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Eastminster 2011


Introduction We are blessed as a church community to have talented lay people willing to invest their time and talents. This Advent devotional is an example of all that talent coming together to encourage spiritual reflection, and personal application of scripture to prepare each of us for this Advent season. The cover is Emily Tjaden Sylvester’s incredible sharing of Advent preparation in art form, while 29 lay writers have offered their gifts in written form. The devotional is separated into four parts: Hope, Peace, Joy and the week leading up to Christmas,(the greatest gift), Love. Each week one of our pastors sets the stage for that week’s messages. God instructs us to spread His word to the ends of the earth. Our hope is that while you use this booklet daily, that you will visit the Eastminster

Lynda Carrier-Metz

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website, click on the link of these daily devotions, and forward to others. Maybe there is someone you have wanted to share God’s word with. Is there someone that hasn’t heard the hope of Jesus; the peace in His word; the joy of salvation; or the love and forgiveness of our Lord? Open the door by sending a link using Facebook, Twitter or email. As we prepare for this year’s Christmas season I pray we open our hearts to the words prepared in this devotional. Find a few moments each day, from the hustle of preparing for the worldly holiday, to read these gifts, speak with God quietly and then a few more minutes to listen to His response. Invite Jesus to come along with you and share in the glorious day HE has prepared for you. O Come, O Come Emmanuel (“God is with us”).


hope Psalm 122:1-9 “I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the LORD.’ Our feet are standing in your gates, O Jerusalem. Jerusalem is built like a city that is closely compacted together. That is where the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, to praise the name of the LORD according to the statute given to Israel. There the thrones for judgment stand, the thrones of the house of David. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ‘May those who love you be secure. May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels.’ For the sake of my brothers and friends, I will say, ‘Peace be within you.’ For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your prosperity.”

For many years, Protestants have claimed the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem to be the place where Jesus lay after the crucifixion. Several months ago, I walked into that Garden Tomb and spotted a painted message on a rock, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” That simple prayer request echoes David’s directive in Psalm 122:6, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” I did. I will. I do. Jerusalem’s topographical features are as complex as its long history and vast culture. For forty centuries this Mediterranean capital has been a focal point for three religions. Today Jerusalem is a cauldron of political, ethnic and religious perspectives. Yes, we must pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

The song says, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.” Jesus is the Prince of Peace. There can be no peace without the Prince. Our hope is in Jesus Christ. The real enemy of Christianity is not militant skepticism but an all-pervasive philosophy of despair and materialism. Christians are a people of hope. In the incarnation, we have hope. By all counts, Israel should have been erased from the map! It survived an avalanche of detractors. God spoke by the prophets of a hope beyond the debris of history. Hope is what we are for! Despair is what we are against! Christmas calls us to celebrate the Prince of Peace. He is the source of our hope. Now it is up to us to put flesh and blood on our hope.

David G. McKechnie

Eastminster Presbyterian Church

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Sunday, November 27, 2011 Isaiah 7:14

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. The virgin will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel.”

Ahaz, the king of Judah, had disobeyed God and his kingdom had come under attack from many enemies. Isaiah gave Ahaz this message that his kingdom would not end but that it would be a sign of deliverance. Foretold many years before, this prophecy was fulfilled in Jesus as seen in Matthew 1:23: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call Him Immanuel — meaning ‘God with us’”.

Prayer Dear Father, Awaken us to celebrate the greatest gift ever given — your Son, Jesus Christ — and to truly claim the promise of Romans 10:13 that “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” In Jesus’ name, Amen. Martha Buford

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Through Jesus Christ, we too receive deliverance and hope. As declared in I Corinthians 15:57: “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The Apostle Paul also prays a prayer reminding us of this good news in 2 Thessalonians 2:16, 17: “May the our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” All glory and praise to Him!


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Monday, November 28, 2011

John 1:14 “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

My proudly secular English professor assigned Loren Eisely’s The Immense Journey (1946). Eisely, a humanist, wrote about evolution and described life as “not arising on the bottom of the oceanic abyss but groping its way down into the dark.” Ironically, I saw and still see the “immense journey” as that of Christ, who gave us life through His selfless descent into our slimy world of evil and wickedness.

Death to self is the remedy for our dark and hopeless condition, and He showed us the way. He who was perfect willingly left the realm of perfection and peace to be one of us and to die for us. If we also die to ourselves we will experience true life now and eternally. Might we find ways every day to gratefully reflect the glory of God by living sacrificially?

Prayer Eternal God, we look forward to our celebration of your son’s coming to dwell among us. Thank you for this demonstration of selflessness and sacrifice. In Jesus’ name, Amen. Kay Jones

Eastminster Presbyterian Church

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011 Romans 5:3-5

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

In Romans, Paul writes to the Christians in Rome and believers everywhere. He reminds them to rejoice in our sufferings, because suffering produces perseverance, character and hope. It is not an automatic reaction to rejoice in suffering! Anger, depression or despair is a more likely human response.

the lows. Our family was attacked, both very publicly and privately. It was in those times that we fell to our knees and locked arms with friends and family who supported our perseverance and prayed with us. We worked hard to sustain our hope and always had the presence of the Holy Spirit in our midst. Hope did not disappoint.

