Roswell Pres Blog

Waiting at the Window WITH... - Sunday, December 10 - 2nd Sunday of Advent - Advent 2017 Devotional

Dr. Randy Jackson, Assistant Pastor, Congregational Care

Dr. Randy Jackson, Assistant Pastor, Congregational Care

Waiting at the Window WITH...
Sunday, December 10 - 2nd Sunday of Advent
Dr. Randy Jackson, Assistant Pastor, Congregational Care, Roswell Presbyterian Church

"There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see 'the Son of Man coming in a cloud' with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." - Luke 21:25-28 (NRSV)

Christmas is only 15 days away, and I don't know about you, but I can hardly wait! I love Christmas! I think my favorite part of Christmas is Christmas Eve! Like it or not - ready or not - by Christmas Eve, all the shopping and all the partying and EVERYTHING by way of preparation has been done - and it's simply time to worship. To celebrate Christmas!

While the above Gospel reading may sound out of sync with that kind of warm Christmas feeling, it's nonetheless a call for us to wait, and to prepare. "Be on guard..." Jesus tells us a few verses later. "Be alert..."

The best way I know for us to "be alert," the best way for us to prepare, is to pay careful attention in the few weeks leading up to Christmas. For Luke reports that Jesus announces that something is going to happen to - the "world." And it fits a theme that runs throughout the Gospel according to Luke: The Good News embodied in Jesus has implications not just for individuals - not just for one race, or one nation, or one select group - but for the entire world.

This Good News of redemption, this Good News we're preparing to celebrate, at least in Luke's account is much larger than the "warm-fuzzies" and the "good feelings" we all look forward to during this season. It has powerful implications for the entire world. Noted scholar and preacher Fred Craddock put it like this: "The coming of the Son of man... cannot be properly described in terms of a 'private experience.' The whole creation stands at the window, eagerly awaiting the arrival of the day of redemption..."1

This strange, seemingly out of place text, containing words about signs in the sun and moon and stars, and roaring seas, is about just that. It's about the coming of God's redemption on the whole of creation. Therefore, maybe the best way to prepare our hearts and lives, as Craddock suggests, is by waiting at the window WITH the whole of creation awaiting redemption - to remember that we do not stand at the window and wait by ourselves. We stand at the window WITH the whole of creation, the whole world - even our enemies - even those with whom we disagree, dislike, disdain. For somehow the peace and redemption for which WE wait in this season of Advent is not, and cannot be, ONLY about us! THANKS BE TO GOD!

PRAYER:
God of all, as Christmas approaches and as we eagerly await Christ's coming, may we wait with the world for the peace and redemption that God intends for all people. In Christ's name. Amen.

1Craddock, Fred; Luke: Interpretation, A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching, Louisville, John Knox Press, 1990, pg. 247


You can sign-up now to receive information and updates about Advent 2017 at RPC, including these daily devotionals. To receive messages via text, text @rpcadvent to 81010 or sign-up online at www.remind.com/join/rpcadvent to receive text and/or email notifications. We will also be posting these daily devotionals to the RPC Facebook page. Hard copies are available at RPC.

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The Waiting Room - Saturday, December 9 - Advent 2017 Devotional

The Waiting Room
Saturday, December 9
Seth Harris, RPC member since June 1997

He also said, "This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain - first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come. - Mark 4:26-29 (NIV)

About six and a half years ago, I broke my right ankle at both bones and had to have extensive surgery followed by physical therapy. This required me to move back to Atlanta from Mississippi so that my family could help me recuperate. I had lived in Mississippi for ten years, held my job for six, and had many friends there. However, this injury left me with questions about the future as it became apparent that it was best to stay in Atlanta and that my time in Mississippi had come to an end. I was faced with "so now what?"

At the time, I was not very focused on what God would have me do, but He was focused on me. I can look back now and see not only that God has worked through me since then, but also that he has brought me closer to Him. I have seen Him move in me and mold me more and more toward His purpose. If I have learned anything throughout this process, it is that I don't have it figured out, and I never will. In fact, if I ever think I do, that's when I am in trouble. The great thing about this is that I get to regularly pause, and that is humbling. I find that in every decision I may be facing, there is a process of acceptance and surrender. All I can do is be honest and responsible with what God has shown me today. He does not show me a clear, open highway with no speed limit and says drive. God provides me with a sometimes faint path and says, "Just put one foot in front of the other. Just do the next right thing, accepting the reality of others and this world and let me take care of the rest."

