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St. Johns Lutheran Church
Norfolk, NE
October 30, 2016 -- January 6, 2017

1. Sunday, October 30, Reformation Day (celebrated)

For I am not ashamed of the gospel; for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the
Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is
written, The one who is righteous will live by faith. (Romans 1:16-17)
These were battle cry verses that Paul usedthat we can only suggest that Martin Luther used as he
nailed the 95 Theses to the cathedral door, crying for a change of thinking in the 16th century church.
These verses can be our battle cry as we quietly share the good news of our Jesus, his birth, life,
teachings, death, and resurrection. We can share with teaching and action. We can not be afraid to share. Jesus
has instructed us to share, to teach. It is the truth of God that gives salvation to anyone who accepts Him. As we
accept that truth with faith we live in Gods righteousness and love.
Gracious God, help us to be teachers and doers of Your Truth, so that Your salvation may be revealed.
Carol Waggoner
2. Monday, October 31, Reformation Day
And Abram believed the Lord; and the lord reckoned it to him as righteousness. (Genesis 15:6)
I believe the Lord will take care of us no matter what the challenge is for us. We were put on this world
to do good works and believe in His word. We have been taught if you believe in His word His righteous
word that we will live in His kingdom someday. Through Jesus the Lord we can be made whole. I believe we
can become whole by doing and saying His word through the Gospel. Thanks be to God for He is great and His
love endures forever.
Rick Uhlir
3. Tuesday, November 1, All Saints Day
The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of
death light has dawned. (Matthew 4:16)
This is a reading I have heard most often read on All Saints Day. I havent pondered its meaning very
long. As I did that I found that when I read people who sat in darkness very disturbing. It sounds unmoving,
inactive. The movement happens with have seen a great light. Some what the same thing happens with the
second part of the verse those who sat in the region and shadow of death. To me, the first sat is apathy, the
second sat feels more moving through, waiting. In the first case, people saw light, in the second case light has
In either situation, light, (Jesus and His salvation) has come to the sinner (person sitting). That Light of
Jesus has been offered to me daily. Daily, I sit in darkness and pray for His grace and mercy. Daily, I receive
that forgiveness. Daily, I receive His light, His love. This happens to me until I cross into eternal life.
Lord Jesus, may I always move into Your Light. Amen
Carol Waggoner
4. Wednesday, November 2
Come to me, all you who are weary and carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon
you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke
is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

When I was younger and had a hard day of labor, either physical or mental, I would think of this verse.
I would think if only Jesus would shoulder my burden and give me rest. The verse doesnt say he will do your
work, but Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find
rest for your souls. A life lived by faith is a much lighter yoke and a much easier burden to carry.
Dear Heavenly Father, We should not over complicate our walk with the Lord. Help us to follow in
your ways and live by Christs spirit. If we only follow the Master for his yoke is easy and his burden is light.
Ken Hansen
5. Thursday, November 3
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again
praise him, my help and my God. (Psalm 42:11)
When we are hit by lifes circumstances: whether it be a death of someone close, a family break-up, a
loss of a job, loss in the midst of a storm, loss of a healthy body, we need to remember that God is with us to
help us, to lean on him to help us raise up and see that he cares and loves us through all of the trials. So through
it all we can pray more and we can find the peace that only God can supply, sometimes in a very mysterious
way. So I thank God for putting his loving arms around me to give me rest.
6. Friday, November 4
Oh the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and
inscrutable his ways! (Romans 11:33, NRSV)
When Paul wrote these words, he wasnt seeking to capture, or even to understand, the depth of the
riches and wisdom and knowledge of God. He was simply praising God, standing in awe of Him. Pauls point
is that our God is truly amazing. Rather than trying to understand why, we should stand in wonder.
We cant and wont figure God out. As much as we seek to learn and to grow, limits are limits and some things
are simply unknowable. Our minds cannot grasp the greatness of God! And thats okay. So lets just relax.
Instead, try appreciating all that God has done for you. Take a moment and count the many blessings youve
been given. God loves you today. That is all you need to know.
Dear Almighty Father, I am awestruck by the depth of your wisdom and humbled by your wonderful
ways. Thank you for your saving love. Help me to love and trust you above all things. Amen.
Gail Ermels
7. Saturday, November 5
But those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they
shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)
I did physically faint but was not fainthearted which Isaiah relates to in Chapter 40. Through prayer I
believe the Lord inspired me with strength during a ten week convalescence caused by a faint, a fall, and a
serious concussion. That quiet time was a period to reflect and prioritize the important things in life. Spiritual
renewal was a gift.
The wings that uplifted me were from both spiritual and earthly angels; I call them my visiting angels
who supported me through a difficult ordeal.
One must read the entire book of Isaiah to realize that ones earthly life is judged in accordance with
ones heavenly existence. Isaiah portrays a very angry God who is disappointed in the ways of the ungodly.

But Isaiah also presents a forgiving Lord who offers hope to the repentant, power to the faint, comfort to the
weary, salvation to the believers, and a rewarding ride on eagles wings. Its ones choice. Sing songs of
praise! Trust and be not afraid. Prepare for the final flight.
Nancy Schwertley
8. Sunday, November 6 (All Saints Sunday)
Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the one against whom
the Lord will not reckon sin. (Romans 4:7-8)
As I read this I can appreciate the love and blessings we have been given. No matter how we have
sinned, being a Christian and seeking His forgiveness continues to save us.
Sara Fegley
9. Monday, November 7
Praise the Lord, all you nations! Extol him, all you peoples! For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the
faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord! (Psalms 117:1-2)
I love to read the songs of Psalms. They flow and ebb like true living waters, and certainly, in a time
where punctuation is not popular, we see the emphasis of joy! the command to praise our Lord! a shout from a
high mountain to extol Him! It gets your attention and you feel the raw emotion of excitement in one who has
truly felt the need to SHOUT! Turn your attention to the one who is the giver of life and hope, the one whose
love is steadfast and forever. Praise the Lord!
Holy Lord, fill us with the excitement to praise your name from the rooftops, to feel the zeal of the
presence of the Eternal God in our lives. Amen
Midge Hedrick
10. Tuesday, November 8
"But the Lord said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness. So I will boast
all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore, I am content with
weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak,
then I am strong. (II Corinthians 12:9-10, NRSV)
Lets be honest. Sin is fun. If sin wasnt fun it would be easy to resist. But the allure of sin is not easy
to resist, so lets strip away all pretense and admit that we enjoy it! Sin makes us feel good, at least for the
Earlier in this chapter of II Corinthians Paul describes how he was given a thorn in the flesh, a
messenger of Satan to harass me. He prayed to the Lord three times to have it removed, and the verses above
are Gods answer.
Im no Paul (far from it!) but I also have a thorn to keep me from becoming conceited as well. I am
guilty of sin dailyto the point of questioning if I am not one of the seeds from the parable of the sower that
has fallen among weeds. Like Paul, I have prayed to have this love of sin taken from me, but I fall right back
into old patterns of behavior that make me question whether I should call myself a Christian or a hypocrite.
After all, how can one who is supposed to be dead to sin still continue to choose to do it?
So if we take this passage of scripture at face valueif the power of God is made perfect in
weaknessthen I am the poster boy for the power of Christ made manifest in the world. And as laughable as
that idea is, it is also the truth. God can use even a broken sinner such as I to carry out his work in the world.

