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Giving Your Gifts

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Today’s Reflection

THIS SEASON OF GIFT-GIVING provides an appropriate time to imagine how you might offer your growing gifts of the Spirit during these often hectic days, when both people and packages fill our lives.

We can’t give away what we don’t possess. As spiritual gifts are born within us, we can bestow blessings on those around us out of the abundant overflow:
• Kindness — We can shower others with affirmation, encouraging the flickering candle of their best selves to burn more brightly.
• Patience — We can be more tolerant when things go awry.
• Peace — We can fill the atmosphere with our own sense of peace, a calm amid the chaos, so that it summons the peace of others.
• Goodness — We can focus on the positives, rather than the faults, of those around us.
• Generosity — We can give our full attention to each person, one at a time, not omitting even the most troublesome.
• Self-control — We can commit ourselves to no outbursts, no irritating reports.
• Faithfulness — We can be true to the blessed values of the Christmas season.
• Joy — We can be the source of smiles, laughter, and appreciation.
• Love — We can sift every thought, word, and action through the filter of “Is it loving?”

– Linda Douty
Rhythms of Growth

From page 375 of Rhythms of Growth: 365 Meditations to Nurture the Soul by Linda Douty. Copyright © 2014 by Linda Douty. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

To whom can you give a spiritual gift today? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth; and he shall be the one of peace.

Micah 5:4-5, NRSV

This Week: Pray for joy. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

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This week we remember: Peter Casinius (December 21).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2018 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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May the Holy Spirit Fall

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Today’s Reflection

MAY THE HOLY SPIRIT fall upon you.
Like a falling star, trailing across the dawns and dusks of your Advent living,
may the Spirit mark you with light and point the way toward God-With-Us.
Be patient, draw close, for the Lord is very near. Amen.

– Pamela C. Hawkins
Simply Wait

From page 67 of Simply Wait: Cultivating Stillness in the Season of Advent by Pamela C. Hawkins. Copyright © 2007 by Pamela C. Hawkins. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Pray today’s prayer. Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days.

Micah 5:2, NRSV

This Week: Pray for joy. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

Prepare for Advent

Explore how nativity sets, Advent wreaths, candles, carols, Christmas cards, and other traditions help prepare our hearts for the God “who bends low to enter our world and our lives.” The Living Nativity, a new book and eCourse by Larry Peacock, is available now.

This week we remember: Peter Casinius (December 21).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2018 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Awaiting Christ’s Arrival

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Today’s Reflection

GOD OF LOVE, you are the source of all mercy and blessing,
ever giving yourself to us and calling us to live in your love.
As we wait for Christ’s arrival in this holy season of watching,
may we proclaim with our lives the healing and good news the Messiah brings.

—Carmen Lile-Henley

Alive Now

From page 50 of Alive Now , November/December 2006. Copyright © 2006 by The Upper Room. All rights reserved. Used by permission. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase The Upper Room.

Today’s Question

Pray today’s prayer. Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Luke 3:16, NRSV

This Week: Pray for those mourning a loved one. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

Prepare for Advent

Explore how nativity sets, Advent wreaths, candles, carols, Christmas cards, and other traditions help prepare our hearts for the God “who bends low to enter our world and our lives.” The Living Nativity, a new book and eCourse by Larry Peacock, is available now.

This week we remember: Thomas Merton (December 10).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2018 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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We Need God’s Peace

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Today’s Reflection

GOD OF THE HEAVENS and the earth,
We need your peace.
Send your gentle, fierce Spirit
to all the war-torn lands
and broken relationships.
Come, God of peace.
We need you today. Amen.

– Beth A. Richardson
Child of the Light

From page 93 of Child of the Light: Walking through Advent and Christmas by Beth A. Richardson. Copyright © 2005 by Beth A. Richardson. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Pray today’s prayer. Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

In reply John said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.”

Luke 3:11, NRSV

This Week: Pray for those mourning a loved one. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

Prepare for Advent

Explore how nativity sets, Advent wreaths, candles, carols, Christmas cards, and other traditions help prepare our hearts for the God “who bends low to enter our world and our lives.” The Living Nativity, a new book and eCourse by Larry Peacock, is available now.

