Crescent Hill Baptist Church

Advent Devotional Booklet - 1982

Writers:

Lewis Miller (Hope)

Lewis serves as a support deacon, Director of the Adult II Department, and member of the Education and Finance Committees. Ginger is Lewis' wife and they have four children: Scott, Briana, Jennifer and Cara. Lewis is employed as a field underwriter for Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York.

Betty Cook (Peace)

Betty is an active deacon and chairwoman-elect of the Pastoral Care Committee. She is a member of the sub-committee on Building Usage and was a member of the last Pulpit Committee. Betty is a widow and a mother of five sons. She works as the receptionist for the American Printing House for the Blind.

Judy King (Joy)

Judy is an active member of Crescent Hill currently serving on the Missions Committee. She lives in the community only a few blocks from the church with her husband Ron and daughter Anna. The Kings are expecting their second child in December. Judy is a part-time professor at Indiana University Southeast.

Mike Allen (Love)

Mike teaches Sunday School in the Single Adult Department and also serves on the New Member Committee. Nancy is Mike's wife and they have two sons, Eric and Matthew. He is the Communications Associate at the Baptist Home for Children, a free lance photographer and a Ph.D. student at Southern Seminary.


Hope

November 28, 1982 (Lewis Miller)
Isaiah 7:14
Hope

Pay close attention now, for the second sentence is meaningless without the first.

The sign, you see, is so normal, so ordinary, that it can slip by unnoticed: a son is born to a young woman. The key to the power and meaning of this sign is in the understanding of its source. This sign is given by the Lord himself --don't miss it!

Pay close attention now, for the twentieth-century is meaningless without the first.

The normal, ordinary signs around us continue to reveal the love and care, the power and glory of that same Lord. Our hope is continually fed by the good signs all around us, if we are sensitive to their source.

Don't miss them!

O Lord, source of hope, grant us new understanding of the signs of your love around us and within us. Amen.

--Lewis Miller



November 29, 1982 (Lewis Miller)
Isaiah 11:1-9
Hope

This prophecy, which must have sounded like deliverance to Isaiah's listeners, sounds disturbingly like judgement to us.

It would be comforting if we could count on judgement by what eyes could see and ears could hear, we who are well dressed, well read and well rehearsed.

But no: It will be with righteousness and equity that he will decide for the poor and the meek.

Our hope comes from the other side --from the side of grace. We who are the wolves, the leopards and the lions can be led by a little child to live with lambs, kids and calves.

We have not been given our gifts to rule. King-of-the-mountain is not a game we play; it is a reality we acknowledge. This is His holy mountain, in which we must learn to live in love.

No one said it would be easy --our hope is not that we will wake up one day without our hurtful tendencies. It may be every bit as hard as for the lion to develop a taste for straw.

No, the hope we have --as if it weren't enough --is that we can do it at all, through the grace of our Lord.

O Lord, source of grace, grant us hope even for ourselves. Amen.

--Lewis Miller


November 30, 1982 (Lewis Miller)
Isaiah 53:1-6
Hope

This may be the strongest word of hope we have, for this is where our absolute rejection, our complete disbelief, is written down. Fourteen times in six verses Isaiah drives home the inescapable first person plural -- we esteemed him not, our griefs and our sorrows and our transgressions and our iniquities.

But what a hope! His chastisement has made us whole, and we are healed!

To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

To you! And to me!

Lord of Hope -- We, the community that rejects you, pray for forgiveness. We, the forgiven community that you call your children, praise you. Amen.

-- Lewis Miller



December 1, 1982 (Lewis Miller)
Isaiah 61:1-3
Hope

The single sentence takes three verses and, in my Bible, twenty- seven lines to play out. I couldn't begin to diagram it, but I can see why it got away from Isaiah. What a promise of hope he gives us:

-- good news for the poor,
-- healing for the broken,
-- freedom for the captive, and -- liberty for the oppressed.

Later, according to Luke, Jesus would read this song in the synagogue and identify himself as its fulfillment.