When I was facing a new life back home and away from Mississippi, it felt like I was waiting in limbo endlessly. I didn't know what my life was going to look like, and I didn't have a plan to begin finding out, but God did. He knows that sometimes a clear, quick, simple answer is not what I need. He knows that sometimes I ask the wrong questions because I am trying to get the answer that I want. It makes me grateful for the-being-wrong and the waiting. I am a small part of something great. God's timing is not my timing. He is in charge and will do greater things in better ways than I could ever come up with on my own.

PRAYER:
As we prepare for your coming Lord, show us where we can pause and help us surrender to your plan for our role in your purpose. Help us to accept and trust your will for our lives. In Jesus' name. Amen.


You can sign-up now to receive information and updates about Advent 2017 at RPC, including these daily devotionals. To receive messages via text, text @rpcadvent to 81010 or sign-up online at www.remind.com/join/rpcadvent to receive text and/or email notifications. We will also be posting these daily devotionals to the RPC Facebook page. Hard copies are available at RPC.

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The Waiting Room - Friday, December 8 - Advent 2017 Devotional

Gail and Paul Clarke

Gail and Paul Clarke

The Waiting Room
Friday, December 8
Paul Clarke, RPC member since January 2011

Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD. - Psalm 27:14 (NLT)

We all have experienced waiting.

As I look back over my life I have waited for that special day. Birthday, Christmas, holidays, relatives visiting. Passing into the next grade, graduation, waiting to complete military service. Waiting to be married, waiting on the birth of our children, waiting on the birth of our grandchildren. Waiting for that promotion, waiting on relocation, waiting for retirement. Waiting in doctor's office, waiting for doctor's results, waiting for the next process. I imagine many of you have experienced some of the above.

We wait with great anticipation and at times with great anxiety. A feeling of worry, nervousness, uneasiness. Our emotions play on our minds with a wide range of thoughts. Waiting. Why is it so difficult?

We are a society of immediate gratification. Modern technology gives us information at our fingertips. Waiting is a vital part of our lives. Is it because we like to be in control? In my case it was. I realized that I was not in control. Waiting on God reminds me that God is in control. Not me. Waiting means trusting God and His goodness. Waiting on the Lord means doing the things we can and should do without panic or running ahead of Him.

What happened? I have been blessed by a caring family, church, Bible study, and friends. Friends who have provided me with comfort and understanding in those waiting times, knowing that our Lord's timing, not mine, is best.

The 23rd Psalm, along with Psalm 27:14, have provided me with a special calm in our fast-paced world. "Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord."

PRAYER:
Dear God, thank you for your unfailing love for me, your blessings and goodness. Thank you for Scripture that comforts me. I pray that I will draw nearer and nearer to you in this place of waiting. I pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.


You can sign-up now to receive information and updates about Advent 2017 at RPC, including these daily devotionals. To receive messages via text, text @rpcadvent to 81010 or sign-up online at www.remind.com/join/rpcadvent to receive text and/or email notifications. We will also be posting these daily devotionals to the RPC Facebook page. Hard copies are available at RPC.

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The Waiting Room - Thursday, December 7 - Advent 2017 Devotional

Robby Cella, Director of Youth Programs

Robby Cella, Director of Youth Programs

The Waiting Room
Thursday, December 7
Robby Cella, Director of Youth Programs at Roswell Presbyterian Church

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." - Matthew 6:21 (NRSV)

Late one Wednesday night, I was reading a book by James K.A. Smith, You Are What You Love. He argues that discipleship to Jesus is less about filling our brains with knowledge and more about training our hearts to love him through our habits. He follows in the footsteps of a great old saint of the church, Augustine of Hippo. For Smith and for Augustine, humans are primarily driven and defined by our loves. That's why Jesus can so rightly proclaim that, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

So then, Smith writes: "To be human is to have a heart. You can't not love. So the question isn't whether you will love something as ultimate; the question is what you will love as ultimate. And you are what you love."

