Devotions for Advent 2019
About Our Devotions
Advent is the church season that prepares us to remember the Christ child of Christmas Day, and the Redeemer Christ who has paid the price for our sins and who will return to bring us home. These devotions are written by members of the Newberry College community, and may be heard on WKDK-AM 1240 at 9:06 a.m. each Sunday through Friday through Dec. 25.
By Bishop Kevin L. Strickland ‘04
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.
And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” John 1:1-14 (NRSV)
John’s Gospel doesn’t invite us into a stable or backyard barn or an inn, filled with cattle and groaning birth pangs of Mary, with Joseph by her side, birthing into being the Christ child.
No, John’s beginning reminds us that beginnings might be hard for humans, but not for God. “In the beginning was the Word.” John invites us into the whimsical and fleshy poetry of beginnings that transcend us from his pages to hear how God refashions chaos into order. This lyrical hymn celebrates the beginning of life, but this time in a way that will not be violated, as happened after God sang the world into being at creation.
John’s Christmas message, if you will, invites us to enter the story, not only of John’s telling, but how we are part of its pages. We are those whose beginnings are birthed in this God who loved so intently, even to dwell among us. I, like many of you, love the sweetness that comes from the pictures we are given from the birth of Jesus in silent nights, mangers, animals crooning, and angels singing. But to hear John’s Christmas message, it invites us to see that from the beginning of creation and every beginning after - even the beginnings which are hard - we have a God who in-fleshes God’s self to come among us. We are told that, “And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.”
As friend of mine put it in this way: This is the good news that greets us on Christmas Day. The Word, dwelling among us, is poured out all over our daily lives. Just as households can’t sustain Christmas morning celebrations every day, our minds cannot wake up each day and behold the farthest reaches of space, the tiniest cell, the depths of the ocean. Christ reigns over the mysteries of the cosmos nonetheless, yet Christ also comes into the chinks and shadows and dusty corners of life. Christ comes to piles of laundry, sinks full of dishes, and exhausted hosts. Christ also comes into neighborhoods where no one is feasting today, where no one awoke to gifts, where peace is rarely spoken.
For John, God in becoming flesh in Jesus has committed God’s self not only to revealing what God’s grace looks like, but that God wants us to know it and feel it as well.
Dear ones, claimed and clothed in baptism by the Lord of the light, we carry the light of peace around with us before we even awake to it. From your beginnings to your endings, may you know the full embodiment of God’s grace, may you be able to see, touch, feel, smell, live that incarnate reality in others and may they receive that from you as well.
We give you thanks God for coming among us, taking up residence, moving into our neighborhoods and filling our whole lives with your presence. May the indwelling of your love, fill us in this season and throughout our days, to be that very presence to all the world. In the name of your son, Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.
The Rev. Kevin L. Strickland ’04 is the fourth bishop of the Southeastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
By Christopher Harris
“When the angles had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ So, they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told to them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” Luke 2:15-20
These passages are the about the first Christmas celebration, where we learned that the angels had told the shepherds about this amazing thing that had happened. God gave us Jesus Christ, His one and only Son, to redeem us from sin and give us eternal life. Once the shepherds laid eyes on the baby swaddled in a manger, the shepherds knew that what they were told by the angels was real. The angels told them to tell everyone of what they saw and experienced … and they did. They spread the good word far and wide that God’s plan and God’s love is something real, tangible, and everlasting. On this Christmas Eve, we are reminded that the love God has for us is something we cannot truly comprehend, but, we have an opportunity to feel His grace.
This Christmas celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ also allows us to pause and reflect upon our own daily lives as still another year has passed. During this time of year, we spend time with family, cherishing our moments together and we lift up those who are suffering, so that they, too, may remember the humanity that is inside all of us. While we may not attend church every day, every week, or ever attend at all, our core principles of life are to love one another and to live our lives in a way that is meaningful not just for yourself, but for others. God gave us His only Son, not just to save us, but for us to understand that life is not only about us. Your life is a vehicle to serve others, to find your purpose, and to change the world. As we celebrate the birth of Christ, let’s move forward and find our purpose, serve others and change the world.
Would you pray with me: Dear Heavenly Father, today on this Christmas Eve, the world is full of promise and love knowing that you sent us your Son, Jesus. This eve we are reminded that when He was born everything changed and we remain amazed by your plan, the love you have for your people, and the grace you have granted us. May we remember those who need us the most, may we remember those who have gone before us, and may we live our lives serving others and changing the world. As we celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ, and await His return, we give thanks and praise to you. Amen.
Christopher Harris serves as dean of enrollment management.
By Drs. Maurice and Sandy Scherrens
“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 they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news. Today a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah. You will find a baby lying in a manger.’ Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared saying ‘Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace and good will toward men.’” Luke 2: 8-14
Let’s take a look at some of these words. For instance, what is a “heavenly host?” Well, the answer is, a heavenly host is an army of angels. So, the birth of Christ is not being announced by a couple of angels who just happen to be flying by; this birth was announced by a “great company of heavenly hosts.”
Imagine you are one of those shepherds just minding your own business, tending to your flock, when all of a sudden an angel accompanied by another hundred or so of her buddies lights up the sky, shouting at you, “don’t be afraid.” Despite the words from this well-intentioned angel, your fear level is off the charts. Right?
