New every morning is your love, great God of light, and all day long you are working for good in the world. Stir up in us desire to serve you, to live peacefully with our neighbors and all your creation, and to devote each day to your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

"A Liturgy for Morning Prayer," Upper Room Worshipbook

Used by permission from the Book of Common Worship, © 2018 Westminster John Knox Press. All rights reserved. This prayer appears in “A Liturgy for Morning Prayer” in Upper Room Worshipbook.


Today’s Reflection

Story reminds us to which communities we belong. Family stories tell us that we are part of a community related by blood. In some respects knowing the stories is as much a part of belonging to a family as our biological inheritance. The stories that shape who we are and what we value also define the parameters of the communities to which we belong. … Because we know the stories of Jesus and his followers and indeed claim to be followers ourselves, those stories form the persons we are and the decisions we make even today.

—Michael E. Williams, in The Wondrous Mystery: An Upper Room Advent Reader, compiled by Benjamin Howard (Upper Room Books, 2019)

Today’s Question

What stories have helped to form your identity? What stories form the identity of your community? Join the conversation.

Today’s Scripture

“Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.
—Luke 8:39 (NRSV)

Prayer for the Week

God, Thank you for what is just around the corner. In a season filled with the longest, darkest nights, I await the coming of the most beautiful light.
Submit your prayer to The Upper Room.

Something More

Holidays can be rough. This year is especially difficult for those whose family or plans have been affected by the pandemic. Join us to pray for those in need or share your own prayer request at The Upper Room Prayer Wall.

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Looking for lectionary-based resources? Learn more about The Upper Room Disciplines.


  • Julie Posted December 17, 2020 8:45 am

    My family has many stories. Some are loving and wonderful but some, especially within my nuclear family when I was a child are harrowing, frightening and disturbing. My grandparents and the stories with and from them are generally warm and loving. But, my father was an alcoholic and also a philanderer and could be violent as well. The entire extended paternal family were alcoholics and that has affected me in that I will not drink.
    Prayers for Jill and her students. I pray in particular for the student who instead of going to college will get a GED.
    Prayers for Robert and his safe and fun day of travel and different cuisines. I wonder if the sauerkraut is for New Year’s.
    Prayers for Lou and her youngest daughter, may both be safe and well. May Lou’s daughter arrive home safely despite the weather and may she quarentine when she gets home as advised.
    Prayers for Ally and David, Rick and Scott and Marcy, may all be safe and well.
    We got about a foot of snow. Tazzie is not well and has an emergency vet appointment this morning. Prayers would be greatly appreciated.

  • Ally Posted December 17, 2020 10:44 am

    Hello all. Though I haven’t commented in a few days, I’ve read the offerings and your comments.I come from a long line of story-tellers on both sides of my family. My grandparents and parents told stories which formed me and are a wonderful legacy of who we are. A good example is the stories about the faith of my great-grandparents and how their Christian faith formed and shaped their children. The only great-grandmother on my daddy’s side who lived after I was born lived to be 107. Her husband died in the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918. She raised 8 children as a widow in Appalachia. All 8 were high school graduates, though they had to leave home to attend school. Some went on to attend college and had careers as teachers. My grandmother was a teacher. All 4 of her children became teachers. Daddy’s other grandmother raised 12 children, 5 of whom answered calls to ministry in the Methodist Church. One of those was my grandfather. I cherish also the stories of my mother as a single career woman during a time most women married young and were housewives. Some of the stories in mama’s family are tragic. Her mother and sister took their own lives. grandmother was an addict who was fired from her nursing job for stealing medication. My precious Aunt Shirley was trapped in an abusive marriage and I do believe it was her way of taking control of a situation where she had no power. Other tragedies involving addiction and mental illness have taken place. My mother was a brave woman who overcame much. I’m so proud of my people and their legacies.
    I give thanks to God for His provision, especially my improved vision. It is a miracle to me that such a simple procedure restored and brought clarity to my world. I ask continues prayers for David and me, who is dealing with some depression again. Pray that he will be more receptive to talk therapy. The research suggests that many COVID survivors suffer from PTSD and survivor’s guilt, because so many have died. We covet your prayers.
    Jill, I’m glad that you have some “rest time”, now that school is on winter break. I pray that you and Larry will be able to get together on Christmas Day. I too am sad at the thought of our Christmas Eve traditions such as church services and Holy Communion won’t happen. We do live in strange times. Robert, I’m glad that you have been out and about and enjoying varied cuisines. Cajun is my favorite cuisine. Popeye’s is one of my favorites. I enjoy their red beans and rice. Tastes like what I make at home. Lou, I prayers for traveling graces for your daughter and for safety. I know you will be glad to have her at home for a little while. Rick and Scott, prayers continue that things will settle down and that you will feel at home in your new situation. Marcy, praying that you feel well. I miss your hymns. Praying Roxie and Lucy Lou are doing well. Julie, you are an overcomer and admire you very much. Prayers for little Tazzie. Be safe as you travel to her appointment. Keep us posted. Know that I’m praying for all, that we remember and learn from our stories, that in this season of Advent we find our waiting to be fruitful, and all remain safe. Praying that the vaccines are successful in arresting the pandemic and for a peaceful transition of power in January for our country. Blessings to all.

