The views expressed here are those of each individual devotion writer. Thank you to our writers for their contributions to this ministry!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016


Candle Lighting The Light of Christ


Responsive Litany


Leader:            For anyone who has walked in darkness, a new light has dawned!

People:                        O come, let us adore him!

Leader:            For anyone who has ever felt forgotten, a new light has dawned!

People:                        O come, let us adore him!

Leader:            For anyone whose patience has been put to the test, a new light has dawned!

People:                        O come, let us adore him!

Leader:            For anyone in search of the way, the truth, and the life, a new day has dawned!

People:                        O come, let us adore him!


Today we light all the candles as we open our eyes to the glory of Christ's birth. As we light the first candle, we celebrate the hope that transcends our hurting world. The second candle celebrates the peace that tears the veil of hostility and division. The third candle celebrates the love that covers our guilt. And as we light the fourth candle, we celebrate the joy that can dry every tear. The flame of the Christ candle opens our eyes to God's everlasting

light, as we celebrate the way to worship Christ, our newborn King.


Dear God, thank you for coming into the world with a soft spot on your head and Mary’s milk on your breath. This Christmas, change us into your hope, peace, joy, and love. Amen!




Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10: 22 – 25

A friend of mine told me, “My worst sin is that I’m a procrastinator.  It gets in my way and it keeps me from doing all that God created me to do.”  I would have to say that I’m the opposite.  My worst sin may be that I’m an “urgent-inator.”  I want everything to happen right away, as in “Never put off til tomorrow what you can do today” – even if it means losing sleep and missing other good things in order to get it done.  I like to write things on my to-do list and check them off at the same time.  If an email is in my in-box, I feel I need to respond to it. 

In my advancing age, though, I have learned that some things are better off if they’re left to sit for a while – chili soup, angry words, home decorating, and God’s work.  Scripture tells us that it is through challenges that we grow in our faith and our dependence on God. Paul writes this in nearly every letter – Hebrews, Corinthians, Philippians, 1Timothy. It was true for them then and it’s true for us now. 

Right now, there are a lot of things that make us afraid.  And fixers, like me, would like to fix things up right away.  A nice easy solution would be very nice!  But God sees things with eternal eyes. The Apostle Paul talks to all the early churches about the need  for struggles and perseverance in order to grow faith.  As the writer Anne Lamont says, “It’s good to be afraid, when it mobilizes us to fight tooth and nail for what is right, when it pricks the balloon of our complacency, when it gets us back on our feet.  A lot of us are both afraid and devoutly faithful at the same time… courage is fear that has said its prayers.” 

We can respond to the things that make us afraid with fear.  Or we can care a lot and pray a lot.  We can stick together and share and listen and draw nearer to God knowing that we are loved and chosen and safe.  We know the ending of the story, and it is this.  In the end, God wins. Jesus came to tell us that. Today I will pray to the God that loves us, and be at peace.

Prayer: Dear Lord, It seems like there are so many things to be afraid of, but I know that you tell us over and over again in Scripture to, “Be not afraid,” and to trust You.  Protect me from my urgent-inator ways. I pray for peace in my soul as You slow me down and help me to remember to pray and to trust You while You work out Your way in the world. Amen


Lori Snyder-Sloan




I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High. Psalm 7:17 

Each year, in November, I write about something for which I am thankful.  In years past, I wrote about things that I have and therefore am thankful. This year, I am going to use this devotion to give thanks for things I do not have.  There are so many things that we do not have for which I am thankful.  An empty cupboard is the first that comes to mind.  If my cupboard is empty, I can easily fill it again.  I am thankful that I do not have to go to bed hungry.

An autoimmune disease is the second thing that I am grateful that I do not have. A friend’s husband recently died after many years of suffering in ways that I can only fathom. To not have this disease, I give thanks.

Thank you, God, for allowing all of my children and grandchildren to be well and well-adjusted.  Friends often speak of their sons in hushed voices for still another physical or mental disease that plagues them. Lord, be with them and accept my thanks that, so far, we do not have those problems in our family.

