Pastor David’s devotional
Favorite Bible Verses
Today, I am going to begin a series of devotionals on some of my favorite Bible verses. I begin with a verse that in many ways has become a life verse for me. It is from the Prophet Isaiah,
chapter 43 verses 1-2:
But now thus says the LORD,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
When I was young, I was deeply afraid of failure. My fear kept me from answering my call to ministry. And, the “bullseye” of my fear was preaching. I was afraid of failing at preaching. Often, I thought to myself “what if I don’t have anything to say?” This fear was deeply rooted in my inability to trust that God would equip me for all God called me to do. For years, that fear kept me from answering my call to serve the church as a pastor.
I remember the day when God healed me of that fear. It was graduation day at Princeton. I was receiving the annual preaching award given to a student who showed great promise in preaching. I knew I didn’t deserve the award and so did the rest of my class. As I stood before the crowd, today’s scripture ran through my mind. It was then that I knew what it meant. God calls us by name—each and every one of us. And, God’s calling is both general (to live a certain kind of life) and specific (to do something for God).
Always, God’s calling is to help build up the church, the body of Christ. Serving God is not always easy. There are times when we
“pass through the waters” and “walk through the fire.” But we are not alone. The God who called us will provide grace sufficient for every need. “Fear not” are words that speak to us
about the life of faithfulness. Do not be afraid to do what faithfulness requires; you are not alone! Do not be afraid to say yes to God. You will have what you need. Do not be afraid to
answer God’s call.
Now that I am getting older, this passage is speaking to me in new ways. As we age, and our bodies break down, there comes a time when we face death. As death draws near, I want to have this verse on my lips: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you, I have called you by name, you are mine.”
One day, God will call my name to bring me home, and having been redeemed (by the grace of God), I can pass through the waters of death without fear. For I belong to God.
Perfect love casts out all fear, we hear in I John 4:18, and God is perfect, and God is love.
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you, I have called you by name, you are mine” says the Lord.
Amen and Amen!
This is one of my favorite Bible verses. It means so much to me! What does it mean to you?
Think about it.
God bless you and stay well,
Pastor Tim’s Devotional
Scripture Reading – Genesis 4:8-10
Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let us go out to the field.” And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” And
the Lord said, “What have you done? Listen; your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground!
On the last day of 2020 I submitted my Full Member Doctrinal Exam to the Board of Ordained Ministry. This is the second and final round of writing required for full ordination in the United Methodist Church. In all, it took me 92 pages to answer 27
questions covering the full gamut of Christian theology, pastoral practice and my personal experience of faith.
As I watched the horrific events of the riot unfold at the Capitol on January 6th, one of the questions from the doctrinal exam kept coming to mind: What effect has the practice of ministry had on your understanding of humanity and the need for divine grace?
This is a question about the human condition and God’s provision of grace. In our passage from Genesis, we find the first murder recorded in the scriptures.
In a scene that immediately follows the rebellion of Adam and Eve in the garden, Abel’s innocent blood cries out to God from the ground. It did not take long for the power of sin to warp the human heart, filling that which was made for love with malice, causing Cain to rise up against his brother, striking him down.
As I watched the violence and destruction unfold at the Capitol on Wednesday, the depth of humanity’s need for divine grace is what cried out to me. How easy it is for the human heart to become filled with anger and hatred. How little it takes for a heart filled with malice to be moved to violence.
The events of January 6th should cause all of us to pause for a moment to reflect on the condition of our hearts. In such a heated and politically divisive time it is far too easy for frustration to turn into anger and for that anger to grow into hatred.
In recognizing humanity’s need for divine grace, I also recognize my own. The many frustrations of 2020 have left me with some work to do. How about you?
It is going to take a lot of grace to bring healing to our nation. That healing begins within our hearts as individual followers of Christ.
May God’s grace open our eyes to our needs and bring the healing and restoration that makes reconciliation possible.