You treasure what you love, you love what you treasure; and by extension our lives get oriented around these treasures.

So, I'm sitting on my couch, reading this late one Wednesday night, and I'm totally blindsided by this realization that I don't love Jesus nearly as much as I know about Jesus. I mean, I know a lot about Jesus, but I was burdened by the realization that I don't love Jesus nearly as much as I'd like to think. My heart and treasure often lay elsewhere.

But even that realization flickers an awakening in my heart to its true home and true purpose. And as I look to this Advent season, I'm encouraged to know that this special time is an opportunity to re-orient my heart toward Jesus. Advent is a habit. It, along with the entire church calendar, creates a habit, a rhythm to our lives. This habit trains our hearts to treasure Jesus. It is with that in mind that I eagerly and thankfully take my place in this community of faith that seeks to corporately re-orient our lives around the coming King - Jesus, Immanuel, God with us.

May each of us seek him with all our hearts this season. For, as Augustine reminds us, "Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee, Lord."

PRAYER:
Lord, in this Advent season, convict our wandering hearts and ignite in us a love that draws us out of ourselves and into you. Form us in this season as we expectantly wait the coming of Christ into the world. Amen.


You can sign-up now to receive information and updates about Advent 2017 at RPC, including these daily devotionals. To receive messages via text, text @rpcadvent to 81010 or sign-up online at www.remind.com/join/rpcadvent to receive text and/or email notifications. We will also be posting these daily devotionals to the RPC Facebook page. Hard copies are available at RPC.

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The Waiting Room - Wednesday, December 6 - Advent 2017 Devotional

Catherine Bunch, Peyton Bunch-Thomas, Susan Thomas

Catherine Bunch, Peyton Bunch-Thomas, Susan Thomas

The Waiting Room
Wednesday, December 6
Catherine Bunch, RPC member since August 2016

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. - Isaiah 43:19 (ESV)

The most difficult waiting I've experienced is waiting for God to transform something. When you are the one in the desert - not a sign of shade or water in sight - it is natural to look around and say, "No way can God make a river here."

One such time for me was during our journey to family. The adoption process was a gauntlet of paperwork, interviews, appointments, and trainings - years of pushing, waiting, persisting, and discerning where God was leading us. One particular night, I was very discouraged and upset, doubting that God could make a family by way of a very broken system and through so much sadness in our world.

It is through music that I hear God's voice most clearly, affirming, supporting, and encouraging me as only the Holy Spirit can. Through my tears that night, I heard Gungor's Beautiful Things in my headphones, pointing me back to this scripture from Isaiah and reminding me of God's ability to transform all things - even the seemingly hopeless.

When we have challenges, leaning in for God's help, guidance, and peace instead of trying to muscle through it alone is a critical part of walking in faith. Trusting that God is doing a new thing - although I may not perceive it, much less understand it - is hard, but to me, it's the essence of Advent.

Several years later, our family is complete, and one of God's wonderful transformations is bringing our family to Roswell and to RPC. Here we experience God's love in this community, and I am so grateful for that.

PRAYER:
God, we know you are with us, working in, around, and through us every day. Please help us lean in to you, trusting your love of us and your ability to make beautiful things out of dust. Draw us close and fill us with your peace while we are waiting. In Christ's name. Amen.


You can sign-up now to receive information and updates about Advent 2017 at RPC, including these daily devotionals. To receive messages via text, text @rpcadvent to 81010 or sign-up online at www.remind.com/join/rpcadvent to receive text and/or email notifications. We will also be posting these daily devotionals to the RPC Facebook page. Hard copies are available at RPC.

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The Waiting Room - Tuesday, December 5 - Advent 2017 Devotional

Rev. Adam Borneman, Jessica (member of RPC since August 2017), Maggie, and Hannah Borneman

Rev. Adam Borneman, Jessica (member of RPC since August 2017), Maggie, and Hannah Borneman

The Waiting Room
Tuesday, December 5
Rev. Adam Borneman, Director of Cohorts and Alumni, Macedonian Ministry

How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? - Psalm 13:1 (NRSV)

Have you ever found yourself waiting with no end in sight?

