ADVENT DEVOTION | WAITING FOR A GIFT

What was the best Christmas present you remember getting? Was it a video game, bicycle, doll or cell phone? Do you remember your excitement and joy when you opened the present and saw that gift that you wanted so much? Do you still have that gift? Maybe you asked Santa for it or begged your parents to get it for you. You waited in anxious anticipation for days or weeks for Christmas morning and that special gift that you were sure to get.

When I was 16 and 17 and 18 I wanted my own car. I was sure my parents would buy it for me. So for three years every Christmas morning the first thing I did when I woke up was rush to my bedroom window and look out to the driveway. I was sure there would be a car sitting there with a big red bow on it just like in the TV commercials. But every year I looked out and there was never a car. I had very good parents who took care of me and gave me many gifts, but that car was never there on Christmas morning.

Israel also waited in anticipation for many years for a special gift. They had been promised a Savior and they expected God to deliver on that promise. But when Jesus arrived as a small baby born to insignificant parents they rejected him because he wasn’t what they were expecting, wishing or hoping for. So they never acknowledged him as the savior God promised.

How do you react when you don’t get exactly what you want or were expecting? If you remembered  the best Christmas present you received can you also remember your biggest disappointment, the present you never received that you had hoped so much for. Maybe even prayed for?

Whether it is an anticipated Christmas present, a new car, a job promotion or other earthly desire we often find ourselves disappointed in our expectations. But we will never be disappointed in God’s promises. God truly knows what is best for each of us and what we need. If you commit your life to him and accept the greatest gift ever given, Jesus as our Savior, he will provide all your earthly needs and prepare a heavenly home to spend eternity with him.

This Christmas season focus on the gifts and blessings God has given us and not on any earthly disappointments you’ve experience. God Bless.

 

Eric Ulrich has served Delanco Camp as a Board of Directors Member, President for a year, and many years of his current position of Camp Treasurer. 

ADVENT DEVOTION | GOD CHOSE TO JOIN US

 

Today’s Advent Devotion comes from John Chaffee. Check back each day for a new devotion.

I bet if you were to ask people to share their favorite memory of Christmas, no matter who you ask, you’re gonna get a good story.

My own personal memories of Christmas are filled with good times at my aunt and uncle’s place in Royersford, PA.  All of us kids would sleep in a giant room on the second floor with our own sleeping bags, stay up way past midnight, and yet still get up before sunrise.  Now hold on, this does not mean that we were able to go downstairs.  Nope, we had to sit at the top of the steps until 7am when the parents would finally let us all storm the Christmas tree.  Unfortunately, the staircase creaked like no other and there was no way to sneak down without making a noise or trying to jump the whole staircase without much of a run-up (trust me, we certainly debated the possibility of jumping the whole staircase).

Christmas is, without a doubt, a fantastic holiday.  Of course, some people have mixed feelings toward the holiday itself, but that doesn’t diminish the deep lesson that comes to us through what that day celebrates.

You see, December 25th is the day that the Church has chosen to remember the most profound mystery of Christianity; God came to dwell among humankind.  Rather than to stay separate and superior, God chose to join us on our level.  We know this mystery as the Incarnation, as God taking on human form out of a loving desire to be with us and to share His life with us.

As I grow older, this side of the holiday becomes more and more important to me.  Yes, the holiday is still filled with family, gifting one another, and plenty of classic Christmas songs, but it also helps to anchor me.  Christmas anchors me because it preaches to me that the ordinary can be spiritual, because God became ordinary in the Incarnation.

May we be a people that remember Christmas as the time when God chose to come close to humanity in the birth of Jesus.  May we be a people that see God in ordinary places and perhaps even help others to find God in the ordinary.  And, may we, be living examples of the Incarnation in our very selves and be the presence of Jesus to all that we meet.

 

John Chaffee has been a teacher and speaker at Delanco the past few summers. He is currently the Director of Youth Ministries at Narberth Presbyterian Church in PA. 

ADVENT DEVOTION | WHILE WE WAIT

 

Isaiah 8:1-15

This past week marked the celebration of an annual event in Paraguay, the country God called me to work in over 25 years ago now. December 8th is the feast day of the Virgin of Caacupé, and many thousands of people make the pilgrimage to her basilica to thank a small statue for some miracle received over the previous year. It always makes me imagine how the Father must be shaking his head and thinking, but I came to dwell among you, and you prefer an idol!

Isaiah chapter 8 tells a story of how God’s people reject Immanuel, God-with-us, in favor of Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz, Hurry-to-the-plunder. Instead of resting in the blessings that come from living in obedience to the Creator, they choose to walk the path that will lead them to destruction. God’s prophet, Isaiah, is tasked with warning them of the consequences of their foolish choice, but we know from history that they decided to ignore him.

We live in the limbo-time between Christ’s first coming, as a baby, and his second coming, as conquering king. Advent urges us to contemplate the former and yearn for the latter, remembering all the while that we must decide how to walk during the waiting.

Israel determined to take its cues from its neighbors, ignoring Yahweh’s own revelation of himself to them. Isaiah 8:13-14a admonishes Israel, and, subsequently, us, that “The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread.  He will be a holy place…” Our world, like theirs, works hard to convince us to admire, believe in, wonder at, love, fear, and pursue things of no genuine depth or value. And all the while, God in his incarnate Son calls us to Himself, who is alone the worthy object of our devotion.

 

Andy Bowen is a long time friend of the camp and serves as a WGM Missionary in Paraguay with his wife Lizet and sons Lucas, Timothy, and Joseph.