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ADVENT 2019 I am excited to present the fourth annual Advent Guide for the Friends University community. Fredrick Buechner so eloquently introduces us to the season as “The extraordinary thing that is about to happen is matched only by the extraordinary moment just before it happens. Advent is the name of that moment.” This season on the Church calendar is one ripe with expectation. It invites us into an expectant waiting and preparation for the coming of Christ. My hope is that as you journey through these pages with our community, you will encounter Christ. Each devotional contains a daily reading of the scriptures as well as reflections from a staff member, faculty or student. Some days simply invite you to read scripture and provide a guide for a spiritual practice. I am grateful for all the staff, faculty and students who shared their thoughts and reflections for us to consider this season. I am thankful for our Lounge Host, Sarah Lazar, who has taken this on as a “special project.” None of this would be possible without these contributions. I pray these reflections on Scripture will guide you on your journey to encounter Christ in the manger on Christmas Day. Grace and Peace, Haley Alloway Associate Campus Pastor of Formation


A GUIDE FOR DAILY DEVOTION Quiet Your Heart As we seek the Lord, it is important that we slow our pace, our mind and our body, so we might better “see” and “hear” what the Lord might have for us. A major part of preparing a place for God to speak involves turning down the volume of the noisy world we have become so accustomed to living in. Take a few minutes to focus your mind’s attention and heart’s affection on the ever-presence of Jesus. Opening Prayer Comfort, comfort your people, O God! Speak peace to your people. Comfort those who sit in darkness and mourn. Forgive us our sins and end the conflict in our lives. The Reading of Scripture Take time to slowly and prayerfully read the Scripture passages assigned for the day. Pay special attention to words or phrases that might stand out to you. The Devotional Reflection Read the devotional reflection for the day. Look and listen for how the Lord might be speaking through the thoughts and reflections of another. Listen for God Before you rush on to the next part of your day, take a few moments to sit with the things you have read and ask God if there is something specific for you to take away for today. If you sense a leading, be willing to follow it. Maybe write it down somewhere where you will be reminded of it. Allow this to orient you and the work, relationships and experiences you have throughout your day. Prayers The following is a suggested guide for prayer during Advent: • Pray for all Christians around the world and especially for those who endure persecution for their faith. • Pray for our nation and all those in authority. • Pray that Christ’s peace may cover the world. Pray for the end of conflict and war and the triumph of truth and justice. • Pray for those who suffer and grieve. • Pray for all those who engage in the educational ministry of the Church and especially for Friends University.


ONE While shepherds watched their flocks by night, All seated on the ground The angel of the Lord came down, And glory shone around 4

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 1, 2019 ISAIAH 2:1-5 | PSALM 122 | ROMANS 13:11-14 | MATTHEW 24:36-44 Last year, Shane Claiborne came here for Chapel. During his time here, we spent lots of time talking about the work he and his community, The Simple Way, have been doing regarding gun violence. He just released his new book Beating Guns; Hope for People Who are Weary of Violence which centers on a theme that comes out of our verses from Isaiah today. The focus is on Isaiah 2:4 “They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.” This verse represents the people of God turning tools of violence into tools that cultivate life—tools that are used for war into tools that are used for peace. This requires not only a change in the actual tool but a change of heart. Shane and his team traveled around the country and invited people to bring their weapons to blacksmiths who created garden tools out of them, thus symbolically representing the verse in Isaiah. What does this have to do with Advent? Each year, we enter the season of Advent which is a season of hopeful expectation. We look forward to the coming of Christ both as a child through the Virgin Mary and the second coming of Christ for which we still wait. This is a part of the season in the Christian calendar where we find ourselves sitting between the already and the not yet. Yes, God has already come to us in the person of Jesus Christ, but Advent isn’t just about us remembering that; Advent invites us to sit in the tension awaiting Christ’s return. Beating guns into garden tools is one way to participate in the Kingdom of God that Jesus manifested here on earth as we await Christ’s return. Beating guns into garden tools reminds us that we participate in advocating for peace where there is violence. Beating guns into garden tools reminds us that we have the hope of the Kingdom of God here and on the horizon. It invites us to participate in the work that God has done and is continuing to do among us. It reminds us that the Prince of Peace has come in the form of a baby in a manger and that same Prince of Peace died a violent death on the cross, was buried, rose again and will someday return. Haley Alloway Associate Campus Pastor of Formation


MONDAY, DECEMBER 2, 2019 PSALM 124 | ROMANS 6:1-11 | GENESIS 8:1-19 Our help is in the name of the Lord. Our help is in the name of Jesus. Our help is in a little baby, who was fully man and fully human who came to earth because of love.

In this season of waiting on the Lord’s birth, please pray this prayer with me:

Our help is in the name of the Lord.