God Bless You
Carolyn Wood's Devotional
THE LORD’S MY SHEPHERD - 1650
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. Psalm 23:1
Our oldest hymnal is the Book of Psalms, and Christians throughout history have wanted to obey the biblical injunction to praise the Lord using “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” (Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16).
John Calvin, quoting Augustine, wrote, “We shall not find better songs nor more fitting for the purpose than the Psalms of David, which the Holy Spirit spoke. . . And moreover, when we sing them, we are certain that God puts in our mouths these, as if He Himself were singing in us to exalt His glory.”
But the Psalms were originally written in Hebrew, and, when translated, they don’t typically have the rhyme or rhythm for easy singing.
In the early 1640s, Francis Rouse, an English Puritan, rendered all 150 Psalms from the Hebrew not metrical English. The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, meeting in Edinburgh, took Rouse’s translation and submitted it to revision committees. These committees spent si years comparing the metered Psalms with the original Hebrew, seeking to develop a singable translation that was accurate to the original Hebrew. They worked as painstakingly as if creating a new translation of the Bible.
Finally, in 1650, the Scottish Psalter was released and approved for congregations of the Church of Scotland. Its full title was: The Psalms of David in Meter: Newly translated and diligently compared with the original Text, and former Translations. More plain, smooth, and agreeable to the Text, than any heretofore. (Ooooo – can you imagine a songwriter in this day trying to publish a collection of songs or hymns with a title that long? Rejection would definitely be in order, unless the writer was agreeable to consider a shorter title.)
Though the Scottish Psalter of 1650 is one of the great treasres of hymnody, the only portion widely sung beyond Scotland is its beautiful rendition of Psalm 23, set to the tune CRIMOND, which begins:
The Lord’s my Shepherd, I’ll not want.
He makes me down to lie
In pastures green; He leadeth me
The quiet waters by.
The melody CRIMOND was composed about 1870 by a woman named Jessie Seymour Irvine. She was the daughter of the parish minister in the little Scottish town of Crimond, which is also famous for its unusual clock in the church tower. The clockmaker accidentally put six marks into one of the five minute sections on the clock face. As a result, each hour in Crimond is 61 minutes, making a day there 24 minutes longer than anywhere else on earth.
Well, it just gives a little extra time for singing “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or any other song of praise that comes to mind. I have supplied a listening link of this lovely hymn which is fittingly sung by York Minster Choir.
God bless you! Carolyn
UM Hymnal editor Carlton Young says this gospel hymn “is one of the five most requested... to be included in this hymnal.” Based on John 14:19c—“because I live, you also will live”—the hymn’s theme is effectively supported by a soaring melody in the refrain.
Prayer For Our Nation
Rev. David Devereaux
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
With the events of yesterday’s attack upon Congress, the brokenness and divisiveness of our nation is ever before us. Please join me in praying for our nation:
Let us pray,
Holy and loving God, we live in a time of great pain and divisiveness. Hatred and fear have gripped the lives of many. The attack upon Congress yesterday gives witness to the depth of brokenness in our nation, as well as our need for help.
We pray for peace, that the violence on our streets and in our hearts will be replaced with love. Help us to invest ourselves in the lives of others in ways that bring healing instead of hurt and wholeness instead of division. Quiet our souls that we listen to your still small voice. Guide us, O God.
Guide our leaders and elected officials as well. Give them courage to do what righteousness requires and use them as instruments of your healing, that the day will come when we will once again be united as one people under You, O God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. This we pray in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Pastor David's Devotional
January 6, 2021
John 1:5 and 9-12
5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,
A few days ago, I was driving home from seeing my mother in Arizona. It was night and the sky was dark. Off in the distance I could see a light shining. I kept driving, and driving, and miles later I drove past the light—it was a single light bulb on a pole behind someone’s home. The light of that single bulb was visible for miles! That is how it is with light. Light overcomes darkness. Darkness does not overcome light.
