Read Isaiah 9:6-7

The virgin will conceive and bear a son, and he shall be called “Emmanuel”, a name which means “God is with us.” -Matthew 1:23 (NEB)

On Christmas Eve, I sat weeping in a hospital waiting room. Our daughter’s baby was coming too soon, and there was danger for her and for the child.

After a few moments, a woman moved across the room to sit by my side. She asked why I was crying, and, with relief, I poured out my worries and fears to her. Soon, we were talking together like old friends. My fears were forgotten for a while.

In time the woman was called away; her grandchild had been born. As she left the room, she turned to me and said, “Remember, God is with us.” On Christmas morning, our granddaughter was born safely.

As the family rejoiced, I thought of the kind woman and the help she had given me. The memory of her sweet face comes to me often. She not only knew the meaning of the word EmmanueJ; she knew how to share it.

PRAYER: Creator, we thank you for the witnesses you send to us when we need them the most. May we in turn share our faith and strength with someone who needs to be reminded of your love and care. Amen.


Our knowledge of the constant presence of God allows us to face any situation with courage.

-BilIye Reed (Tennessee)



There were two blondes who went deep into the frozen woods searching for a Christmas tree.

After hours of subzero temperatures a few close calls with hungry wolves, one blonde turned to the other and said,

“I’m chopping down the next tree I see. I don’t care whether it’s decorated or not!”


  1. What did Adam say on the day before Christmas?
  2. It’s Christmas, Eve.


It is unlike most other kinds of waiting. Certainly it is not like waiting for other anticipated events, even momentous ones: a long-awaited letter from a friend, a wedding day, a coveted job opportunity, the end of a painful illness. There is a quality, a texture to the waiting we do during pregnancy that is one only with the waiting we do for God.

That pregnancy and the entry of divine life into the world are inextricably related is, of course, at the heart of the Christian message. God became human in the person of Jesus through the person of Mary, through this woman’s willingness to open herself, soul and body, to the divine seed that soon would flower for the redemption of the world. It was Mary’s assent to the angel’s startling announcement that

ushered in a new age. It was in her pregnant womb that heaven and earth were so lovingly intermingled, through the waiting experienced in her flesh and blood that God was made to walk with humankind.

The majestic and cosmic implications of this unique pregnancy may fill us with an awe that separates us from intimate identification with what went on there. Yet there is a more personal dimension to that one creative event which does speak directly to each of us. Like the simple young woman in Nazareth, we may be surprised, at any time, by the intuition that we too are chosen. We are hailed to receive into ourselves the seed that God wishes to plant there. We say yes and the life of God begins its course of gestation in us. We become the ground out of which the incarnate God flowers in the world.

Mary’s one unrepeatable pregnancy speaks to us of the life of the spirit growing within. This much we know. This much has been commented upon by Christian exegetes for centuries. But it is also true that each of our own pregnancies can speak to us of the direction of the divine wind moving in our world. For, if we are to take this incarnate God we worship seriously, we must come to learn that the wisdom of the marrow of our bones is being sucked out, as though we must die before God can be born through us. But the mystery we live is that our suffering is also a new birth. There is really one greater and more generous life of which we are one part. Our being born into it, our allowing it to come through us, is

part of the creative and redemptive process of our God.

Pregnancy is at the core of the Christian message. We are pregnant. We are the place of waiting, the place of the question, of the advent. We are the womb through whose pulsing life God is born.

-Wendy M. Wright


Sometimes Santa will fall down a chimney. Then he’s Santa Klutz.

Just before Christmas, two brothers were spending the night at their Grandma’s house. At bed time, they knelt down to say their prayers.

As they closed their eyes, one boy said in a loud voice, “Dear Lord, please ask Santa Claus to bring me a Wii, a telescope and a new bike.”

His older brother said, “Why are you shouting? God isn’t deaf.”

“I know,” said his brother, “but Grandma is.”


All my life I have waited: waited for the project to be completed, waited for supper to be ready, waited for the doctor to see me. I have waited at the traffic light, waited for the right relationship, waited to grow up.

I have waited alone or waited with friends. I have waited anxiously. I have waited expectantly. Some waits have brought . joy. Other waits have brought bad news. Some waits have been “worth waiting for.”

Now it is Advent, and I am waiting again. This time I am waiting in the darkness of my soul-ravaged by sorrow, anger, and fear. But I do not despair in the waiting, for I remember the way light looks and feels. The memories of silent nights with starlit skies are with me, and I have been bathed in the warmth of love’s light. And so I hope-for Messiah to come.

Voices sing, “Prepare him room.” I know now waiting cannot be passive. There is something to do, but where? I have no inn or stable, but in my heart, I can make room. Move over doubt. Move over despair. Make room for Truth, for Life, for Love. Make room for the Prince of Peace.

-Kathy Clark-Dickens


Q: What do you do if Santa gets stuck in your chimney?

