by Rev. Dr. Mark D. Roberts

Copyright © 2005 by Mark D. Roberts


Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,
    you who lead Joseph like a flock!
  You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth
before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh.
  Stir up your might,
    and come to save us!
Restore us, O God;
    let your face shine, that we may be saved.
O LORD God of hosts,
    how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?
You have fed them with the bread of tears,
    and given them tears to drink in full measure.
You make us the scorn of our neighbors;
    our enemies laugh among themselves.
Restore us, O God of hosts;
    let your face shine, that we may be saved.

Psalm 80:1-7


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.

Isaiah 9:2


Sudanese refugees from the region of Darfur, where over 1.5 million people have been forced to leave their homes, and countless others have been killed.

An Advent Prayer

How long, O God, is the foe to scoff?
Is the enemy to revile your name forever?
Why do you hold back your hand;
why do you keep your hand in your bosom?
Yet God my King is from of old,
working salvation in the earth.

Psalm 74:10-12


May you have a blessed Second Sunday of Advent!

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
    and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
    more than those who watch for the morning,
    more than those who watch for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the LORD!
    For with the LORD there is steadfast love,
    and with him is great power to redeem.
It is he who will redeem Israel
    from all its iniquities.

Psalm 130:5-8


The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
like the crocus
it shall blossom abundantly,
and rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the LORD,
the majesty of our God.
Strengthen the weak hands,
and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
“Be strong, do not fear!
Here is your God.
He will come with vengeance,
with terrible recompense.
He will come and save you.”
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then the lame shall leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
the burning sand shall become a pool,
and the thirsty ground springs of water;
the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp,
the grass shall become reeds and rushes.
A highway shall be there,
and it shall be called the Holy Way;
the unclean shall not travel on it,
but it shall be for God’s people;
no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray.
No lion shall be there,
nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
they shall not be found there,
but the redeemed shall walk there.
And the ransomed of the LORD shall return,
and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain joy and gladness,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Isaiah 35:1-10


A scene from the classic A Charlie Brown Christmas

The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. And this is the name by which he will be called: “The LORD is our righteousness.”

Jeremiah 23:5-6


Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure
you get back.

Luke 6:38


Today is the release of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the film version of C.S. Lewis's classic tale.

For I am about to create new heavens
            and a new earth;
the former things shall not be remembered
            or come to mind.
But be glad and rejoice forever
            in what I am creating;
for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy,
            and its people as a delight.
I will rejoice in Jerusalem,
            and delight in my people;
no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it,
            or the cry of distress.
No more shall there be in it
            an infant that lives but a few days,
            or an old person who does not live out a lifetime;
for one who dies at a hundred years will be considered a youth,
            and one who falls short of a hundred will be considered accursed.
They shall build houses and inhabit them;
            they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
They shall not build and another inhabit;
            they shall not plant and another eat;
for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be,
            and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their
They shall not labor in vain,
            or bear children for calamity;
for they shall be offspring blessed by the LORD—
            and their descendants as well.
Before they call I will answer,
            while they are yet speaking I will hear.
he wolf and the lamb shall feed together,
            the lion shall eat straw like the ox;
            but the serpent—its food shall be dust!
They shall not hurt or destroy
            on all my holy mountain,
             says the LORD.

Isaiah 65:17-25


The Ghost of Christmas Present, a colored version of the original illustration by John Leech (1843)

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Hebrews 13:8

11 Third candle
I stopped here on Nov 29.

"Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those who he favors!"
Luke 2:14


My daughter singing a solo as "The Donkey" as one of our children's choirs leads us during Lessons and Carols:

"I said," the donkey shaggy and brown,
"I carried his mother up hill and down,
I carried his mother to Bethleham town."

"The ox knows its owner,
     and the donkey its master’s crib;
but Israel does not know,
     my people do not understand."
Isaiah 1:3


My cat joins the Nativity scene on the top of my house today! (No joke.) And, just think, I used to accuse my cat of not being a Christian.

