Let me hear what God the LORD will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts. To worship God is to listen to Him; to be faithful is to turn toward Him. This is what our gathered worship is each week, listening to our God who speaks peace as we turn toward him with listening ears and grateful hearts that seek Him and His way for our lives. Are you listening? Are you seeking? Speak peace to us as we gather in your name Lord. Amen.
“Restore us, O LORD God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved.” “Restore” has to do with fixing something that has been broken, in this case, “us.” “Shine” has to do with a seeming lack of God’s presence in the midst of current circumstances. “Being saved” often involves both some restorative work in us and the obvious presence of God that makes such restoration possible. What seems broken in your life these days that needs restoring? In what areas of life do you need to see God’s presence and the difference He makes? Restore Lord, Shine Lord, that we may be saved.
“Rachael weeping for her children…because they are no more.” Christian leaders often stand shocked at the evil of this world. Do not be shocked, embedded in the Christmas story itself is a mass murder to satisfy the threatened king’s power, bruised ego or mental illness. It is in the midst of the suffering and evil of this world that Jesus comes, “God with us” in and through it all. What shocks me? Am I aware of “God with us” in the midst of all circumstances? – Be with us Lord Jesus we pray. Strengthen and comfort all those who grieve…
“Surely God is my salvation…make known his deeds” Isaiah shows the vital connection between joy and thanksgiving of the individual experiencing God’s salvation and the natural flow of making known, proclaiming, and singing it to others. How can we encourage the sharing, singing, testifying of individual stories so that all in the congregation and beyond can know of God’s goodness? – Father, let us who lead encourage the telling of the stories of salvation, so that all may know you.
“So then let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober…since we belong to the day.” Advent begins with themes of waiting for the promises of God and coming of a Savior. We are reminded that one of the dangers of waiting is the temptation to fall asleep as the people of God. In what ways am I asleep these days? In what ways do I manifest that I am a child of light? -Keep us awake gracious God, to your saving work in the world that we might join you in it.
The Voice of a deceiver: “Go and make a careful search for the child…so that I too may go and worship him.” The voice of Herod is the voice of the deceiver. His words are carefully crafted. He has no intention of worshipping Christ. How do I discern the voice of a deceiver whose lies will lead in a false direction? How do I protect my heart from becoming a deceptive voice in the world? – May my words always be true and reflect a heart that seeks only You O Lord. Help me to discern what is true. Amen.
The Voice of shepherds: “Let’s go and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” It’s hard to know whether the shepherds show faith or “thrill seeking.” They obey the voice of the angel and go to Bethlehem, but is it to see Jesus or just to see if this thing is true? Sometimes we have mixed motives for following God’s voice, for seeking Him out. God seems content to deal with seekers however they come. What motivates you to check out God’s word? – Thank you for seeking us regardless of our motives.
The Voice of Mary: “I am the Lord’s servant…may it be…” Mary speaks. Her words and heart stand in contrast to the voice of the doubter. She questions, yet there is humility behind her questing. When she receives an answer she opens herself as a servant of God with a simple, “Let it be.” Would my voice be more like that of Mary or the doubter (Luke 1:18)? What is the fundamental difference between the two responses to God’s Word? -Let your will be done in my life Lord, as it is in heaven. Amen.
The Voice of a doubter. “How can I be sure of this?” Zechariah stands in a holy place, in the Presence of God and doubts the word of God in his life. Surely this is the apex of pride and distrust of God. Do you ever doubt the word of God in your life? Why do we seek assurances and what might this reveal about us? How does this story end (Luke 1:20, 67ff). – Father, may I be more inclined toward trust and obedience than my questions and my surety in life. Amen.
The Voice of Angels. “The angel of the Lord appeared…” Angels are all over the Christmas story. They appear in dreams, they appear in temples, they appear in fields, to both individuals and groups of people. They speak on God’s behalf and bring direction, guidance, and understanding for people to respond to God in faith. Would I be one who would have followed the voice of the angels back then? Why or Why not? – Lord, there are things we do not fully understand, help us to listen to you, in when you speak in ways that we cannot totally understand. Amen.