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Advent


Destroyed Nativity reminds Woodbine UMC of the 'simplicity of Christmas'

Destroyed Nativity reminds Woodbine UMC of the 'simplicity of Christmas'

12/29/2020
Pastor Regina Harrison was finishing up a long day in the Woodbine First United Methodist Church office when she heard the winter wind howling and sleet hitting the church’s windows. She decided it was time to pack up her things and head home. Little did she know, there was more work to be done that night.   “I grew up in the south and have been through hurricanes, and it literally sounded like a hurricane out there,” Harrison said. “The wind was blowing about 50 miles per hour, and it was well ...

Celebrate Advent and Christmas with Bishop Laurie Haller

Celebrate Advent and Christmas with Bishop Laurie Haller

12/15/2020
Bishop Laurie Haller invites you to join her on a journey to renew our collective practices of prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness as we begin a new Christian year.    In the message for the First Sunday of Advent, Bishop Laurie remarks, “What is it that holds us together as people called United Methodists? It is a set of spiritual practices that center around the membership vows we take.”   During Bishop Laurie’s Vision 2032 Conversations, many of you said that we needed to regain a ...

A Blue Christmas Worship Service for churches to use during the Christmas season

A Blue Christmas Worship Service for churches to use during the Christmas season

12/1/2020
As a gift to our pastors and churches during the Christmas season, we are creating a Blue Christmas Worship Service for use in your online church messages, to share with members, or on your social media channels.   We know that not everyone is experiencing joy and excitement during the Christmas season. Dealing with the isolation of a global pandemic, job losses, COVID-19 infections, deaths of loved ones, divorces, the political and religious divisions all contribute to feelings of pain and ...

Christmas Eve candle light service alternative for all

Christmas Eve candle light service alternative for all

11/30/2020
The West Des Moines UMC's worship committee is inviting you to participate in an at-home candlelight service on Christmas Eve. In addition to their online worship services planned for the evening of Christmas Eve, at 9:00 pm they are asking people to light a candle and step out their front doors, and wish their neighbors Merry Christmas.  They have prepared the attached invitation (word doc.) that people can give to their neighbors ahead of time. This is a great way for us to share Christ with ...

Simpson College offers pre-recorded Lessons and Carols

Simpson College offers pre-recorded Lessons and Carols

11/24/2020
Simpson College, one of our United Methodist-affiliated colleges in Iowa, is pre-recording their annual Lessons and Carols service this year. It is abbreviated from their traditional service of nine lessons and will include three lessons that move thematically from hope/preparing the way (Isaiah 40), to the promise of justice (Mary's song in Luke) and light (John 1). It will include four carols and four choral pieces. The final product will be 45-55 minutes so that it could be used as a worship...

A Pastoral Letter from Bishop Laurie regarding her Worship Directive

A Pastoral Letter from Bishop Laurie regarding her Worship Directive

11/20/2020
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ, Grace and peace in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As we approach Christ the King Sunday, I am reflecting on how this marks the end of the Christian year. Alongside the Thanksgiving holiday, this last Sunday of the liturgical year encourages us to pause and be thankful for the blessings we have known, even in the midst of this most troubling time.  As you know, COVID-19 infections remain high in Iowa. In Governor Reynolds’ daily briefing ...

Jesus comes to you tonight

Jesus comes to you tonight

12/24/2019
Scripture: After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for ...

Gratitude and Joy

Gratitude and Joy

12/23/2019
Scripture: Mary said, “With all my heart I glorify the Lord!    In the depths of who I am I rejoice in God my savior. He has looked with favor on the low status of his servant. Look! From now on, everyone will consider me highly favored      because the mighty one has done great things for me. Holy is his name. He shows mercy to everyone,     from one generation to the next,     who honors him as God. He has shown strength with his arm. He has scattered those with arrogant thoughts and proud ...

He names him Jesus

He names him Jesus

12/22/2019
Scripture: This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home ...