Maybe you have had this experience: you walk into a pitch black room, so dark you can’t see your hand in front of your face. So, you hit the on button on your cell phone, and the light that comes from the face of your phone is enough to keep you from bumping into things.
A light shining in the darkness reveals what would otherwise go unseen. The light I saw while driving home revealed a house in the desert, a house I would not have seen if not for that single bulb.
In the Gospel of John, we hear that Jesus is like a ‘true light, which gives light to everyone.” And, the light of Jesus Christ reveals a whole lot! Jesus reveals to us something about God: God is a God who loves us, who doesn’t give up on us, who wants what is best for us, and who promises us life. Jesus also reveals something to us about ourselves. By standing near to him, we see our brokenness and pain, and our sins and failures—Jesus reveals the truth about our lives. But, he also reveals the good news about our lives as he shows us not just who we are but also who we can become. In him, we see the power of love to transform our lives, and we see what it looks like for our lives to be defined by that love; defined by love, Jesus light shines through us.
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says “You are the light of the world…let your light so shine before others that seeing your good works, they will give glory to God.” I know Jesus is the light of the world. I know some of what it is that he reveals. But, I don’t usually think of myself as a light that can reveal something about God nor do I think of myself as a light that can reveal something about who we are and who we can become. Yet, Jesus says to his followers “you are the light of the world…let your light shine.” I think about that single bulb shining in the darkness, visible for miles and wonder if my life shines brightly like that? Or is my life dim, like the face of a cell phone. Both lights reveal something. One is bright, one is dim. Or to change analogies, one is like a fire, the other is like a flicker. Which am I? Both can be seen. What does my life reveal about Jesus, about love, about the value of others? A little? A lot? I wonder. How about you?
God bless you, and stay well.
Pastor David's Devotional
31 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.32 It will not be like the covenant
I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to[a them,[ ”declares the Lord.
33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
Happy New Year! What do you hope the New Year will bring? The New Year is a wonderful time to take a few minutes to think about our lives, where we have been and where we are going, and to set in place some new practices that we want to take root and grow into new ways of prioritizing our time. Many people make commitments this time of year to do “better” than last year; for some, changes might include a new diet or exercise program while for others it might include working less or investing more in relationships. As we think about our physical health and relationships, we are doing the important work of evaluating our priorities. While these kinds of priorities are important to a happy and healthy life, it is important for Christians to understand personal priorities as a part of what it means for us to be living a God centered life. In other words, when God is first in our lives, everything else takes its proper place. John Wesley (the founder of the Methodist Church) wrote a prayer that I find especially helpful and meaningful as I think about 2021, my priorities and what I hope to accomplish. As you think about 2021, your priorities and what you hope to accomplish, I invite you to join with me in praying this prayer:
I am no longer my own, but thine. Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt. Put me to doing, put me to suffering. Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee, exalted for thee or brought low for thee. Let me be full, let me be empty. Let me have all things, let me have nothing. I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal. And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it. And the covenant which I have made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.
God bless you, and stay well.
Carolyn Wood's Devotional
Jesus Loves Me
That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-19
Anna and Susan Warner lived in a lovely townhouse in New York City where their father, Henry Whiting Warner, was a successful lawyer. But the “Panic of 1837” wrecked the family’s finances, forcing them to move into a ramshackle Revolutionary War-era home on Constitution Island on the Hudson, right across from the Military Academy at West Point.
Needing to contribute to the family income, Anna and Susan began writing poems and stories for publication. Anna wrote “Robinson Crusoe’s Farmyard,” and Susan wrote, “The Wide, Wide World.” The girls thus launched parallel literary careers which resulted in 106 publications, eighteen of them co-authored.
One of their most successful joint projects was a novel titled Say and Seal in which a little boy named Johnny Fox is dying. His Sunday School teacher, John Linden, comforts him by taking him in his arms, rocking him, and making up a little song: “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. . . .”
he novel became a best-seller, second only to Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and when hymnwriter, William Bradbury read the words of John Linden’s little song (written by Anna), he composed a childlike musical score to go along with them. “Jesus Loves Me,” soon became the best-known children’s hymn on earth.
