The season of Advent is the four weeks leading up to Christmas, a time for believers to reflect and prepare ourselves afresh for the coming of Jesus into the world and into our lives.

Hope means we know something good and wonderful is coming but it is not here yet.

In ... peace, all people and all creation live in right relationship with God and with each other.

The result is well-being, and harmony, and justice, and flourishing.

Joy is ... when we find ourselves totally and completely loved

... the love of God for Jesus and of Jesus for us ... is a decision and a promise of an unfailing relationship of delight and well-being.


God, joining our social bubble

“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Those words are so familiar that we sometimes forget their depth and majesty. The eternal and pre-eternal, the omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent Creator and Lord of the cosmos chose to self-limit in order to fit into a human body like us and live among us, joining our social bubble so that we could become family with him.

That’s an amazing mystery. We are humbled, and grateful, and moved to worship. We celebrate it especially at Christmas. But centuries ago, the church realized that this was such a great mystery that, in fact, people needed preparation to enter into it fully. So, the church set aside the four weeks before Christmas as Advent, just such a time of preparation.

This eventful 2020 has served up the novel coronavirus with its movement, socializing and lifestyle restrictions and its numerous new normalized practices; economic devastation; street protests; heat waves; drought and raging wildfires with resultant smoky air in the west and sequential hurricanes in the south; political divisiveness and animosity. In our own congregation we have lost members to residential moves and deaths, yet also tried to celebrate new babies we cannot see or hold and a wedding we could not attend. We feel stressed, cooped up, lonely, moody, wary, if not outright fearful. Our world seems topsy turvy, unprecedented in our lifetimes. But God knew all this was coming. He is still in control and is working in and through these times. And now our annual celebration of his coming to earth is upon us. We may not be able to spend time with friends or family except digitally, or distantly and masked. But God is calling us to himself ever more closely.

This year, as you prepare for Christmas, we hope you will carve out some time each day. Spend some moments with God; read and meditate on his word; speak with and listen to him in prayer. And we pray that this devotional guide will serve as a useful starting point for your time.

As you begin each day, take a moment to reflect that you are in God’s space. Of course he is with you! Ask him to open your heart and mind to notice and hear his Spirit. Read the day’s short passage twice, maybe even aloud. Notice what story element, idea, verse, phrase or even single word grabs your attention. Jot it down. Reflect on it for a minute and ask God what he wants to say to you in it. After you have spent a few minutes with the passage on your own, move on to the other reflections and questions written for that day.

As you conclude your God-time, take a moment and click on the link to the Christmas carol for the week. Enjoy it. And let it be your worship and thanksgiving.

We pray God will meet us afresh in this Advent season, reminding us of his love and renewing our love for him. We pray that he will reveal all over again the mystery of his coming.

Week 1 - Hope

Hope means we know something good and wonderful is coming but it is not here yet. Long before Jesus came, the Hebrew prophets told the people he was coming. They had to wait and wait. But God was faithful and kept his promise.

November 30th

Monday devotional

Jeremiah 33:14-16

14 ‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah.

15 ‘In those days and at that time

I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line;

he will do what is just and right in the land.

16 In those days Judah will be saved

and Jerusalem will live in safety.

This is the name by which it will be called:

The Lord Our Righteous Savior.’ (NIV)

The prophet Jeremiah lived and worked about 600 years before Jesus was born. During his life, he saw the Babylonians capture Jerusalem and take its leadership into exile, destroying the nation. Yet, in those darkest times, he spoke these words of hope and promise for a savior who would come. At the time of Jesus, the people were still holding onto that hope, trusting God and longing and waiting for its fulfillment.

Do you have a longing for which you have prayed for months, even years? Write it down. How is your hope and trust in God?

Daily Practice

Pray for that desire today. Ask God to renew your hope for the answer. Thank him for his answer, even now.

December 1st

Tuesday devotional

Psalm 100

1 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.

2 Worship the Lord with gladness;

come into his presence with singing.

3 Know that the Lord is God.

It is he that made us, and we are his;

we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,

and his courts with praise.

Give thanks to him, bless his name.