Too much month and not enough money is another problem that I am thankful that we do not have.  Yes, we are not the richest people that we know, but we have plenty to carry us through each month and year.

Perhaps you can think of other things that you do not have for which you are thankful.  There are many. Just look around and give thanks and maybe help.

Prayer: Dear God, help us to be thankful each day for all that we have been given and to become alert to other’s needs. Amen.

Carolyn F. Olsen



Sing Praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously; let this be known in all the earth. Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion, for great is your midst in the Holy One of Israel. Isaiah 12:5-6 

I have a friend who does ornamental blacksmithing.  Some time ago I asked him to make me an iron advent wreath that I could put the advent candles in.  He did and it is wonderful. I have it on my dining room table during advent and the Christmas Season. I light the appropriate candle or candles each evening before supper. A Christ candle sits in the center of the wreath.

The candles represent hope, peace, joy and love. The joy candle is the rose colored one.  The other three are purple.

If you haven't had an advent wreath give it a try.  It can be as ornate or as simple as you choose.  It's the symbolism that counts.

Prayer: Dear Lord, Thank you for your gifts of hope, peace, joy, and love to us through your Son Jesus the Christ. In Christ's name we pray, Amen.

Kathy Kuehn







Subtract one thing from your day today – and use the extra quiet time to pray for people who are vulnerable because of physical or mental illness.




And suddenly there was with the angel, a multitude of heavenly host, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors." Luke 2:13-14 

The scripture is from Luke and from the story of the birth of Jesus. I found a children's book in the library titled, "Only a Star," by Margery Facklam. The book is about the first Christmas morning. The light of the star welcomed Jesus and the creatures in the stable. Some of those creatures were doves. Doves watched above Jesus as well as other creatures. Long before the birth of Christ, people domesticated wild rock doves and raised them for food and to carry messages. Doves have been symbols of peace and love in the Bible. Doves symbolized peace in Genesis in the story of Noah, and the dove symbolized  peace in the Baptism of Jesus. Jesus brought us peace like a dove that first Christmas morning.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank you for bringing us "peace" the first Christmas and we can celebrate that "Peace" each Christmas. Amen.


Susan Taylor


Monday, December 19, 2016




May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 (NRSV)

Watching the evening news this year had become a painful experience.  The stories were about wars, terrorism, persecution of Christians, crime in the streets, and the targeting of law enforcement officers.  Praying for peace amidst all this violence seemed to me to be fruitless. 

Then something happened last spring that changed my mind.  It all started when I received an email from the Submissions Editor of the Presbyterian Church of Canada’s devotional webpage telling me they are celebrating their 20th anniversary this year, and asking me to consider returning to writing “dailies” (Canadian for daily devotionals) for them.  I had stopped writing for that page in 2010 due to my failing vision and the need for eye surgeries.

I was very apprehensive about writing for their page again because their “dailies” now reach more than 3,500 subscribers.  Additional people are reached via social media and podcasts.  Those numbers made me question my ability as a writer.  Did anything I write really merit the attention of so many?  After several days of drawing back from pressing the send key and praying for courage to submit a devotional, I finally sent my first message.  Wow!  What a blessing.

Over the last few months, the feedback messages have been so uplifting!  I expected to hear from the English speaking countries – America, Canada and England – but I didn’t expect to hear from anyone who remembered me from my writing prior to 2010.  Then a message came from Korea.  His email address told me he worked for Nike.  Later a young man in Africa wrote that he used “What’s App” on his phone to forward  my message to 200 more people.  The most surprising of all was my very first feedback message.  It came from a man in Saudi Arabia, a Muslim, who sent a picture of himself and his daughter telling me he reads the “dailies” to her.  In October, Sylvia, the Administrative Assistant at St. Luke’s Presbyterian Church in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada sent an email copy of their newsletter so I could see one of my devotionals as it appeared on page 3.