How God can love me after Ive gone astray so many times I have no idea. My only hope of salvation is
through the action of God in Christ Jesus. All I can do is trust the promise that God does love me even as a
sinner and that by the sacrifice of Jesus I have been justified in the sight of God (Romans 5:6-10), and that these
sins that so weigh down my soul have been removed from me as far as the east is from the west (Ps. 103:12).
In those promises I have hope.
God, we thank you for your great love, for your grace and mercy, and for your willingness to anoint
broken sinners for holy purposes. Help us to know and understand that our weaknesses are not a barrier to your
love, nor an impediment to doing your will. Amen
Ron Lofgren
11. Wednesday, November 9
Does not wisdom call, and does not understanding raise her voice? On the heights, beside the way, at the
crossroads she takes her stand. (Proverbs 8:1-2)
Wisdom and understanding we learn throughout our growing years. It usually is at a later time of life
that we can look back and see what we have learned. It is at this time when the two come together and meet
that we begin taking our faith more to heart. Its there at that crossroads, where are faith is strengthened and
grows deeper.
Cindy Nelson
12. Thursday, November 10
"For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one
body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body-Jews or Greeks, slaves or
free-and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. (I Corinthians 12:12-13)
Today, in 1483, in Eisleben, Germany, Margarethe Luder gave birth to her first child, Martin. Her
husband Hans was determined that their son would grow up to be a lawyer. The next day, the couple took their
son to be baptized as a Catholic on the feast day of St. Martin of Tours, naming their tiny bundle of joy after the
saint of the day. Their son Martin would go on to teach Gods law hand-in-hand with the gospel of the good
news of Jesus Christ that he discovered in reading & teaching the scriptures to students at the University in
Wittenburg. By the time of his death, Martin Luthers teachings had caused a deep rift in Western Christianity
that eventually earned the moniker the Reformation. In an effort to reform, Christianity shattered upon
political lines on the European continent. Fractures caused factions. Yet these diverse parts were members of
the one body, united in the one Spirit, in which Martin and you are baptized. Gods unity does not require
uniformity, yet God longs for us to drink deeply in the one Spirit that gives us life, breath, meaning, and
purpose. The prayer this day was written by Martin Luther:
Behold, Lord, an empty vessel that needs to be filled. My Lord, fill it. I am weak in the faith; strengthen
me. I am cold in love; warm me and make me fervent, that my love may go out to my neighbor. I do not have a
strong and firm faith; at times I doubt and am unable to trust you altogether. O Lord, help me. Strengthen my
faith and trust in you. In you I have sealed the treasure of all I have. I am poor; you are rich and came to be
merciful to the poor. I am a sinner; you are upright. With me, there is an abundance of sin; in you is the fullness
of righteousness. Therefore I will remain with you, of whom I can receive, but to whom I may not give. Amen.
Pastor Justin Wiese

13. Friday, November 11

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the
earth. He does not faith or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and
strengthens the powerless. (Isaiah 40:28-29)
Back in the day, the days of Isaiah 40, there was a time where the crisis of faith in God was extreme. It
was extreme because the people of Judah were in exile in Babylonia. They had lost their land, their temple, and
their king. They lived instead in the area we call Iraq these days, lost, alone, and wondering if God will forgive,
return and give life.
We all have times of depression, where the world appears to be negative and unrelenting. We wonder
about God. We ask questions about the presence of God, or Where is God? And we sometimes feel that we
are in a world of darkening skies, with no sun to come that might warm our souls.
And yet, the promise of God continues to brighten our darkness. God continues to remember his people,
and the sheep of his pasture. God does not forget that we need hope, and that hope raises our feeble knees, and
strengthens the powerless.
Our God is not some local deity, or idol made with hands. Our God is not something we have made with
our hands, or our imaginations. Our LORD is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth. He does
not grow faint as we do, nor grow weary as the weight of our lives at times exhaust us. There are times where
we do not see the path, yet God awaits to walk together with us on the journey. Gods depth of field is great,
and can find focus where we see dimly. Those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength we are told. And
it is moving forward, step by step, not only this far by faith but into the future where God already is present,
where we might see redemption and renewal surely coming to those who wait. In those times where waiting has
made us weary, and we are uncertain to weep or to stand up from our burdens, God is present. We shall run and
not be weary, and walk and not grow faint, as Isaiah proclaims. And in our God there is hope that will renew us.
Pastor David Cox
14. Saturday, November 12
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to
lay down ones life for ones friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. (John 15:12-14,
Love one another as I have loved you. This was one of the first Bible verses I learned. Probably
because it is the one that seems to encompass our whole life. Whether a child sharing a toy, a teenager helping a
friend with homework, a parent coaching their childs team, a worker helping others with a project, or an
elderly person giving advice, this verse is handed down through the ages.
Cindy Nelson
15. Sunday, November 13
Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow;
though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. (Isaiah 1:18-19)
The prophet Isaiah calls to us from the past, and gives us a word for the future. Even though our sins are
like scarlet, they will stand like snow on the mountains. If we will but listen to the word of the LORD we will
be redeemed, and will be filled with the good of the land.
I am still in awe of the beauty of fresh fallen snow. Having grown up at the edge of the mountains, I
remember the beauty of Mt Baker, filled with snow glacier fields, dominating the eastern skies. As the sun rose,

the silhouette of the mountain became defined in light, and then shown with the reflections of the sun.
I remember thinking about that revelation in the context of Isaiah 1:18, and the wonder of things moving
from darkness to light, just as the scarlet and crimson stains of my soul were transformed by the light of Christ.
God would reason with us if need be to see such transformation within our hearts and lives. But it is
more than simple reason that God uses to change us. It is the light of Christ, turning the darkness of our sins to
light, the burden of our sins to forgiven snow. It is the hope that comes from the one who created beauty to
renew the harsh realities of our brokenness.
Think about a snowfall that covers the fields and lawn with freshness. As the sun shines on it, it is
dazzling in its brilliance. Such light that shines, that brightens, that gives our hearts joy and creates a pause in
our breath. So God sees such light, and gives such light to us, that we might shine in the world with such
freshness that the world becomes new.
Pastor David Cox
16. Monday, November 14
For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is
the power of God For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God
decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believeFor Gods foolishness is
wiser than human wisdom, and Gods weakness is stronger than human strength. (1 Corinthians 1:18, 21, 25)
We feel our faith was definitely strengthened this past year. January 18th changed our lives drastically.
Our home was destroyed by a fire. It was devastating. Through it all we felt the presence of God. We were so
blessed to have great support from family and friends who helped us through this difficult time. We were also
truly blessed to find a home so quickly. It was possible for us to move from the motel into our condo. There
again, we felt the hand of God. We pray for our country. It would be great if everyone would know our Lord
and Savior. He made the greatest sacrifice by dying on the cross to forgive our sins. What comforting words. .
. one of the hardest things in life is to let go and let God.
Thank you Lord for the many blessings we receive every day. Continue to strengthen our faith so our
life will be pleasing to you. Amen
Roger Gentzler
17. Tuesday, November 15
Though the fig tree does not blossom, and fruit is on the vines; though the produce of the olive fails, and the
fields yield no food; though the flock is cut off from the fold, and there is no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice
in the Lord, I will exult in the God of my salvation. (Habakkuk 3:17-18)
In this short book of the Old Testament we are encouraged to place our confidence in God. In spite of all
the worldly hardships we may face, we can rely on His support. Nothing is mentioned about speedy relief or
instant results when we pray for easier burdens. Our job is to focus on His eternal gift of salvation.
Mike Widhalm
18. Wednesday, November 16
Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house, and thus put me to the test, says
the Lord of Hosts; see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing
blessing. (Malachi 3:10)

Have you seen our budget? We dont have anything left over after the bills and groceries. We gave up
any type of entertainment for ourselves or the family a long, long time ago We work all of the hours that we
can get just to keep our heads above water. Sound familiar? Or, we are retired and barely have enough to keep
going from day to day. Our doctor and medical bills are huge -- again, sound familiar? Sometime while going
to church I remember someone saying that God has given us everything. It does not feel like it some days. Am
I looking at it all wrong? Will God help me? Let me see: if I am reading this verse right, God is asking me to
tithe off of the top before I do bills or groceries. Then it sounds like He is challenging me to put Him to the test.
If I give, then He will not only give back to me, but pour down and overflow blessings on my budget. Sounds
scary, but certainly worth trying. We give, then He uses our gifts for others, then turns around and blesses not
only our gift, but us the giver. It certainly sounds better than my household trying it all alone. I also remember
being told that we cannot out give God. He is not asking us to try anything on our own. He is there with us in
all things. Are you willing to challenge God? Are you willing to trust Him enough?
Another way of giving is of ourselves and time. St. Johns is blessed with many, many volunteers. This
is the perfect time to say a big thank you to each and everyone of you. I have no way of knowing how many
there are, but I do know that we need all of you. You are the life blood of our church. I would like to say a big
thank you to all who are salaried. Most of you give of yourselves up and beyond your salaries. You are what
keep St. Johns up and running tossed in with love and care.
God, even though our monies and time seem to be very short you have promised that if we trust you
first, you will make things happen for us. Lord, I already know that you will be there, as you have been there
for me many times. Loving Lord, please help us to remember that to receive over and above what you have
already blessed us with, we must be willing to share our time and money with you. You love us, and ask that
we in turn love not only ourselves, but others more. Please Lord, show us how. In Jesus name, Amen
Connie Hagstrom
19. Thursday, November 17
Jesus was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, Lord, teach
us to pray, as John taught his disciples. He said to them, When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive
everyone indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial. (Luke 11:1-4)
The Lords Prayer is etched in our hearts. It is sometimes said with little thought and other times captures us
to its deeper meaning. It is probably the one prayer most of us have in common no matter where we are in our faith.
It is a simple, straight forward prayer, taught by Jesus. The words are not embellished, just wonderful easily
understood and prayed.
Through this prayer God is revealed as who he is and we are allowed to come to him in praise; we
acknowledge hope for the future in his kingdom (set right). We are able to ask for what we need to sustain life. We
ask for forgiveness for our sins and also acknowledge the forgiveness we need to give to others. We also ask God to
keep us safe from ourselves, others and Satan.
The Lords Prayer is a prayer we return to often, sometimes without even thinking. As we age it seems like it
is a prayer we can always recite no matter what our circumstances. Jesus taught the prayer for all of us he knew we
would hold onto it forever.