A: Pour Santa flush on him.


The judge asked the defendant what he was charged with.

“Doing my Christmas shopping early,” was the reply.

“That not illegal!. How early were you shopping?”

“Before the store was open.”


How do you know Santa has to be a man?

No woman is going to wear the same outfit year after year.


The Holy Surprise

Read Luke 2:8-14.

How many Christmas pageants, manger scenes, musical compositions, or paintings, or poems, or stories have tried to pass on to us something of the astonishment, the wonder, the fear, the hope, that are described in this story of the shepherds on the hillside?

There they were tending their sheep, some of them probably dozing off, or thinking of what they would do when they got back home, or of how their children were, or their wives, or girl friends, or their parents. Nothing special going on.

And then, “Lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were sore afraid” (KN).

Who wouldn’t be afraid? If you have been present when an eclipse of the sun makes important changes in the quality of light, you know how disorienting that can be–even when you knew it was going to happen!

But here, we are told, the fear didn’t last. The message was one of incredible joy, or reassurance. What was the angel telling them? Of the birth of a baby? That they could understand, though this wasn’t the usual mode of announcement. But a baby who was Christ the Lord? They were even told how to identify that baby!

And then, as though to add even greater authenticity to the message of the angel, came this multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and foretelling an era of peace-which, according to the Jewish counterpart of the word for peace, shalom, means full and complete life.

Had you been on the hillside, what would you have thought?


PRAYER: Glory to you, 0 God, in the highest. And on earth may there be peace. Amen.

-Martha Whitmore Hickman


Top Ten Things To Say About A Christmas Gift You Don’t Like

  1. Hey! There’s a gift!
  2. Well, well, well …
  3. Boy, if I had not recently shot up 4 sizes that would’ve fit.
  4. This is perfect for wearing around the basement.
  5. Gosh. I hope this never catches fire! It is fire season though. There are lots of unexplained fires.
  6. If the dog buries it, I’ll be furious!
  7. I love it — but I fear the jealousy it will inspire.
  8. Sadly, tomorrow I enter the Federal Witness Protection Program.
  9. To think — I got this the year I vowed to give all my gifts to charity.

And the Number One Thing to say about a Christmas gift you don’t like:

  1. “I really don’t deserve this.”


Read Hosea 12:2-6

Hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually for your God. -Hosea 12:6 (RSV)

Advent, like Lent, reminds us that there is value in waiting. Advent is our time to wait seriously for God to lead us from our self-imposed prisons such as our failures at love, our misunderstandings with others, our rigid belief-systems. Because such are our sins, we wait in bondage. Because we still want our way even if it is destructive, we pay a high price. We continue to follow after false gods of gadgetry or accumulations of possessions, power, and prestige. Meanwhile, the truly needy are truly neglected and the destitute truly ignored. No matter how we try to gloss it over, God will never accept our rationalizations.

And so this Advent we wait. We wait for a Savior. We wait for someone who can help us cut through all our false values and false pride. We wait for someone who not only knows our weaknesses but who, through the strength of a loving God, can help us overcome them. We wait for the one who forgives

our failures and inspires us to try again.

Christ is coming. And his coming makes our waiting creatively and powerfully worthwhile.

PRAYER: We wait, 0 Lord, for the coming of your Word to us. May we not fail to hear and to see. Amen.



When we wait for God, we never wait in vain.

-Stan Smith (North Carolina)



  1. What do you get if you cross Santa with a detective ?
  2. Santa Clues!


Q: Why does Santa Claus go down the chimney on Christmas Eve?

A: Because it ” soots ” him!


  1. What happened when Guy ate the Christmas decorations?
  2. He went down with tinsel-itis.


Read Isaiah 2: 1-5

Where there is no vision, the people perish. -Proverbs 29:18 (KJV)

A grapevine wreath hangs on our door year round. It keeps before us Isaiah’s vision-a vision born at Christmas and made real by the Resurrection. During Advent, blue ribbon and white doves symbolizing Isaiah’s peace with justice adorn the wreath. At Christmas, the white ribbon and a candle symbolize the Light born into the world. On Epiphany, January 6, red ribbon and stars mark the beginning of our journey to carry the Christmas vision, t? follow a star .. At Lent we remove everything but a purple ribbon, for Lent IS a somber time to look inside ourselves. But at Easter, symbols of new life and opportunity to carry forth the vision-white ribbon greens and butterflies-adorn our wreath.

At Pentecost, red ribbon and a descending white dove remind us that the Holy Spirit empowers us to carry the vision into an often hostile world. During Ordinary Time, green wraps the wreath, and we look for symbols to remind us that it is often in “ordinary times” that we have the opportunity all year to live out God’s vision of peace and justice and love.

PRAYER: God, help us this Advent to see the vision you have given us. Amen.



