12.24  Advent Devotional

Silent Night, Holy Night

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
'Round yon virgin Mother and Child
Holy infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

Scripture - Luke 2:8-20

 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah,[a] the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host,[b] praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17 When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Devotion - Let Love Be Your Surprise

Some of my most impressionable memories are from days spent with family and friends during The Christmas Season. The most tender and sweet emotions that have been planted in my soul were from experiencing life’s gifts revealed to me through the meaning of Christmas in the way of a surprise gift or moment. Here is one Christmas memory that I’d like to share. 

My first Christmas after I married my husband Max, we were living in Florida. My husband and I hadn’t been given the time off that we were hoping for to go home for the holidays. The only place that I wanted to be was with my family and to be a part of Christmas and all of our families’ traditions. As the days got closer we magically both were given our time off!   We quickly  purchased 2 tickets and one, of course, for our dog Shamy. I already had packed our bags in anticipation and off we went.


Since it was a last minute flight it was on a small passenger plane. It was a very bumpy flight and one that left us feeling very uncomfortable and uneasy. We hadn’t had time to let anyone know that we were finally coming home for the holidays but asked a friend if he would be able to pick us up at the airport. He agreed. He met us at the airport and he brought us to my family’s home.


We couldn’t wait to let this moment for my mother and father unfold. The experience being the the gift of surprise. Still having a key, we opened the door and went in. Since we had arrived very early we decided to make coffee and get some breakfast going. It didn’t take long until I heard my father call down and say , “Hope, is that you?” We said, “Yes,we made it!”  My mother and father were so elated and thought this was the best gift ever. Having us all together, being able to express our love for each other, and do so by simply being in each other's company. 

Some gifts are our gifts of presence. Not being revealed in a monetary value but simply a gift of the heart. A gift that is revealed out of love and compassion.  In the story of Christmas and the weeks leading up to it all reveal what we as Christians value --- Love, Joy, Hope and Peace. 

The Christmas story is one that is wrapped up with Love, Joy, Hope and Peace. All as a gift for us. We in turn need to open it and embrace what has been given to us. Let us learn to love unconditionally, Live Joyfully, and have Hope in every turn of our lives. All of these values leading to Peace and calm among us all. 

Although Christmas comes but once a year the messages it holds for us can last all year long. Let’s not save it all for Christmas Day but let it linger and be a part of us in our day to day existence. Let Jesus reside within your heart and let the spirit of Christmas go to work in all you say and do. Trusting that Christ will be present in all the brokenness and turmoil in our lives and our world today. 

The Christmas Story is one of many unexpected surprises. Jesus did not arrive in a conventional way and we can see the gift of surprise that we see in his immaculate conception, his uncertain journey, his birth/life, and even in his death and resurrection. 

As we have  gone through the days of Advent and the Christmas Season, let us layer the concept of Surprise and Anticipation for God to show up in our lives, and for us to be able to surprise God with our ability to give of ourselves daily. God's gift has been sent to us in the Birth of Jesus. May we find ways to embrace the spirit of the season, and  see the gifts sent for us. Let us unwrap, open up, and  share the Love of Christ this Christmas season.. 


Let Love be your surprise!

Merry Christmas Everyone!


Hope Parangi

'Twas in the Moon of Wintertime performed by Hudson Handbell Ringers, Christmas Joy 2012

Food Donation Box.jpg
Many of us find that an intentional practice is important as part of our Advent reflections and you may want to consider this one. The Hunger Action Team suggests you set aside one food item or a small amount of money each day to stock the Food Pantry at North Raleigh Ministries. Click here for more information.