In the midst of this busy season, help us to focus on the greatest act of love you have ever given us. Thank you for sending Your son, Jesus Christ, that we might be saved through His life, death and resurrection. Let us never forget Your love.

Psalm 124 says that we have escaped from all evil and “Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Because of Christ’s coming, we have been renewed and are being renewed every single day. When reflecting on the birth of Jesus, I believe it is important to realize that even though He was born fully human, He was also fully God. Christ Jesus humbled Himself to be our salvation, becoming a little child, but He also came as the one and only God whose name is above every name. Jesus has many names in the Bible describing the magnificence of who He is. Jesus is the… Bread of Life Deliverer Good Shepherd Immanuel King of Kings Lamb of God Son of Man Light of the World


Redeemer Messiah Risen Lord Victorious One Prince of Peace Mighty One Great I Am

Dear God,

In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen. Jane Shelden Senior, Psychology

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2019 PSALM 124 | HEBREWS 11:32-40 | GENESIS 9:1-17 Are you feeling weary of where you’re at? Do you find yourself dreading your day? Are you in a difficult time in your life? Is your life feeling kind of…bleh? Each scripture mentioned above talks about faith. In Psalm 124, David testifies to God’s continual faithfulness in protecting the Israelites. David never said floods, enemy attacks and other treacherous things didn’t happen to them, but he did say God never left them. All these things grew their faith, and they could now say, “Our help is in the Lord!” Their hope was restored. Sometimes I lose sight of where I can place my hope or where my joy comes from. Not remembering where my hope comes from has led to many dreary days. Maybe it takes some perspective to see that Jesus is where my hope comes from. And I think it takes going through the difficulties of life to build up faith, because on the other side of difficulties, God has proven faithful to guide me. Hebrews 11 describes several faithful characters in the Bible. Each of them faced difficulty, yet they “lived in hope without receiving the fullness of what was promised to them (v. 39 TPT).” By faith they endured pain and uncertainty, continuing to keep looking towards the promise of eternal life, believing God has something better for them. What is faith? “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Heb. 11:1).” My faith in Jesus continually grows throughout my life, sometimes without me even knowing it. Each difficulty gets easier, because of the faith that has grown up in me, reminding me I can be joyful, hopeful and faithful—all while facing difficulties because I know God is with me. Advent reminds me that Jesus is the hope of the earth. Looking towards Christmas time is refreshing! Whatever your difficulties look like, stir up your faith! Count it ALL as joy and never forget to fix your gaze on Jesus Christ and His goodness, James 1:2-4 (TPT). Continually looking toward what He has for now and in the future. Count It ALL as Joy Samantha Camden Junior, Business Administration and Marketing double major


WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2019 PSALM 124 | ISAIAH 54:1–10 | MATTHEW 24:23-25 “For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee.” Isaiah 54:10 (KJV) Mountains don’t normally depart, and hills don’t just disappear. I never expect that to happen, and I wouldn’t know what to do if it did. I don’t think this is really talking about mountains or hills (but I like to imagine it anyway). The unexpected DOES happen, and God says it will. “The mountains SHALL depart,” not “the mountains MIGHT depart.” From this verse, we can learn that even when the completely bizarre, terrible or unexpected happens, God says “neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed.” It’s a COVENANT that God made with his people that he will never remove from us his peace. His “kindness shall not depart from thee, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee.” Talk to God about what “mountains” are departing in your life and take comfort in his promise of peace, kindness and mercy. Jo Jensen Sophomore, Zoo Science Major


THURSDAY, DECEMBER 5, 2019 PRACTICE | EXAMEN PRAYER FOR REFLECTION PSALM 72:1–7, 18–19 | ISAIAH 4:2–6 | ACTS 1:12–17, 21–26 1. Awaken yourself to God’s Presence Look over the past day and take note of the moments when you felt God’s presence. When did you feel Him with you, helping you or looking over you? Focus on God’s presence with you right here in this moment. Ask God to make you more aware of Him. Repeat phrases such as, “Surely your goodness and love will follow me” (from psalm 23) or “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46). These may be beneficial for connecting to God. Any phrase or prayer that nurtures a connection with God is a good approach to awakening yourself to God’s presence. 2. Count your blessings/gifts Think back over your day and make note of what you are thankful for. What made you feel blessed? Nothing is too small to be considered. Did someone hold the door for you? Did you sleep well? It may be difficult at first, but once you start your list, you will find it hard to stop. While thinking over these blessings and gifts from God, make sure to express your thanks to Him. 3. Reflect on what today held for you Consider the last 24 hours and think over everything that happened. Good or bad—don’t leave anything out. We tend to rush through our day and spend little time taking an honest look at what happened. Reflection is how we learn from our experiences. 4. Choose a moment from the day to pray over While looking back over your day, you may find a situation, a relationship, an attitude or a behavior that God is calling you to realign with His teachings. Pick a specific moment to pray over and offer it to God. Do not be afraid to ask for His help in your endeavor. 5. Pray for the following day This is the time to look to tomorrow. Ask God for His guidance and presence in the coming day. Ask Him to show you his plan for you. Know that God has seen tomorrow and has blessed you already. Breathe. Be still and know.


