Advent Devotional 12/20/2019

Week 3: Joy

Good morning!  Our final devotional writer for this season of Advent is Miranda Sullivan.  Miranda is a Junior from Des Moines, Iowa, who is double majoring in Religion and Political Science.  Miranda currently serves as the President of Disciples on Campus, also known as DOC, which is our Christian Church Disciples of Christ campus ministry.  I have gotten to know Miranda this year in this role and have appreciated her sense of responsibility and deep commitment to this ministry.  I appreciate her ability to let her responsible approach to leadership rest comfortably beside her joyful presence that helps put others at ease.  When you see Miranda you are greeted with a genuinely warm smile and a kind heart, regardless of what might be going on around her.  In doing so she embodies what it means to choose JOY, which is important not only during this season of Advent but throughout the year as well.  I hope you will take a moment to breathe, quiet the busyness around you, read her words and choose JOY for yourself today.  Since this is our last devotional, I’m wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas this holiday season!

Romans 12:9

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good.

Let us reflect.

My mother has always been my confidant, and since I was young she has patiently listened to my seemingly unending list of tasks, frustrations, and anxieties.  When I finish, she always asks me to tell her about something good—something that brought me joy.  She reminds me often that joy can be a choice.  Even if you can’t always control your circumstances, you can try to control your response and outlook.  You can choose joy because you can “hold fast to what is good” (Rom 12:9).

Unfortunately, the arrival of the Advent season doesn’t wash away the stresses of everyday life.  Classes continue, and work piles up just as it does all year long.  A lot of times, the Advent season brings its own additional, unique stresses as we contemplate the perfect gifts for our loved ones and pack our schedules with events and travels.  These things can be inevitable, but they don’t have to inhibit our joy this Advent season.

We can choose to “hold fast to what is good,” because even though Christmas brings stresses it also brings so many more opportunities for joy.  We have the opportunity to break from our routine to experience the peace, joy, hope, and love of Christ’s birth while surrounded by our loved ones.  We share stories, gifts, and meals that provide countless opportunities to find joy.  I challenge you to identify these joyous moments throughout the Advent season and to hold fast to these moments of joy as you move throughout the rest of the Advent season and into the new year.

Let us pray.

God of love, help us to hold fast to the joyous moments of this Advent season.  May we both experience and share the joy of your greatest gift to us.  Amen.

Advent Devotional 12/18/2010

Week 3: Joy

Good morning!  Our devotional writer for today is Johnny Silva.  Johnny is our Senior Campus Minister to the TCU Wesley, and is currently in his second year as a member of the Horned Frog Family.  Johnny came to us from San Antonio where he also served as a Wesley Campus Minister.  I have enjoyed getting to know Johnny and have always appreciated his ability to create a safe space for all students, thereby making the Wesley a welcoming and affirming place for everyone.  It is evident that Johnny deeply cares for students and genuinely desires to be with them through all that life sends their way – celebrating moments of success and grieving those heartbreaking moments of loss.  And through it all he reminds them that hope and JOY are still present, and that happiness will come again.  We see that message reflected in his words for us today.  I hope you will take a moment to meditate on his message this morning and continue to reflect on it as you live into your JOY this holiday season.

Acts 16: 23-25

After they had given them a severe flogging, they threw them into prison and ordered the jailer to keep them securely. Following these instructions, he put them in the innermost cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.

Let us reflect.

In the midst of finals and with the chaos of everything that is this Christmas season, you might find it difficult to experience or even catch a glimpse of God’s promise of joy. Is it only something we read about in the Bible? Can it happen for me in my life?

In Acts 16, Paul and Silas found themselves in the most difficult of circumstances. And, yet, they prayed and sang hymns to God. You see, happiness is dependent on circumstances; Joy, on the other hand, occurs independent of circumstances and is anchored in the Lord. This is what fueled Paul and Silas to rise above their circumstances and change their very life. This joy is available to you and can change your life too!

So, how might God be positioning you now in your current situation to step into the full and robust expression of God’s promised joy? To find out, keep your heart set on kingdom matters, continuously count every blessing in your life, and let your faith fuel your joy.

Let us pray.

 Powerful and loving God, may you help each of us know within the depths of our souls and every fiber of our being that all of Your promises are yes and amen in Christ. May we live confidently in your joy despite our circumstances. For there is no maybe in a promise when it comes to You, O Lord, our refuge and our strength! Amen.