The lead angel doesn’t announce, “a baby has been born,” because that kind of routine news could have easily been shared with you via the phone, email or text message. Instead, the angel tells you the “Savior has been born to you.” You ask yourself, ‘what is a Savior?’ Fortunately, you are one of the more technologically savvy shepherds, so you look up the word “Savior” on your iPhone and read that it means “protector from danger and deliverer of salvation.” You know, it hasn’t been all that great of a year and you could use a break, so you start believing this could be your lucky night.
But then the angel throws you a curve … the Savior is “lying in a manger.” A manger? Since you have never heard of that word either, you pull out your iPhone again and discover that a manger is “a long, open trough typically found in a stable or a barn and is used for the feeding of horses and cows. “Savior and manger?” This story is starting to fall apart. But…
You want to believe, so you continue your search about “mangers,” and you discover that the word “manger” comes from the French and Latin words meaning “to eat or to chew.” Umm. As you sit deep in thought, a bell goes off in your brain and everything makes sense all-of-a-sudden.
The Savior is born in a stable – our first lesson on humility. The Savior is telling us that humility is the key to happiness. Lying in a manger – the Savior is telling us that He is our source of nourishment. The Savior is sending us a message on Day One.
“Whenever and wherever you look for me, you will find a manger. No matter how desperate the circumstances, how choppy the waters or how turbulent the air, I am with you. Be not a stranger; for there is no danger; not here in my manger.”
Sandy & Morrie Scherrens
Dr. Maurice Scherrens is president of Newberry College, and Dr. Sandy Scherrens is associate dean for student success.
By R. Annie Worman
“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.”
Luke 2:1-7 (NIV)
Wow! It is the Twenty-second of December already! Are you like me, wondering where the month of December went? Are you like me, making lists and crossing out the things that are just not going to get done this year? Are you like me, planning that wonderful Christmas dinner with the family?
I know some of you are, and some of you are not counting the days but counting the dollars. Some of you are worried about the weather and travel conditions. Some of you are feeling despair and sorrow and grief that your beloved loved one or ones will not be with you this Christmas. Some of you will be spending Christmas far away from your families. As a retired Navy Officer and a retired Navy Chaplain’s wife, I can understand some of those feelings. I have felt some of what you may be feeling. I have missed my family many, many Christmases.
And the very first Christmas, did Mary miss her mother and aunties and perhaps sisters as she labored and bore her firstborn? Wouldn’t Joseph have wished for a woman to help his betrothed during labor and delivery? That is the human thing, to be in relationships.
When we were thousands of miles from our siblings and parents, beloved Ernie and I sometimes had our own little wonderful family celebrations but as often as we could, we gathered with other lonely friends and lonely little families to worship and sing Christmas songs and play cards or just gather around and talk and have fellowship. With hugs and smiles and conversation and Merry Christmas in three or four different languages, somehow the distance from family didn’t feel so far with friends gathered around.
To those of you with family close, hold them close. To those of you with family far away, hold friends close. The gift of the birth of Jesus the Christ is the gift of grace and forgiveness and love. Love one another this year.
Please pray with me: Lord God, thank you for the gift of your son, Jesus, sent to us to take away our sins. Lord God, thank you for loving us so very much and thank you for sending your Holy Spirit to comfort us in our low times. Help us to keep the spirit of Christmas alive in our hearts and minds every day of the year. Amen.
R. Annie Worman is the beloved spouse of Campus Pastor Ernie Worman.
By the Rev. H. Julian Gordy
“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins. By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
Luke 1:76-79 (Full passage: Luke 1:67-80)
Among those who observe the canonical hours of the church, the Song of Zechariah – today’s reading from the first chapter of Luke’s gospel - is sung at the beginning of every morning. This poem was Zechariah’s response to the birth of his son John, and is a song of hope for the future. Nothing could be more appropriate to start a day than this word of hope.
It is an especially good word for today, the shortest day of the year, when the hours of darkness are far longer than the hours of light. And it is a good word for our world in which we have experienced our share of darkness lately - gridlock in Washington, division in our communities and families, famine, floods, oppression, 68 million people displaced from their homes by poverty or violence, hard-heartedness in high places – you know the list. It is the news of every day. Add to that the personal struggles that many of us face, and maybe some of us have begun to wonder if there is hope of if the future will stretch on and on into the darkness.
The message of Zechariah is a message of hope. There is a light shining even in our darkness, a light that cannot be overcome by any darkness. That light - the light of Christ - is shining in the dark world now. Whenever we forget about ourselves and reach out in Jesus’s name to our neighbor, we give witness to that light. Light and hope are here in the world now. And we are called, like John, to give witness to that light and to that hope that is in us.
God of hope, shine the light Christ in our hearts that we may bear the word of hope to the world. Amen.
The Rev. H. Julian Gordy, is bishop emeritus of the Southeastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
By Dr. Warren Moore
“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”
Titus 2:11-14 (KJV)
These days, when we use the word peculiar, we mean “quaint,” “odd,” or even “weird.” But that wasn’t always the case. When the folks who translated the King James Version were at work, the word meant something belonging only to one person.
