The following devotions will be posted weekly during the season of Advent as a way to guide you to reflect on the season leading to Christmas. These are written by members of the First Presbyterian Church Spiritual Formation Committee.
WEEK TWO Devotion
Scripture: Mark 1:4-8 The Message
John the Baptizer appeared in the wild, preaching a baptism of life-change that leads to forgiveness of sins. People thronged to him from Jude’s and Jerusalem and, as they confessed their sins, were baptized by him in the Jordan River into a changed life. John wore a camel-hair habit, tied at the waist with a leather belt. He ate locust and wild filed honey.
As he preached he said, “The real action comes next: the star in this drama, to whom I’m a mere stagehand, will change your life. I’m baptizing you here in the river, turning your old life in for a kingdom life. His baptism—a holy baptism by the Holy Spirit—will change you from the inside out.”
Years ago a friend gave me a Möbius strip pendant necklace. I had to google it to see what a Möbius strip was! You can make a Möbius strip by cutting a strip of paper, giving it a half twist and joining the ends. What was a strip of paper with two sides becomes a circular loop with only one side.
I think about the two-sided strip of paper I call my life-- the outer side showing things I want people to see, and the inner side hiding things I am ashamed of and can barely acknowledge, much less show the world.
John the Baptist makes it clear that Jesus comes into the world not to judge us but to transform us. For me, Jesus is the glue, the Scotch tape, that joins the ends of my two-sided life together. He is the Presence that redeems my inner fears and judgments—changing me from the inside out—reconciling my two-sided life so that I know and share God’s love.
WEEK ONE Devotion
Scripture: Isaiah 64:1-9, Psalms 80:1-7, 17-19; 1 Corinthians 1:3-9; Mark 13:24-37
We enter this season with scriptural doorposts signaling entries into devotion and thought. While Isaiah and the Psalmist yearn to experience more of God, each also voices trepidation: God is a source of both awe and fear. Paul’s experience of grace leads him to boldly trust God’s love. Strangely the Mark reading presents Christ prophesying his future return as apocalyptic and urges the faithful to be on guard and to stay awake. Three of the four readings express an almost fearful awareness that the Holy God is indeed UNPREDICTABLE.
Unpredictable enough to choose to try out being human.
Advent invites you to WAKE UP and respond: How do you personally feel about God’s choice to do this? God so loves this world that God chooses to enter humanity and look outward experiencing human skin, sight, feelings, birth and death. Shouldn’t we consider how enormous this is? Yet, many of us are like three of the writers—the deep mystery of God is overwhelming; so we, with gratitude, count on mercy. (And, sadly, we stay busy trying not to think too much about all of this.)
Will we go beyond seasonal nostalgia to the Christ demanded action: WAKE UP? Will we choose to pay attention to how THE HOLY enfolds us unendingly? Can we lay down the cluttered noise of our lives and enter this season with our own renewed holy awareness? The Living Christ asks this.