Diane Sobotka

20. Friday, November 18

How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down upon the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down over the collar of his robes. It is like the
dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion. For there the Lord ordained his blessing, life
forevermore. (Psalms 133: 1-3)
Psalm 133 is one of the shortest with only three verses. Its one of 15 psalms called a Song of Ascents
that was believed to be sung on the steps of the temple by the Levites.
The first verse seems to state a universal truth: its so much better when we are existing in harmony with God.
Here I add with God because a group of people without God could easily be led astray.
The next two verses seem more poetic. The imagery of fine oil being poured over a bearded mans head and
running all over his clothing it seems messy. And who is Aaron? Aaron is the elder brother of Moses. He was
often the spokesman for Moses and from him descended the hereditary class of priests in Israel. When the
conditions are right, dew forms on cool surfaces. It is condensed water from the vapors. Its a peaceful image of
harmony with God. The last sentence is stating a blessing from God. God is giving the unified people life
Katrina Tomsen
21. Saturday, November 19
Jesus answered them, Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the
lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And
blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me. (Matthew 11:4-6, NRSV)
Jesus wants us to be witnesses of our faith. We should share the love of God with everyone. The
disciples were charged to tell of the miracles Jesus performed while living among us as well as telling of His
love and grace. We too should continue to witness how God works in our daily lives. Dont be embarrassed by
your faith rather be excited by it! Share your God moments where you see Him working in your life. He
loves us unconditionally. Praise God!
Cathy & Jeff Erwin
22. Sunday, November 20, Christ the King Sunday
Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in. Who is this
King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory! (Psalms 24:9-10, NRSV)
Who is the king of glory? This was the great question asked every year in the Temple of the Lord, either
when the ark was displayed in the days of David, or when the procession of the faithful came seeing entrance.
This entrance liturgy was essential and important in that the gates of the temple were opened to the God of
Israel and no other. The Temple of Jerusalem was opened by God, and for those who would follow the path
given for righteousness.
Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? Those who have clean hands and pure hearts. Those who do not
lift up their souls to what is false. Those who do not swear deceitfully. The company of those who seek God in
these ways, the face of the God of Jacob may then enter.
Who will stand after such requirements? Those who know their sin realize that it is the Lord of Hosts,
the King of Glory who alone can open the gates, and those claimed by this King will let them follow in the train
of the procession. For it is only in the train of the Holy One that we might enter, dare approach, and give

Who is the King of Glory? Our Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, our Lord and Savior. For in him we
have life, and through him we have been given hope in the gospel. In our liturgies we waited for this one: in
Advent, we cried, Come, Oh Come; celebrated his birth at Christmas; saw the light of God in Epiphany; the
pain of the world and deep passion in Lent; the resurrection of Christ in Easter; the coming of the Holy Spirit
from God; and now the King of Glory who judges the living and the dead.
And now, how shall we receive the one who opens the gates of heaven? With songs that Hail the Power
of Jesus Name, and Crown Him with Many Crowns. With lives that realize we are saved by grace and judged
with mercy at the thrown. With prayers for the hopes of God to be our hopes, as Jesus is King of Kings and
Lord of Lords. To feast on heavenly food, that we might become those people who are nourished and changed
and filled by God.
Holy, Holy, Holy is the one who comes in the name of the LORD. Our light, our life, and our hearts
desire. Come, Lord Jesus. Come quickly!
Pastor David Cox
23. Monday, November 21
Happy are those who find wisdom, and those who get understanding, for her income is better than silver, and
her revenue better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her.
(Proverbs 3:13-15)
As we get older -- anyway, thats how I feel, we really start looking back and start putting the puzzle
pieces together. I have seen that God has put someone in my life when I needed the love and acceptance from
someone -- a family member, a friend, a stranger, a co-worker, a teacher. The most interesting wisdom I have
learned has been from the elderly or the little children. They arent worried about tomorrow as they are
forthright now. Enjoying the simple things, the people in our lives that we care about, that is the most valuable
wisdom there is. To live life in a giving manner and to pass on the teaching of Gods love to others as others
have done for me.
24. Tuesday, November 22
Then he looked up to his disciples and said: Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.
(Luke 6:20-21)
The words of Jesus here are generally accepted as Lukes record of the Sermon on the Mount, also
known along with Matthews account as the Beatitudes, or blessings. Maybe Jesus is letting his disciples know
that in their journey with Him, the concerns and comforts of this world (food, money, happiness) could be in
short supply. The message to the disciples and to us is that true blessings are of the spirit and not of this world.
God truly loves all people but has a special concern for those who suffer or are in need.
Lord, help us to be thankful for our many blessings and more mindful of those who suffer or are in need.
Kevin Bonderson
25. Wednesday, November 23
Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come buy wine
and milk without money and without price. (Isaiah 55:1)

Back in the day, the days of Isaiah 40, there was a time where the crisis of faith in God was extreme. It
was extreme because the people of Judah were in exile in Babylonia. They had lost their land, their temple, and
their king. They lived instead in the area we call Iraq these days, lost, alone, and wondering if God will forgive,
return and give life.
We all have times of depression, where the world appears to be negative and unrelenting. We wonder
about God. We ask questions about the presence of God, or Where is God? And we sometimes feel that we
are in a world of darkening skies, with no sun to come that might warm our souls. And yet, the promise of God
continues to brighten our darkness. God continues to remember his people, and the sheep of his pasture. God
does not forget that we need hope, and that hope raises our feeble knees, and strengthens the powerless.
Our God is not some local deity, or idol made with hands. Our God is not something we have made with
our hands, or our imaginations. Our LORD is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth. He does
not grow faint as we do, nor grow weary as the weight of our lives at times exhaust us. There are times where
we do not see the path, yet God awaits to walk together with us on the journey. Gods depth of field is great,
and can find focus where we see dimly. Those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength we are told. And
it is moving forward, step by step, not only this far by faith but into the future where God already is present,
where we might see redemption and renewal surely coming to those who wait. In those times where waiting has
made us weary, and we are uncertain to weep or to stand up from our burdens, God is present. We shall run and
not be weary, and walk and not grow faint, as Isaiah proclaims. And in our God there is hope that will renew us.
Pastor David
26. Thursday, November 24, National Day of Thanksgiving
When you have eaten your fill and have built fine houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks
have multiplied, and your silver and gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied, then do not exalt
yourself, forgetting the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
(Deuteronomy 8:12-14)
After many years of hard work, a person sees their career, business or family attain success and they feel
a great sense of pride in their accomplishments. Make sure arrogance doesnt take the place of pride.
Remember who to thank for their success. Thank God for the successes and the gift of the abilities to achieve
them. Without God, none of this would be possible. He is the provider. Always remember to praise God for
all He has given us.
Cathy Erwin
27. Friday, November 25
Without any doubt, the mystery of our religion is great: He was revealed in the flesh, vindicated in spirit, seen
by angels, proclaimed among Gentiles, believed in throughout the world, taken up in glory. (1 Timothy 3:16)
This verse tells us how broad our religion is. God himself came down to earth as a simple baby born in
a manger. He was seen by angels and proclaimed by shepherds. But in the end, he was risen up in glory n the
third day and proclaimed the Savior. What an image to go from the lowly child in the manger to the Almighty
Jesus rising from the tomb into the heavens to be worshiped by all.
Cindy Nelson