In 2009, our family embarked on a brand new calling: politics. We began what would ultimately be a 20-month political campaign — our first. There were the joys of meeting hundreds of good people who chose to stand with us by walking in parades (in sunshine, pouring rain, sweltering heat and even snow); going door to door; phone calling and more. And, there were

As we come off our Thanksgiving celebrations with family and friends and plan for Christmas Day, we know that even being with family can bring suffering and challenges. Let us pray today to re-examine our commitment to Christ and reconfirm our relationships with other believers in Christ’s body, as did Paul when preparing for his visit to Jerusalem.

Prayer Father God, strengthen us to rejoice in the difficult and trying times as we recognize the opportunity you give to us through them. We pray for the perseverance and character to sustain our hope and to glorify You. We pray in Jesus’ name, Amen. Susan Pompeo

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Isaiah 9:6 “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

I have been a strong Christian my entire life. I went to Sunday school and worship every Sunday, participated in church activities during the week, and attended Kanakuk summer camp a couple years. I have always felt extremely strong in my faith. It had become such a habitual part of my life that I never considered how unprepared I was to move away from home, go to college, and keep my beliefs as strong as they always had been. In college, there are many temptations that we as Christians would not agree with. I found myself caught up in college life rather than maintaining my religion as a first priority. I am now in my third year and just recently discovered how distracted I have become from

what really matters, my faith. When I visit home I see my parents always doing good for others, whether that is visiting an old friend at a nursing home or teaching someone from another country to drive. They have influenced me and made me realize that I need to always, no matter where, prove my Christianity by actions not just words. May we all take this scripture with us today and forever and remember the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace is always there when we are struggling with our faith. Believe in forgiveness and no matter the sin or how far you stray, God will always be there for you waiting with open arms.

Prayer Thank you, God, for the gift of your son, our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. May we be mindful this day of His love as seen through whom He is called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace. In Jesus’ name, Amen. Renny Metz

Eastminster Presbyterian Church

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Thursday, December 1, 2011 James 1:22

“Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

“Peace” comes when you do what you say you are going to do, or from doing something that you know you should be doing. This is exactly what God commands us to do through James in his letter to the first-century Jewish Christians who had been scattered throughout the Mediterranean world because of persecution. There are many times that we may feel “politically incorrect” if we admit to our Christian faith at this point in history in the United States of America. We are the melting pot we were designed to be — a country full of people of all ethnic and religious backgrounds, free to worship as we are led. However, that does not give us, as Christians, the ok to not stand up for our Lord Jesus, who lived and died for us. This is another form of persecution — not unlike

Prayer Dear Jesus, please give us the peace that passes all understanding that only you can provide this Christmas season, as we do what you say, and celebrate you! In Jesus’ name, Amen. Lisa Ritchie

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the persecution that the Jewish Christians felt in the Gentile world for several decades after Jesus died. We may not necessarily lose our lives for defending our faith in America, but there seems to be something that holds us back from joyously and proudly declaring that Christmas is a time of celebration of the plan God has for us by sending His Son to live and die for us! Especially at this time of year, when America has turned more secular than religious in our celebration of the Christmas season, we Christians need to celebrate the birth on earth of our savior, Jesus Christ, and the plan of redemption that God has for us. And to “tell it like it is”! “Peace” comes when you do what you say you are going to do, or from doing something that you know you should be doing.


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Friday, December 2, 2011

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

Often in the midst of hardship or distress, we distance ourselves from God. Rather than relying fully upon Him to provide during a time of great need — be it physical, emotional or spiritual — we turn away from Him. The tragedy of this behavior is that the Lord wants to comfort us. He has compassion for His people. The Lord’s desire to comfort His Church originates in part from His understanding. Hebrews 4 assures us that when Jesus took on flesh, He was tempted as we are but without sin. In taking on our flesh, He took on our pain.

Additionally, the Lord has a clear purpose for our troubles. He comforts us that we may respond by comforting others. Our actions of care giving are but a natural response to the extension of His comfort, as our actions of love for one another are but a reflex of His love for us. In all things, we are to imitate Him, conforming to His image. The Lord’s work in our lives is so great that it demands a response.

Prayer Mighty God, we thank you for your compassion upon us. We are thankful that you are our Father, our peace, and our comfort in distress. We ask for the wisdom to seek comfort in intimacy with you rather than in the things of this world. Forgive us for failing to respond to your unfailing love by loving others and comforting them eagerly. Help us strive to bear one another’s burdens for the glory of your Kingdom. In Jesus’ name, Amen. Hope Faflick

Eastminster Presbyterian Church

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Saturday, December 3, 2011 Romans 6:23

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Over the past few years, our economy has been recovering from one of the worst recessions of all time. What was the cause? People spent far more than their wages provided, taking on massive amounts of debt that they eventually could not keep up with.

transgressions against Him. Yet our God is also full of justice, and this justice requires that our sins are not overlooked. The only way that our impending death can be avoided is through repayment for our sin by Christ — an undeserved sacrificial gift of grace.

The cost of sin is much greater than any debt humankind has ever accrued. The debt created by sin can only be paid for through death. Death means eternity without our Creator, who continues to love us even as we commit

So as we use our credit cards to pay for Christmas gifts this year, let us worship the Lord for the gift of eternal life He has given us by paying off our mortal debts through His Son.

