Advent Devotional | 1st Saturday in Advent | Year C | December 5th, 2015

Luke 9:1-6

Then Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. He said to them, ‘Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money—not even an extra tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there, and leave from there. Wherever they do not welcome you, as you are leaving that town shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.’ They departed and went through the villages, bringing the good news and curing diseases everywhere.

Periodically, during the season of Advent, we look forward to what God will do by looking backward to what God has already done.  In today's text, we hear of instructions that Jesus gives to his disciples as they go about doing the work that they are called to do.

Yesterday, we journeyed with Zechariah and learned that there is a time for silence.  Today, we journey with Jesus and are reminded that there is a time for action.  (NOTE:  the two do not have to be mutually exclusive!).

Advent is a time to practice prayerful actions.  The disciples were called to preach the gospel in word and in deed.  A case can be made that the disciples' primary job (or, at least, the one they do the most) is the latter of the two.  They go from village to village doing good deeds, healing the sick.  Sometimes they are welcomed.  Sometimes they are not.  Regardless of the way they are received, they are called nevertheless to practice their faith with concrete acts of justice and reconciliation.

What concrete acts of justice and reconciliation is God calling you to embody this advent season?  Maybe it's bringing a broken family together.  Maybe it's volunteering at your local homeless shelter.  Maybe it's not speaking to someone but, instead, listening with an intentional ear.  Maybe it's just doing something kind to someone who looks like they could use it.  

Whatever it is, know that God has commissioned you to do particular acts of goodness and grace.

Prayer of the Day:
God of Justice and Joy,
help me practice what I believe in the coming day.
Give me confidence to follow your Word into the world,
and to go where it leads.
Thank you for your son, Jesus Christ,
who teaches us to be attentive to the needs of the world.  Amen.


Stephen Fearing

Stephen was born in 1988 in Cookeville, TN, where his parents met whilst attending Tennessee Tech. Shortly after, they moved to Dalton, Georgia where they put down roots and joined First Presbyterian Church, the faith family that taught Stephen that he was first and foremost a beloved child of God. It was this community that taught Stephen that it was OK to have questions and doubts and that nothing he could do could every possibly separate him from the love of God. In 1995, his sister, Sarah Kate, joined the family and Stephen began his journey as a life-long musician. Since then, he has found a love of music and has found this gift particularly fitting for his call to ministry. Among the instruments that he enjoys are piano, trumpet, guitar, and handbells. Stephen has always had a love of singing and congregation song. An avid member of the marching band, Stephen was the drum major of his high school's marching band. In 2006, Stephen began his tenure at Presbyterian College in Clinton, SC where he majored in Religion and minored in History. While attending PC, Stephen continued to explore his love of music by participating in the Wind Ensemble, Jazz Band, Jazz Combo, Jazz Trio, as well as playing in the PC Handbell ensemble and playing mandolin and banjo PC's very own bluegrass/rock group, Hosegrass, of which Stephen was a founding member (Hosegrass even released their own CD!). In 2010, Stephen moved from Clinton to Atlanta to attend Columbia Theological Seminary to pursue God's call on his life to be a pastor in the PC(USA). During this time, Stephen worked at Trinity Presbyterian Church, Silver Creek Presbyterian Church, Central Presbyterian Church, and Westminster Presbyterian Church. For three years, Stephen served as the Choir Director of Columbia Theological Seminary's choir and also served as the Interim Music Director at Westminster Presbyterian Church. In 2014, Stephen graduated from Columbia with a Masters of Divinity and a Masters of Arts in Practical Theology with an emphasis in liturgy, music, and worship. In July of 2014, Stephen was installed an ordained as Teaching Elder at Shelter Island Presbyterian Church in Shelter Island, NY. Later that year, Stephen married the love of his life, Tricia, and they share their home on Shelter Island with their Golden Doodle, Elsie, and their calico cat, Audrey. In addition to his work with the people who are Shelter Island Presbyterian Church, Stephen currently serves as a commission from Long Island Presbytery to the Synod of the Northeast and, beginning in January of 2016, will moderate the Synod's missions team.