Advent Devotion: For us…

Written by Ginny Karnas Narrated by Cole Severns

Scripture:  Peace is what I leave with you; it is My own peace that I give you.  I do not give it as the world does.  Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.”  (John 14:27)

MeditationWhen we moved to Fredericksburg in 1991 our two daughters were in the middle of fourth and seventh grades.  After a few days in their new school it became very apparent that our younger daughter was having great difficulty adjusting.  There were many tears and a real dread of going to school.  Despite the fact that my husband and I had prayed about and felt a definite calling to move to Virginia, I began to be upset regarding our daughter’s distress and to feel somehow that God was asking us to sacrifice our children’s well-being for this calling we had answered.  Each morning I practically begged God to give each of them a good day at school.

Then came my peace.  I had a devotional book that contained a passage about Abraham who, of course, was asked by God to take his precious and only son, Isaac, up the mountain to be offered up as a sacrifice to God.  The author of the passage, Carlo Carretto, writes that:

God,  wrapt round the colossal figure of this patriarch alone in the desert, . . . wants to communicate with the depths of Abraham’s being and tear him from himself and his involvement with his own  problems, which are like self-centered possessions; He wants to make this creature of His “more His,”  this man who is destined not for the tents of earth, but for those of Heaven.  So God asks of him an absurd trial, as love is absurd for anyone who does not live it, but as true and relentless as love for anyone who possesses it. . ..  What a drama was in the poor heart of that man!  God had asked the supreme sacrifice. If Abraham had had to turn the knife on himself it would have been easier!

My peace came as I believed that through this passage God was saying to me, “Remember, Ginny, that Abraham did not end up having to sacrifice his son, and neither will you be sacrificing your daughters.  Everything is going to be okay.”  And peace came, too, as the passage reminded me of God’s awesome presence always, but especially when He is asking us to do something that’s really hard for us to do.  There are times when God does ask us to complete other kinds of sacrifices, but this time God wanted Abraham’s trust, not his son.  That assurance gave me great peace.

The peace continued to flow as our Pastor Emeritus, Howard Cates, paid a visit with a deck of Uno cards and his loving support.  Soon he had our daughter talking and laughing again as she played Uno with a new friend she could trust in this new place.  And then Howard’s wife, Betty Jo, had us all over for dinner, and we played Uno again!  God had wrapped His arms around all of us through Howard and Betty Jo.  And God continued to show His presence throughout our future years in Fredericksburg, giving both our girls a true home, and blessing us in countless ways.

Abraham was spared the sacrifice of his son, but God willingly gave the ultimate sacrifice of His precious and only Son for us.  What will we give Him in return this Christmas?

What can I give Him, poor as I am?

If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;

If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;

Yet what I can I give Him:  give my heart.      (Christina G. Rossetti)

PrayerHoly God and Giver of peace and salvation, thank You for the very intimate ways You care for us and give us Your peace.  May we in turn be instruments of Your peace, spreading it to others as we journey onward.  Amen.

Let’s Talk About Sex: Week 10

This is the tenth session of our fall 2015 Wednesday night Adult series. Our topic this week is “How to Talk to your Teenagers about Sex and Sexuality.” We’re making these podcasts available if you are unable to join us on Wednesday nights in the fellowship hall. You are also invited to join us on Sunday mornings from 9:30 to 10:15am in the parlor to discuss the previous Wednesday’s topic. These sessions will be led by Rev. Kristen Koger.

Tentative Schedule for the Series

Introductions and Context
September 9
Week 1 – Introduction, Ground Rules, and Big Questions

September 16
Week 2 – Sexuality and Objectification in Contemporary Culture

Sex and Sexuality in the Bible
September 23
Week 3 – Sex and Sexuality in the Old Testament, part 1

September 30
Week 4 – Sex and Sexuality in the Old Testament, part 2

October 7
Week 5 – Sex and Sexuality in the New Testament, part 1

October 14
Week 6 – Sex and Sexuality in the New Testament, part 2

Healthy Sexual Relationships Today
October 21
Week 7 – The Biology of Sexuality

October 28
Week 8 – Sex and Marriage

November 4
Week 9 – How to Talk to your Young Children about Sex and Sexuality

November 11
Week 10 – How to Talk to your Teenagers about Sex and Sexuality

November 18
Week 11 – How to have Difficult Conversations

December 2
Week 12 – Dealing with Shame and Guilt

December 9
Week 13 – Toward a New Theology of Sexuality (Closing session)