Advent Devotional Week 2

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


Advent Devotion | December 12

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


Theme: Love


Scripture:

Matthew 1:22-23
All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.”


Listen to Bich Thy (Betty) Nguyen in Vietnamese:
https://vimeo.com/487439746


Devotion (Vietnamese, followed by English):


Some expressions of love during the pandemic have changed. Hugs and kisses with those outside our household are not encouraged. We are now giving each other virtual and air high fives. Gifts are not exchanged in person but left at front doors with much gratitude to all who make it possible. Not as many meals with friends and family at restaurants but brought home and at times, shared over a screen. Date nights that included dinner, a movie, trip to the theater or museum may have been reduced or stopped all together. The reality of pure exhaustion has the potential to halt long life-giving conversations and deep listening to one another.

But, during all of this, I am reminded that the gift of presence can be a powerful expression of love. Presence on a screen. Presence on the other end of a phone call. Presence through a text. Presence by lifting a prayer. Presence from a socially distant visit with masks on and smiles only recognized by the wrinkles next to one’s eyes. These are just a few examples of how being present is an expression of love.

God’s gift of love to us is Jesus with us, God’s Spirit present with us. Jesus, “God is with us,” God’s presence is a gift of love for us today and always. During moments and days that seem so lonely and God feels distant, we are promised God’s presence, God’s love.


Question to Ponder:

How have you been experiencing God’s love, through God’s presence in your life?


Bio:

Bich Thy (Betty) Nguyen (she/her/hers) Denver, Colorado
Betty currently serves as the Multicultural and Advocacy Ministries Developer of the Mountain Sky Conference. She feels that God has been calling her to do her own decolonizing work and through her role, seeks where and how systems need to be transformed, and create space to amplify marginalized voices. Her passion is to create safe and brave spaces for deep listening and learning. Her soul is nurtured through cooking and baking for others. Betty lives with her husband, son and twin girls.


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 11

A daily devotion created by laity and clergy
throughout the Mountain Sky Conference
Theme: Love and Joy

Scripture:

Luke 1: 68-70 (NLT)
68        “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel,
 because he has visited and redeemed his people.
69        He has sent us a mighty Savior
 from the royal line of his servant David,
70        just as he promised
 through his holy prophets long ago.”
Devotion:
 
What a year this has been! While it has been filled with anxiety, pain, loss, we are Christians who are blessed by God who continues to guide us, protect us, and sheds Grace upon us. God has not forsaken us but is always with us. That hope allows us to enter into Advent with the anticipation of the birth of Jesus, remembering United Methodists around the world, all singing hymns of praise and excitement, celebrating Jesus’ birth.
 
I remembered a hymn from my youth that we sang in the church we attended in India where I grew up. The hymn is titled “Aaya Hai, Yeshu Aaya Hai”. Click here for a recording of this hymn, performed by the choir at Christ UMC two years ago. The lyrics are full of joy at the birth of Jesus. The words in the song continue to offer us hope for the future because our Savior is born.

Prayer:

Jesus, you came into the world as one of us, and suffered as we do. As we go through these challenging times, help us to realize that you are with us at all times and in all things and that your loving grace enfolds us for eternity. Amen.

Question to Ponder:

Are we willing to follow the two commandments that Jesus said were the most important? Are we willing to show our love for God and for our neighbors by our words, actions and service? Who are our neighbors, if not the poor, the homeless, the marginalized, the weak?

Bio:

Anil Dewan is a member of First United Methodist Church, Colorado Springs. His favorite Bible passage is Joshua 24:15(b) and his favorite hymn is “Here I am, Lord”.

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 10

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


Theme: Love and hope


Scripture:

Luke 2:10-11
“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord."


Audio link to listen in Korean:
https://vimeo.com/487431470 


Devotion (Korean, followed by English):

 I have lived in California ever since I came to America in 2003. I moved to Colorado last July, so I am now living in a different environment. The newest experience for me since coming to Colorado is the cold and snow. However, my family seems to have different mindsets about how to address this new thing. My wife and I become inactive in the cold, and when it snows, we first worry about driving. However, my kids would rather be outside, building snowmen, having snowball flights, and enjoying the cold weather. It’s the same cold, but the situation can be seen as difficult or enjoyable, depending on the value one applies to it and the mindset in dealing with it.