That makes sense here – the epistle’s author reminds us that God came to us as Christ in order to bring us to Him, to be his and only his. But I think that in our world these days, the modern meaning of peculiar applies as well. Even during this season in which we prepare for the coming of the Lord, it is easy to get distracted from this time’s – and our – true purpose. To remain focused as we should be is unusual. Perhaps even. . . peculiar. But sometimes, the odd choice is the best one.
Heavenly Father, thank You for calling us to be Yours and Yours alone and truly. Grant us the zeal to hear You, even when it makes us odd. We ask this in the Name of Your Son. Amen.
Dr. Warren Moore serves as professor of English.
By Gerald Seals
God Has Room in His Heart for You!
“For you answer our prayers. All of us must come to you.”
Psalm 65:2 (NLT)
Each of us, I think it accurate to say, has experienced that feeling of “no one is there to listen to me; no one is available to provide me wise counsel!” Loneliness is an emotion that, when it occurs, occurs as an overshadowing presence that isolates and sequesters, an embracing presence that one is hard pressed to disabuse oneself of or shed or let go. Loneliness shows up in interesting manifestations; for example:
- Young people sometimes complain that their parents won’t listen to them;
- Spouses may say their spouses don’t listen;
- It seems at times, no one will listen to our questions or ideas about anything.
Loneliness not only manifests, but seems to take over upon the arrival of that problem so personal and intimate that it seems unfitting or too embarrassing to share with anyone other than self.
We are entering a time of the year, Christmas, that is often quietly characterized as a “period of loneliness.” Many of us will spend the “Christmas period” grieving for or reflecting about the loved ones, be it parent, family member, friend, partner, or special acquaintance, to whom we’ve said goodbye.
Be reminded, God does not abandon nor does He become too busy for you. Scripture so affirms:
- Affirms 1 Peter 5:10, God is “God of all grace…”
- Affirms 2 Corinthians 1:3, God is “the God of all comfort”
- Affirms Psalm 4:3, “The LORD will hear when I call unto him.”
In other words, concerning you or that person to whom you are called to minister, for God there is no need too small, no place too remote, no burden too heavy that our Father God will not listen and care and give mercy. Psalm 145:18 says it so well: “The Lord is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him in truth.” Therefore, to you experiencing loneliness and to you who minister to the lonely, in compliance with Psalm 62:8, “pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah.”
God is up there, over there and right here! Jesus said, as recorded in John 16:7: “It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.”
Saints and friends, our God is a triune God; He can be both in heaven and in our room and even, as the Holy Spirit, within our very hearts. Take heed to these final Scriptures:
- Psalm 66:18: Of course, “if I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.”
- 1 Peter 3:12: But for those who confess and forsake their sins, “his ears are open unto their prayers.”
Gerald Seals serves as associate professor of business administration at Newberry College, and as pastor of the Living Word Church and Fellowship in Columbia.
By Jay Salter ‘19
“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”
Romans 15:4-13 (ESV)
It's a week away from Christmas Day, and as festivities with family and friends come into full swing, aside from the birth narratives in Matthew and Luke, I don’t think there are many verses more fitting for the season than the one we have today. Paul succinctly talks about the unifying power of faith, which, along with Scripture and the grace of God, have a propensity to bring people together. And that’s what Christmas does, doesn’t it? Christmas is perhaps best known for reuniting families, inciting gift-giving and the spending of quality time, and encouraging acts of charity and kindness to strangers.
But another aspect of beauty about this verse is that the hope and harmony so natural to Advent are not limited to this season alone. For the spirit of the season is the spirit that provides guidance and encouragement every day, all the time. So for the next seven days and the following twelve and for all days to come, let us rejoice in the gifts God has given us, take encouragement from the Scriptures, and welcome one another as Christ has welcomed us.
Dear God, thank you for the gifts of the season and for giving us opportunities to come together in harmony. Encourage us this day and in the coming days to live faithfully to your Word, and to take the spirit of Christmas wherever we go, in whatever we do. Amen.
Jay Salter ‘19 serves his alma mater as communication specialist.
By Eric Brandenberger
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.”
Hebrews 11: 1-4 (NIV)
These verses are often titled, “Faith in Action.” Faith is powerful, and strong emotions accompany it. When our faith is strong we are comfortable. As stated in verse 1, Faith is confidence and assurance. When our faith falters however, we feel troubled. This Advent season is a wonderful time for each of us as Christians to put our faith into action. As His disciples we are called upon to lift up, support and strengthen the faith of others who may be struggling. Recognize the fact that He created every person that you see. They are our brothers and sisters in Christ. And as Jesus points out, “even the very hairs of your head are numbered.” (Matt: 10:30) This is true for each person that you encounter.
People’s emotions are often difficult to read, even amongst those we know. By putting some simple actions into practice we can take a good first step in spreading God’s oneness. During this season of hustle-bustle, slow down and acknowledge the individuals around you, even strangers. Look people in the eyes with looks of kindness. Smile. Take the time to introduce yourself with a hand shake. Use people’s names. Using names conveys your respect for the person and supports their self-worth. It is important. Stay in touch with people as you travel. Do your best to ensure that those who may be alone know that they are still included in your care. Include those who may only be acquaintances. When dealing with traffic, slow down and acknowledge the other driver with a smile. Look them in the eyes, not the tires. These small acts are starting points to uplifting others. These few, simple expressions of Christian humanity express brotherly love to those may be struggling with their Faith.
