First Presbyterian Church – Cedar Rapids

Advent Devotions

Many people think of Christmas as a time to focus on family, and the images of picture perfect family celebrations are everywhere for weeks beforehand. When our real-life families don’t measure up to the Hallmark cards, Norman Rockwell paintings, or Macy’s ads, we can feel disappointed, stressed or anxious. The good news is that Jesus was born into, not only a human body, but a human family that looks a lot like our own.

Through the days of Advent, we’ll be looking at Jesus’ family and our own, both for places of struggle and moments of grace. The stories offered in this devotional booklet are the family stories of some of the members of this congregation. They share times of joy, comforting traditions, reservoirs of strength, and occasions of welcome. They are offered to you as an opportunity to reflect on your own family, and the family we are building together as a church, as we are Becoming the Family of God.



  • December 24 - And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  (Luke 2:8-9, NIV) When our children were very small, we began a tradition of having a family […]
  • December 23 - Everyone has holiday traditions and even a Grinch like myself has to appreciate Christmas cookies. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve spent Saturdays making batch after batch of all different types of cookies. But there’s been one staple each year – the chocolate rice krispies. Essentially just cereal and melted chocolate these cookies are […]
  • December 22 – Holiday Traditions - Holiday traditions are important, but just as important is the ability to be flexible, creative and welcoming with those holiday traditions. Over the last three Christmases, my daughter and her partner have been at our home on Christmas morning. Everything is always wonderful, but this season I’ve been giving some thought to a sentimental tradition […]
  • December 21 - When considering a story to submit for this devotional opportunity, at first I refrained, as it was going to be “one more thing” that I was putting on my to do list   during the Christmas / advent season. A time of year which always seems to too busy, stressful, with no time to enjoy it. […]
  • December 20 – Becoming the Family of God - I have a blue baby blanket. It’s not that my parents were progressive gender-benders who gave me Tonka trucks, GI Joe’s, and a “boy’s blanket” – far from it. It was my brother’s blanket. The story my mom told me is that I had an (adorable/disgusting) habit of stuffing my pink baby blanket into my […]
  • December 19 - When I reflect upon Advent and the gifts of anticipation, patience, joy and revelation, I immediately think of two times in my life where those gifts were the most present.  Neither time was actually at Advent time, but in the early summer months while we were stationed in Germany.  My first born child was due […]
  • December 18 - For the past five years my family and I pack up our car and head up to northern Minnesota, to spend Thanksgiving with my Aunt Ann and her family.  We first started this tradition after my Uncle Jim passed away.  My mother wanted to spend time with her sister and family. We knew it would […]
  • December 17 - Night Visions: Searching the Shadows of Advent and Christmas Jan Richardson   BLESS THEM who wait with us who labor with us who cry out with us BLESS THEM who know our limits who push us beyond them who see us through BLESS THEM who call us to our strengths who tend us in our […]
  • December 16 -  To myself, a little girl in the 1950’s, it was the Wish Book that brought a twinkle to the eye.  A  Wish Book-you may ask-what is that?  It was another name for a Christmas catalog that had  pictures and descriptions of fantastic toys and other wonderful, highly desirable things.  Christmas took forever to come and […]
  • December 15 - I often feel that my family’s Advent and Christmas traditions have been swallowed up by travel obligations.  We are always ‘somewhere else’ for Christmas.   My wife and I have never spent a Christmas in our own home.  We have never experienced a Christmas Eve candle light service in our home church.  We have never opened […]