5 For the Lord is good;

his steadfast love endures forever,

and his faithfulness to all generations. (NRSV)

King David started life as a common shepherd boy, the youngest of eight sons in his family, a life that was full of turns of fortune. He worked as a servant in the king’s court. He was a militant who was pursued and persecuted by his king who wanted him dead. Even as king himself, he had his good days and his mess ups. But he knew God and was always honest to God. David wrote this psalm which affirms his faith that God is faithful and good. What God promises, he does. It took 600 years, but God did send the savior he promised to Jeremiah.

Think of three answers to prayer you have seen from God. Write them down. Thank God for them. Reflect on God’s love for you, that he hears and answers your prayers.

Daily Practice

Find a stone. Hold it. Turn it in your hand. Notice how solid and unchangeable it is. This stone is like God’s faithfulness to fulfill his promises. Put the stone in your pocket or beside your bed for this Advent season. Every time you see or feel your stone, recall God’s faithfulness for all generations.

December 2nd

Wednesday devotional

1 Thessalonians 5:1-6

1 Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anything written to you. 2 For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 When they say, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape! 4 But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; 5 for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. (NRSV)

During Advent we remember that God came to earth in Jesus and we celebrate that. But we also remember his promise that he will come again on ‘the day of the Lord.’ Because we trust his faithfulness to keep his promises, we trust this promise too. As Paul says here, it is as inevitable as a woman giving birth after her labor pains start. This gives us hope that God is working his purpose out, even when our vision gets foggy.

How do you feel about the imminence of ‘the day of the Lord’? Do you anticipate it with eagerness or dread? Is there anything you want or need to do to get ready?

Daily Practice

Pray the Lord’s Prayer. ‘Thy kingdom come; thy will be done.’

December 3rd

Thursday devotional

Revelation 21:1-5

1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,

“See, the home of God is among mortals.

He will dwell with them;

they will be his peoples,

and God himself will be with them;

4 he will wipe every tear from their eyes.

Death will be no more;

mourning and crying and pain will be no more,

for the first things have passed away.”

5 And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (NRSV)

John describes the coming of the King to earth on the day of the Lord as like a Bridegroom coming to collect his bride. A time of great joy and celebration. And the Bridegroom will ‘make all things new.’

Let your imagination dream about what a completely ‘new’ earth, renewed as the kingdom of God, might be like. What goodness and beauty continue? What grief and pain are gone?

Daily Practice

Dig out some pictures of a wedding you attended, maybe your own, maybe another’s. Recall the joy. Reflect on how God’s love for you has the intensity of a newlywed’s. Thank God that you are a member of his wedding party.

December 4th

Friday devotional

Isaiah 40:3-5

3 A voice cries out:

“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,

make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

4 Every valley shall be lifted up,

and every mountain and hill be made low;

the uneven ground shall become level,

and the rough places a plain.

5 Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,

and all people shall see it together,

for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (NRSV)

God sent John the Baptist to prepare the first century Jews for the ministry of Jesus. He knew Jesus’ message would require a radical change of worldview. Quoting Isaiah, his words sound like the massive earth movers that build an interstate highway. John called people to repent, that is to notice the direction they were heading and make a u-turn, to redirect themselves toward God.

As you reflect on your own life, what earth needs to be moved to make the highway for the Lord? What paths need to be made straight? What valley needs to be filled or raised up? What mountain or hill needs to be made low? What uneven, rough place needs to be made level, plain? Let your imagination run and visualize Jesus in a hard hat seated in a massive vehicle, helping to move your earth. Climb up in the seat beside him and tackle the work together.

Daily Practice

Go outside and pick up a handful of dirt. Let it fall slowly from your hand. Thank God that Jesus has leveled your dirt and made it into a superhighway straight to him.

December 5th

Saturday devotional

1 Peter 3:15

15 In your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. (NIV)

What is your hope? What good things do you expect from God? Maybe think near term and long term, personal and global, practical and spiritual. What gives you confidence these are not just pie-in-the-sky dreams, but actual, future eventualities?

Daily Practice

Get out your Advent stone and hold it. Turn it over in your palm. Remember an answer to prayer you have received. Thank God for his faithfulness to his promises. Is there someone with whom you can share your experience of answered prayer?