May we find the "Spirit of the Lord God" (of which Isaiah spoke) in our lives, and understand that these gifts of hope are given for us to share with others.

Here is hope; pass it on!

O Lord, make us the instruments of hope in your world. Amen.

-- Lewis Miller


December 2, 1982 (Lewis Miller)
John 1: 9-13
Hope

The notion of "true light" has been more exciting since our family read C. S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia.

There, in an underground world, one of Lewis' wonderfully constructed villains tries to convince his prisoners that the pitiful, dim lamps of his world are real light, and that their stories of a world of light outside are based on wishful thinking.

The heroes and heroines have the advantage, of course, of having seen the sun. He cannot convince them that their "sun" is an imaginary projection of their hope for something beyond the only reality he knows.

They know that it is his lamplight which is the imitation of what is real. And compared to the real, his imitation light is poor indeed.

Dear Lord who is our light -- The light we see is often all we can bear. The light we are is often all we can be. Thank you for the hope which comes from knowing that there is much more. Amen.

-- Lewis Miller



December 3, 1982 (Lewis Miller)
Matthew 11:2-6
Hope

No office politics for John. Clarification through confrontation: "Are you the one, or not?"

Imagine the anxious waiting in prison for the answer to return.

If you were in John's position, would you be having second thoughts about forcing the question? What if the messengers returned with only political or economic information?

Instead, Jesus sends back to John almost a direct quote from the Isaiah passage we read Wednesday. I suspect that John knew the source, and understood it to mean

look at the signs
and do not take offense, but embrace the reality
that Jesus is Lord.

Dear Lord and Father, who tolerates our cautious approaches and tentative prayer, reinforce our hope this season that we may embrace you who embraces us and proclaim again your Lordship and love. Amen.

-- Lewis Miller



December 4, 1982 (Lewis Miller)
Colossians 1:23-27

We began the week looking forward with Isaiah; how fitting now to look back with Paul.

And how similar the theme. From the first simple signs pointing to Jesus' birth --the "mystery hidden for ages and generations" -- Paul now announces his commitment to "make the word of God fully known."

It must have made Paul painfully aware of his own limitations to write of the many who had seen the hope of glory in the small, subtle things, knowing that he had to be knocked down and blinded to get the message. No wonder he called them saints!

And what of us?

Our measure of revelation and hope overflows our capacity to hold it. As individuals and as a church, we are over our heads in the "riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory!"

Our Father, full of hope we go out to seek peace, share our JOY and give thanks for your love. Amen.

-- Lewis Miller



Peace

December 5, 1982 (Betty Cook)
Isaiah 9:6-7
Peace

When Prince Charles and Princess Diana announced to the world that they were expecting a royal heir, many began to speculate about the baby's name. Some even placed wagers. Bookmakers did a land office business. The naming of a baby is always an occasion for great excitement and interest. Centuries earlier the naming of a baby who was to come occupied the attention of the prophets. The prophet, Isaiah announced that his name would be descriptive of his character. Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father and Prince of Peace. We who bear His name have the responsibility for the work of peacemaking. We must emulate His ways. This is imperative if there is to be a change in our society.

Our gracious Father we thank you for the challenges that come with the responsibilities of peacemaking.

-- Betty Cook



December 6, 1982 (Betty Cook)
Isaiah 52:7
Peace

The word messenger rings with anticipation. What is the message? One can hardly wait to bear. Years ago I heard Dr. M. T. Rankin, the former Secretary of our Foreign Mission Board, speak. He told of being interned as a prisoner of the Japanese during World War II. Word came to the group representatives to come to the camp headquarters. They were told that they would be repatriated! What wonderful news! He told of running to spread the good news to his fellow prisoners. He could not get there fast enough. This good news pales in comparison to the good news of which Isaiah speaks. The messenger is coming across the mountains bringing good news to share. It is we who are the messengers, messengers who can say to a world weary of war that peace is possible!

Our patient, Father, we who are so slow to do the work that needs to be done, thank you for your forbearance.