Advent Devotional 12/16/2019

Week 3: Joy

Good morning!  Our devotional writer for today is Annorah Moorman.  Annorah is somewhat new to the community, having joined our TCU family this semester as the Associate Vice Provost of Student Success.  I have had the wonderful privilege of getting to know Annorah this semester as a great colleague and a trusted friend.  She has intentionally taken the time to get to know many amazing faculty and staff across campus who are also doing great work to ensure student success.  If you have had the pleasure of meeting with Annorah you have experienced firsthand the JOY she brings with her into any room she enters.  A kind smile and warm heart are evidence of her great care for whoever she might be meeting, and her thoughtful questions are evidence of her deep desire to truly know and celebrate you and your work.  From my perspective she embodies what it means to be a joyful person, which is why I have invited her to write this devotional today.  I trust her words will fill you with JOY, as well!

As a reminder, our annual Carols by Candlelight service will be happening in Robert Carr Chapel tonight at 7:00pm, so feel free to come and share in the JOY of the Advent season!  Oh, and stay after the service for some hot chocolate and cookies.   We hope to see you there!

Matthew 2: 9-10

And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.

Let us reflect.

As I reflect on this time of year, I am reminded of how stressful this time of year can be for many, as there can be great pressures and expectations about gifts, the perfect meal, how time together “should” be. Regardless of one’s religious tradition this time of year, whether celebrating Advent, Yom Kippur, Hanukkah, the Winter Solstice, Kwanza or another religious holiday, all seem to share certain components of JOY for me: anticipation, sense of community, celebration, and an acknowledgement of God or other powers bigger than we are as individuals.

I think of the many special traditions that my family shared: from opening Advent calendars, decorating the tree, singing Christmas carols, wrapping presents, baking Christmas cookies, anticipation and excitement in counting down the days until the birth of Christ….what made these events so JOYFUL was SHARING these events WITH others. I have found happiness and joy to be byproducts of enjoying what we are doing in our own lives and for the lives of others and spending time with those we care about most, whether it be family of origin or family of choice.

Sometimes we may need to remind ourselves what is really important this time of year….being together, taking time to pause and step away from the day to day pressures and celebrate community, religion, spirituality, and tradition, whether it be old or new!

Let us pray.

Gracious and loving God, during this busy holiday season help us to set aside the pressures and expectations of what “should” be and be present to the things that really matter.  In doing so may we be reminded of the JOY we find in You.  Amen.

Advent Devotional 12/13/2019

Week 2: Peace

Good morning!  Our devotional writer for today is Sam Hinckley.  Sam is a Senior majoring in Biology from Azle, TX.  I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and working with Sam the past two years as a member of the Student Leadership Council, which he serves on as the President of the TCU Baptist Student Ministry (BSM).  I quickly noticed and appreciated Sam’s ability to not only connect and form relationships with other Christian student leaders on the council, but to form equally strong relationships with student leaders from other faith traditions.  It was clear to me that Sam’s intentions were to form those healthy and strong relationships with everyone for two reasons – first, because he understands that we can accomplish far more by working together than we ever can individually, and second, because he genuinely cares about everyone he meets and desires to be in relationship with them.  In doing so he embodies Christianity at its best and demonstrates with his actions what it means to follow Jesus’ commandment to love God, love ourselves, and love our neighbor.  He brings PEACE with him wherever he goes, and I think you’ll find he’s bringing it to you in his words for us today.  Peace be with you, my friends…

Luke 2:8-14 English Standard Version (ESV)

8) And in the same region, there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9) And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10) And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11) For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12) And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13) And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14) “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Let us Reflect.

As we approach this time of year where we remember the coming of our Messiah, we all too often feel anything but peace. Holiday shopping, preparing for guests to come, dealing with insurance renewals, and for those of us in school… finals. Sometimes it seems as though we get so wrapped up in the holidays that we lose focus of why we even celebrate in the first place.

As we read the scripture today we read the first command given by the Angels: fear not. We need not fear because they were sharing the great news of the arrival of our Messiah. In the Old Testament, the Messiah was called the Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6), and indeed Jesus came to bring us the ultimate peace: reconciliation with God. He came not with condemnation, but to seek and save the lost (John 3:17, Luke 19:10). Because of this, we can say: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased”.