Prayer Father, our sin has created a debt that we would never be able to repay without the painful sacrifice of your Son Jesus Christ. In our gratitude for your gift of eternal life, help us to become slaves to righteousness. Help us to share your gift with those who are still indebted in the wages of sin. We thank you for being a God full of both justice and mercy. In Jesus’ name, Amen. Ryan Ramseyer

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peace Romans 5:1 & 2 “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.”

Romans 12: 18 “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

It is often during the Christmas season when peace is found in greater abundance. Perhaps this is true because this is the season of the year where we are reminded that the Prince of Peace, Jesus of Nazareth, became man, lived a perfect sinless life and then gave His life that we could have peace with God. This example of peace between man and God being restored calls us to work diligently to be at peace with others. What a blessing peace is. Every time I walk into my place of employment and there is an absence of strife or contention, I count it a blessing. Every time I answer the phone and am greeted with a calm non-anxious presence, it is

a blessing. Every time I attend a family gathering and observe my adult children and grandkids alike genuinely being comfortable with and enjoying one another, I count it a blessing. Every night at the end of the day I sense my wife and I are on the same page of life’s journey, I count it a blessing. A friendly wave from a neighbor, or even simply being allowed to merge into traffic or go ahead in the grocery line because you only have a few items all are times of blessings where I believe peace is involved. Jesus taught, “Blessed are the peacemakers….” May we both be and experience the blessing of peacemaking during this Advent and Christmas season.

Kermit L. Oppriecht

Eastminster Presbyterian Church

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Sunday, December 4, 2011 Philippians 4:4-7

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

October of 2001 and millions of dollars of our company’s planned work vanished. There were very few airplanes needing to be built in the next year — and our customers had all of the inventory they could handle. The lives of several hundred employees were to be changed, but how, as their leader, was I to do this well? My business partner and I prayed. My wife and I prayed. I prayed for the wisdom to respond as Jesus would ask me to do and the strength to protect each of the families that would be impacted by my decisions.

Prayer Lord, grant us the strength and courage to always pray to you in all that comes before us. Present to us the peace that comes only from the knowledge and faith that you are our Savior. In Jesus’ name, Amen. Mike Pompeo

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It took many weeks to find the peace to which this verse from Paul’s letter to the Philippians refers — I’m not sure I ever realized it completely. It took many, many months to return certainty to those for whom we were responsible for their employment. But we did come to rejoice, as we battled through this earthly challenge. We rejoiced in the fact that our prayers had been heard and in the knowledge that in Jesus Christ our protection was assured.


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Monday, December 5, 2011

Isaiah 11:1 & 6 “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.” 1

“The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.”

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What a wonderful and amazing promise God gives through the prophet Isaiah! From the stump, cut down and cut off from the root would come a Branch. When the royal family seems most cut down, God would raise a Branch from the royal family line. Why a branch? From the stump of Jesse, from what appears to be desolation, a new branch would sprout, a Messiah who would bear fruit creating a new family tree from the remnants of the old. We now know this Messiah is Jesus the Christ who came to bring all of those who accept Him into a new family tree.

Under the Lordship of the Messiah, even wolves, leopards, and lions are restored to their original innocence. Wolf like, cruel and fierce people, are changed by the grace of Christ into gentle and peaceful followers of Jesus; gentle believers who submit their rebellious wills to the leading of a child. May we prepare our hearts for the coming of the Lord, to receive the son ship of Christ and to be changed into the people of Christ God intended us to be from before the beginning of time.

Prayer Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your Son Jesus to bring us into your family tree. Thank you, Jesus, for creating a new peace that the world cannot give nor take away; a peace we have with our brothers and sisters in you. In Jesus’ name, Amen. Steve Sanders

Eastminster Presbyterian Church

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011 John 14:27

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

The angelic host proclaimed the promise of peace to the shepherds over 2000 years ago. Peace on our planet has been a rare commodity since that time. To the world, peace is an elusive dream. Where is the promised peace? Jesus brought all that is needed to our world. He taught the principles of peace in His time here on earth and as He was leaving this planet, He bequeathed peace to believers in this verse. There is the personal peace that comes when you accept Jesus as Savior, and then there is the peace of God that is available to us on a daily basis in your personal relationship with

Prayer Thank you for sending Jesus as the Prince of Peace. Help us submit to your perfect will that we may achieve your peace daily. In Jesus’ name, Amen. Nancy Taylor

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Him. Peace is an attitude of tranquility and the result of a person’s correct response of God’s grace. I must confess I do not achieve the peace of God often enough. Life is full of worry and I allow anxiety and fear to control my tranquility. But I have experienced this peace many times. It comes as a result of my seeking comfort and intimacy with God through prayer, sometimes during desperate times. When I quiet myself and totally submit my burden(s) to God, I have received His amazing pervasive and intoxicating peace. It is invasive and enveloping and words cannot describe its feeling. My soul is in perfect tranquility and God is in control.


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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”

Some Biblical scholars suggest that the reference to “peacemakers” in Matthew 5:9 is not offered as a description of pacifists, but rather of those who actively bring conflict to an end. When any of us encounter conflict, how can we attempt to be better “peacemakers” and, accordingly, have the privilege of being called “… children of God?” With only 18 days until we celebrate the birth of Jesus — the one who brings eternal peace and salvation to all who believe in Him, it is appropriate to challenge ourselves as to how we might be better peacemakers and help resolve conflict, whether that might be within our families, neighborhoods, schools, businesses, church, city, state, nation or world.