2020 has been like a harsh winter for everyone around the world. The situations making it difficult continue. And, this makes us isolated and inactive. Nevertheless, we, who are disciples of the Lord, do not lose hope. We find the value of the love of Jesus Christ and the grace of salvation for humanity in life. God’s love warms us against the cold, and salvation allows us to have hope in the midst of despair. Therefore, I hope Advent 2020 will be more valuable than ever, with a renewed desire for Jesus’ love and salvation in the current situations. All of this depends on our hearts as we face the present situation. A heart filled with faith in our God who will restore all things by God’s good will and plan carries us forward. May we find the Lord’s warm love. And, may we have hope for a new day. Do not despair but be bold.

In this season of Advent, let us celebrate the coming of Jesus Christ and follow his life and implement his teachings, so that the warmth of love and the hope of salvation will be conveyed to this world. God is love. God is our hope.


Question to Ponder:

How have you been facing challenging situations recently? Are you continuing to find the love and hope of Jesus Christ through your life?


Bio:


Yo Han Han (he/him/his) Thornton, Colorado.

Yo Han currently serves as the senior pastor of Good Shepherd UMC in Thornton, Colorado. He does cross-cultural ministry and is expecting to bring new waves to current ministry. He believes that the appointment was granted by God’s plan; he is excited to learn and implement his role at Good Shepherd UMC as well as MSC, especially as the appointment is such a blessing to him. He is a God-centered, passionate, open-minded, and well-listening servant of God. He refreshes his soul by spending time with his wife, daughter, and son, who are the biggest supporters of his ministry.


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 9

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


Theme: Love


Devotion:

On Being Enough in a Year of Too Much 

When I started thinking about what to write for an Advent devotional, I thought I would write about “Peace,” contributing as a Stay-at-Home/Work-from-Home/Homeschooling mom of three. But as I began digging into this, I quickly realized that most days, I feel the polar opposite of peaceful, and I most definitely do not feel like enough. What do I know about Peace?! Our house is loud and chaotic, my to-do list is always growing, and news of COVID-19 and the state of our country brings uncertainty and worry. Peace during a pandemic? Ha!

But in unpacking this realization, I answered my own question. I can’t contribute to a conversation about Peace in the world, or even Peace between my children, but I can come to the table with this: we must make peace with Being Enough in the year of Too Much.

This year has been challenging in a myriad of ways. Uncertainty has increased, obligations have increased, time at home has increased, economic hardships have increased, restrictions have increased. I think it’s fair to say the responsibilities of life have increased disproportionately to the resources available to help with these things, leading many of us to feel overwhelmed and under-equipped. Add in the recommendations to not gather for the holidays and it all feels like Too Much! It is easy to become consumed in a tailspin of what-ifs and I am more than guilty! When we only focus on the craziness of here and now, we lose sight of God’s everlasting promises. 

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

It is fascinating that many verses about Peace draw a specific comparison between what the world offers versus what God provides. It’s like God knew we would be overwhelmed with things of this world and that we would likely forget His promises in the midst of it. If ever there was a year for more grace and peace, 2020 is the one. 

I pray we are all able to ask for God’s grace to cover us in this time and seep into the cracks…to fill in the holes where we feel we fall short. It IS possible to find peace during these crazy times when we surrender our anxiety, frustrations and fears. Give all of it to God; “cast all your worries and doubts on Him,” and with the peace that comes in that freedom of surrender, I pray we all know that We Are Enough.


Bio:

Taylor Bradley Hubbard
Buckhorn Camp • Bellvue, Colorado


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 8

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


Theme: Love


Scripture Reference:

Luke 1:46b-55

“Rest on the Flight into Egypt” by Luc Olivier Merson (1846–1920)


 Devotion:

Love, Do You Know What It Looks Like?

One of the most striking Christmas images that I have come across in recent years is the above painting by a French artist, exhibited in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. It portrays a scene of the holy family escaping persecution from Roman authorities.  At a desert in Egypt, they take a refugee for the night: Joseph falls asleep next to a dying campfire, and Mary, holding baby Jesus, is sleeping peacefully in the arms of a sphinx.  

As you look at this image, what do you notice first? Some Christians may be offended by this image as it paints the holy family, especially Jesus, being held by a sphinx, a primary spiritual guardian of Egypt.  But for me, this painting evokes a profound sense of love and hospitality.

