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Advent Devotional Week 1

This page will list each day's scripture, devotion, question(s) to ponder, and a short bio of each author for the first week of the Mountain Sky Conference Advent Devotions. Participants on the journey will receive a daily email with this same content. This first week is focused on the theme of hope. 


Advent Devotion | December 5

A daily devotion created by laity and clergy
throughout the Mountain Sky Conference


Theme: Hope


Scripture:

1 Peter 1:3-5 (NRSV)

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.


Devotion:

Hope opens up the possibilities for every person to live into a world of well-being. The living hope that Christ brings is the life-giving place deep inside as we sink into the knowing of God’s unconditional love in our souls. 

In the midst of a world that seems to defy hope at times, how do we return to our hopeful knowing?

It is in the return of our whole selves to the present moment that restores hope. In this present moment, God abides with us. In our breath, we find the rhythm to return to the centeredness of this moment. As you slow your breathing, you might find that in these moments, you have a living hope!

Listen to this hymn by Charles Wesley: “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” (Hymn Charts with Lyrics, Contemporary)

Come Thou Long Expected Jesus

"Come, Thou long expected Jesus

Born to set Thy people free;

From our fears and sins release us,

Let us find our rest in Thee.

Israel's strength and consolation,

Hope of all the earth Thou art;

Dear desire of every nation,

Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver,

Born a child and yet a King,

Born to reign in us forever,

Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.

By Thine own eternal Spirit

Rule in all our hearts alone;

By Thine all sufficient merit,

Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

By Thine all sufficient merit,

Raise us to Thy glorious throne"

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: Tom Howard / R. H. Pritchard / Charles Wesley

Come Thou Long Expected Jesus lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc, Universal Music Publishing Group

Jesus brings redemption in the form of hope. We find our past, our present, and our future held in the cosmic nature of Jesus the Christ. And we live this moment as if our hope is restored in these promises. When our hope knits together with all the world’s hopes, we create unity in our coming days. We ask Jesus to “come.”

Inspiration for this meditation comes from the book Almost Christmas: A Wesleyan Advent Experience by Magrey Devega, Ingrid McIntyre, April Casperson, and Matt Rawle.


Bio:

Annie Arnoldy (she/her/hers) is an ordained elder in The United Methodist Church, serving as the Director of Connectional Ministry (DCM) and Superintendent of Leadership Development for the Mountain Sky Conference. She lives with her husband, 3 kids, and her parents in Littleton, CO. Her favorite pastimes are reading, seeing loved ones (even on zoom), watching the snow fall, and finding new recipes on Pinterest. 


Join the Conversation:

Join us on Mountain Sky Ministry Crossroads for a daily opportunity to interact with others as you engage with each daily devotion. Mountain Sky Ministry Crossroads is a new collaborative platform with resources for ministry and network with others for ministry support and innovation! Sign up here to become a member of Crossroads, and join the “MSC Advent Devotions” Workshop!


Advent Devotion | December 4

A daily devotion created by laity and clergy
throughout the Mountain Sky Conference


Theme: Hope


Scripture:

Psalm 31:24

Be strong and take heart, all who hope in the Lord.


Devotion:

Hope is a very small word, but very powerful.  In hope is the power for our human soul to turn to God and live into his promising truths. In the early years many children growing up on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation experience their share of heartbreak and failures.  As the season of Advent approaches, their little minds are contemplating over what their greatest gifts will be this year. Many looked forward to Advent each year, as remembering, they climbed into a backboard wagon to head to church.  They would sing as loud as they could as the bells rang merrily.  Many Blackfeet siblings spoke of the gifts they hope for each Christmas day.  After Christmas eve service they would head for home, thoughts of dinner made the hungry and the cold weather made for a weary ride home. As evening approached, they spoke of hopes of God and how they were encouraged to carry on that hope the glory of God’s name, as they were informed that HE would not leave his servants in a pit of shame. After all, that Christmas eve service, they heard the preacher speak of God's faithfulness, steadfast love and the hope of all who believe.  The children were led to say, "many times, hope is in your hands."  They also learned that God never changed, he is the same even today as he was yesterday. Today as a grown Blackfeet child, I have confidence in the hope that God acts on our behalf as well.  So I will not Let the enemy undermine my belief in the hope, goodness, and steadfast love of God. The psalm encourages for the gift of hope, we are able to receive today. So let us praise, trust that our hope is in God.  Our hope in God will help our children finding refuge in the same hope during times of distress and uncertainty.  They will take courage as they seek to abide in God as their own hope to be loved!  Thank you Jesus for the greatest gift anyone could hope for.