  • robert moeller Posted December 17, 2020 12:39 pm

    There are very few stories from both sides of my parents families, all my life it was bits and pieces. You needed to be attentive. The biggest story came from my mother-in-law who told of how she, a pregnant recently widowed mother of four children made it onto a boat in Wonsan harbor and slowly made her way with other Korean War refugees to the port of Pusan. One of those children, Soo Ok, was my wife. At the time she was two years old. All of them survived with my wife passing away first, followed by her mother.

    Still snowing, roads and driveway being plowed. Christmas cards written and mailed. A few more to do yet. Very glad out trip yesterday was so successful. A hearty Korean soup being prepared and there’s rice and kimchi to go with it. No special plans for the Sauerkraut, we do have Leberkaese to go with it. Painted the roof on the Canadian National – US Mail- express car so progress is being made. The devotions in the Almost Christmad book that goes with the Advent study really support and expand on the study. A deep and meaning filled Advent experience for me. Yes, my prayers for all of you and yours, safe travels and actions in this pandemic, peace for the families who survive, recovery for those who are sick, help and support for those who have been tragically affected by Covid, thankful vaccines are reaching those who stuck their neck out for us and enabled healing, peace to all in whatever situation you are in and thankful for the blessings of the day.
    Love Popeye’s chicken, rice and beans. Not sure I have a favorite cuisine, but surely have favorite dishes in several cuisines. Have been able to switch cuisines easily, sometimes mixing them. Korean citron tea goes very well with German Lebkuchen (gingerbread). Kimchi and Sauerkraut have some basic similarities but also great differences. I’m used to capitalizing German nouns, hard to break. Yes, I too hope for a peaceful transition at the White House this January. Thank You, Lord.

  • Jill Posted December 17, 2020 12:58 pm

    Yes, my family too, has its share of stories. On my dad’s side – I never knew my dad’s dad as he drank himself to death in his 50s. My dad’s mom was the eldest of 5 sisters and she herself raised four children. The middle boy tragically drowned while swimming with his brothers. My dad had never talked of Mickie, until two summers ago after mom died. One morning when we were golfing, he shared about the accident.
    On my mom’s side…mom’s mom was a nervous scaredy cat (as my mom would say) and no doubt having been raised by her, this led to my mom’s emotional issues. My grandma literally had a hole in her head – as in the late 1920’s she had radiation on her head – and something went amiss. My sister saw it a few times and swears you can see the bone of her forehead. Everything regarding this was hush hush and she always wore a head band. She lived in constant headache/pain and only by the mercy (was it?) of God she lived to be 86. She had an identical twin, whose first husband committed suicide. She married twice more, but never had children. She spoiled all her great nieces and nephews, as well as her pug dogs. She fed her dogs hot fudge sundaes and Frosted Flakes with milk, amongst other things. Grandpa had a glass eye due to a farming accident when he was young. By the time he was in his 80s – he was probably legally blind, but continued to drive. He would be behind the wheel and grandma would tell him if there was any traffic coming when they were at a stop sign.
    What a motley crew, huh?
    On a much more serious note…when I thought about the second question…stories which form my community – I thought of my small group. Being an introvert and new to the group back in 2017, I just wanted to blend quietly into the background of the 10-12 of us gathered around the table. But – as others shared – I could tell there was raw honesty…authenticity. They truly coveted the prayer support of each other. After a few weeks – I told them about my new diagnosis and the extent to which I was struggling to adjust. They enveloped me in their love and prayers and encouragement. So glad God led me to this church and to this group.
    Only a few inches of your snowstorm here, Julie and Robert. Enough to make the trees beautiful while I ran this morning. It was lightly snowing then, decent sized flakes. They kept softly hitting my face, as – again – there was an absence of wind. The highlight of my run.

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