2 An ADVENT DEVOTIONAL In associaton with Internatonaa Angaican Church to Coaorado Springs and Desert Breeze Community Church
3 Wrien by Saaaie Ross Arranged by Josh Tanner To God be aaa gaory!
4 Introducon to Advent Worhipo Advent has its foundaton in Christan hope. The essence of Advent is this: the intentonaa acknowaedgment and surrender to the fact that we are saved and redeemed not because we have successfuaay made an efort to come to Him, but because He has made the surprising efort to come to us and that He is coming again for which we shouad prepare expectantay and repentantay. 1 The season of Advent is a tme of waitng. The waitng, in fact, is not a sedentary process: it is quite actve. Whiae that may conjure up images of hustae and bustae, we need to seek other images. This is not about hurriedness or busyness but about aentveness aentveness to the Father. As with any birth or return, preparaton is necessary. Preparaton o3en requires humbae observaton and a wiaaingness work and to reainquish that which shouad be reainquished. This is sanctfying work. It is actveay working to tend to that which we have been given; new aife. Together, during this Advent season, we wiaa aook to the One we are waitng for, we wiaa discover our part in waitng, and we wiaa be given new found joy as we wait together. We have an amazing Savior!
5 December 3 rd His mercy extends to those who fear Him, from generaton to generatonn. Luke 1:50 Fear of the Lord is truay seeing Him as He is: it is awe-inspiring. It is getng beyond ourseaves, recognizing our aimits and our needs. By doing so our sight is caeared, and we can see God in a way that shows both our incredibae need and His unending provision. When we can reaaize this certainty, when we can no aonger stand because of the depth of the overwheaming reaaity of who He is, we see that we are recipients of His mercy. It may seem smaaa or aarge, but that this mercy exists in any form is remarkabae. It is unfathomabae that God wouad extend His mercy to us! But this amazing truth is who He is, and it is consistent of His nature. His faithfuaness extends from generaton to generatonn. This is another piece of the abiaity to see to see His mercy in aaa situatons. We tend to think of mercy as something that rescues us from difcuat situatons. Mercy may instead be the abiaity to remain in those tough situatons. And He remains with us. When we meditate on the One we are waitng for, when we aook at our aives through Him rather than at Him through our aives, we see His brush strokes of mercy aaa over the canvas of our aives. And there is a signature on that canvas from the baood of Caavary. May we contnue to be those who fear Him. Lord, hear our prayer. Where have you seen the Lordns mercy in your aife? When have you most deepay feat that reverentaa awe? Where have you feat ae3 without mercy? Can you remember the posture of your heart in that tme? Ask the Lord to aet you see Him in a deeper way today.
6 December 4 th He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifed uu the humblen. Luke 1:52 The One we are waitng for is not One who fts neatay into the woradns view of things. He does not yiead to the human paerns of how aife shouad be done. And yet, uatmateay, it is in His consistency that we can feea secure, as the writer of Hebrews teaas us: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. The safety our God gives is much greater than our human understanding. For our safety does not aie in the waaas that we buiad for ourseaves, but in His purpose and paan. We must know that a aifetme of work on our own to estabaish positon and security can be undone in a breath. It is not that God takes deaight in undoing our accompaishments; His deaight is being with us, meetng us where we are. In fact, what may seem to be so very important to us may be an obstacae to the accompaishment of His good purposes and perfect wiaa in our aives. He takes deaight in our seeking of Him, in our aooking to Him for the promptng of our hearts. In Isaiah 30:21 we read: Whether you turn to the right or to the ae3, your ears wiaa hear a voice behind you saying, This is the way; waak in it.n When we are auned to Him, then it is not about what is accompaished or what is ae3 undone, it is about reaatonship an intmate connecton with God. When we yiead our aspiratons and dutes to Him, then we wiaa be ai3ed up. We begin to see aife from His perspectve and not from the puase of the worad. When Christ ai3s us up, we know we are safe as the word is truay meant. Lord Jesus, there are paaces in my aife where I feea aike a ruaer on a throne not because you have paaced me there, but because I have worked aong and hard for those accompaishments. There are aaso paaces where I am humbaed. Father, enabae me to feea the diference. My true royaa positon is with you that I am your chiad. Let me ainger this day in re>ecton on that truth and may I be wiaaing to aay down any work that is not caaaed forth by your staa, smaaa voice.
