Great Plains Daily Devotional for 12/22/2020

Today please be in prayer for

Lincoln Horizons Community UMC
Blue River District
Lincoln Lakeview UMC
Blue River District
Lincoln Neighbors UMC
Blue River District
Lincoln New Hope UMC
Prairie Home, NE UMC
Blue River District

Today's Lectionary Text

Isaiah 61:1-4, 11 

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
    because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
    to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
    and release to the prisoners;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
    and the day of vengeance of our God;
    to comfort all who mourn;
to provide for those who mourn in Zion—
    to give them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
    the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.
They shall build up the ancient ruins,
    they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
    the devastations of many generations.

Today's Devotional

The first jade tree came from cousin Willa’s grandfather Clyde. From that one tree came many others. Siblings of the first plant eventually joined what became a succulent forest, glossy leaves shining in the winter sun, a sea of green waiting and hoping to make it through the winter until they can head back outside again. One December, the green gloss was disrupted. closer inspection, I realized the white blur was instead a Christmas miracle – Grandpa Clyde’s jade tree was blooming, a single tiny set of delicate flowers.
This year the jade tree is covered with many blooms, delicate gifts evoking the promise of spring as we approach the winter solstice. The Prophet Isaiah speaks of both blooms and God’s enduring promises in today’s reading, the metaphors of growth settled into scripture alongside assurances that good news will surely come to the oppressed, and healing to the brokenhearted.
Some years, the wilderness path of Advent has seemed abstract to me. 2020 has brought a more immediate and visceral perspective: we must be in a wilderness, because there certainly is no map for life in a pandemic. As we near Christmas, I find myself giving thanks for the gift of surprises in the midst of wilderness times: words of comfort, creative problem-solving, and good news. Just as the jade tree blooms provide a glimpse of a future spring and a reminder of the growth happening even in winter, the prophet Isaiah reminds us that we encounter good news even on our way towards encountering the Good News we find in the Christmas story. Along the way, we have the opportunity each day to share the good news and in doing so participate in the ongoing story of God’s faithfulness that brings forth new life.
-Rev. Stephanie Ahlschwede
St. Paul Benson

Prayer for Reflection

God of the desert blooms, God of the longest night, we give thanks for the journey and your presence with us. Help us to embrace our faith journey that we might hear your voice, see your activity in the world, and have the courage to always move forward in love. 

Visit St. Paul Benson's You Tube page for another of Stephanie's devotions in her snowglobe collection series:



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