Advent/ Christmas Disability Devotional for Disability Ministries Committee of the United Methodist Church
Working Title: Room at the Inn: Christmas Reflections on Disability, Diversity, and Hope
Introduction: Thank you for your interest in taking part to create this Christmas/Advent Devotional for Disability Ministries of the United Methodist Church. This devotional resource will be given away as a digital product in exchange for a donation. All donations will be given to the Disability Ministries of the United Methodist Church.
By submitting your writing, you consent to allow the Disability Ministries Committee of the United Methodist Church to use your writing for this project. No financial compensation will be provided to authors. We are grateful for your contribution.
Once you have selected your scripture verse, email me at secretary@umcdmc and I will remove it from the list so no one else take it. Then, submit your writing by January 1, 2024 to firstname.lastname@example.org as a WORD DOCUMENT or a .RTF file. Once your writing has been received, you will receive an email back as confirmation. We will work on editing the project throughout the winter and summer and have a final project available by Advent of 2024.
Your piece should include:
- Your Name as you want it printed. Note: Authors must be members of The United Methodist Church (either clergy or laity).
- A brief biography about yourself and/or other writing credits (75-100 words)
- The Scripture Verse you have selected (Options can be found here on this page. As options are claimed, I will delete them from the website. If you have a different verse in mind, just let me know so that we don’t end up with repeats.)
- Your devotional (500-1200 words)
- A closing prayer: (100-200 words)
- For an example, see the bottom of this page
Select one of the following verses (Or one of your own choosing):
2. Isaiah 11:1-10 – “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him… He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
3. Isaiah 42:1-9 – “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his teaching the islands will put their hope
3. Isaiah 9:6: For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
4. Matthew 1:23 – “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
5. Isaiah 40:3-5: A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
6. Mark 1:4-5 John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
7. Luke 11:46b-53: “My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.
8. Luke 1:26-27: In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary
9. Luke 1:36-37 And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.”
10. Luke 1:38: Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
11. Matthew 11:2-6: When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”
12. Matthew 1:18-20: Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.
13. Matthew 1:24-25: When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus
14: Isaiah 9:2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness on them light has shined.
15. Luke 2:8-12: In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see–I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”
16. Luke 2:13-14: And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
17. Luke 2:15-18: When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them.
18. Luke 2:19 But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.
19. Luke 2:20: The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
20. Isaiah 60:1 Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
21: Matthew 2:1-2: In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.”
22. Matthew 2:6: And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.'”
23: Matthew 2:10: When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy.
24. Matthew 2:11: On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
25. Isaiah 52:7: How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
WRITING SAMPLE FOR CHRISTMAS/ADVENT DEVOTIONAL
Name: Rev. Rebecca L. Holland, M.Div. OSL
Biography (75-100 words): Rev. Rebecca L. (Torres) Holland is a visually impaired, Filipino American clergywoman serving in Central Pennsylvania. She is an ordained elder in the Untied Methodist Church and a member of the Order of St. Luke. She is the author of Through My Good Eye: A Memoir in Verse, The United Methodist Church and Disability, and Hope for the Broken: Using Writing to Find God’s Grace. She blogs about faith, books, and disability awareness at BeckieWrites.com
Luke 2:5-7: He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
Devotional (500-1200 words):
“You can’t sit with us,” was a refrain I constantly heard as a young, half-blind, half-Filipino girl growing up in a mostly white town in Central Pennsylvania. I heard it in the cafeteria, in the classroom, and on the playground. My peers told me, in plain language as well as with social cues, that I simply wasn’t accepted and that I did not belong. My school years were fiercely lonely and incredibly difficult.
For most of my life as a young person, I felt as if there was no room for me. I was born with a rare eye condition that caused me to lose almost half of my vision by the time I was four years old. More than anything else, my disability separated me from other people my age. I (literally) viewed the world differently than everyone else my age. .
The only place I found meaning and belonging was at church. I grew up with a single mother, but having a church family was like having an entire extended family I could call my own. At our small United Methodist Church, I felt like I truly belonged. Church was the place where people said, “Come, sit with us!” There is a photo of me, too young to fit an adult choir robe so I was wearing an acolyte robe instead, smiling broadly and standing in the middle of the choir. In church, I could be exactly as God made me.
Growing up, I heard the stories of Jesus and they sank into my heart. I remember sitting in the pew on Sunday morning, next to my grandmother, and hearing the Pastor talk about Jesus and how he came to help the outcast, the poor, the downtrodden, and the brokenhearted. In many ways I was blessed as a child—I never knew true hunger, I always had a warm home to call my own, and my mother worked hard to provide us with a comfortable life. But in many ways, my heart knew the pain of physical ill health as well as longing to be accepted and seen as truly human.
Within the family of God, I have found acceptance and a home. My call to ministry is rooted in this sense of love and belonging. I want to give other people with disabilities the same opportunity to find the same sense of wholeness in shalom in church as I discovered all those years ago.
When God put on flesh and stepped down to be among us, he did not choose to be born in a palace surrounded by worldly comforts. Instead, he chose to be born in a barn with a humble manger as his crib. A manger, which is a food trough for animals, is fitting because it shows that Jesus came to be bread for the world. This verse also reminds us that Jesus himself was also on the margins, and that he understands what it is like to be excluded and overlooked.
Jesus choosing to be born in a stable shows us that that God’s love is not limited to those who are comfortable or powerful. Rather, God’s love is for all people, no matter their race, ability level, or socioeconomic status. We are all God’s children and we are all part of the family of God.
The church is called to be the place where all people, including members of the disability community, feel welcomed and valued. Jesus’s ministry here on earth shows that he had a special place in his heart for the poor, the marginalized, the sick, and the outcast. He did not turn anyone away, but instead offered them love and acceptance. How can we work as individuals and churches to make our worshipping space and our communities welcome and radically inclsuvie for all God’s children?
As we prepare for Christmas, let us remember that Jesus was born in a humble and lowly place, and that he understands what it is like to be on the margins. Let us also strive to make our churches and communities places where all people, including those with disabilities, feel welcomed and valued. May we open our hearts and our doors to those who are often overlooked, and may we reflect the love of Christ in all that we do.