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Message of Hope

Today’s Reflection

I SEE MORE now when I pay attention, which I often do not, and I am more overwhelmed by beauty that I now realize has nothing to do with me at all—except as it brings me half-understood messages of God’s goodness and love. Two sights from my adult past I remember now. The first is a huge oak tree outside my floor-to-ceiling window before my daughter was born. It was covered with dark red leaves of such an intensity that their red color and shapes reflected off the white walls of the apartment where I lived. It was truly astonishing and it hardly seemed possible, but there it was. Through that tree I received an obscure message of hope and beauty at a place in my life that seemed so hopeless I was not sure I could survive it.

—Roberta C. Bondi, Wild Things: Poems of Grief and Love, Loss and Gratitude (Upper Room Books, 2014)

Today’s Question

What might God want you to notice today as a message of hope?  Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

“Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us,
even as we hope in you.”
—Psalm 33:22 (NRSV)

Prayer for the Week

Creator God, As you draw us closer to you, draw us closer to each other. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room.

Something More

Who came up with the idea of using nativity scenes to celebrate Christmas? Many might be surprised to learn that Francis of Assisi, the well-known thirteenth-century saint, is credited with creating the first nativity scene. The Living Nativity: Preparing for Christmas with Saint Francis introduces readers to Saint Francis and his joyous reenactment of the birth of Jesus, complete with a manger and animals. Discover more.

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Looking for lectionary-based resources? Learn more about The Upper Room Disciplines.

Sponsored by The Upper Room. Copyright © 2019 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Pure Grief

Today’s Reflection

IF GRATITUDE ushers in healing, how do we come by it? The gift of gratitude, while wonderful, is exactly that—a gift. None of us can will it into being or perform exercises to make it happen. It is a gift of God, pure grace. I do believe, however, that we will finally receive it if we look around, hold ourselves open to it, watch for it without cynicism or bullying of the universe, and long for it as best we can from the place of grief where we find ourselves.

—Roberta C. Bondi, Wild Things: Poems of Grief and Love, Loss and Gratitude (Upper Room Books, 2014)

Today’s Question

How can you become more open to receiving God’s gifts?  Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”
—Ephesians 2:8 (NRSV)

Prayer for the Week

Creator God, As you draw us closer to you, draw us closer to each other. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room.

Something More

Who came up with the idea of using nativity scenes to celebrate Christmas? Many might be surprised to learn that Francis of Assisi, the well-known thirteenth-century saint, is credited with creating the first nativity scene. The Living Nativity: Preparing for Christmas with Saint Francis introduces readers to Saint Francis and his joyous reenactment of the birth of Jesus, complete with a manger and animals. Discover more.

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Looking for lectionary-based resources? Learn more about The Upper Room Disciplines.

Sponsored by The Upper Room. Copyright © 2019 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Healing of Grief

Today’s Reflection

I FOUND IT painful to remember these activities and feelings, yet the memories filled me then and fill me now with an overwhelming sense of gratitude. Perhaps this gratitude carried the beginning of the healing of grief with it. I do not recall having ever been so completely grateful for my mother’s life, her being, or her gifts in this way. It was like sunlight on a warm field, a hot meal in a safe place on a cold day, a soaking in of summer beauty complete with a breeze. It involved the limbering up of stiffened muscles, the waking from sleep. Gratitude works like this.

—Roberta C. Bondi, Wild Things: Poems of Grief and Love, Loss and Gratitude (Upper Room Books, 2014)

Today’s Question

Have you ever noticed gratitude in the midst of grief?  Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
—Matthew 5:4 (NRSV)

Prayer for the Week

Creator God, As you draw us closer to you, draw us closer to each other. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room.

Something More

Who came up with the idea of using nativity scenes to celebrate Christmas? Many might be surprised to learn that Francis of Assisi, the well-known thirteenth-century saint, is credited with creating the first nativity scene. The Living Nativity: Preparing for Christmas with Saint Francis introduces readers to Saint Francis and his joyous reenactment of the birth of Jesus, complete with a manger and animals. Discover more.

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Looking for lectionary-based resources? Learn more about The Upper Room Disciplines.

