Friday December 19th – The Twentieth Day of Advent #Spirit

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During the season of Advent, I am going to do something new on the blog. I am going to try my best to offer a daily reflection here as we journey through this season together. To help frame the devotions I have been using hashtags designed by a group with the Episcopalian church. For example, the hashtag assigned for today is #Spirit.

A stained glass depiction of the Holy Spirit descending like a dove in baptism at First Lutheran Church in Poulsbo, Washington
A stained glass depiction of the Holy Spirit descending like a dove in baptism at First Lutheran Church in Poulsbo, Washington. (Photo courtesy of Pr. Kent Shane.)

As we continue to journey toward the star over Bethlehem, we hear these words today from Luke 1:26-38:

“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.’ But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.

The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’

Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.’ Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her.”

In this passage the birth of Jesus is foretold within the Gospel of Luke. Within this we hear of what is happening and about to happen related to the Incarnation. This is the first chapter of Luke, but already the second mentioning of the Holy Spirit within this gospel. The Holy Spirit is first mentioned in verse 15, when Zechariah is foretold about the birth of John, “for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink, even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

The power of passages such as these show that God is up to something. The presence and mentioning of the Holy Spirit only further this, but also go to affirm that God is directly involved in what is taking place.

We don’t often see such huge changes like this in our daily life perhaps, but I am fairly certain we see and sense the work of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives at times. What are some ways you have sensed or noticed that God might be up to something? Where have you seen or sensed the Holy Spirit potentially at work?

Today I am praying that God continues to work miracles and things that transcend our human understanding. I am praying that God’s presence be with my unofficial aunt (and her doctors) as she goes in for tests. I am praying that God’s peace be with her and her family. What are you praying for this Friday before Christmas? What is on your heart, soul and mind?

Let’s close with a prayer today:

Gracious God, you sent the Holy Spirit long ago to break-in and be present with your creation and people. Today we ask that you open our eyes to that which you would have us do, and to take notice of what You are doing in our midst. Be with all those who are struggling with health, economic, family and other personal challenges and uncertainties. Provide comfort, hope, peace and assurance, as well as your presence. Help us also be your presence to our neighbors, loved ones and strangers who are going through such challenging times. Be with us Lord, as we know you are. Be present, and give us your peace. In your holy name we pray. Amen.

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