So as we go about this advent season, let us take a moment to remember that Jesus came to bring us peace. Even when things seem hectic or chaotic, remember to inhale peace and exhale frustrations. The theologian Charles Spurgeon once said: “If you know the law of mental storms you may reach peace, and that law may be summed up in one line: Steer to God right away; fly to him, and you will find a peaceful shelter”.

Let us pray.

Gracious God, thank you for the wonderful gift of your son Jesus. Please help us have peace as we go about this advent season. Let us not be so distracted by the worries and frustrations that we don’t take time to stop and reflect on the peace that we have in you. Amen.

Advent Devotional 12/11/2019

Week 2: Peace

 Good morning!  Our devotional writer for today is Karen Bell Morgan.  While still in her first year in her new role as Associate Dean in Campus Life, Karen is no stranger to TCU having worked here for many years as an Assistant Dean in the same department.  She served as Program Director and Assistant Professor at the UNT Health Science Center during the time between those two roles before the university was able to bring her back to the TCU family.  I, for one, am beyond thrilled to have her back.  Her deep care and concern for our students is a product of her deep connection to her faith, which I believe makes her exceptional at her work.  Karen and I have endured several significantly stressful moments together over the years, and through it all I have found her to be a calm and peaceful presence.  It’s for that reason that I have asked her to write today’s devotional.  May her words of wisdom for us today assist you in finding the peace you need to face the day ahead.  Peace be with you…

2 Corinthians 13:11 

Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice!  Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace.  And the God of love and peace will be with you.  

REFLECTION

The end of the fall semester is filled with so many activities- holiday concerts and parties, shopping for friends and family, grading, meeting with students and studying for final exams.  During this busy pace of the season, we can become overwhelmed by all of the things that we have to do.  In those times we often focus our attention on ourselves.  As we celebrate the Advent season let us remember to encourage each other and to live in peace.  Take a few moments to catch your breath, listen to the sounds of the season and exhale.

It’s just that simple, take a deep breath- hold it- now exhale.

Those few short steps can help us when we may feel discouraged or anxious.  As we wrap up the semester, let us encourage each other, take time to comfort a friend and strive to find peace around you.  Meditate each day on the love and peace that God provides.  The strength that we need to sustain ourselves during times of panic comes from the peace that He provides. Rest easy in knowing that He is with us.

Let us pray.

 God of love and peace we come thanking you for the solitude that You provide us during this busy season.  May we move forward uplifting those that we encounter.  We strive to be of calm minds, healthy bodies and rest in your peace.  Amen. 

Advent Devotional 12/09/19

Week 2: Peace

 Good afternoon!  Our devotional writer for today is Jan Quesada.  Jan teaches in the Department of Religion here at TCU.  Many of you are undoubtedly familiar with her great work across the university.  She was recently recognized for that great work as a finalist for the TCU Ferrari Award this past academic year.  Always kind and thoughtful, Jan truly embodies what it means to have a peaceful presence.  And so, as we begin this second week of Advent, who better to speak to the topic of Peace?  Jan beautifully reminds us through her words below that many faith traditions speak to the importance of peace.  I trust you’ll find her words to be insightful and challenging during this second week of Advent.  I hope you will find ways to practice and implement her wisdom not only today, but throughout this holiday season.  Peace be with you…

Isaiah 9:6

    For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named…. Prince of Peace.

REFLECTION

Shalom – Salaam – Peace.  Rough synonyms, as well as standard words for blessing and for greeting one another within Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, these terms can reward our further consideration. On a university campus, a sense of wholeness, tranquility, and well-being—the biblical shalom—can be hard to come by during December. The seasons of Advent and of Hanukkah arrive in the midst of the end-of-semester frenzy. Projects and papers and exams need to be written and graded, even as holiday preparations demand attention. When a crush of obligations leaves us feeling fragmented, frustrated, and fatigued, the intentional quest for peace, both personal as well as communal, becomes imperative.

The New Testament Letter of 1 Peter urges Christians to “Seek peace and pursue it” (1 Peter 3:12b), chiefly through self-control, prayer, and good deeds. Peace, intriguingly, is presented here as an object to be sought, to be pursued.

Below I offer you some practices with deep roots in multiple religious traditions to consider as pathways toward personal and communal peace-salaam-shalom. Consider seeking them . . .

Through forgiveness—of ourselves, as well as others.

Through random acts of kindness and targeted deeds of generosity.

Through the practice of stillness, prayer, and contemplative quiet, in daily increments of 10-20 minutes.

Through overwriting harsh mental tapes with loving detachment.