Sponsored by The Upper Room. Copyright © 2019 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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The Faith of My Friends

Today’s Reflection

MY FRIEND AND his wife were worse than heartbroken at the time. He didn’t know how they would survive the death, but he told me how they lived through it. At the funeral, people said to him over and over, “Tom, you know your faith will get you through this.” He stopped for a moment, looked at me, and then said, “Roberta, it was not my faith that got me through it. It was the faith of my friends.”

I have never forgotten this generous sharing of his painful story at a time I needed to hear it, a time when I was not sure I could believe in much of anything positive. That I have been saved by the faith of my friends I have found to be true again when my hope, energy, and, yes, faith have failed me.

—Roberta C. Bondi, Wild Things: Poems of Grief and Love, Loss and Gratitude (Upper Room Books, 2014)

Today’s Question

When have your friends helped you have faith?  Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
—Hebrews 11:1 (NRSV)

Prayer for the Week

Creator God, As you draw us closer to you, draw us closer to each other. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room .

Something More

Who came up with the idea of using nativity scenes to celebrate Christmas? You might be surprised to learn that Francis of Assisi, the well-known 13th-century saint, is credited with creating the first nativity scene. The Living Nativity: Preparing for Christmas with Saint Francis introduces readers to Saint Francis and his joyous reenactment of the birth of Jesus, complete with a manger and animals. Discover more.

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Looking for lectionary-based resources? Learn more about The Upper Room Disciplines.

Sponsored by The Upper Room. Copyright © 2019 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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God’s Protection

Today’s Reflection

PEOPLE OF FAITH know where to turn for safety; they find repose in the arms of God’s protection. The mystery of suffering and affliction may not resolve into simple explanations and ease in life, but in the promise of God’s loving care, we feel secure. … Underneath all that perplexes us in life are God’s everlasting arms.

—Paul Wesley Chilcote, A Life-Shaping Prayer: 52 Meditations in the Wesleyan Spirit (Upper Room Books, 2008)

Today’s Question

What helps you rest in God’s everlasting arms?  Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

“The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer,
my God, my rock in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

—Psalm 18:2 (NRSV)

Prayer for the Week

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might. Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room .

Something More

Blue Christmas: Devotions of Light in a Season of Darkness, an Advent devotional book by Todd Outcalt, reminds us that even in our darkest times, God offers us hope and comfort if we are willing to bring our deepest fears into the light of God’s love. Discover more.

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Looking for lectionary-based resources? Learn more about The Upper Room Disciplines.

Sponsored by The Upper Room. Copyright © 2019 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Glorify God

Today’s Reflection

OUR LIVES GLORIFY God when we live in loving relationship with one another. Our lives glorify God when we offer hospitality to those who need our care and support. Our lives glorify God when we use the unique gifts that God has given to each of us, not to bring attention to ourselves but for healing, edifying, encouraging, and serving others.

—Paul Wesley Chilcote, A Life-Shaping Prayer: 52 Meditations in the Wesleyan Spirit (Upper Room Books, 2008)

Today’s Question

How can your life glorify God today?  Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

“You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created.”

—Revelation 4:11 (NRSV)

Prayer for the Week

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might. Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room .

Something More

Blue Christmas: Devotions of Light in a Season of Darkness, an Advent devotional book by Todd Outcalt, reminds us that even in our darkest times, God offers us hope and comfort if we are willing to bring our deepest fears into the light of God’s love. Discover more.

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Looking for lectionary-based resources? Learn more about The Upper Room Disciplines.

Sponsored by The Upper Room. Copyright © 2019 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Immeasurable Love

Today’s Reflection

FOR THE DISCIPLE of Christ, it is not too much to claim that love defines everything. Love teaches us who we are. Love receives us when, in humility and repentance, we turn back to the God who loves us with an immeasurable love. Love restores and heals our soul. Love provides our direction, shapes our actions, and establishes our goals in life. God has constructed us in such a way that love, in fact, should characterize all our relationships.

