We hope you enjoy the resources below and find ways to celebrate with family and friends during the holiday season. Many friends of Montreat lent their talents to help create this year’s collection, we thank them for their time and thoughtful contributions. In addition to the names listed throughout, much appreciation to Celeste Crowe from our Marketing department and Emma Goldrick and Martha Todd Sloan from our Development office, all of whom worked behind the scenes to bring this collection to life. Finally, each and every one of us at Montreat Conference Center wishes you and yours a Blessed Christmas and a Joyous New Year! To subscribe to the weekly release of the collection, visit this link.

Find 2021’s Christmas Collection at this link – The 12 Days of Montreat. Find 2020’s collection at this link – Montreat’s 2020 Christmas Collection.

First Sunday of Advent

Revised Common Lectionary:

First Reading – Isaiah 2:1-5
Psalm – 122:1-9
Second Reading – Romans 13:11-14
Gospel – Matthew 24:36-44

Pray For Peace

An Advent devotion by Rev. Byron Wade, Executive Presbyter of Presbytery of Western North Carolina

The season of Advent is one of preparation and expectation. Many people are excited by the smells and tastes of sumptuous food and desserts, giving and receiving of gifts, and spending time with one another. However, many are seeking the one thing that seems so elusive in our lives. The Psalmist in Psalm 122:8 says:

“For the sake of my relatives and friends I will say, ‘Peace be within you.’”

It is commonly known that this Psalm was sung by those who were making their way to Jerusalem to worship. They also had an expectation of joy as they met one another on this pilgrimage to the holy city. It was a moment in time within their week to reflect on the goodness of God in the midst of the ups and downs they faced in everyday life.  

As they “enter the house of the Lord” and their feet are “standing within your (the Lord’s) gates” (Psalm 122:1), they are assured of God’s presence and peace. They are expecting to hear the word of the Lord calling them to “give thanks to the name of the Lord” (Psalm 122:4). The people are called to give thanks not only for the establishment of God’s judgment but also for the unity of all the tribes of Israel.  

Yet the central point of this psalm is the concept of God’s peace. The Psalmist calls for the people to pray for peace in four ways. The first is to “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:6), the holy city. Secondly, the people are to pray for those who are in our cities. “Peace be within your walls” (verse 6) that they may be a shelter for those who are lost, homeless, or otherwise lacking resources, and a call for those who are leaders to rule justly. Third, “for the sake of my relatives and friends I will say “Peace be within you” (Psalm 122:8). The people of God are called to assure others that God’s peace is within them. Whenever they are going through times of anxiety and trouble, they are comforted by the fact that God’s peace is already present within them. And finally, knowing that God’s peace is present, the people are called to “seek your good” (Psalm 122:9), working for peace, justice, and the safety of others. 

In this time of uncertainty and chaos, may we celebrate with joy and expectation the coming of the Prince of Peace into the world.

Glory to God 373; O Day of Peace that Dimly Shines

Chosen by Dr. Mel Bringle, Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Brevard College

Activity – Mountain Cookies

Provided by Sarah Peters

This week’s activity is based on our text from Isaiah, “Come let me go to the mountain of the Lord…” Bake and decorate your own mountain cookies to enjoy as you study this passage! 

Second Sunday of Advent

Revised Common Lectionary:

First Reading – Isaiah 11: 1-10
Psalm – 72: 1-7, 18-19
Second Reading – Romans 15: 4-13
Gospel – Matthew 3: 1-12

An Advent Devotion

Based on the readings from Isaiah and Matthew
Contributed by Margaret LaMotte Torrence, Swannanoa, NC

Sitting by my woodstove with a stack of books, trying to find a way into the wilderness of Advent, I was startled by a family of five bears, just outside the window. As long as they stayed, I was transfixed, my plans for the day forgotten. Though I have lived in these mountains for twenty years, I still find such encounters wondrous. I take photos, call out to anyone in the house, relive the details over supper. I also wonder how often I miss the visits these creatures make as they glean berries, rummage through the woodpile, and take shortcuts through the yard we have staked. When I am turned away, I rarely know that they have come.  

The season of Advent urges us to notice where our attention lies. These holy days invite us to attend, not only to what our eyes see and our ears hear, but to God’s vision for all creation. On this second Sunday of Advent, with the words of Isaiah still sounding in the room, John the Baptist is our guide. John is singularly equipped for the task. We remember from Luke’s account that even in his mother’s womb, John was attuned to the nearness of God.  

Now grown, John speaks from the precarity of the wilderness, where humanity’s vulnerable nature finds sharp relief. He wastes no words, proclaiming “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” As listeners, we hear those words and focus on our pasts, steeling our hearts against all that has gone wrong. But John’s initial focus isn’t backwards, and it isn’t on us. John first wants his listeners to notice what God is doing in the present moment. John says, in effect, “Turn and see. Be riveted by an encounter, a relationship, that will put all else into perspective. Join yourselves to this.”  

John warns that this relationship is not one we can presume or inherit. We must choose this life we are being offered, knowing that it will strip us of our illusions and all that insulates us from each other. The God who meets us in the wilderness is committed to a reordering of relationships for the sake of the whole beloved creation, with all the pain and possibility that entails. During Advent and always, we are invited to keep watch and—with the Spirit’s strength—to find our place in that purpose.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, 
so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13

Glory to God 77; Isaiah the Prophet Has Written of Old

Chosen by Dr. Mel Bringle, Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Brevard College

Activity – Lamb Crafts

Provided by Mary Ellen Porter

This week’s crafts are based on our text from Isaiah 11:6: “The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.”

Third Sunday of Advent

Revised Common Lectionary:

First Reading – Isaiah 35:1-10
Psalm – 142:5-10
Second Reading – Romans 1:1-7
Gospel – Matthew 1:18-25

An Advent Devotion

Based on the scripture lesson from Luke
Contributed by Rev. Lewis Galloway, Retired Senior Pastor, Second Presbyterian Church, Indianapolis, IN

When the pregnant Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth, Elizabeth recognizes that the child Mary is carrying is the fulfillment of God’s promises to deliver Israel. Mary responds with the hymn of praise we know as the Magnificat. It has often been called the most revolutionary word in the Bible. Mary praises God who acts in a broken and hurting world to reverse the order of things: the proud are brought low, the weak are lifted up, the powerful are brought down, and the hungry are fed. God acts to restore life, to bring about justice, and to save all people.  

Advent is about anticipating the many ways in which God continues to act in our lives and in our world to fulfill the promises of the Bible. It is easy to see only the brokenness in our lives, our relationships, our communities, and our world. When that is all we see, we despair. In Advent, we not only anticipate that final day when Christ shall return and make all things new, but we also look around us and see the Holy Spirit at work fulfilling the words of Mary. When we perceive the Spirit at work we can trust the words of the prophet Isaiah, “Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are of a fearful heart, ‘Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God’” (Isaiah 35: 3-4). When we perceive the movement of the Holy Spirit we are lifted from fear to faith.

Glory to God 100; My Soul Cries Out with a Joyful Shout

Chosen by Dr. Mel Bringle, Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Brevard College

Activity – Lantern Craft

Provided by Sarah Peters

This week’s crafts are based on our text from Isaiah 2:5: “Come, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord.”

Fourth Sunday of Advent

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Christmas Eve

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