A Winter Solstice for the soul who grieves

A Winter Solstice for the soul who grieves

12/21/2019
Scripture: The one who comes from above is above all things. The one who is from the earth belongs to the earth and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all things.  He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. Whoever accepts his testimony confirms that God is true.—John 3:31-33 Today marks the advent of the Winter Solstice.  It also marks the shortest day of the year.  The day during which we will witness the least light.  Even ...

Abba, Father!

Abba, Father!

12/20/2019
Scripture: I’m saying that as long as the heirs are minors, they are no different from slaves, though they really are the owners of everything. However, they are placed under trustees and guardians until the date set by the parents. In the same way, when we were minors, we were also enslaved by this world’s system. But when the fulfillment of the time came, God sent his Son, born through a woman, and born under the Law. This was so he could redeem those under the Law so that we could be adopted....

We are God's children through faith

We are God's children through faith

12/19/2019
Scripture: Before faith came, we were guarded under the Law, locked up until faith that was coming would be revealed, so that the Law became our custodian until Christ so that we might be made righteous by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a custodian. You are all God’s children through faith in Christ Jesus. All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; nor is there male and...

The direction of hope

The direction of hope

12/18/2019
Scripture: Psalm 42; Zechariah 8:1-17; Matthew 8:14-17, 28-34 Do you all remember the jingle from the Doublemint Chewing Gum commercial? "Double your pleasure? Double your fun. Doublemint, Doublemint chewing gum!” Such is the place my mind went as I prepared for today’s devotion.  Matthew’s gospel lifts, "When he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demoniacs coming out of the tombs met him.” (Mt. 8:28)  Matthew’s gospel is characterized by “doublets”…meaning the ...

The river in Winter

The river in Winter

12/17/2019
Scripture: In a vision Ezekiel was transported to the En-eglaim river which flowed from the Throne of God and he witnessed life in all its abundance as the river streamed from that place.  —Ezekiel 47:6-12 Crystal Lake is a community in the high reach of the North Central District. Once this fall I drove through it on a beautiful day. There were weekenders settled by fires at the campground while hikers circled the lake. Then I noticed a sign which told me “this place is the headwaters of the ...

The dark night of the soul

The dark night of the soul

12/16/2019
Scripture: Just like a deer that craves streams of water,     my whole being[c] craves you, God. My whole being thirsts for God, for the living God.     When will I come and see God’s face?[d] My tears have been my food both day and night,     as people constantly questioned me,     “Where’s your God now?” But I remember these things as I bare my soul:     how I made my way to the mighty one’s abode,     to God’s own house,         with joyous shouts and thanksgiving songs—         a huge crowd ...

The gifts of God

The gifts of God

12/15/2019
Scripture:  and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,     for he has been mindful     of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed,     for the Mighty One has done great things for me—     holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him,     from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;     he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones     but has lifted up...

Second-guessing cousin

Second-guessing cousin

12/14/2019
December 14th Advent Devotion Scripture: In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene—during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As it is written in ...

A Christmas sign

A Christmas sign

12/13/2019
December 13th Advent Devotion Scripture: The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of graceand truth.—John 1:14 Years ago a sign was seen hanging in a store window during the Christmas season. It captures the heart-felt sentiments of many people even today. The original message stated, “Let’s make this the best Christmas ever.” And who among us has not thought the same thing at one time or ...

Love the person front of you

Love the person front of you

12/12/2019
December 12th Advent Devotion Scripture: Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles. Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ...

Purposeful, meaningful, truthful words

Purposeful, meaningful, truthful words

12/11/2019
December 11th Advent Devotion Scripture: Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for ...

Even the worm turns

Even the worm turns

12/10/2019
December 10th Advent Devotion Scripture: Though you are a lowly worm, O Jacob, don’t be afraid, people of Israel, for I will help you. I am the LORD, your Redeemer. I am the Holy One of Israel. —Is. 41:14 Worms have been a big part of my life; from childhood through grand-parenting. I am a fisherman, and fishermen need worms. As a boy I loved fishing and now I’ve passed the torch to my grandchildren. When a boy is learning to fish they learn about worms. They find there’s nothing like a bobber,...

