Daily Devotions

We are thrilled to once again be sharing a daily devotion with you for the season of Advent. These inspiring devotions have been written by YOU the members of Good Shepherd.  A sincere “thank you” to everyone who opened their hearts to share a small piece of their faith journey with us.   As we journey toward Bethlehem in this season, take time each day to walk with God and experience the stirrings of the deep love that took on flesh to walk with us.  

During the four week Advent season, each Wednesday our devotion will be a video reflection by Dr. Kevin Seal, Director of Worship and Music at Good Shepherd, as he shares a teaching about the Words and Music of Advent.

Each new day’s devotion will go live directly on our webpage, goodshepherd.com at 6am, (look under the worship tab at the top right of the front page) or you can follow the link that will be sent out later each morning in an email from Good Shepherd.  

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church

Daily Devotion by Kellie Grabenbauer

All hearts go home at Christmas. For me, home is a small town in Iowa; the kind that “rolls up the streets at night” as my Dad would say. I can picture the quiet town, the inviting warmth of our small church’s candlelight service, and the fields stretching to the north, stars dotting the sky above. This vision is why O Little Town of Bethlehem is one of my favorite hymns. 

O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.

Yet in the dark streets shineth, the everlasting light
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight

These words were written by renowned preacher and Northern abolitionist Phillips Brooks in the years following the Civil War. Spiritually worn out and trying to make sense of the world, he arranged a sabbatical to the Middle East. In Bethlehem on Christmas Eve 1865, he wondered at his overwhelming connection to the time and place of Christ’s birth. His experience in the remote village that evening later inspired his lyrics.* 

It’s that last line of this verse that resonates with me these days. 

The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

AND is a powerful word. It gives equal weight to what comes before and after. Hopes AND fears. Human experience means we encounter both joy and struggle on a daily basis. In this way, we’re not so different from our ancient friends. The bible is peppered with stories of people whose faith was tested, people who had questions, people who suffered. AND yet they had faith, AND love for each other, AND the peace that comes from knowing God. Jesus came to us, baby AND king, human AND divine, to meet us where we are. As Christians, we celebrate Christmas AND Easter. One doesn’t make sense without the other. Having an AND in my faith journey keeps me returning to the manger and the cross - AND is the space in-between where my faith grows. 

I feel the past and the future stretched out from a single point on Christmas Eve. His birth has been celebrated across centuries, from grand cathedrals to simple churches. For me, lighting the Silent Night candles is where “all the years are met in thee tonight.” It’s a communion of saints, where my pew gets a little crowded with those I hold in my heart. Though my grandparents and mom are gone, I can see their candlelit eyes in the faces of my children. I know from the flurry of texts that my siblings are bundling their own kids into services across the country. It’s not a stretch to picture my near-grown children doing the same in the future. Like Phillips Brooks, each generation lays its own hopes and fears at the manger in Bethlehem. 

During this season, I’ll take a deep breath, gather up my ANDs, and carry them to a little town in the past. Where will your heart go this Christmas? 

*Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas. Ace Collins. 2001 

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2 comments on article "Daily Devotion by Kellie Grabenbauer"

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Heidi Johnson

These past 2 years have been difficult in so many ways for so many people. It's good to be reminded of our "ANDS"!

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Buzz Dorward

One of the best devotions I have read. So thought-provoking. I was sad when I got to the end!!

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«January 2022»

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