Advent Daybook, 13: When I was in a besieged city

My Advent daybook for these 24 days of waiting. Join me, won't you? (see previous Advent daybook 2017 posts here)

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Jerusalem and surrounding areas, screenshot from the music video by The Brilliance, "Yahweh"

Jerusalem and surrounding areas, screenshot from the music video by The Brilliance, "Yahweh"


music for today: "Yahweh", The Brilliance  (lyrics)

Spotify | YouTube


In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest: “Thus says the Lord of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord.” Then the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.

“Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the Lord. You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the Lord of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house. Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. And I have called for a drought on the land and the hills, on the grain, the new wine, the oil, on what the ground brings forth, on man and beast, and on all their labors.”

—-

”Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind! In the cover of your presence you hide them from the plots of men; you store them in your shelter from the strife of tongues.

Blessed be the Lord, for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me when I was in a besieged city. I had said in my alarm, “I am cut off from your sight.” But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy when I cried to you for help.

Love the Lord, all you his saints! The Lord preserves the faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride. Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!

—-

”‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

—-

“ ‘O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’
— Haggai 1:1-12, Psalm 31:19-24, Revelation 2:29, Matthew 23:37-39 (ESV)

* Sunday Scripture readings are taken from the Revised Common Lectionary (Year B). Daily Scripture readings are taken from the Book of Common Prayer (Year 2).


prayer for today:

With all our heart and with all our mind, let us pray to the Lord, saying “Lord, have mercy.”

For the peace from above, for the loving-kindness of God, and for the salvation of our souls, let us pray to the Lord.

Lord, have mercy.

For the peace of the world, for the welfare of the Holy Church of God, and for the unity of all peoples, let us pray to the Lord.

Lord, have mercy.

For our spiritual leaders, and for all the clergy and people of congregations, let us pray to the Lord.

Lord, have mercy.

For our President, for the leaders of the nations, and for all in authority, let us pray to the Lord.

Lord, have mercy.

For this city (town, village, _______ ), for every city and community, and for those who live in them, let us pray to the Lord.

Lord, have mercy.

For seasonable weather, and for an abundance of the fruits of the earth, let us pray to the Lord.

Lord, have mercy.

For the good earth which God has given us, and for the wisdom and will to conserve it, let us pray to the Lord.

Lord, have mercy.

For those who travel on land, on water, or in the air, let us pray to the Lord.

Lord, have mercy.

For the aged and infirm, for the widowed and orphans, and for the sick and the suffering, let us pray to the Lord.

Lord, have mercy.

For ______________ , let us pray to the Lord.

Lord, have mercy.

For the poor and the oppressed, for the unemployed and the destitute, for prisoners and captives, and for all who remember and care for them, let us pray to the Lord.

Lord, have mercy.

For all who have died in the hope of the resurrection, and for the lives of all the departed, we give you thanks, oh Lord. May we follow in the footsteps of the faithful.

Lord, have mercy

For deliverance from all danger, violence, oppression, and degradation, let us pray to the Lord.

Lord, have mercy.

For the absolution and remission of our sins and offenses, let us pray to the Lord.

Lord, have mercy.

That we may end our lives in faith and hope, without
suffering and without reproach, let us pray to the Lord.

Lord, have mercy.

Defend us, deliver us, and in thy compassion protect us, O Lord, by thy grace.

Lord, have mercy.

In the communion of all the saints, let us commend ourselves, and one another, and all our life, to Christ our God.

To thee, O Lord our God.

Silence.
— Prayers of the People (Form 1), Book of Common Prayer

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Make a simple loaf of bread to share with a neighbor, co-worker, or someone in your community you want to show appreciation. Don't worry about being fancy. A loaf of bread in itself is deeply meaningful. If you're not able to make your own, pick up a fresh loaf from a local bakery. 

Here's a recipe if you need one: Easy Cinnamon Bread


(see all Advent daybook posts from 2016 here)

Advent Daybook, 14: Selah

My Advent daybook for these 24 days of waiting. Join me, won't you? (see previous Advent daybook 2017 posts here)

*Note: If you're reading this in email, the formatting usually looks much better at the website. Just click the post title to get there.*


Exhibit photo of Makoto Fujimura's Silence and Beauty (source)

Watch video reflections from the artist here.


music for today: "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence" (lyrics)

Spotify | YouTube


‘Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the Lord. Work, for I am with you, declares the Lord of hosts, according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not. For thus says the Lord of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the Lord of hosts. The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts.’”

—-

”Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah

I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah.”