Much has been studied and written about conflict resolution, but many of us don’t do a great job at resolving it. When I encounter opportunities to resolve conflict, I attempt to listen, inject humor (if appropriate), pray, and trust in Him to help. By trusting in the Lord with all our hearts, He has a way of making paths straight! Given the importance of humor as a tool for helping resolve conflict and bring peace, it is funny to note that Matthew 5:9 was parodied in a 1979 movie where a crowd listening to a sermon misunderstands the verse as “Blessed are the cheese makers….” Given that prayer, trust, and a little humor can all contribute to peacemaking, may we all appreciate the peacemakers and cheese makers this Christmas season!

Prayer Heavenly Father, thank you for sending us the ultimate peacemaker, your Son, Jesus Christ, so that we may all be at peace. Help us to actively play a role in resolving conflict and be known as a peacemaker so that we might have the privilege, as Matthew 5:9 states, of being called children of God. In Jesus’ name, Amen. Roger Ramseyer Eastminster Presbyterian Church

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Thursday, December 8, 2011 Isaiah 55:12

“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”

Sometimes we expect to find JOY and PEACE … in our families, in our abilities, in our jobs, in our finances and in our friendships. Most of the time we end up distracted, trying to find joy and peace in these places. Perhaps these are only small reflections of what God wants to supply in our lives — HIS joy and peace. In Isaiah 55 we find the real source outlined for us in simple and enthusiastic language — God’s Word and presence leads us into His real joy and peace. Are you thirsty? Are you hungry? Come and drink. Come and eat. Listen to me. Eat what is good.

Prayer Lord Jesus, don’t let our suffering be in vain. Please help us experience the joy and peace available in Your presence and Your Word. In Jesus’ name, Amen. Roland Sula (written by DeAnne Sula)

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A few months ago, I visited a doctor in the U.S. Her words struck me to the core: “You won’t get better. In fact, you will likely get worse.” Although my body will grow worse and worse, possibly until I am bed-ridden, the joy and peace that fills my heart are beyond any physical pain I may be experiencing. When I think about Christ, what He offers me, my physical life really does dim in comparison. Physical and emotional suffering is not accidental in our lives. Joy and peace from Christ are more deeply understood and embraced in suffering.


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Friday, December 9, 2011

Luke 2:28-32 “Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: ‘Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.’”

While pouring my heart out to God one night, I had this thought: “It’s gonna’ be all right.” And then, “No, it’s gonna be JUST right.” It felt like God was saying, “Trust me. I’m in control and MY way is ‘just right’ — perfect — for your life.” Like Simeon, we can trust God to hear our prayers, keep His promises, and bring us peace. But sometimes waiting for God to answer those prayers, to “fix” our lives, is anything but peaceful. And sometimes God may not respond to our prayers the way we want Him to. Our job is simply to rest in the assurance that God is sovereign and His answers will be perfect.

Today I trust that my life is in God’s hands. What happens tomorrow may be completely unexpected, but I find peace in knowing that God is in control. Did Simeon expect the Messiah he longed for to come as a baby? No. Yet, what sweet perfection. Snuggled in his arms, lay the proof of God’s faithfulness — Jesus. If we trust in Him, we can all rest assured that whatever our circumstances, everything’s gonna’ be, “just right.”

Prayer Father God, thank you for the peace you provided in Jesus. Thank you for always keeping your promises, and for answering our prayers ever so perfectly, according to your Will. In Jesus’ name, Amen. Cindy Kirk

Eastminster Presbyterian Church

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Saturday, December 10, 2011 Isaiah 52:7

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns.”

What do you think of, or see, or feel when you are in the mountains or at the ocean? For me, the mountains and ocean are a wonderful example of God’s love. His power and the magnificence of His creation bring a peace inside me, knowing that someone so powerful could create these beautiful, complex things and have control over their existence.

Know Him by trusting in Him, obeying Him and spending time with Him. Do you spend time asking Him to prepare you for your day? Do you do everything to glorify Him and do you thank Him at the end of each day for the blessings? We are the hands and feet our savior Jesus Christ. God created us in His image. Serving God’s people begins with each one of us.

We are also one of God’s beautifully complex creations and He is in control of our lives. His holy place is not a church, but rather in our heart. Do you feel His peace inside you? Peace comes from knowing God, not just believing in God. Know in your heart that He is who He says, and will do what He promises. Do you completely trust that He will guide your life?

The Lord our God will care for you and He will never fail you, so bring all things to Him in prayer. Trust Him with all your heart and soul. The peace that He will fill you with is His perfume. Bask in it; know that you are loved beyond anything you could imagine. He has all the answers, but we must ask. Trust your heart to God and experience His peace.

Prayer Heavenly Father, we thank you for your love, your grace and your forgiveness. Give us what we need to serve others in your name each day. May we be one to share your love with the world. In Jesus’ name, Amen. Dianne Crawford

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Psalm 98:1-6 “Sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.”