Biblical peace (called shalom in Hebrew) is not just an absence of conflict. Neither is it a state of inner calm. Biblical peace has a corporate sense to it, so it is relational. When relations are right, stable and in order, there exists a sense of well-being and reconciliation which promotes life, prosperity and welfare in the broadest sense. In this kind of peace, all people and all creation live in right relationship with God and with each other. The result is well-being, and harmony, and justice, and flourishing.

December 7th

Monday devotional

Isaiah 2:3-4

3 Many peoples shall go, and say;

Come, let us go up to the mount of the Lord

to the house of Jacob’s God.

that He may teach us of His ways,

and that we may walk in His paths.

For from Zion’s shall teaching come forth

the Lord’s word from Jerusalem.

4 And He shall judge among the nations

and be arbiter for many peoples.

And they shall will grind their swords into plowshares

and their spears into pruning hooks.

Nation shall not raise sword against nation,

nor shall they learn war anymore.

(translation by Robert Alter)

Think of the numerous conflicts happening in our world today. How many can you list, in the Americas, in Europe, in Africa, in Asia?

Now imagine Jesus stepping into one and bringing the leaders together over a big feast. They talk. They listen. They find mutual understanding and common ground. They let go of their grievances. They look each other in the eye and shake hands. Then they each go out to their soldiers and their people and bring them to an understanding of reconciliation with their former foe.

Feel the weight of anger and anxiety lift. Pray that reconciliation into a conflict you know.

Daily Practice

Find a nail. Look at it and recall that this is what it cost Jesus to bring that reconciliation to fruition. Now bend the nail with a hammer, and smash the head as well. See how its shape resembles a plowshare. Our bitterness and ill-will are so much harder to re-form than a nail.

December 8th

Tuesday devotional

Isaiah 11:6-9

6 The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,

and the leopard lie down with the kid,

And the calf and the lion shall feed together,

a little lad leading them.

7 And the cow and the bear shall graze,

together their young shall lie;

and the lion like cattle eat hay.

8 And an infant shall play by a viper’s hole,

and on an adder’s den the babe put its hand.

9 They shall do no evil nor act ruinously

on all My holy mountain.

For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord

as the waters cover the sea.

(translation by Robert Alter)

Biblical peace is not just the cessation of human conflicts and wars. It is the reconciliation of all creation. It is so safe a defenseless child can walk in its midst.

Have you ever seen a surprising display of peace?

Daily Practice

Take a short stroll today or look out your window at your neighborhood activity. Imagine all the potential threats you might encounter, from physical attack to animal attack to a fall to a virus infection to a traffic accident to whatever else you can conceive. In your mind, pray and hand each of those over to Jesus for him to reconcile. Receive his healing reconciliation into creation; receive his peace and flourishing.

December 9th

Wednesday devotional

Luke 2:13-14

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,

and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” (NRSV)

What is this peace on earth they proclaim? For whom is it directed? What does it look like? Have you ever experienced it?

Daily Practice

Get out a globe or world map. Or open up Google Earth or Google Maps. Pray that God would flood the world with shalom. Get out your Advent stone and hold it. Turn it over in your palm. Remember an answer to prayer you have received. Trust him for this prayer, too. Thank God for his faithfulness to his promises.

December 10th

Thursday devotional

Numbers 6:24-26

24 The Lord bless you and keep you;

25 the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you;

26 the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace. (NRSV)

God gave this blessing to the early Israelite priests and told them to speak it over the people. God told the priests to pray that he would give the people peace. To this day, many churches and synagogues end their services with this blessing.

Imagine God’s face shining upon you. He must have smile-crinkled eyes in order to shine. He is looking you in the eye and delighting in you. Receive his peace. Bask in his delight for as long as you like.

Daily Practice

Find a piece of yellow paper and cut a circle out of it. (Or use white paper if you must.) Sketch a face on it. Tape it up on the side of your mirror. When you see it, remember God’s face shining delight and peace upon you. Think of someone you know whom you could bless this day – with a phone call, card, gift, act of service. Take an action to be God’s blessing to him or her.