FRIDAY, DECEMBER 6, 2019 PSALM 72:1–7, 18–19 | ISAIAH 30:19 – 26 | ACTS 13:16 – 25 Advent is all about what’s coming, but it’s also about what’s already come. We take this season of life in the Church to enter back into history, place ourselves inside of it and look around with fresh, old eyes. After all, we make meaning out of the present and the future by looking to the past. Paul is making meaning of what was the recent work of Jesus for the people of his time by reviewing their history. Their present circumstances only made sense in light of what had happened in the past. In Acts 13:16-25, Paul reviews the people in history who God used to bring the Savior Jesus to Israel as he promised. It was a meandering and wandering path through Egypt, Canaan, turbulent monarchies and upheaval, but the Savior Jesus came. Similarly, our formation in the way of Jesus is not something we came to ourselves but is something we received from others. Faith doesn’t come to us in a vacuum; it’s essentially relational, and it’s something that has been passed down to us. Regarding the people of Israel, the prophet Isaiah says, “Your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes, you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it’” (Isaiah 30:20-21). During this season, where we place ourselves back in time and remember the coming of Christ, take some time to remember the coming of your faith. Who passed it down to you? Who are the voices behind you saying, “This is the way; walk in it,” directing you and guiding you? For a few moments, sit and think about who these teachers are. Ask God to reveal to you the people who may be hidden from your memory who have impacted your life by imparting the faith to you. Write these names down, and be thankful for the way that God has moved in your life through the community of Christ-followers who surround you. Luke Stehr Associate Campus Pastor of Outreach


SATURDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2019 PSALM 72:1–7, 18–19 | ISAIAH 40:1–11 | JOHN 1:19–28 “A voice cries out: ‘In the wilderness prepare a way for the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God’” (Isaiah 40:3). Advent is a time of preparation. The question is not whether we can receive Christ or not, but whether or not we are prepared to do so. Do we yearn for his presence, and when he comes to us, do we know him for who he is? God thought it was important, not only to send Christ into the world, but to prepare the world for his coming. From Adam and through Abraham and all the prophets, God promised his coming salvation in Jesus Christ. Because of this, the people of Israel longed for the coming of the Messiah. By giving them laws and rituals that would later be fulfilled in Jesus, he taught the Jews how to recognize Jesus. Since the law outlined the kind of life Jesus would live as a human being, the Jews were supposed to see Jesus and realize, “At last! This is what I’ve been waiting for. Now the life I’ve been trying to live is really accessible!” Why would God care if those he wants to save long for and recognize his coming? Perhaps this kind of preparation is necessary for the kind of salvation Jesus brings. God knows what He is doing, so the way He brought salvation to us must have been the best way possible. All the promises, the symbols and the laws had a purpose: to make us ready for a deeply relational salvation. This kind of salvation requires more than a legal agreement between two parties. Waiting for a loved one involves longing for his coming and recognizing his face when he appears. This advent, I urge you to stop desperately trying to “get saved” or “stay saved,” and instead prepare yourself to receive Jesus. Intentionally pursue longing for and recognizing God. Read His promises over and over until your mouth is watering for their fulfillment. Learn what God is like, how His voice sounds, what His presence brings and what His truth looks like. Receiving Jesus will become second nature because you will know your Savior’s face and long to look upon it. Each time He comes to you, you will be ready. May He come to you today! Bethany Filer Sophomore, Vocal Performance and Christian Spiritual Formation Double Major


TWO “Fear not!” said he; for mighty dread had seized their troubled minds “Glad tidings of great joy I bring to you and all mankind 12

