Lessons in Wise Faith

“The Magi teach us true faith,” said Martin Luther. Given the obstacles they encountered, we would

understand if they had given up altogether!

First, the travelers were “off the mark,” coming to Jerusalem to seek a newborn king in a “royal palace”.

Then, directed to Bethlehem, the wise men found a sight “so utterly out of keeping with a king” — a poor

young woman and child, in a “poor hut” — that one might expect them to head straight home. “But”,

declares Luther, “with a great, strong and full faith they...follow the word of the prophet and the witness of

the star in all purity of heart, “ bowing to worship and honor the Savior.

—Based on Luther’s sermon for the Festival of the Epiphany (1522), Luther’s Works

Descending Dove

                                                       A dove is a prominent symbol of the Holy Spirit. When the

                                                       dove is shown flying downward, it reminds us of Jesus’ baptism,

                                                       when, the gospel writers tell us, the Spirit descended on

                                                       him in the form of a dove. Doves also symbolize baptism in

                                                       general, because many Christian denominations teach that the

                                                      Holy Spirit and its gifts are bestowed at baptism. Sometimes a

                                                      dove is depicted with a three-ray nimbus around its head, indicating

                                                      that it is a member of the Trinity. Doves are also commonly used as a sign of                                                                peace.


“Prayer for Protection”

The Light of God surrounds me.
The Love of God enfolds me.
The Power of God protects me.
The Presence of God watches over me.
The Mind of God guides me.
The Life of God flows through me.
The Laws of God direct me.
The Power of God abides within me.
The Joy of God uplifts me.
The Strength of God renews me.
The Beauty of God inspires me.
Wherever I am, God is!

*This prayer was written by James Freeman
                                                                                                                                   for all soldiers during World War II.
                                                                                                                                  It is as powerful today as it was then.

The Word.com 

by Phil Leftwich

Come, O Word, made flesh,

into our “dot com” world

with its noisy chatter of keyboards tapping —

hesitant fingers carefully seeking the crafted phrase —

the perfect, well-wrought word —

yearning for the unfathomable made fathomable,

the dues mysterium become hard reality;

in principio, the preface to the beginning,

where breath itself created all that is.

The Word breathes upon the face of the void —

the Hebrew ruach defining life —

the Greek pneuma presuming a Spirit —

your Spirit turned into flesh and blood,

full of grace and truth.

Lift us from the ordinary of ordinary time

into the domain of Advent

where the light shines in darkness

and darkness does not overcome it.

Lux lucet in tenebris —

words of hope against the shadows of early night

where winter’s solstice speaks of cold

and dying embers on the hearth of life.

Come, O Word, where hope resounds

in carol words expectantly sung

and the comfort of old, familiar tunes.

Sound afresh within our hearts the Word

that dwells among us, God Emmanuel,

stated irony of the living Word.

Come, O Word, into our “dot com” world,

and still our fears with your perfect word —

the “perfect love” that “cast our fear,”

that in your love we may abide.

Come, O Word, of perfect love,

into our Advent lives.

Prayer: Come, O Living Word, into our “dot com” world. Come in human forms and through human created

words that we may hear and understand who you are. Come in voices that sound above our clamor;

whisper softly in the night; and resound within our spirits. Come with the force of your love that is of God

who is love. Come and touch us; hold us; heal us, until we are fully yours. Come, O come, Emmanuel.


                               Kentuckians are More Religious than Most

The Pew Research Center’s most recent Religious Landscape study ranks all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia according to four common measures of religious observance: worship attendance, prayer frequency, belief in God and the importance of religion. According to this latest survey Kentucky is the 13th most religious state. Sixty-three percent of Kentucky residents say religion is very important in their life. Thirty-nine percent attend worship services at least weekly. Sixty-three percent pray daily and seventy-five percent believe in God with absolute certainty. Alabama is the most religious state while Massachusetts is the least religious state.

                                                                 The Power of Weakness

In Tramp for the Lord, Corrie ten Boom describes traveling to Russia during the Cold War — when

Christians were being persecuted — to thank an old woman who’d been secretly translating Christian books

(including ten Boom’s). Ravaged by multiple sclerosis, the woman could move only an index finger. Yet

with it she typed constantly, translating words while praying for people who’d eventually read them.

Ten Boom’s reaction was, “Oh Lord, why don’t you heal her?” But the woman’s husband said God had a

purpose in his wife’s suffering. Although the secret police closely watched other Christians, they left this

woman alone, assuming she couldn’t accomplish anything.

Jesus works through our weaknesses, making his power perfect in them (see 2 Corinthians 12:9). He

doesn’t ask if we’re capable — only if we’re willing.

                                                                      But What About Here?

At age 4, Anna was starting to make sense of prayer. Her parents had been praying

with her since birth, but now her developing cognitive and language skills caused her

to really ponder what prayer meant for her.

One night, after tucking her into bed and leaving the room, Anna’s dad heard her

voice. He paused outside the door to see if she needed something. But she was

speaking to her heavenly Father: “Dear God,” Anna prayed, “when is the best time

for me to talk to you? I mean, Mama and Daddy say I can pray anytime, and I know

you’re always listening. But when will you be listening especially hard in


—Adapted from The Children’s God, David Heller

                                                   Easter’s Dawn 
On the third day, the friends of Christ coming at daybreak...found the grave empty and the stone rolled away.  In varying ways they realized the new wonder; but even they hardly realized that the world had died in the night.  What they were looking at was the first day of a new creation, with the heaven and a new earth; and in a semblance of the gardener, God walked again in the garden, in the cool not of the evening but of the dawn. 
                                                                                                                                            — G. K. Chesterton 

Washed Clean

Your morning shower can do more that cleanse your body. Retired Pastor Norman Neaves takes time to remember his baptism daily. “As the water is pouring down on me, I reach up and get water all over my hand. Then I close my eyes and make the sign of the cross on my forehead. ‘I have been baptized in Christ,’ I say to myself quietly. ‘This day belongs to him. I am called to be Jesus’ representative whatever I am doing and wherever I might go. Give me the grace, Lord, to represent you well and with integrity.’”

It is with Christians as with burning coals. If these are scattered apart, one after the other, they are easily extinguished. But, when collected together, the fire of one preserves that of the other, and the glowing coals ignite others that lie near.
 —August Francke .

                                                   God’s Promised Spring 

 Like winter, some seasons of our faith journey feel cold, barren, devoid of life. Will renewal ever come? Will spring flourish again in our hearts? Yet the world bears witness to God’s power to bring new life where all seems lost. In the early 1900’s, the St. Louis neighborhood of South City deteriorated sharply due to a stagnant economy, population decline and crime. Then Bostonian refugees started settling there. Thousands of people renovated abandoned houses and other buildings; they started businesses and brought skilled labor back to the neighborhood. As the area returned to life, the refugees experienced renewal, too — hope in place of discouragement, opportunities where none had existed, peace instead of war, life replacing death. When our faith is challenged by despair, lost dreams or an uncertain future — when God’s promises feel as dead as winter — real-life renewal stories are signs of spring. They testify to the resurrection God  has in store for us.