December 11th

Friday devotional

John 14:1, 27

1 ‘Don’t let your hearts be troubled,’ Jesus continued. ‘Trust God – and trust me too!’…. 27 ‘I’m leaving you peace. I’m giving you my own peace. It’s quite different from what the world gives. Don’t let your hearts be troubled, and don’t be fearful. ‘

(translation by NT Wright)

Truly this is a high anxiety season in our city, our country, our world. You are not alone.

Name your anxieties and concerns. Speak them aloud to Jesus.

Daily Practice

Write the anxieties you listed above each on a slip of paper. One at a time, clench them in your fist. Squeeze as tight as you can. Then slowly open your fist and release the crumpled slip. Tell Jesus you are releasing this concern to him. Turn your hand over and drop it on the floor. Take all your slips and run them through your paper shredder. They are done! Let your heart be not troubled.

December 12th

Saturday devotional

Matthew 5:9

9 ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.’ (NRSV)

The world does not always see peacemakers in a good light. In both global and personal situations, peacemakers are seen as weak. They are compromisers. Or they are ‘soft on crime.’ Or they ignore differences without resolving them. But Jesus favors, even blesses, peacemakers. He wants us to see the world of relationships through eyes of reconciliation.

Have you ever been a peacemaker? What was your experience? Were you mocked or appreciated?

Daily Practice

Think of a conflict situation in your life. Ponder it. Pray over it. Beseech God’s reconciliation, peace, shalom, restoration. If God gives you an action, do it.

Joy is that overwhelming sense of delight and wholeness we feel when a promise is finally kept, when an expectation is met and exceeded, when we experience something more marvelous than we even knew was possible, when we find ourselves totally and completely loved.

December 14th

Monday devotional

Isaiah 9:5-7

6 For a child has been born for us,

a son given to us;

authority rests upon his shoulders;

and he is named

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

7 His authority shall grow continually,

and there shall be endless peace

for the throne of David and his kingdom.

He will establish and uphold it

with justice and with righteousness

from this time onward and forevermore.

The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. (NRSV)

Every new baby is a source of joy. It has been eagerly anticipated for 9 months. Sometimes couples have difficulty conceiving and it has been anticipated for years. And then it arrives, a new life, a most perfect creation, a most amazing gift from God.

What was an experience of Joy you have had? What caused it? Hold it in your mind for some minutes. Recall and re-delight in the memory until it makes you smile.

Daily Practice

Go to a nativity scene you have displayed at home and hold its baby Jesus into your hand. (Alternatively, find a nativity scene on Google images and zoom in on baby Jesus). Reflect on how long people had waited for this baby to come. Let yourself feel the joy of a promise kept.

Joy, gift and gratitude all stem from the same root word in Greek. And don’t we know how interrelated they are! Start a gratitude list. Today, list three experiences for which you are grateful. They are God’s gift to you: thank him for them.

December 15th

Tuesday devotional

Luke 2:9-14

9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before [the shepherds], and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” (NRSV)

Enter this scene in your imagination. Feel the cool of the night; see the expansive light of the full Milky Way; hear the hushed quiet of the slight breeze wafting up the hillside. The angels’ appearance is rather jarring. What is the good news they are announcing? Why does it bring joy? Who experiences the joy? What do you feel?

Daily Practice

This winter day, is it early morning before sunrise or evening after sunset? Go outside and look up at the darkened sky. Do you see stars, planets, moon? Pause and imagine it filling with angels. Pause and allow yourself to acknowledge delight, even joy. Thank God for his creation and new creation.

Add to your gratitude list. Today, list three aspects of creation for which you are grateful. They are God’s gift to you: thank him for them.

December 16th

Wednesday devotional

Luke 1:46-55

46 And Mary 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.” (NRSV)

Mary understood that her baby was more than just any human baby. As she watched the miracle grow within her, grasped that this was God himself who was coming to restore the world. While she delighted when she felt her baby move within her, even more she delighted in what she came to realize God was really doing!

What does Mary seem to understand and what does she not understand about what Jesus’ life and purpose on earth will be? What does it feel like to be used by God to accomplish his purposes? When does it feel joyful and when does it feel downright scary?

Daily Practice

Find a safety pin. Pin it somewhere on your shirt. Maybe it reminds you of a diaper pin. But let it remind you all day of being God’s servant: the poke of the pin is the part that hurts, the clasp of the pin is the part that feels safe and joyful.