28. Saturday, November 26

For I am about to create a new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come
to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating; for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and
its people a delight. Isaiah 65:17-19, NRSV)
Gods new creation is to be His best! It is a fresh start for the heavens, the earth and everything in them.
What bad things happened in the past are forgotten and there will be a new opportunity awaiting. God is
forgiving of our sins and gives us opportunity for new hope. Let us rejoice for this amazing blessing!
The Bonderson Family
29. Sunday, November 27, 1st Sunday of Advent
Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served
her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the LORD's hand double for all her sins. (Isaiah
It was by his gracious choice that he willingly accepted their suffering as atonement for their iniquity
and by that, offered pardon. He simply said It is enough.
Doug Heineman & Bobbi Jensen
30. Monday, November 28
But as for you, child of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness.
Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of eternal life, to which you were called and for which you made the
good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:11-12)
This is a very moving passage in which the Apostle Paul addresses young Timothy, left all alone in this
great city of Ephesus. What a challenging, demanding and dangerous responsibility, for Timothy to be the
apostolic representative to the churches of the city.
Have you ever been given such a challenge and wondered if you are capable or qualified?
A challenge is something God has trusted us with to bring about his greater glory.
You have challenges in your life. I dont know if theyre financial, emotional, mental, or spiritual. But
what I do know is that God has trusted you with those challenges. And no matter how big those challenges are,
God is bigger.
Like Timothy we should embrace the challenges God gives us, take it on with open arms and give glory
to God for the opportunity. The next time God throws you a pitch, dont stand back in the box and watch it go
by. Get up to the plate and swing away and be amazed!
Dear Lord, thank you for offering us challenges to bring about your greater glory! We love you and
thank you for being an awesome God!
Beth Bonderson
31. Tuesday, November 29
But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I
have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with
you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you. (Isaiah 43:1-2)

Dibs. To me, this passage is about God calling dibs on each and every one of us. God knows your full
name, nicknames (even the one your nana was allowed to use), likes, dislikes, favorites, everything! He knows
your strengths and weaknesses, and despite any fault you think you might have, God loves you.
Unconditionally. He created you to be a perfectly imperfect being.
But even more than unconditional love, if that is even possible, is that God promises to be with you
always. On good days and bad days, and days you just would end. In times when everything is going right, and
times when everything is going wrong. He will be there, waiting for you to remember that he called dibs, and
that you are his child.
Father God, thank you for always being beside me. Thank you for staying even when I get mad or
blame you for things that are going wrong. I knew that you have claimed me as your child forever. Please
continue to protect me and my loved ones each day. Amen
Aline Skogstoe
32. Wednesday, November 30
Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through
whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory
of God. (Romans 5:1-2)
One of the class titles that sticks out in my memory from my first semester at seminary is Justification
& Justice. A quick reference of the course description reads: This course will explore the evangelistic and
social dimensions of the churchs message and mission. The unity of these two dimensions will be interpreted
by setting both in the context of the Lutheran doctrine of justification by grace alone, through faith alone, in
Christ alone: the good news of Gods redemptive love for the world through the incarnation, death, and
resurrection of Jesus. From what I remember, the class was as exciting as the course description.
We are justified! By faith, not our own works! And Gods action of grace to us stirs us to act with justice
toward others in the world. Living justice through our actions of living in right relationship with God and others
shares the glory of God with others hungry for Gods grace. As a professor once said: its like having someone
pay off all your student loans. If all of your loans have been paid, you can either accept the reality of that
gracious gift and live life in a different way, or falsely believe that you still owe a large bill that someone
already paid and be encumbered by a non-existent burden. Because God gives the gift of peace through Jesus,
we can share peace with others. Give it freely! Dear Lord, thank you for the gracious peace you give to me
through Jesus Christ. May your Spirit move me to share this peace with others. Amen.
Pastor Justin Wiese
33. Thursday, December 1
Set up road markers for yourself, make yourself signposts; consider well the highway, the road by which you
went. Return, O virgin Israel, return to these your cities! (Jeremiah 31:21)
God told Israel that he would build them back up. How -- by following road markers. The road markers
we can set for ourselves can be trying to see God in the things we do in our daily lives; by smiling at people;
holding the door for people; and remembering our family with cards and phone calls. By following road
markers with love and kindness, they make us closer to God.
Cindy Nelson

34. Friday, December 2

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of Godnot the
result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good
works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
This passage is one of the key passages of my faith. Even though we are to care for others, God knows
we will fall short of what He asks of us. But even though we fall short, our faith in God assures us that we are
saved from damnation by the grace of God. There is nothing I can do to buy my salvation. It is a freely given
gift. God loves me as I am, even though I am far from perfect.
Rollie Downs
On October 22, we had a birthday party for our kids. In the midst of having to clean up the living spaces
where all we really do is laundry and sleep, my wife also thought to take upon herself a task that I certainly
thought could have been outsourced to a third party: the baking of birthday cakes. Why spend three or more
hours making two Lego birthday cakes when that precious time could be spent hunting & trapping the dust
bunnies who wave tauntingly at us from all corners of the house? I mean, theyre just birthday cakes: here one
moment, gone the next. What purpose do birthday cakes really serve? Couldnt we just live without them?
Perhaps today, we could give consideration to the idea of the gracious gift of faith being like a birthday
cake. Who likes making their own birthday cake? Isnt it so much better to receive a birthday cake as a gift? So,
too, is St. Paul & Martin Luthers understanding of by grace you have been saved through faith. We dont do
it ourselves, just like we dont bake our own birthday cakes! Rather, God bestows grace as a gift not based on
what we do, but rather based on who God is. God is our loving Father, crafting our life with amazing love,
spending every moment cooking in a kingdom-of-heaven-kitchen to make sure that we have this delicious gift
of faith which leads us to sight to see our cosmic chef face-to-face. Birthday cakes emphatically usher in a new
year of life, but dont last forever. Faith, too, becomes digested to the point of obsolescence, for in the end, faith
will give way to sight as we see our risen Lord Jesus in his heavenly glory. Everything God entrusts to our care
we are to share. Who eats a birthday cake alone? Lets grab a fork and dig into faith together to experience a
foretaste of the feast to come.
O Lord our God, maker of heaven and earth, day by day you shower us with blessings, stirring us to
faith in you. As candles are lit upon birthday cakes and in places of prayer, so too, may you light the love of
your Spirit within us, so that your light shines through us into the dark world, to share the gospel of your Son,
Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen
Pastor Justin Wiese
35. Saturday, December 3
Mortal, these are the whole house of Israel. They say, Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are
cut off completely. Therefore, prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God; I am going to open your
graves, O my people, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of
Israel. (Ezekiel 37:11-12)
Those who attended Wartburg Theological Seminary from 2003-2007 happened to have a unique
educational experience. Each year, the preaching professor was a different person. The running joke was that
the preaching professor position at Wartburg was similar to Harry Potters experience with the Defense Against
the Dark Art instructor at Hogwarts. (If you dont know the story, Hogwarts couldnt keep the same person in
that teaching position over a multi-year period either.)

