An Advent of Hope, Peace, Joy, & Love: Volume 4

December 21 – December 25, 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.

Monday, December 21

As I take my daily walk at the crack of dawn, I marvel at the beauty of the early morn. Majestic Maunakea is greeted by the first ray of sunshine (if it’s not raining). At times the sun casts the most beautiful crimson glow as it shines on the cloud. Dozens of doves and mynah birds are sitting on the utility lines waiting for whatever birds wait for. Koleas are running in their favorite yards. I wonder: Do early birds really get the worms?

Seeing the beauty of nature and enjoying God’s creation, I say to myself, “You’re lucky you live in Hawai’i!”

Reiko Masutomi

Tuesday, December 22

The Vogue article was adamant; church is the worst place to find a man.

When I was a teenager, I read comic books to tell me what love is all about. Now it was 1978. I had been free from an abusive marriage for six years. It could be time to try again. So this time I turned to magazines to tell me what to do.

Hence – forget church for husband material.

So imagine my surprise when one Sunday, while helping with the Children’s Church School, I happened to look up and fall in love.

There was this guy – a cute bow tie, dark wavy hair, deep blue crinkly eyes, and a very nice smile. It was like a lightning bolt.

I heard someone call him Jim. He didn’t show up again for a few weeks. When he did I made sure to engage him in what I hoped was scintillating conversation.

But, nothing. I spent months during church activities, trying to get him to notice me. I wore red since the magazines said red is the color men notice most, sat with my good side to him, fixed my hair just so. Nothing worked.

My daddy always said I was too eager. A girl has to wait for the man to make the move.

No way.

I decided to stop being subtle. I tried a direct, daring and devious approach. I asked him if he would be my partner at a dance class.

The class lasted for four months, and by the time it ended, we were dating exclusively. In 1981 we married and became a blended family with my son Michael, then a teenager of 15. After 38 years, Jim passed away peacefully in his sleep last summer.

I have often thought how difficult it was to be in the middle between the needs and wants of my son and the needs and wants of my husband. There had been many times of conflict and challenge. Living in a blended family magnified the difficulties, the misunderstandings, and the stress.

But there had also been many times of deep love. Sometimes this big love was reflected in the smallest of things; like my combing his hair for him in the mornings before work, or him being sure to kiss me goodbye, or buying me chocolates for any reason. Or remembering to hug and say “I love you” as often as possible.

Every night no matter how tired we were or how horrible the weather or the day had been, we’d take a walk, holding hands, just being there for each other. Mark Twain said, “Love seems like the swiftest, but really it is the slowest of all growths.” And I have come to know the truth of those words. The real lasting love builds slowly and steadily, and deeply.

In 1994 I got a call from the city police; Jim had driven the car into a ditch. I wasn’t too concerned at first, he had learned to drive in New York City, and in my opinion, it wasn’t his best feature.

But when I arrived at the hospital, the situation was really bad. He had passed out at the wheel, the car narrowly missing two trees at the side of the road, careening across a field, coming to rest at the edge of a 30 foot drop-off. The doctor said his heart had gone into fibrillation, and by all accounts he should have suffered an heart attack and died at the scene. 94% of his heart arteries were blocked.

I was sure Jim had been blessed with another chance at life, even if it was one that would require massive heart replacement surgery, constant vigil, and medications every day for the rest of his life.

The years since have been precious to me, even with the added difficulties due to his onset of cancer and then most recently the senior cognitive disabilities. I have come to understand that actually, I have been the one given the extra chance; the blessing of living in a loving close relationship with another human being.

About ten years ago, while preparing a speech for Toastmasters on ‘love’, I was telling Jim how I had fallen in love with him at first sight on that day so long ago; the intense blue eyes, the wonderful smile, and the cute bow tie. “What ever happened to that bow tie?” I asked. “I haven’t seen it since.”

He looked at me strangely and said, “Genie, I have never worn a bow tie”.

Genie Phillips

Wednesday, December 23

Charles Dickens, in A Tale of Two Cities, depicts a time of chaos, conflicts and despair, as well as a time of healing, happiness and hope. Dickens described the time of the French Revolution.

Today, we are experiencing suffering, unimaginable number of deaths and illness due to the Covid19 pandemic. Many have lost their jobs and roofs over their heads.

Yet, we turned our fear into love and compassion. We turned our anxiety into services to others. Our community is generous in supporting non-profit agencies in times of need. 

Volunteers distribute packages of food; others prepare food that are delivered to those in need; conversations take place so that families do not face eviction from their homes.  

How deeply touching to see a medical professional coddle a COVID-19-afflicted elderly patient to comfort him. An extraordinary act of compassion.

In the “worst of times” there is the “best of times.” 

Where there is LOVE, the light continues to glimmer.

