DEAR Chapel Springs Family,


We allow many things to shape our schedules and lives—ball games, dance classes, work demands, family responsibilities and the school calendar, just to name a few. Advent is our invitation to let Jesus’ first coming shape our daily and weekly schedule as we wait for Christmas to arrive.

Since the fourth century, the Church has celebrated Advent, which comes from a Latin word that means “coming” or “arrival.” Advent is the four weeks before Christmas when we prepare for Jesus’ coming— celebrating His first coming and expecting His soon second coming. It is also a time to consider and look for how He continues to come to us in our daily lives.
God is a God of communication and words. Throughout the ages He has communicated to us through the written Word, the spoken word and the Incarnate Word. The Christmas story reminds us that God chose to speak into our lives by sending His Son to directly communicate His message of forgiveness, grace and mercy. Jesus was God’s greatest prophet, declaring that a new day had come; a new way had been made; a new relationship had been forged. Jesus announced a new season of hope, joy, love and peace.

Yet, at this time of year, Jesus’ voice is often drowned out by the “sounds of the season”—commercials for the newest fad toy, silver bells and red kettles, 24/7 Christmas music, and invitations to parties, plays and concerts. Add to these, the multitude of other voices clamoring to be heard—bloggers, politicians, astrologers, newscasters, fortune-tellers, musicians, authors and psychics —each one believing they have a relevant “word” for us and insisting that we listen closely to their key idea, fresh insight or thought for the day.

We will not likely hear the voice of the Lord until we pull away from the hustle and bustle of the season and quiet our hearts in His presence. There, in those quiet places, when we are still and hushed, He speaks and we hear His voice. He calls us to himself, assures us of His love and speaks peace over our lives. In those moments, we find rest in His presence and strength for our day. His words produce joy and instill hope, providing guidance and direction for our future. He re- veals himself to us, not just as the babe of Bethlehem, but also as the Word of the Lord. is Advent, may we take time to listen to Him!

-Devotional Writer: Pastor Doug Chapman

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WEEK ONE


A royal birth, especially a king, is customarily heralded with official proclamations, accompanied by trumpet fanfare and wild cheers throughout the kingdom. Think of the birth of Prince William, future king of England, and his own son a few years ago. Announcements and pictures of each wondrous infant were instantly flashed around the world through news sources and social media; the entire world rejoiced.

Yet the King of Kings did not make His entry to such fanfare. News of His quiet arrival was announced by angels to astonished shepherds on a quiet hill among their sheep. Jesus’ birth took place not in earthly luxury in a royal palace, but in a stable surrounded by animals, where He was wrapped in cloths and laid in a trough, an indication of the humility that would characterize His sacrificial servanthood to fallen humanity.

The term “servant king” rings with irony. A king is an absolute ruler, to whom his subjects owe unquestioned deference, sacrifice and service. Yet Jesus reigns by a different standard in what some have called an “upside down Kingdom” where the first would be last and the greatest would be servants.

Jesus came to show us how to live in a Kingdom that serves. During His last night on earth, our Servant-King startled His disciples by removing His robe and approaching them, not with a scepter but with a towel and basin, kneeling before them to wash their feet from the dirt of the day’s journey and the world itself. Now He asks us to demonstrate His Kingdom by serving each other, too.

-Devotional Writer: Peggy Scolaro

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WEEK TWO


Perhaps you grew up learning to “forgive and forget” when someone offended you. Perhaps you swept things under the carpet, carried on with life, and simply avoided certain people. Perhaps in time you forgot about it, thinking that forgetting equals forgiving, and therefore you reconciled your differences. Is it possible to separate the relationship between forgiveness and reconciliation?

Gerald Taiaiake Alfred wrote of a tribe whose village was massacred in the early nineteenth century. One of the enslaved tribesmen, Caribou Jack, was later freed, given a canoe and his personal belongings to return to his tribe of origin, where they welcomed and cared for him. The ravaged tribe forgave the offense and reconciled with the offending people. They now work together toward like causes.

Like Caribou Jack and his people, we were ravaged by sin that made us enemies of God. We see God’s plan of reconciliation with humanity as early as Genesis 3:15, culminating at the cross and resurrection of Jesus. In 2 Corinthians 5:17-21, Paul reveals God’s two-part restoration plan, which includes Jesus Christ and humanity. Now that Jesus—our great High Priest—has satisfied His assignment and reconciled God and humanity through the ultimate sacrifice, forgiving sin at the cross, He calls us to fulfill the second part as ambassadors.

We are participants in this reunion with an assignment: the ministry of reconciliation. Jesus was about the Father’s business (Luke 2:49), and we are now called to do the same. We cannot reconcile our relationship with others without first forgiving. We cannot reconcile political, gender, racial and cultural differences without first forgiving. What might you do this Advent season to forgive and bring reconciliation in one of these areas?

-Devotional Writer: Regina Clemons

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WEEK THREE


Withdraw. It is the response we often have when confronted with the evil and brokenness of humanity. In early October 2017 a lone gunman opened fire on a crowd of concert goers. Into a sea of celebration steps one who is filled with rage and the result is devastating. We begin to think we should not go to concerts or anywhere else that might pose a risk. We tighten our social circle to a small group of trusted individuals. It is part of our humanity to pull in and protect.

But Jesus was different. In Matthew 14, Jesus got word that his cousin, John the Baptist, had been brutally executed by the rulers of Palestine. It wasn’t enough just to kill John, his head had to be placed on a platter and presented at a party. Gruesome. Grievous. Jesus immediately sought some alone time to deal with his grief, but the multitudes followed him. How did he respond? He “saw the multitude, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick” (Matthew 14:14). He knew there was evil in this crowd—and brokenness—but He didn’t withdraw. He pressed in. His heart of love and compassion motivated him to both see and care despite the reality of evil, hatred, anger and brokenness.

And Jesus lives in us! His heart is our heart. Our world is filled with broken, hurting people who are waiting for someone to choose not to withdraw, but to press in. This Advent provides a great opportunity to see and care for people. Choose to press in.

-Devotional Writer: Bob Perdue

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WEEK FOUR