The good news of having a variety of preaching professors is that you get exposure to a diversity of
preaching techniques. The bad news is, sometimes you forget who said what about preaching.
A preaching professor one time talked about preaching in a cemetery, because the good news of the
resurrection is also for those who lie waiting for their graves to be opened when Christ comes again. Thats a
powerful image. Imagine driving by a cemetery and seeing a pastor or preacher passionately proclaiming the
power of the resurrection to only headstones with captive ears. (Perhaps thats why some churches have their
cemetery surrounding their building.)
Ezekiel has a similar vision. Gods power gives the gift of eternal life. When bones are dried up and
hope is lost, God promises to bring people up from their graves and bring back the land of Israel. With God,
there is always hope, life, and love. In our mortally, it is only God who can clothe us in immortality.
O Lord God, you make a home for us with you. In our life, guide us. In our fragility, strengthen us. In
our death, embrace us. Open our ears to hear the message of eternal life which you proclaim. Amen
36. Sunday, December 4, Second Sunday of Advent
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 passage paints a picture of a man so resolute, so absolute in his lifes purpose that nothing else
mattered. Johns lifestyle was minimalistic -- no wardrobe fuss or dinner plans. He dressed and ate merely to
sustain. His mission was to take every opportunity to spread the word, to tell of the coming of a Savior, to
baptize in the name of the Lord, to prepare the way.
Lord Jesus, help us to be your hands and feet in the world. Let us proclaim your name to every corner!
37. Monday, December 5
As Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his
brother, casting a net into the seafor they were fishermen. And he said to them, Follow me, and I will make
you fish for people. Immediately they left their nets and followed him. (Matthew 4:18-20)
Could you ever imagine dropping everything -- your job, your comforts, your friends and family -- and
taking up with a stranger? Talk about stepping out of your comfort zone! Christ has always called the
imperfect to serve, to help those in need, to preach to those needing to hear the word, to love the hard to love,
and to reach for a bigger prize. Where do you throw your nets? All you need to do is follow the example -look to the Son for direction. Have faith in your decisions because they are formed by God in you.
Father, we look to you for direction. Guide our steps. We know that you will not make our burdens
more than we can endure. You are the wise teacher and we will follow you. Amen
38. Tuesday, December 6
He shall judge between many peoples, and shall arbitrate between strong nations far away; they shall beat
their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war anymore; but they shall all sit under their own vines and fig trees, and no one will
make them afraid; for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken. (Micah 4:3, NRSV)
This day is the Feast Day of St Nicholas. It is a day that has been pushed to the wayside in the Advent season.
Normally we will consider St. Nick as an extension into our society through the jolly ole elf Santa Claus.

But I love the image of St Nicholas because of the history behind this person who remembered the poor.
St Nicholas was the Bishop of Smyrna. He lived at a time when the church had just come through the great
persecutions of Rome, dying circa 342 AD. Nicholas was not timidhe did what was necessary to proclaim the
faith and was not easily intimidated by others' power and position. His concern for the welfare of his flock,
caring for the poor, those who had known hardship and children earned him respect as a defender of the faith.
St Nicholas was devoted to living a life that supported others, doing justice, loving kindness, and
walking humbly with God. He would give fuel and clothing in the winter to those who were cold, and find food
and water for those who were destitute.
I guess I must admit that St Nicholas is my favorite of the images of Christmas, and am happier with the
image of Father Christmas in Britain than the commercialized Santa Claus of our time. St Nicholas encourages
us to remember others in this season, and to give without any sense of return. And, as an example of kindness,
St Nicholas gives a greater image of the concept that it is better to give than receive.
May we have such a heart of gratitude, and a sense of joy, that we might do justice, love kindness, and
walk humbly with our God.
Pastor David
39. Wednesday, December 7
When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late;
send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves. Jesus said to them,
They need not go away; you give them something to eat. (Matthew 14: 15-16)
Do you understand where the disciples are coming from? Have you ever just been glad that you have
enough to feed your family? Most of the time there are no leftovers, and if there are, you have already planned
another meal around it. Is it hard to realize that if we step up and share, God will create a miracle with what we
have, even though there is hardly any food there? Yet, God is asking that we trust Him with all that we have.
How many of you have been Martha and found yourselves feeding far more than you had planned on? I
have. Without saying anything ahead of time, family would visit on Sunday (at meal time). I learned so many
ways to stretch food. There always seemed to be enough for everyone. I swear to you prior to the meal I just
knew that there was only enough for our immediate family. We always had a good time and played games and
talked. I always thanked God that He was there to help me stretch our meals. If you found yourselves in that
same position would you say, sorry, but we dont have enough, you need to go to the fast food and then come
back, we will be done with our meal by then, and then close your door on them, of will you open your door
and say come on in and share our meal with us.
Dear Giving God, please help us to understand that you want us to open our hearts to those in need.
You will help us to find a way. You have given us your promise. Thank you, Lord, for always being there for
us. Please show us how. In Jesus Name, Amen
Connie Hagstrom
40. Thursday, December 8
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will hope in him.
(Lamentations 3:22-24)
To know that Gods love never ceases is one of the most comforting promises we have been given. God
doesnt have a bad day, take time off, or play favorites. His love and mercy are consistent always there for us

every minute of every day. Who else can say this and carry through? We all fall short. His grace is ever
present and with that grace we can live our lives sustained by his promise and hold fast to our faith.
His faithfulness can be counted on by all of us always new every day. He is all we need never
too little never too much. He provides a perfect portion of love, mercy and grace; lavished on us wherever we
are in life. Thanks be to God.
Diane Sobotka
41. Friday, December 9
The angel said to Mary, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High shall
overshadow you; therefore, the child to be born will be holy; he will be called the Son of God. And now, your
relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to
be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God. Then Mary said, Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it
be to me according to your word. Then the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:35-38)
The Holy Spirit works in many ways -- more powerful than anything you have ever felt. At times I get
emotional during the church services and the tears fall and I dont know why. A friend of mine says that is the
Holy Spirit working in me, I just have to let it happen.
Heavenly Father, here I am. Let me be your servant. Amen with peace and joy!
Linda Downs
42. Saturday, December 10
He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love
kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8 NRSV)
I remember as a child my Mom or Dad telling me to be good. Sometimes I wondered why they would
tell me that. Did they think I would purposely be bad? Through the years I learned what they meant by be
good. Their love for me showed through their teaching and by their example. Things like saying please and
thank you, being honest and helpful, and treating others how I would want to be treated; these were the things
I should do to be good.
We also have a heavenly Father who wants us to be good. Sometimes we may wonder, does He think
we would be bad on purpose? Our heavenly Father loves us & teaches us through His word and by His
example through Jesus, what He means to be good. We should do justice by being fair to others; by seeing
them through the eyes of Jesus. We must love kindness by being merciful to others; loving others just as Jesus
loved us. We must walk humbly by having a heart that follows Jesus. Instead of taking pride in what we bring
to God, we recognize that it is Christs love that enters our hearts and minds and helps us to depend on Him
instead of on our own ways.
Gracious and loving Father, thank you for teaching us through your word and by your example through
Jesus how to be good. Help us, Lord, to follow in your ways by doing justice, loving kindness, and walking
humbly with you each day of our lives. In Jesus name we pray. Amen
Tracy Meister
43. Sunday, December 11, Third Sunday of Advent
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them. He has
raised up a mighty savior for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke through the mouth of his holy
prophets from of old, that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us. Thus he

has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors, and has remembered his holy covenant, the oath that he swore
to our ancestor Abraham. (Luke 1:68-73 NRSV)
Was it Abraham Lincoln who said, It is better to remain silent and be considered stupid than to open
ones mouth and remove all doubt. Sometimes we are rightly reminded to think before we speak, and to be
careful with what we declare to be truth.
Zechariah the priest had been unable to speak for months. A priest of the Temple, he was told by the
Angel Gabriel that he and his wife Elizabeth were going to have a son. Zechariah took the news somewhat
badly. He couldnt believe this to be true! So, he was given the gift of having no ability to speak until John-who
would become John the Baptizer- was born. Told to name this child John, the family was incredulous that a
more common family name would not be used. But Zechariah, having been told by the angel his sons name
would be John won the day. He asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, His name is John! And suddenly his
tongue began to work once again. His first recorded words are this song, called the Benedictus in Latin. When
he was able to speak after so many months of being unable to speak, the music lifted out of his mouth. He cried
out with a voice that blessed God for remembering his covenant, for sending a savior, and for sending in his son
a prophet of the Most High God.
It may be that the folks there were uncertain about all this. Perhaps they may have thought Zechariah
should have taken some time before speaking so powerfully. But that God was coming, and his son would
proclaim the tender mercy of God that would guide the feet of the faithful into the way of peace was too much
to keep silent. When one has a blessing, a story to tell, a story that will change the world, it is best to get it out
and proclaim the goodness of the Lord.
God give our hearts such joy to tell the world that a mighty Savior has been raised up from the house of
his servant David. This is the one for whom we wait, whom we praise, and for whom we are called not to
silence, but to witness. God give us courage. God bring our mouths to life, and the gospel will become real
among us.
Saint Anonymous
4 4. Monday, December 12
A shoot will come out of the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the Lord
shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of the
knowledge and fear of the Lord. His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. (Isaiah 11:1-3 NRSV)
You may recall as a child wanting something and being promised that maybe on Christmas or on your
birthday, but the word maybe just got your parents off the hook. Our promise that Jesus would come was no
maybe. Jesus did come. He taught, He healed, he loved, He died and rose again for us all. This should be all
we need to get through the worst of our days, but its not always easy to trust in Gods love for us when we are
at times feeling so lost.
I picked the 12th day of this month to write a devotion because its my mothers birthday. She was born
the 12th day of the 12th month and was the 12th child out of 18. Now at 91 she doesnt always know me, my
brothers, her grandchildren, or great grandchildren due to dementia. But every time I see her sweet smile and
the gleam in her eye, and every time I hold her hand, I think of my mom praying with us kids every night at our
bedside and before every meal, always so positive, loving, and giving. I feel Gods love every time Im with
Prayer: Dear Lord, help us to trust that you are always with us and will love us forever. Amen

