Advent Devotions Archives » Page 5 of 13 | Devotions | Goshen College

December 3, 2012

By Jeffrey Moore, a senior Bible and religion and communication double major from Ashland, Ohio
THIS WEEK’S THEME: Refined by Fire

In the epically stereotypical quest to save the world, the hero always learns from a master. At some point the master says to the young hero: “You have learned well, now you are ready to forge your own sword.” Then comes the montage of blacksmith work: melting, hammering, melting and hammering again until the metal is just right. “You must remove every impurity so that it has no weakness,” says the master. The refinement process is a test in patience and evidence of the hero’s progression towards a greater purpose.

For Christians, the refinement process is a metaphor for the kinds of changes God wants for disciples. There is a temptation to define Christianity solely on what we believe – on our theology, or on what we do – our praxis. But disciples of Christ also care about who and what we are – our character or identity. Being a Christian means letting God shape us into a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). It means undergoing a difficult process of refinement in which our impurities are slowly melted away and God molds something simple into something unique. It is a test in patience and evidence of our development as God’s creation.

Refinement is not comfortable for the metal, nor is it easy for the metal worker, but it is necessary. In the end, the hero and the metal undergo a similar process. They are each refined through hard work, commitment and patience.

Take some time this week to think about how Christ might be trying to refine you into something unique: an instrument for a greater purpose.

November 30, 2012

By Liliana Ballge, financial aid assistant director
SCRIPTURE: Luke 21:25-36 (NRSV)

With so much turmoil in our world, sometimes we may question: “God where are you or why is this happening?” Hurricanes, earthquakes, wild fires and many other natural disasters — in addition to wars and acts of violence — can at times cause us to run weary and feel overwhelmed in our walk with God.

However, in times of distress and uncertainty, Jesus instructs us to “stand up and raise our heads.” Both literally and figuratively, I believe that Jesus also faced times of distress and uncertainty during his life and ministry to the point that at the Garden of Gethsemane he models the prayer of “not my will, but your will be done” and concludes his life by fulfilling the mission he was sent here to do.

He goes on to say that the life that we are currently living is only temporal; however, that we can stand on his word for truth as his “words will not pass away.” I urge you to know his word, study it and live it, for in a world that is constantly changing, you will find confidence, strength, wisdom and guidance through the Holy Scriptures.

Finally, he closes with a command to “be alert at all times, praying that you may have strength.” Prayer is simply communion with God. In this Advent season, recommit yourself to renewing your walk with God by standing up, raising your head towards him, spending time knowing his word and praying at all times that you may receive strength.

SCRIPTURE: Luke 21:25-36 (NRSV)
‘There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in a cloud” with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.’
Then he told them a parable: ‘Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
‘Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.’
November 29, 2012

By Grace Boehm, a sophomore history major from Merriam, Kan.
SCRIPTURE: 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13 (NRSV)

“May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you.”

As we come away from the Thanksgiving holiday and transition into the Advent season, this verse in today’s Scripture reminds us to thank God for what joy we are feeling and relish the love that is in our lives.

I think sometimes we can get distracted by the ups and downs of daily life and forget to pass on the love. If we remember the abounding love, the peace like a river, the strength in our hearts, we can make it past the daily qualms and struggles that come with force into our lives. Seek out those struggles and do away with them, for your heart will be strengthened, which will provide you with the ability to give and receive the love that is out there for the taking.

Additionally, in this time of family, friendship and community, it is important for us to remember that the abounding love that we are feeling should be passed on to those that are not as fortunate. Paul writes this letter to the Thessalonian congregation, supporting them through prayer and encouragement. I invite you to do the same in your congregation or your community today.

SCRIPTURE: 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13 (NRSV)
How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy that we feel before our God because of you? Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you face to face and restore whatever is lacking in your faith.
Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you. And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
November 28, 2012

By Grace Parker, a senior English and Bible and religion double major from Wichita, Kan.
SCRIPTURE: Psalm 25:1-10 (NRSV)

The psalm for today tells us to wait. Now I don’t know if it’s because I am young and graduating soon from college, or simply human, but I am ready for the next things in my life to happen. I am ready to have an answer to the ever-recurring question, “What are you doing next year?” I am ready to know where I will live or what I will do or who I will meet in my ever-looming future.

I am tired of waiting.

It should be no surprise then that today’s psalm is probably my most-read part of the Bible. In the first line — “To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul” — I enter anew into a relationship with God. To God, I lift up my soul. The psalmist is clearly aware of the multiple paths that present themselves to any person. In whatever way it appears in your life, God’s path already has a direction and destination for you: steadfast love and faithfulness.

In this time of Advent, waiting is not only a virtue, but the only action we can do. With the psalmist, I encourage you to wait all day long for the Lord who sustains us in our indecision, anxiety and weariness in waiting.