This week we remember: Thomas Merton (December 10).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2018 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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“I Am with You”

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Today’s Reflection

“I AM WITH YOU,” God promises Mary through the angel Gabriel. … “I am with you,” God promises Joseph, Mary’s husband-to-be, in a dream. . . .

Promise by promise, the Advent story stretches out, like bands of cloth across a waiting manger. “I am with you,” God promises, through the words of prophets; in the songs of psalmists; from the lips of angels; by a fresh, tiny birth cry in the night.

And intersecting each strand of promise made by God, another promise is placed: from the yes of a girl, by the trust of a man, through the hope of a people, in the flesh of humanity. From the beginning to the end, Jesus Christ embodies God’s promise to the world, for you and for me: “I am with you.”

Behold!

From page 84 of Behold! Cultivating Attentiveness During the Season of Advent by Pamela C. Hawkins. Copyright © 2011 by Pamela C. Hawkins. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

How do you see Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s promise? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:7, NRSV

This Week: Pray for those mourning a loved one. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

Prepare for Advent

Explore how nativity sets, Advent wreaths, candles, carols, Christmas cards, and other traditions help prepare our hearts for the God “who bends low to enter our world and our lives.” The Living Nativity, a new book and eCourse by Larry Peacock, is available now.

This week we remember: Thomas Merton (December 10).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2018 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Love Is the Essence

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Today’s Reflection

Love is the essence of who we are. At the manger, we gaze into the eyes of Jesus and see the perfect manifestation of God’s love embodied through a miraculous birth thousands of years ago. However, just as miraculous is the awareness that God’s love is reborn every single day when we choose to embody the love of God that dwells at the very center of our soul—our God-spark. We are created in God’s image, and we are good. We are fully capable of giving love to one another because we first were loved fully by God. The relational threads of love bind us—God, self, and other—together, and we are woven into a beautiful tapestry that we call humanity.

– Sharon Seyfarth Garner
Mandalas, Candles, and Prayer

From pages 47–48 of Mandalas, Candles, and Prayer: A Simply Centered Advent by Sharon Seyfarth Garner. Copyright © 2017 by Sharon Seyfarth Garner. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

How will you show love to humanity in this season of Advent? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.

Philippians 4:4, NRSV

This Week: Pray for those mourning a loved one. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

Prepare for Advent

Explore how nativity sets, Advent wreaths, candles, carols, Christmas cards, and other traditions help prepare our hearts for the God “who bends low to enter our world and our lives.” The Living Nativity, a new book and eCourse by Larry Peacock, is available now.

This week we remember: Thomas Merton (December 10).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2018 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Advent with the Body of Christ

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Today’s Reflection

ADVENT IS A FITTING TIME to remember that we are all members of the body of Christ. Individual efforts do not sustain faith. We need the spirit of God to assist us in all things, but we also need each other. …

We need to learn to rely on one another in all seasons of our lives and to practice being present with those with whom we share community on a regular basis. Let us imagine a believing community that exhibits hope and belief to those who find themselves wearied by the spiritual journey. This collective bearing of strengths and struggles is one way we, as a unified body of Christ, learn to faithfully wait together for the coming fullness of God’s kingdom.


Silence and Other Surprising Invitations of Advent

From pages 33-34 of Silence and Other Surprising Invitations of Advent by Enuma Okoro. Copyright © 2012 by Enuma Okoro. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

What Advent or Christmas events are you attending with your community? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

Isaiah 12:6, NRSV

This Week: Pray for those mourning a loved one. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

Prepare for Advent

Explore how nativity sets, Advent wreaths, candles, carols, Christmas cards, and other traditions help prepare our hearts for the God “who bends low to enter our world and our lives.” The Living Nativity, a new book and eCourse by Larry Peacock, is available now.

