during the first week of Advent until she was safely born into our family. As I nursed our baby by the light of our Christmas tree during the second week of Advent I felt a deep PEACE that God had blessed our family and we were settling into a comfortable rhythm. By the third week of Advent I began reflecting on the JOY we experienced introducing our newborn to our wider family and friends. I remember thinking that Mary and Joseph must have felt a similar rush. By the fourth week of Advent the LOVE and support surrounding our family was appreciated as we adjusted to life with a newborn. I will always be grateful for our Advent baby…hoped for for a long time but born at just the right time. The timing gave me an opportunity to reflect, perhaps in a selfish way, what these words meant in my life and feel some of the feelings that Mary may have felt.
Continuing with the Advent Season Devotionals, we enter into the fourth week where the theme is “Love”. Today, the devotional is presented by Rev. Caroline Penhale and is based on the hymn, “O Little Town of Bethlehem”, Voices United #64.
Christmas Day Day 28
The Star Led Christmas
We Shepherds were watching our sheep. The night was upon us, silent and dark, our eyes and ears alert to anything which might be a threat to our flocks.
Suddenly a star appeared shining so bright we were blinded by its intensity. How strange and unusual this star, and yet we felt it was beckoning us to follow the light – but to where?
Oh we were afraid but our journey began following the star, leading us to something we felt was beyond our understanding, continuing forward our eyes on the magnificent star.
Beautiful voices began to fill the night in song, surrounding us with hosannas and praise. Surely we were drawing nearer to where the star was leading us, nearer to what we now were thinking would be wondrous indeed.
A stable was in sight, the star’s light concentrated on the thatched roof. We slowly drew closer, the animals watching and to our surprise, a wee baby wrapped in cloth and lying in the straw filled manger. A woman and a man, one on each side of the wee babe, certainly the mother and father had faces glowing with love for the newborn.
We were filled with awe and knew this was no ordinary baby……
Oh happy Christmas morning,
glory shone the world around.
For in a simple stable,
the Blessed babe was found.
For each and every one of us,
his mission peace and love.
Sent to all of us on earth,
from His Heavenly Father above.
So take His love deep in your heart,
without fear of rejection.
And once you are in His loving arms,
find comfort and protection.
This is the last of the Advent Season Devotionals, where the theme is “Love”. Today, the devotional is presented by Rev. Janet Nield and is based on the hymn, “O Ancient Love”, Voices United, #17.