Janet Fujioka

Thursday, December 24

We love because He first loved us.
1 John 4:19

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful.  It does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 

And now faith, hope and  love abide, these three: and the Greatest of these is love. 
1 Corinthians 13:13 

According to scripture, we should all love! There are many kinds of love: Agape – unconditional God’s love; Eros – romantic love; Storge – family love, Philia – brotherly love; Philautia – self-love; Xenia – hospitality love. Agape is described as God’s love for his children. Eros involves physical attraction. Storge is love for family. Philia is love between good friends. Philautia regards one’s own happiness. Xenia is friendship of guests.

There are so many ways to share love. When you share your love, the love is returned. If you feel unloved, you can do something about that! God loves his children, therefore, there is no reason for anyone not to love!  

Anne Sadayasu

Friday, December 25: Christmas Day

World War II, December 7, 1941, dimmed our world’s light.

In a miniscule corner of our world, Hawi, North Kohala, a light more than a flicker shone brightly.

The hub of our community, a large building situation in midtown Hawi, was converted by the USO (United Services Organizations) as a place of rest and recreation for our military men. Especially, we thought, for the Marines at Camp Tarawa living in a sea of green tents along the slopes of Waimea.

Each Sunday morning, the USO building was transformed into a blessed haven for children. We were elementary school children of various ages, ethnicities, and denominations.

We loved Sunday School. Worshipping, praying, singing hymns, having fun together with families and new friends. Learning Bible lessons, listening attentively to stories told and illustrated on a homemade movie roll. Celebrating Christmas and Easter brightness brought joy and excitement to our lives.

In my camera’s eye, I picture during worship time feet dangling, little bodies sinking slowly into soft, oversize overstuffed chairs and sofas. I picture offerings of pennies, nickels, and dimes laid gently in small beige woven trays. I hear sweet voices singing with gusto favorite hymns. I hear the kind, melodious voice of our beloved, dedicated coordinator who, by God’s grace, connect us as a single large family in Christ. We feel God’ presence and His love.

We had wonderful times, joyful times. Memories of joy layered upon layer; gifts stored in our hearts.

Our country at war. Our Sunday School, our haven, our sanctuary. A lasting peace, a beautiful calm, a feeling of security and stability descended upon us and sustained us week after week throughout troubled uncertain times. Blessed were we, enfolded so lovingly in God’s merciful love.

Tiny town?

Bright lights?

No borders?

Embraced?

Rejoice! Rejoice in Christ Jesus’ ever-present, unfailing infinite love.

Jane Kawazoe

An Additional Reflection: Remembering Kay

She does him good, and not harm,
    all the days of her life.
She seeks wool and flax,
    and works with willing hands.
She is like the ships of the merchant,
    she brings her food from far away.
She rises while it is still night
    and provides food for her household
    and tasks for her servant-girls.
She considers a field and buys it;
    with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
She girds herself with strength,
    and makes her arms strong.
She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
    Her lamp does not go out at night.
She puts her hands to the distaff,
    and her hands hold the spindle.
She opens her hand to the poor,
    and reaches out her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid for her household when it snows,
    for all her household are clothed in crimson.
Proverbs 31:12-21

Hope. Peace. Joy. Love.
Through the glorious times and the solemn hardships, she endured. She graced us with the attributes of hope, peace, joy, and love. 

I remember Kay.

Anonymous

Church of the Holy Cross
United Church of Christ
440 W. Lanikaula St.
Hilo, HI 96720
808-935-1283
www.holycrosshilo.com

Advent 2020

Faces in the stop-start motion of a screen
each day reveal the way that Space can fold.
It bends to bring a grainy visage close
though miles and oceans lie between.

By eyes immortalized in oiled canvas,
out-of-focus photographs, vintage films,
and now a Sunday worship prayed on Wednesday,
no longer do we hold our Time inflexible.

So, Time and Space, elastic as you are,
we seek your folds and curves along these weeks
to bring us to the stable, to the birth;
to bring us to the Advent of your Christ on Earth.

Categories Community, Events | Tags: , | Posted on December 20, 2020

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Sunday School Classes

Sunday 8:45 am

Sunday Worship Service

Sunday 10:00 am

Adult Bible Study

Monday 6:30 pm, Wednesday 9:00 am

IYPP
(International Young Adults Association)
Bible Study

Wednesday 7:30 pm

The Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga

(The Rev. Tevita) Sunday 1:00 pm Wednesday 7:00 pm (Sanctuary)

The United Church of Christ, Pohnpei - Hilo

(The Rev. Ichiro) Sunday 10:00 am (Bdg. of Faith)

The Samoan Church

(The Rev. Sunia) Sunday 4:00 pm (Sanctuary)

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440 W. Lanikaula Street
Hilo, HI 96720
(808) 935-1283