Use this this week to celebrate Advent and the upcoming Birth of Christ. Below is a devotional and at the beginning is the Advent Candle lighting words for this week.
Prepare to glorify the Lord
Blessed are those whose hope is in the Lord’s
John the Baptist said “anyone who has 2 shirts should share with one who has one.”
In generosity we glorify God’s name
God’s glory will soon be known
Reveal to us, O Lord, the world that knows you
Good news of Hope waits
We are prepared for all to feel God’s hope
Joshua 24: 15. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.
With the secularism of the Christmas season into a “holiday” season let us pledge ourselves to the service of the Lord. Let us step back from the secular and find the sacred of these moments and the Christmas season. Let us devote ourselves to the Christ child that is to be born. I recently read on Facebook that there are 29 Holidays celebrated during the “Christmas season” and that is why we say “happy holidays” and not “Merry Christmas.” That might be fine and I always advocate for respecting others but as we await Christ’s birth we are asked to make space for Christ in our life. We are meant to examine the space we leave in our lives for God and more importantly for the love that God has for us through the gift of Christ and our salvation. Soon, our Savior is born. Soon we will be reminded of the God that humbly walked amongst us. Soon, we celebrate this joyous moment when God’s love for the world came to life. Being a Christian is not always easy. Setting ourselves outside the secular world and acknowledge our Lord and Savior are an important part of our Salvation. We are called to not just live ordinary lives but as followers of Christ wherever that leads. Let us this Advent season be reminded that, as Joshua did in our passage above, we must declare who are Lord is. We must not get lost in the secular world to the point that the birth of Christ is nothing more than a holiday we celebrate. For this is a gift beyond our imagine, beyond our understandings. This is the greatest gift of our Creator’s love - the Christ child!
First Sunday in Advent:
Isaiah 2: 5 Come, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord
Where do you draw the line between the Holy and the secular? What does it mean to walk in the light of the Lord?? Today open yourself up to the light around you, God’s light. Let God’s light shine in places you usually keep dark; perhaps work, school, a restaurant, your car - find God in someplace new and let the light of God shine. Walk in the light of God means to allow God’s light to shine all around you, in you and through you. It means that God is a part of all that you do. Open yourself up to let this happen.
Day 2: Genesis 8:10-11
Genesis 8:10-11 He waited seven more days and again sent out the dove from the ark. When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth.
What a relief that olive branch was. It didn’t mean it was over, it would still be several months before they got out of that ark; but the end was in sight. Relief was on its way, it was coming. God sends us olive leaves throughout our life; signs that all will be well. Jesus is just that, humbly arriving as a baby. Jesus is a sign and reminder that often we must wait for great things but that they do come - in their own way and in their own time. That great things come to those who wait. This advent we wait once more, for the birth of our savior. What is it in your life that you await relief from? Has God already sent you a olive leaf? Then rejoice.
Day 3: Genesis 9: 13
Genesis 9: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.
The best part about a rainbow is that it has perfect timing. Rainbows only show up when the right amount of rain and sun are together; too much sunlight and it gone or too much rain clouds and no rainbow. They are sign of hope after the rain. This holiday, recall a moment that a rainbow, a sign of hope, appeared. Perhaps a time when you knew all would be well thanks to a sign from God. Christmas season is a time for us to not only celebrate the hope that comes through our faith but to share that hope with others. It is a time for us to spread the love of God and to reminded everyone of the hope that comes with Christ’s birth. Think about how you can bring a rainbow moment to someone else this season. It doesn’t have to be expensive or big, sometimes hope comes in the smallest packages.
Day 4: Isaiah 54: 10
Isaiah 54:10 10 Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.
There are moments when we think “why God why?” Especially as we enter Advent which is in December we are reminded of tragic national events like D-day or Sandy Creek. We are also reminded of our own personal lost that has happened throughout our lifetime during this season of hope. Bad things happen to good people. Bad things happen in joyus moments and at happy times. Bad things happen. Too often when bad things we question God. Too often when bad things happen our faith wavers. Yet it is when bad things happen we must turn to God. It is in turning to our faith that compassion is found. The answers aren’t always there. The bad things have still happened. Yet compassion and love can be felt. God’s hope can be a light in the darkness and a reminder that our mountains can be shaken but not God’s love for us. This season of wait we are reminded that although we might wait for knowledge and answers for things we just don’t understand we can accept God’s compassion and love for us. For God so loved the world that our God sent Jesus to humbly walk among us.
Day 5: Isaiah 4: 5-6
Then the LORD will create over all of Mount Zion and over those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night; over everything the glorya will be a canopy. It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain
God is our refuge. What a wonderful thought. That God will create a hiding place for us and offer us protection. Yet, we often take it upon ourselves to do everything for us don’t we? We worry about money; we worry about all the things in life that create instability and yet we are called throughout our Bible to trust in God’s protection. As we anticipate this Advent, we are reminded that God’s gift didn’t come as everyone expected the Messiah to but the reward was even better than anyone imagined. We might not know what is going to happen when we trust God and things might not turn out as we planned but we are promised that for those who trust, refuge can be found. This Advent season, trust and through that trust open yourself up to the miracles that await.
Day 6: Isaiah 30: 26 The moon will shine like the sun, and the sunlight will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven full days, when the LORD binds up the bruises of his people and heals the wounds he inflicted.
The Light of God is all around us. The light of Christ shines in and through our lives every day. During Advent and the time leading up to Christmas there are movies, musicals, newspaper articles, personal stories all around us of different “Christmas miracles.” Of God’s light shining in the world. But Christmas is not the only time Jesus appears. But during Christmas it feels 7x brighter for everyone - every day Christians to not-so-much believers - is in the Spirit. Let us this holiday help that light shine brighter. Give a little more. Find the hope that lives within your life and share your story of hope with someone. Allow the light of this holiday to fill you up, don’t be a Scrooge.
Day 7: Isaiah 40: 11 He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.
God is our shepherd. During the Advent season of hope there can be darkness. We remember the holidays of “old.” We remember the “good old days” and all the people who are no longer here to celebrate. Our families have changed, children have aged and nothing is like how it used to be. Except God. God has always been our Shepherd. From the Old to the New Testaments, God is our Shepherd. God keeps us, tends to us and in this passage we hear God carries us close to the Holy’s heart. How powerful to know that. Nothing in our life is the same year to year and even day to day; one happening can change that all. But God doesn’t change. Our relationship with God is always here. Think about the stability that provides you and the comfort in knowing that you are in the Holy’s heart!