Now I could pray for peace again.  Now I had proof that the Holy Spirit was at work around the globe and Christianity is not only alive and well, it is growing each and every day.  I can once again pray for peace as I vicariously hold hands with Christians around the world.  As we pray, we are all placing our hope for peace in the name of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ.

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for this unexpected opportunity to work in Your vineyard, and for the encouragement of fellow Christians everywhere.  Hear our prayers as we pray for peace on earth during this advent season.  It’s in Jesus’ holy name that we ask it.  Amen.

Judy Welch

Friday, December 16, 2016


 CANDLE LIGHTING: The Light of Joy


Responsive Litany


Leader:            During Advent, we remember the light that shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it.

People:            Though sorrow may last for the night, joy comes in the morning.

Leader:             For all who face the sting of loss, God's word speaks:

People:            Though sorrow may last for the night, joy comes in the morning.

Leader:            For all who wrestle with the unknown of tomorrow, God's word speaks:

People:            Though sorrow may last for the night, joy comes in the morning.

Leader:            For all who battle the questions that arise in the silence, God's word speaks:

People:            Though sorrow may last for the night, joy comes in the morning.


Today we light four candles. When the darkness of life feels overwhelming, the first candle ignites our hope in God's unfailing truth. When the chaos of life seems all-consuming, the light of the second candle reveals the Prince of Peace. When humanity responds with senseless acts and hurtful words, the light of the third candle radiates God's command to love as we have been loved. The fourth candle reminds us that no matter what our circumstances, there is joy in the coming Christ who opens our eyes to the everlasting light.




                                          PEACE: QUIET AND CALM STATE OF MIND


Give in to God, come to terms with him and everything will turn out just fine. Let him tell you what to do, take his words to heart. Come back to God Almighty and he’ll rebuild your life. Clean house of everything evil. Relax your grip on your money and abandon your gold-plated luxury. God Almighty will be your treasure, more wealth than you can imagine. Job 22: 21-25 (The Message)

As we prepare for the holidays, we need the words in Job which tell us to have a peaceful state of mind. Jesus came to tell us our faith has saved us. Our biggest gift or treasure of the Christmas season is returning to God. The Messiah has come. In the midst of all the hustle and bustle we can feel the peace Jesus gives us.

Prayer: Thank you Lord for sending your son to us. Help us to put our traditions into the proper space so that we can come back to the Almighty. May we put any evils of anger, jealousy, covetousness or fear away from our house. Let us bathe in your treasure of Christ with us giving us more than we can imagine. Amen


Sandra Hilsabeck




 “Blessed are all those who wait for him.” Isaiah 30:18

When I was a little girl, I could hardly wait for Christmas to come. There would be presents, a family gathering at my grandparents, special food, pretty candles that spun around, golden angels that rang tinkling bells, and of course there was always a guest appearance of Santa Claus. It was not until I grew older that Christmas Eve church, the Sunday School program, and the true meaning of Christmas took priority.  It seems today that Christmas comes way too fast. We are reminded regularly of only so many shopping days until Christmas, the special sales, and the beautiful gifts that can’t wait another day. We don’t want to wait for anything—not the lines at the check-out counters or the post office, the waitress who is slow taking or delivering our orders,  the back-up of traffic trying to turn on a busy street, even a computer program at work that is slow coming up. 

Waiting is something we do not enjoy, yet the above scripture tells the Jewish people that they who wait are blessed. Imagine waiting over many, many years and generations for the Messiah to come, waiting in bondage in Egypt for a deliverer, waiting under Roman rule for the promised one, waiting for the prophecies of old to come true, setting a place at the table and leaving the front door open so that the Messiah could come in. In their shoes, would we get discouraged, turn our backs on tradition, or think that the Messiah would never come, or that it was all just a myth from olden times?  We are so blessed that the Messiah has come  in the form of a baby, a human being that we can relate to, and a promise of salvation to all those who believe.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, teach us to wait patiently for your son’s birth on Christmas. Help us to slow down and listen closely to the Christmas story and marvel at the wondrous things that occurred. Help us recognize the prophecies of old. Help us enjoy the music, the crèche, our holiday traditions and the chance to show others our love. Amen.