Question to Ponder:

Are you weary and willing to wait for what God has in store for you? 


Bio:

Rayola Running Crane is a Native American Indian from the Blackfeet Nation, Browning, Montana.  Currently serving at Apistatooki Fellowship Church, in Heart Butte, Montana, (BUMP Mission.) 


Join the Conversation:

Join us on Mountain Sky Ministry Crossroads for a daily opportunity to interact with others as you engage with each daily devotion. Mountain Sky Ministry Crossroads is a new collaborative platform with resources for ministry and network with others for ministry support and innovation! Sign up here to become a member of Crossroads, and join the “MSC Advent Devotions” Workshop!


Advent Devotion | December 3

A daily devotion created by laity and clergy
throughout the Mountain Sky Conference


Theme: Hope


Scripture:

Luke 1:76-79 

Zacharias prophesying of his son, John the Baptizer…“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; For you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways; To give to His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise from on high will visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”


Devotion:

Advent, and the Fragile Christian    

During Advent we are usually thinking of the coming of Jesus, preparing for his arrival in all the ways that are familiar to us, and make us feel hopeful. Who doesn’t want to feel hopeful after the year we’ve had? To this end we search the scriptures and reflect on the stories that tell us about the people who were called to participate in the unfolding of God’s plan, not only the people, but their faith, their community, and the political and religious corruption and unrest that defined their time. This year really will be no different except that it is of vital importance that we do not leapfrog over the hard realities of the Advent narrative or the current state of our own affairs in an effort to get to the good parts.  Hope is always our central cause, and I know it doesn’t make for good church when people must sit with the agonies of the world, but sit we must. 2020 is not a year to just get through, or sprint past the darkness to the light of our Christmas trees.  No, sprinting past the darkness is what has made us fragile. This Advent must be a season of sitting with those who cannot sprint past the darkness to the light of a Christmas tree.  This Advent season must be a season of waiting with a holy expectation for the inbreaking of God into all places, every hard place, every troubled place, every violent place.  

It is time to move beyond remembering and reciting the God narrative with the comforts of a familiar cadence, and allow it to shake us, passionately, from our slumber.  We may say to ourselves, “But isn’t comfort what we all need right now?” I would respond with an ardent, “No!” Comfort is what has gotten us here.  We’ve gotten too comfortable with the Gospel, and it has made us fragile. Comfortable in our callings.  Comfortable in our finances. Comfortable in our power and privilege. Comfortable with injustice. Some of us are even comfortable in our oppression.  2020 has been a difficult year for so many reasons, but we mustn’t rest now.  Now is not the time to sit glibly in the warm ambience of our own Christmas lights while others are unemployed, unable to feed their families, unable to breathe, and unable to see Jesus as their ultimate hope and ally. Now is the time to visit every fragile place within ourselves so that we can see those, stand with those, and weep with those who so desperately need Jesus to come.  Now is the time to consider who we are, if our faith is delivering Jesus to the world or can we be found worshipping from a place of indifference and hate.  

Advent is about a holy expectation, a prophetic expectation that will disrupt our comforts and call us into the beautiful complexities of who God is and who God is calling us to be in the earth. For far too long now our faith has been about what makes us comfortable, we’ve somehow groomed God and softened the narrative to accommodate who we are and what our kingdom sensibilities are.  How can we offer or hear a prophetic message of a new heaven and a new earth when we’re comfortable with our citizenship here?  What good is an Advent study when we have every intention on telling God no?  Let us, the church, turn off the news, set down our phones, and sit down in sackcloth and ashes, and wait.  Let us wait on God to awaken us to how we have gone astray. To reveal to us the hard realities of our contemporary Advent narrative. Let us intentionally sit by the dusty rivers edge where justice has ceased to flow. Let us push away what fills us, what distracts us and begin our trek into the wilderness with only our character to sustain us. In the stillness and silence of our souls the Holy Spirit will show us who we are, individually and corporately, and in that moment let us be quick to repent. 

Ah, it is here, this sweet space of awareness, accountability and surrender that the songs of lamentation will arise in us, and from those lamentations will come O Come O Come Emmanuel, in a way we have never sung it before. 


Bio:

Rev. Yevette M. Christy (she, her), formerly, the lead pastor at a rural church in Colorado. I am in a season of listening and learning.


Join the Conversation:

Join us on Mountain Sky Ministry Crossroads for a daily opportunity to interact with others as you engage with each daily devotion. Mountain Sky Ministry Crossroads is a new collaborative platform with resources for ministry and network with others for ministry support and innovation! Sign up here to become a member of Crossroads, and join the “MSC Advent Devotions” Workshop!


