December 18, 2014

A Melody Filled with Anticipation

By Mary Lou Redding |

Read Luke 1:46-55.


This passage is known as “Mary’s Song.” Imagine what sort of melody might accompany these words. What tempo and mood would fit them? Why?

Mary says, “All generations will call me blessed.” In what sense do you see Mary as blessed? In what ways do you see her as more challenged than blessed?

Some of Mary’s words say that God deposes the mighty from their thrones and sends the rich away empty. How might such changes be a sign of coming salvation?

If you were writing a song today about what God has done in your life, what events and relationships would you include? Why?


Sit in God’s presence and reflect on how future generations will consider you blessed. How has God acted through you and in your life?

Pray a breath prayer.

For a breath prayer until your next time of reflection, consider praying, “God of joy, come into the world through me.”


Excerpted from pages 86-87 of While We Wait: Living the Questions of Advent by Mary Lou Redding. Copyright © 2002 by Mary Lou Redding. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books.


December 15, 2014

Living on the Edge of Promises

By John Indermark |
opening a special present
From The Upper Room Disciplines 2014, page 413. Used by permission.


Read Luke 1:38

We are almost there: “there,” in the particulars of this season, being Christmas. We are but a few short days away from the promise kept of a Child born for all God’s children. But in the broader vision of faith, of which Christmas is a signpost, we are also almost there: “there” being the final coming of God’s promised realm. The word Ad-vent literally means “coming toward” and embraces both the Child-King born in a manger and the Sovereign Lord who will usher in history’s end—and the new creation’s beginning. We are almost there. Do you believe that? Do you believe you live on the edge of such promises—and if so, where does your life evidence those promises?

Mary stands poised on that edge in today’s verse. Promises have been offered. A choice must be made. Imagine someone standing on the edge of a high-dive platform beside a pool for the first time. A deep breath is taken. Will the step forward be taken: into the rush of air speeding by, not knowing exactly what the feel of striking water from this height will be, not sure how deep she will plunge before breaking back to the surface?

“Here am I,” Mary whispers,“. . . let it be with me according to your word.” With that, Mary steps off into the sheer air of trust, a headlong descent—or is it ascent?—into a lifelong experience of what it means to live in trust of God’s promises.

Advent bids us live on the edge of promise turning to fulfillment: not just by singing carols and reciting creeds; but rather, like Mary, by the gracious abandonment of who we are into the depth of holy possibilities of who we might yet be. “Here am I. . . . let it be with me.”

Here am I, O God. What word, what promise, would you have me “let it be” this Advent? Amen.


John Indermark is a minister in the United Church of Christ and a graduate of Eden Theological Seminary. His ministry consists of writing Christian education curricula for The Present Word, Seasons of the Spirit, and The New International Lesson Annual. John has authored nine spiritual formation books published by Upper Room Books. Since moving from full-time parish ministry into his ministry of writing in 1992, John has also provided extended pulpit supply and transitional ministry in various Presbyterian and Lutheran congregations in southwest Washington and northwest Oregon.


The Upper Room Disciplines is a best-selling book of daily devotions published annually by Upper Room Books. Each week’s readings are reflections on scripture passages from the lectionary for that period. On Mondays the first reading for the week will be posted.
December 11, 2014

Love Is the Story of Christmas

By Apostle Paul |

December 8, 2014

Witnesses to Grace

By Paul Stroble |
Growing plantsArticle from The Upper Room Disciplines 2014, page 405. Used by permission.

Read Isaiah 61:1-4

I enjoy finding interconnections in the Bible, not only prophecies and allusions but also themes that extend among biblical writings. One major theme is the destruction of Jerusalem in about 586 BC, the subsequent fifty-year exile of the people of Judah into Babylon, and their return to the land following the Persian conquest of Babylon. Imagine a land you love, destroyed by an invading enemy. … read

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