Advent blessings to you.
I pray peace to you. I pray you can find some time this weekend to rest, even if just for a moment. To sit in the quiet for a while, to know that God is coming and that God is with us now. Some time to rest in the knowledge that we are loved and that we are not alone. I pray we each feel peace this weekend. I also pray that those of us who have known peace can get up from our quiet moments and can help to be the hands and feet of God’s peace for our neighbors.
Today’s devotional comes from Varselles Cummings. Var is the Hall Director for Milton Daniel Hall at TCU. Var has a BA in Mass Media Communication from Wilberforce University and a Master’s in Postsecondary Educational Leadership with a specialization in Student Affairs from San Diego State University. Here at TCU Var also serves as the Advisor for Brothers of a Successful Standard. Faith is so important to Var. You see it in the way he talks, what he posts on social media, but mostly in the way he lives. He cares deeply for students, his family, his friends, and for God’s justice and love for all people. Today he reminds us how we might re-find God’s peace in the anxious times of life
Rev. Allison Lanza
TCU Associate Chaplain
PS-The office of Religious and Spiritual Life at TCU invites you to join us in Robert Carr Chapel on tonight, Monday December 15th at 7 PM, for Carols by Candlelight . There will beautiful music from Dr. Butler, University organist, Frog Corps, TCU Women’s Choir, TCU Worship Band, a sign language presentation and a student string quartet. We will hear the scriptures, sing the carols, and prepare our hearts and minds for Christmas and Emmanuel! Bring your friends and families and come worship together.
An Advent Devotional, by Varselles L. Cummings
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
My favorite passage of scripture is Philippians 4:8-13. Many times we only hear Philippians 4:13 quoted, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me,” a powerful verse in and of itself because it talks about relying on the power of Christ, but to me the most impactful part of this text is the 5 verses that come before it. Paul is explaining to the Philippians how to have a peaceful mindset and the concept of contentment.
Anytime I am anxious or feel myself becoming worried about things I cannot control, I make a conscience effort to think about the blessings that surround me daily. I think on the true things like God’s unconditional love for me, the lovely things like the changing seasons and the beauty of nature, the honest things like my family’s concern and care for me. Those things bring me peace and keep me grounded.
I’ve found that contentment is a learned behavior; it is not a natural propensity of man. One of my daily prayers is for God to teach me to be content in whatever state I’m in. Not settling, but living in the moment, in the right now, enjoying present day blessings and learning from present day trials, all the while understanding that greater things are ahead.
This journey of learning how to be content and the choice I’ve made to keep my mind on the things listed in Philippians 4:8 has brought me peace.
-Varselles L. Cummings
May you hear these words from Wendell Berry’s poem, The Peace of Wild Things, as a prayer today:
“When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.”
Advent Blessings to you.
As many of you have your first finals today, I pray that they go well and that you feel confident and smart! I also pray, that no matter how the finals go, that you know that you are a beloved child of God! This week in Advent we celebrate Joy! Finals week might seem like a weird time to reflect on joy. But happiness and joy are different. Happiness comes in times of light and ease. God’s joy springs up in the hard times, like streams in the desert. God’s joy comes from the knowledge that God, Emmanuel, abides with us and will never leave us. This is good news indeed.
Today’s devotional comes from Sharon Fronk. Sharon is a senior Biology major from Pomona California. She is a member of AOPi, Disciples on Campus, and on student staff at TCU Religious and Spiritual Life. If you spend much time with Sharon you will discover that she is passionate about her education, nature, her faith, and sustainability. She loves learning and envisions a future filled with research and discovery that she can use to work to make our planet, God’s creation, more sustainable. She reminds us today that while the happiness of Christmas might be fleeting, the joy of God’s presence with us that is born again each Christmas can go with us throughout the year helping us to bear God’s good fruit in the world around us. May you hear God whispering joy into your life through her words.
Rev. Allison Lanza
TCU Associate Chaplain
An Advent Devotional, by Sharon Fronk
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.”
The word ‘Joy’ is not often found in day-to-day speech. Even the expression of joyousness has become rare in today’s world, that is, until Christmas. But is Christmas the only cause for joy during the year? I’ll concede the birth of Jesus for Christians was a significant event. What is to keep us joyful for the rest of the year though? For some, such as myself, advent is their favorite season of the church and after it’s all said and done you get this sense of: well, now what?
Now is the time to remember we are, as Jesus says, part of the vine. Together we are capable of great things, Christians with non-Christians alike. In this unity we should be joyous. The type of joy you feel as a small child running towards your stocking Christmas morning imagining what Santa brought you this year.
By being part of The Vine of God with Jesus, we become disciples of good, of justice, of joy.
This season is the time to reflect on all the joy our community of faith has brought us and the global community this year and to pray about how we might spread God’s joy in the years to come.
Our joy is full through God; let us continue to bear fruit and be joyous. Not the fleeting joy experienced Christmas morning when all the toys are opened, played with, and forgotten about after 30 minutes, but rather everlasting joy. A type of joy expressed throughout the year because we know God and our faith community is our every lasting joy.
Let us pray this prayer from TCU Alum Zoey Murzyn:
God, let your sustaining joy be interwoven in this season of Advent and stretch through all the rest of the year. Make us disciples of justice, hope, love, joy, compassion, and peace, turning our hearts towards you so that we may know your true Joy and share it with your world. Amen.
Advent blessings to you.