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There Is Still Good News

As long as I can remember, one of the Christmas messages from churches is that it’s a good thing Jesus came to “save us all from Satan’s power,” as one carol puts it. There are pious messages, our greed versus other’s needs. We hear that Jesus came for and among “the least, the last, and the lost.” Of course, we’re supposed to pay attention to people’s pain and suffering. It’s important for churches to recognize and address gaps in justice, equity, and compassion. But sometimes, in an effort to stress the importance of the birth of Jesus, I and other preachers can lapse into a finger pointing account of why the world needs Jesus so much now. You’d almost believe that the world has been getti

FOCUS Advent 2018 Devotional: Week Four: Love

December 23rd, 2018 Luke 1:39-55 Belinda Quaye, FOCUS Volunteer Coordinator Luke 1: 39-55 is Mary’s Song of Praise to God, or also known as the Magnificat. It spills out of her heart after her relative, Elizabeth, acknowledged her blessedness as the mother of Jesus. We can read Mary’s song and say, “Oh, what lovely thoughts!” But do we seriously consider what she said? When we do, we realize that the Magnificat can be unsettling. Why? Because it calls us to devote ourselves to being like Mary, a willing and humble servant of God. It reminds us that we are called to be God’s servants in the world, serving others as a reflection and extension of God’s Kingdom. In the days before Christmas, we

FOCUS Advent 2018 Devotional: Week Three - Joy

December 16th, 2018 Luke 3: 7-18 Amy Jane Steiner, Trinity United Methodist Church Love and kindness; caring for our neighbors, community, and beyond, to all we can reach, doing as much as in in our power and ability. This is what I hear as I read and read again this passage. We need to hear this message repeatedly. We are always looking for protection from “the wrath to come,” however it manifests, as illustrated, through the people’s repeated questions and John’s calming and realistic responses. The provocations and threats are disquieting to me in our current political climate, as they and other passages, can and have been taken out of context to be used to provoke fear and violence. I be

Blue Christmas Worship

December 21 is the winter solstice in 2018. Due to the earth’s tilt, the sun is at its most southern point in the sky in the United States. It also means that on that day there is less sunlight and more darkness than any other day of the year. All the outdoor holiday lights people put up seek to offset the darkness. Similarly, people can face personal darkness in the midst of what is meant to be a joyous, bright time of year. For some it might be the stress of holiday schedules and expectations. Or maybe they received a diagnosis that is raising questions about the quality of their health going forward. With Christmas and New Year centered on family get-togethers, it can be a tough time for

FOCUS Advent 2018 Devotional: Week Two - Peace

December 9th, 2018 Luke 1:68-79 Kathleen Moore, Emmanuel Baptist Zechariah has his voice back after nine long months of being unable to speak. He uses it to praise the God of Israel, who is at that moment raising up salvation — Justice and Righteousness— among his people. There will be liberation from their oppression. Zechariah's own son, John the Baptist, will be someone who will call people to righteous living, and he will point to Jesus as Savior. In September, I met a woman in Flint who is a Water Warrior, whose voice had been reduced to a whisper due to nerve damage from toxic effects of the water in that city. As we — those of us who had come to listen, and those who had come to speak

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