Click here for the complete 2020 Advent Reflections online booklet Sunday, December 20, 2020 Scriptures: 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16; Luke 1:47-55; Romans 16:25-27; Luke 1:26-38 Pastor Heather Kirk-Davidoff “Do Not Be Afraid” This Sunday our worship service will feature a virtual Christmas Pageant, performed by our Westminster kids with a little help from friends and family. Let these questions guide your reflections before or after worship today: At the end of his encounter with Mary, the Angel Gabriel declares, “Nothing will be impossible with God.” During a year when so much has not been possible, what would it take for you–for us–to make that same declaration? How might we live differently if we said what Mary says back to Gabriel–Here I am, let it be? What impossible thing do you wish God would do in the coming year? Monday, December 21, 2020 Psalm 25:1-10 Linore Southworth Reflection of the day: Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love can each be as simple as a child would view them, and as complex as the most experienced scholar has imagined. Our lives are like that: tremendously elemental and incomprehensibly worldly. A paradox, actually: opposites that are true. But we are also Children of God, God who gives us a beautiful promise of life beyond death, and an ideal of love to guide the living of our days. Love that is patient, kind, not jealous; rejoices in right, not resentful; bears all, believes, and hopes; beyond self, reaching for God’s hand. Christmas is coming! It is our time of Hope and Joy and Peace. Extraordinarily personal yet collective; quiet yet joyous; childlike yet adult. It is also a time of Love in all its forms, and the celebration of the gift of a child who had to live a very human life to teach and lead and show us the way. Prayer: God, give us the wisdom to see Christmas as you would want: as your children. Amen. Tuesday, December 22, 2020 Psalm 31:1-16 Rev. Jim Thompson “Let thy face shine on thy servant, save me in the strength of thy LOVE.” Reflection of the day: I can only imagine what threats from HELL may have crashed upon our spirits , since I wrote these words on November 12, to be included in our advent devotional booklet for December 22; 2020 Did “THE VIRUS” consume me with ravaging illness? Did we, ourselves, or some we know, actually “walk through the valley of the shadow of death”? Did our nation descend even further into a crisis of democratic survival? Have we turned more toward idols of national, racial, ethnic and economic superiority? As we light the candle of LOVE in our Advent wreath at home today, will that all sheltering word be the one last light we see for our world– LOVE, THE LOVE OF GOD THAT INCLUDES: HOPE, PEACE, AND JOY — MAY THE BLESSINGS OF CHRIST’S BIRTH BE OURS, THIS YEAR: TWO THOUSAND TWENTY! Wednesday, December 23, 2020 Psalm 89:1-17 Rev. Paul Rees-Rohrbacher Reflection of the day: From being a little tyke in Sunday School I learned that God is Love. “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world….” That love and care has stuck with me over the years. When I would hit a really tough time with depression, it would help remind me that I am loved. I felt the love of many in the prayers offered in my various times of illness. The church also reminds me of that steadfast love. This year has been a trying year for expressing love. We have had to limit the usual ways we are so used to sharing love with those who are not our house companions. It has gotten to the point when I see some scenes in a book I am reading, movie, or TV show I think, “Wait a minute, they can’t do that. It is not safe to show those expressions.” Then I remember that they recorded this in another time and place. COVID-19 was not a factor then. Still, when we gather for Zoom worship at Westminster, the love of others shines through. When I greet associates I know at Bruegger’s Bagels or Market 32 (for example), I can see the smiling eyes and the care for one another as we check in with how we’re doing. Love is having those brief conversations at the register or waving to a neighbor as we are out walking. Acknowledging each other is so important. I love checking in with others in the WPC evening Prayer Time. The love expressed for those gathered as we share and pray has been a vital demonstration of love right now. Just before Rev. Paul Randall asked me to write a devotion, we shared part of this passage from Psalm 89 in Prayer Time. “I will sing of your steadfast love, O LORD, forever; with my mouth I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations. I declare that your steadfast love is established forever; your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens.” What a blessing! Prayer: Steadfast God, help us to know and trust your love for us and our world. Let us share a sign of love this day with the people we meet. Amen. Thursday, December 24, 2020 Psalm 118 Allan Tedrow The writer of Psalm 118 starts and ends his text with the same announcement: the Lord’s love is steadfast and endures forever. The psalmist has been through an experience where he was surrounded by his enemies. He called to the Lord for assistance. With his love, the Lord responds and stays with him, giving him strength to deal with his attackers. The Lord’s persistent help changes his fate. Today, we are being surrounded by adversities. They may not be armies, but they are potentially deadly threats: A pandemic which is in runaway mode; politicians who lie and cheat and unbelievably could take down our country; a change in the global climate brought on by us and which could render the earth uninhabitable. What’s our way out? When I find myself in a stressful situation, I look for God to have a conversation. Usually, this happens at night when my mind has a chance to run wild and conjure up all sorts of bad outcomes. Through prayer, as I consider the evidence of God’s enduring love, my distress usually melts away. My family, friends, church, and creation itself are all elements of the Lord’s love. When we confront seemingly intractable situations to deal with, we should call on the Lord for help, confident of his lasting love for us. Prayer: Dear Lord, we thank you for your gift of life and for your expressions of love. Prompt us to share that love with our sisters and brothers. Amen Thursday, December 24, 2020 Scriptures: Isaiah 9:2-7, Psalm 96, Titus 2:11-14, Luke 2:1-14 Pastor Heather Kirk-Davidoff Christmas Eve Worship: “You Have Reached Your Destination” This is the night when we celebrate the arrival of God among us. We are bold to proclaim that the earth, with all of its brokenness and pain, still is the home for God. We proclaim this when we proclaim the birth of Jesus, but this is not Jesus’ story alone. We live in this world too, and his story gives us the confidence to look for God’s light throughout the world, and to allow it to shine forth from our lives.