To those who are struggling with faith, please make yourself known. Plug in to the fellowship of Christianity. You are welcome. You are important. And you are loved. View each of these steps as beginning actions that will grow throughout the coming year.
Heavenly Father, as we celebrate this Advent season empower us as disciples to help those struggling with faith. Be with us as we uplift these brothers and sisters in Your fellowship, so that we can all relish in the warmth of Your love. As Christians we pray to You through our Savior, Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Eric Brandenberger is a friend of Newberry College.
By Whitney Metz ‘09
“In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.’”
Luke 1:39-45 (NRSV)
How many people liked my post? Did everyone view my Snapchat? Is my car cool enough? Do people like my clothes? Are my grades as good as my friend’s grades? My friends are all in great relationships, why aren’t I? Graduation is six months away and all my friends already have jobs. I don’t.
Some of these sound small but might weigh pretty heavy on your heart. Some of these and many others are very big and weigh very heavy. This heaviness is hard to carry.
In today’s text, Mary is on her way to her cousin Elizabeth’s house with the good news of pregnancy. Elizabeth had spent a long time trying to get pregnant with her husband. Mary wasn’t in a relationship, was a virgin and was now miraculously pregnant with the Christ Child.
Can you imagine how this made Elizabeth feel? The heaviness. Though Elizabeth didn’t have Instagram to remind her of Mary’s joy, the same emotions were true for Elizabeth as they are for many of us. Can you imagine how Mary felt? Mary questioned if she could handle what she was given. How often are you given, thrown or pushed into something you didn’t ask for? Carrying things we don’t ask for is full of similar fears and anxieties.
Our culture of comparison can really harm us. But just as in today’s text there is great JOY for us. As God promised Mary and Elizabeth, he promises us too. Elizabeth received what she prayed for and Mary received God’s promise of blessings.
What are you praying for in your life? What has life placed in front of you that you don’t feel you can handle? Our text today reminds us to LEAP for JOY! Rejoice this Advent season as we prepare for what God has promised. Rejoice in Christ’s coming. Rejoice in the belief that our fulfillment will come. Rejoice!
Good and Gracious God, we ask you to come to us in our fears and anxieties. We pray you will meet us in our times of questioning, both, the things we want and the things we have not planned. We leap for joy this day as we prepare your coming Son, your promise fulfilled. Amen.
Whitney Metz ‘09 serves her alma mater as assistant vice president for institutional advancement.
“Do Not Be Afraid”
By the Rev. Joanie Holden ‘11
“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.’ But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.’”
Luke 1:26-31 (NRSV)
No matter how many times I read this passage, I confess I find myself thinking about Mary and wondering if she was really as calm as the passage implies. If it had been me as a 12-year-old girl I would have thought something like, “Is Gabriel out of his mind? I am engaged, and Joe is never going to buy the idea of marrying a pregnant virgin. What am I supposed to tell Dad and Mom? What will people think? I’ll just tell them God got me pregnant and they are going to buy it? No way. God, you don’t know what you are asking of me.”
I must admit, I speak from experience because I asked God if God was out of Their collective minds when nearly 20 years ago God began calling me to be a pastor. I gave a whole list of arguments ranging from being too old (50), to my husband will never go for this (which he did, willingly). Don’t you hate it when God is always right?
But what I discovered is that when God calls us to do something, no matter how outrageous it sounds, after God deals with our arguments, our panic attacks, and our feelings of inadequacy and “why me God;” once we say yes, God calms our fears and gives us everything that we need in order to obey, no matter what God is calling us to do or be. So, perhaps Luke just left out Mary’s panic attack so he could share with us the peace that only comes from saying yes to God.
God says to our hearts every day of our lives, “Do not be afraid. I am with you because I know life is a scary challenge, made harder by the forces that try to distract you from being and doing who and what I created you to be and do.” God is not out of Their collective minds when God calls us, because God knows us better than we know ourselves, will never call us to do something They have not equipped us to do, and will walk with us.
All knowing and creating God, continue to calm our fears and open our hearts so that we can know your voice and follow it no matter how ridiculous the task sounds or how afraid we are. Thank you for never giving up on any of us. Amen.
The Rev. Joanie Holden ‘11 serves as pastor of St. Timothy Lutheran Church in Crystal River, Florida.
“‘Even now,’ declares the Lord, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.’ Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Who knows? He may turn and have pity and leave behind a blessing – grain offerings and drink offerings for the Lord your God… And afterword, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke.”
Joel 12-14, 28-30 (NIV)
It’s that time of year again – getting ready for Christmas. Start (continue) buying gifts for everyone on my list. Clean up the Christmas card list (deleting names of those who didn’t send a card last year). Pick out, and decorate, the tree (making sure ALL the lights work). Figure out what I want to say in my annual letter to let everyone know how the past year has treated me. And, most important, start baking my checkerboard cookies. If I start at the beginning of November, I should be able to be ready. It seems that at some point each year I ask why I put myself through this. Each year I keep doing it.
But what about getting ready for Christ? After all, isn’t the birth of Christ the reason we celebrate?
