Thoughts: Of course I thought Mary was pretty. She was slender and graceful, and she had a dimple in her left cheek that flashed when she smiled. But she was more than pretty; she was sweet and kind and thoughtful. I was very much in love with Mary.
Then the ugly rumors started. People raised their eyebrows when they looked at me; they shrugged their shoulders; they avoided me.
Mary came to me and clutched my hands. “Joseph! You must believe me! Yes, I am with child. But my child is god’s son! Joseph, I have been chosen – I have been honored – to bear God’s Son. The angel came to me and told me I had found favor with God, that I was blessed among women. And I need you, Joseph. Please believe me.
I held her childish body close, and I did believe her.
Discussion: What would have happened if Joseph had refused to believe the angel of the Lord?
Activity: Like Joseph, let us do as the angel of the Lord bids us.
From Word at Home December 2013
Thoughts: Once there were two baby boys, born six months apart.
The father of the older one was a high priest. The younger baby’s earthly father was a carpenter.Their mothers were cousins. The priest bluntly described his wife as “well stricken in years.” The carpenter was betrothed to the younger baby’s mother, and she said she “knew not a man.”An angel foretold that the priest’s son would be “great in the sight of the Lord.” The angel Gabriel told the virgin mother that her son would be called “the Son of God.” The priest’s son was to be named John, which means “God is gracious.” The Son of God was to be named “God saves.”
Discussion: Jesus had four brothers and at least two sisters. What did this Nazareth family of seven think of their only-child cousin, city kid from Jerusalem?
Activity: Send a Christmas card to a relative whom you seldom see, with a note remembering good times together when you were children.
From Word at Home 2013:Volume 6, Issue 50
Thoughts: One of the challenges we face at this time of year is the fact that it gets dark so early. It seems like it was just the other day that we had daylight hours after dinner, and now darkness looms by the time you are heading home from work. It makes it hard to keep your spirits up when you’re used to a lot more sunshine. The thing about darkness is that you really can’t see very well in it. I would think many of us have had the experience of being in the dark, alone, someplace that may have been unfamiliar. When you’re in that situation, it’s easy to imagine that there are dangers lurking in every nook and cranny of the darkness. Not being able to see clearly frightens us, and our fearful minds can imagine all kinds of things. Fortunately, even if we find ourselves in a place where the darkness seems oppressive, we have the hope that the sun will come up soon, and it will be light again. I think that’s one of the reasons light plays such an important role for us at this time of year. We light up the Christmas tree, we light up our houses, we light candles. The light is something that gives us hope in the midst of a world that can feel very dark, literally or figuratively. Isaiah wanted to give people that kind of hope. He spoke of one who would come to lighten their burdens, to right the wrongs, to restore all things to way they were meant to be--a way that makes it possible for us all to live full lives of joy and purpose. And so as we light up our trees and houses this year, let’s remember the reason why we do it. We do it to remind ourselves that we have a light that shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never overcome it. We do it to remind ourselves that there is no place so dark in this world that the light of Christ cannot shine on it. And we do it to remind ourselves that we are to bear that light to the ones who are walking in their own darkness, to share with them the joy and peace of our hope.
Discussion: How has Christ shined his light on you and those around you this week? How can you share that with others? Do you struggle with darkness in your life often? Who in your life can you help out of a darkness? How can you remind yourself and those around you about his light in this Christmas season and all year round?
Activity: A friend suggested this idea to me and I quite like it: Add a candle, Christmas lights, or a representative of light in a place it wouldn't normally be. Maybe on your desk at work, in your car, on your kitchen counter or in your purse. Let this serve as a reminder for you that you have an everlasting light for any darkness in your life AND that we are called to shine that light with others, who may not yet know about Him and the wonder He works in our lives.
Thoughts: For those of us who grew up in the church, we hear and talk about light often. Children's songs sing of letting your light shine, we hear about being the light, and in this verse, about walking in the light of the Lord. The light of love, grace, hope, joy, peace, forgiveness and so much more. As we being to prepare this week for the birth of the Savior and Light of the world, think about how you are walking through this advent season. Through the hustle and bustle of all we have to worry about in the Christmas season, think about the basics. This scripture reminds me that while all of that stuff feels really important, stressful and overwhelming, He doesn't care about any of it. He doesn't call us to make the best cookies so our in-laws are impress, to decorate your house *just right* to outshine those stuffy neighbors, or send out the card that makes your family look perfect. He calls us to walk in His light and to share that light with those around us. To be kind to the coworker you don't get along with, to be extra generous to the person on the street corner with the same cardboard sign, to lend a hand to an elderly neighbor. Because His light is the true reason for not only the upcoming season, but our entire lives!!
Discussion: What does walking in the light mean to you? How can you apply this in your daily life? Do you identify with any of the situations mentioned above? What are you ways you can or do try to combat them to walk in His light, especially this time of year?
Activity: Be intentional this advent. Walk in His light for the last month of the year.
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