-- Betty Cook



December 7, 1982 (Betty Cook)
Jeremiah 23:5-6
Peace

I was in Edinburgh Scotland several years ago and visited Edinburgh Castle. While at the castle I visited St. Margaret's Chapel. In this chapel there is a depiction of Peace with a broken sword. I asked the crusty ribbon bedecked Scotsman who stood guard, "Do you think this time of peace will ever come?" "Come here," he invited and took me to see a large book in which were inscribed the names of Scots who had lost their lives in the service of their country. The latest entry was a month before. We turn to the prophet, Jeremiah for words of hope and peace. He pictures a ruler, one who is called, Lord, and who will bring peace.

Dear, Lord God, we are desperate for peace, but not desperate enough. We pray for the inner strength needed for this work. We pray for desperation enough to put us to work.

-- Betty Cook



December 8, 1982 (Betty Cook)
Micah 5:2-5

During a visit to Westminster Abbey in London, I heard bells toll on the hour and all kept silent and prayed for peace. Silence in the midst of all the bedlam and hubbub of dozens of tour groups conducted in as many languages, silence and prayer as we look forward to peace in our world. The prophet Micah tells of this time of peace when His people will live in safety and peace. Recently I heard a Russian writer interviewed who spoke with nostalgia of the time when "we did not live in fear but in security." The human spirit yearns for such a time. Little children talk of the mushroom cloud and not growing up. These things ought not to be.

Dear Heavenly Father, we are thankful for those who point up the alternatives of living without peace. We look forward to a time when all of your children will live without fear.

-- Betty Cook



December 9, 1982 (Betty Cook)
Luke 2:11-14
Peace

I never knew Mike Holesh but surely wish I had known him. His daughter Mary Ellen married my nephew this past summer. This was rather a tender time. Mary Ellen was the first member of her family to get married after her father's death. An old friend and business associate was telling us about Mike. "Mike was a peacemaker. He always had a way of bringing people of differing views together." To be thought of as a peacemaker is a wonderful epitaph. The angels made the announcement. This very day your expectation will be fulfilled. It is good to live with expectations. To see expectations come alive calls for celebration. To be thought of as a peacemaker is to live up to our Father's expectations.

Our Father, who art in heaven and who art within us, we pray that we may be enfolded within thy spirit and emboldened to take up the gauntlet and get on with thy work.

-- Betty Cook



December 10, 1982 (Betty Cook)
Matthew 12:18-21
Peace

A sunny Saturday morning in Vienna, Austria was the setting for a peace march. The march was conducted in silence. Around the tree lined Ring Strasse they walked holding aloft signs that proclaimed hope for peace. Isaiah is quoted by our writer, Matthew who describes our Lord who is the chosen servant loved and well pleasing to His Father who does not come with loud shouting and arguments, but in kindness to the helpless and keeps on working until justice is done and on Him will all people put their hope. It is interesting to contemplate the quiet coming of the one called Peacemaker.

Father, we who depend on the loud shouting, the cry for strength, the brash ways, come this day asking for your forgiveness.

-- Betty Cook



December 11, 1982 (Betty Cook)
John 14:27
Peace

In Chicago there is a Peace Museum whose purpose is "to use visual arts as a persuasive force for peace." Recently an exhibit entitled "The Unforgettable Fire" was shown. This is an exhibition of drawings made by the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Many of the captions end with a reference to folding hands. This is a sense of ritual mourning and a prayer for the victims and for the world that we may see and learn. We pray that we may see the warnings and listen to the words of our Lord. He wanted to leave us with His peace, His very own peace.

Our kind and loving Father, we who find it difficult to live at peace within our own family, within our own neighborhoods, within our own nations, now beseech you to give us wisdom and perseverance to seek the peace that you have promised.

-- Betty Cook



Joy

December 12, 1982 (Judy King)
Isaiah 9:2-3
Joy

Recently I have felt the tension between order and disorder in trying to remain sane in the midst of disarray, which has accompanied the addition to our home. The realization has come that such disruption has the capacity (if I allow it) of blocking a true communion with God and others.