The rending, or tearing, of garments is an outward sign of deep emotion, grief, contrition. But God does not want outward signs. He wants a true heart, a contrite heart, a loving heart. God has blessed us with many gifts. He has more to give. God wants us to know his unconditional love, a love freely given, no strings attached. God’s love does not dependent on some bargain we propose in hopes that He will listen. He wants our heart, not public displays. As we prepare for the outward signs of Christmas, are we also preparing our heart?
Father God, help me have an open heart. Open to the love you have for me. Open to the love of family and friends. Open to the love of neighbors and strangers. You want my heart and the love only it can give. Help to remember that love cannot be bought or sold. It can only be given away freely. Amen.
Dr. Dennis Lambries serves as adjunct professor of political science.
“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:10-11 (NIV)
Isaiah 55 is a longer passage and I’ve selected just one verse for the focus of the devotion today. Verse 11 refers to the word of God going out from God’s mouth, accomplishing a goal and achieving a purpose. Does this mean the written word, like this Scripture itself, or the spoken word? John 1:1 tells us “the word was God” and in 1:14 calls Jesus “the word made flesh.” I think the verse encompasses all of these. Jesus certainly fit the description of accomplishing a goal and achieving God’s purpose. So do the written and spoken celebration of the miracles, power, and love of God.
Being the selfish sinner that I am, this makes me wonder about myself, whether my word “accomplishes what I desire and achieves the purpose for which I sent it.” Do my words make a difference? Am I speaking the truth, fostering hope, offering compassion, or supporting a righteous cause? There’s no doubt in my mind - our words matter. An insult from someone you love can cut deep, and in contrast, a compliment can save a bad day. What you say reflects your character and integrity. Your word might not be the savior of the world or Holy Scripture, but it can change your mood and affect those around you.
Christmas Day may bring crazy super awesome joy but the lead up can be extremely stressful. Gift-giving chaos and travel debacles. Finals and papers and projects, oh my! Work deadlines and financial difficulties and family pressure. All the makings for frustration, sadness, and struggle. Most of us are dealing with one or more of these concerns. Now is our chance to practice conscious conversation. To be deliberate. To choose our words wisely. To reconsider a rude comment, a passive aggressive response, or sharing hurtful gossip. To think about what purpose our words serve. To opt for integrity. It takes strength of heart and mind and I think we’re up to the task. Let’s let our words serve a higher purpose.
Dear God, thank you for sending us your word, the ultimate example of integrity. Help us as we strive to speak the good word and live with unreproached character. Lead us to compassion over insult, and positivity over anger, today and every day. Amen.
Libby Sherman is a friend of Newberry College.
“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out or raise his voices in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his teaching the islands will put their hope. This is what GOD the Lord says-the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it: ‘I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness. I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols. See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being, I announce them to you.’”
Isaiah 42: 1-9 (NIV)
To have choices is a very special thing. Everyone loves having options to choose from. I’m the type of person who loves to have multiple things to choose from. We don’t always make the correct choice or the wise choice. However, we are indeed blessed to be able to choose and boy, do we have a lot of choices. We can choose what we want to wear or what we want to eat. We can choose where we want to live and even choose where we want to go to college.
GOD is the exact same way. He chooses who wants to use in order to do his will. He chose his only begotten son to be born to live an earthly life and redeem all mankind. He chose Jesus Christ. And GOD didn’t stop there. He chose us. He chose to bless us. He chose to redeem us. He chose to give us abundant life. And trust me. GOD believes we are worth it.
Heavenly Father, Thank you for being the wise GOD that you are. Thank you for this season of Advent. Thank you for choosing Jesus Christ to redeem us. Thank you for choosing us. May we work to prove you right in your choosing of us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Dr. John Lesaine ‘07 serves as assistant dean for academic affairs and associate professor of sport professions.
"After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee. When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, 'Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?' Jesus replied, 'Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.' "
Matthew 11:1-6 (NIV)
John The Baptist’s current status: prison! He has little reason to feel hopeful about his future and the future of Christians. So, he asked some of his friends to ask Jesus himself if He was the real deal. His answer in today’s terms might have been “hold my beer” while he performed healings in front of them. You know the term: don’t believe it until you see it? Exactly.
The messengers brought back good news and hope to John. Hope is so powerful there are many books, articles, podcasts, sermons and memes about hope. Evidence that gives you hope can change a life and even save a life. While I have not been in prison, I have lost hope a few times in my life. You know when you just want to see good things happen to good people? I’ve been told to pray for patience, but patience requires faith that God will give you evidence of hope. The healings that Jesus performed was the ultimate display of the saying “I have the receipts.”
There was good news of the things to come for John and there is good news to come for you during this Advent season. You can always choose to exaggerate the good news for yourself and others and spread it like the Gospel intended.
Prayer: In your name I pray for the courage to bring evidence of hope to the people in our lives and in the world. We remain grateful for the celebration of the good news that Advent brings to us while our faith comforts us during this time of waiting and preparation.
Lori Ann Summers serves as vice president for institutional advancement.
"Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it."
Isaiah 40:1-5 King James Version (KJV)
Good morning, Newberry College and Newberry! Today is already the 10th of December, wow!
