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Meditations from Eugenia

Daily Scripture and Prayer Safe Harbor December 2019

Introduction: The sacred season of Advent serves several purposes in the life of the church and in believer’s personal spiritual deepening. Advent teaches us that Christ comes to us again and again and we must expect and prepare for miraculous in-breaking of Presence in our lives and world. Advent also reminds us that inbreaking always comes in God’s good time not our own. So, in this season we have the opportunity each year to learn the inestimable value of waiting for God. The cradle of Love is only filled when God chooses to fill it. Even if the trees are up in Walmart on Labor Day, Advent teaches us that so often in life we must wait. Advent teaches us that while we wait, we also prepare, for the in-breaking of God can never be predicted. Advent teaches us the value of daily preparing, our hearts, our minds and our souls, for the miraculous appearance of God in the most unexpected ways. Advent is not Christmas, and it serves very different spiritual purposes. For that reason, I think it is no surprise that the season of Advent is longer than the season of Christmas. It is always harder to learn to wait than to receive the longed-for gift.

This year we will spend the first three weeks of Advent with the great Hebrew prophets. There is nothing like the prophets to help us see ourselves clearly and kindle our longing for Messiah, for God to move and redeem. They are clear about their need and the brokenness of the world that only God can repair. It is important to stay with that need and longing for a time in order to fully appreciate salvation when it comes. By the way, where the scripture is written in poetry, I have retained that formatting.

The last week of Advent we will turn to the New Testament to the still stunning, but familiar passages about how God met our need so long ago in a faraway birth and ponder how that birth still today brings us to life as well.

So, my prayer for you this month is a Holy Advent and a Joyous Christmas! Love to you all, Eugenia

IMG 2508December 1, 2019 - Isaiah 1:1-3

“The vision of Isaiah son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. Hear, O heavens, and listen, O earth; for the Lord has spoken: I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me. The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master’s crib; but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.”

Dear God, the rebellion and confusion of your people is so apparent these days. Even in our own hearts, it often takes root. Help us, Lord, to look to you, to remember who we are and act like it. When the days are dark with discord, help us hold fast to the Prince of Peace. O Come, O Come, Immanuel! Amen.

December 2, 2019 – Isaiah 24:16

“From the ends of the earth we hear songs of praise, of glory to the Righteous One. But I say, I pine away, I pine away. Woe is me! For the treacherous deal treacherously, the treacherous deal very treacherously”.

Dear God, it is so important to be positive. We know that. Yet, when our praise is little more than a deflection from our own sin, it becomes nothing more than deadly noise. May we never substitute shallow praise for the hard work of righteousness! O Come, O Come, Immanuel! Amen.

December 3, 2019 – Isaiah 40:1-2

“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.”

Dear God, how we long to hear your comforting words that the worst is over! Like Jerusalem, we know all too well the cost of our wayward ways. We know the bent shoulders, the weary heart. We know the shattered institutions and the deadening of trust. In the midst of all we have wrought in our lives, families and world, speak your tender comfort to us and point us toward your new day. O Come, O Come, Immanuel! Amen.

December 4, 2019 – Isaiah 54:1-3

“Sing, O barren one who did not bear; burst into song and shout, you who have not been in labor! For the children of the desolate woman will be more than the children of her that is married, says the Lord. Enlarge the site of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left, and your descendants will possess the nations and will settle the desolate towns”.

Dear God, sometimes we feel small, insignificant and defeated, sleepwalking, held together by little more than habit and skin. Help us, Lord, to remember your vision for us. Help us to act today in confident hope of all that you will bring about in, with and through us! O Come, O Come, Immanuel! Amen.

December 5, 2019 – Isaiah 54:4

“Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed; do not be discouraged, for you will not suffer disgrace; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and the disgrace of your widowhood you will remember no more.”

Dear God, fear is such a wily thing. We each seem to have a core fear that, while buried deeply, can rise up in the strangest ways with the smallest provocation. Perhaps we fear for our families or our health or our financial stability. Perhaps those are just the symptoms of deeper fears of inadequacy or abandonment. Perhaps our fears are simply masks for our loneliness for you. Whatever their origin or content, today we give our fears to you for healing. Help us hear your promise of peace and restoration. O Come, O Come, Immanuel! Amen.

December 6, 2019 – Isaiah 4:2

“On that day the branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and glory of the survivors of Israel.”

Dear God, great days are coming! We can feel it! Even we, tiniest of branches, can bear much fruit in and with you. Thank you, Lord. O Come, O Come, Immanuel! Amen.

IMG 2062December 7, 2019 – Isaiah 30:19-22

“Truly, O people in Zion, inhabitants of Jerusalem, you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when he hears it, he will answer you. Though the Lord may give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself any more, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’ Then you will defile your silver-covered idols and your gold-plated images. You will scatter them like filthy rags; you will say to them, ‘Away with you!’”

Dear God, wow what promises! You will dry our tears. You will fill our hearts with joy and wonder. You will make yourself obvious to us everywhere we turn. You will be our security and we will need no other. Even now you are doing this sacred work within us. Thank you! O Come, O Come, Immanuel. Amen.