Through the cultivation of gratitude.

Let us pray.

God of shalom, of salaam, of peace, open our hearts to your healing love; open our minds to your holy presence in each day. Make our lives holy by showing us how to find wholeness, that we may be bearers of your peace. Amen.

Advent Devotional 12/06/19

Week 1: Hope

 Good afternoon!  Our devotional writer for today is Anna Breck.  Anna is a senior from Bonne Terre, Missouri, majoring in Mathematics with an Actuarial concentration.  I got to know Anna as a freshman in my UNLF class where she quickly stood out as an exceptional student.  I was fortunate that I was able to continue to work with her as she got involved in the TCU Wesley, one of our campus ministries.  Before long the Wesley saw that same giftedness in her and asked her to serve on their leadership team, where she currently serves as the President.  It’s been truly wonderful to see Anna grow over the course of her four years here, and to see her emerge as an exceptional student leader.  I hope her words for us today invite you to hit pause in the midst of this busy season and focus on the things that matter.

Psalm 62: 5-6 

 My soul, wait silently for God, for my hope is in him. He only is my rock and my salvation.

        He is my refuge; I will not be moved.

REFLECTION

The Christmas season is stressful. With all the planning, decorating, and shopping, it feels like our to-do list never gets any shorter. Add to that the busiest time in our collegiate year, the end of the semester. Our brains are being pushed to the limit as regularly scheduled exams and assignments end and finals begin. Professors diligently work to write exams encompassing 16 weeks’ worth of material into one document as students try to recall all 16 weeks’ worth of said material. It is easy to lose hope.

We lose hope that we can bring up a grade, make it through the semester, or even get all the gifts before time to distribute them to our loved ones. However, during advent, we are called to renew our hope in Christ. We are called to reset from the busyness of our lives during the season.

Taking time to sit and wait patiently for the Lord isn’t something we typically add to our four page to-do list, but shouldn’t we? Taking the time to sit quietly, pray, and listen to the Lord will help us reset during this advent season and find our hope in Christ. We can use this time to learn more about our Father or even take time to pray for our fellow students struggling with their studies. Let us challenge ourselves this advent to pencil in time with Christ and renew our sights on hope in him.

Let us pray.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Help us to take time for you during this busy season. May we renew our hope in you and feel the peace that your love bring us. Help us to see the reason for the season. Amen

Advent Devotional 12/04/19

Week 1: Hope

 Good afternoon!  Our devotional writer for today is Bradford Green.  Many of you may not yet know Bradford as he is somewhat new to our community, having joined us this past August.  Bradford serves as the Senior Campus Minister for RUF (Reformed University Fellowship) at TCU, and we’re happy to have him as a part of our RSL family.  I’ve enjoyed getting to know Bradford – he has an easy presence that disarms you and invites you in.  He is authentic and humble – two of my favorite qualities in people, and he has a deep and clear love for God.  I hope you’ll enjoy his words for us today as we continue to journey together through this season of Advent.

Isaiah 9:2 (ESV)

     The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of darkness a light has dawned.

REFLECTION

Like the great paintings of the Renaissance, the stark contrast in Scripture between dark and light creates a sense of drama: the drama of redemption. Isaiah’s prophecy of a “great light” coming into a world of darkness is fulfilled in Jesus, in whom God’s love becomes “flesh and blood and bone,” as TF Torrance said.

And what else would give hope to human beings of flesh and blood and bone? How could God bring “true light” (John 1:9) to our broken world and—darkest of all—our broken and sinful hearts? He didn’t send 10,000 angels, or thunder instructions at us from above. He came himself.

I often tell my students that showing up is like a superpower. I remind them that at times during the semester they will feel tired; it will be raining; they will have too much schoolwork, or Netflix will be calling their name (Netflix knows my own name pretty well). But showing up anyway over time multiplies their efforts the way interest multiplies a bank account. The truth is that we don’t need to be smarter, or have our workflow more together, or be more socially magnetic to have an impact on others. We just have to show up.

I’m convinced that this “superpower” is rooted in Jesus, who showed up for us when we most needed it and least deserved it. The darkness was not going to lift itself. We weren’t going to achieve our own righteousness. So God took it upon himself to set things right. And because the light has come once, we have faith that it will come again to rescue darkness walkers like us fully and finally. The light of Christ gives us hope.

Let us pray.