Today, at the college, the students are rejoicing that all of their fall semester final exams are over, the professors are sighing over grading all of those final exams and papers, and the staff is busily preparing for Winter Graduation Exercises scheduled for this Saturday, the 14th of December. Today in Newberry, stores are opening, hoping for another successful shopping day, people are having parties and hurrying to get cards mailed and presents purchased.
But today for me, Handel’s Messiah will be playing in my head all day. It is a wonderful Tenor solo- look it up and listen to it on YouTube. And in the hustle and bustle of your day, please pay attention to just a couple of phrases.
Let’s start with “Comfort ye.” This is the imperative, the command to comfort and be in turn comforted. Who will you comfort today? And will you allow yourself to relax and be comforted by others?
The next phrase is, “iniquity is pardoned.” Who has ever used the word, “iniquity” recently? Iniquity is defined as, ‘immortal or grossly unfair behavior.’ In church language, we would call it, ‘sin.’ But Isaiah is reminding us that God says our sins are forgiven.
And why are our sins forgiven? Jesus. Jesus is the reason for the season and Jesus is the, “glory of the Lord, revealed.”
So today, with a happy song in your heart and mind and ear, try to remember that Jesus came and died for you, yes, you personally! There is nothing going on today that you and God can’t handle. And there is nothing in this world that can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Rejoice!
Please pray with me.
Thank you for sending your son, Jesus as a sacrifice for my sins. Please help me remember today to also be a light in the darkness to others and to rejoice in the gifts you have already given me. Amen.
Annie Worman is married to Newberry Campus Pastor Ernie Worman.
“Say to those who are of a fearful heart, “Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God. …He will come and save you.”
Candidates these days talk a lot about climate change, health care, and refugee resettlement. As we read in our text for today—Isaiah 35:1-10—the prophet beat them to it by about 2700 years! Way back then, as he discerned the Lord breaking into his age of political unrest and social upheaval, the prophet was told to declare that God would usher in a brand new day marked by bloom, balm, and blessing.
First he spoke of the earth itself rejoicing: “The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,” he proclaims, “the desert shall rejoice and blossom.” It is God’s will that the planet itself experience transformation—a climate change of divine design. Beauty. Bloom. Blossom. Bounty. So, unless we wish to swim upstream against the currents of divine will, we need to care about our planet.
Second, Isaiah promised a radical new form of health care. “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and ears of the deaf unstopped; the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.” God’s brand of healing is not constrained by health care costs and big pharma. No, the balm of divine healing stems from the medicine of mercy, a dose of compassion, and a prescription of love. Our health care industry could stand to take notes.
Finally, Isaiah makes clear that when the Lord shows up, God brings the refugees with him. Speaking of the uprooted exiles scattered around the empire, he proclaimed, “And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion…,” which for us is best understood as the place where God Godself dwells and where “all whose hearts are restless till they rest in God” are welcome. God’s kingdom is not distinguished by a dividing wall but a divine will—the will that in God’s good time comes to be done on earth as in heaven. And that is the greatest blessing of all.
Bloom, balm, and blessing! This is the proclamation of the prophet. This is the hope of Advent. This is the will of God.
Is it yours?
Let us pray: Stir up your Spirit, O Lord, and come. Nurture and safeguard our home planet—the only home we have—that even the deserts may flower and bear fruit. Bring to bear your healing power on all who suffer disease, debilitation, and despair. And bless those who wander lost and restless with a happy homecoming in a place of your gracious welcome. Amen.
The Rev. Dr. Wayne Kannaday ‘75 serves his alma mater as professor of religion.
“With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day: Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known his deeds among the nations; proclaim that his name is exalted.”
Isaiah 12:3-4 (ESV)
Bad stuff is ahead. Exile, violence, suffering, and pain are on the horizon according to the prophet Isaiah to his people at the time. Isaiah is not a prophet that shies away from reality, and the truth at the time was that larger, more powerful nations and militaries were closing in around them, and such powers were about to storm and take the land for their own king’s economic advantage and power. The people of Isaiah’s time weren’t a world power (but many of them wanted to be, further angering God). Instead they were the focus of the world’s powers, and not a good focus.
The prophet spends a lot of time in these early chapters being very honest about what’s to come. And it wasn’t good.
Then comes a promise: Even though the people were destined to be exiled to distant lands, God was already busy leveling a new path from those distant lands back towards their home. “And you will say in that day” is the day when Israel’s remnant will return on this new path, this highway.
You see, the prophets do not declare that God steers people away from what they fear most. On the contrary, they declare that what people fear most will be endured, and from that endurance comes a brand-new path reminiscent of their ancestor’s stories.
And when the people will have come through the hardship, a new, wide path will have been cleared for them. And on this path are wells of salvation and trees that sing and clap their hands. And those world powers and threats and all that was once feared will be silenced, because fear will no longer be the teacher.
In the Advent season we pray for that day for all of creation. And we pray for all the days before it. And we live all the days set before us, striving to live toward that day now.
Let us pray. Your name is exalted, O Holy God, for you are the way-maker. Give us good courage that you are leading us every day towards that new day for the whole world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
The Rev. Michael Price ‘02 serves as pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Prosperity, South Carolina.