Outdoing our expectations

Outdoing our expectations

12/9/2019
December 9th Advent Devotion Scripture:  The king rejoices in your strength, Lord.     How great is his joy in the victories you give! You have granted him his heart’s desire     and have not withheld the request of his lips. You came to greet him with rich blessings     and placed a crown of pure gold on his head. He asked you for life, and you gave it to him—     length of days, for ever and ever. Through the victories you gave, his glory is great;     you have bestowed on him splendor and ...

King of Kings

King of Kings

12/8/2019
December 8th Advent Devotion Scripture: John 1:1-14; Col. 1:15-17; Ph. 2:1-11 Hillsong Worship’s new track King of Kings follows Scripture’s Messianic thread from Old Testament prophecy to the Pentecostal birth of the Church. The chorus says, “Praise the Father/Praise the Son/Praise the Spirit/Three in One/God of glory, Majesty/Praise forever to the King of Kings.” One theme that’s in these texts is the Lordship/Kingship of Jesus Christ. He is all-powerful, compassionate, wrathful, saving, ...

The heart of God

The heart of God

12/7/2019
December 7th Advent Devotion Scripture:  Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her      that her hard service has been completed,      that her sin has been paid for,      that she has received from the Lord’s hand           double for all her sins. A voice of one calling:       “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord;      Make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up,      every mountain and hill ...

Longing for the day

Longing for the day

12/6/2019
December 6th Advent Devotion Scripture:  Give the leaders of the nations your justice, O God. May they lead the people with truth and the poor with compassion. — Psalm 72:1-2 * A Litany: Longing for the Day Our hearts long for the “not yet”:    the chasm between the present and the promise.    the day when righteousness will reign and justice prevail. Hear our prayers, O Lord.   Our hearts long for right relationships:    the time when peace is realized and     compassion will be the norm. Hear...

Enough and spare

Enough and spare

12/5/2019
December 5th Advent Devotion Scripture:  God, give your judgments to the king.     Give your righteousness to the king’s son. Let him judge your people with righteousness     and your poor ones with justice. Let the mountains bring peace to the people;     let the hills bring righteousness. Let the king bring justice to people who are poor;     let him save the children of those who are needy,         but let him crush oppressors! Let the king live as long as the sun,     as long as the moon,  ...

Help

Help

12/4/2019
December 4th Advent Devotion Scripture:  If the Lord hadn’t been for us—     let Israel now repeat!— if the Lord hadn’t been for us,         when those people attacked us then they would have swallowed us up whole         with their rage burning against us! Then the waters would have drowned us;     the torrent would have come over our necks; then the raging waters would have come over our necks! Bless the Lord     because he didn’t hand us over     like food for our enemies’ teeth! We escaped ...

God's signature of salvation

God's signature of salvation

12/3/2019
December 3rd Advent Devotion Scripture: I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. — Genesis 9:13 When my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer, she was requested to participate in the Relay For Life after her mastectomy. She walked with the cancer survivors. I was her caregiver, so I walked with the caregivers. The following year, I was assigned to do the invocation. Prior to this event, I have been preaching about rainbows are the ...

Deep peace

Deep peace

12/2/2019
December 2nd Advent Devotion Scripture: For if we have been united with [Christ] in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. — Romans 6:5 Christmas can be a difficult time for funerals, and for living in grief. All the focus is on the new Baby Jesus, new Life in Christ, new Year - 2020! For those who are remembering parents, children, spouses, other loved ones, who won’t be at your Christmas celebrations this year, may God grant you peace and comfort. ...

Strategic retreat

Strategic retreat

12/1/2019
December 1st Advent Devotion Scripture: Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. — Matthew 24:42-44 Holiday parties, shopping, caroling, dinners, baking, and decorating…oh so much to do. In all that busyness it is easy for me to forget the point of advent—to prepare my heart, mind, ...