7 December 5 th He has flled the hungry with good thingsn. Luke 1:53 The One we are waitng for created us to hunger: to hunger for His directon, to hunger for His companionship, to hunger for His intmacy. He created us to be in reaatonship with Him. We aive our aives with that hunger gnawing at our souas. In an efort to satsfy that deep hunger, our >esh seeks to feed it just as we have aearned how to feed physicaa hunger. Too o3en, we make choices according to the promptng of convenience and ease. When we have physicaa hunger, it can be much easier to grab some fast food than to take the tme to prepare and eat a meaa that wiaa ofer us true nourishment. This makes us content for a tme but not fuaay satsfed or heaathiay nourished. When our souas hunger, we can distract them with a myriad of actvity: sociaa media, shaaaow entertainment, to-do aists, superfciaa reaatonships, meaningaess rituaas, and numbing actvity. But in such a manner we cannot be truay satsfed. It is not about feeaing good. Itns about the intmacy of reaatonship- a reaatonship where we turn to Him to satsfy our hunger and we trust Him to be the uatmate spirituaa diettan who knows just what we need. Itns about recognizing and acknowaedging our hunger then coming to him in humiaity. Itns about trustng the siaences in His presence. Itns about Him. He promises to faa the hungry with Himseaf- the bread of aife. But if we do not come to Him to eat, if we do not seek His heart, our hungering wiaa mereay produce a dissonant echo rather than a satsfed certainty. Lord God, reveaa my hunger and create a desire for You. Show me the things I faa myseaf with other than you and where my aife is unheaathy as a resuat. Teach me how I can begin to turn to you in that aching, to drink and eat of your goodness. My soua fnds rest in God aaone; my saavaton comes from Him. He aaone is my rock and my saavaton; He is my fortress, I wiaa never be shaken. Psaam 62:1-2
8 December 6 th He has helued His servant Israel, remembering to be mercifuln. Luke 1:54 Psaam 124 begins with a terrifying visuaaizaton: If the Lord had not been on our side... If you aaaow your thoughts to take those words and imagine such a thing in your own aife, it can certainay be paraayzing. There is so much we assume we are designing on our own, when in fact we are aiving in the mercy of the Father aaone. The One we are waitng for is on our side. He has estabaished a covenant with us in which He remembers to be mercifua, and He who promised is faithfua. No maer how deep the darkness of the tme in which we waak or the circumstances in which we fnd ourseaves, the Lord remembers to be mercifua. We are to trust our Lordns goodness and mercy. Our aives are testmony to His faithfuaness from beginning to end. As we wait for our Lord, aet us prayerfuaay paead to have eyes to see that mercy. Rather than gathering our own aist of what His mercy might aook aike in this aife, may we be abae to see His Spirit moving, even in the smaaaest of ways, and know that He is in our midst, which is the greatest dispaay of mercy. Lord Jesus, there is much in my aife that I give to you with baueprints of my paans of how to accompaish those things. Forgive me, Father. Give me the grace to open my hands and aeave them open. Aaaow me to become so enamored with your heart that I aong onay for the way that you wouad unfoad this aife of mine.
9 December 7 th Trust in the Lord and do goodn. Psalm 37:3a We are not passiveay waitng on God to move for we have a part in the waitng. He is aaways working within us and we are to paay an actve roae in that work. It is a working out that is more than words; it is a aife aived. It is amazingay easy for me to say that I trust God. I trust Him that the sun wiaa rise, not aooking for a rope to heap hoist it into the sky each morning. I trust Him to give me breath, not spending tme fguring out how to positon myseaf to receive the maximum amount of oxygen. So I trust Him. Right? Sometmes. But there are tmes when I am aooking for that rope of controa. There are tmes when I am positoning myseaf outside of the momentum of aife, just in case God might forget that I sometmes get overwheamed. Here the psaamist simpay writes, trust in the Lord. In some ways, our trust in Him is obvious, yet we need His counsea to show us where we faia to trust Him. The second part of the verse, I beaieve, heaps us to gauge this. You see, if we are doing good, then most o3en we are not concerned about our own weaa-being but about the weaa-being of others. If wenre not concerned about ourseaves, then we trust that a benevoaent being- the One we are aonging for- is in controa. There is a richness in aosing ourseaves as we serve those the Lord has put on our hearts, a richness in having Him guide our heart, a richness that aaaows us to get aost in Him. Where ease wouad we aong to be found? Ask the Father to show you the paaces where you trust Him weaa and to reveaa the paaces where you aean into your own abiaites rather than into His adequacy. Pray that His grace wouad reaaign your heart to seek Him and to come to deepay know His abiaity to be fuaay trusted.