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 8, 2019 ISAIAH 11:1–10 | PSALM 72:1–7, 18–19 | ROMANS 15:4–13 | MATTHEW 3:1–12 Hope is a word that appears frequently on the pages of the Bible and frequently during Christmas. Hope is such a wonderful thing that we cling onto in the midst of trials, difficult exams, games, competitions and many other situations. As a believer of Christ, we must have hope in Him at all times. Today’s passage helps us learn where hope is rooted and where to find it in times of difficulty. Paul says: “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures, we might have hope.” [Romans 15:4] God’s Word was written for many reasons; one is to bring hope in this life. We must search and determine ourselves where our hope is based. But through this, we take the information given to us and create a judgement. Do we follow through and use the hope scripture provides us, or do we treat the Bible just like any other book and meander through life hopelessly? We are encouraged by the steadfastness of Christ to hold onto His promises as we face hard times. Last year, I was able to go on a Campus Ministry trip that helped me strengthen my relationship with God. During this trip, I was struggling with some personal conflicts, not to mention that I didn’t know anyone going on this trip. However, I took a leap faith and felt welcomed by the group just like Christ welcomes us all [15:6]. Being in the presence of God with these amazing people filled me with joy as we glorified His name in multiple activities. Scripture also taught me about: God’s creations, to cast my worries on Him because He has control of it all and that there’s none like Him. So during this season, let this be a reminder to take a leap of faith into the unknown, so that the God of hope may fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overfill with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. [15:13] Vanessa Osorio Sophomore, Spanish and English Education Double Major


MONDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2019 PSALM 21 | ISAIAH 24:1-16A | 1 THESSALONIANS 4:1-12 How often do you become overwhelmed by something? Are you overwhelmed by your busy schedule with school and/or work, the feeling of being out of the loop of what your friends and family are doing, or the struggle of finding joy during difficult times? I can personally say that I become overwhelmed by at least one of these factors of life per week. And then I think of Jesus and become overwhelmed by the joy that He brings and His love for me (and the entirety of humanity). Jesus, the living Son of God, came to earth, lived a perfect life, loved God and others well, died a criminal’s death, rose again on the third day and ascended into heaven. His time on earth consisted of sweat, blood and tears, but it also consisted of love, faith and joy. Through it all, Jesus was perfect, and He still is perfect. Jesus came and modeled the way that we should be living our lives. We should be giving God all that we have, because He has given us His all. Being overwhelmed by Jesus’ love is crazy beautiful and way better than being overwhelmed by things of this world. Take time to ruminate about how Jesus has shown you His love and fills you with a never-ending joy, and how you can reflect His love and joy to those around you. Madison Woody Junior, Volleyball Chaplain, Elementary Education Major


TUESDAY, DECEMBER 10, 2019 PSALM 21 | ISAIAH 41:14-20 | ROMANS 15:14-21 The season of Advent is a time of waiting. It is a time set apart in the church calendar to remember that we are waiting for the coming Christ. We enter into a time where we remember the ancient Jews who long awaited their Messiah, and likewise, we contemplate and await the return of Christ, with whom comes the restoration of the world and the New Jerusalem. In Advent, we are waiting for the fulfillment of Christ’s promise of a renewed world. Isaiah 41:17-18 reads: When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the LORD will answer them. I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers on the bare height and fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water and the dry land springs of water. What are we to do in this waiting? We live in a parched and thirsty world. Brokenness surrounds us, and we feel that brokenness in our own lives. God promises restoration and water to quench our thirst. As the body of Christ, we seek for this water each day, and by extension we become the quenching water for the world. The water we receive is but a foretaste of the ultimate restoration which we await. In this time of Advent, let us each seek formation into deeper Christ-likeness. In our waiting, let us each meditate more deeply on our calling as the body of Christ. God quenches our thirst through our worship and prayer, through our community and through our solitude, and through the many practices that the Christian life has to offer. As the Holy Spirit continually forms us, we each become, as with Paul in Romans 15, “a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God.” During this Advent, meditate on what it means to be in the body of Christ. We have a hope that we are now awaiting. May we each rediscover that hope in this season and may God continually quench our thirst for restoration. Devin Withrow Junior, Religion and Philosophy Major


WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2019 PSALM 21 | GENESIS 15:1-18 | MATTHEW 12:33-37 Jesus spoke this parable as a condemnation of the Pharisees for their false accusations of where Jesus draws his power in Matthew 12:22-24. Jesus had healed a demon-possessed, blind and mute man (Mt. 12:22), and the Pharisees gave the glory of the healing to “Beelzebub the ruler of demons,” claiming that Jesus only had the power to cast out the demon because of this demon, not the Spirit of God (V. 24). Jesus went on to give the parable, A Tree Known by Its Fruit, to teach the Pharisees that good cannot come from an evil being. In Matthew 12:34, Jesus said, “… How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” For the Pharisees, this was an example of how illogical their ideas were. For today’s time, this verse speaks of the importance of guarding our hearts from the sin of the world, for what we let enter our heart is what will come out of our mouths when we go into the world. So, if we decide to fill our heart with sins such as lust, anger, pride or many others, we impede our relationship with God and his plans for us because we will speak of what fills our hearts. Jesus then says that every man will give account for every idle word spoken on judgement day (V. 37). This implies that everyone will go before God and account for the words they have spoken, for that is what fills one’s heart. The lost will give account and receive judgment at the Great White Throne of Judgement (Rev. 20:11-15). While according to Paul, the saved will still account for their words (2 Cor. 5:10), but the saved will not receive condemnation (Rom. 8:1). As a Christian, we should see this parable as a reminder of how to avoid the pitfalls of sin on this earth. By guarding our hearts from what is unholy, we allow ourselves to show the lost more of Jesus Christ’s love. This reminder should serve as a wake-up call to arise and keep our hearts clean for the Lord, so we may reach the lost and prepare for Jesus’s second coming. Kevin McKenzie Junior, Business Administration and Finance Major