After I finished graduate school in Boston in 2008, Jessica and I moved back to Birmingham, where we hoped to start a family. One problem - we couldn't conceive. After a year, we visited with doctors and ran some tests, all of which provided no explanation. So began our four-year journey of adoption lists, fertility clinics, tests, surgeries, frequent visits to the doctor - incredibly frustrating days when you think you're pregnant and it turns out you're not, and moments of deep sadness. Sometimes waiting seems indistinguishable from hopelessness.

The morning of Tuesday, February 18, 2014, I was a wreck. That afternoon we'd learn whether our first IVF attempt was successful. The Bible's image of Hannah praying for a child came to mind, as I was "distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly." I had never wept out of sheer anguish before, but that's exactly what happened that morning.

Later that day, a joyful and tear-filled Jessica told me that we were pregnant, leaving me speechless. It was one of those moments of relief in which you realized that you had been carrying around far more stress and anxiety than you thought. Eight months later, our first child, Maggie, was born.

We're not alone in our experience of infertility. And there are all sorts of other experiences in life that fall into this category of "waiting with no end in sight." Chronic illness, addiction, poverty, and depression are just a few examples. What's most difficult about these experiences of waiting is that they are bereft of anticipation and expectation, notions which imply benchmarks, helping us to gauge whether we've waited too long or not long enough. Waiting without expectation or anticipation can leave us hopeless.

In retrospect, I don't recall any ecstatic moments of transcendence or miraculous intervention that cured us of our impatience. But I can see that God surrounded us with a community of Jesus' disciples who fostered a space for vulnerability and transparency and joined us in the psalmist's plea, "How long, O Lord?!" God used this community of hope to embrace our hopelessness, to remind us that sometimes waiting is precisely what faithfulness looks like, and to proclaim that even when we think there's no end in sight, Christ remains both the beginning and end of everything.

PRAYER:
Loving God, in our anxiety, grant us peace. In our restlessness, grant us patience. In our waiting, grant us hope. And in all things, grant us intimate communion with Christ and one another by the power of your Spirit. Amen.


You can sign-up now to receive information and updates about Advent 2017 at RPC, including these daily devotionals. To receive messages via text, text @rpcadvent to 81010 or sign-up online at www.remind.com/join/rpcadvent to receive text and/or email notifications. We will also be posting these daily devotionals to the RPC Facebook page. Hard copies are available at RPC.

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The Waiting Room - Monday, December 4 - Advent 2017 Devotional

The Waiting Room
Monday, December 4
Bill Austin, RPC member since June 2000

I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope. - Psalm 130:5 (KJV)

My son, John Charles Austin, is a Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church, USA. His most recent involvement in practicing his calling was with Auburn Seminary, New York City. He has served as Associate Pastor at Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York. He is my first-born son and he was well worth the wait.

His mother and I were one of those couples apparently destined not to conceive children. We went through all those things that couples faced with this issue do. We had finally exhausted all avenues and turned our attention to adoption. We had been approved and were simply waiting for the notice that a child awaited us. And then, surprisingly, she became pregnant.

No parent has to tell another parent how wonderful it is to have a child. But this child seemed to be an even more amazing gift than could be imagined. Well, he grew up and became the man I described at the beginning. We elected to call him 'J.C.' from the day of his birth. Had we known what vocation he would eventually choose, we might have made another choice of nickname!

God blessed us with our first-born and then with a second son, Gill, no less appreciated. To be a front-row witness to the difference J.C. has made in the lives of others is something I shall always treasure and is something for which I continually give God thanks. Yes, indeed, he was worth the wait.

PRAYER:
Dear God, help us to accept your timeline; give us the confidence and faith to be patient even when we doubt we are able to do so. Amen.


You can sign-up now to receive information and updates about Advent 2017 at RPC, including these daily devotionals. To receive messages via text, text @rpcadvent to 81010 or sign-up online at www.remind.com/join/rpcadvent to receive text and/or email notifications. We will also be posting these daily devotionals to the RPC Facebook page. Hard copies are available at RPC.

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