Category: devotional thoughts

When Chris and I got married, my mom passed on a book that we used in our family at this time of year. Christ in Christmas: A Family Advent Celebration, by James Dobson, Charles Swindoll, James Montgomery Boice, and R.C. Sproul is a slender book that contains a wealth of wisdom. It is broken down into the weeks of Advent, with a Scripture reading, song, prayer, and meditation for Sundays and a shorter Scripture passage and reflection for each weekday. Right now, Jonas is too young to sit and listen, but I have enjoyed reading through the book myself and looking forward to the time a few years from now that we can celebrate with an Advent wreath and these passages as a family tradition.

…Mary “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart”
[Luke 2:19]. What Mary did went beyond mere amazement, though she marveled too. This wonderful woman also made an attempt to remember everything that was
happening to her in those days and then to figure out what each of these things
meant. That is, she took time to think about spiritual things, just as we should
do. Christmas is a very busy time. But our time is badly spent if we allow the
business of Christmas to keep us from reading the Christmas story again and
again, and thinking about it.

As a mom, I find myself trying to save up the moments and the memories too. I keep a detailed scrapbook and a journal, as well as this blog. I can go back and read the letter I wrote to Jonas when he was just a few weeks old, and it brings the sights and sounds and emotions of those days flooding back to me.

How much more desperately must Mary have clung to her memories of Jesus? Without a camera, a computer, a baby book… she knew that she was witnessing miraculous days, and I’m sure her mother’s heart was full to bursting as she tried to keep each moment fresh in her mind.

I like that this author points out that an important part of what Mary did was reflection on what those daily miracles meant. Of course it is important for us to reflect on the miracle of Christmas – but I think it’s important for us to carry the practice of reflection throughout our year. If you have young children, you know that each day is a small miracle of growth, change, and wonderful discovery. If you aren’t around children, there are still miracles happening in your daily grind – you just might have to keep your eyes open a little wider to see what you’ve been missing.

God is in the details. If we take care not to get so wrapped up in the “have to,” “need to,” “must do” lists of this busy season, we can see His hand all over our lives. When you reflect on the miracle of a Holy Birth this Christmas, why not quietly look

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When a lifelong Southern Baptist girl joins the United Methodist Church, you can bet your bottom dollar that she spends a lot of time in research and prayer on the matter of baptism. If you’ve been curious…

What do United Methodists believe about baptism?

“Understanding the practice as an authentic expression of how God works in our lives, The United Methodist Church strongly advocates the baptism of infants within the faith community: “Because the redeeming love of God, revealed in Jesus Christ, extends to all persons and because Jesus explicitly included the children in his kingdom, the pastor of each charge shall earnestly exhort all Christian parents or guardians to present their children to the Lord in Baptism at an early age” (1992 Book of Discipline, par. 221)” (para. 226 in the 2004 Book of Discipline).

While baptism is understood primarily as a means of God’s grace toward the child, By Water and the Spirit also states: “If a parent or sponsor (godparent) cannot or will not nurture the child in the faith, then baptism is to be postponed until Christian nurture is available.”

Baptism is, among other things, incorporation into the body of Christ. The questions asked in the baptism of infants are asked not of the parents and sponsors to answer on behalf of the infant, but on behalf of themselves. Those who cannot or will not answer these questions affirmatively for themselves in good faith are not yet ready to support another in a journey toward discipleship to Jesus Christ, and so are not able to enter the covenant relationship entailed in baptism.

In infant baptism, God claims the child with divine grace. Clearly the child can do nothing to save himself or herself, but is totally dependent on God’s grace, as we all are — whatever our age. In believer’s baptism, the person being baptized is publicly professing her or his own decision to accept Christ. Believer’s baptism is an ordinance, not a sacrament. United Methodists baptize people of all ages who have not previously received the sacrament. Even when the people being baptized are believing adults and are ready to profess their faith, our emphasis is upon the gracious action of God rather than upon the individual’s decision.

Source: http://archives.umc.org

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Our pastor Sara preached a wonderful, appropriate, timely, wise, passionate sermon this morning about the importance of taking a Sabbath rest. She pointed out scriptures that instruct us to do so, and reflected on the Jewish Shabbat rituals, and made a beautiful analogy. She pulled a bottle of water from behind the pulpit. (You must imagine a tall, slender, curly haired woman speaking in a light Scottish accent here for the full beauty of the moment.) “This water is from a river. {notice, gentle reader, the turgid muddy brownness of this water in the bottle} The current is so busy, moving constantly, that the muck and the mud is always stirred up.” She set the bottle on the lectern and moved about the front of the church, and at the end of her sermon moved back to the lectern. “When we take time for a Sabbath rest, when we stop our hurrying and doing and going and working {now, gentle reader, allow your eye to fall upon the bottle again: mud and silt lodged at the bottom, and clear sparkling water from there to the top of the bottle} all of the muck and mud in our lives settles, and we reclaim the clear, pure beauty our souls were meant to have.”

That sentiment captures so well the essence of what I’m trying to do this cycle: I’m simply going to stop. And surrender. Let the current of life swirl around me, but I am going to settle all my sediment for a while, and enjoy the peace and serenity of a Sabbath.


(By the way, for anyone still counting along ~not unlike a Sesame Street game, eh?~ I’m 13 days past ovulation and my period is due tomorrow. I’ll keep you posted.)

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Meet the author

MICHELLE NEBEL

I write uplifting women’s fiction woven with threads of faith, grace, and Southern hospitality. My blog is where I share a glimpse of my life, and I hope you’ll find the thoughts here encouraging!

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