This time of year I remember spending soft December nights near the equator. Oh how I yearned for snow and sleigh bells and all our holiday traditions. But seasonal trade wind breezes begin just before Christmas signaling arrival of the summer season and, for me, a new holiday experience. As the sun sets, the starry Southern Cross constellation rises in the heavens. With the scent of flowers in the air, there is a new liveliness because everyone knows it will soon be Christmas. It is now Advent, the coming of Baby Jesus. What a joyful time of year! Psalm 98 resounds with this kind of stirring and excitement. The verses almost ring out aloud. Sing! Shout! Burst into jubilant song! All ages eagerly make preparations: colored lights outline houses and fences, and lush green Christmas trees are put up on patios and driveways for all to see, decorated with

children’s hand-made ornaments and garlands of flowers. Traditional empanadas and sugary cookies are baked and offered alongside baskets of colorful fruits. Perhaps best of all is the music. The Psalmist tells us to sing to the Lord a new song, to shout for joy to the Lord! And the people do! Everywhere from unseen speakers come familiar Christmas hymns like “Joy to the World,” but the words “the Lord is come!” boom out in Spanish! Of course! Truly the joy of Jesus’ birth is for the entire world. Salvation has come to all nations, even to the ends of the earth. No matter where we are, let us glory in this realization during this beautiful time of preparation to receive the Baby Jesus. Sing the Psalm, shout for joy! Sing praises that the Lord’s salvation is made know, and His righteousness is revealed to all the earth!

Prayer Dear Father, thank you for the joy of this season and the many traditions that are so meaningful. No matter where we are, may our joyful song rise for every heart to prepare Him room, may we join in as heaven and nature sing, and may we delight in your glory as the earth prepares to receive her King. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Ray Jones Eastminster Presbyterian Church

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joy Nehemiah 8:10 “Nehemiah said, ‘Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.’”

I don’t know what you have planned for Christmas, but I hope it involves an incredible meal! Growing up, special occasions like Christmas always called for special meals. On Christmas Day, my mom would cook a delicious beef tenderloin or juicy prime rib! My mouth is starting to water just thinking about it. In this time of preparation for the LORD, I hope that your soul is beginning to water and long for the LORD. Nehemiah 8:10 gives us great instruction on how to celebrate sacred occasions. In Nehemiah 8, Nehemiah was instructing the people of Israel to celebrate the sacred occasion of listening to the words of the Law. Today I want to instruct

Paul Bammel

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you to celebrate the sacred occasion of the coming of the Word in the same way! Nehemiah recommends that the people “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks,” and also exhorts them to “send some to those who have nothing prepared.” This Christmas, I hope you’ll have a fantastic meal, complete with the best food and tastiest drinks you can think of. But don’t stop there! Start now by thinking of someone you might consider sharing your Christmas dinner with. It might be a neighbor, a relative, or just a friend, but find someone you can show how much “the joy of the LORD is your strength” by inviting them over for Christmas dinner and sharing of the best meal you can think to provide.


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Monday, December 12, 2011

1 Peter 4:12-13 “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.”

I have been blessed to not find myself in an ordeal I would describe as “fiery.” However when I take a step back and look at the common message that the world would like us to believe, I realize as Christians, we’re constantly in a “fiery ordeal.” While we are blessed to have freedom to worship as we please and not face persecution, we still face an ordeal by simply being Christians. We are bombarded on a daily basis to rely on ourselves and only ourselves to

“make it.” We know as Christians to rely solely on God and be mindful of His sovereignty over our lives. Whatever the ordeal may be in your life, it’s important to remember it is a direct result of walking with Christ. It’s not going to always be easy to take a stand for what you believe in, or rely solely on God’s providence, but if we focus on the end goal we should have no choice but to rejoice!

Prayer Heavenly Father, remind me today of your sovereignty over my life and remind me that while the daily struggles I face may seem to be manageable I cannot do anything without You. In Jesus’ name, Amen. Jeff Kice

Eastminster Presbyterian Church

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

You will be put through trials. The life of a Christian doesn’t guarantee happiness, wealth, and your health. God may grant those things, but He may also take them away for a time. Through everything, we must rejoice, pray, and give thanks. What reason is there not to rejoice? You have the one true God with you everywhere you go. He will never leave you or forsake you, especially in times of trouble. Prayer is our way to talk with our God, so why would you not pray? He is ready to talk to His beautiful child. If you cannot think of anything to give thanks for, what about Jesus’ death on the cross? No matter how bad our situation might be, we have forgiveness and eternal life in Jesus Christ, and we have the ability to come before God and pray.

Prayer Lord, your love is unimaginable. I pray that we might love you through all our actions and rejoice and give thanks through both the good times and the bad. In Jesus’ name, Amen. Neal Heitmann

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Our God created this world, yet He knit you in your mother’s womb, and He knows you better than you know yourself. Jesus suffered the most painful death. A death so painful, they made the word excruciating to describe the pain because nothing else could. But this was done because of the overwhelming, all-consuming love that He has for you. He died that we may have life in Him and eternal life in heaven. Therefore, rejoice always, pray continuously, and give thanks in all circumstances. No matter what is happening, you are forgiven and loved by God. You are His beloved child.


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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Psalm 33:1-3 “Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre. Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.”