December 8. 2019 – Isaiah 11:1-3

“A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on 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 shall be in the fear of the Lord.”

Dear God, even as we languished, your promised salvation blossomed! Oh, how we need the wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge and awe of you to be the defining realities of our lives. Help us to know you! Help us to understand you! Help us to reverence you in all that we say and do. We know that only you can do that in us so, O Come, O Come, Immanuel. Amen.

December 9, 2019 - Mark 11:9

“Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”

Dear God, we, like our ancestors, so often give you shallow praise that evaporates when we become afraid or confused. Please help us to develop a deep and sustaining daily practice of praise as we walk with you each day wherever you lead us. Amen..

December 10, 2019 – Isaiah 26:7-9

“The way of the righteous is level; O Just One, you make smooth the path of the righteous. In the path of your judgements, O Lord, we wait for you; your name and your renown are the soul’s desire. My soul yearns for you in the night, my spirit within me earnestly seeks you. For when your judgements are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.”

Dear God, we have not been so good at righteousness. The word simply means ‘to be just’ and justice has always been illusive for us. We only even seem to want it if we think it will give us some kind of advantage, which, of course, it never can. And yet we cannot yearn for you without yearning also for your ways. We cannot come to you in need, if you cannot also come to us to work for justice. Help us, Lord. We want what you offer so much more than we want what you command! O Come, O Come, Immanuel! Amen.

December 11, 2019 – Isaiah 41:17-18

“When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the Lord will answer them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.”

Dear God, the poor of the earth cry out to you and you hear them. You promise to open a way for them, to provide and prosper. Help us, O God, to hear your call to us to be the body of Christ for you to meet their need and in so doing our own. O Come, O Come, Immanuel! Amen.

December 12, 2019 – Malachi 3:1-2

“See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?”

Dear God, we can only stand in your presence by your grace and guidance. Help us to hear your messengers declaring your coming and your values. Help us to prepare our own hearts to hear your words of truth and allow ourselves to be changed by them. O Come, O Come, Immanuel! Amen.

December 13, 2019 – Habakkuk 2:1

“I will stand at my watch-post, and station myself on the rampart; I will keep watch to see what he will say to me, and what he will answer concerning my complaint.”

Dear God, we want to be like the prophet, standing ever ready to hear your word, confident that you will move on our behalf when the time is perfectly right. Thank you for hearing us, Lord, and help us to tune our lives to hear you. O Come, O Come, Immanuel! Amen.

IMG 2523December 14, 2019 – Habakkuk 3:2

“O Lord, I have heard of your renown, and I stand in awe, O Lord, of your work. In our own time revive it; in our own time make it known; in wrath may you remember mercy.”

Dear God, we celebrate the ways that you have moved in history and in our own lives. Thank you! We join the prophet today in asking you to revive your work in our time, to revive our awareness of it so that we can cooperate with what you are doing in the world, in our church, in our homes and in our hearts. O Come, O Come, Immanuel! Amen.

December 15, 2019 – Isaiah 35:1-2

“The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God.”

Dear God, in Jesus Christ you have revealed your perfect nature, your supreme glory. Your nature is love. Your glory is service. Help us, Lord, as we participate in Christ, to show your love and live to serve. O Come, O Come, Immanuel. Amen.

December 16, 2019 – Isaiah 61:1-4

“The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to provide for those who mourn in Zion—to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory. They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.”

Dear God, these are the words, of all the beautiful words of scripture, that Jesus chose for his mission statement. May we do the same! There are so many who struggle in one captivity or another. We ourselves often feel more bound that freed. Help us to lift up the downhearted, comfort the mourning, offer the oil of gladness to all we meet and to rebuild the ruins of our cities and our lives with your help. O Come, O Come, Immanuel. Amen.

December 17, 2019 – Isaiah 29:17-19

“Shall not Lebanon in a very little while become a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be regarded as a forest? On that day the deaf shall heart he words of a scroll, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see. The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the Lord, and the neediest people shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.”

Dear God, what a wonderful phrase! Fresh joy! Make us fruitful, Lord. Help us to hear you all around, crying out, laughing, playing, lamenting. Help us to see as we have never seen and to hope as we have forgotten to hope. O Come, O Come, Immanuel! Amen.

December 18, 2019 – Micah 6:8

“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?”

Dear God, to do justice is not to ensure that people get what they deserve. That is mere revenge. To do justice is to tackle systems, to break hard hearts and open blind eyes until all have what you desire for them, fairness, equity, enough. Help us, O God, to be workers of justice, unfailingly kind and humbly close to you. O Come, O Come, Immanuel! Amen.

December 19, 2019 – Jeremiah 31:31-34

“The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, ‘Know the Lord’, for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.”

Dear God, may today be the day when you write your words on our hearts! May today be the day when your values become so natural to us that we would never even think to depart from them. May today be the day that we know you as never before and you forgive us everything. We thank you, O God, for starting over with us again and again. Help us to walk with you, accept your forgiveness and live as your people. O Come, O Come, Immanuel. Amen.