—Paul Wesley Chilcote, A Life-Shaping Prayer: 52 Meditations in the Wesleyan Spirit (Upper Room Books, 2008)

Today’s Question

Does love characterize your relationships?  Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

“And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”
—1 Corinthians 13:13 (NRSV)

Prayer for the Week

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might. Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room .

Something More

Blue Christmas: Devotions of Light in a Season of Darkness, an Advent devotional book by Todd Outcalt, reminds us that even in our darkest times, God offers us hope and comfort if we are willing to bring our deepest fears into the light of God’s love. Discover more.

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Looking for lectionary-based resources? Learn more about The Upper Room Disciplines.

Sponsored by The Upper Room. Copyright © 2019 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

{ 7 comments }

The Goal of Love

Today’s Reflection

CREATED IN GOD’S own image—with the capacity to
love—we seek to love God with our whole being and to love
our neighbors as we love ourselves. Faith is the means to this
loving end. In other words, built upon a firm foundation of
trust in Christ, our lives move toward the goal of love—the
fullest possible love of God and the fullest possible love of all
people and things in God. What an audacious vision, to be
immersed and lost in God’s love!

—Paul Wesley Chilcote, A Life-Shaping Prayer: 52 Meditations in the Wesleyan Spirit (Upper Room Books, 2008)

Today’s Question

When have you felt immersed in God’s love?  Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

“For this is the message you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.”
—1 John 3:11 (NRSV)

Prayer for the Week

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might. Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room .

Something More

Blue Christmas: Devotions of Light in a Season of Darkness, an Advent devotional book by Todd Outcalt, reminds us that even in our darkest times, God offers us hope and comfort if we are willing to bring our deepest fears into the light of God’s love. Discover more.

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Looking for lectionary-based resources? Learn more about The Upper Room Disciplines.

Sponsored by The Upper Room. Copyright © 2019 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Concert of Praise

Today’s Reflection

FOR THE BELIEVER, life is a concert of praise; indeed,
one’s whole life is a song to be sung, a melodious act of gratitude
to the One who has given us life and redeemed us by
grace. But while solos have their place, it is a chorus—the
whole company of God’s faithful people—that sings “Holy,
holy, holy Lord, God of power and might. Heaven and earth
are full of your glory.”

—Paul Wesley Chilcote, A Life-Shaping Prayer: 52 Meditations in the Wesleyan Spirit (Upper Room Books, 2008)

Today’s Question

How can you participate in the chorus of God’s faithful people today?  Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

“O sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth.”

—Psalm 96:1 (NRSV)

Prayer for the Week

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might. Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room .

Something More

Blue Christmas: Devotions of Light in a Season of Darkness, an Advent devotional book by Todd Outcalt, reminds us that even in our darkest times, God offers us hope and comfort if we are willing to bring our deepest fears into the light of God’s love. Discover more.

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Looking for lectionary-based resources? Learn more about The Upper Room Disciplines.

Sponsored by The Upper Room. Copyright © 2019 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

{ 4 comments }

A Banquet of Sweet Things

Today’s Reflection

GOD’S WORD is sweet. God’s law, God’s commandments,
God’s words not only seem sweet but create
sweetness. They sweeten everything they touch. In this
unique way of thinking about our relationship with God,
God delights in providing a banquet of sweet things for us.
God invites all who are hungry and thirsty—all who seek
mercy and salvation—to come, to drink, and to eat. God
offers us the most nourishing food imaginable and shares
the sweetness of Christ’s mercy with us all.

—Paul Wesley Chilcote, A Life-Shaping Prayer: 52 Meditations in the Wesleyan Spirit (Upper Room Books, 2008)

Today’s Question

When have you tasted the sweetness of Christ’s mercy?  Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

“How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!”
—Psalm 119:103 (NRSV)

Prayer for the Week

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might. Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room .

Something More

Blue Christmas: Devotions of Light in a Season of Darkness, an Advent devotional book by Todd Outcalt, reminds us that even in our darkest times, God offers us hope and comfort if we are willing to bring our deepest fears into the light of God’s love. Discover more.

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Looking for lectionary-based resources? Learn more about The Upper Room Disciplines.

Sponsored by The Upper Room. Copyright © 2019 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

{ 9 comments }