Growing up in a Christian family I had the benefit of traveling to Colorado every year for church camp. Each day was started at the small chapel where everyone gathered to sing songs of praise and hear the daily devotion before being released for our activities. As kids, we were more interested in hurrying through the songs and skipping right to the activities. One such day resonates in my mind as we left to go hiking

and after reaching the mountain’s summit tired, those words of praise we sang that morning meant more to me as I stood there experiencing the panoramic view of the heavens. That is when I understood why starting the day singing joyfully to the Lord prepares our hearts and our minds to receive and know what God has for us. God opens our eyes to see His glory.

Prayer Lord, we praise you with our songs of love and joy. May we be open to receive and see the glory that you have in store for us. In Jesus’ name, Amen. Darin Hecht

Eastminster Presbyterian Church

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Thursday, December 15, 2011 Isaiah 25:9

“In that day they will say, ‘Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the LORD, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.’”

The author of this passage seems to be looking backward and forward at the same time. Isaiah says that in the future, we will look back and remember the times when we trusted in God and He came through for us. Based on that past experience, we’ll be able to say, with confidence, that we trusted in Him and He provided a way of salvation for us. We can rejoice in this provision. There have been times when I have faced difficult trials and I have prayed for God to simply remove the trial from me. Instead, He chose not

Prayer Heavenly Father, in this Advent season, we recognize that Isaiah and the other Old Testament prophets looked forward to the provision of salvation by you, which we now know to be the birth of your Son. We rejoice in this perfect provision of salvation which led to the payment, once and for all, for our sins. In Jesus’ name, Amen. Lynn Ward

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to remove the trial, but instead to hold my hand through it, saying “Fear not, I will help you.” This is from Isaiah 41:13, one of my favorite verses. I can now look back on those experiences and remember how God helped me through them. I can even remember the sense of His presence. The memory gives me even more confidence as I face additional trials that come my way, because I know that the same God who was faithful to me before will be faithful to me again. I can also look back on the situation and rejoice in God’s provision for me.


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Friday, December 16, 2011

Matthew 1:20-22 “But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

Can you imagine how Joseph must have felt hearing this news? Confused, afraid, humbled, overwhelmed, excited, blessed …? How many times do we learn of a diagnosis or news from a loved one that turns our world upside down? How do we respond, where do we land? Yet each of these challenges gives us the opportunity to demonstrate our love for the Father and our trust in Him.

As we choose to love our heavenly Father in all circumstances we live out our faith, demonstrating to others our confidence in God’s providence and lordship of our lives. “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1

Prayer Father God, we pray that you will sustain us through tough times as we remain faithful; abiding in your word, seeking truth and depth of insight that will allow us to discern your will in our lives. We thank you for your love and the gift of salvation given to us through the sacrifice of your Son Jesus. We pray that you will help us live out our faith and share your love and light with the all the world in all circumstances. In Jesus’ name, Amen. Bill & Diann Faflick

Eastminster Presbyterian Church

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Saturday, December 17, 2011 John 1:29

“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’”

Remember, John the Baptist was a voice crying in the wilderness. It was impressive to me that Jesus was coming to John the Baptist. Just think about Jesus coming to one of us — even though we are not worthy. Remember these critically important words — “Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” The incarnate Son of God came for His own baptism. This became a symbol of death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. To take away the sin of the world we must believe and receive Jesus through our own confession of Jesus as Savior and Lord.

Prayer Dear Heavenly Father: I pray that we would comprehend this profound eternal Bible truth of Jesus being the Lamb of God and His taking away the sin of the world — including my sin. We pray for profound appreciation in our personal lives that Jesus would remove our sins and that each of us would have a personal understanding of Jesus’ work in our lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen. Marvin Soliah

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My personal life experience reflects a Christian home where we were regularly taught the Gospel as children. My mother would teach us Bible lessons and we also received the Gospel in Sunday School. I remember believing in Jesus as my Savior as a child. Do you have this absolute belief that Jesus is the Lamb of God that takes away your sins? As we prepare our hearts for Christmas; do we genuinely “Behold the Lamb of God”?


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Sunday, December 18, 2011

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

You are standing in line at the grocery store checkout. You have three more errands on your list and the kids will be home from school soon. This looked like the short line. Now, you realize the old woman at the front is slowly searching her purse for her check book. Who still uses checks anymore? You can feel yourself getting anxious. Now you turn your attention to the clerk. How can she possibly think a stud pierced through her lip is attractive? Why is she wearing all black? Thank goodness she isn’t your daughter. Then you start to wonder why the guy in front of you really needs all that stuff in his cart. Been there? Done that? I have been there.

Next time you find yourself in this situation, stop and think about John 3:16. God gave His son so that these people could have everlasting life. The everyday people you run into are who Jesus died for. They now become the woman who has been faithful to Christ all her life, the young teenager who is just looking for acceptance, and the guy who is picking up food because his wife is sick in bed. They are eternal, God loves them, and this may be the last time you ever see them. Let your anxiety go, feel the Peace of Christ come over you, and smile at your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Prayer God help me to learn peace through knowing that God gave His only Son that I and my brothers and sisters in Christ might have eternal life. In Jesus’ name, Amen. Traci Pickert

Eastminster Presbyterian Church

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love Romans 5:8 “For God demonstrated his love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

At its very foundation, Christmas is an extraordinary act of love — a gift, extended to us, in spite of our sinfulness. Candy Chand tells a story about her son’s school holiday pageant that reminds me of this amazing love behind the gift of Christmas. “Because the public school system had long stopped referring to the holiday as “Christmas,” I didn’t expect anything other than fun, commercial entertainment — songs of reindeer, Santa Claus, snowflakes and good cheer. So, when my son’s class rose to sing, “Christmas Love,” I was slightly taken aback by its bold title. Nicholas was aglow, as were all of his classmates, adorned in fuzzy mittens, red sweaters, and bright snowcaps upon their heads. Those in the front row held up large letters, one by one, to spell out the title of the song. As the class would sing “C is for Christmas,” a child would hold up the letter C. Then, “H is for Happy,” and on and on, until each child holding up his portion had presented the complete message, “Christmas Love.”