Despite their success, the Warner sisters never seemed able to recover from the staggering financial reverses of 1836. Years later a friend wrote, “One day when sitting with Miss Anna in the old living room she took from one of the cases a shell so delicate that it looked like lace work and holding it in her hand, with eyes dimmed with tears, she said, “There was a time when I was very perplexed, bills were unpaid, necessities must be had, and someone sent me this exquisite thing. As I held it, I realized that if God could make this beautiful home for a little creature, He would take care of me.”
For forty years, Susan and Anna conducted Bible classes for cadets at West Point, and both were buried with full military honors. They are the only civilians buried in the military cemetery at West Point. To this day, their home on Constitution Island is maintained by West Point as a museum to their memory.
In these days of uncertainty I have come to appreciate the little things afforded to me and my family every day. Openly expressed gratitude has become the order of the day as we gather around the dinner table each night, sharing memories and dreams of what may come. Although we miss greatly gathering with friends and other family members, we revel in what we have and look forward to a brighter time. It is the hope provided by faith that brings us to this place.
I cannot remember the first time I sang that beloved, “Jesus Loves Me”, but I have been told about my first performance in church when at the age of 3, I stood up to sing it in public for the first time. The description of my mother was that it was “precious”, but my brother, who was a bit more critical imitated a much rawer rendition than I could imagine coming out of my mouth. Many years later, I heard Sandy Patti give a presentation which included her evolution in singing this song. It is provided for you below. I hope it brings a smile to your face. Over the past few years I borrowed and made my own this performance and used it frequently at assisted living homes. It was a favorite of the residents and always brought smiles and laughter.
The knowledge that I was loved by Jesus was and still is bolstered by the singing of this simple song which was born out of desperation. As we face the coming days and pray for a better year, may we all remember to pull this little song out of our pockets and treasure the words, full of hope and promise for a better tomorrow. We sing a modified version today, but these are the original verses:
Vs. 1. Jesus loves me! This I know, For the Bible tells me so;
Little ones to Him belong. They are weak, but He is strong.
Vs. 2. Jesus loves me! He who died, Heaven’s gate to open wide
He will wash away my sin, Let His little child come in.
Vs. 3. Jesus take this heart of mine, Make it pure and wholly Thine.
Thou has bled and died for me, I will hence-forth live for Thee.
Vs. 4. Jesus loves me! He will stay, Close beside me all the way;
He’s prepared a home for me, And some day His face I’ll see.
Chorus: Yes, Jesus loves me, Yes, Jesus loves me,
Yes, Jesus loves me, The Bible tells me so.
Sandy Patti: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8qdopCN5LlU
May God continue to bless you with His Love! Carolyn
Julie Hart's Devotional
December 30, 2020
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:12-13:
During this season of Advent, HOPE is so important that we focus on it for one whole week. One of the candles on our Advent wreath is just for HOPE.
I love the word hope. It says so much, means so much, makes me feel so so much. It’s both a noun (as in longing; dream) and a verb (long for, dream for). Hopes come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. We have small hopes — like for good weather, an Amazon gift card, macaroni and cheese for dinner. We have medium sized hopes — like for a friend to visit, good grades on our report cards, that our best friend will be in our cabin at summer camp. We all have big hopes — like to get accepted into the school we applied for, that our grandparent gets better, that we get to go to Disneyland this summer. But the hope that we read about in Romans is like the BIGGIE, SUPER-SIZED, COLOSSAL hope! The kind of hope that comes from the Holy Spirit is hard to describe. It’s the kind of hope you just have to feel and experience for yourself.
There sure must have been a lot of hoping when Jesus was born — Mary hoping that the Angel that came to her was right about the baby that she would carry. Joseph hoping to find a place to stay and for Mary to give birth to baby Jesus. The wise men hoping they were following the right star.
