December 25, 2012

The tide pools of our lives

By Gwen Gustafson-Zook, minister of worship
SCRIPTURE: Luke 2:1-20 (NRSV)

Having grown up in the Pacific Northwest, I have stored up wonder-filled memories standing over tide pools watching the tide come in. The wonder of this cyclical renewal is heightened by the manner in which the water rushes powerfully into every nook and cranny, filling the pools, reviving the sea urchins, anemones, mussels, sea cucumbers and the star fish that have been exposed to the salty sea air while the tide has been out. In very short order, that which has been exposed to the harsh elements is flooded with life-giving water and nutrients from the sea. Day in and day out, year after year, the powerful, yet merciful, tidal flood restores and revives the life of the tide pools. It is a pure, glorious gift, built into the ebb and flow of tidal life.

On this day, December 25, as we welcome the coming of Christ to our world once again, we are invited to pause and pay attention. We stand before the tide pools of our lives, aware of the places that are exposed to harsh elements; mindful of the beauty that makes up the complex habitat of our beings and of our communities; conscious of the struggles inherent in our world – struggles to survive and thrive and live in symbiotic relationship with all around us. And in one glorious, strong current, we receive the refreshing, reviving, life-giving flood of God’s mercy flooding every nook and cranny of our lives, gracing us with hope that we are still loved by God, sustained by God and made whole by God. And we join with the heavenly hosts and shout: Glory to God in the highest. And on earth — in every tide pool, in every nook and cranny — peace. Amen.


Thank you for joining us through this season of Advent. We are honored that you have taken the time to hear our stories and share in our reflections. Unless you unsubscribe, Goshen College’s Lenten devotions — beginning on Ash Wednesday, February 13, 2013 — will automatically come to you. Until then, may the merciful presence of Christ fill every nook and cranny of your life!

SCRIPTURE: Luke 2:1-20 (NRSV)
In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.



Comments (20)

  1. It was true joy receiving and meditating
    on the matter sent by Goshen College
    Please convey my sincere thanks to
    the generous contributors.
    Blessings upon you all for the New Year 2013.
    Mervyn Caraiet

    Mervyn Carapiet December 25, 2012 |
  2. Merry Christmas and May God’s peaceful and joyful Grace speak through in the days and months ahead!
    Thanks again for these daily reflections.
    The symbolism of the tidal pools and its application to our spiritual journeys was touching, creative, thoughtful and memorable.

    Carl Riedy December 25, 2012 |
  3. Thank you to the many contributers to the devotions. They are wonderful surprises at the beginning of Advent and Lent! They accompany me through each season with new thoughts and inspiration!
    Merry Christmas to ALL!

    Roger Ellis December 25, 2012 |
  4. Today’s devotional was an appropriate culmination of the Advent series. It was wonderful–full of the wonder of Jesus’s coming into the world, filling us with wonder in much the same way as those tide pools. Thank you for the series, and thank you for today’s thoughts. God bless Goshen College.

    Lawrence Webb December 25, 2012 |
  5. Gwen, thank you for conveying the life-giving effects of floods.

    Ruth H December 25, 2012 |
  6. I memorized this scripture as a child (many, many years ago) to be repeat at a Christmas program by a a group of children in our church. It was a nice experience this morning to renew my memory and find that I still retained most of it. A great promise for all of us! “Glory to God in the Highest; and on earth PEACE, GOODWILL TO MEN.

    Mary K. Mishler December 25, 2012 |
  7. Beautiful Living in the PNW loved the analogy of tidal pools and renewal of life. Thank you

    Barbara December 25, 2012 |
  8. Gwen, it was so good to see your face, find out how you are currently employed, and read your wise words on Christmas morning. Blessings to you and yours.

    Elsie Rempel December 25, 2012 |
  9. Thank you for this Advent series of devotions and reflections. I have profited from the discipline of taking a moment to read and reflect on the daily mediations. Today´s was lovely. I confess, however, sometimes I find myself more in stagnant backwater than in oceanside tidal pools. Still, the renewal that Christmas brings is always wonderful. Thank you for contributing to again this year.

    Robert December 25, 2012 |
  10. Thank you for this simple and profound meditation reminding us of the truths we claim.

    Doug Zook December 25, 2012 |
  11. It was very ispiring each morning after I had my private devtional to come and read this yet. I wish you all a healthy 2013 year and will be looking forward to next year’s readings. God blessings to all of you!!

    Liz Lehman December 25, 2012 |
  12. Thank you for taking us to the ocean and beyond, Gwen. We have read these “ponderings” each day (- no “pondings” – so grateful for this) but more like the timely snow flakes flying last evening – adding a few hours of white to the darkness of December – these meditations will linger longer.

    Helen L. & Samuel J Lapp December 25, 2012 |
  13. Thank you, Gwen. Your vivid imagery reminded me of the poem “The Tide Will Surely Win,” as it always seems to. What assurance! Merry Christmas to you.

    Jim Brenneman, GC President December 25, 2012 |
  14. Thank you again for the thoughtful insights around Advent. It is refreshing to read the various thoughts.


    Dr John Webb December 26, 2012 |
  15. To all involved in the Advent Devotions at Goshen, thanks again for sharing from the rich storehouse of your experience and wishing you all…and the community of readers… a very happy, peaceful and blessed New Year.

    Tony Walsh, Natiuonal University of Ireland, Maynooth, Co Kildare December 26, 2012 |
  16. Tide pools and grace. What a remarkable use of words to bring truth to our lives. Thank you to those who have written these Advent Devotions of 2012 and those of previous years. You bless the name of Goshen College and mostly, the name of our Lord, with these words. “In the beginning was the word………….

    Leland Eyres December 26, 2012 |
  17. thanks for another great inspirational Advent. I really enjoy the variety and insight! Blessings to all for a delightful new year.

    Diana Thomas December 26, 2012 |
  18. Thank you again, Goshen College and all the contributors, for providing so many of us with these daily meditations. Each one gave us a new insight into the meaning of the accompanying Scripture. I will be glad to receive those coming during the Lenten season.

    Ethel Umble December 26, 2012 |
  19. Thanks, Gwen, for your vivid, lived image that parallels our human experiences. Blessings, Wilma S.

    Wilma Shank December 29, 2012 |
  20. This is a wonderful meditation, Gwen. I will keep your imaginative comparison in my mind and heart from now on, whether I’m exposed to the harsh elements or being revived by God’s Spirit. Thank you!

    Lisa Staley January 1, 2013 |