Add to your gratitude list. Today, list three relationships for which you are grateful. They are God’s gift to you: thank him for them.

December 17th

Thursday devotional

Psalm 30:4-5

4 Sing praises to the Lord, O you his faithful ones,

and give thanks to his holy name.

5 For his anger is but for a moment;

his favor is for a lifetime.

Weeping may linger for the night,

but joy comes with the morning. (NRSV)

We have experienced loss this year. People we know have died or moved far beyond frequent visits. Other relationships may have been damaged. We may have lost employment or income. We have all lost freedom of movement and association. We grieve; we weep. This psalm acknowledges that grief and weeping are real. But it reminds us they are not the end of the story.

List some losses you have known this year. Tell God how you are sad, angry, scared. Feel his listening presence. Know that he loves you even more.

Daily Practice

Go wash your face. Feel the warmth of the water. Pause before you dry yourself and feel the air waft on your face, cooling it. Receive God’s comfort for your losses. As he shares them with you, ask him to give you joy.

Add to your gratitude list. Today, list three ways you have seen God provide for you for which you are grateful. They are God’s gift to you: thank him for them.

December 18th

Friday devotional

Matthew 2:9-11

9 [The magi] went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. (NIV)

Weeks, maybe months, earlier, these Persian astrologers had seen an astronomical sign that revealed to them the birth of a new King of the Jews. They caravanned a long and tiring journey, seeking to honor him. What joy they experienced when they finally met him! They paid tribute to him with the expensive gifts that are now familiar to us.

In the well-loved carol, The Little Drummer Boy plays his drum and plays his best for the baby Jesus. In John 12:1-11, Mary of Bethany anoints Jesus’ feet with precious perfume. What gift – of goods or service or attitude of the heart – would you like to give Jesus?

Daily Practice

By now you are accumulating gifts to give your family and friends for Christmas. Go look at your piles. Think of those intended recipients and your love for them. Thank God for the gift of family and friends and of Jesus, the baby, the man, the savior, the Lord.

Add to your gratitude list. Today, list three aspects of Jesus for which you are grateful. They are God’s gift to you: thank him for them

December 19th

Saturday devotional

Psalm 96:1-3

1 O sing to the Lord a new song;

sing to the Lord, all the earth.

2 Sing to the Lord, bless his name;

tell of his salvation from day to day.

3 Declare his glory among the nations,

his marvelous works among all the peoples. (NRSV)

These verses in the psalm just about say it all: God created us; God rescued us. God is marvelous and we rejoice and sing to him.

What is a piece of God’s marvelous works that moves you to joy? As you ponder that, know that you give joy to God when you notice and take delight in him.

Daily Practice

Put on a YouTube of a favorite hymn or worship song. If you need a suggestion, go to the PBPC YouTube channel and listen to one that Mary has recorded for us. Sing a song to God!

Park Blvd YouTube Channel:

Add to your gratitude list. Today, list three little things for which you are grateful – a warm cup of coffee; a friendly smile on a Zoom or voice on the phone; the sun on your face, or refreshment of rain on our arid landscape; the beauty of a sunrise or sunset. They are God’s gift to you: thank him for them. Is there anyone with whom you can share something for which you are grateful?

The Bible talks about several kinds of love, like the love between friends, or between husband and wife, or between parent and child. But this love is the love of God for Jesus and of Jesus for us. It is a decision and a promise of an unfailing relationship of delight and well-being. And the love we see in the birth of Jesus on earth foreshadows the love exhibited in his death.

December 21st

Monday devotional

Luke 2:6-7

6 While [Joseph and Mary] were [in Bethlehem], the time came for her to deliver her child. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and swaddled him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. (Personal translation)

We hear these words and think of the peaceful old carol Away in a Manger. But birth is bloody and messy, painful and exhausting for the mom, and for the baby, too. And Jesus’ mom tenderly swaddles Jesus to calm him. The familiar song asks,

“Mary, did you know… that your baby boy has come to make you new?

This child whom you've delivered, will soon deliver you.”

And some years later, she would have to watch him go through his own bloody, messy agony. She would seek him in a burial cave, again to wrap him.

