Christmastide Readings: Sunday, January 5

Readings: Jeremiah 31:7-14 and John 1:1-13

Reflection Questions:

A favored tradition at Christmas time is the decoration of homes with bright colored lights. I live in a neighborhood where Christmas lights are a big deal; even boats are ornately adorned with lights and the Newport Beach Harbor puts on a parade of lights with fireworks! But the spectacular ornamentation of homes and harbor lights is really only enchanting at night! John’s gospel tells us that the True Light has come into the world giving light to everyone and the darkness cannot conquer it. This Light, namely Jesus, is a gift to us in darkness; John doesn’t say the darkness is eradicated…at least not yet!

  1. As you continue to celebrate Christmas how might you embrace the truth: the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it, as a gift and allow it to illumine dark areas of your life?
  2. By virtue of The Light that dwells within us, we have a vocation to bring light into the world, to be the light of the world (see Matt.5:14-16). How might you become a luminaire of God’s love to others who still sit or walk in darkness?
  3. Where are you experiencing the oppression of darkness (maybe in doubt, distress or depression)? Prayer is said to be like a light leading us to God. Take moments now to ask God for the light of his wisdom, love, aid, and his consolation in your dark hour.

Who out there fears GOD, actually listens to the voice of his servant?
For anyone out there who doesn’t know where you’re going,
anyone groping in the dark, Here’s what: Trust in GOD.
Lean on your God!
Isaiah 50:10 (The Message)

Christmastide Readings: Sunday, December 29

Readings: Isaiah 63:7-9 and Matthew 2:13-23

Reflection Questions:

  1. After the joy-filled celebration of Christ’s arrival on the scene of human history, (Christmas) we are immediately thrust into the drama of the holy family’s flight from Israel to Egypt due to threat of death and destruction. The journey was riddled with uncertainty and perplexity, and yet divinely guided by the Word of God. In what areas of your own journey are you faced with uncertainty and perplexity, yet invited to trust and rely on God?
  2. Considering your own journey, the winding road of future unknowns and needs for adaptability and patient trust, how might Isaiah’s practice of recounting the steadfast love of the Lord over the course of your life aid you as you journey onward?
  3. Our Christmas story recounts and freshly imprints on our imaginations the promise of Immanuel: God with us. Now, as we face the New Year we are invited to trust the Gift given and received. How might you take courage in facing your new year as you remember that Jesus faced real human struggles of survival, displacement, and threats to his security, yet journeyed trusting the One who was with him? Take moments to pray, asking God to preserve your path, to give faith for the journey ahead, to carry you all the days of your life – and all for his love’s sake.

– Elizabeth Khorey

Advent Readings: Sunday December 22

Readings: Isaiah 7:10-16 and Matthew 1:18-25

Reflections:
Although we are so familiar with the story of a virgin giving birth, re-enter the story as if you were hearing it for the first time. Ponder how God fulfills his promises in unexpected ways. What Mary and Joseph were hearing, receiving from divine messengers was humanly inconceivable! Mary and Joseph become examples for us of audacious faith in God, his word and their own experience of his word despite their limited understanding.

Reflection Questions:

  1. In what ways does the gospel narrative of Mary and Joseph’s reception of God’s word birth renewed faith in God in your own life?
  2. How might the reminder of Jesus’ coming to save us from our sins be received as a gift to you this holiday season?
  3. What places in your heart or life do you feel the need for freedom from habits of sin? Consider spending time in a practice of confession before God as you receive God’s gift of forgiveness.
  4. Are there places in your life where you feel lonely, abandoned or disappointed? Hear again the name of Jesus: Immanuel, God with us. Take his promise and presence to heart.

– Elizabeth Khorey and Michelle Sudduth

Advent Readings: Sunday December 15, 2013

Readings: Isaiah 35:1-10 and Matthew 11:2-11

Reflections:
As you read and reflect on God’s Word, notice what brings you hope, joy, or peace. Be alert to the areas of your life that may seem dark, vague, even doubtful. John the Baptizer is an icon for us of humility, simplicity, clear vision and confidence in the One who comes to us. His is a life of descent rather than ascent. Jesus said the poor in spirit will be blessed and receive the kingdom of heaven (Mt.5:3). Be attentive to how the kingdom of heaven comes to you in places of poverty.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What provisions have you received recently that testify of the goodness of God’s kingdom coming to earth?
  2. How does Jesus’ teaching: the least are greater than John the Baptizer, bring hope to the places of poverty in your own life today?
  3. What places in your life seem confined, hard, doubtful? Talk honestly to God about these things. John the Baptizer sent messengers to Jesus in his confusion. Let the words of our Advent prayer help you vocalize your requests: O Lord Come!

– Elizabeth Khorey and Michelle Sudduth