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Saturday, Dec 23 | Enough

Editor's Note

About the author: Throughout this process of putting together these Advent devotionals, people have said that it feels awkward to write about themselves for their bio. As the editor, it feels even more awkward, I believe, but here goes: Sally Bias serves as the communications director at ZPC. She has been on staff since 2003 and a ZPC member since 1998. She has three children: Carly, who is a freshman at IU; Celia, who is a junior in high school; and Carter, who is in 7th grade.  

About this post: This blog post is part of a series of daily devotionals where we are exploring traditional Advent themes of waiting, mystery, redemption, and incarnation. To sign up to receive text notification of these posts, text zpc advent to 39970. Advent booklets are also available at the ZPC Welcome Center. We welcome your comments and questions each day.

Redemption | Matthew 4:17

From that time on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’

 

Have you ever seen something coming up in your life that you didn’t want to happen? I’ve experienced this a few times; most recently when my oldest daughter’s graduation from high school was approaching. I began to have anxiety about her “leaving.” The conversation in my head went something like this: “Have I done enough? Was I involved enough? Did I intervene enough? Did I teach her enough? Did I show up enough? Did I love her enough?” And on and on. It felt urgent and very uncomfortable. I had had 18 years of working toward “enough” with Carly. Did I make the most of every opportunity? Maybe. But probably not. Would I ever know if I had been enough for her? Maybe. But probably not. 

My thoughts during that time remind me a little of today’s scripture: "Repent—turn back—for the end of Carly’s high school career has come near!"

I know that I am not done parenting Carly…even 18 months after her graduation. There are many more opportunities to be enough for her. I’m also pretty sure that sometimes I will fail her and she me. In this imperfect world, we will let each other down. Does that mean we stop trying? I don’t think so. I think the exact opposite is true. We keep choosing to connect. We keep choosing to show up. We keep choosing to love. Even though it can be painful and even though I am often not good at it and even though sometimes, if I’m honest, I just don’t want to. The urgency of the time I have left with Carly (and with her siblings, Celia and Carter) and also the importance of those relationships encourages me to choose the good stuff. And I am so grateful for grace, which says “You are flawed, you mess up, you do stupid things, and I love you anyway.”

We can all fall into this pattern of fear, wondering whether we have been or are enough in our earthly relationships. For me, this fear translates to my relationship with God as well. If I allow it to, today’s scripture feeds right into that pattern of fear. But I truly believe that God doesn’t want to frighten us. He does, however, want us to have a complete understanding of what is coming and therefore an opportunity to make the most of the time we have on Earth. I want to be able to get to the end of my time and say I did know God enough. I did point to God enough. I did love God enough. And even if those statements are not exactly true, realize that, as the embodiment of grace, he loves me anyway.

Prayer

Father God,

It is so hard to understand how amazing you are or how amazing it will be when we see you face-to-face. Thank you for your gift of life. We pray that you will help us to reach out to others with the hope and love that you give to us. 

We love you, Jesus.

Amen

Posted by Sally Bias with

Friday, Dec 22 | Good deeds

Editor's Note

About the author: Katelyn Wasson is a sophomore at Zionsville High School and enjoys running and singing. Katelyn has gone to ZPC since 2005 and became a member after completing the Youth Inquirers class in 2014. Her younger sister, Lauren, and her parents, Beth and Jay, are also members. She attends HSM, volunteers at VBS, and enjoys singing at worship services with other ZPC youth.

About this post: This blog post is part of a series of daily devotionals where we are exploring traditional Advent themes of waiting, mystery, redemption, and incarnation. To sign up to receive text notification of these posts, text zpc advent to 39970. Advent booklets are also available at the ZPC Welcome Center. We welcome your comments and questions each day.

Redemption | Titus 3:4-7

Think of a person you consider who does good things. It may be a peer who is always going out of his or her way to help others and take on more responsibilities in volunteer positions. Perhaps it is a friend who genuinely cares and is willing to, not only celebrate with you in the high points of your life, but also stay by your side through the rough patches where everything seems to be falling apart. It could be a classmate who excels academically and balances extracurriculars – and all the while is able to make others his or her priority.

Those that come to mind seem so far from sin. How do they have it all together? God must want people like these in his kingdom – because why would he ever want someone with as many flaws as you and me?

Thankfully for us, God’s word brings us hope:

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 
Titus 3:4-7

As it turns out, all the “good” deeds of those you brought to mind earlier pale in comparison to the good that is God. Any contribution we can offer this world is nothing compared to what God has done for us. Therefore, not one of us is better than any other.

To picture this, think of the deeds we view as “good” as if they are building blocks. The people that we see as more righteous may have hundreds of blocks stacking miles into the sky, while the outcasts of society may have a very limited stack. However, when God looks at our towers of blocks from above, he sees the same thing for each of us – only one block.

In God’s eyes, no single person is more deserving of eternal life than another. We all have faults, but these shortcomings won’t keep us from eternity because of God’s amazing gift. He sent his son to earth as a baby to save us all from the sin of this tarnished world. All that he asks of us in return is to follow the commandments he has put in place for us. He knows that we will fail, because none of us can ever reach true goodness here on Earth. He doesn’t ask for perfection - only that our hearts are in the right place, working to reflect his kingdom on Earth.

Activity

Listen to the song “Redeemed” by Big Daddy Weave. Reflect on the ways that you have fallen short and pray for forgiveness for these sins. Then rejoice in the hope that God has redeemed you!

Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank for your gift of redemption! Remind us that it is this gift, and not our own deeds, that has saved us. Thank you for the hope that even though we will fail time and time again, you have a bigger plan for us. Help us to follow your commandments and bring about your will here on Earth.

In Jesus’ name we pray,

Amen

Posted by Katelyn Wasson with

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