A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
    and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
The spirit of the LORD shall rest on him,
    the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
    the spirit of counsel and might,
    the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. . . .
The wolf shall live with the lamb,
    the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
    the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze,
    their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
Isaiah 11:1-2, 6-7


From the Christmas pageant of all Christmas pageants, "The Glory of Christmas" at the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California. The flying angels are astounding. The script is biblical. The music is inspiring.

An angel of the Lord appear to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
Luke 2:9


A scene from the 1954 Christmas classic, White Christmas, starring Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby. Ironically, the song "White Christmas" was first sung by Crosby, not in this movie, but in the 1942 film, Holiday Inn.

Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
            remove the evil of your doings
            from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
            learn to do good;
seek justice,
            rescue the oppressed,
defend the orphan,
            plead for the widow.
Come now, let us argue it out,
            says the LORD:
though your sins are like scarlet,
            they shall be like snow;
though they are red like crimson,
            they shall become like wool.
If you are willing and obedient,
            you shall eat the good of the land;
                    Isaiah 1:16-19


Now that's what I call an Advent calendar!

Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David.
Luke 2:4


An actual manger (feed and water trough) found in an archeological site in Israel (Megiddo). This could well be the sort of "bed" that cradled the infant Jesus. Image courtesy of A great website!

And she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Luke 2:7


My children visiting Santa many years ago.

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.
Genesis 1:31


Today is my son's 12th birthday. He came home from the hospital on Christmas Eve, 1992. The picture was taken moments after he arrived home. What a marvelous Christmas present he was (and is still)!

For unto us a child is born;
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6


The star in the floor marks the exact spot where Christian tradition holds that Jesus was born. Picture from the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, courtesy of

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.
Luke 2:16


On Christmas Eve my church now has two services for younger children and families. In years past we did one service that featured a living Nativity scene, using some family from the church that had a newborn infant. In 1994 we were chosen, since Kara was seven weeks old. We were pretty nervous about this, however, because Kara always got really cranky at just the time when the service was to be held. We feared that she would cry uncontrollably for the whole time. But, astoundingly, she not only didn't get cranky, but didn't make a peep! And from then on she was cured of evening crankiness. The little Lord Jesus, no crying she makes? Hmmm.

“See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them as their God;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them;
he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.”
Revelation 21:3-4


Eight years ago on Christmas Eve my children spontaneously joined me for the sermon (see above). From then on they became my teammates for Christmas Eve preaching. Children love Christmas, and they love Jesus. The One who came as a child welcomed children -- and he welcomes them still.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom
of heaven belongs.”
Matthew 19:14


The Nativity scene on my roof. About one-half of life-sized.

O sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done marvelous things.
His right hand and his holy arm
have gotten him victory.
The LORD has made known his victory;
he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations.
He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness
to the house of Israel.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the victory of our God.
Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth;
break forth into joyous song and sing praises.
Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre,
with the lyre and the sound of melody.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD.
Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
the world and those who live in it.
Let the floods clap their hands;
let the hills sing together for joy
at the presence of the LORD, for he is coming
to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
and the peoples with equity.

Psalm 98


My daughter and her friends playing Christmas music at my church's Family Christmas Celebration.

So the ransomed of the LORD shall return,
and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain joy and gladness,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
Isaiah 51:11


Dr. Seuss's Grinch, who tried in vain to steal Christmas

Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.
Ephesians 4:31-32


A scene from the preschool Christmas program at my church.

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.”
Matthew 2:1-2


My family decorating our Christmas tree yesterday.

A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
            and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
The spirit of the LORD shall rest on him,
            the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
            the spirit of counsel and might,
            the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
His delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
            or decide by what his ears hear;
but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
            and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
           and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist,
            and faithfulness the belt around his loins.
The wolf shall live with the lamb,
            the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
            and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze,
            their young shall lie down together;
            and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
and the weaned child shall put its hand on the
 adder’s den.
They will not hurt or destroy
            on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD
            as the waters cover the sea.
On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.

Isaiah 11:1-10


A scene from the Christmas classic It's a Wonderful Life.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
John 10:10