The temporariness of these events has made me aware of the many people in our world whose homes and lives are permanently affected by war and other disasters. How much more can these circumstances and subsequent sadness and despair block joy.

On the other hand, in thinking of some of the most difficult and challenging times in my life, I have thought of the many opportunities for change and growth that have been present in those times. What can be more refreshing and nourishing than the wellspring of joy even when a small breakthrough or insight occurs after weeks or months of struggle in coming to terms with self, others, or God?

May we hope for all people during this busy season and in these troubled times to be (in Wordsworth's words) "surprised by joy --impatient as the wind. "

Help us experience your presence not only in times when we are comfortable but especially when we feel frazzled.

-- Judy King



December 13, 1982 (Judy King)
Zechariah 9:9
Joy

Again notice the antithesis present in scripture: this spectacular event is in sharp contrast to the humble means of celebrating.

Why are we not able to rejoice more even in simple ways in the knowledge we have and the experiences we have had with this King? We all have had deep religious experiences which we yearn to recapture when our days are dismal. However, we allow our preoccupation with the present and our responsibilities to get in the way of our celebrating more, and often we lose sight of what once had such important meaning.

Recently having seen the slides of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, I am aware of the joy so evident on her face from knowing and doing her calling. The irony is that this joy, which is present in her life with the daily encounters with people long acquainted with a squalid existence, has its source solely in a deep, spiritual conviction and in communion with God. This person is experiencing in the words of George Bernard Shaw "the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one ...."

Help us become aware of the times we covet things as a substitute for a deeper, richer fuller life. May we seek to live a life reflecting the joy of your salvation and to be aware that even the simplest celebration is acceptable to you.

-- Judy King



December 14, 1982 (Judy King)
Matthew 2:7-12
Joy

Although one who is expecting a child can approach the threshold of joy in anticipating this birth, nothing can match the actualization of what has been expected for nine months or awaited often much longer.

One can only imagine the excitement of the wise men when they recognized the sign of God's fulfillment --the star. When their destination was finally reached, it is understandable what followed --the spontaneous rejoicing, worshiping, and giving of gifts to this one who had been anticipated and long awaited.

May we rejoice, worship, and give the gifts of ourselves for this wonderful gift to the world.

-- Judy King



December 15, 1982 (Judy King)
Luke 1:46-48
Joy

When Mary first discovered she was expecting a child, she was troubled and probably contended with feelings of fear and embarrassment. She possibly shared along with many parents feelings of being overwhelmed with such a responsibility, especially that of bearing God's son.

The scripture does not indicate that she was unduly preoccupied with her situation, but rather she exhibited a trust and a willingness to go to a friend who was experiencing much more uncertainty than she. Mary proved to be an encouragement and an example of pure and simple faith to Elizabeth. Mary, who was at first troubled by these unusual circumstances, was able to give praise and thanksgiving when she listened to God's message for her.

In the midst of uncertainty, help us remember and give thanks for the gift of your Son.

-- Judy King



December 16, 1982 (Judy King)
I John 1: 1-4
Joy

In our world where families and friends are separated by miles, letter writing is most important. There are many other gifts of communication: speaking; sharing by giving time, money, or talents; and writing for publication, to name a few. Keeping our joy to ourselves is to cause the chain of mutual fellowship to be broken.

In seeking joy in our lives, we can only realize its full benefits by giving it away. Since we may never know directly or immediately the joy we may bring to others when we share out of who we are and where we've been, our motives need to be pure ones.

The example comes to mind of the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea, whose waters are each fed by the Jordan River. The Sea of Galilee is vital because for every drop it receives, it reciprocates. In contrast, the Dead Sea does not give back any water in return for what it receives. Therefore, it remains stagnant because it is always on the receiving end.

Enable us to use the gifts we are and have been given to spread our joy and help to encompass our world with Christian Fellowship.

-- Judy King



December 17, 1982 (Judy King)
Luke 2:8-10
Joy

The shepherds experienced in their daily routine the miraculous breakthrough of God's message. How often do we allow the simple joys of life to point us to the giver, creator, and sustainer? My hunch is that we immerse ourselves so intensely in short term or long term goals--graduating, getting a job, getting a promotion, having a family --that we miss so many people and situations around us (especially our loved ones).

