Advent Daily Devotional 2020
…to this booklet which can assist you with your devotions during the season of Advent. For each day of the season, a devotion dedicated to the day has been prepared. The text for each day come from the daily lectionary contained in Evangelical Lutheran Worship.
As you sit down with this booklet, first read the assigned text. Then read the devotion which follows. Lastly, give yourself some time to think about what you have just read. Let the words sink in and give meaning to your devotional time. Close your devotion with a prayer.
In several ways, this has been a turbulent year. As we move through the days of Advent, having some personal, quiet time with God is essential and helpful. Combined with our time of worship, whether you watch online our are present in-person, I hope you are guided to the nativity of our Lord.
I commend it to your use. It will bless you during this holy season.
Clifton D. Eshbach
Sunday, November 29
The First Sunday in Advent
But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come (verses 32 and 33).
Welcome to Advent. The season of waiting, anticipation and preparation. This first Sunday of the season is set aside to lift up a major theme of Advent, the need to prepare and stay alert. This is reflected in this speech of Jesus regarding the time for his return. That had to be difficult for his disciples for comprehend. Jesus hasn’t even left the first time and now he is speaking of a return? How do we prepare and stay alert? In the manner by which Jesus first served. By sharing his love, grace and mercy to the people we encounter. Waiting and keeping alert is an active ministry of service.
Monday, November 30
Commemoration of Andrew, Apostle
They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39He said to them, “Come and see” (verse 38b, 39a).
Today the church commemorates the apostle Andrew. The text is the scene of his being called to learn, live and serve alongside Jesus. Andrew is mentioned in all of the gospels, and is known as the brother-in-law of Peter. He is also remembered as one who brought the gospel to distant lands. In the European nation of Georgia, Andrew is revered as the first person to bring the gospel to that country. Christians in Romania and Ukraine say the same thing. His example of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ is worth remembering. He certainly was one who “went and saw” what Jesus was doing.
Tuesday, December 1
The lame I will make the remnant, and those who were cast off, a strong nation; and the Lord will reign over them in Mount Zion now and forevermore (verse 7).
The prophecy of Micah is a sharp rebuke of the kings who resided in Jerusalem. Micah believed that these rulers put there own self-interests above the needs of the people. And Micah was not bashful in saying so.
The gathering of the less fortunate and making them a nation mirrors the ministry of Jesus in how he cared especially for people in similar situations. This returns us to our time of active waiting and serving which this season reminds us about.
Wednesday, December 2
Every day he was teaching in the temple, and at night he would go out and spend the night on the Mount of Olives, as it was called. And all the people would get up early in the morning to listen to him in the temple (verses 37, 38).
The final teaching moment of Jesus in Luke’s gospel, has Jesus warning the people about slacking off while they wait. It is easy to be burdened with the worries of life, “weighed down” as he puts it. As we found out this year, life can be a burden. It can make us worry. It can weigh us down. But then we remember what Jesus did for us by going to the cross and rising from the dead. And we give thanks. We hope that in the new year we will have the ability to go to the temple freely and often to hear the good news of Jesus.
Thursday, December 3
Commemoration of Francis Xavier, Missionary to Asia
…and give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it renowned throughout the earth (verse 7).
Today the church commemorates Francis Xavier, missionary to Asia. Specifically he traveled to India, Japan and parts of Oceania with the gospel. He was also one of first seven members of the Society of Jesus, known as the Jesuits. He expended great energy all because of his call to talk about Jesus. It is a call we all have heard. We don’t have to travel thousands of miles to do this. Being kind to our neighbor will do very well.
Friday, December 4
Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me, “Now I have put my words in your mouth (verse 9)
The highlighted verse above has a sense of our baptism about it. At baptism God touches us with the Holy Spirit, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord (ELW p. 231). So marked by God, we have been given the words of God with which to be God’s voice in the world, speaking out for truth, justice, honor, and equality, just to name a few. This is another reminder of the active waiting we are to do as we wait for the return of Christ.
Saturday, December 5
I will take you from the nations, and gather you from all the countries (verse 24).
Today we are reminded that the will and voice of God is not the personal possession of one nation, but rather of every nation. As you work through your devotion today, pray for the church across the world, especially our companions in Tanzania. God is active there and everywhere. God’s restoring activity is driving out evil, replacing it with new hearts, a new spirit of service and obedience. And in this new world, the people and God will live together in peace.