The Christmas story is a story we never get tired of telling and hearing. It’s such an important story that we tell it in songs, decorations, traditions, meals, books, movies, pageants, cartoons, plays, and more. Do you know why I think we love this story so much? Because the Christmas story is a story of HOPE. Not just the hope for the people who were there to witness the story first hand, but hope that continues to live in our hearts because Jesus came to give HOPE to the world. That’s a pretty big and amazing kind of hope.
Dear God, thank you for faithfully keeping your promise to love me and for giving me hope in all circumstances because you are with me.
Julie Hart's Devotional
"You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth."
Luke 1:14 (NRSV)
"He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth."
Luke 1:14 (NIV)
The definition of rejoice is to be glad and take delight. What are the things that delight you? What are the things that make it impossible to keep from smiling? What are the things that make you so happy that you just want to jump and shout for joy?
One of my favorite songs to sing at Christmas is “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”. There are seven verses in the song, one for each day of the week leading up to Christmas. Each verse includes a different Old Testament name for the coming Messiah. And after each verse we sing: Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel Shall come to you, O Israel.
After each verse, we are reminded to be glad and take delight. And do you know why? Because Jesus is coming!. Light is coming into the darkness. During this Advent season, every time you hear this song, I challenge you to get louder and louder between each verse as you sing out REJOICE! REJOICE! Sing it out like you were at Potosi singing at our evening campfire. Even if you don’t know the rest of the words to the song, shout REJOICE for all to hear! I encourage you to check out some of the great versions of this song (you can find them on YouTube, Pandora, and wherever you get your music) and listen for all of the names you hear for Jesus. Write them down. Think about which one is your favorite and why. This truly is a season to REJOICE! I rejoice in the fact that even when we are not together, our Potosi community is united in prayer and devotion to Jesus this season.
Prayer: Dear God, thank you for the many reasons I have in my life to REJOICE. I am glad that you came into the world to bring your love. I take delight in the light that you shine in times of darkness. Let me share the love and light that you brought into the world
with all those I meet during this Advent season.
Carolyn Wood's Devotional for Dec. 26
JOY TO THE WORLD!
For it is the God who said, Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in
our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of
Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6
…who, though he was in the form of God did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness, and being found in human form. Philippians 2:6-7
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!” Luke 2:13-14
For you know the generous acts of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was
rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become
rich. 2 Corinthians 8:9
As we wait attentively in His Presence, the Light of the knowledge of His
glory shines upon us. This radiant knowledge transcends all understanding. It
transforms every fiber of our beings: renewing our minds, cleansing our hearts,
invigorating our bodies. Christ asks us to open ourselves fully to His Presence; and
be awed by His glorious Being.
Try to imagine what He gave up when He came into our world as a baby. He
set aside His Glory so that He could identify with mankind. He accepted the
limitations of infancy under the most appalling conditions—a filthy stable. That
was a dark night for Him, even though angels lit up the sky proclaiming, “Glory!”
to awestruck shepherds.
When we sit quietly with Jesus, the process He went through is reversed in
our experience. As we identify with Him, heaven’s vistas open up before
us—granting us glimpses of His Glory. I became poor so that you might become
rich. Sing hallelujahs to His holy Name!
God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they
abide in God. So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is
love and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Love has
been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of
judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but
perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears
has not reached perfection in love. I John 4-15-18
He subdues the ancient gods, shatters the forces of old, he drove out the
enemy before you and said, “Destroy!” Deuteronomy 33:27
But I trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
Jesus is the gift that continuously gives—bounteously; with no strings
attached. Unconditional Love is such a radical concept that even His most devoted
followers fail to grasp it fully. Absolutely nothing in heaven or on earth can cause
Him to stop loving us. We may feel more loved when we are performing
according to our expectations. But His Love for us is perfect; therefore, it is not
subject to variation. What does vary is our awareness of His loving Presence.
