2011 Archives | Devotions | Goshen College

December 25, 2011

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By Goshen College President Jim Brenneman
SCRIPTURE: Luke 2:22-40 (NRSV)
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DEVOTIONAL:
Christmas day! Presents unwrapped, Christmas dinner eaten. Grandpa snores silently on the easy-boy. Grandma fusses over the newest grandbaby. Aunts put puzzles together, while uncles watch reruns on TV. Nieces and nephews, brothers and sisters, cousins all, go bowling in the basement on the Wii. Awesome are the experiences and deeds we expect and take for granted at Christmastide. The coming together of generations, whether in our families of origin or in the church or with friends and others we love, is one of the priceless gifts of Christmas!
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December 24, 2011

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By Ross Peterson-Veatch, director of curriculum, teaching and faculty development
SCRIPTURE: Luke 2: 1-14, 15-20 (NRSV)
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DEVOTIONAL:
This advent season, my regular activities of work and life have had a little more of a frenetic feeling underneath them than usual. As my kids get older, I find our family having to craft tight plans for all our days to get everyone to their rehearsals and Christmas parties. Weekends have been taken up with preparations for and performances in pageants, festivals and music recitals, and we’ve even been caroling with our Sunday school groups. We want all this activity to spread joy and create powerful memories of the season that remind us every year of God’s place in our lives.
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December 23, 2011

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By Mara Weaver, a junior history major from Bloomington, Ill.
SCRIPTURE: Galations 4:4-7 (NRSV)
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DEVOTIONAL:
As I sat down to reflect on today’s Scripture passage, I found myself steeped in the stress of the ending semester, a time when no one seems to be able find time to get all of his or her work done, let alone stop to breathe. In the hustle and bustle of school, I compartmentalize my life, convincing myself that if I only get through each of the parts, I will survive the whole of my busy existence. But in reality this separation will not help me come out the other side in one piece, and the comfort of to-do lists can only go so far.
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December 22, 2011

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By Annika Miller, a junior elementary education major from Broadway, Va.
SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 61:10-62:3 (NRSV)
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DEVOTIONAL:
In a few days, we will celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Isaiah reminds us to loudly praise God in all we do because it’s only through God’s glory that Jesus was sent into the world as our salvation.
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December 21, 2011

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By Carina Zehr, a sophomore environmental science and sociology major from Foosland, Ill.
SCRIPTURE: SCRIPTURE: Psalm 148 (NRSV)
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DEVOTIONAL:
As I read this passage, considering my busy semester, I asked myself, “At what times have I truly praised God lately?” I seem to be more thankful to God than anything. Yet, the times that I have praised have been wonderful and rejuvenating.

I praised God in community when I sang in the Homecoming hymn sing. As I sang in harmony with an inter-generational group of people, I felt an unexplainable joy. I had this same feeling of joy and wonder as I was walking through the woods and I saw leaves falling off of a massive oak. The leaves seemed to fall with perfect timing, and I knew that because of the complexities of nature never again would I see that exact same sight. I then praised God.
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December 20, 2011

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By Ruth Hochstetler, Good Library day circulation supervisor
SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 9:2-7 (NRSV)
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DEVOTIONAL:
I have sisters-in-law who are elementary school teachers. With the start of each new school year, our family is entertained by the unusual or ridiculous names of children in their classrooms. A familiar name gets an update with a unique spelling, or a child is saddled with a long title, or, as the present trend seems to be, children are named for an object. Listed under celebrity baby names, I found Apple, Banjo, Ocean and Moon Unit.
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December 19, 2011

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By Justin Yoder, a junior music and interdisciplinary double major from Perkasie, Pa.

THIS WEEK’S THEME: His glory is above earth and heaven

DEVOTIONAL

“I wonder if God comes to the edge of heaven each Advent
and flings the Star into the December sky,
laughing with joy as it lights the darkness of the earth;
and the angels, hearing the laughter of God,
begin to congregate in some celestial chamber
to practice their alleluias.”

So muses writer Ann Weems in the opening lines of her advent poem, “This Year.” I love the striking image the poet’s words evoke: a brilliant star startles the dark sky as divine laughter sets all the angels abuzz; God’s glory radiates throughout heaven and earth.

Our Scripture texts this week bear witness to this radiant glory of the God who saves and redeems, who comes to dwell among us, whose name is praised from all corners of the earth. But these verses also tell of longing and anticipation. The people who walked in darkness have yearned for the great light. The gray-haired Simeon and Anna have waited all their lives for the Child to be born. As the glorious light of Christ’s nativity shines brightly this week, we hear in these verses the stubborn hope of those still waiting under starless skies.

Many of us know all too well what it is to walk in darkness. After a sudden decline into the final stages of dementia, my 84-year-old grandfather passed away early last month. His final weeks brought dark moments, as spells of delirium thrust him into frightening realms of his imagination. But there was something else in those last days. Not usually one to boldly announce his quiet faith, Grandpa could be heard reciting hymns and offering spontaneous prayers of thanksgiving, praise and hope. In the week leading up to his departure, he spoke of a new day dawning on earth that would bring healing to racial conflict, mercy to immigrants, release for prisoners and medicine for the sick. Grandpa’s last days glowed with the light of God’s glory anticipated and revealed, a light shining brightly in heaven and on earth.

In her poem, Ann Weems imagines the angels’ response to the brilliant display of God’s glory each Advent. Perhaps when the star appears, she concludes, perhaps the angels all come.

“Perhaps they come,
winging through the winds of time
full of expectancy
full of hope
that this year
perhaps this year
(perhaps)
the earth will fall to its knees
in a whisper of ‘Peace.’”

With Simeon and Anna and all souls who have walked in darkness, on earth and in heaven, we too lift our hopeful eyes to behold the star. May it be so.

December 16, 2011

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Jessica Gotwals, a junior nursing major from Telford, Pa.
SCRIPTURE: Luke 1:26-38 (NRSV)
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DEVOTIONAL:
I can’t imagine what Mary would have felt when she received Gabriel’s message that she would be the mother of Jesus. Mary found herself in circumstances she could not explain. The social ramifications of her pregnancy were daunting, and she must have experienced moments of fear and uncertainty. Part of me likes to think that Mary didn’t accept Gabriel’s message as easily as Luke portrays — that she tried to rationalize with Gabriel, or was even angry with God.
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December 15, 2011

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By Isaac Yoder-Schrock, a senior physics major from Donnellson, Iowa
SCRIPTURE: Romans 16: 25-27 (NRSV)
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DEVOTIONAL:
Those of us who live the North American lifestyle tend to live planned, non-mysterious and time-centric lives. Everything that matters can be easily explained and whatever cannot may be ignored or neglected. Often this even extends into our faith.

It is in the proclamation of Jesus Christ and his message in which Christians hold steadfast and find eternal salvation. Paul expresses this as the mystery that God revealed to the Gentiles, to bring about obedient faith in the one true God.
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December 14, 2011

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By Sophia Metzger, assistant director of multicultural affairs
SCRIPTURE: 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16 (NRSV)
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DEVOTIONAL:
This is an exciting time. Waiting in joyful hope, preparing for the coming of Jesus and all the rituals, meals and gatherings that come with it.

I find it easy to become engrossed with activities during the holiday season, trying to ensure that everything is just right. My desire to make the holiday time special and help take the burden of busyness of others begins to take over. If I’m not careful, I become a doing-machine with grandiose ideas working at a pace that is not sustainable.
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