Sunday, December 6
The Second Sunday in Advent
The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God (verse 1).
Our confirmation students ought to know about this verse. This is the first sentence of Mark’s gospel. It leads into the introduction of John the Baptist, who enters the narrative on this second Sunday of the Advent season. But this first sentence of what scholars consider the first gospel to be circulated, leaves no room for doubt as to who this gospel is about (Jesus), and what it means for us (good news).
Monday, December 7
Commemoration of Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, 397
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs,” (verse 15).
Today the church commemorates Ambrose, Bishop of Milan. Together with Augustine, Jerome and Gregory the Great, Ambrose is considered one of the major contributors to Christian theology. As bishop, Ambrose was noted for his biting, even scathing criticism of the privileged class of the Roman Empire (must have been some fun sermons to listen to), yet he was compassionate when it came to his social ministry to those in need. So much so that Ambrose sold all the land he had acquired prior to becoming bishop, and making many monetary donations to the poor. Ambrose was the real deal when it came to caring for the neighbor.
Tuesday, December 8
Then the Lord will create over the whole site of Mount Zion and over its places of assembly a cloud by day and smoke and the shining of a flaming fire by night. Indeed over all the glory there will be a canopy. (verse 5).
As we move into this second week of Advent, this text reminds us of the protection God gives us. We may think of protection in concrete terms; a solid house, a door which can be locked, even one of those door bells that takes a picture of the person ringing it. That’s all well and good, but our protection, our ultimate protection, comes from Jesus. By his life, death and resurrection we are claimed by God and protected from destruction, and given a place in the New Jerusalem forever. Thanks be to God!
Wednesday, December 9
But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John (verse 13).
The announcement of the angel to Zechariah, about the bouncing baby boy, John, that will soon be born to he and Elizabeth, bears a striking similarity to the announcement that will come to Mary a little later in this chapter. While the mission of John (the Baptist) will be different than the mission of Jesus, the ministry of both will bring wisdom to righteous people. Also, it is important to note that God continues to call relatively unknown people to participate with God in miraculous activities. You never know when that call will come!
Thursday, December 10
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death (verse 10).
Paul does not have a self-destructive wish. He is simply drawing a positive comparison between himself and Jesus. As Jesus divested himself of any special status with God, and became human, Paul is divesting himself of his past, calling it rubbish (a mild term for the actual Greek word used here), so that all energies and resources may be directed at proclaiming Christ crucified and risen. Paul is providing the Philippians an example of how to live your life, as a disciple of Jesus.
Friday, December 11
Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves (verse 6).
Ministry can be fun! And it ought to be fun. Ministry can make you laugh, be happy, and make one let out shouts of delight. Now that not might happen when you’re in the midst of wondering if the church can remain open for worship during a pandemic, or working on recovery plans after a fire. But a positive attitude goes a long way to help make the weight of carrying one’s sheaves seem less burdensome.
Saturday, December 12
Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you (verse 31b).
That had to be a shock to the system of the high and mighty, to find out that real, bona fide, sinners are fast tracked into heaven. This text was our gospel text back on September 27. The tax collectors and prostitutes are coming to Jesus. They know who they are and what they have done, and they want to do better. While listening to Jesus teach they embrace the faith. And they want to know more. You never know when someone will come to listen to Jesus more carefully. But when it happens, celebrate it, and walk the road of faith with them.
Sunday, December 13
John 1:6-8, 19-28
The Third Sunday in Advent
…the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal (verse 27).
The central theme of the opening verses of John’s gospel is witness. John the Baptist knows who he is. He is not THE light, but a light, a witness for Jesus. By his actions John is doing what all the words of the prologue of John’s gospel does, which is to point the way to Jesus. We’re getting closer. Closer to pointing at the manger in Bethlehem. Are we getting closer at sharing that light with someone else?
Monday, December 14
As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people, from this time on and forevermore (verse 2).
The opening verses of this psalm constitute an affirmation of faith. We hear of the protective nature of God. There is evidence that the people are struggling for their survival in some of the other verses. But the psalm shows the peoples’ faith in God as the only source of help and protection.
Tuesday, December 15
…that he may send the Messiah appointed for you, that is, Jesus, 21who must remain in heaven until the time of universal restoration that God announced long ago through his holy prophets (verse 20b-21).
