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The Tree of Life by Luke Campbell

Sunday, December 9
Revelations 22:1-5

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.” (Revelations 22:1-3)

What incredible language and imagery we are confronted with here! Take a moment to read this passage multiple times, letting the words come to you slowly and deliberately. Perhaps the most indelible aspect of this passage is the glorious picture one’s mind will paint when carefully considering the language. What hits me almost immediately is the seasonal contrast that we are experiencing at the moment. Presently, we inhabit a season in which the literal fruits of the trees have all been picked and in which the light and warmth of the sun are often fleeting. Even so, this passage brings me joy; it fills me with a warmth and light far greater than a mere celestial glare.

The tree of life is redolent with connections to Genesis, of course. But rather than plunging humankind into sin, this tree is healing for the nations; it is life-giving! And the curse, our sin, shall be no more! The Lord our God will be with us eternally! A new and everlasting Eden will come.

So, when you see the trees, bare and howling in the fall and winter winds, I hope you look upon them with joy, hope, encouragement, and the promise of a new season that Scripture tells us is coming. Look up and wonder!
Luke Campbell

at Sunday, December 9, 2018

The Right and Wrong of Behavior by Rick and Cathy Cole

Saturday, December 8
2 Corinthians 5:16-21 

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” (2 Corinthians 5:20) 

Our firstborn son was reading with comprehension well before kindergarten. While we noticed his success, the pace of his progress was much quicker than we could comprehend. When he was four we found him sitting on the toilet reading the local newspaper. When asked what he was reading he actually understood and could provide a synopsis of the stories. Needless to say, his intellectual development was a source of pride, concern, even humility for Cathy and me. He was always a few steps ahead of us. 

One day while riding in the car he used a word that horrified Cathy. She immediately wanted to know; “Where did you hear that word?” Thankfully her investigation ended quickly without identifying a cause or culprit, but after a long silence in the car, Richard simply asked, “Would you make up a list of words I should not say?”

How often in practicing our faith do we seek a list of what not to do? Such a list offers comfort in judging the right or wrong of our behavior but also provides a simple metric to judge the behavior of others. 

Paul, however, defines our responsibilities as a series of goals. Not a list of what to do or what not to do but a clear description of what we are to accomplish. Our lifelong purpose and role. The reason why we exist.

Paul indicates that just as God reconciled himself to the world through Christ we now must continue to not only reconcile ourselves to Christ but be ambassadors ministering to others in their search to reconcile themselves with God through Christ. 

God forgive me for losing sight of your purpose for me. Forgive me for judging others. Guide me through daily reconciliation to you through Christ. Make my life an example. Amen 
Rick and Cathy Cole

at Saturday, December 8, 2018

Light in the Darkness by Loretta and Charlie Hughes and Shae Crane

Friday, December 7 
John 1:1-18 

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out.” (John 1:5)

In the first paragraphs of his Gospel, John says the WORD is the LIGHT and the LIGHT is Jesus. Later Jesus tells us the WORD is LOVE. We focus today on the verse, "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out." God's light extinguishes any darkness we encounter. 

In our family's life, as in other families’ lives, we have experienced seasons of light and darkness. Upon the arrival of each of our four children we experienced and shared the LIGHT of God's love. The addition of grandchildren and great-grands again ushers in the LIGHT. Opportunities for service both at home and abroad remind us we bring God's LIGHT to others. While teaching 20+ years in the pre­school Sunday School, precious children have been God's LIGHT in our lives. 

During the dark days of extended illness, the LIGHT came through the darkness in the form of words, "You are loved" and many acts of simple kindness. As I read scripture and listened to sacred music, God's LIGHT began to permeate my thoughts and fill my spirit with LIGHT. 

Our granddaughter Shae shares a significant event where she sought God's LIGHT. Her story follows.

This verse really hit home for me. One of the hardest moments in my life was filled with unbelievable darkness. This moment happened when I was eight years old. My mother was in the ICU at Kansas City Research Hospital holding onto her life. My sister and I were too young to go into the ICU, so the nurses let us stand outside the door with our grandfather. As I stood by my grandfather's side, I was frozen with fear by the way my mother looked. She had a breathing tube down her throat and looked so lifeless laying there. I couldn't bear the sight of my mother looking like that, so I turned around. While my grandfather still had his arm around me I prayed to God. I said, "Dear God I know this decision is yours to make and I can't change that. But I beg for you not to take my mother right now. I still need her here with me, but if it is her time to go, then I will have to accept that." God gave me five more amazing years with my mother before it was time for her to go home. One of the most amazing things for me was in this hard time, darkness was not able to conquer. This prayer was the LIGHT in my overwhelming darkness. 

This Advent Season we are challenged to prepare our hearts to be the LIGHT of God's love. "This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine!" 

Loretta and Charlie Hughes, Shae Crane

at Friday, December 7, 2018