And Mary said,“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior”. Luke 1:46-47
My grandmother had a very cool magnifying glass. It had a pretty brass handle and rested on her desk, as if waiting for me to arrive, pick it up and start inspecting things. I loved how the magnifying glass allowed me to see things that I previously had not noticed at all—the wrinkled creases in the worn leather chair, the myriad of green colors in her paper weight, the way ink looked soaked in to two different types of paper. How can we magnify God’s goodness today? How can we like shed light onto things that others might not have noticed?
Prayer - Gracious and loving God, I long to magnify your goodness and love today. Give me the courage to do so. Amen.
Written by Emily Wright, Senior Pastor at WHPC
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. John 3:16
When I was growing up, we went to my grandparents’ for the holidays. On Christmas Eve, I had the responsibility of helping my grandmother arrange the manger scene on the living room mantle. Carefully following her instructions—because there was a “right way” to do it—I would place the ceramic figures of Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus inside the little stable my grandfather had built years before. To the right—coming from “the east”—I would put the wise men, carrying their gifts. To the left were the wooden shepherds and their flock, and above them, hanging from fishing line, blue, pink, and yellow angels and a tiny golden star. The final step was to balance one, cherished greeting card on the edge of the mantle, a subtitle for the scene: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son…”
Ordinary things—porcelain and wood, metal and plastic—became beautiful in light of God’s love. The details occupied me, but the big picture was always taken care of. Love is on the way. Love, in Christ, is here.
Prayer - Holy one, help us to see that love is the big picture—your ultimate will for us. Help us to know that we are loved in Christ and empower us by your Spirit to love others well. AMEN.
Written by Claire Berry, Associate Pastor at WHPC
As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. John 15:9
I love cooking and hosting holiday meals. For 20 years, Al and I had large homes, and consistently hosted Thanksgiving and Christmas for our children, their significant others, in-laws and parents, family and friends. When we sold our home and began to live apart in small spaces, we went years without such celebrations. Thanksgiving of 2017 Al and I decided to invite our immediate family into our apartment in South Austin for a holiday meal. It was a crazy idea because there was not enough space, and most of our dishes and holiday “entertaining” equipment remained in storage. I tried to focus on the importance of being together, and not on the limited meal I would be preparing. Then came the phone call. A week before thanksgiving, Al’s renewal brothers called. They wouldn’t take no for an answer. They made sure that all of the traditional thanksgiving items would be on our table that day – that the things I didn’t have room or space to cook would be there. As we sat down to eat a holiday meal with my family, at my table, for the first time in 8 years, their gift was one of pure love.
Prayer - Gracious God, come close to us and bring us love. Amen
Written by Stacy Ikard, Senior Associate Pastor at WHPC
If I speak in tongues of human beings and of angels but I don’t have love, I’m a clanging gong or a clashing cymbal. 1 Corinthians 13:1
The commentary in the CEB Study Bible states that “love involves commitment to and concern for the well-being of others to whom one is attached. Love is the key characteristic necessary for the members of a church community to function smoothly and harmoniously.”
Last year my husband Bill and I were the fortunate recipients of the love and care of the WHPC Deaconate. From the time we received the sad news of Bill’s cancer diagnosis and throughout the journey of treatments, and his death, we received weekly cards with prayers and words of encouragement. One day, with tears in his eyes, Bill said “they don’t even know me.” My reply was “but they know and love me, so they love and care about you too.”
No clanging gongs or clashing cymbals necessary. Just the behind-the-scenes, loving care of God’s humble people.
Prayer - Loving God, give us compassionate hearts to share Your hope, peace, joy and love.
Written by Teresa Ward, Director of Engagement at WHPC
And Above all these put love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. Colossians 3:14
For every moment of discord and chaos at the dinner table during a family dinner on the holidays, at some point or another, there are moments when everything just clicks. Good food (or at least edible food on some occasions) lines the table, laughter hangs in the air, chairs are filled, and warmth just seems to radiate from the space as all is well. What I have come to notice is that the sacrificial commitment of love is what drives these moments to fruition. A mother’s commitment to peel potatoes by hand for homemade scalloped potatoes on the table shows this love. The commitment by each family member to drive the 100 miles to meet at the table shows this love. Even the commitment to finish a joke while it woefully falls apart shows the love that really binds those moments together in perfect harmony. In this season of advent, God is preparing the table for us to celebrate what is the greatest act of sacrificial commitment there could ever be: to be revealed in a moment of perfect harmony in the person of Jesus.
Prayer - Gracious God, come close to us and bring us love. Amen.
Written by Spencer Blacklock, Middle School Director at WHPC