SCRIPTURE: Psalm 25:1-10 (NRSV)
Of David.
To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in you I trust;
do not let me be put to shame;
do not let my enemies exult over me.
Do not let those who wait for you be put to shame;
let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.
Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth, and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all day long.
Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord, and of your steadfast love,
for they have been from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
according to your steadfast love remember me,
for your goodness’ sake, O Lord!
Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way.
All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness,
for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.
November 27, 2012

SCRIPTURE: Jeremiah 33:14-16 (NRSV)

In the dead of winter, Violet Cemetery, near Goshen College, is one of the more beautiful places to go for a walk. All is quiet, so quiet, you can hear the icicles creak, glassy pins dropping to the snow-white comforter below. The billowy quilt spreads out across the ground, around every trunk, flung carelessly over gray tombstones as if to warm every grave. Only one color imposes itself against the backdrop of this study in contrasts. Small fir trees dot green across the white quilted ground like so many comforter knots, reminders that Mother root is still very much alive, gently tossing and turning beneath her frozen covers.

Should it be any wonder that imaginative human beings for thousands of years have seen something profoundly meaningful in trees that can stay green in the dead of winter and be chopped down and grow new shoots?

Jeremiah uses the lesson of a tree branch to teach an early Advent lesson. He tells of a future time when the stump of Judah, cut down and carted into Exile, would sprout again as a “righteous branch.” The New Testament writers saw this promised branch to be none other than Jesus Christ, Tree of Life, cut down, buried in a wintery grave, aborning life three days later.

When we enter the bleak mid-winters of our lives, let us look to the Tannenbaum, the fir tree, gracing the snow-covered gravestone and know that resurrection life is near at hand. In this season of Advent, at the height of the winter solstice, even as the days are shorter and the nights are colder, may we behold in every evergreen tree, a Christmas tree, our advent sign of hope.

SCRIPTURE: Jeremiah 33:14-16 (NRSV)
The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfil the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’
November 26, 2012

By Bob Yoder, campus pastor

Welcome to Goshen College’s on-line devotionals for the 2012 Advent season! Our theme this year, taken from the Mennonite Church USA worship resources found in Leader magazine, is “Flood of Mercy.” Every Monday an author will introduce the sub-theme, whereas the following weekdays authors will reflect on a specific Scripture passage. The theme for this week, Advent 1, is “Wading in Faithfulness.”


In its life-giving power and in its sometimes frightening clean sweep, the image of a flood fits well with this season, which at the same time calls us to repentance and invites us into new life. If we’re honest, we have to admit that we sometimes hang on to things that don’t matter or last, things that may even get in the way of what God wants to do in us, in our communities and in our world — things we may need to let go. Yet God’s work is not about wiping things out simply to wipe them out. Even painful and difficult clearing away is for the sake of something bigger and truer, and it is always grounded in God’s overwhelming mercy, in God’s care and concern for all that God has made.

The Scriptures for this Advent season include many water images. In the Bible, water usually means two opposite things: destruction and life. Desert-dwellers realized how crucial water was for survival. No doubt that the “righteous branch” announced by the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 33:15) won’t live long without regular watering. Yet while water is absolutely necessary for life, it can also be scary. The panic is there where “the roaring of the sea and the waves” causes people to “faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world” (Luke 21:25-26). We can imagine the scene; we’ve seen videos of floods and tsunamis carrying away everything in their wake — or we’ve lived through this kind of destruction ourselves.

Sometimes I struggle to keep my head above waters in the “flood of life.” I wish I could be merely wading in knee-deep stuff, but instead, it feels as if the only visible part of me is the brown hair on top of my head. Where is the snorkel?!?! Oxygen tank anyone?!? But then I hear a voice saying, “Bob, put your feet down and stand up. Take my yoke/lifesaver…”


O God, help me wade in your faithfulness to me. Allow me to consider how you both comfort and disturb so that I may be more faithful to you.

November 5, 2012

As churches prepare for the celebration of Christ’s birth, Goshen College offers an online spiritual resource to help believers make time and space in their hearts and minds to welcome Advent, even in the midst of busy schedules and hectic lives.

Beginning Nov. 26 (the Monday prior to the first Sunday in Advent) and culminating on Christmas Day, Goshen College students, faculty and staff will provide weekday reflections based on lectionary Scripture passages. Many writers will reflect on the Advent theme: “Flood of Mercy,” taken from Mennonite Church USA worship resources.

The devotions will reflect honestly on the Scriptures and offer words of assurances of faith. The spiritual offerings will include poetry, personal stories, reflections and prayers, all intended to more closely examine the call to change and follow Christ.

Since 2001, Goshen College annually celebrates special seasons of the church calendar, particularly Advent and Lent, with online devotions.

December 25, 2011


By Goshen College President Jim Brenneman
SCRIPTURE: Luke 2:22-40 (NRSV)
Scroll down for complete Scripture.

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!

December 24, 2011


By Ross Peterson-Veatch, director of curriculum, teaching and faculty development
SCRIPTURE: Luke 2: 1-14, 15-20 (NRSV)
Scroll down for complete Scripture.

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.

December 23, 2011


By Mara Weaver, a junior history major from Bloomington, Ill.
SCRIPTURE: Galations 4:4-7 (NRSV)
Scroll down for complete Scripture.

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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