Reading: Luke 1: 68-79
This passage is Zechariah’s song. Zechariah and Elizabeth were John the Baptist’s parents. When Elizabeth gave birth to John, and announced to all that his name would be John, people were shocked. It was tradition to name your child a family name, and no one in Zechariah and Elizabeth’s family were named John.
The people turned to Zechariah to see what he would say after his wife’s big announcement. And he gave the speech that we read today. The scripture said that the man was filled with the Holy Spirit. His speech is a prayer; it is a prayer blessing God for what God has done.
When a baby is born, it’s hard not to be grateful to God. When my children came into this world, it was a great sight for me to see the miracle of a child being born. During my wife's pregnancy with both my daughter and son, we experienced pregnancy during the season of Advent. It gave me a new way to look at how Mary, Joseph, Zechariah, and Elizabeth all felt when they were waiting for their special children. They, too, had to get the house ready for a newborn and plan schedules around an event that is so unpredictable. They, too, probably thought about their child’s life and what he would grow up to be. Just like these forebearers, I know how it is to put all your efforts into one human being whose arrival we’ve anticipated for nine months.
And frankly, that’s what Advent is all about: to get us to turn attention to the baby Christ-child. To put all our efforts into Emmanuel, God with us, not only during these four weeks, but throughout our whole lives. It’s nice that each year in this holiday season, we are reminded to keep Christ central as we prepare for celebrations with family and friends. It’s nice that we are reminded that Jesus is the reason for this and all seasons and that we should approach his manger with joy in our hearts and songs of praise to sing every day. --Chad Hershberger, Camp Mount Luther Director
Closing Prayer: Loving and gracious God, in this season of anticipation we look forward to the coming of your only son, the savior of all people. We remember your promises and walk forward with faith knowing that you love us, redeem us and sustain us. Keep us always in your kindly care. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Reading: John 14: 3-4
Some friends of mine once told me of a theory they had. After doing a lot of traveling, they concluded that no matter where you went in the United States, you could always pick up a good country radio station. It’s been a sort of a joke between us, because they don’t like county music at all.
However, after believing this theory for years, I have come to learn that this theory is not true. Another friend of mine drove cross country one summer and told that in some spots in our great land, you cannot pick up any radio station. There’s dead air for miles and miles and miles. He tells me that it can be very lonely in parts of our country and even a good country radio station would be welcomed company.
Which proves one point: don’t always believe everything you hear or see. I took my friends’ word for it that their theory was true. But it was proved wrong. If there is one thing I have learned in my life it is this: don’t believe everything you see or hear!
So be skeptical. Look things up for yourself. And remember that people are only human and they do make mistakes. –Chad Hershberger, Camp Mount Luther Director
Closing: Discuss with another or meditate on this quote by Mrs. Humphry Ward, “Truth has never been, can never be, contained in any one creed or system.”
Reading: Luke 20: 41- 21: 4
Wouldn’t you be surprised if someone took money out of the offering plate at church while it was being passed down the pew on Sunday morning? Well, amazingly enough, I have seen people take money out of the plate and the pastor even told them to do so!
At a worship service I once attended with many others who were less than 16-years-old, the ministers gave a rousing sermon on tithing and the giving of monetary gifts to the church. They then had an offering plate passed through the congregation. Many of the parishioners gave all the money they had just earned (during a grueling treasure hunt). Some gave a little, keeping some of themselves.
Because of the rest of the evening’s activities, following the service the pastors told those who did not have money to come up front. They were told it would be wise for them to take some dough out of the offering plate because they would need it. The pastors also said never to take money from the plate again!
Financial giving is an important part of our life in the church. But giving of one’s self is even more important. The poor widow gave all that she had and gave not only financially, but of herself. --Chad Hershberger, Camp Mount Luther Director
Closing Prayer: Lord, be with us through this Advent season as we prepare for the coming of your Son. Help us to give of ourselves, not only now but throughout the year as well. Amen.
Reading: Matthew 24: 36-44
Reading: Psalm 24: 7-10
Reading: Luke 1: 26-38; Luke 2: 8-14
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