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2020 Advent Devotional – Day 6

Blessed

Genesis 22: 15–18

I will surely bless you and make your descendants
as numerous as the stars in the sky
and as the sand on the seashore (Gen 22:17)

Video: Genesis 22: 15–18


Reflection

What do we withhold from God? What part of our lives do we leave God out of? Perhaps it is our work which we view as separate from our faith, telling ourselves there’s no place for faith in the cut and thrust of business. Maybe a social or sports activity; surely too prosaic to have a place for God. Or even a group of friends – because they’re not really ‘church people’.

Our reading today reminds us that nothing is to be held back from God. The passage comes at the end of the account where Abraham was prepared to sacrifice Isaac, his only and much-wanted son, if that was God’s will. Mercifully, God intervened, and Abraham was provided with a ram to sacrifice instead.

Abraham, however, demonstrated his all-encompassing trust in God’s path and his faith is affirmed with God’s blessing. It is a rich and abundant blessing of infinite generosity. God’s love for Abraham, God’s promise to Abraham, cannot be counted or limited. It is as numerous as the stars in the sky, as plentiful as the sand on the seashore.

Where would you even start to calculate such a blessing? You can’t, because no part of God’s love is being held back from Abraham – or from us. God honours Abraham’s whole-hearted faith and trust with this blessing, and God seeks to do the same for us. We too are blessed by God’s love and God calls us to hold nothing back from him, that this blessing may enrich every part of our lives.

When we embrace this love and hold nothing back from God, we affirm our faith in God’s strength and comfort and peace. We affirm God’s promise to us – that we are beloved children of God, and we are eternally blessed.


Abundant God,
I am overwhelmed by the generosity of your love and of your constant reaching out for me. You comfort me in my pain and inspire me in my joy, seeking to accompany me throughout my days. Reassure me, God, that your love abides with me in all that I do and all that I have; and that your strength sustains me every day. Amen.


Reading

Genesis 22: 15–18

The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”


Thank you for joining us on this prayerful path through Advent.
Blessings and best wishes for 2021.

Blessed

Luke 1:39-45 – Mary Visits Elizabeth

In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”


Walton United Church, Oakville, Ontario

Blessings flow in abundance through this passage: from the display of God’s love in the form of two unexpected babies, through to the Holy Spirit at work in the world. Elizabeth then blesses Mary by affirming Mary’s faith and anticipating the day when she will become the mother of our Lord. These are unique circumstances, yet the intangible blessings of this passage – faith and the power of the Holy Spirit – are there for each one of us. And they are gifts for us! They are given to us from God, and we are blessed with the ability and openness to receive them. It’s easy to take it for granted, but faith is a powerful blessing, especially in these uncertain times, and the Holy Spirit is an awe-inspiring gift, blessing our lives with its power and presence. Amen! We are blessed, living with God’s word.


Generous God, source of all our blessings, we give thanks in praise and worship for all that You have blessed us with. Through the blessing of faith, You strengthen us to meet the challenges of the day ahead, and to offer our gratitude for the goodness we encounter. Through the blessing of the Holy Spirit, You move in our world and in our lives, guiding our path and shaping our actions in Your love. Kindle within us an awareness of the blessing of Your care for each one of us. Amen.

Thank you for joining us on this prayerful path through Advent.
Blessings and best wishes for 2019.

Blessed

Blessed- Advent Devotional @ Walton United Church, Oakville, Ontario
Photo credit: Fabien Moulin

It is perhaps easier to relate more to the experience of Elizabeth than Mary, to share her humble joy at the coming of the Lord. Like Elizabeth, we have no explanation for the favour we are given, even as we appreciate that we are blessed with this most incredible gift.


Dear Lord, generous God,
Let us leap for joy at the coming of our Lord. Fill our hearts with joyful expectation and feed our souls with your Holy Spirit. Make this season of Advent a time of blessings and praise.
Amen.

Luke 1:39-43

39 Now at this time Mary arose and went in a hurry to the hill country, to a city of Judah, 40 and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 And she cried out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And [b]how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me?