—-

”Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.”

—-

”Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” ...

But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
— Haggai 2:4b-9, Psalm 32:1-5, Revelation 3:2-3 & Matthew 24:1-2, 13-14 (ESV)

* Sunday Scripture readings are taken from the Revised Common Lectionary (Year B). Daily Scripture readings are taken from the Book of Common Prayer (Year 2).


prayer for today:

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Psalm 32:8, NIV

Lord our God, we come into your presence and ask you to help us. Help us in every part of our lives, even when we do not understand. Be with us with your Spirit. Guide and lead us with your hand. Let your will be done in all things, even if we must bear suffering. Your will is for good alone and you will set everything right. Help us. Bless us through your Word, through everything we are allowed to hear from you, our God and our Father. Amen.
— Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt (1842–1919), via Plough.com

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The Hebrew word selah (see-lah) is repeated throughout today's Psalm. The definition of this word is probably a musical reference, calling for a break in the singing of the Psalm. The Amplified Bible (AMP)  adds the explanatory phrase, "pause, and calmly think of that!", each time the word Selah shows up in the Psalms. Today, take some time to be silent, without any noise or distraction, to pause and calmly think about the first two weeks of Advent. There is no need to strive for a profound insight during this time. Just be still. If you begin to sense thoughts or feelings bubbling up in the quiet, notice them without trying to analyze. You might breathe out one phrase each time you're tempted to become distracted. Try something like "O, come, Emmanuel" or even, "Selah, pause and calmly think of that". Trust God as your Heavenly Father to be present with you through Christ and by His Spirit. End your time with a simple prayer or chorus. Go about your day in peace.


(see all Advent daybook posts from 2016 here)

Advent Daybook, 12: Woe to you who shut the kingdom of heaven in people's faces

My Advent daybook for these 24 days of waiting. Join me, won't you? (see previous Advent daybook 2017 posts here)

*Note: If you're reading this in email, the formatting usually looks much better at the website. Just click the post title to get there.*


Public Function by Frank Kunert (source)

Public Function by Frank Kunert (source)


music for today: "May you find a light", The Brilliance  (lyrics)

Spotify | YouTube


The Lord God of hosts, he who touches the earth and it melts, and all who dwell in it mourn, and all of it rises like the Nile, and sinks again, like the Nile of Egypt; who builds his upper chambers in the heavens and founds his vault upon the earth; who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out upon the surface of the earth—the Lord is his name. ...
’For behold, I will command, and shake the house of Israel among all the nations as one shakes with a sieve, but no pebble shall fall to the earth. All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, who say, ‘Disaster shall not overtake or meet us.’

—-

”Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb.

Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!

Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.

In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there. But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.”

—-

”‘But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. ...

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.’
— Amos 9:5-6,9-10, Psalm 37:1-11 & Matthew 23:13-14, 23-25 (ESV)

* Sunday Scripture readings are taken from the Revised Common Lectionary (Year B). Daily Scripture readings are taken from the Book of Common Prayer (Year 2).


prayer for today:

Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown. Revelation 2:10, NIV

Lord our God, we come into your presence. Hear our prayers, we entreat you. Let your will be done among us; let your will be done for each one of us individually, and for our time. Let everything go according to your will, even if the way leads through tribulation, fear, and need. For in the end your goal will be reached. In the end you will fulfill your purpose, and your kingdom will come. Your kingdom will come to the honor of your name and for the redemption of all people still suffering on earth. Let your Word bring us blessing. May we go forward joyfully in the patience of Jesus Christ until times change, until a new day dawns and we are allowed to see your glory and your peace. Amen.
— Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt (1842–1919), via Plough.com

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(see all Advent daybook posts from 2016 here)

Advent Daybook, 11: They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on people's shoulders

My Advent daybook for these 24 days of waiting. Join me, won't you? (see previous Advent daybook 2017 posts here)

*Note: If you're reading this in email, the formatting usually looks much better at the website. Just click the post title to get there.*


In Kenya, a man carries a big sack at the country's biggest dumpsite in the capital, Nairobi, ahead of a ban on the use of plastic bags. August 2017, Reuters (source)

In Kenya, a man carries a big sack at the country's biggest dumpsite in the capital, Nairobi, ahead of a ban on the use of plastic bags. August 2017, Reuters (source)


music for today: "Behold, Behold (Revelation)"  (lyrics)

Spotify | YouTube


Listen to this, you who walk all over the weak, you who treat poor people as less than nothing, Who say, “When’s my next paycheck coming so I can go out and live it up? How long till the weekend when I can go out and have a good time?” Who give little and take much, and never do an honest day’s work. You exploit the poor, using them — and then, when they’re used up, you discard them.