Lana Mosel
45. Tuesday, December 13
Come, let us return to the Lord; for it is he who has torn, and he will heal us; he has struck down, and he will
bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him.
Let us know, let us press on to know the Lord; his appearing is as sure as the dawn; he will come to us like the
showers, like the spring rains that water the earth. (Hosea 6:1-3)
These verses remind me of when I broke my hand this summer in baseball. For it is he who has torn,
and he will heal us. A broken hand really wasnt in my plan for the summer, but everything happens for a
reason and something good will come of it. When I broke my hand, Ill admit it was hard to look for anything
positive, but now I see that I got to enjoy the rest of the season with my teammates. I really was able to grow
my relationships with a lot of my teammates. Something good can come from the most dire situations.
Dear Lord, thank you for healing us when we are broken. Thank you for being our Savior and friend.
Aaron Bonderson
46. Wednesday, December 14
Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last day he has
spoken to us by the Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds.
(Hebrews 1:1-2)
Gods spoken word is through his Son to us. God works and wants to speak to us. He is fully God, one
with the father, and he is most far greater to all! Jesus Christ is the surpassing greatness of all that is or ever
will be! Is Jesus the central figure in your life? Jesus is the ultimate, he is Gods Son, and he is supreme. He is
the one, the promise, and our Savior. Jesus created the world and holds all things together.
47. Thursday, December 15
For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually,
and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with
justice and righteousness from this time on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. (Isaiah
When I first read these words, all I could think of is Handels Hallelujah Chorus. These words have
marked the coming of the Christmas season for me for many years. In high school, we sang the Hallelujah
Chorus every year. Then again in college, it became a holiday staple. These words trigger so many happy
memories, and yet I dont often think about what the words mean.
A child is coming. A baby boy will be born, and he will be known by many names. He will come to
complete the promise that God made years and years ago. This baby boy will grow up to perform miracles,
teach thousands of people, and love everyone. He will love the wealthy, and the poor and forgotten. A child is
coming -- are you ready?
Heavenly Father, in this time leading up to the celebration of the birth of Jesus , help me to open my
heart to those around me. Help me open my eyes and see the people around me, really see them, and show
them the love of Jesus Christ. In you holy name, I pray. Amen
Aline Skogstoe

48. Friday, December 16

When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy
Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And why has this happened to me that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of
your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a
fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord." (Luke 1:41-45)
The work of the Holy Spirit can be overwhelming at times and joyous at other times. As long as we
believe as Mary and Elizabeth did, wonderful things can happen. Do we have their faith? God speaks to us in
the same way he spoke to Elizabeth and Mary, but do we listen? We may listen but do we truly hear?
Heavenly Father, help us to hear what you want for us and give us the patience to accept it on your terms.
Linda Downs
49. Saturday, December 17
When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with
child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public
disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord
appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the
child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will
save his people from their sins." (Matthew 1:18-21)
According to the times, Joseph, finding that Mary, the woman he was engaged to was pregnant, and
knowing they had not been intimate, could have ended their engagement. She would have been ostracized and
could even have been stoned to death. He planned to marry her and later divorce her to save her from shame.
The message from an angel in a dream was to have no fear in marrying her, that the child was conceived by the
Holy Spirit. Joseph was to be the earthly father to the Son of God.
Rollie Downs
Joseph. A righteous man. Loved Mary, his betrothed. Wanted to start a life together. Looked forward to
a future with 7 to 12 kids, a nice house, a garden, and love. And then it happened. Mary, his love, his heart, was
pregnant. And he was not the father.
The penalty for this was stoning. A woman pregnant without being married was a serious situation. And
Joseph, not wanting anything to happen to Mary, was going to keep it all quiet. And that is when God, once
again, intervened. The angel visits Joseph in a dream. Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as
your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you will name him
Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.
How would you deal with it if you were Joseph? The angel part is frightening enough. But the message,
that this boy would be named Jeshua, The Lord Saves/Helps. Joseph needed to see something about God
coming to save through this child, and that for this to happen Joseph would need to believe the story. Even that
God was coming to help, even though Joseph might not have thought this at the time. But so, so much is
dependent upon Joseph. The lives of Mary, and the baby. The realization that Mary was telling the truth to him.
The need to support, to believe, and to stand for this child. Making this child his own. Adopting, which was not
as common to Hebrews as to the rest of the Greek / Roman world. What would you do?

Joseph listens to the angel, and loves Mary. One of the great stories of trust and faith in the Scriptures.
He would with Mary wait for the birth to see Gods miraculous work. He would love her and Jesus as his own.
And he would give us an example of faith active in love that still stuns the world.
Even though we may not have such trials of faith, Joseph does give us the example of living life with an
attitude of stepping forward in faith. And this far, by faith, we also journey forward in life.
Pastor David
50. Sunday, December 18, Fourth Sunday of Advent
O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel, that mourns in lowly exile here until the Son of God
appear. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to you, O Israel! (Verse One, ELW 257)
The weight of this 18th century hymn is considerable. For those who were waiting for a Savior, the time
had been long. With the prophets pointing in anticipation, the faithful were seeing hope. There was a climate
of change, and it was growing. Amidst all the emotions of mourning to rejoicing, we wait for a tiny infant to
bear the weight of our sins . . . a Savior for all of mankind.
Hear us, O Lord, as we pray for your guidance. Teach us your will and guide our way. Amen
51. Monday, December 19
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came
into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did
not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of
God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. And the Word
became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father's only son, full of grace
and truth. (John 1:9-14)
Back in the time of Jesus birth, can you imagine a man being born among his people that could mean
the difference between light and life and was the remedy for darkness and death? He brought the good news
of Gods presence into the world. The tragedy was that the world rejected him. God took on human flesh
in the person of Jesus.
The Christians spiritual birth to believe is a belief that results in a new faith into Gods family.
O Lord God, May we always trust in you and have faith in you, even if it is only as small as a mustard
seed. Amen
Ken Hansen
52. Tuesday, December 20
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)
This verse is noted to be a prophecy which tells of the birth of Jesus from the line of David to be born in
the town of Bethlehem. The mighty King will come from humble beginnings. A baby born in a manger will
become a great king and brings to us the promise of eternal life. This gives us renewed hope in the
unconditional love of a father who sends his son for our salvation. And so we celebrate and look forward with
anticipation to the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ.
Michelle Dagerman