When we are dissatisfied with our behavior, we tend to feel unworthy of
His Love. We may unconsciously punish ourselves by withdrawing from Him and
attributing the distance between us to His displeasure. Instead of returning to
Him and receiving His Love, we attempt to earn His approval by trying harder. All
the while, He is aching to hold us in His everlasting arms, to enfold us in His Love.
When we are feeling unworthy or unloved, He says “Come to Me”. When we do
we need only to ask for receptivity to His unfailing Love.
JOY TO THE WORLD! - 1719
Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth; Break forth in song, rejoice, and sing
praises. Psalm 98:4
Until Isaac Watts came along, most of the singing in British churches was
from the Psalms of David. The church – especially the Church of Scotland—had
labored over the Psalms with great effort and scholarship, translating them into
poems with rhyme and rhythm suitable for singing. As a young man in
Southampton, Isaac had become dissatisfied with the quality of singing, and he
keenly felt the limitations of being able to only sing these Psalms. So he
“invented” the English hymn.
He did not, however, neglect the Psalms. In 1719, he published a unique
hymnal – one in which he had translated, interpreted, and paraphrased the Old
Testament Psalms through the eyes of the New Testament faith. He called it
simply, The Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of the New Testament.
Taking various Psalms, he studied them from the perspective of Jesus and the
New Testament, and then formed them into verses for singing.
“I have rather expressed myself as I may suppose David would have done if
he lived in the days of Christianity,” Watts explained, “and by this means,
perhaps, I have sometimes hit upon the true intent of the Spirit of God in those
verses farther and clearer than David himself could ever discover.”
Watt’s archenemy, Thomas Bradbury, was greatly critical of Watts’ songs,
which he called whims instead of hymns. He accused Watts of thinking he was
King David. Watts replied in a letter, “You tell me that I rival it with David,
whether he or I be the sweet psalmist of Israel. I abhor the thought; while yet, at
the same time, I am fully persuaded that the Jewish psalm book was never
designed to be the only Psalter for the Christian church.”
“Joy to the World!” is Isaac Watts’ interpretation of Psalm 98, which says:
“Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth” (verse 4). As he read Psalm 98, Isaac
pondered the real reason for shouting joyfully to the Lord – the Messiah has come
to redeem us. The result, despite the now-forgotten criticisms of men like
Bradbury, has been a timeless carol that has brightened our Christmases for
nearly three thousand years.
To me, “Joy to the World” is a song that we should be singing every day of
our lives, greeting the morning with praise and thanksgiving as we proclaim JOY
TO THE WORLD! Love and joy to you! Carolyn
Celtic Women: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDmIddF7DfQ
David Archuleta w/ Mormon Tabernacle Choir:
Lydia Devereaux's Devotional
From Bishop Bob & Greta Hosibata
Dear Members and Friends of the Desert Southwest Conference,
In the familiar Christmas song, French composer Adolphe Adam wrote these words of encouragement: “A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!”
In these weeks of Advent, we light successive candles and hear messages in scripture, song, and word about hope, peace, joy and love. We look toward December 25 with faithful anticipation of the birth of the Christ child!
Likewise, with a spirit of expectation, news of the COVID-19 vaccines brings hope to a weary world. It is right and just that medical care workers are among the first to receive the vaccine. We pray that they will be protected even as they continue to care for many who are hospitalized or in need of medical assistance. Even with this new hope in the vaccine, we watch as the rates of COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths continue to rise to alarming levels in Nevada and Arizona. Although hope is on the horizon, it is not yet fully realized.
As we finalize plans for celebrations for the upcoming holidays, many of us may be disappointed that we cannot gather in person with our families and loved ones. But let’s keep in mind the many persons who are facing the pain of an empty place at the table caused by a loved one’s illness or death due to COVID-19.
