Beyond the Manger: 2015 Advent Study

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This year’s Advent Study takes its devotional content from the Sermon on the Mount. Each devotional uses two translations of the same scripture, NRSV and The Voice. Below you will find a short calendar of events during advent, an introduction by Randy and daily devotions from our blog.

Sundays in Advent

  • Sunday, November 29: First Sunday of Advent “Thy Kingdom Come” Matthew 1:18-21
  • Sunday, December 6: Second Sunday of Advent “Baptized by Anticipation” Mark 1:1-8
  • Sunday, December13: Third Sunday of Advent “The Witness of Light” John 1:1-14
  • Sunday, December 20: Fourth Sunday of Advent “Servants of the Lord” Luke 1:26-38

Christmas Eve Services

  • 2 P.M. Family Focused Christmas Eve Worship
  • 3 P.M. “Happy Birthday Jesus” Party
  • 4 P.M. Family Focused Christmas Eve Worship
  • 6 P.M. Christmas Eve Worship Featuring carols and performances by our Cambiata
  • 8 P.M. Christmas Eve Worship Featuring carols, choir and hand bells
  • 10 P.M. Christms Eve Worship &  Holy Communion

Introduction by Randy Jessen

The season of Advent is always a time of great joy and anticipation in the life of the Christian community.  We use the time to get ready for the celebration of Christmas and the renewed presence of Jesus being born into the world.

The actual season of Advent incorporates the four weeks just prior to Christmas. This year, Advent begins with the first Sunday of Advent on November 29th.  Each of the four Sundays in Advent have a unique focus to help us open our hearts as we slowly approach the manger of Jesus in the ancient city of Bethlehem.  The four week journey helps us tell the birth story and to remember all that Jesus means to our lives as people of faith.

It won’t be long before we are gathering for Christmas Eve worship as we celebrate in the glow of candlelight and give thanks for this remarkable event that continues to transform the world.  Jesus, the Son of God, is born into a troubled world.

The word ‘Advent’ comes to us from the Latin word ‘adventus’ which is a translation of the Greek word ‘parousia’ which means ‘coming’ in reference to the anticipated arrival of the Messiah.  So the season gives us a chance to participate in the spirit of waiting for the ‘coming’ of Jesus the Messiah into the world and into our lives as individual believers.

I want to welcome you to this cluster of daily Advent devotions that have been prepared just for our congregation.  Within this booklet you will find a brief devotion for our Monday through Friday experience.  In addition, I want to invite you to take part in our congregational Advent conversation by joining with your sisters and brothers on Thursday afternoon at 1:00 or Thursday evening at 6:00 as we explore Beyond the Manger and look at some of the key teachings of Jesus.

I want to personally invite you to share the daily experience, join one of the Thursday class groups (afternoon or evening), and be present for each of the four Sunday worship experiences as we become pilgrims on our way to Bethlehem and beyond.

You will notice that each daily devotion is based on the core teachings of Jesus as we find them in the Sermon on the Mount.  We find the text of this historic and ancient teaching in the Book of Matthew chapters five through seven.  Each daily devotion will focus on a specific set of verses from that section of the Bible.  Our readings will take us Beyond the Manger and touch our lives today.

In addition to the daily devotional reading, I have also provided the direct biblical text for the day in two different versions.  You will find the daily reading from the New Revised Standard Version and from the translation known as The Voice.  The two translations will give you a way to compare and expand the meaning of the text.

The New Revised Standard Version is the typical translation that we dominantly use on Sunday mornings.  It was created as a way to renew the text of the Revised Standard Version by a group of Bible scholars in 1989.  The Voice bible translation was just released in 2012 as a ‘dynamic equivalent’ modern language version.  The Voice incorporates some additional commentary, artistic imagery, and lively phrasing that you will find printed in italics within the text.  I think you will find the comparison helpful.

Thank you for joining us on the journey to the manger and beyond.  I pray that the 2015 season of Advent will be a great blessing to you and to our faith community that we know and love as the Parker United Methodist Church.

May the Lord bless you as we wait, anticipate, and prepare for the arrival of the Christ Child!

Yours in Christ

Randy Jessen

Daily Devotions and Scripture Readings

New devotional content will be available each day of Advent Monday-Friday.

Beyond the Manger: December 25, 2015

Matthew 7:24-29  24 Those people who are listening to Me, those people who hear what I say and live according to My teachings—you are like a wise man who built his house on a rock, on a firm foundation. 25 When storms hit, rain pounded down and waters rose, levies broke and winds beat all…

Beyond the Manger: December 24, 2015

Matthew 7:13-18 13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy[a] that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. 14 For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it. 15 “Beware of false…

Beyond the Manger: December 23, 2015

Matthew 7:12  12 “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets. Matthew 7:12 12 This is what our Scriptures come to teach: in everything, in every circumstance, do to others as you would have them do to you. Devotional Content There is…

Beyond the Manger: December 22, 2015

Matthew 7:7-11 7 “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 Is there anyone among you who, if your child…

Beyond the Manger: December 21, 2015

Matthew 7:1-6 (NRSV) 7 “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. 2 For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. 3 Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s[a] eye, but do not notice the log in your…

Beyond the Manger: December 18, 2015

Matthew 6:25-29 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink,[b] or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap…

Beyond the Manger: December 17, 2015

Matthew 6:24 (NRSV) 24 “No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. Matthew 6:24 (The Voice) 24 No one can serve two masters. If you try, you will wind…

Beyond the Manger: December 16, 2015

Matthew 6:22-23 (NRSV) 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; 23 but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! Matthew…

Beyond the Manger: December 15, 2015

Matthew 6:19-21 (NRSV) 19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust[a] consume and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust[b] consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is,…

Beyond the Manger: December 14, 2015

Matthew 6:16-18 (NRSV) 16 “And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that…

Beyond the Manger: December 11, 2015

Matthew 6:5-14 (NRSV) 5 “And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 6 But whenever you pray, go into your room…

Beyond the Manger: December 10, 2015

Matthew 6: 1-4 (NRSV) 6 “Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.2 “So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that…

Beyond the Manger: December 9, 2015

Matthew 5: 43-48 (NRSV) 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise…

Beyond the Manger: December 8, 2015

Matthew 5: 38-42 (NRSV) 38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; 40 and if anyone wants to sue you…

Beyond the Manger: December 7, 2015

Matthew 5:33-37 (NRSV) 33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35…

Beyond the Manger: December 4, 2015

Matthew 5:27-32 (NRSV) 27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it…

Beyond the Manger: December 3, 2015

Matthew 5:21-26 (NRSV) 21 “You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister,[a] you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult[b] a brother…

Beyond the Manger: December 2, 2015

Matthew 5:17-20 17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter,[a] not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is…

Beyond the Manger: December 1, 2015

Matthew 5:13-16: NRSV 13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.14 “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid….

Beyond the Manger: November 30, 2015

Matthew 5: 1-12: NRSV 5 When Jesus[a] saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Blessed are those who mourn,…

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