I am particularly thankful for the following joys I often take for granted: the unforeseen joy in nurturing a child; the spontaneous affirmation for or from someone special; understanding something which before was puzzling or frustrating; an expression of empathy and encouragement from a friend; an unexpected accomplishment; the experience of unconditional forgiveness; and the rediscovery of some of the wonders of God's creation --mist hovering over the mountains, the flight and landing of a butterfly, and the brilliance of the moon and stars on a clear night.

Sought after joy often leads to frustration. However, a keener awareness of life can bring a new wonder that offers meaning where drudgery may have been.

All thy works with joy surround Thee,
Earth and heav'n reflect Thy rays.
Stars and angels sing around Thee,
Center of unbroken praise.
Field and forest, vale and mountain,
Flowery meadow, flashing sea,
Chanting bird and flowing fountain
Call us to rejoice in Thee.
............................................Henry Van Dyke


Teach us to experience fully the many unwrapped gifts available for our everyday de- light. Help us listen for your message in our routines.

-- Judy King



December 18, 1982 (Judy King)
John 14:3
Joy

Our American society has put such a priority on materialism that we often equate the accumulation of things with "the good life."

C. S. Lewis shares in two books Surprised by Joy and The Joyful Christian how the first part of his life was spent in a preoccupation in attaining joy. He goes on to elaborate that since his conversion this former preoccupation has lost its importance.

Once we have experienced and accepted the love and forgiveness of God through Christ, we are assured of his presence eternally. Moreover, Paul Tillich writes that eternal joy is

"Attained by breaking through the surface by penetrating the deep things of ourselves, of our world, and of God. The moment in which we reach the last depth of our lives is the moment in which we can experience the joy that cannot be destroyed, and the truth on which life and death are built. For in the depth is truth; and in the depth is hope; and in the depth is joy."

May we echo the words of Henry Van Dyke in the hymn "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee:"
Thou art giving and forgiving,
Ever blessing, ever blest,
Wellspring of the joy of living,
Ocean depth of happy rest!
Thou our Father, Christ our Brother --
All who live in love are Thine;
Teach us how to love each other,
Lift us to the joy divine.

-- Judy King



Love

December 19, 1982 (Mike Allen)
John 3:16
Love

"... He gave His only Son so that whosoever..."

Love is receiving. Perhaps there is no greater disappointment than to give a gift to someone who accepts it halfheartedly or--worse--rejects it. And what of those who rush out to "cover" a gift with a purchase of equal value?

A giver seriously considers the need and appropriateness of a gift. To refuse a gift is to reject its giver and the gift's meaning. When you say, "Oh, you shouldn't have!" or "That's too extravagant!" or "I couldn't accept that!" it hurts the giver. Can you imagine God's responses to our protests?

"Oh, you shouldn't have, Lord!"
"But I did, and that's what counts!"
"That's too extravagant a gift!"
"Perhaps. But the gift of my son reflects the depth of love I have for you."
"I couldn't accept that!"
"Your rejection of my gift empties it of meaning for you. Accept the gift of Jesus; it will change your life!"

Gracious God whose giving overwhelms us: Help us to be gracious recipients of your love. Enable us to say "thank you" and to love as if we mean it. Amen.

-- Mike Allen



December 20, 1982 (Mike Allen)
Galatians 5:22-23
Love

"But the Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control."

Love is living. John Powell tells the story of a man who refused to respond unkindly to a newspaper vendor who daily was abusive in his treatment of the man. A friend, observing the insulting vendor, asked him why he should continue to be so polite to the irritating vendor. "Because," he explained, "if I only react to him, he determines how I act --not I." God's purpose is for us to act--not react.

Lives empowered by the Spirit of God produce the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self- control. With the coming of God's gift of love these other things are added to our lives --if we let the Spirit control us. Only then can we spend our time acting rather than reacting. The coming of Christ calls us to live in a way that shows the world just what God's spirit does.