This week we remember: Thomas Merton (December 10).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2018 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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A Time of Silence

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Today’s Reflection

THIS YEAR needs Advent; needs a keeping space
Of silence and of darkness nearing down,
Someplace where all that can be still is stilled
And everything but hope and fear are gone,
Where there is less of me and more of grace.
There in the waiting moments you have willed
Lies healing for an often-wounded soul,
The deep recovery of who I am
Where every whispered longing to be whole I ever breathed
is finally fulfilled.
–Jennifer Lynn Woodruff

Alive Now

From “Preparing the Way” by Jennifer Lynn Woodruff in Alive Now, November/December 2000, page 34. Copyright © 2000 by The Upper Room. All rights reserved. Used by permission. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about The Upper Room.

Today’s Question

How is the season of Advent a time of renewal for you? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the LORD GOD is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation.

Isaiah 12:2, NRSV

This Week: Pray for those mourning a loved one. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

Prepare for Advent

Explore how nativity sets, Advent wreaths, candles, carols, Christmas cards, and other traditions help prepare our hearts for the God “who bends low to enter our world and our lives.” The Living Nativity, a new book and eCourse by Larry Peacock, is available now.

This week we remember: Thomas Merton (December 10).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2018 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Come, O Hope

In order to continue receiving Upper Room Daily Reflections after January 1, 2019, please confirm your subscription here.

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Today’s Reflection

O HOPE,
aperture of God’s expansive view;
prism through which all true Light breaks,
illuminating paths and patterns,
ways and wanderers.
Refract our shortsightedness
that we may look to the East with distance vision
and find our Advent way.
Come, O Hope,
focus our blurred
and distracted sight
that we might see clearly the One who is coming.
Amen.

– Pamela C. Hawkins
Simply Wait

From page 43 of Simply Wait: Cultivating Stillness in the Season of Advent by Pamela C. Hawkins. Copyright © 2007 by Pamela C. Hawkins. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Pray today’s prayer. Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

Sing aloud, O daughter Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem!
Zephaniah 3:14, NRSV

This Week: Pray for those mourning a loved one. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

Prepare for Advent

Explore how nativity sets, Advent wreaths, candles, carols, Christmas cards, and other traditions help prepare our hearts for the God “who bends low to enter our world and our lives.” The Living Nativity, a new book and eCourse by Larry Peacock, is available now.

This week we remember: Thomas Merton (December 10).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2018 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Body Prayer

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Today’s Reflection

Pray with Your Body

CELEBRATING THE FEAST OF THE INCARNATION ought to involve, at least to some degree, praying with our bodies, allowing our physical home to express its spiritual dimension. To begin, consider how you learned to pray. Many children are taught a simple prayer gesture of putting their hands together before them, palms touching. Make that gesture now, as you read. Does that posture feel more reverent? Does it carry a trace of the childlike trust in God you first knew?

Today’s prayer experience will consist of an entirely wordless prayer using a series of gestures you can add to as you feel led.

First, stand with your hands clasped in front of you, fingers about as high as your nose. Bow at the waist, with your hands in front of you, recognizing the presence of the Divine.

Stand upright again. Slowly open your hands into a bowl shape, lowering them as you open, as if you were receiving something placed into your hands.

Then pull your hands apart, stretching your arms at your sides as if preparing to receive an embrace. Raise your arms over your head, palms out, in a gesture of blessing or benediction.

Then slowly sink your hands back to your chest, bringing them back into the clasped starting position. Repeat this series of movements several times as you feel comfortable.

– Melissa Tidwell
Embodied Light

From pages 16-17 of Embodied Light: Advent Reflections on the Incarnation by Melissa Tidwell. Copyright © 2013 by Melissa Tidwell. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Pray with your body as described above. Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

“Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”
Luke 3:5-6, NRSV

This Week: Pray for those without homes. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

Prepare for Advent

Explore how nativity sets, Advent wreaths, candles, carols, Christmas cards, and other traditions help prepare our hearts for the God “who bends low to enter our world and our lives.” The Living Nativity, a new book and eCourse by Larry Peacock, is available now.

This week we remember: Ambrose (December 7).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2018 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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In order to continue receiving Upper Room Daily Reflections after January 1, 2019, please confirm your subscription here.

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