As I keep looking at this imaginary but very possible scene from Jesus’ family narratives, I wonder what Mary and Joseph felt like when they chose to go to Egypt, a land of foreigners with different religions and cultures. Were they worried about being ostracized by the locals? What their border-crossing experiences were like? Jesus’ message was that of God’s universal love for ALL people (Prevenient Grace) beyond all the boundaries we humans often create.  He traveled physically and metaphorically to many places, including forbidden lands of unclean and different people.  He dined with the least of his society and felt profound love for the most marginalized of his time.  He preached through his words and actions that God’s love does not know boundaries.  Such inclusive worldviews and compassionate attitudes for the excluded, I am convinced, must result from his upbringing in a refugee family that experienced profound hospitality by unlikely people.  


Questions to Ponder:

Have you experienced hospitality extended by the unexpected as the holy family on the flight into Egypt? How has that experience changed your views of different people?  Who are the ones you are called by the fleeing Jesus to reach out to welcome through your embodiment of God’s inclusive love in this season of waiting?


Bio:

 

Boyung Lee (she/her/hers)

Academic Dean at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver and an Ordained Elder of the California-Nevada Annual 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 7

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


Theme: Love


Scripture:

Isaiah 9:6

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.


Devotion:

The face of a child. The innocence. Unconditional trust and love from their first breath. No fear, no hate, no distrust. Just a child. 

This is not just a child, though, this is God incarnate. Immanuel. God with us.

God’s love so pure and simple it came to us in the form of a child. Not born to royalty, but to common folk. Presented to the world in the humblest of settings. Wrapped in swaddling, laid to rest among creation as one with all of it. Not pretentious or assuming but humble and here to serve. This is the Messiah, the savior… the baby. Love so gentle he slept while the turmoil of the world spun out of control around him.

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:10-12 NRSV

How could we fear a child? How could we love a child? And yet… This child will grow to love us unconditionally.

United Methodist Hymnal # 219        What child is this?    

What Child is this, who, laid to rest,
On Mary's lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ, the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary!

William C. Dix, 1865


Prayer:

God of all, thank you for your love. Even when we do not deserve love, you love us. You cradle us in your grace and mercy and show us love we can barely imagine. We are so blessed. Love us into being like your son. Love us to become your love in this world. Love us when we least deserve your love, so we may stand before others, a beacon of your love, that they too may feel the warmth of your love in their lives. Lift us in love, so we may lift others. This we pray, amen.


Bio:

Patrick (he, him, his) lives in Billings, MT with his wife Kim and dog Gracie. He grew up in Wyoming, served in Colorado, Utah and now Montana as Senior Pastor at Billings First UMC. Patrick believes each of us are of God and hopes to nurture the Holy Spirit within each of us to become all God inspires us to be.


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 6

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


Theme: Love


Scripture:

Luke 2:15-20  

 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17 When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.


Devotion:

This holiday is vastly different from any that I have ever experienced in my entire life, and no it’s not because of the virus,  but because I had a baby. This year my husband and I welcomed a beautiful baby girl into the world, Grace Marie. I will confess having a baby during a pandemic is scary, and just adds anxiety on top of all the regular anxiety that comes with being a parent. However, Grace has really put everything in perspective for me. This year we have witnessed, and experience so much division, anger, death and anxiety for a lifetime. What if we could see past all our differences, and find a way to love one another instead of hate? Grace has shown me a new level of love. The cliché is true, you don’t know love until gaze into the eyes of a baby. Grace doesn’t judge me or hate me. She just loves me and trusts me. It has been so much fun to experience our first Christmas as a family of three, and I look forward to the new traditions we will start as a family. I have especially come to truly realize all I have to be thankful for. I have a job, a home, a family that loves me, and a healthy baby. I see hope every time I look at my daughter. I feel love every time I hold her. I experience joy every time we play together, and I am searching for peace. As we move closer to Christmas Day, it is no wonder that this year more than any year I am reflecting on what the Christ Child can teach us. This week and we focus on love what are you pondering in your heart?


Bio:

Amanda (she, her, hers) lives in Riverton, WY with her husband Ken and daughter Grace. She is the Coordinator of Young People’s Ministries and Camping Ministry for 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!