53. Wednesday, December 21

Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For darkness shall cover
the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you.
(Isaiah 60:1-2, NRSV)
These verses are for Israel. However, everything that concerns God becomes ours. Instead of Israel,
lets put St. Johns in the verse. St. Johns arise, shine for your light has come etc. Now lets put your name
in there. ______, arise, shine for your light has come etc. We must start with ourselves when it concerns
our walk with God and the, share, share, share. Do I recognize God light within me? Do you see it within
you? Do we have it and share it with our St. Johns family? If you have let go of your spiritual darkness and
have been filled and are walking in Gods light, you will find that it is very hard to keep Gods love and light to
yourself. If each one of us as a family member of St. Johns would show love and shine His light, what would
that say about our church? The words that come to my mind are welcoming, Loving, Happy, Awesome. But it
has to begin within me and within you and our willingness to share. Now read the verse again, putting St.
Johns in and then yourself in it. How encouraged are you to know that our Lords glory and love will appear
over you? If you have Gods light and love within you, do not be afraid to show and share them with others.
God wants His light to shine and His love to grow. He has put you and I in charge. Dont let His light be
turned out and His love to become dormant. Dear Lord, you have blessed us with your light and love. No more
spiritual darkness for us. Some days we dont feel full of love and light. Remind us that even in our down
times, you are there and understand. Please show us how to always find your light and love and then to be open
to sharing with others. Celebrating your birth is a wonderful place to start. In Jesus name, Amen
Connie Hagstrom
54. Thursday, December 22,
A shoot will come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord
shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of
knowledge and the fear of the Lord. His delight will be in the awe of the Lord. (Isaiah 11:1-3)
Have you ever tried to get rid of a sapling in your yard or garden? How something so small, so tender,
so easily broken off will keep coming back to grow into something so large and strong. The Messiah came
from the stem of Jesse- the house of David was cut pretty low to the ground at this time, but would sprout again.
He came so that we might know the Holy Spirit, the spirit that would stay continuously with him, not just come
at certain times as it had with the prophets before him. And the Messiah would have perfect knowledge of our
God and would share the knowledge with usthe perfect gift.
David Pedersen
55. Friday, December 23
On that day I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen, and repair its breaches, and raise up its ruins, and
rebuild it as in the days of old, in order that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are
called by my name, says the Lord who does this. (Amos 9:11-12)
A literal definition of a booth in Israelite times was a temporary shelter made of branches. During the
Festival of Booths, the people built and lived in booths to remember the time of wandering before the Israelites
entered the Holy Land. Amos states that the booth of David or shelter of David would be restored. Amos
then uses terms that would be in reference to a city such as breaches and ruins. Could he now be talking about
Davids royal city of Jerusalem? Or could he be talking about the ruins that are the result of our sinfulness?

Amos goes on to prophesy that God will rebuild it as in the days of old, in order that they may possess
the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by my name, says the Lord who does this. How
wonderful for believers to already know that this prophesy has come to pass! We can rejoice in knowing that
God sent his Son, a descendant of David, to rebuild this city of the children of God who are called by His
name when he conquered death to grant us eternal life with Him.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Your Son to repair our breaches and raise up our ruins so
that we may have eternal shelter in heaven. Amen
Jolene Ziebell
56. Saturday, December 24, Christmas Eve
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the
first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. Each person went to their ancestral
towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David
called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with
Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came to deliver
her child (Luke 2:1-6)
I wrote on this same verse for last years Advent Devotions focusing on Marys feelings and thoughts
during this journey. This year I would like to look into the heart and mind of Joseph.
I can imagine Josephs mind in a state of unrest as he trudged along the long winding road to Bethlehem.
So many things to worry about. This journey couldnt have come at a worse time. The trip was extremely
difficult for Mary with the pending birth of the child so near. And that was another thing -- the child. He had
worked it all out. The quiet divorce so as not to add embarrassment. And then the visit from the angel and
everything changed.
He noticed more and more travelers on the road. It was going to be crowded in the city. Another worry.
Would he be able to find a place for them to stay while in Bethlehem. He had to find somewhere out of the
weather for Mary to rest. So many things to worry about. But he thought back to what the angel had said.
Everything that had happened had been decreed by God -- right down to the babys name -- Jesus. There was
no need to worry. God had everything under control.
Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of your son Jesus, that you sent to save us from our sins on this
Christmas Eve so many years ago. This is the best Christmas gift anyone Could receive. Amen
Susan Hansen
57. Sunday, December 25, the Feast of the Nativity
And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father's only
son, full of grace and truth From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was
given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (John 1:14, 16)
Dear ones, all of us: we have received grace upon grace. Grace which covers over grace. Grace that
even supersedes grace.
This is the message we receive today. Grace is so powerful that it is something that doubles, triples,
cubes the amount. Grace is magnified because of the Word made Flesh dwelling among us.
All that is so, even with the babe in the manger. The babe that will live and grow and mature in this
broken world. This babe becomes all of us, as flesh is inextricably tied to humanity and the whole creation. This
babe grows into the very fiber of being, of life, of creation.

This babe will not simply remain in Bethlehem, but moves to Egypt, to Galilee, to Samaria, to the ends
of the earth. And this babe, from before the beginning of time, prior to the billions of years of space still
expanding, comes into our times, our existence, our living and dying, that the dead will rise again. All in this
babe. All in this place.
Give thanks to God today. Give thanks for the joy of Christmas, and the joy of Easter. Give thanks.
Pastor David
58. Monday, December 26, Stephen, Deacon and Martyr
"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I
desired to gather 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 the
one who comes in the name of the Lord.'" (Matthew 23:37-39)
Jerusalem was the capital city of Gods chosen people and was supposed to be the center of worship for
the One True God. Unfortunately, it had turned its back on God and on the needs of its people. Here Jesus is
sharing his feelings for his beloved city and its lost people. He longs to gather your children together and
protect them. How often have you not asked for help because you dont know what you need. He know- he
knows better than you. All you have to do is ask and keep an open heart.
Penny Pedersen
59. Tuesday, December 27, John, Apostle and Evangelist
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning
with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has
come into being in him was life, and the light was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and
the darkness did not overcome it. (John 1:1-5)
At the Lake of the Ozarks there are a ew caves you can tour. Before you enter the cave, each person is
given a battery operated lantern to carry. When you are deep in the cave, the tour guide asks everyone to turn
off the lanterns to experience complete darkness. You cant see at all so you stand still in the blackness and
wait to turn the lanterns back on so you can continue on the tour.
Jesus is our light. He has been with us since the beginning of creation. Everything comes from him. He
is eternal. Let us keep our eyes fixed on him so we are not stuck in our cave of sin.
Kristy Booras
60. Wednesday, December 28, The Holy Innocents
When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the
children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned
from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah: A voice was heard
in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because
they are no more. (Matthew 2:16-18)
I am a Holy Innocent. I am anonymous within and outside the church. I am generally not seen in the
midst of the assembly. I am one who is not noticed in the midst of life within this world.
The world is good, and yet I am treated as not good. I am from the people of the land who have little and
are powerless. I am the children of Bethlehem whom Herod decided were frightening, even though we had done
nothing but be born in the wrong place at the right time. I am the one who by existing frightens others, as a
person living on the streets, or someone who cannot find their place in the world of others.

There are other Holy Innocents. Anything that stands in the way of power can become one. Those who
are widows and orphans, no longer able to find worth in a world consumed by wealth or greed can be Holy
Innocents. Those who are not born, and those having been born in a world that does not care to make their lives
something of value are Holy Innocents. Those who are other, dismissed and objectified are Holy Innocents.
Those who are intentionally not remembered and labeled among the refuse of the world by those denying
interconnectedness and humanness are Holy Innocents. The life of the species of the world that are impacted,
destroyed without care or notice are Holy Innocents. Baby seals; the great Barrier Reef; the oceans that are
continually filled with the garbage of humanity, so much so that these oceans start to lose the ability to recreate
the wonder of creation: these too are holy innocents.
At the end of it all, O God, we cry to you. We know the impact of Holy Innocents, either in our lives or
because of our Lives. Good and gracious God, forgive us all. Good and Gracious God, make us new. Good and
gracious God, we seek your power to recreate this world into a place where the Holy Innocents become a part of
the creation blessed and given, and that we love our neighbor as ourselves. In your mercy, O God, you who
came among us to take death and make It no more, and came that all who are dead may be made alive, we pray
good Lord to deliver us. Amen
A member of the Body of Christ at St Johns Lutheran Church, Norfolk.
61. Thursday, December 29
My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the
lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done
great things for me, and holy is his name. (Luke 1:46-49)
I am very fortunate to be a child of God. The Lord shows kindness to me even though I do not deserve it
for I am a sinner. People who know me will know that the Lord has done wonderful things for me and has
provided me with a great life. Praise the Lord for his many blessings. Holy is the Lord.
Kristi Johnson
62. Friday, December 30, the Sixth Day of Christmas
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness
covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, "Let
there be light"; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the
darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was
morning, the first day. (Genesis 1:1-5)
So many thoughts entered my head with this verse. Confusing, what should I do? So, I decided to go
back to my very first thought. Nesting. God is creating the earth for us. There is a sense of order to all that He
does. First came the earth, followed with water, then day and night. I would like to center in on the day and
night. As parents (especially new ones) dont we find the right room for our baby? We want it to be bright and
happy and feel like love. At night when rest is needed, we have night lights to keep from stumbling when our
little one needs us. We want them to feel safe and loved. God wants us to feel safe and love.d He doesnt want
us hiding in darkness feeling fear of never finding anything or of not being found. The sunshine reminds us of
Gods love. The moon and stars become our night lights. Because we have light we can embrace all that God
has put into our world. Short example: trees, grass, animals, rain, etc. I am sure that you get the idea. This is
the world that He has made for us, because He loves us and prepared for us. Just as we prepare for our new
family (nesting).