Advent Devotion | December 2

A daily devotion created by laity and clergy

throughout the Mountain Sky Conference


Theme: Hope


Scripture:

John 1:4

 “in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.”


Devotion:

I’ll admit that I’m a bit more disciplined with my morning cup of coffee than I am with my practice of faith. I go to sleep each night eager for my cup of coffee the next day, and I awake each morning, ready to watch the boiling water soak the coffee grounds and drip into my cup.

My cup of coffee has since evolved into a spiritual practice, helping me fill the gaps of my often neglected faith. Once my coffee is brewed, I find myself sitting quietly in my favorite corner, hands wrapped around my mug and watching the world awaken outside my window. I imagine hundreds of thousands of others across the world waking up and drinking their morning beverage of choice, and blinking the sleep out of their eyes, embracing the warmth from their cup. I welcome my coffee to my lips and think, “what a beautiful way to be in communion with one another.”

Though it is not wine or grape juice and lacks the companionship of a loaf of bread, my cup of coffee is a lot like the life of the Spirit poured out for me and all of my beloved siblings that inhabit this world. In a literal sense, it awakens life in me, and fuels me for each day. So, today (or tomorrow), I invite you to sit with your cup of coffee or tea or morning beverage of choice and envision myself and others sitting with our cups of life and partaking in communion with one another. In doing so, I invite you to ask yourself: “What new life is being brought to me through my cup? How else may I share this connection with the world?”


Bio:

Court VonLindern (they/them/theirs) lives in Missoula, MT and works to create inclusive ministry and sacred space for those who are LGBTQ+ in the Mountain Sky Conference.


Join the Conversation:

Join us on Mountain Sky Ministry Crossroads for a daily opportunity to interact with others as you engage with each daily devotion. Mountain Sky Ministry Crossroads is a new collaborative platform with resources for ministry and network with others for ministry support and innovation! Sign up here to become a member of Crossroads, and join the “MSC Advent Devotions” Workshop!


Advent Devotion | December 1

A daily devotion created by laity and clergy
throughout the Mountain Sky Conference


Theme: Hope


Scripture:

Psalm 39:7

But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you


Devotion:

    When I was little, my mom and I would take road trips once a month from Austin, Texas to Abilene, Texas to visit family. I loved getting to visit my family in Abilene, since we didn’t have any family near Austin. But those 4 hour car drives felt like an eternity, especially as a little kid. It wasn’t long into those car rides that I’d start asking the all-too-familiar questions of “how much longer?” and “are we there yet?” During one of those trips to Abilene that felt particularly long, my mom began to play a game with me. She’d point things out to me, things like signposts, an oddly shaped tree on a hill, a curve in the road, and she’d say “when you see this, you’ll know we’re this far away now.” She told me to remember those things, so that when I’d see them on our trips I’d have an idea of how much farther we had to go. The more times we took those trips back and forth, the better I got at identifying those little markers that gave me a sense of how far we’d come, and how far we had to go. After a while, that drive between Austin and Abilene wasn't something to be dreaded. Instead, those drives became an exciting part of the whole trip.

    In Psalm 39:7, the Psalmist also expresses a sense of longing. Not the “are we there yets” of a 5 year old, but instead, it’s a sense of longing built out of desire to know where to look for God in all that is happening around them. In a year such as this, I think many of us are feeling this same longing of wanting to know where to look for God at a time filled with uncertainty, pain, and discomfort. I believe the power of advent is that it encourages us to take the space to slow down, to examine that which is around us, and to look for those small signs, the small markings, that remind us of the promise of new life that is to come through Christ Jesus. And it’s in those moments, in finding those little markers and signs of how God is at work in our midst, that we encounter hope. 


Questions to Ponder: 

Where do you see God at work in your life? Where do you look for signs of God at work this advent season?


Bio:

Isaac Dunn (he/him/his) is a third year MDiv student at Iliff School of Theology, and is currently in the candidacy process in the Mountain Sky Conference. He lives in Aurora, CO and enjoys camping, traveling, finding hole-in-the-wall eateries, and craft beer. 


Join the Conversation:

Join us on Mountain Sky Ministry Crossroads for a daily opportunity to interact with others as you engage with each daily devotion. Mountain Sky Ministry Crossroads is a new collaborative platform with resources for ministry and network with others for ministry support and innovation! Sign up here to become a member of Crossroads, and join the “MSC Advent Devotions” Workshop!