Many churches that began offering some form of in-person worship (outdoors, drive-thru, or socially-distanced indoors) have scaled back and are returning to primarily online, virtual worship. This is a safer and more responsible practice in our communities at this time.
Please keep our commitment to “Do no harm” and care for others by observing these safety precautions: wear a mask, practice social distancing, stay home as much as possible, wash your hands. Please continue to practice the procedures in your local church’s comprehensive plan and covenants. And keep praying fervently for an end to this pandemic.
There is hope! But we must continue to do our utmost in these next weeks and months. As we celebrate a very different Christmas, New Year and Epiphany, here is a prayer that brings hope to my heart:
Bring to my awareness your constant companionship
To my weariness your matchless strength,
To my brokenness your healing touch,
And to my joy your blessing. Amen.
- Forty Days with Wesley, by Ruben P. Job
Peace from our house to yours!
Bob and Greta Hoshibata
Carolyn Wood's Devotional
December 19, 2020
Yes, “Sing to the Lord a new song”, but don’t forget the old ones either. I personally love the newer arrangements of the old hymns or the new hymns that keep running from the pens of modern day poets and songwriters. The Getty’s and Matt Boswell are particular favorites of mine who spring from an Irish tradition of songsters. As you listen to “Sing We the Song of Emmanuel” written by Matt Boswell, imagine yourself sitting in that audience at the Grand Ole Opry, Nashville, Tennessee, singing along with this “new song” and praising with the angels Emmanuel, God with us!
I don’t know about you, but perhaps the closeness of Christ has come to me so many times while singing in community with other believers. Over the years I have heard many proclaim that they cannot sing. My response has always been and will forever be: We are told to make a joyful NOISE! Let’s raise our voices together and praise Him with the voices we have. Join me in making a Joyful Noise! Healing for the soul will reach inside you as you sing G – l – o – r – i-a! The words are provided here
Sing we the song of Emmanuel
This the Christ who was long foretold
Lo in the shadows of Bethlehem
Promise of dawn now our eyes behold.
God Most High in a manger laid
Lift your voices and now proclaim
Great and glorious, Love has come to us
Join now with the hosts of heaven
Come we to welcome Emmanuel
King who came with no crown or throne
Helpless He lay, the Invincible
Maker of Mary, now Mary’s son
O what wisdom to save us all
Shepherds, sages, before Him fall
Grace and majesty, what humility
Come on bended knee, adore Him
Go spread the news of Emmanuel
Joy and peace for the weary heart
Lift up your heads, for your King has come
Sing for the Light overwhelms the dark
Glory shining for all to see
Hope alive, let the gospel ring
God has made a way, He will have the praise
Tell the world His name is Jesus
Sing We the Song of Emmanuel
THERE’S A SONG IN THE AIR
Praise the LORD! Sing to the Lord a new song, And His praise in the assembly of saints. Psalm 149:1
For a long time, Josiah Gilbert Holland was known to his friends as a failure at just about everything he tried. Dropping out of high school, he tried his hand at photography, then calligraphy. When those professions didn’t pan out, Josiah, twenty-one, enrolled in Berkshire Medical College. After graduation, he practiced medicine in Springfield, Massachusetts for a while before quitting to start a newspaper. The paper folded after six months. At length, he joined the editorial staff of another newspaper, The Springfield Republican, and there he finally found his niche in writing.
In 1865, the world was stunned by the tragic assassination of Abraham Lincoln. The next year, it was Josiah Holland who published the first major biography of Lincoln. In it, he presented Lincoln as a “true-hearted Christian” and provided a number of stories to reinforce the point. When Lincoln’s free-thinking law partner, William Herndon, read the book, he refuted it. Lincoln was an “infidel,” declared Herndon, and he died as an “unbeliever.” To this day, historians argue about Lincoln’s religious faith, or lack of it. But the notoriety put Josiah Holland on the literary map of his day.
