Our 2014 Advent Devotional will begin on Monday, November 24, in order to focus our individual studies and reflections each week in advance of the Sunday sermon.
Access this daily devotional guide online as part of our regular GPS Daily Devotional here, in e-zine form here, or pick up your printed copy of our complete 2014 Advent Devotional in the Welcome Center or Main Office.
Each year, my family has a very specific series of traditions on Christmas Eve.
We always attend the 4:00 pm worship service at our church. But before that, my mom insists that we take family photos. My dad has never charged the camera battery or set up the tripod with enough time. No one ever likes the way they look in the pictures. We’re always rushed (even though we always get there thirty minutes early).
But then worship begins. And the sanctuary is filled with candlelight during the singing of “Silent Night.” And suddenly, all is well. It is Christmas.
We go to our Christmas Eve restaurant and order the same things we have ordered for 20 years. And then we go home, turn on the TV to TBS. And we all celebrate that 24 hours of A Christmas Story has begun. We put the TV on mute, everyone gets into their pajamas, and we begin to exchange gifts.
A Christmas Story is as much a part of our traditions as anything else. We could all recite the film. We laugh at the same moments each time we see it. We quote the same lines over and over. I truly don’t know what it is about the movie. It’s not a spectacular, moving plot. It’s just simple and playful and feels really honest. It reflects the same silliness and tenderness of my own family. But more than anything, we love it because we’ve watched it together — so many times.
We all have our favorite Christmas movies, don’t we? The ones we watch each year — maybe more than once. The ones that have been woven into our Christmas traditions. The movies that bring our families together. The movies that bring our friends together. The movies that inspire us, convict us, move us, and amuse us. Sometimes they simply get us “in the spirit of the season.” But sometimes, if we look closely, they will remind us of the truest meaning of Christmas — of the light entering the world, the gift we are invited to receive, of our belief in a profound miracle, of the life we are now called to live. In these movies that we love so much, we can be reminded of the extraordinary grace extended in the birth of Jesus Christ, savior of the world.
This Advent, we hope you will join us in celebrating The Real Christmas story as we explore the messages in some favorite Christmas films.
This devotional guide is our gift to you. We know this season can become busy and chaotic. It can come with strains on our time, energy, and wallets. Knowing that, we hope you will find 10 minutes each day to center your heart on your Savior and experience The Real Christmas story.
In God’s peace,
Rev. Casey Langley
How to use this guide:
The book is divided into five sections. Each section represents one week.
Each week focuses on one idea and one film.
It is designed to prepare you for each Sunday of the Advent season.
We encourage you to watch the films if you are able. They will add meaning to your experience. But if you are not able, we have provided a synopsis of each movie.
Here’s how this is designed to be used:
1. Find ten minutes and a good spot.
Give God at least 10 good minutes each day. It might be a good discipline to do this at the same time and at the same place each day. If you do not already have a daily practice of prayer and devotion, we hope this will help you begin one.
2. Read scripture.
Each day invites you to read a passage of scripture. Read it and let the words of it wash over you. Reflect on it on your own before reading the printed reflection. Take note of the words or phrases that stand out to you.
3. Read the movie quote.
Some of the quotes will have very obvious connections to the scripture. Some will be less clear. Think about what connection you see. Or simply think about what significance that quote might have on God, you, and the church.
4. Read the reflection.
Many people have contributed their voices to this devotional guide: laity, staff, and clergy. They have offered their own experiences and insights to the meaning of these verses and quotes. You’ll be blessed by the honesty and perspective of our community.
A short prayer has been provided for you by the author of the reflection. Pray that prayer. But spend a couple more minutes in quiet prayer, meditation, or silence.
Kristin Anglin | Church Member
Raymond Best | Church Member
Dr. Tim Bruster | Senior Pastor
Mark Burrows | Director of Children’s Ministries
Nina Burrows | Director of Preschool
Janice Cooper | Children’s Ministries Assistant
Lindy Davis | Associate Director of Music and Worship Arts
Taylor Davis | Director of Music and Worship Arts
Dr. Len Delony | Associate Pastor, Spiritual Formation
Darcy Deupree | Church Member
Ann Dunkin | Church Member
Rev. Chuck Graff | Associate Pastor, Lay Ministries and Singles
Peggy Graff | Organist
Rev. Page Hines | Associate Pastor, Compassion and Justice Ministries
Elaine Johnson | Database Coordinator and Worship Assistant
Jenny Johnson | Church Member
Rev. Casey Langley | Associate Pastor, Discipleship
Martin Leathers | Associate Director of Youth Ministries
Rev. Lance Marshall | Pastor, First 7th
Dr. Mike Marshall | Executive Pastor
Rev. Linda McDermott | Senior Associate Pastor, Worship
Rev. Tom McDermott | Associate Pastor, eleven:eleven celebration
Rev. Phyllis McDougal | Associate Pastor, Congregational Care
Dr. Beka Miles | Church Member
Andrew Mochrie | Director of Youth Ministries
Roger Partridge | Director of Stewardship
Dr. Lamar Smith | Associate Pastor, Evangelism
All movie synopses edited from plot summaries on Wikipedia.com
John 1 will be read in worship each week of Advent. It is serving as the biblical foundation for the season.
Words have been drawn out of it to serve as guides for reflection each week.
1 In the beginning was the Word
and the Word was with God
and the Word was God.
2 The Word was with God in the beginning.
3 Everything came into being through the Word,
and without the Word
nothing came into being.
What came into being
4 through the Word was life,
and the life was the light for all people.
5 The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light.
6 A man named John was sent from God. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning the light, so that through him everyone would believe in the light. 8 He himself wasn’t the light, but his mission was to testify concerning the light.
9 The true light that shines on all people
was coming into the world.
10 The light was in the world,
and the world came into being through the light,
but the world didn’t recognize the light.
11 The light came to his own people,
and his own people didn’t welcome him.
12 But those who did welcome him,
those who believed in his name,
he authorized to become God’s children,
13 born not from blood
nor from human desire or passion,
but born from God.
14 The Word became flesh
and made his home among us.
We have seen his glory,
glory like that of a father’s only son,
full of grace and truth.
15 John testified about him, crying out, “This is the one of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is greater than me because he existed before me.’”
16 From his fullness we have all received grace upon grace;
17 as the Law was given through Moses,
so grace and truth came into being through Jesus Christ.
18 No one has ever seen God.
God the only Son,
who is at the Father’s side,
has made God known.