Dear Lord, as we look at our world, please help us to remember that you have put our needs first
because you planned for us and loved us. You wanted us to see your love, and feel your warmth in the
sunshine, and the peace of the night with the moon and stars. You have given us your love and the love of
family, friends, and animals. Then you gave us Jesus. Your love knows no bounds. Help us to share your love
and light, and in so doing, we can keep ours alive. In Jesus Name, Amen
Connie Hagstrom
63. Saturday, December 31, the Seventh Day of Christmas
We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we
have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of lifethis life was revealed, and we have
seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to uswe
declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our
fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that our joy may be
complete. (1 John 1:1-4)
It is thought that the author of 1 John is also the author of the Gospel of John. From the beginning is
mentioned by Jesus Christ in John 8:25. Is it the beginning of the New Testament? It goes back even further.
Jesus has knowledge about Abraham (John 8: 56-58), and Abraham is recorded in Genesis.
The disciples were able to see and hear and touch Jesus Christ after he resurrected. See my hands and
my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have (Luke
24:39). Even Thomas was able to see Jesus again so that he would believe (John 20:27-29).
These disciples were able to see and hear what prophets and kings desired (Matthew 13:16-17) and Luke
10:23-24). We are fortunate to have learned from the disciples of Jesus Christ about the word of eternal life.
Jesus Christ referred to himself as the bread of life in John 6 and then continues to say, The words I have
spoken are spirit and life (verse 63).
It may be interesting to consider sitting at a table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob among the other
disciples. Jesus Christ talks about it (Matthew 8:11, Luke 20:37-38). Could you imagine a fellowship with the
Father and his son Jesus Christ? To include you would bring joy.
The angels of God sing louder for the ones that dont seem to hear very well. They rejoice over the lost
that become found (Luke 15:7).
Katrina Tomsen
64. Sunday, January 1, The Name of Jesus
After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the
angel before he was conceived in the womb. (Luke 2:21 NRSV)
Jesus, on the eighth day of his life, went through the process of being marked for Israel. His
circumcision was done as it was done for the entirety of the men of Israel. The very act of sealing a covenant in
Hebrew translates literally as "to cut." It is presumed by Jewish scholars that the removal of the foreskin
represents such a sealing of the covenant. This covenant in Israel was in the flesh, and made a moment of
sacrifice made with blood. Each male was subject to such a consecration. Each male therefore was by blood, by
sacrifice, a member of the inheritance of Israel.
The naming of a child often happened at the time of circumcision. For our Lord, Jeshua was the given
name. His covenant name meaning, The Lord Saves/Helps, made in blood.

There would have been many Jeshua children, so named as a sign that God was going to act in the lives
of the people, and that hope was bound in the flesh. Yet this day became special. Even at eight days our Lord
was clearly and decisively on his path to being a savior. This might not be our understanding of how things
should be, but in the Jewish faith it would be the pathway forward, the hope among the people of being saved
by God.
It may seem strange, but this action marks Jesus for all the coming actions of salvation which begin with
sacrifice, that our lives may be redeemed.
And so, on this first new day of the year, the naming of Jesus gives us hope. We have been saved by the
one who has come, who has made covenant to save, and who sheds his blood as a testament of life. This day,
and all that is to come, is within the gift given of life. And Jesus is named as the one who gives us hope in
believing. Praise the one who breaks the darkness, the one who comes to save.
Pastor David
65. Monday, January 2, the Ninth Day of Christmas
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual
blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and
blameless before him in love. He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the
good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
(Ephesians 1:3-6)
We have been adopted as children through Jesus Christ. There are different adoptions. There are
children as orphans adopted into a loving family. Another adoption would be as a single parent that remarries
and the stepchild or children are adopted into that family.
My father was killed in the Battle of the Bulge when I was only eight months old. My mother
remarried when I was about two and one half years old. My older brother and I kept our last names, but in a
sense we were adopted to make a family. We were also a family in Jesus Christ. This was destined by the will
of the Father.
Dear Lord, Bless all the families adopted in Christ. May we serve our purpose on earth to glorify your
name. This in Jesus name we pray. Amen
Ken Hansen
66. Tuesday, January 3, the Tenth Day of Christmas
Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying, Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all
peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel. And the child's father and
mother were amazed at what was being said about him. (Luke 2:28-33)
Old Simeon, what a promise you had been given! You would not die until you saw the one sent by God.
The Messiah of the Lord. You waited, and waited, and waited and finally were found by God. In the Temple
you were prompted by something, something that touched the promise held in your heart. The Holy Spirit
caused you to get up, to rise, to take a child among the people, and to sing. I imagine you with a broken voice,
waiting so long for the promise. A voice that cracked with the passage of time, gasped with the reality of grace,
and strained by the longing of love made real, made flesh.

Eyes that see salvation. Light expressed for those in darkness. Glory being found in a little child,
growing up to the cross of the worlds suffering and need. Seeing the one who would take away the sins of the
world, inside the Temple dedicated to worshipping the God who now squeals with delight, making bubbles, and
is altogether human and divine. What mind blowing bliss and heartfelt joy.
I imagine you, Simeon, seeing all this-and then the depths of feeling overflow like the rush of a mighty
stream, the stream of justice and righteousness. You sing. You tell the parents the dangers of the falling and
rising of many in Israel, and how that will slice into their hearts like a sword. You find a prophetess in the
Temple to show her the wonder of the Word made flesh. The redemption of Israel was coming, coming through
this little one she prophesied. And in that moment, the passing of one way of faith moved to the coming of
another. And the world was never the same again. You and Anna, Joseph and Mary were never the same again.
And neither will we be, those called by that one and same Holy Spirit to believe.
Pastor David
6 7. Wednesday, January 4, the Eleventh Day in Christmas
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to
Jerusalem, asking, Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its
rising, and have come to pay him homage. When Herod the King heard this he was troubled, and all
Jerusalem with him. (Matthew 2:1-3)
Oh that star, that star, that wonderful star that was used to lead men to Christ! Back in those days, were
all the people noticing and talking about that star? Did they wonder about it? Did anyone besides the magi try
to follow it? The wise men knew the star was leading them to the Messiah.
They were willing to travel many miles over rough terrain to see him, to bring him gifts, and to worship
him. It was that important. We also need to go out of our way for Jesus. When the going gets rough, dont
give up. Seek Jesus, find him and worship him. He is worth it.
Kristy Booras
68. Thursday, January 5, the Twelfth Day of Christmas, or Twelfth Night
I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living
sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but
be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of Godwhat is good
and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2)
The book of Romans was written by Paul. Chapter 12 reminds us in part of Jesuss Sermon on the
Mount that being blessed is more than a temporary feeling of happiness. It is a state of well-being that one feels
when you put your life in his hands. We all are tested on a daily basis one way or another. You may have heard
the saying, If you want to see God smile, plan your day. He knows our every need as well as the worlds
needs, so take comfort in knowing that he is in charge. We are to put our trust in him and be thankful for all we
have. Be still and know that He is God.
Carol Severa

69. Friday, January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany

When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its
rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were
overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down
and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and
myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another
road. (Matthew 2:9-12)
Today is Epiphany, also known as Three Kings Day, when the three wise men visited baby Jesus. They
were led by a star and it was their sign that they were about to witness something miraculous. The three wise
men were overwhelmed with joy when they noticed that the star had stopped and then saw baby Jesus with
Mary, his mother. They knelt and worshiped the child.
What speaks to me about these scripture verses is that the wise men were overwhelmed with joy. Joy is
given by God to his followers. J = Jesus first; O = others second; Y = yourself last. If we put Jesus and others
first, we will have joy in our lives.
Blessed Lord, help us to put you and others first in our lives. We tend to focus too much on ourselves as
well as material things. Help us to focus on being a blessing to someone else. Be our guiding star that we may
have true joy in our lives. Amen