Following the Star


Advent is a time of waiting. It is a time to prepare for the coming of Christ. But waiting doesn’t have to be boring, and preparation doesn’t have to be a chore.

Both can be filled with joy. And so we wait, with the joy of looking back and remembering God’s good works in the world and in our lives. And we prepare, bubbling with the delight-filled anticipation of setting up the party for an honored guest.

In hope, in trust, in thanksgiving, in joy let us lay our hearts before God.


Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-22


I call the cruddy days, “soap-dish days.” As a college freshman, I was mid-heartbreak, behind on everything, and had lost an election, when I dropped my soap in the shower. Leaning to grab it, I hit my head and finally burst into tears. “Rejoice always,” our scripture says. It seems impossible! How do you rejoice on the soap-dish days? Or the days that are darker, scarier, lonelier than the soap-dish days?

But our scripture also says, “Hold fast to what is good.” If we hang on to the good news of God’s grace, to the ways we have seen God’s power in the crashing ocean, and the ways we have encountered God’s mercy in a friend’s perfect words, then on the days when the bad stuff won’t let us go, there is joy still to be had. We rejoice despite the hard stuff because we know that’s not the whole story. The story of Christ’s life is that God’s love wins. No matter what crud the world serves up, this is our comfort and our joy.

Shelli Latham


God of surprising love and endless grace, sometimes it is so hard to remember the Good News with all the bad news crashing around us. In those moments that seem the darkest, O God, whisper the promises of your love in my ear that I may remember your hope and your love, so that joy and thanks may never be far from my heart. Amen.


“Turn around and believe that the good news that we are loved is better than we ever dared hope, and that to believe in that good news, to live out of it and toward it, to be in love with that good news, is of all glad things in this world the gladdest thing of all. Amen, and come Lord Jesus.”

Frederick Buechner