THURSDAY, DECEMBER 12, 2019 PSALM 146:5–10 | RUTH 1:6–18 | 2 PETER 3:1–10 “... with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day.” – 2 Peter 3:8 Advent offers a strange invitation. One we are slow to accept. Just before Christmas, we are invited to climb into the skin of the exiled Judeans. We are called to follow them away from Jerusalem into exile in a foreign land. It is odd to imagine their suffering, especially during the holiday season. We prefer the festivities and lights, parties and music. But, before the baby in the manger comes exile; before the celebration comes the agony of longing; before Christmas comes Advent. ’Tis the season where we learn to wait and yearn for the arrival of the Messiah. Prophets, poets and Old Testament story tellers guide us as we journey through the four weeks of Advent. They teach us to long for the justice of God. A justice more severe than we dare imagine and more merciful than we can hope. Like ancient Israel, we wait for the “advent” of God’s justice. This does not look like a nativity scene. There is no Santa, no reindeer bells, no “Jingle Bells” or “I Saw Momma Kissing Santa Claus.” Instead, there is longing to see God come and clean house. This is His judgment, and it comes to us as a baby in a barn, lying in the straw and ruling the world. But we’ve been waiting a long time. The Apostle Peter writes about this waiting and how there will be people who mock those who “wait upon the Lord.” These mockers lived as if the “only guide in life is what they want for themselves”. Mocking those who live faithfully in dark times like ours, they say: “So what’s happened to the promise of His Coming? Our ancestors are dead and buried, and everything’s going on just as it has from the first day of creation. Nothing’s changed.” Exile, for the Judeans, was training in patience. For us, Advent is training in waiting. But our waiting need not be passive. Let’s not dull our senses with escapism. Instead, let us exercise lives of faithfulness, goodness, servanthood and gentleness among those who have yet to experience the life of God’s good Kingdom. For this Advent . . . ... we, in accord with His promise, look forward to new heavens and a new earth, in which justice dwells. Paul Hill Adjunct Professor for Theology and Philosophy department


FRIDAY, DECEMBER 13, 2019 PSALM 146:5–10 | RUTH 4:13-17 | 2 PETER 3:11-18 Reflection is an often overlooked and undervalued aspect of our lives. Some say experience is the best teacher, but reflecting upon experiences is where the learning happens. Advent is about expectation of God fulfilling His promises and bringing restoration where needed. Considering this season of Advent, reflect on the following questions: Where can you see God moving in your life right now? Where can you expect Him to move in the future?

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SATURDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2019 PSALM 146:5–10 | 1 SAMUEL 2:1–8 | LUKE 3:1-18 DO THE RIGHT THING, AND GIVE GOD THE GLORY. In this season of Advent, it would be a good time to stop and ask ourselves, “What are we doing, why are we doing it and are we doing the right thing?” In Luke chapter 3, John the Baptist was sent to be the forerunner for Jesus. He was to make the road straight, and he was to answer many questions from those who were preparing for a Messiah. Verse 11 tells the crowd, “If a man has two tunics, he should share one with one who has none.” We should do business in a fair manner, and we should be grateful for our health, vocation, resources and privileges. That being said, we need to learn to share—to be inclusive on the job, in the classroom and in our neighborhood. This is a time to remind ourselves that “Our privilege is but by the grace of God.” So we should kick the “commercial” Christmas habits and remind ourselves that we are called on to share this grace that we have received. Psalms 145: 5-10 clearly remind us of the grace and power of God that is being passed on to us as we seek to joyfully praise His name. So let’s do the right thing and give God the glory. Bill Allan Associate Professor of Family Life in the department of Social and Behavioral Sciences


THREE To you in David's house this day Is born of David's line The Savior who is Christ the Lord And this shall be the sign: 20