Living, loving God: May the Spirit produce love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control in our lives everyday. Amen.

-- Mike Allen



December 21, 1982 (Mike Allen)
I John 3:1
Love

"His love is so great that we are called God's children,

Love is inheriting. I don't have a rich uncle who will leave me a million dollars when he dies, and if there is buried treasure in the back yard, either the dog or the kids in the neighborhood would have found it by now. Face it, I'll never be wealthy. That is to say that I'll never be wealthy by the world's standards; neither will most of you. However, because we are children of God, our inheritance is secure and it exceeds any imaginable earthly wealth!

In a world of turmoil, I have peace. You can't buy that.
In times of fear, I have reassurance.
In times of despair, I have hope.
In this hate-filled world, I have an inheritance of love.
In this era of the temporary, I have the permanence of all eternity.

Loving Father: Keep us secure in the inheritance of love brought to us by your son, our Brother, Jesus of Nazareth. Amen.

-- Mike Allen



December 22, 1982 (Mike Allen)
John 15:12
Love

"My commandment is this: love one another just as I love you."


Love is obeying. "My commandment is this," said Jesus. Most of us would have been more comfortable with a word like "suggestion" or "plan" or "wish" or "request," rather than "commandment." After all, "commandment" is such a harsh sounding term, seeming to offer no option. Surely love can't be commanded, we say. Isn't love warm and cozy, tender and caring?

Too often we forget that love makes demands on us as well as giving us warm, tender, caring feelings. The demand is that we love one another, no matter how unlikable or how different we are.

Love is commanded. But God's love brings the strength to love beyond our human capacity and the forgiving grace that erases our failures.

Gracious, but commanding God: We answer your call to love because you love us so. Amen.

-- Mike Allen



December 23, 1982 (Mike Allen)
John 16:27
Love

"The Father loves you because you love me and believed that I came from the Father."

Love is believing. One of the most wonderful things about children is their ability to believe. When we experience God's love, we become as children again, believing, trusting our Heavenly Father.

Patient Father: Strengthen our spirits. For the One sent, we praise your name. Amen.

-- Mike Allen



December 24, 1982
I John 4:7-12
Love

"Dear friends, if this is how God loved us, then we should love one another."

Love is giving. A dear friend, Lottie Loggins, was the cook and maid at the University of Alabama Baptist Student Center. She complimented the people around her with great ease, knowing how to love. She was fond of saying, "I like to give people flowers while are alive rather than heaping flowers on them after they're dead."

In giving to others we are giving to God. While gift giving is an important part of the season, it is even more important to give of ourselves. Any grandparent knows that a picture especially drawn by a grandchild is far more valuable than a bought one. The person I touch in giving is similar to the difference between home-made and store- bought chocolate chip cookies! Sometimes the best gift is a simple "I love you."

Dear God: On this eve of the Coming, make us aware of the love we can give to those around us. Amen.

-- Mike Allen



December 25, 1982 (Mike Allen)
Ephesians 3:14-19
Love

"I pray that you...may have the power to understand how broad and long, how high and deep, is Christ's love."

Love is understanding. Frederich Buechner wrote: "The first stage of love is to believe that there is only one kind of love. The middle stage is to believe that there are many kinds of love and that the Greeks had a different word for each of them. The last stage is to believe that there is only one kind of love."

Understanding that all other loves pale in comparison to the love of God is the beginning of wisdom. That understanding brings perspective to life.

On Christmas we remember the Son of God who came to us as a little baby in a Bethlehem stable. In the humblest of beginnings the "only one kind of love" made itself known to the world. The broadest and longest, highest and deepest love, Christ's love, is ours this day!

Oh, God who is love: We give thanks for every aspect of your unfathomable love made known to us in Jesus Christ. Amen.

-- Mike Allen



Return to Advent Meditation Index
Advent 82 1982 by Crescent Hill Baptist Church, 2800 Frankfort Avenue, Louisville, KY 40206. No part of this book may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the publisher.


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Louisville, Kentucky 40206
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