For all the times I have read this, Peter’s third speech in Acts, this phrase, universal restoration, never seemed to have an impact. But my goodness these are powerful words which detail a powerful event. Peter provides scriptural references for this event. And he is clear that it is Jesus, God’s promised Messiah, who will bring about the unity of the world in a universal restoration. A wonderful thing to pray for.
Wednesday, December 16
So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean (verse 10).
It had to be really hard to live before the first Easter. Jesus is saying all these amazing things and you are not permitted to talk about them in public. And they are hard to understand too. Rising from the dead? That had to be really difficult to comprehend. The disciples provided a good example for us. They stuck with Jesus, even though they did not understand everything he was telling them. That had to be the most intense confirmation class ever. And we give thanks to these disciples. They remained with Jesus. And they followed his example of ministry in the work they did in the early church. They are an example for us today.
Thursday, December 17
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 (verses 1, 2a).
Despite their differences, Christianity, Islam and Judaism all agree on this: God speaks. Of course the major difference is that Christians declare that Jesus Christ is the definitive voice and authority. The writer of Hebrews establishes this unshakable foundation of Jesus as Messiah, which is further explained in the next verses. More on that tomorrow,
Friday, December 18
Are not all angels spirits in the divine service, sent to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation (verse 14)?
With numerous citations from the Hebrew Scriptures (Psalms, 2 Samuel, Deuteronomy) the writer of Hebrews presents the messianic credentials of Jesus. The writer is not bashful to use the word salvation at the end of the text to emphasize the future for believers. Speaking of the future, we are one week from celebrating the birth of the Messiah. Having this background information is helpful as we prepare for the great celebration. It’s always good to know why you’re throwing such a party at Christmas.
Saturday, December 19
Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus before, and who was one of them, asked, “Our law does not judge people without first giving them a hearing to find out what they are doing, does it?” (verses 50, 51).
Nicodemus will not give in to peer pressure. His colleagues are really upset at what Jesus is teaching and they want to do something about it. Nicodemus, who already had a one-on-one with Jesus (remember John 3:16) knows that Jesus is something special, and wishes that he be given a fair hearing. Here is the beginning of what will result in the arrest and rial of Jesus. Jesus needs people, like Nicodemus, to speak up on his behalf. Ready?
Sunday, December 20
The Fourth Sunday of Advent
For nothing will be impossible with God (verse 37).
On this last Sunday of the Advent season, we meet Mary. Luke, with his attention to detail, sets the scene and describes the conversation between Mary and the angel. Mary does not seem afraid, just a bit perplexed. Once again God calls someone the world would not expect to carry out an extremely important, even divine, task. Mary is presented as an example of a believing disciple. Listen for God to call you. And be prepared to offer your response, like Mary, “Here I am, the servant of the Lord.”
Monday, December 21
Commemoration of Thomas, Apostle
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way” (verse 5)?
Today the church commemorates the apostle Thomas. It is unfortunate that many only remember him as “doubting.” For his ministry in the service of the Lord, is anything but doubtful. Thomas is believed to have conducted a wide ranging ministry in India. Saint Thomas Mount in Chennai, India is a location revered by both Christians and Muslims. Revered by Christians for it is believed to be the place where Thomas was martyred. Revered by Muslims in memory of an individual, a Muslim, who cared for and protected the tomb of Thomas. Faithful people can unite for faithful devotion to God.
Tuesday, December 22
Now the main point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens (verse 1).
The writer quotes Jeremiah 31:31-34 quite a bit. The purpose is to describe Jesus as the new Moses, who leads people into a new promised land with a new covenant, one written upon the hearts of every believer. The new covenant is in continuity with the first covenant and has been transformed in the person of Christ. God continues to be inventive in how God connects with humanity. Which is another important reason to celebrate the birth of Christ.
Wednesday, December 23
And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior (verse 46,47).
In a short time, Mary fully embraced her role as the mother of God. And in her visit with Elizabeth, Mary expresses in song, the mission Jesus will bring to the world. Hope to the hopeless. A voice to the voiceless. A banquet for the hungry. A new, higher position for the lowly. These are some of the things that Mary will treasure in her heart as the shepherds meet her in Bethlehem, and beyond.
As we prepare for the great celebration of the incarnation of our Lord, what will you treasure in your heart? How will you share that treasure in your ministry…in our ministry in the coming year?
Thursday, December 24
In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3All went to their own towns to be registered. 4Joseph 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. 5He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
8In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, 14“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
15When 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.” 16So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.