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 15, 2019 ISAIAH 35:1-10 | PSALM 146:5-10 | LUKE 1:46b-55 | JAMES 5:7-10 | MATTHEW 11:2-11 Are we there yet? This is a fairly common refrain heard within our family’s mini-van. Regardless of whether we are driving across town to one of our kid’s activities, or across country on a family trip, one or more of our children are more than ready to be released from their vehicular captivity and relentlessly inquire – Are we there yet? They want to be done. They want to be free. They want to be at our destination and out of the mini. They don’t want to wait any longer. And they definitely don’t want to wait while strapped in place and unable to move about. Waiting is hard. Waiting without having many options for passing the time, speeding up the process or changing the destination can feel like torture for kids in the back seats (not to mention, the parents who continually have to field the question: Are we there yet?). In an insta-culture like ours, where speed is celebrated and waiting feels antiquated, we have grown to despise those instances in which we are required to wait. Yet there are some instances where waiting is all we can do. And in those seasons of waiting, we are reminded of what lies within our control and that which does not. The Advent season, as reflected in portions of today’s scripture readings, speaks to this internal struggle of waiting—wanting things to be different, wanting the waiting to be over. Needing things to be different now, yet understanding that the waiting is not yet over. And so they are challenged – to put one foot in front of the other and continue to move forward. I believe that there is so much that Jesus wants to do in us in the midst of our waiting. Teaching us how we become more faithful, hopeful or trusting, stretching and strengthening our belief that God is at work, even when we can’t see the physical proof. I don’t know where you find yourself, on this third Sunday of Advent, but it’s quite possible you are experiencing some kind of waiting. If so, might I encourage you to resist the urge to internally lament, “Are we there yet?” Instead, lean into the waiting. Remind yourself to trust the often-quiet work of God all around us. Guy Chmieleski Vice President of Student Affairs, Dean of Campus Ministries  


MONDAY, DECEMBER 16, 2019 PSALM 42 (CEB) | ISAIAH 29:17–24 | ACTS 5:12–16 Recreate Psalm 42 in your own way as it applies to your life here and now. Feel free to use any form of expression: writing, drawing, painting, origami!

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TUESDAY DECEMBER 17, 2019 PSALM 42 | EZEKIEL 47:1-12 | JUDE 17-25 Psalm 42 starts with the author having a desire for God. “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My Soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’ These things I remember as I pour out my Soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng.” Similarly, to what the Psalmist wants, we too are naturally craving God in our lives. Too often do we go throughout our days and not pay attention to how He is constantly with us. If you have found yourself in this situation where you can’t find God in your life, try this spiritual practice: count the blessings in your life. Then, if you want, you can meditate and ponder why you’ve been blessed with the people, items or experiences you’ve been blessed with. God will surely turn out within your blessings, and I hope a realization for you will be made of how God has always been present in your life. Max King Junior, Religion and Philosophy


WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2019 PRACTICE | SILENCE AND SOLITUDE PSALM 42 | ZECHARIAH 8:1-17 | MATTHEW 8:14–17, 28–34 Devote some time, today, to practicing silence and solitude. You may find it hard, but try for an hour. In this hour you may find it helpful to turn off your phone and find a secluded place to be alone. On the notion of silence: we often ask God a great many things, but when is the last time you genuinely waited for His answer? As you sit in silence, don’t be afraid to wait for God to speak to you. Thomas Keating says it best, “Silence is God’s first language; everything else is poor translation.” Silence is easiest when practiced alone. Don’t be afraid to spend some quality time alone with yourself in silence. This silence and solitude should not be practiced with a mournful heart. Advent is a time of expectation and hopeful anticipation. The people were awaiting the birth of the Messiah—the beautiful fulfillment of a promise made to us by God. In silence and solitude, we make room for God to speak into our lives, take time and wait with sweet anticipation for the words God has for you.  


THURSDAY, DECEMBER 19, 2019 PSALM 80:1–7, 17–19 | 2 SAMUEL 7:1–17 | GALATIANS 3:23–29 2 Samuel 7:1-17 tells of God in the night telling Nathan to give a message to his servant David to build him a temple. The Lord says, “I took you from the pasture from tending the flock and appointed you ruler over my people Israel. I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now, I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men on earth.” (8-9) What we see in these verses is that the dwelling of God can be anywhere—in a tent as it was in this point in time or in a grand temple. But we know from biblical history that Israel was going to find itself in turbulent times— times of gilded sanctuaries, but also times of exile, wandering out in the desert. So what is so remarkable about this God? To me, it’s the fact that the God who was in a rainy, grassy tent in 630 BC is still dwelling inside of me. The promise of God—the promise to go wherever we go, is made possible by the gift of the Holy Spirit. The divine love of the father who loved his creation so much that he made a way to be in communion with his people forever. Find peace in this reality. Live in this reality today. The reality that Christ, like the shepherd tending his flock, is watching over you, as you are his beloved. Lacey Morris Senior, Human Services/Sociology, Christian Spiritual Formation


FRIDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2019 PRACTICE | LECTIO DIVINA PSALM 80:1–7, 17–19 | 2 SAMUEL 7:18–22 | GALATIANS 4:1–7 Lectio Divina is a way to interact with God’s word on multiple levels. It consists of reading, meditating, prayer, contemplation and action. Today, we will use this practice to encounter Galatians 4:1-7 with a fresh heart.