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
Romans 15:4-13 (NIV)
We talk a lot about hope and trust. We even put wall hangings of the words in homes and offices, wear necklaces proclaiming the 4 letter words, and color in meditative coloring books, filling in the letters with hearts and flowers. We hold these words dear, but do we know how powerful they really are? How can we begin to understand the power that’s in what this passage from Romans is saying and apply it in our daily lives?
My daughter reminded me with these words this morning, “Sometimes we find ourselves in situations in which we feel powerless. This is when it’s most important to trust in God and the plan that He has for us. In this life there are lots of things that bring us joy, but God brings us true peace. If we look for joy and peace in other things, we will find that they don’t bring us the same hope God does. God is the most powerful force and will triumph over the evils in the world.” I was very grateful for this reminder she gave me, and how perfect that it fit with the advent devotion for today!
Romans 15 says that as we trust, hope grows. Trust in God so that we may overflow with hope. In this season, may you find hope and trust renewed every day. As we work with the students of Newberry College, may we share this hope with them. May our hope be the spark that ignites the fire of good ideas, creativity, clarity of action and a greater joy as we all become more trusting that God’s got it all worked out if we just allow it to flow.
As we raise the bow and draw another arrow of hope from the quiver, trust in Him.
Julie McCrary is director of institutional research and effectiveness at Newberry College.
"For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom."
Today’s full reading from Isaiah tells a remarkable story. Like so many biblical passages, the images are vivid. We read of a group of people who have been through a time of darkness: who have been hungry and who have been oppressed by enemy warriors. But light has come! The enemy has been defeated, and joy abounds. What is the source of this joy? The birth of a baby, a baby who promises to bring perpetual peace to the land.
What leads us to be so moved by this story? For people who are not Christians, this story may sound like a fanciful tale, even if they have experienced the hope and joy that the birth of a child brings. Yes, a child is the ultimate sign of new life, fresh beginnings, and hope for a brighter future. But is it really enough to pull an entire people out of a long era of darkness?
It just might be. Where does your hope lie? When you find yourself in times of darkness or uncertainty, what turns your face toward the light of hope?
The Christian story dares to declare that the Holy shows up in perhaps the least expected place—in our very midst, taking on human flesh. Once we recognize that God has promised to dwell among us, during times of both strife and peace, we understand that God’s light is always available to us. Advent is the reminder that, regardless of our circumstances, God is always lovingly, tenderly present. Hope is ours for the taking.
Prayer: Holy One, may this season of Advent remind us that you are with us in times of both joy and suffering. Give us eyes to see your light and hearts to know the hope you offer. Amen.
Dr. Krista E. Hughes serves as director of the Newberry College Muller Center and associate professor of religion.
"Therefore, the Lord will give you a sign. The young woman is pregnant and is about to give birth to a son, and she will name him Immanuel."
Isaiah 7:14 (CEB)
Grace and peace to each of you this blessed day full of thanks. For those of you who know me (even if you don’t know me well), you know that I love to have fun. Specifically, with games, toys, and activities. Whether it is playing with my daughters or having fun with the children and youth in my congregation, I love to have fun being with people.
In my office I have several toys that I’ve collected and procured one way or another throughout the years. But, unlike other collections, this one is meant to be used and not just looked at. Seeing young and young-at-heart eyes light up when they all those figures brings me joy.
The thing that brings me the most joy is when a person asks if they can play with those toys and then invites me into that place of imagination and joy alongside them. In that invitation I get to see them at their brightest. I get to see them at times at their most vulnerable. I get to see them. I get to be with them. I get to be in a stronger relationship with them.
In our brief text this day, we hear the words of the Prophet Isaiah as he speaks God’s word to Ahaz. Here God proclaims through the great prophet about a child who is to be born. But, this isn’t just any ol’ kid – this one is special. His name will be Immanuel. He will be called, “God with us.”
Isaiah is foretelling of the time that God will come down to be with us. For we believe, follow, struggle with, and are guided by a God whose love for us is so deep and wide, that this God is right there with us. God is not off somewhere else tending to other matters. God has promised, has fulfilled that promise, and continues in that hope today.
God is with us. No matter who you are, no matter what you’ve done, no matter what you think, God’s love for you (and for all of creation) is so strong that God has come to be with you and with the world. God has come to show you not only how much you are loved, but how much you can show love to the world through God’s son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.
God sees us at our brightest. God sees us when we’re most vulnerable. God sees us. Why? Because God is with us and because God is with us – always – we get to dive deeper into that beloved relationship.
Let us pray…
God who is close, God who is with us – you have promised and have come down to be with those whom you have created and with whom you love so dear. You are never far off from us. Continue to show us your love, guide us in your truth, and push us to live into your love for all in the world – amen!
The Rev. Matthew Titus ‘05, pastor at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Newberry.
Living Through the Lens of Christ
"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."
NRSV Isaiah 11:3
Christians read these verses as announcing the Messiah and describing His characteristics, the qualities that He will possess, that will result in Him making judgments based on His righteousness and not on what human senses (which are often fallible) perceive. Remember, Jesus is fully human and fully divine, meaning that He can resist the judgmental pitfalls that humans are subject to.
