Advent Devotions Archives » Page 6 of 13 | Devotions | Goshen College

December 22, 2011


By Annika Miller, a junior elementary education major from Broadway, Va.
SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 61:10-62:3 (NRSV)
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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.

December 21, 2011


By Carina Zehr, a sophomore environmental science and sociology major from Foosland, Ill.
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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.

December 20, 2011


By Ruth Hochstetler, Good Library day circulation supervisor
SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 9:2-7 (NRSV)
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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.

December 19, 2011


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

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


“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
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


Jessica Gotwals, a junior nursing major from Telford, Pa.
SCRIPTURE: Luke 1:26-38 (NRSV)
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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.

December 15, 2011


By Isaac Yoder-Schrock, a senior physics major from Donnellson, Iowa
SCRIPTURE: Romans 16: 25-27 (NRSV)
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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.

December 14, 2011


By Sophia Metzger, assistant director of multicultural affairs
SCRIPTURE: 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16 (NRSV)
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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.

December 13, 2011


By Jan Emswiler, assistant professor of nursing
SCRIPTURE: Psalm 89: 1-4, 19-26 (NRSV)
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In these verses, I am struck once again by how God works with and through ordinary people, and how these important stories must be told and retold. In doing so, the retelling becomes a form of praise and adoration of the Creator and Sustainer.

December 12, 2011


By Sara Klassen, a sophomore psychology major from Goshen, Ind.
THIS WEEK’S THEME: The revelation of the mystery

Questions: the mark of human nature. We want to know why things happen and how things work. We want to predict the future and explain the past. Google provides a world of information at our fingertips. Psychology gives the brain a way to understand itself. Technology does what was inconceivable but minutes ago.

December 9, 2011


By Heather Goertzen, resident director
SCRIPTURE: John 1:6-8, 19-28 (NRSV)
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It was just over a year ago that I was introduced to the Mennonite game. I grew up a “Coaster,” a funny and indecipherable surname, unindicative of its Polish roots, and married a Mennonite in a far away land where “Goertzen” was as unique (strange) as the gringos who bore it. It was only after returning to the U.S. (and a couple specific Menno-lands) that I learned there were more of us out there and that lines could be traced. I also learned that in the Mennonite game, Coaster got me nowhere.

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