Advent

Receiving Grace to Receive Grace

“No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me” (John 6:44) We Methodists speak a lot about prevenient grace. The Wesleyan concept of prevenience speaks of a divine grace that goes before us, leading us evermore into God’s righteousness. Too often we forget that the nativity story speaks very powerfully about God’s prevenient grace. God’s grace ...

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The Middle

“He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17). It’s hard to make it through Advent without seeing the nativity scene in one of its many variations. It’s a beautiful scene. Mary and Joseph huddled close around the Christ child. Wise men, shepherds, and angels admiring from the periphery. Of course, the nativity scene ...

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Instruments of the Spirit

What’s the deal with angels and trumpets? I guess I’d never thought of it much before. A couple of weeks ago we began decorating our Christmas tree and I was struck by the number of ornaments and figurines we have that are trumpeting angels. All of a sudden it hit me: why do angels play trumpets? And why is the ...

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First Friday in Advent: Going home

First Friday in Advent Luke 1:68-79; Malachi 3:13-18; Philippians 1:18b-26 “I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; 24 but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you.” Philippians 1:23 When I was a kid in middle school, there was a old guy I’d see ...

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First Thursday in Advent: Finding hope

First Thursday in Advent Luke 1:68-79; Malachi 3:5-12; Philippians 1:12-18a “…my imprisonment is for Christ.” Philippians 1:13b I doubt I’ll ever have a brush with anything like real persecution. That reality makes it hard for me to fully feel what Paul is expressing here. I’m put off by minor inconveniences. I don’t like it when people drive slowly in front ...

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First Wednesday in Advent: Better to be feared or loved?

First Wednesday in Advent Psalm 90; Isaiah 1:24-31; Luke 11:29-32 I struggle with the Old Testament’s depiction of God as the bad guy in a gangster movie. I understand the sentiment. In pre-scientific culture, the world was enchanted. God was in everything—trees, the earth, animals, even behavior was attributed to God. The only way to make sense of the world ...

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