But what about us and how we make our decisions? Consider for a moment the difference it can make in our lives and in the world if we allow the Holy Spirit (that we too receive as a result of Jesus’ promise to send Her to guide us and remind us of all that Jesus teaches) to help us delight in the Lord, and to not judge by what we see or hear (especially on social media), but as Christ would. What happens if we see and hear and think through the lens of Christ? I believe it would change how we view everyone (as all brothers and sisters in Christ – whether they are like us or not, whether they agree with us or not, whether they are friend, stranger or foe) and how we decide what matters most: our stuff or people.
At this time of the year, almost everyone thinks about the poor and hungry and homeless, but living through the lens of Christ would give us CHRISTmas hearts all the time throughout the year. Perhaps as an Advent renewal experience, we can decide to make our New Year’s Promise to God to live through the lens of Christ, allowing that same Spirit to guide our thoughts, words, and actions towards all people and the rest of God’s creation.
Gracious, generous, forgiving God, open our hearts, minds, and wills to the guidance of your Holy Spirit so that we can strive to live as selflessly as Christ and serve one another as Christ serves us. In Jesus’ name we ask this. Amen.
The Rev. Joanie Holden ‘11 serves as pastor of St. Timothy Lutheran Church in Crystal River, Florida.
"Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires."
Romans 13:11-14 (NRSV)
So, what kind of people do you suppose the Christians in Rome were? It sounds like they were sleeping in and sleeping around. It sounds like they were into a lot of excess and a lot of drama. The 1978 film Animal House seems tame in comparison. St. Paul’s admonition suggests that they were not on their best behavior and needed to straighten up.
My senior year at Newberry College, I lived on the ground floor of Brokaw Hall. One spring morning, I woke to the sound of someone outside, knocking on my window. It was my mother. She had driven from Virginia for the Awards Day Convocation. When my name was called, I wasn’t there. I had slept in. I don’t recall exactly why I had slept in, whether, perhaps, the night before I had been “reveling” or engaging in some other behavior Paul admonished the Romans about. No need to go there.
Sleeping in, I had missed an opportunity to receive an award for doing something well and I had missed the opportunity for my mother to proudly celebrate that with me. She and I went out for lunch that day and we had a nice visit, but I knew that she was disappointed at having driven over 500 miles in order to find me sleeping in.
One of the themes of Advent is “Jesus is coming soon! Straighten up!” What if you expected Jesus to show up tomorrow morning? What would you want to straighten up between now and then? Jesus isn’t coming to give you a load of grief, but to celebrate with you the joy of salvation. St. Paul tells us that now is the time to get ready, “for salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers.”
We pray: Come, Lord Jesus. Save us from our sins and lead us into the light. Amen.
The Rev. Dr. Ben Moravitz is a retired ELCA pastor and a 1976 graduate of Newberry College.
“In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, . . . ‘I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.’”
Matthew 3:1, 11 (NRSV)
One of my favorite Advent hymns is “Soon and Very Soon” (With One Voice, 744). In its simplicity, it describes the nature of hope in the season of Advent: “Soon and very soon, we are goin’ to see the King.” For those who follow the liturgical calendar, Advent is a time of waiting, a time of anticipation. The four weeks leading to Christmas are filled with stories that proclaim the coming of Jesus, the Savior. These are generally not fun stories – some of them speak of war and destruction, of dismantled families and sinful deeds.
John the Baptist, or more accurately, the Baptizer, made the most recognizable of these proclamations. It was John’s role to announce the coming of Christ. Though he didn’t say it exactly this way, he says, “soon and very soon, we are goin’ to see the King.” For John, the coming of Jesus was imminent. And though John’s message sounded harsh (“You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come!”), and he seems very much like a wild man screaming at the good folks of Judea, his message is one of hope.
The good news about Jesus is that Jesus can do what no one else can do: save us from sin. As we make our way through a world of war, conflicting viewpoints, separated families, and other calamaties, it is Christ who gives us hope. It is the promise of the resurrection that leads us through the darkness and into the light.
Soon and very soon . . .
Let us pray: Stir up in us your Holy Spirit, Lord. Help us to wait with confidence for the coming of your Son who will baptize us, bestow the Holy Spirit upon us, and save us from the power of sin. Amen.
The Rev. Dr. Christy Wendland, Associate Dean of the College
“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at that time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
Matthew 24: 36-44 (NIV)
Anticipation can be a tricky thing, especially when you don’t know when you want to happen will actually happen. We can be excited, or we can be nervous. We can also be excitedly nervous. Waiting for something is never easy. However, we can be rest assured that whatever we are anticipating will happen, even if it doesn’t happen the way we want it to.
The advent season is very special to the believer. This is the time where we wait and prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ as well as his return at the Second Coming. We don’t know when Jesus Christ will return but we know it will happen. We don’t know when the trumpet will sound, and he will descend but we know it will happen. How do we know it will happen? Well because he was born to fulfill prophecy and we know that GOD’s word will not return unto us void as he said in the 55th chapter of Isaiah. Just know that his return, like his birth, will be worth the wait.
Thank you for this advent season. As we eagerly await the return of Jesus Christ, please help us to prepare ourselves and each other for that return.
In Jesus' Name,
Dr. John Lesaine ‘07 serves as assistant dean for academic affairs and associate professor of sport professions.