Advent Creative Arts Devotional: Week 2, Day 2

Tuesday, December 12, 2017:

 
 

“The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.”

Isaiah 11:2

One of the lessons I learned this year is that I can't be in control of everything in my life. Being in control of every situation, emotion, and action can become so tiring. It is necessary to let go and trust and surrender to the belief that God only wants the best for us. He sent the Holy Spirit to rest upon us at all times. If we surrender to the Spirit and allow the Spirit to provide us with the wisdom and understanding and knowledge to move forward when we feel stuck, we take so much pressure off ourselves. Seek the counsel of the Spirit through prayer and wait for the answer to appear. Even if you feel like taking control again!

When I looked up the meaning of “the fear of the Lord,” I found the following: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10) This gives me comfort to know that we don’t have to fear the Lord in the basic sense of the word, but that we should continue learning and understanding what he wants for, and from, us.

Prayer: Thank you Lord for giving us wisdom and understanding through the Holy Spirit. Teach us to surrender and wait on the Spirit to lead us. Amen

Creative Call-to-Action: Create an affirmation that is meaningful to you and repeat it throughout the day and week. Here is an example: “I surrender to the knowledge and wisdom of the Holy Spirit that loves and leads me.”

—Riana Prins

 

December 11, 2017

Creative Arts Advent Devotional: Week 2, Day 1

Merideth Hite Estevez

Monday, December 11, 2017:

A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. Isaiah 11: 1

 
 

This time of year often brings drab views of the countryside. Absent are the hanging baskets of blooms that adorned porches, yards and sidewalks. Gone are the vibrant golds, reds and oranges of the leaves that so gloriously adorned the fall landscape. After getting this scripture passage to contemplate, I drove along the PA Turnpike and interstate to a funeral. At first I thought of how depressing everything looked as the colors grew farther apart. Occasionally a house here and there stood out. The pavement was monochromatic. Only the evergreens were still green. Even the fields that had been filled with corn, hay, soybeans, and lush ground a few weeks ago stood barren where the harvest had been made.

Then some clouds separated to bring back colors; I looked up and saw bright sun, blue sky. I was reminded of how, even in the dark, the sunrise and -set often bring us spectacular and glorious palettes of colors that painters have tried to reproduce. If we focus on the lack of the summer colors, we miss the beauty in a resting world, a world that prepares for next growing season. At the end of each night comes the hope of a beautiful sunrise and a new day.

Our faith is often like that, too. We travel in monochromatic paths for a while. Then something wonderful and hopeful meets us where we are. Perhaps it’s a message from a distant friend or family member, an unexpected promotion or recognition, recovery from an illness. Hold onto those glimpses of sun, the possibilities of a new beginning in the morning, reminders that God has, does, and will provide for us.

The Old Testament prophets came close enough to God to hear what God had to say to them. They listened, they spoke, they hoped, they prayed. This passage from Isaiah spoke of someone yet to come. It gave hope to those who read it. A new king, Jesus, is coming. He may arrive in rather drab surroundings but will provide what we need all the days of our lives.

Prayer: Almighty God, thank you for adding the colors to our lives, in the people we love and meet, in opportunities to minister to others, in times of creativity. Remind us that even in the dark, you are with us and will bring us to a new day. In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.

Creative Call-to-Action: Sit quietly for a few minutes. Make a list of all the colors around you.

—Diane Olin White

 
 
 

Sunday, December 10, 2017:

A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
2 The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
3 His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.

He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide by what his ears hear;
4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
5 Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist,
and faithfulness the belt around his loins.

6 The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.
7 The cow and the bear shall graze,
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.
9 They will not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.

10 On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.

Isaiah 11: 1-10

 
 
 
 

Creative Arts Advent Devotional: Day 6

Friday, December 8th, 2017

“He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.” Isaiah 9: 7b

Do you ever read the Bible and think, “I wonder how God is going to do that?” I try hard not to be cynical (after all, hope is a big part of faith in God), but it seems impossible to uphold a kingdom of peace with justice and righteousness for one day… forget forever-and-ever-amen. The “peace” we have seen in our day, especially lately, seems to be teetering on the edge of dangerous chaos and complete disintegration. The last line “the zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this”— this seems to be a strange choice of words. The prophet doesn’t say it will be the power of God that will do this, or the army of God, or even the politics of God that will bring peace—it is God’s zeal. God’s fervency and devotion to God’s people will accomplish this peace forever. This “zeal” that the prophet Isaiah speaks of—what is it?

God answers this question at Christmas. It is now that we see the zeal in the flesh. We know from Jesus’ character that this zeal is first and foremost about compassion and love; that it works through broken people and great injustice to make all things right in the end. He joins us in the muck of the messes we make and weeps and suffers alongside us. Born a weak and dependent child in a manger, becoming a homeless rabbi wanderer, lover of sinners, a miracle man. What a strange and beautiful way to bring peace forever-more.

Prayer: Thank you for your mysterious ways, Oh Lord. Thank you that Jesus was born on Christmas to proclaim your power and glory, and that He does so through love and mercy. Place this zeal of yours within us. Give us passion for the weak and disenfranchised, break our hearts for what breaks yours. Thank you for allowing us to partner with you, as you bring about your peaceful world in the most perfect, powerful, and zealous way. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Creative Call-to-Action: Today, be on the lookout for people or things working to bring peace. Take a photo of one example and find someone who may need proof that God is at work, making peace in our world today. Share your photo with them (either on the Facebook post for this devotional, in person, or via text) and proclaim to them “The zeal of the Lord of hosts will bring peace!”

—Merideth Hite Estevez

This is my friend and neighbor, Tom Davis. He’s a Vietnam vet, a “retired” Presbyterian pastor. I say he’s “retired” because since retiring he’s been commissioned as an “Interfaith Peacemaker” of the New Castle Presbytery and has started the “Interfaith Veterans Workgroup” here in Wilmington—so not really retired at all :) He is also a self-taught photo journalist who reflects the beauty of our city and world through his photographs. He is bringing God’s peace to our little corner of the world... and so LOOK, “The zeal of the Lord of hosts will bring peace!”