Great Plains Daily Devotional for 12/1/2020

Today please be in prayer for

A.G. Turner
Valentine UMC
Great West District
Bequi Flores
Maywood UMC
Wallace UMC
Great West District
Gregory Reffner
Brownsville UMC, Bremerton, WA & Seattle Pacific Univ. Leitourgia Project - Pacific Northwest Conference
Wichita East District
Matthew Sigler
Assistant Professor Seattle Pacific Univ & Seminary
Wichita East District

Today's Lectionary Text

Mark 1: 4-5

John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
 

Today's Devotional

Oh, Advent. A season that is calculated with great precision (four and only four and always four Sundays comprise the season) but yet lends itself to great calendar variables: will this be the year that the first Sunday is also the last day of Thanksgiving weekend? Is this the year that the fourth Sunday might also be referred to be some as “the morning of Christmas Eve?” Through it all, there has been a constant in my pre-Christmas timeline: Advent calendars always begin on December first, whether or not that is the date of the first Sunday in Advent.
 
Another Advent constant? John the Baptist, John the wild one, John the slightly older cousin, calling out to us from the wilderness. Each year he shows up in our scriptural life, at an expected and yet inconvenient time, demanding that we join him on his journey of faith. Every year I remind myself that it’s a good thing Advent is relatively short – surely we can make it through just four weeks of seeking and repentance and forgiveness. I find these three activities both some of the most wrenching and fulfilling activities a person could attempt. Why not move through all three at once in one of the darkest months of the year?
 
In recent years, I think Advent calendars have come into their own – everything from daily lip gloss to cheese is available to help the Advent jojourner move forward. This year at Saint Paul Benson, we are experimenting with a “reverse Advent calendar,” an invitation to give something simple each day to others rather than being the recipient of a gift. Items from the reverse Advent calendar list include peanut butter, mittens, and writing a note to someone we haven’t seen in a while. We think including care for others on our Advent journey will help us on our way towards John’s invitation to be a people who seek God in the world, who practice repentance and forgiveness.
 
As we embark on this Advent together, I am hopeful that we will be moved by the enthusiasm we find in John the wild one, the cousin, and the enthusiast as he emerges in our lives on the wilderness path. How will we ready ourselves to embrace the faith path that is before us? Are we willing to seek and offer forgiveness? Will we remember God’s claim on our lives as a people of love who are called to serve? The Advent path is ahead, and I give thanks for the journey.

-Rev. Stephanie Ahlschwede
St. Paul Benson
sahlschwede@greatplainsumc.org

Prayer for Reflection

Stephanie has graciously shared with us the Saint Paul Benson Reverse Advent Calendar.  What a great way to participate in an advent tradition and help our communities and those who are

most vulnerable this time of year!

 

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