You may feel called to lift praise to him, or perhaps you are unsure and need to ask for direction. There is no wrong way to talk to God about what you have experienced in meditation. God is speaking to you through His word; let Him know what you have heard.

1. Read

4. Contemplate

It is important to read through the scripture carefully. Try not to rush the practice; let the words wash over you and hold them close. This first reading is a chance to look at the passage as it applies to everyone reading it. Try to understand what is being said to the Body of Christ as a whole. Once you finish reading the text once through, go back and read it a second time through.

When God speaks into us, we experience the transformative light of His nearness. Contemplate what you have read, meditated and prayed. If God has shown you blessings, contemplate what it means for the Heavenly Father to bless you—His treasure. If God has shown you an aspect of your life He wishes you to realign to His purpose, take a moment and contemplate what your life would look like with that change. Now is a time for you to look at yourself in relation to what God has said to you. To end your time of contemplation, read the passage again one last time.

2. Meditate While reading the passage for the third time, bring the passage to your heart as it applies to your life. Allow God to bring forward memories, thoughts, ideas or emotions. Take note of words and phrases that stick out to you as you read through the text. This is the inspired Word of God, so read with the intent to hear God speaking to you directly. Really let your mind soak up the words. 3. Pray Our meditation over the passage has invited us into the intimate embrace of our Father. Our natural inclination is to respond to Him in prayer. Now is the time to have a conversation with the Father. You can ask him for something or offer thanks to Him.


5. Act When we read the Word of God and experience an intimate encounter within His presence, the effect is our soul’s hunger for action. Do what God has asked of you with no fear, because He will provide for you (Matthew 6:33). Praise God accordingly, and let these Words soak into every inch of your being. Live them out with the grace of God.

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2019 PSALM 80:1–7, 17–19 | 2 SAMUEL 7:23–29 | JOHN 3:31–36 Lament Psalms have a special place in my heart. Most people believe we are not allowed to question God, that in doing so we will bring upon us His wrath. This is simply not what I have found to be true. When God came to earth, he was not only a carpenter but also the greatest teacher to grace the world for all time. A good teacher listens to the questions of their students and uses their confusion as an opportunity to guide them. The psalmist is crying out to God to be saved and restored. The trouble surrounding this person is so suffocating, just reading it makes the breath catch in your chest. Advent is a time of anticipation. As we near the end of this season, the anticipation builds exponentially. I can always feel it in a physical sense. When it’s too great, I feel as if I am suffocating. It seems nearly impossible to wait for the end, almost like if I don’t take a breath now, I’ll never make it. The breath of family, food, fun and gifts are promised at the end of this Advent journey. It would be so easy to shove past this suffocating and not experience its fullness. We could numb ourselves for just a short time to the crushing beauty of waiting. What could we gain greater than the anticipation of our Lord? Some time ago in a place very different from here people were waiting for what felt like eons for God to come and save them. They waited for God to come restore the world and fix all humankind had let fall to ruin. Could you imagine the suffocating atmosphere of this prolonged anticipation of the Messiah? No one breathed as they waited for God to fulfill His promise. They wanted restoration and salvation now, and they were getting tired of breathlessness. To know the crushing beauty of waiting is to hold out. It won’t be easy. It is not going to be a comfortable ride; it will hurt; it will feel as if you are being pressed beyond belief to just steal a small breath. Regardless of the wait, everything falls short of the glory of our Lord. He comes in His time and fulfills His promises in His time. Until then I’ll hold the anticipation and calm the burning in my chest when the time is right. For great will be the answer to my cries of pain, great will be the answer to my waiting. It’s the least I can do, all things considered. Sarah Lazar, Sophomore Sophomore, Volleyball Chaplain, Psychology Major, CSF and Studio Art Minor


FOUR The heavenly babe you there shall find To human view displayed All meanly wrapped in swaddling bands And in a manger laid 28