Steve Dickie

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The performance was going smoothly, until we noticed a small, quiet, girl in the front row holding the letter “M” upside down — totally unaware her letter “M” appeared as a “W.” The audience of 1st through 6th graders snickered at this little one’s mistake. But she had no idea they were laughing at her, so she stood tall, proudly holding her “W.” Although many teachers tried to shush the children, the laughter continued until the last letter was raised, and we all saw it together. A hush came over the audience and eyes began to widen. In that instant, we understood the reason we were there, why we celebrated the holiday in the first place, why even in the chaos, there was a purpose for our festivities. For when the last letter was held high, the message read loud and clear: “C H R I S T W A S L O V E” As we head into this last week of Advent, let each of us remember the true meaning of Christmas — that despite our sinfulness, God showed His love for each of us through a gift, His very own Son.


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Monday, December 19, 2011

1 John 4:7-8 “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

God IS Love! That is what it says in this scripture, and throughout the Bible. Another truth that we read and believe is that God is in us. That means that His love is in us and we are called to let it shine for others to see. I know, for myself, how hard it is to let that love “shine” when I am around folks that are, in my mind, hard to get along with on their best days. It is much easier to either ignore or give them what they deserve. This is not how God wants me to treat them. Jesus cared for those people too with love and compassion. He didn’t just say

“you are OK.” He loved them and came along side them to show them how with God’s love their lives could be changed. What a great opportunity we have not only during this Advent season but during the year to show love to those we come in contact with. Whether it is at home with those “difficult” to get along with teenagers, parents, or spouses, or at work with our fellow employees, bosses or customers, we can share God’s love.

Prayer Father, fill us with your love that it may overflow to those around us. In Jesus’ name, Amen. Brad Colburn

Eastminster Presbyterian Church

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011 Deuteronomy 11:1

“Love the Lord your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always.”

I had the wonderful experience of babysitting my 5 month old granddaughter, Everley. I got to feed her, change her diapers, and all that stuff. The best part was just holding her. When it came time to put her to bed I put her down and she started crying. So I picked her up and held her in my arms and she stopped crying. I put her down again and, of course, she cried and I picked her up and she stopped crying. During the whole time my love for little Evie never changed. It

Prayer Father God, thank you for always keeping your word of love for me even though I fail at keeping my word of love for you and my neighbors. Please change my heart. In Jesus’ name, Amen. Jim Fritzemeir

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struck me I am like little Evie with God. I am the happiest when I feel His presence. Sad when I don’t. But God always loves His children. Like our love for our grandchildren, God’s love for us continues even when we do not love Him. He proved His love through His Son, Jesus Christ. Let us remember Luke 2:11; “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.” We are truly blessed to have a Father God.


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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

1 John 3:1-3 “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”

What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it — we’re called children of God! That’s who we really are. But that’s also why the world doesn’t recognize us or take us seriously, because it has no idea who He is or what He’s up to. But friends, that’s exactly who we are: children of God. And that’s only the beginning. Who knows how we’ll end up! What we know is that when Christ is openly revealed, we’ll see Him — and in seeing Him, become like Him. All of us who look forward to His coming stay ready, with the glistening purity of Jesus’ life as a model for our own. God’s lavish love is declared over us! We are His dear children! He is Father, and we are His much loved children. What will we be like when we grow up? I want to bear my Father’s family resemblance. I want to grow up to be more and

more like my daddy. And I want Him to see me and feel great pleasure from my love. I remember so well the morning my first son was born. I had so many uncertainties about my abilities to be a good parent, but there was no doubt about the indescribable love I felt when I first looked into his face. I would have died for him. I had never imagined this mother-love, but my life and love are forever committed to that child. I begin to better understand the love of God for me when I consider my own love for my children. And then I remember: “We are His children.” This love is His for me, for each of us. I get to receive it, to be blessed by it, to walk in it. And I have the privilege of living into it — of bringing glory to my Father by the way I love Him and others in His name.

Prayer Dear Father of mine, Thank you for your great and lavish love which you pour out on me. Open my heart to receive all that you have given to me as your child. I love you Father, and I thank you for loving me first. In Jesus’ name, Amen. Susan Lear

Eastminster Presbyterian Church

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Thursday, December 22, 2011 Philippians 1:9-11

“And this is my prayer: that your love may about more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ — to the glory and praise of God.”

There is something undeniable about the deep affection that the Apostle Paul had for the 1st Century church. Part of this love was the desire to share from his heart. Who among us does not desire to share deeply with those for whom we earnestly care? In this case it was a specific prayer request, hereby establishing a model for Christians down through the ages. It is good for us to tell people how we are specifically praying for them, and, likewise, it is good to tell others how they can specifically pray for us. This helps draw the body of Christ closer together because we are instructed to bear one another’s burdens.