Reflect on these actions of love. Mary’s love, Joseph’s love, Jesus’ love. What similarities and differences do you notice?

Daily Practice

Get a Band-Aid and wrap it – swaddle it! - around your finger. Imagine God wrapping your whole self in his bandage, hugging you, holding you, healing your wounds. Delight in his enveloping love.

December 22nd

Tuesday devotional

John 3:16

16 This, you see, is how much God loves the world: enough to give his only, special son, so that everyone who believes in him should not be lost but should have eternal life.

(translation by NT Wright)

God, in his very nature, in love. As a Trinity of three Persons, God has always loved. As a way of growing that love, God created humans, in his image, so that he could share more love with them. But when humans chose self over love, they walked away from God. The only way to restore that love relationship was for God to come to Earth and make it happen. In John 17:3, Jesus defines eternal life as knowing God and his son, Jesus. And knowing them restarts the love relationship.

Is there a family member or friend whom you haven’t seen in way too long? Yes, you’ve telephoned, Zoomed, FaceTime’d, emailed, or maybe even postal mailed, but it’s just not the same, is it? Feel the longing to be with them. Reflect on how that longing is what God feels to be with us. We couldn’t go to God, so God had to come to us.

Daily Practice

Choose someone who could use a love pick-me-up. Pick up the phone and call them. Listen and ask interested questions more than you talk. Enjoy a sweet chat and wish them a Merry Christmas.

December 23rd

Wednesday devotional

1 John 4:8-10

8 …God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (NIV)

At weddings we often read in 1 Corinthians 13 that

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. (NIV)

As newlyweds, we hope and pray that we can live up to that standard. But that way of being is God’s very nature. God’s love is a total, all-in, even-unto-death commitment for us and to us. Even though our commitment to him is pretty much partial, and tepid, and on-again-off-again.

Who do you think loves you most? God loves you more. If God were to write you a love letter, what do you think he would write?

Daily Practice

Sit for a moment with your hands on your knees. Clench your fists tightly, then open them and let them rest on your knees palms up. Close your eyes and receive God’s love, wave upon wave of love, overwhelming love. Feel his acceptance, his delight. God loves you SO much!

Christmas Eve devotional

John 13:1, 34-35

1 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end….34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

(translation by NT Wright)

Jesus gave this command to his disciples on the last night he spent with them. And he demonstrated what he meant by washing their feet as if he were a menial slave.

What experiences of servant love have you known, either in the giving or the receiving? Why is love a command?

Daily Practice

This Christmas Eve day, pray for God to give you an act of servant love to do for someone. Do it.

Christmas devotional

John 1:1-2, 14

1 Before the beginning began to begin, the Word already was, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning….14 And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (personal translation)

Since before time began, since pre-eternity, the Word, that is Jesus the Son of God, was always with God. And yet he released that pre-eminence, that majesty, that power, and limited himself to become as fully human as we are. He knew birth, and growth, and loss, and love, and grief, and purpose, and abandonment, and joy. It is truly a mystery that Almighty God, the One and Only, could and would limit himself so much. And it is a gift (grace) to us that he did so.

Before you open your various Christmas gifts, pause for a moment and reflect on the gift of the incarnation – the becoming human – of Jesus. Thank him. Offer him the gift of your heart and love.

Daily Practice

Get out your Advent stone and hold it. Turn it over in your palm. Reflect that Jesus’ birth into humanity is the answer to a hope for which humankind had been yearning since Eden days. Thank God for his faithfulness to his promises. Pray for him to faithfully fulfill the rest of his promises by praying the Lord’s Prayer: ‘Thy kingdom come; thy will be done.’

Hope means we know something good and wonderful is coming but it is not here yet.

In ... peace, all people and all creation live in right relationship with God and with each other.

The result is well-being, and harmony, and justice, and flourishing.

Joy is ... when we find ourselves totally and completely loved

... the love of God for Jesus and of Jesus for us ... is a decision and a promise of an unfailing relationship of delight and well-being.

Thank you to Ginnie for creating this PBPC Advent Devotional for 2020

A Continued Conversation

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Pastor Chris and the members of PBPC welcome you to our continued conversation on our Advent Devotionals for 2020.