First Advent Devotional

SCRIPTURE

Luke 21:25-36

25 “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. 26 People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” 

29 Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; 30 as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. 31 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 

34 “Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, 35 like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

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DEVOTIONAL

The day was dark, heavy grey clouds cloaked Charleston, the rain came down in steady streams. The wedding was meant to be outside on the lawn of a beautiful wedding venue overlooking the marsh; complete with the perfect sunset coloring the sky with colors of pink and orange. Instead, there was a greyish darkness and the plans had to change. So, we gathered together on the porch, sitting shoulder to shoulder, with the rain steadily falling down and we watched and celebrated two people joining their lives together. As I looked out over the water and watched as the rain drops made ripples, I listened to two people vow to love one another all the days of their life. I thought to myself, “This is holy, this is sacred, the light is pouring in and this is love.”

If we are not careful we will miss it, we will miss the mischievousness of the divine dancing around us here and now. Sitting on that porch, with the music of the rain, and the warmth of love filling the space I realized that Rev. Darwin was completely right when he said, “Advent is an invitation to living in time differently.” We were all invited to live into time differently at that wedding; we were invited to pay attention, to keep our hearts open to the movings of God, to look and to see that even in the darkness of a rainstorm God is present and doing incredible things.

Advent is a season of anticipation, a waiting period for the baby Savior to be born. Here we are at the beginning of that season of waiting and I hope and pray that you will live into time differently. That you will pay attention to the world all around you and you will look and see that God is present even as we wait.

Grace and Peace,

Margaret Fleming

Margaret is a seminary student at Columbia Theological Seminary and an inquirer for Ordained Ministry under the care of the Session of Second Presbyterian Church.

Flat Jesus

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Spring and summer are busy times of the year! Spring brings a lot of time spent outside with family and friends and a whole new schedule of sports. Families begin to wrap up the school year with final projects, testing and a whole long to-do list full of things. There’s spring break trips and plans, Easter egg hunts, end of the year cookouts and the travels begin. As your family begins to make travel plans this spring and summer, would you consider taking a special guest with you on your adventures? Whether they are local, near or far, consider taking this someone special with you. Let “Flat Jesus” be a part of all your fun!

What is “Flat Jesus?”

 FLAT JESUS was created as a way to keep our church connected as we approach the travel seasons of spring and summer.

Here’s how “Flat Jesus” works: 

Print out Flat Jesus, color him in, and take of picture of him wherever you go. You’ll love taking FLAT JESUS out to dinner with you, on Spring Break, to the beach, to hang with your grandchildren, and when you meet new friends all over town! It’s an amazing adventure. Take FLAT JESUS with you and see what happens.   

How to create your very own Flat Jesus: 

1. Print out the template - on heavy cardstock paper if possible. 

2. Be creative! Decorate Flat Jesus. Think about what, if anything, his robe should say.  What color and type of hair does your Flat Jesus have? Any accessories? 

3. Make one for yourself and one for a friend!

4. Place a reminder on the back of your Flat Jesus on how and where to send pictures of your Flat Jesus’ adventures. Send pictures to Miss Liv (olivia.cappelmann@2ndpc.org)

 5. If you have access to a laminating machine, laminate your Flat Jesus. This way if he attempts to walk on water he’ll be protected! 

6. Take your Flat Jesus everywhere with you and take lots of pictures and then share them with us.

7. Talk with family and friends about what you and Flat Jesus experienced.

There are lots of things happening here at Second that Flat Jesus would love to be a part of, too. Wednesday night suppers and studies wrap up on April 25th with the “Second Annual Talent Show.” We hope that you will join us for a night of fun, food and fellowship with your church family. Three of our high school youth will be traveling to Montreat Youth Conference the week of June 10th-16th. We will also take a group of middle school youth to the Montreat Middle School Conference at Maryville College July 18th-22nd.

Have you marked your calendars for Vacation Bible School yet? It is June 24th-28th from 5:30-8:00 every night and we need you! There are lots of ways to be involved in VBS and we cannot do it without you. If you have any questions about how to get involved or register your child for VBS please give Liv a call or send her an email.

Eighth Lenten Devotional

SCRIPTURE

Luke 24:13-35

13Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. 18Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” 19He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. 22Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. 24Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” 25Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” 27Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. 28As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” 33That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon” 35Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

 

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DEVOTIONAL

In his first exhortation, Pope Francis wrote, “There are Christians whose lives seem like Lent without Easter.” Surely that is how the two disciples on the road to Emmaus felt. Stuck in grief and disappointment, they couldn’t believe the women’s Easter news that Jesus had risen, so they pressed on toward a little town whose only noteworthy characteristic was how far away it would get them from Jerusalem.

But then they were ambushed by Jesus, and the result was joy like a consuming fire in their hearts. “Did not our hearts burn within us” What exquisite joy awaits those who encounter the risen Savior! “Everlasting joy shall be upon their heads.”

And notice where the encounter happens: on the road. The joy of Easter is not waiting for you to get to Emmaus. You won’t find it in another town, another relationship, another degree, another car, another life. This joy is looking for you, impatiently, here and now, transforming whatever road you’re on into a journey with Jesus that takes you “further up and further in” to heaven and so making every step an arrival. “So the ransomed of the Lord shall return.” Amen

PRAYER

Risen Jesus, restore to us the joy of your salvation. Meet us here, meet us now, and make our cup overflow with gratitude and rejoicing. Christ be in every eye that sees me, Christ be in every ear that hears me. Lord Jesus, increase in us, we pray. Amen.

The Rev. Dave Dack
2011 Pastor, Lemoore Presbyterian Church, Lemoore, Ca.