Lord, we pray that by the light of Christ you would forgive our sins and transform us into people who show up for others in love. Amen.

Advent Devotionals 2019 – 12/02/19

Week 1: Hope

Good afternoon!  During this season of Advent our office will continue our tradition of sending you a devotional written by a member of our community.  Our devotional today comes to us from the one and only Sue McClellan.  Undoubtedly many of you know Sue – her great work is vastly known in the TCU community, and that great work was recognized this past August when she received the Chancellor’s Staff Award for Outstanding Service.  Sue is not only a valued colleague, but a trusted friend as well.  As I think about the people in my life who offer me hope, I quickly and easily think of Sue.  And so, I asked Sue to write our first devotional for this Advent season, and per usual her words did not disappoint.  May they be a good companion for you as you enter into this special season.

Romans 15:13

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound  in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.    

IN SEARCH OF HOPE

Hope – where do I find it?  I have searched all the online ads, Black Friday ads, Cyber Monday sales, and traveled to different stores in anticipation of finding hope.  I found a lot of superficial things.  I found clothes I would love to wear, jewelry I would love to own and even a new car I would love to drive.  But I couldn’t find hope at any of those places. I thought for sure in a world that provides instant gratification, I could access hope just as easily.

The beauty of looking for hope is that it comes from a totally different place.  It cannot be bought or sold but the feeling is priceless and one that feeds our soul.

The reality is that hope is all around you. You just have to change the lens you are looking through.  It is in that trusted friend that you share your deepest wounds, it is morning sunshine after a dark and lonely night and it is the wonder of God’s creation that surrounds us all.

When searching for hope, sometimes I bow my head and pray and sometimes I look to the sky and plead for answers.  Other times, I remain silent and try to listen to what God is telling me.  However you look for hope, in this season and all year long, I pray you find it.

Your journey may give someone else the very hope they are looking for.

Let us pray.
Sovereign Lord, show us the way.  Amen

Easter Monday Devotional 4/22/19

Dear Friends:  Sending you all Easter blessings and gratitude for joining us for our Lenten journey this year (and also one more reflection!).  I am grateful for all of our writers and for the kind words you shared with me along the way.  Thank you for the many ways you reflect the mystery and beauty of the resurrection to our campus.

Reading:

I’ve come to think that the only, the supreme prayer

we can offer up, during these hours

when the road before us is shrouded in darkness

is that of our Master on the Cross

‘Into your hands I commend my spirit’

to the hands that broke and gave life to the bread,

that blessed and caressed, that were pierced;…

to the kindly and mighty hands that reach down

to the very marrow of our souls– that mould and create–

to the hands through which so great a love is transmitted-

it is to these hands that it is good to surrender our soul,

above all when we suffer or are afraid.

And in doing so there is great happiness and great merit.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ

Reflection:

On Holy Saturday, TCU hosted Kwibuka 25.  Kwibuka means ‘to remember’ and describes the annual commemoration of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. Hundreds of members of the Rwandan community in DFW graced our campus, many wearing a traditional mushanana.  As survivors recounted their testimonies, members of the audience wept with fierce intensity.  And how could you not weep?  How could you not hold your hand over your mouth and feel overwhelmed with horror?

And then, on Easter, the attacks in Sri Lanka startled us all out of our Easter bliss.

And, dear friends, I don’t have pretty words to make us feel better.  I just don’t today.  Each time I read the news, I bear witness to more hate and more hate and more hate and my heart hurts so much I wish I could just turn it off.  The news, my heart.  All of it.

Please don’t ask me to think about the resurrection, God.  My heart is heavy. My spirit is weary.  Like the disciples after the crucifixion and burial of Jesus, I feel hopeless and afraid. I feel trapped in Good Friday as the world erupts in violence all around me.

It is good, then, that the Easter season is fifty days long.  The walk to communion each Sunday gives me more time to try to understand the Paschal Mystery.  To look for the Risen Christ in the bombed out buildings of Colombo, to see the Risen Christ in the eyes of my friends who survived the genocide in Rwanda, to hear the Risen Christ despite the noisy hate speech percolating online.  To be the Risen Christ to those most in need of the loving presence of God.

Prayer:

God, as Easter stretches into Pentecost Sunday, help me surrender my spirit to you.  Fill me with wisdom and strength as I look for the Risen Christ in our suffering world.  I pray, God, for fear to die in me; for hope to rise in me; for the courage to be Christ in hurting communities.

Britt Luby