Prayer Our Heavenly Father, prepare our hearts for the coming of the Christ child by granting us a more sincere affection for one another. In your Holy Name, Amen. Don King

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Love has an intellectual component to it. It is not just a “good” feeling. Are we growing in our love of God and others? We cannot say we love God if we fail to appreciate all of His attributes or obey His commands. Our growth in Godly love also steers us into wise and righteous living. There is a greater ability to tell right from wrong or select from the best of many good options. There is no deceit or trickery in our behavior. Nor are we a stumbling block to others. Right living is fruit-bearing living, which ultimately brings Glory to our Creator.


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Friday, December 23, 2011

Hebrews 7:28 “For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.”

I will be the first to admit that over the times that I have read the Bible I have spent very little of it studying the Book of Hebrews. While there is debate as to the author and to whom the letter (sermon) was addressed there is no doubt reading Hebrews 7:28, the author is telling us that Jesus is the appointed Son and is superior to the high priests of the Old Testament with their human frailties. With a few days left before Christmas Day I often find myself rushing from store-to-store

with the other millions of shoppers trying to find that one perfect gift I saw on some television commercial. After reading the above scripture I have to ask myself, have the high priests of the Old Testament simply been replaced in a more modern form and where do they stand in the priorities of my life? During this Advent season we not only celebrate the coming of Christ, but also the coming of God in the birth of His Son. Christ is the perfect gift, superior to all others.

Prayer Thank you Lord for all of the blessings you have bestowed upon us. May we remain faithful and use those blessings to give the gifts of hope, love and faith, all in Christ’s name, Amen. Andy Fletcher

Eastminster Presbyterian Church

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Saturday, December 24, 2011 Luke 1:41-42

“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!’”

In my mind’s eye I see a tall, thin framed woman pushing against a massive sitting couch, doggedly moving it to sit flush with the hospital bed. Though by appearance it would seem her strength isn’t up to the task, she succeeds in her nightly ritual. These are the warm, last days in August, 2009. My father is in hospice care, surrounded by a rotating and adoring crew of family and friends and my mother is his constant companion. As others watched him slip away, and pass peacefully from this life, I watched her. I watched her love coalesce and solidify. I watched as something that had always run deep

Prayer Blessed are we who are given love, to enter into and to hold. May we know the love of God, the father, through our love and devotion to each other. In Jesus’ name, Amen. Barclay Sylvester

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came to the surface; those last few nights, every night, a small shape at his side, as close as she could be. My father had moved through this life with charm and grace and now it was her turn to be the quiet, gentle one. As Mary had prepared her heart, both blessed to know and carry the Son of God, but also to know and watch His death on the cross, my mother had known love and prepared her heart for losing him. Though a trial, some days wanting it sooner than others, I know she trusts in God to see him again in the Kingdom of Heaven.


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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Luke 2:10 “But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.’”

Ever since King David’s brilliant reign one thousand years before Christ, Israel staggered blindly downhill. They were landless, leaderless and lost. Swept to destruction by the Babylonians to the point where they had nothing left: no priests, no king, no hope and no peace — they were duly over-exposed.

denounced the poor for deserving no better. He denounced casual sex. He denounced extramarital liaisons. He denounced the mumbo jumbo of the temple ritual. He denounced human sacrifice. He even denounced God for saddling him with the job of trying to reform such a pack of degenerates.

Enter the Prophet of God, Jeremiah. He had a message. “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” Jeremiah 33:3.

Jeremiah said to the people of God: “What do you mean you have nothing left? You have everything left you need. You have everything that matters in your possession: God, heritage, destiny and promise. In fact, you are a people of promise.”

On the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, Michelangelo captured the mood of Jeremiah. Jeremiah sits brooding, hand on chin, shoulders slumped, sad eyes, filled with grief. He was a craggy giant bowed down with distress. He was cast in brass, but dissolving in tears. Jeremiah comes on the scene with a thunderous denunciation. There was nothing eligible for denunciation that Jeremiah did not denounce. He denounced the king and the clergy. He denounced the rich for exploiting the poor. He

As Christians we tend to promise according to our hopes but we often perform according to our fears. In Jesus Christ there is not only hope but also freedom from fear. In Jesus Christ the promise of Jeremiah was validated. It serves as a reminder to all of us that God keeps His promises. What the prophet promised, God validated. That is the joy of Christmas. God bless you. Merry Christmas!

Prayer “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” Jeremiah 33:3 David G. McKechnie Eastminster Presbyterian Church

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Acknowledgements

The Gift of Christmas

Cover Design Emily Tjaden Sylvester

A Celebration of Carols & Hymns Sunday, December 11, during our 9:30 & 11 a.m. worship services & Monday, December 12, at 7:30 p.m. (concert only) Eastminster Sanctuary

Editors Lynda Carrier-Metz Steve Dickie

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Christmas Eve Services Saturday, December 24 • Sanctuary Children’s Candlelight Services at 3 & 4:30 p.m. Carols & Candlelight Services at 6 & 8 p.m.

Advent Devotional 2011  

Eastminster's 2011 Advent Devotional is meant to encourage you throughout the Advent season. It begins the first Sunday of Advent, November...