God swears against the arrogance of Jacob: “I’m keeping track of their every last sin.” God’s oath will shake earth’s foundations, dissolve the whole world into tears. God’s oath will sweep in like a river that rises, flooding houses and lands, And then recedes, leaving behind a sea of mud.

“On Judgment Day, watch out!” These are the words of God, my Master. “I’ll turn off the sun at noon. In the middle of the day the earth will go black. I’ll turn your parties into funerals and make every song you sing a dirge. Everyone will walk around in rags, with sunken eyes and bald heads. Think of the worst that could happen —your only son, say, murdered. That’s a hint of Judgment Day —that and much more.

“Oh yes, Judgment Day is coming!”
These are the words of my Master God.”

—-

” ‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’ “

—-

”Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. ... The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
— Amos 8:4-11a (MSG), Psalm 38:1-4, Revelation 2:2-7 & Matthew 23:1-4,11-12 (ESV)

* Sunday Scripture readings are taken from the Revised Common Lectionary (Year B). Daily Scripture readings are taken from the Book of Common Prayer (Year 2).


prayer for today:

And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.” Revelation 1:17-18, NIV

Lord our God, we thank you with all our hearts that Jesus Christ still lives today and that we may believe in him and call upon him as our Savior. We thank you for him who sees to the depths of our human misery and calls right into the midst of it, “Do not be afraid. I am with you. I live. I am your helper. No matter how insignificant you are, fear not, for I, Jesus Christ, shine into all the darkness, even into the darkness of sin and death, into all the judgment that has fallen or is still to come upon everyone on Earth.” Praise to your name, Lord our God! You are great and almighty and beyond our understanding. But you have sent us the Savior whom we can understand, and we rejoice that we may have community with him in your presence. Amen.
— Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt (1842–1919), via Plough.com

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Fast from all beverages today except water. As you think about the way water sustains you, recall the passage from Amos we read last week: "But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream." Pray for not only the metaphorical living water of life and justice to roll across the lands, but also for the literal, physical needs many have for clean, abundant water.

Here's an excellent resource to know how to help those in need of water: Hope On A Thousand Hills.


(see all Advent daybook posts from 2016 here)

Advent Daybook, 10: Hear, O Israel

My Advent daybook for these 24 days of waiting. Join me, won't you? (see previous Advent daybook 2017 posts here)

*Note: If you're reading this in email, the formatting usually looks much better at the website. Just click the post title to get there.*


A Hanukkah menorah (also known as a “chanukiah”) glows in front of the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest site, in Jerusalem's Old City. The eight-day festival commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem during the 2nd century B.C. by Reuters / Ronen Zvulun (source)

A Hanukkah menorah (also known as a “chanukiah”) glows in front of the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest site, in Jerusalem's Old City. The eight-day festival commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem during the 2nd century B.C. by Reuters / Ronen Zvulun (source)


music for today: "Hear O Israel", Keith & Kristyn Getty (lyrics) (Spotify) (YouTube)


Blessed be the Lord!
For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;
my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.

The Lord is the strength of his people;
he is the saving refuge of his anointed.
Oh, save your people and bless your heritage!
Be their shepherd and carry them forever.”

—-

”I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”

Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.”

—-

”But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.
— Psalm 28:6-9, Revelation 1:9-16, & Matthew 22:34-40 (ESV)

* Sunday Scripture readings are taken from the Revised Common Lectionary (Year B). Daily Scripture readings are taken from the Book of Common Prayer (Year 2).


prayer for today:

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:37–39, NIV

Lord our God, through your Spirit help us to live in love to you. Open our eyes to see your goodness and truth surrounding us your children, even in this troubled world. We look to you, Almighty Father. Protect us in these difficult times. We plead for our country, entrusting it to your care so that love to you may be awakened. Where shall we turn except to you? Where shall we find help except in Jesus Christ, whom you have sent to us to win the victory, to subdue and end all evil in heaven, on earth, and under the earth, and to become Lord, to the glory of your name? Amen.
— Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt (1842–1919), via Plough.com

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As you sit in candlelight this evening, pray for all those sitting in darkness would begin to see the light of Christ. 

As today is the first of the eight days of Hanukkah, pray for those adhering to the religion of Judaism around the world to know Yeshua to be the true Messiah: "O Come, O come Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel." (Here is a helpful prayer resource.)


(see all Advent daybook posts from 2016 here)