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 22, 2019 ISAIAH 7:10–16 | PSALM 80:1–7, 17–19 | ROMANS 1:1–7 | MATTHEW 1:18–25 Joseph’s story is one of Faith and Trust. Most obviously, this is shown through Joseph’s obedience to God’s instructions within the Christmas Story. After an angel appeared to him in a dream, “he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel” (Matt 2:21). Without questioning, Joseph fought off any fears and doubts he may have had and had faith in God’s plan to use him. There were many obstacles and judgements to overcome, but he did not let that phase him on his mission. Joseph’s dedication is inspiring to our lives today. His confidence in God can be compared to that of a sheep, just as God’s love and guidance is like that of a shepherds (Psalm 80:1). Joseph’s attitude is that of a servant. His role in the Birth of Jesus is sometimes overlooked. However, he never chose to take part in this story to earn favor, he acted out of selfless obedience knowing the journey ahead was bigger than himself. Today, reflect on what God is calling you to do. What fears are holding you back from completing what God is asking of you? What mission has been set on your heart? Take a moment to pray for a servant’s attitude. After finding some silence, converse with God about what you feel you are being called to do and the reservations/fears you have about carrying it out. Set apart a few moments to pray through Joseph’s story. Your prayer may go something like this: “Dear Abba, bring me clarity today. Allow me to recognize how you see fit to use me. Like Joseph, give me an eager servant’s heart, that I may follow without questioning your end goal. Let my faith be stronger than my struggles, my trust outweigh my confusion, and my courage knock out my doubts. Let me not just listen, but react to the plans you want set in motion through my life. I pray that I too can be an outlet of your light in the world today.” God desires your heart and your trust! Be open to what he is asking of you, and take comfort in knowing he is your shepherd. Grace Garrison Sophomore, Psychology Major and CSF Certificate Program


MONDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2019 GENESIS 17:15-22 | GALATIANS 4:8-20 | 1 SAMUEL 2:1-10 The story in Genesis 17 is one that I think is worth the time to remember during the advent season. “God also said to Abraham, ‘As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.’ Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, ‘Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?’ And Abraham said to God, ‘If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!’ Then, God said, ‘Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation. But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year.’ When he had finished speaking with Abraham, God went up from him.” A son was promised to Abraham and Sarah. God established his covenant with them. This is a big deal. Abraham heard the news, and of all the emotions he could have felt and all the ways he could have responded, he fell facedown and laughed. It wasn’t a laugh of disbelief, it was a laugh of pure joy. He was so overcome with emotion at the thought of this wonderful promise from God. It’s beautiful isn’t it? As we close our advent season with the coming of Jesus, I think this passage serves as a wonderful reminder that, in the context of promises from God, there may be a million hard questions to ask and logistics to work out, but when God promises something, it is good to allow yourself to be overflowed with joy and to laugh, for it will surely be done. Olena Brown Sophomore, Musical Theatre, Religion & Philosophy


TUESDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2019 ISAIAH 9:2–7 | PSALM 96 | TITUS 2:11–14 | LUKE 2:1–14 [15–20] Scripture Reading: Luke 2:1-20 - The Message About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David’s town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant. While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel. There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.” At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises: Glory to God in the heavenly heights, Peace to all men and women on earth who please him. As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed. Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they’d been told!


WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 25, 2019 ISAIAH 62:6–12 | PSALM 97 | TITUS 3:4–7 | Luke 2:1–7, 8–20 WHEN THEY SAW THE STAR: Ponderings on Luke 2 - KJV Imagine on an early morning you received an unexpected visit from, not a normal messenger, but a heavenly one. I have always been fascinated by God’s masterful choice in selecting poor, unassuming, common shepherds to announce the birth of his Son and Savior Jesus. Instead of royalty, kings or civic leaders with authoritative voices or positions, He instead chose the lower class, everyday sheep herders and caretakers to signal the beginning of the greatest story to ever be told! In Luke 2, we read of this account, and if you think about it, it would have been an unusual and unique experience to witness from the part of those who saw it. I have had the benefit of having raised sheep myself on our family farm, growing up. They can be unruly, awkward and easily impressionable creatures but also cooperative and congenial and very responsive to strong, commanding leadership when given firm but kind support. We often envision shepherds as simple men and women, who tend their flocks and help protect their herds from impending harm. How providential (and not coincidental at all) that our Lord chose his angel to speak to these commoners to announce that a King who would arrive like them would be born in a feeding trough among animals like they tended daily. This King would ultimately invite all men and women to enter his divine fold and to become their loving, Great Shepherd! When these humble shepherds were awakened that majestic and silent night, they were immediately afraid because they had never been visited by such. The angel quickly calms them with his words and tells them to fear not and shares those good tidings of great joy which would be to us all. I have watched the re-telling of this visit nearly every Christmas with the Charlie Brown holiday favorite, where Linus shares a moving rendering of this same event and is very faithful to the story told in the scriptures. A famous hymn was penned a number of years ago which details the response of the shepherd themselves as they reacted, and when they saw the star, they rejoiced with great joy! May we too, join in rejoicing with great and unashamed joy, that our Lord Jesus Christ was born on Christmas day to become Saviour to us all!!! Kurt Priebe, Theatre & Media Studies - Fine Arts Friends University


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