In 1870, he became a founder and the senior editor of Scribner’s Magazine. He continued publishing books and was quite prolific. In 1872, he published The Marble Prophecy and Other Poems. In it were the four stanzas of “There’s a Song in the Air.” It was an unusual poem, in that the first four lines of each stanza contained six syllables each, but the fifth and sixth lines were twice as long. Two years later, it was set to music in a collection of Sunday school songs, but didn’t achieve widespread popularity.
Several years after Josiah’s death in 1881, a Latin professor named Karl Pomeroy Harrington read “There’s a Song in the Air.” Harrington was an amateur musician who had begun writing melodies as a youngster on the small organ in his childhood home. Harrington later inherited that old Estey organ and moved it to his vacation cottage in North Woodstock, New Hampshire. While spending the summer there in 1904, he sat down at the old instrument, pumping the bellows with the foot pedals, and hammered out the lovely melodic tune to which “There’s a Song in the Air” is now widely sung.
As I listened to the Bennet Sisters sing this well-known Christmas hymn I could just imagine Harrington pumping away on that old organ as the melody that has uplifted our hearts every Christmas for so long poured out. May your Christmas this year be a time to reflect on all the people who have made your life what it is today. Think and remember those whose influence helped to shape and mold your personality, your sense of self, or responsibility. I ask you to bring especially forward those who opened your hearts and minds to faith in the Christ whose birth we celebrate still. May these memories bring your comfort; may they bring your joy; may they bring you hope for the future as we let Him in once more!
“Ay! We shout to the lovely Evangel they bring, As we greet in His cradle our Saviour and King”
The Bennett Sisters: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4wFYrCjCXM
Phyllis Murray's Devotional
December 16, 2020
"Every good gift, every perfect gift, comes from above. These gifts come down from the Father, the creator of the heavenly lights." James 1:17
"For God so loved the world that he gave His only Son..." John 3:16
"Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh."
It's that time of year! Normally many people spend all year, and great amounts of money trying to buy the perfect gift for their loved ones. But this is a VERY different year, isn't it? And besides what could we possibly need other than another pair of sweat pants to wear while zooming?
I've been thinking back on some of my favorite gifts over the years. Most of the gifts that I cherish involved the giver to give up part of themselves, their time, talents, control. One of my favorite holiday stories is the Gift of the Magi, where a couple each gives up something precious in order to give a loving gift to the other. If you're not familiar, give it a read. The first Christmas gift I received from my late husband required him to forego several rounds of his favorite pastime, golf, in order to purchase it. I treasure it still. Another of my favorite gifts is a hand drawn storybook, written and illustrated by a beautiful 4 year old, (okay, her Mom printed the carefully dictated story) and still another is a nativity set created by the children of a dear friend. I love receiving pictures of friends to display, and always love a handmade ornament or craft.
When I look at the scriptures above, I think about the gifts, the perfect gifts, that God gave us. The gift of creation, where he gave us everything we would need to sustain life. He gave his son, knowing we would need an example of perfect love, and he gave us the Holy Spirit to continue to be with us throughout our lives. When I look at those gifts, I think of gifts I continue to receive. The gift of every morning conversation with my brother to share a daily devotion. Tracey Brown recently gave up some of the Potosi kitchen duties, so I could be reminded of many pleasurable hours I've spent cooking there. Sometimes someone gives me their energy to help me, or gives up resources to give to a cause I believe in. So what might I give this year? Perhaps time, to help someone put up a Christmas tree, or help them address cards. Perhaps I could read to someone over Facetime, someone who has lost their vision. Or perhaps I could offer to use someone's favorite recipe to prepare for their families' holiday meal, or do their shopping, if they no longer can.
It seems that the perfect gift, like those that God gives us, involves us giving of ourselves so someone else can feel loved and cherished. The Wise Men brought gifts that may seem strange to us, but were what Jesus would need. I hope we can all search our hearts instead of the stores and internet for those precious gifts of love in the coming weeks.