The Christmas vision means hope for tomorrow.   

-Janet McNish Bugg (Tennessee)



One Christmas, Joe and Peter built a skating rink in the middle of a field. A shepherd leading his flock decided to take a shortcut across the rink. The sheep, however, were afraid of the ice and wouldn’t cross it. Desperate, the shepherd began tugging them to the other side.

‘Look at that, ‘remarked Peter to Joe, ‘That guy is trying to pull the wool over our ice!’


Maria went to the Post Office to buy stamps for her Christmas cards.

‘ What denomination?’ asked the clerk.

‘Oh! Good heavens! Have we come to this?’ said Maria, ‘Well give me 50 Methodist and 50 Baptist ones please.


I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray.  – 2 Corinthians 11: 3 NIV

Temptation begins in your mind. Satan gave Eve the idea of eating the forbidden fruit. Eve wasn’t just standing there trying to figure out how to disobey God. You must understand that the initial thought to do evil, is not from you, The new nature you have from God would not come up with that. The devil studies you the way a coach studies the game film of his opponents. Satan knows your weak spots. He knows which temptation has the best chance of success against you. How often have you ended up saying “I promised God and myself that I’d never do that again,” yet you did it. That’s because Satan knows what works on you.

But before you feel defenseless and get discouraged, God gives us this assurance: “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man [we’re all cut from the same bolt of cloth]; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it” (1 Co 10: 13 NAS). God builds a back door into every temptation with a lighted “exit” sign over it. The key word in this Scripture is “with.” The way of escape comes with the temptation. So while you will never be exempt from temptation, you can be victorious over it. And the Good News is, when Satan discovers that his strategies against you are not working, he goes looking elsewhere.

Taken from the Best of the Word for Today, 2007


A lawyer, who had a wife and 12 children, needed to move because his rental agreement was terminated by the owner who wanted to reoccupy the home. 

 But he was having a lot of difficulty finding a new house.

 When he said, he had 12 children, no one would rent a home to him because they

felt that the children would destroy the place.

 He couldn’t say he had no children, because he couldn’t lie. We all know lawyers cannot and do not lie.

 So, he sent his wife for a walk to the cemetery with 11 of their kids.

 He took the remaining one with him to see rental homes with the real estate agent.

 He loved one of the homes and the price was right — the agent asked:

 “How many children do you have?

  He answered: “Twelve.”

 The agent asked, “Where are the others?”

 The lawyer, with his best courtroom sad look answered, “They’re in the cemetery with their mother.”

 MORAL: It’s not necessary to lie, one only has to choose the right words…

and don’t forget, most politicians are unfortunately lawyers.



By grace you have been saved.  – Ephesians 2:5 NAS

Have you any idea of the mess you were in, or moving toward, when God reached down and saved you?

Perhaps an illustration may help you get the picture. If you took your children to a petting zoo and a little lamb came running towards you, you probably wouldn’t be afraid at all because lambs are harmless. You might even reach out your hand and let the lamb lick it. But let’s say you’re at the zoo and the alarm goes out that a lion has escaped from its cage. If you’re standing there and that lion comes running towards you, you’ll be terrified and start to run because you know what lions can do. But just suppose that the runaway lion comers you in one part of the zoo and comes up to you-but instead of attacking you it gently licks your hand the way the lamb did. If that happened whose gentleness would you appreciate more, the lamb’s or the lion’s? You’d appreciate the lion’s gentleness more because you

know that he could just as easily have destroyed you without violating his nature as a lion. Well, grace is God’s kindness and gentleness to us when He could have backed us into a comer as guilty sinners and destroyed us without violating His holy character. But God wanted to make us His children, so instead

of expressing His wrath against us He poured it out upon His own sinless Son on the cross. Jesus took our punishment so God could embrace us. Hence, we have a brand-new relationship with God through grace. Isn’t that: amazing!

Taken from the Best of the Word for Today, 2007


I was having trouble with the idea of turning 30 and was oversensitive to any signs of advancing age. When I found a prominent gray hair in my bangs, I pointed to my forehead. “Have you seen this?” I indignantly asked my husband.

“What?” he asked. “The wrinkles?”


At Sea World, our grandson absolutely refused to see the show featuring Shamu the killer whale, but he wouldn’t tell us why.

No amount of discussion could get him to change his mind.

Later, when we got home, we discovered the reason for his reluctance.

An aunt had told him how exciting the show would be because “They choose children from the audience to feed Shamu.”


Put on the full armor of God. – Ephesians 6: 11 NAS

An important key to the effectiveness of a soldier’s armor is putting it on correctly so that the pieces fit together and provide maximum protection. So, how do you “put on the full armor of God?” By prayer: “Pray at all times in the Spirit” (Eph 6:18 NAS). Praying in the power of the Spirit clothes us for spiritual warfare. You need to pray specifically at the start of every day, asking God to clothe you with each piece of His armor. Don’t go into battle spiritually underdressed. Again Paul writes: “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh” (Ro 13: 14 NAS). This is one of the best verses in the Bible regarding how to win over temptation. Don’t give Satan an inch or he’ll take a mile.

