Advent 2021

Witness: Sunday, December 19, 2021

Double Feature Sunday, December 19, 2021

Weekly Theme: Love


Witness #1: Susan Yinger 

Scripture: Matthew 1:23

“The Virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”

In 1989, as a wife and working mother of three, I was also a breast cancer patient.  At one point, I was receiving chemotherapy and radiation simultaneously.  It was challenging to balance my work, family, emotions, and health care and drive forty miles round trip daily to get to the treatment center.  Clinging to the scripture, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13), I also buoyed my spirit by listening to Christian music on the car cassette player.  Songs such as “We shall behold Him” and “The Lord is my strength and my Salvation” helped me to grow in faith and trust.  The Hymn “Great is thy faithfulness” was my favorite.  

One particular day, however, I was feeling tired and dejected.  I hoped that didn’t mean my faith was faltering.  Not only was I worried about having cancer, but there were also all sorts of other things going on that day: the car air conditioning stopped working on a sweltering south Florida day, I hadn’t slept well the night before, I had forgotten my lunch, and I realized I only had seventy-five cents in my purse, barely enough to use at the drive-through McDonalds! After a tedious radiation session, while on my way home, I made a sudden decision to pull into a grocery store in what was considered to be a dangerous area in Riviera Beach.  Little did I know I would find far more sustenance than just something to eat!!!!

First, a woman at the deli counter who seemed to radiate God’s love kindly assessed my situation and said that although sandwiches were $1.50, she would make me half a sandwich for seventy-five cents.  While she heaped extra contents into my “half” sandwich, the store’s Mu-Zak loudspeaker began playing “Great is thy faithfulness, great is thy faithfulness, morning by morning new mercies I see….” Suddenly, at a random Winn Dixie in a “bad” part of town, I felt like I was standing on Holy Ground.  God sought me out and spoke directly to me just when I needed Him most.  I was reassured of His presence and His love.

The song’s final words, “all that I needed thy hand hath provided,” were still going through my head as I, with restored faith and trust, greeted my children joyfully just as they hopped off the school bus.

Daily Prayer: Father God, thank you for being God with us – Immanuel.  Thank you for Jesus our Savior and for the comfort of the Holy Spirit.  Thank you for pulling us back into your fold when we falter.  Amen.

Discussion/Reflection Questions:

  1. Have you experienced “God with you”?
  2. Have you ever sensed that times of difficulty led you to greater spiritual growth and faith?
  3. Do you think it would be helpful to others to share your stories?  

Witness #2: Marilyn Booth

Scripture: Luke 6:38

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

As my dad was weakening from cancer, he became bedridden.  Our family resolved to take care of him at home, which is not an easy task.  It took my sister, nephew, two hired caregivers, and me to pull this off.  We took such great care that he outlived his doctor’s expected timeline and almost used up the entire year of Hospice care.  During this time, Daddy told us many stories of his childhood and shared so many memories.  One that sticks out in my mind was the story of Christmas when he was about eleven.  His family consisted of my Granddaddy and Nanny, my dad, his older sister, and twin younger brothers.  My granddad has gotten sick.  I don’t know all the illness details – I remember my mom saying he had a nervous breakdown, but Grandaddy could not run his barbershop in Leesburg.  He had done well and had the family home and a rental property.  He often didn’t collect the rent on the rental because the family couldn’t afford it.  My Nanny began selling her valuables to make ends meet and called my dad and his sister, Dorothy, in for a serious talk just before Christmas.  She told them not to expect anything since there was no money coming in and Granddaddy couldn’t work.  She told them to make the best of the situation, promised that they would have food, and help the twins understand.  The kids were all disappointed that they wouldn’t get any candy or a toy of some kind, but as my dad said, that’s just how it was.

 On Christmas Eve, after dark, Daddy told me they heard a noise on the porch and went out to see what it was.  On the porch were several wooden boxes containing a ham, fruits and vegetables, pies, and a fruit cake.  Another box had new clothing for the kids and a toy for each of them.  Knowing the hardship they were going through, their neighbors had banded together, and all had contributed to this Christmas gift for the entire family.  At the age of 90, my Dad was still so touched by this act of generosity and caring.  I often saw him give to others the same way.   I like to think that this molded him into the generous man he was.

Daily Prayer:  Lord, help us to see the needs of others every day, not just at special times of the year.  Thank you, our Savior, for giving us the most generous gift of all.  Amen.

Discussion/Reflection Questions:

  1. How observant are we to our neighbor’s struggles?
  2. How can we as a community of believers live out the generosity of Christ?
  3. How can we make our Holidays more meaningful in this world of excess?

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