Nancy Hall




Receiving a gift is like getting a rare gemstone; any way you look at it, you see beauty refracted. Proverbs 17:8 (The Message)

Christmas has become a huge gift-giving holiday.  In some ways, shopping and buying gifts for Christmas has taken center stage ahead of the true reason for the season.   We pore over the advertisements in the newspaper and plot out our route for the sales on Black Friday.  Or we spend hours online checking for the best prices on Amazon and "googling" for the latest and greatest new toy. 

Exchanging Christmas presents is a wonderful tradition that gives us an opportunity to show others we care for them.  Some say the tradition helps remind us of the gifts given to the baby Jesus by the Three Wise Men:  gold, frankincense, and myrrh.   And others suggest the tradition arises from winter celebrations of the Pagans.

No matter the origin of the gift-giving tradition, it's important that we do not let it take over.   What if we spent just as much time reflecting on the greatest gift we ever received:  the baby Jesus. Christmas gives us the opportunity to consider the beginning of Jesus'  ministry on earth. And to thank God for sending Jesus as an infant to show us the way. 

Prayer: Dear Lord, We thank you for sending your son Jesus as a baby and for the chance to reflect on that gift during the Christmas season.  The gift of that rare gemstone is the greatest gift we have ever received.  Help us to appreciate the true meaning of that gift. Amen.


Robin Hadfield

Wednesday, December 14, 2016






Subtract one thing from your day today – and use the extra quiet time to pray for refugees and migrants all over the world.




But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.  We all, like sheep have gone astray; each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53: 5-6

The prophet Isaiah addressed the Jewish people around 700 B.C., during the time that they were in captivity in Babylonia. They were displaced and miserable. Isaiah was reminding them that they needed to turn away from their sinful ways and back to God, who had promised to send a messiah to save them. Isaiah seemed to know more about the future savior than anyone, and he accurately foretold the suffering that Jesus would endure in order to save God’s people.  But while the Jewish people had to wait hundreds of years for their messiah, and many did not recognize Him when he appeared, we have the advantage of knowing “the rest of the story,” as told in the New Testament. By sending His son to earth, God proved how much He loves even His sinful people, and we have only to believe His promise that our faith in Jesus Christ will lead us to “the peace that surpasses all understanding.”

Prayer: Gracious and loving God, as we prepare to celebrate His birth, we thank You for the mercy You have shown Your sinful people by sending Jesus to live among us. We thank You for the peace that comes with our faith in the Trinity, and we pray that others will find such peace as well. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done. Amen.

Judith Keller

Monday, December 12, 2016

                   ADVENT DECEMBER 12



“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

When I am overcome with so much to do and so little time left to get it done, I need to regroup, pause, take a deep breath and have some silence to refocus.  How many of us are caught in the treadmill of constant motion during the holiday time that we fail to recall why all this stuff happens? 

Advent is a time for such refocus and silent reflection.  It is sitting back and just letting the simple scene of a nativity overcome one’s thoughts and spirit. Activity like looking at the animals just grazing from a trough, or watching Mary and Joseph adore their newborn child, or the awe of a shepherd beholding the baby, or even the Magi bringing their gifts to a young Magi of the manger. Take time and look at the star above the crèche.

As one is watching what seems to be lifeless carvings or clay figures, realize how the breathing begins to ease and become slow and rested. Notice how the sheer silence of the moment is absent of distraction.  It is a brief moment indeed, but enough to pause and hear God assure one and all to “be still and know that I am God.”

Prayer:  Gracious God, still my anxious stress with the peace of Your presence and in the simplicity of awe.  Help me see the nativity of Your Son so that tired eyes, weary mind, and fast-beating heart can be quieted for just a moment. Then, I can imagine the calm of Your Word grace me with “Be still and know that I am God.”  In the name of Him for whom we await.  Amen.