Trainers who want to train dogs to listen to them and obey their commands no matter what, start by throwing a juicy piece of red meat in front of the dog. The untrained dog goes for the meat immediately, but eventually the trainer teaches the dog to keep its attention on him no matter what’s put in front of him. When the process is successful the dog will not take its eyes off its master, even when the “temptation” of meat is right under its nose. There’s an important lesson here for you. If you keep your eyes on Jesus it won’t matter what kind of meaty lie or temptation Satan throws your way. Every now and then you may want to “go for it,” but if you keep your eyes on Jesus and listen to His voice alone, you’ll be victorious every time.

Taken from the Best of the Word for Today, 2007


I’m seriously considering asking my ex-wife to remarry me…

But I’m worried she will think I’m just after her for my money.


A man was being tailgated by a stressed-out woman on a busy boulevard. Suddenly, the light turned yellow, just in front of him. He did the right thing, stopping at the crosswalk, even though he could have beaten the red light by accelerating through the intersection.

The tailgating woman hit the roof, and the horn, screaming in frustration as she missed her chance to get through the intersection with him. As she was still in mid-rant, she heard a tap on her window and looked up into the face of a very serious police officer. The officer ordered her to exit her car with her hands up. He took her to the police station where she was searched, fingerprinted, photographed, and placed in a cell.

After a couple of hours, a policeman approached the cell and opened the door. She was escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting officer was waiting with her personal effects.

He said, “I’m very sorry for this mistake. You see, I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing your horn, flipping the guy off in front of you, and cussing a blue streak at him. I noticed the ‘Choose Life’ license plate holder, the ‘What Would Jesus Do’ bumper sticker, the ‘Follow Me to Sunday School’ bumper sticker and the chrome-plated Christian fish emblem on the trunk. Naturally, I assumed you had stolen the car.”


Put on the full armor of God.  – Ephesians 6: 11 NAS

Lt’s look at the last 3 pieces of armor:

(1) The shield a/faith. Paul says that the shield of faith allows us to “extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Eph 6:16 NAS). Do you remember in the old western movies, the battles between the Indians and the settlers? The settlers would circle the wagons, then the Indians would shoot flaming

arrows into them. Smart thinking! You can’t fight fires and foes at the same time. Flaming arrows are a huge distraction. And Satan uses the same tactic against us. But faith (and focus) snuffs out those flaming arrows,

(2) The helmet of salvation. This helmet protects your mind, which has to do with your new identity as a Christian. Your salvation isn’t just a ticket out of hell, it’s everything you are in Jesus Christ-a blood bought, Spirit fined, totally forgiven, absolutely redeemed, heaven- bound child of God. (3) The sword of the Spirit, Paul says that the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. This is rich, because the word for Scripture here is not logos, but rhema, which means an “utterance.” This refers to our speaking God’s Word to defeat Satan in battle; using the right Scripture at the right time to deal with the problem at hand. Three times Satan came at Jesus in the wilderness and 3 times Jesus answered, “It is written” (See Mt 4:4~ 10). He carved Satan up with the Word! The devil can outargue and outdebate you, but he has no answer for the Word of God. So memorize the Scriptures, then use them as a weapon against your enemy.

Taken from the Best of the Word for Today, 2007


A new missionary recruit went to Venezuela for the first time. He was struggling with the language and didn’t understand a whole lot of what was going on. Intending to visit one of the local churches, he got lost, but eventually got back on track and found the place.

Having arrived late, the church was already packed. The only pew left was the one on the front row.

So as not to make a fool of himself, he decided to pick someone out of the crowd to imitate. He chose to follow the man sitting next to him on the front pew. As they sang, the man clapped his hands, so the missionary recruit clapped too.

When the man stood up to pray, the missionary recruit stood up too. When the man sat down, he sat down. When the man held the cup and bread for the Lord’s Supper, he held the cup and bread.

During the preaching, the recruit didn’t understand a thing. He just sat there and tried to look just like that man in the front pew.

Then the preacher said some words that he didn’t understand and he saw the man next to him stand up. So he stood up too. Suddenly a hush fell over the entire congregation. A few people gasped. He looked around and saw that nobody else was standing. So he sat down.

After the service ended, the preacher stood at the door shaking the hands of those who were leaving. When the missionary recruit stretched out his hand to greet the preacher, the preacher said, in English: “I take it you don’t speak Spanish.”

The missionary recruit replied: “No I don’t. It’s that obvious?”

“Well yes,” said the preacher, “I announced that the Acosta family had a newborn baby boy and would the proud father please stand up.”


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