December 25th, 2022
Welcome to the Sunday Devotion. It was so beautiful to wake up this morning and realize, “It’s Christmas!” My head is full of the images from last night’s Christmas Eve candlelight service and the live nativity performed by the children. We hadn’t been together for the Christmas Eve service since Dec 2019, so it was very special to be together again and hear the story of Jesus’ birth through scripture and song and then ending the service with our traditional handheld candles whose flames originated with the Christ Candle of the Advent Wreath. May this special season of Christmas bring to mind the great love God has for you, and may we all strive to share love, hope, joy and peace daily as we find ways to reach out to all people with a generous heart.
“O come to us, abide with us, Our Lord, Immanuel”
Today the Chesapeake Bay Mission Center offers a pre-recorded Christmas Day worship service. Friends throughout the Mission Center have offered their ministry in this worship video. Link for this video is below.
Welcome to the Sunday Devotion. We are so close to Christmas and it is exciting. One of the things I love most are the immense changes in all that we see and hear. It means something’s different. I love the Christmas carols. We are taken back in time to hear the story of Jesus’ birth and all the hope and love it promised. The words are timeless, however, because the hope and promise are still so important today.
One song, “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and the story about its origin really speaks to me. Phillips Brooks, a young preacher and staunch abolitionist, found himself exhausted from years of the Civil War and longed for rest, so he went to the Holy Land, hoping to find peace.
There, he visited the small town of Bethlehem. He found a silent spot and looked over the land, bathed in the darkness of night, and the lines jumped to his mind: “O Little Town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie. Above thy deep and dreamless sleep, a silent star goes by.”
There is so much to experience as we read through the verses. The first two lines of the third verse is not well known but comes with a special message that Jesus, God’s amazing gift to us, entered the world with no pomp and circumstance, but in the quiet stealth of night.
How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His heaven.
Someone recently suggested I go to the last verse of the carols, because there we often find a profound message so needed by today’s world. The fourth and final verse reads:
O Holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell;
O come to us; abide in us, Our Lord, Immanuel.
What better words are there for us to pray?
O come to us; abide in us, Our Lord Immanuel.
Welcome to the Sunday Devotion. I love finding inspirational stories and today I want to share the following story. This week the Advent theme is Joy. What better way to add joy to someone’s life than do something unexpected for them. Give of yourself. Be generous. You can make a difference.
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A man was asked to paint a boat. He brought his paint and brushes and began to paint the boat a bright red, as the owner asked him.
While painting, he noticed a small hole in the hull, and quietly repaired it.
When he finished painting, he received his money and left.
The next day, the owner of the boat came to the painter and presented him with a nice check, much higher than the payment for painting.
The painter was surprised and said “You've already paid me for painting the boat Sir!”
“But this is not for the paint job. It's for repairing the hole in the boat.”
“Ah! But it was such a small service... certainly it's not worth paying me such a high amount for something so insignificant.”
“My dear friend, you do not understand. Let me tell you what happened:
“When I asked you to paint the boat, I forgot to mention the hole.
“When the boat dried, my kids took the boat and went on a fishing trip.
“They did not know that there was a hole. I was not at home at that time.
“When I returned and noticed they had taken the boat, I was desperate because I remembered that the boat had a hole.
“Imagine my relief and joy when I saw them returning from fishing.
“Then, I examined the boat and found that you had repaired the hole!
“You see, now, what you did? You saved the life of my children! I do not have enough money to pay your 'small' good deed.”
So no matter who, when or how, continue to help, sustain, wipe tears, listen attentively, and carefully repair all the 'leaks' you find. You never know when one is in need of us, or when God holds a pleasant surprise for us to be helpful and important to someone.
Along the way, you may have repaired numerous 'boat holes' for several people without realizing how many lives you've save. ❤️
Make a difference....be the best you...
Welcome to the Sunday Devotion. In this second week of Advent, we light the candle of Hope. Advent is a time of preparation as we look forward to celebrating the birth of Jesus. As we move toward Christmas, we must take advantage of this time of preparation. Otherwise, Christmas Day will come and go in a flurry of wrapping paper, cards, and cookies. We could miss the real reason and all the peace and hope that we experience on the path. It is the power of hope that moves us forward.
In Romans 15:4, Paul talks about how the scriptures “were written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.” When I read that statement I decided to query the internet for scriptures offering hope and encouragement.
In Isaiah 41:10 the scriptures say, "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
In Philippians 4:6-7 we read, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
I personally find strength and hope as I read these passages. In Joshua 1:9 it says, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."
I worry about too many things and sometimes I get discouraged. But when I read even these few lines of scripture, I feel a sense of peace and hope. I am reminded that God is always with me. When I close my eyes at night, I try to look back at my day and be thankful. So many times, I have witnessed God’s hand in my life and felt blessed. Intentionally reminding myself of specific times that God has eased my fears and allowed me to be hopeful, even confident, about future outcomes, strengthens me and bolsters my faith.
I pray you find a bit of hope every day that speaks of God’s presence. And as you find the presence of God, remember the hope that Jesus represented. For generations, people spoke of and longed for the Messiah, God’s son, to come among us. We are fortunate that we know the Messiah did come. We must use this very short time to once again prepare the manger. Prepare it with love, peace and hope.
author: Bonnie Barber
Various authors throughout the Chesapeake Bay Mission Center and beyond provide these thought-provoking weekly devotions.