December 20, 2019 – Isaiah 42:16

“I will lead the blind by a road they do not know, by paths they have not known, I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I will do, and I will not forsake them.”

Dear God, you are already doing this work in us and we find ourselves as your church, on paths we have not known. Change is everywhere and we don’t always know how to meet it. We stumble in the darkness of habit and long for a smooth path. Help us on this road to remember that you are with us. You smooth, you straighten and you lead! Thank you! O Come, O Come, Immanuel! Amen.

IMG 2512December 21, 2019 – Isaiah 7:14

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.”

Dear God, once again in these holy days we meet with wonder both your promise and our longing for Immanuel, for God with us. Help us in this busy season to make room for your coming. Show us the space that needs to be cleared in our hearts so that we can welcome you with joy once more. O Come, O Come, Immanuel! Amen.

December 22, 2019 – Isaiah 9:2b

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined.”

Dear God, sometimes it seems that your people are perpetually staggering around in the dark. Sometimes we even call the darkness light and make our home in it. Help us to receive the light you bring. Do not let us miss even one insight that you offer to us today and in this season. We want to walk in the light and reflect it in our world! O Come, O Come, Immanuel! Amen.

December 23, 2019 – Luke 1:47-55

“And Mary said, ‘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. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.’”

Dear God, as we sit quietly with Mary’s song we cannot help but be aware of how we have domesticated it. It is not a sweet carol. It is a wild and raw manifesto, a picture of a radical turning of society. Help us to approach this text reverently and humbly. Make us willing to release our hold on power so that the kingdom can be born in and through us, just as it was in and through her. O Come, O Come, Immanuel! Amen.

December 24, 2019 – Luke 2:13-15

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!’ When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!’ When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’”

Dear God, O day of wonder! O night of awe! Your love for us could not be contained, far away, experienced only in hopes and dreams. Your love took on skin and bone. Your love became tiny and vulnerable and burst upon the world in scandal and insecurity and was at the same time bigger and more durable than the universe itself. How can this be? It is beyond us and yet you came to us in human life. Miracle of incarnation! Help us to live our ragged human lives in such a way that, at least from time to time, your love can shine through us to this broken and fearful world. Alleluia! God is with us! Amen.

December 25, 2019 – Hebrews 1:1-4

“Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.”

Dear God, Jesus is your fingerprint, the exact imprint of you. If we wonder who you are, we look to him. If we wonder how you would have us live, we look to him. If we wonder what power looks like, we look to him. If we wonder if forgiveness is real, we look to him. Thank you, Lord. There is no language to express our gratitude, no language but lives transformed by love. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

December 26, 2019 – John 1:1-5

“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 life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”

O Christ, O Logos of God, there is no time before you. You danced at creation’s first ecstatic bursts. You delighted as the earth was formed and the creatures crept to life. You shined out in Jesus, enlightening the whole world, with wisdom and grace. We thank you that you promise that no human darkness can overcome your great light. Help us to cling to this truth and live in the light. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

December 27, 2019 – Psalm 148:1-3

“Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights! Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his host! Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars!”

Dear God, today we continue to bask in the wonder of incarnation. With the whole universe we praise your name and thank you for coming to us in Christ Jesus to shed your light and seal your promises. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

IMG 2521December 28, 2019 – Psalm 98:1

“O sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things. His right hand and his holy arm have gained him victory.”

Dear God, the whole world is made new in Jesus Christ. Love has won the day. Help us to live today and every day as if we truly believe this fundamental truth of our faith. Love has gained the victory. Everything else is as nothing in its presence. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

December 29, 2019 – Matthew 2:13

“Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.’”

Dear God, it doesn’t take long for angel choruses to fade and politics to assert itself. Today we pray for all refugees and those whose lives are torn apart by forces that are bigger and meaner than they. As our infant savior was forced to flee his country, draw near to all who are this day forced to flee their homelands in order to honor your greatest gift to them, life itself. May we be people of radical welcome. As the Egyptians welcomed and protected the Christ child, may we welcome all your wandering children. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

December 30, 2019 – 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

“So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.”

Dear God, even in the midst of our Christmas celebrations, life can sometimes be so hard. Our bodies give us fits. Our families give us fits. Our colleagues give us fits. Our finances give us fits. Our leaders give us fits. Help us, Lord, to look beyond our temporary circumstances to the real and lasting truth of our lives. We belong to you and, in you, we become eternal beings. Fill these days with the peace of that truth. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

December 31, 2019 – John 8:12

“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.’”

Dear God, in these short winter days and long winter nights, it would be easy to believe that the darkness is stronger than the light. When we turn on the evening news or hear of the suffering of the world, it would be easy to think that the darkness is stronger than the light. When we face our own personal challenges, even then it can seem that the darkness is stronger than the light. This, however, we know, is never true. Plant the light deeply in our hearts so that even when night is long, your light may burn brightly. May the coming year fairly shimmer with it! In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.