John Duling

Friday, December 9, 2016

ADVENT December 11

CANDLE LIGHTING: The Light of Hope


Responsive Litany


Leader:             In a world torn asunder by violence, Jesus says, "No more."

People:            "As it is written, a new command I give, 'Love one another as I have loved you'."

Leader:             In a world where hurting people are too often neglected,  Jesus says, "No more."

People:            "As it is written, a new command I give, 'Love one another as I have loved you'."

Leader:            In a world where another's needs are too often overlooked, Jesus says, "No more."

People:            "As it is written, a new command I give, 'Love one another as I have loved you'."


Today we light three candles. In a world where darkness abounds, the light of the first candle radiates the hope of God's unfailing promise. As we light the second candle, we long for God's perfect peace to calm our souls and end our wars. As we light the third candle, we seek to share with others the love God has shown us through the gift of Jesus Christ.


Loving God, make the deserts of grief bloom with color and fragrance, so that we might sing for joy.





The Messiah has made things up between us so that we’re now together on this, both non-Jewish outsiders and Jewish insiders. He tore down the wall we used to keep each other at a distance. He repealed the law code that had become so clogged with fine print and footnotes that it hindered more than it helped. Then he started over instead of continuing with two groups of people separated by centuries of animosity and suspicion, he created a new kind of human being, a fresh start for everybody. Ephesians 2:14-15


We in the United States can understand being divided after the year we have had in 2016. The divisions in politics, the items of racial issues and citizens against law and police have been hard on us; but they are nothing new. We must let him tear down the walls that have been built between us. He can help us start over and clean up our laws. Only God can bring us together into one truth: that by his grace we are saved because of the birth of Jesus Christ.


Prayer: Dear Lord, Christmas is so special to us with promises beyond our comprehension. May we accept the forgiveness you offer and choose to follow Jesus seven days a week. Open our hearts to forgiveness and acceptance so our friends and families may be brought back together. Let us bask in the glory of the star pointing to Jesus the Messiah. Amen.


Sandra Hilsabeck




Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. and the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philipians 4:6 & 7 KJVR


As we remember the time of awaiting the birth of the Christ Child, I feel the waiting and anticipation of His second coming also. The news is full of reports of disease, fires, floods, storms, earthquakes, wars, racial strife, political rhetoric and anger, and mindless mass murders.


Only as I lift all these things up to God, can I remember they will all be gone when Christ returns. Thank you, God for this promise. Through this blessed season, may we think only of the good, the truth, the blessings we have and may we live in His glorious peace today.


Prayer: Father, we thank you for loving us enough to send your Son to become one with us, to die and defeat death for us.  Help us walk daily with Him and grant us your peace that passes our understanding.

In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.


Carolyn Fetterley




And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:7  


I recently read a magazine article about a woman whose teenage daughter was struggling with her personal identity. In the story, the mother spent hours, days and months praying that her daughter would bend to her will.  She, and members of her church, prayed that the daughter would follow their preferred path.  The family sought counseling at church and through a licensed professional and these approaches increased the arguing among them. In a moment where the stress and the tension were completely overwhelming, the mother took time to herself and prayed for God to bring her peace with her daughter's personal identity.  In the story, the next morning the mother awoke and felt the peace of God. In all the time that she had prayed in despair for God to change the person that she was praying for she was frustrated but when she asked God to bring her peace and to help her accept the path her daughter chose, she was able to find relief.


After reading this story I spent MANY days thinking about the times that I ask God for what I want. Praying to change a situation, to help something align in a way that will be easier, less painful, or even to allow me to take a passive role and let things play themselves out. In the moments where I have asked God for guidance or to help me to let go of something troubling I have a much greater sense of relief.


Prayer: Creator God - in moments when I desire my way or my will, remind me that you can help bring me peace and acceptance. You have the power to protect our hearts and our minds, to relieve our concerns and to help us to recognize our powerlessness.  In a time when it can be hard to control all the moving pieces and parts in our lives, I can count on you to bring me relief over my concerns and sorrows. Amen.


Christi Moock