An Advent of Hope, Peace, Joy, & Love: Volume 1

Hope: November 29 – December 6, 2020

This devotional contains reflections, artwork, and prayers for a portion of the Advent season created by the members and friends of Church of the Holy Cross UCC in Hilo, Hawai’i. Advent is a season of preparation and of expectation, an awareness of what has already happened and what is still to come. May these devotional offerings help you find the hope, peace, joy, and love of God within your soul.

Sunday, November 29: Hope

The year: 1993. Janine and I were asked to light the candle of hope by our deacon, James Yoshiyama.

Our husband and father, called home to our Lord on September 30. A candle of hope to bring light into our time of darkness.

Emmanuel, God with us. We placed our complete trust in the faithfulness of our Lord. The grace of God, Lord Jesus Christ, blessed us with strength and courage, love and hope, comfort and refuge. Protected and provided for throughout our sorrowful healing journey.

We praise the Lord.

Jane Kawazoe

Monday, November 30

Romans 15:13
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

HOPE – What is HOPE? Why is HOPE a word I use daily? In thinking about this, I conclude that to me, HOPE is my desire for a certain thing to happen, or something I want to happen. But, why am I always hoping?

I guess through my life experiences, I have learned that my faith in the goodness of people and what happens in life has allowed me to count on my hope for things to happen. I have learned that planning, hard work, cooperation, collaboration, and other facets help make good things come to be. Just hoping is not enough! We must work at things and have faith that what we do will help to bring about what it is we are hoping for. Hope helps us to live a life pleasing to God, and the faith we have in Him, allows us to have hope for all!

Anne Sadayasu

Tuesday, December 1

A New Hope

By Mattie J. T. Stepanek

I need a hope… a new nope.
A hope that reaches for the stars, and
That does not end in violence or war.
A hope that makes peace on our earth, and
That does not create evil in the world.
A hope that finds cures for all diseases, and
That does not make people hurt,
In their bodies, in their hearts,
Or most of all, in their spirits.
I need a hope… a new hope,
A hope that inspires me to live, and
To make all these things happen,
So that the whole world can have
A new hope, too.

                May 1999

From Journey Through Heartsongs by Mattie J. T. Stepanek, published by VSP Books, 2002. Used by permission of the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation. Suggested for this devotional by Jane Kawazoe.

Wednesday, December 2

Emi Kobayashi, age 6

Thursday, December 3

Hosea 6:1-2
For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,
                the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

In Hosea’s day, there were clearly people who used their religious offerings as a way to ignore the emptiness of their spirits.

Religions, it must be said, lend themselves to that kind of behavior. Hosea and Jews eight centuries before Jesus, Martin Luther fifteen centuries after Jesus, and the Hawaiians influenced by Hewahewa all found that the worship in which they engaged failed to fill their souls. They felt disordered, discontented, and disconnected from what was holy.

Strangely, they also shared a hope that this could be different. They believed in something they had not experienced. They believed in something greater than what they knew. They turned to new practices to seek it, and to find it.

Hope is found in emptiness, an emptiness we trust can be filled.

Prayer:

For the ways in which you have filled us, O God, we give thanks. For the ways we still are empty, O God, we hope in you. Amen.

ESA

Friday, December 4

Jeremiah 1:6
Then I said, “Ah, Lord GOD! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.”

One of the repeated themes of the Scriptures is the way God speaks through, well, not the people you would expect.

Jacob the con man, Moses the unwilling, Deborah the woman, David the youth, Amos the shepherd, Mary Magdalene the survivor of demons, Paul the persecutor, Jesus the stable-born: who would select them for their public relations? Who would expect people to listen to them, to hear the words they spoke, and to consider those words as they ordered their lives?

Only God, it appears.

As we consider our hope in God this Advent, perhaps we might also consider God’s hope in us. Over and over again, God has trusted us with the words of life and love, trust that we will hear and understand them whatever the voice in which they are spoken.

Prayer:

Thank you, God, for your hope in us. Amen.

ESA

Saturday, December 5

Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

I miss you all. I miss going to church on Sundays to worship, to praise God through singing, prayer, reading God’s word and listening to Pastor Eric’s sermon in person. I miss building the bonds of friendship with my church family. I miss the welcome smiles of the ushers, the beautiful music of the choir and IYAA singing, the chatter of little children, the conversations and catching up of our lives when we are able to speak with one another.

I miss the spirit of worshipping together with friends who’ve known each other for years and who welcome the first-time visitor. I miss the sound of babies cooing and crying. I miss the handshakes and hugs. I miss the laughter and tears we share. I miss the genuine love we feel for each other. I miss picking up the bulletin, the hymnal, the Bible, the offering envelope.

I miss looking at the colorful banners and the flowers and the reverence of the chancel area. I miss admiring the flowers and plants growing at the front and sides of our sanctuary. I truly miss in-person worship on Sunday mornings.

My prayer is that God will bless us all and keep us safe this special Advent 2020 season. It is truly a time of waiting. We wait for COVID-19 to end just as we wait for Christ Jesus’ birth.

Gloria Kobayashi

Sunday, December 6: Peace

Psalm 85:10
Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other.

Ah, peace. Our hearts’ peace. Our families’ peace. Our communities’ peace. Our nations’ peace. Our world’s peace.

Yet it is not peace with the kiss, with the embrace, without the full inclusion of righteousness.

Without steadfast love for our neighbor, some will grow increasingly needy. Without steadfast love for our family members, some may feel valued and others dismissed. Without steadfast love for ourselves, we may neglect our bodies’ needs, with results that might be a headache or might be serious illness.

Righteousness and peace must fully embrace if either is to be found for long in the world.

Prayer:

Guide us in righteousness, O God. Guide us in steadfast love and steady our faithfulness. In this spirit, may we embrace and celebrate peace. Amen.

Categories Community, Events | Tags: , | Posted on November 25, 2020

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