Bonus Devotions

Bonus Devotions

Prayer                                                                                                             Leah Otte

Growing up, prayer was always pretty dominant in our family. Going to my grandparents’ house, we prayed before and after meals, first thing in the morning with daily devotions, and then before bed.

At my parents, prayer was also part of our daily lives. Prayer before and after meals, before bed, and an extra prayer for family & friends in need, our health, and crops, and livestock. And of course at church, Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, and at the beginning and end of every function at church.

What I didn’t know is that through this learning prayer while growing up, is that it would help me through so many life obstacles and also questioning God’s answers to some prayers and then the question of what is the proper way to pray.

I found myself in school praying about tests, friends, friends’ decisions, and why boys and girls had to be so mean.

Then I found myself praying for my nephew to fight for his life when he was born little and then he not making it. How could God be putting my brother and sister-in-law and all of us through this?

Then I found myself in tears praying for my dad’s health and the realization that he wasn’t going to get any better and I prayed for him, for peace on earth or peace in heaven, just give him peace. He died in the month of February which I came to realize that God knew that if planting season came along and that my dad had to be in a bed and not in the field, it would be even worse than the cancer he had.

Then I found myself in a cornfield behind my parents’ house screaming and questioning God when my nieces had to lose their parents at such a young age. And then turn around and my girl lost her mom, too.

Then I found myself praying for my family & others when family members were falsely accused. Why would anyone want to put someone through this when the story just isn’t true.

I have told God in my prayers that when it’s my turn to see him that I would like to have a conversation over a few things and an explanation. Well, he probably needs to talk to me as well. LOL

Some say I shouldn’t have got mad at God. Well, I wasn’t mad at him, just his decisions. Some say he wouldn’t listen to you, cause, you were screaming at him. Some say the prayer is more at church. I guess this is why I like to teach prayer in Sunday School. All prayers are important and no matter how it sounds, God is listening, and if you don’t know how or what to pray, but you know that prayer is needed, the Lord’s Prayer covers all!!

I think about what God gave us. He gave Jesus, a small baby laying in a manger. For us! Knowing, too, that he would be called names, spat on, talked about behind his back, judged unfairly, whipped & beaten, dying horribly at a young age leaving great grief on every friend & relative. God knows exactly what I was going through. God is there! He is listening! We turn it over to God!  God’s will be done!

Dear God, We thank you for listening to us no matter what.

We thank you for teaching us through your son Jesus Christ. Amen

Christmas Table Prayer

Dear Lord, as we gather around this meal so graciously provided by you, we pause to give you thanks for the greatest gift of all, the gift of the Christ Child on that first Christmas Day.

In fact Lord, while we celebrate this Holy Season in many ways we ask that above all you would grant us the joy of placing you first in our lives.

At Christmas and always we pray that the anthems of the Angels, the overflowing joy of the Shepherds, and the worship of the Wise Men would be ours, too.

Bless loved ones here as well as those who cannot be with us this day with love for the Christ Child and for all the children of the world.

Bless this food and this Christmas celebration for our good and to your glory.


Nativity Scenes and Christmas Pageants

(Excerpts from Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas)

The manger is one of two symbols that define the live of Jesus to both Christians and non-Christians. (The other one being the cross) The scene at the manger has always been clear in the minds of young and old because of nativity scenes. Nativity scenes were first carved and used as Christmas decorations in the Dark Ages. The first living nativity scene was put on by St. Francis of Assisi. It was probably made up of Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, and the shepherds. There probably were not any animals and no wise men. It was set up to be a teaching tool. The children were allowed to wander in the scene and sing songs that reflected the special event in history. As popularity of the nativity scene grew, it morphed into a nativity play. Instead of the shepherds just standing in the stable, they would arrive like they had been following a star. Other people were given parts that they embraced with sincere passion that had rarely been seen in the time period.

These nativity play became the precursors to our modern Christmas pageants. The the Victorian Era, St. Francis’ nativity play was adapted for worship spaces. This pageant often captured the drama and majesty better than any sermon or Sunday school lesson ever could.

In other countries, such as Mexico, Germany, Spain, and France, cities would put on citywide pageants where Mary and Joseph would have to search the city for a place to stay and the shepherds and wise men would search house to house in attempts to find the baby Jesus.

The popularity of the Nativity as a Christmas lawn decoration started after World War I and by the 1950’s there were many companies selling Nativity lawn decorations. Even with the commercialization of Christmas, the Nativity scene remains a vital part of the Christmas season.