Advent Devotion | November 30

A daily devotion created by laity and clergy
throughout the Mountain Sky Conference


Theme: 
Hope


Listen to Kayi read his devotion in his native Mao dialect:

https://vimeo.com/483283405


Scripture: 

Psalm 130:7

O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem.


Devotion:

The psalmist cries out to God from the heavy burden of sin. You might be feeling the weight of the sins of our society; the sins of injustice, division, and violence as the pandemics of COVID-19 and racism loom large over us. Sometimes you might feel overwhelmed by the brokenness of our world.  But you don’t have to carry alone the weight of these social sins. The Crucified Christ is in solidarity with those who are “weary and heavy laden,” and He invites them to find rest in Him. So, we can also cry out to God trusting that He hears us.

The psalmist waits upon the Lord because he believes that he is within the reach of God’s great mercy. Our world is deeply infected by sin, but it is not beyond redemption and mercy of God. Like the Psalmist, we must continue to seek for the mercy of God on behalf of the world.

The writer fixes his eyes upon the Lord. He does not search for help from the gods of wealth, power and might. He does not place his ultimate trust in human schemes. The Psalmist does not seek for quick fix because what he longs for lasting peace and justice.


Question to ponder:
I wonder what burden for our society you are carrying today. Would you take a moment to speak to the Lord from the depth of your heart?


Bio:
Kayilu Pfoze (Kayi for short) lives in Worland, WY with his wife Denise. They had the honor of having three District Superintendents (two current and one former) at their wedding in October 2020. It was a great blessing for them. Kayi extremely enjoys pastoral ministry. He is in his second year of serving at Worland and Ten Sleep UMCs. He originally comes from a place call Nagaland in the North East part of India. 

 


Join the Conversation:

Join us on Mountain Sky Ministry Crossroads for a daily opportunity to interact with others as you engage with each daily devotion. Mountain Sky Ministry Crossroads is a new collaborative platform with resources for ministry and network with others for ministry support and innovation! Sign up here to become a member of Crossroads, and join the “MSC Advent Devotions” Workshop!


Advent Devotion | November 29

A daily devotion created by laity and clergy
throughout the Mountain Sky Conference


Theme: Hope


Watch Bishop Karen’s Devotion here:

https://vimeo.com/483237577


Scripture:

Isaiah 40:1-5

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins. A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD ; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”


Devotion Transcript:        

This has been such a difficult year for us. COVID-19 has turned our lives upside down and thrown out the window so many of the comforting rituals we love. So many people this holiday season are feeling weary, battleworn, just plain tired--too tired to decorate, too broke to think about gift-giving, too grief-stricken to think about birth, too angry to think about joy.

One overwhelmed friend said to me, “Maybe I don't need the manger this year."  

It seems to me that in times like these we need a Savior, and I rejoice that in the birth of Jesus we all have the possibility of receiving a God who is not content to be remote, distant and uninvolved.  Rather, at Christmas, we have the Good News made known to us, that God comes to us with power to transform not only our world but even we ourselves in ways that we cannot begin to do alone. 

Maybe I don't need the manger this year--actually, maybe this is the year I really need it.  Because in the face of all that wearies my soul and hardens my heart, I need a savior.  Because I want to know that God is here, not just in some remote place in the heavens.  I need a savior, I want a savior, so that I can be reminded of God's love for me and all of creation.  I need and want a savior who will show me God's ways when my own ways have blinded me.  I need and want a savior who will enable new life to stir within me.  I need and want a savior who will rekindle the dreams of hope and peace and justice that often seem doused by the harsh realities of the world.  I need and want a savior who will offer me grace to ease heavy burdens, joy despite all the sadness, courage for the fears I harbor, and love to inspire all my living.

May we enter into Advent seeking the manager, that place where hope is born for us and all of humankind. Emmanuel—God With Us.


Questions to Ponder:

Will you journey to the manger this year? What do you hope to find there?


Bio:

 

 

 

 

 

Karen Oliveto is the Bishop of the Mountain Sky Conference of The United Methodist Church. At this time of year, she loves taking out of storage crèche scenes she has collected from her travels. She plays Christmas carols even in Advent.


Join the Conversation:

Join us on Mountain Sky Ministry Crossroads for a daily opportunity to interact with others as you engage with each daily devotion. Mountain Sky Ministry Crossroads is a new collaborative platform with resources for ministry and network with others for ministry support and innovation! Sign up here to become a member of Crossroads, and join the “MSC Advent Devotions” Workshop!