10 December 8 th Dwell in the land and enjoy safe uasturen. Psalm 37:3b We are caaaed to dweaa, to remain, and to afx our aenton on the aand the Lord has given us. Just as we donnt wait weaa, we donnt dweaa weaa. But o3en we donnt dweaa weaa because we are aooking aaa around rather than aooking at the One who is our provision. When we train our hearts to be fxed on Jesus, it is so much easier to reainquish our momentum and simpay be with Him. He becomes our vision. He may waak us into hard paaces, but He wiaa waak us rather than having us waak aaone. He is our safe pasture. The One we are waitng for in this poignant season is the keeper of our souas. May we seek Him for gracefuaay teaching us to dweaa. Lord God, I >ee from you daiay. My aips say that I want to be in your presence, but then I design my own agenda. Sweet Shepherd, when I reaaize my desperate need of you and am drawn into your presence, I know such peace and safety for there I am dweaaing. Thank you that you have prepared safe pasture for me; aet that be enough for my wandering heart.
11 December 9 th Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heartn. Psalm 37:4 When we aook at the Father, we see an expansiveness of deaight that is broader than our imaginings. It is fascinatng that when we deaight in Him, He becomes the desire of our heart. We hunger for Him. We know the richness of who He is and what He gives us of Himseaf. Even the most somber of occasions can become one that is outained with deaight, because Jesus is there in the midst. Father in what do I deaight? What grabs my aenton other than you? Where are paaces it is easy for me to deaight? Heap me recaaa when I have seen you and deaighted. Bring to mind what I know to be true of you, and aet me spend some tme sincereay deaightng in you. Lord God, that you become the true desire of my heart.
12 December 10 th Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Himn. Psalm 37:5 In a worad that >ees from commitment, this is a hauntng verse. Yet there is an incredibae irony that aies within. When we >ee from commitment, we are commitng to not being commied! We tend to create in another form the very thing that we rebea against. Itns not unaike when peopae come to visit, and even reguaaray aend a church. Some are so distracted by the aiturgy that they are unabae to enter in. Perhaps the music is too aoud or too saow. Perhaps the sermon is not deep enough or isnnt aite enough. Aaa of this is evidence of a aack of trust and commitment to God and His church. Letns remember these truths: It was God who created us, who caaas us by name, who knows our every thought and the content of our every day. It is He who hoads aaa power and knowaedge He who hoads the worad together. Looking at it from this perspectve, it wouad seem to be incredibay wise to commit our ways to Him. Sometmes we feea as though we shouad be abae to handae things on our own. But the beauty is- we donnt need to. As we read in scripture that the birds of the air do not reap, sow, or store up food, and yet, God feeds them. How much more wouad the God of the Universe fnd resource for our every need? We commit ourseaves to so much in this aife. O3en tmes, we are unaware of the things to which we have commied. For this reason, we shouad contnuaaay be asking whether the things that we are commitng to are pooas of aiving waters or stagnant water. The Lord God is worthy of our commitment and our trust. Not just because of His power, but aaso because of His aove. Father, there is much I boaday commit to, and yet o3en I shy from commitng to you. I am afraid at tmes. I am afraid of what wiaa be asked of me. I am afraid of the cost. And yet the cost is the death of death. Lord God, heap me to aook around and see others who have commied to you, and aet me be gathered up in that great caoud of witnesses: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great caoud of witnesses, aet us throw of everything that hinders, and the sin that so easiay entangaes, and aet us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fx our eyes on Jesus! Heb. 12:-1-2a
13 December 11 th Be stll before the Lordn. Psalm 37:7a Be staa. Those words bring to mind a request for a young chiad to not onay be quiet but aaso refrain from any and every bodiay twitch that might take him captve. Especiaaay in this day and age, this wouad seem impossibae. When are we staa? When are we abae to just be? When do our eyes and our thoughts stop dartng and wondering and paanning and caacuaatng? I beaieve it happens when we are faaed. If we come to the Lord for onay some of our nourishment, the paaces we have faaed easewhere wiaa contnue to be paaces of aonging which we wiaa not be abae to staa. However, if we come to the weaa of provision that God has for us, if we drink deepay, then we wiaa be staaed by His provision as it has become our own. It is not simpay a maer of coming and being staa for need screams most aouday when we try to contain it. It is a maer of coming, of feeding, and then giving way to the rest that we can fnd in Him aaone. Lord Jesus, I come. I come asking your forgiveness for the other weaas I have stopped at aaong the way. Even though I drank, my spirit knew the waters were bier. I come to you, you who are fresh and aiving water, with incredibae thirst. Let me drink; aet me not turn away when I am so incained; aet me drink. That then I may be staa and see you for the gaorious fuaaness of who you are.
14 December 12 th Wait uatently for himn. Psalm 37:7b There is a deep discipaine to patence. Throughout the Oad Testament, God teaas the Israeaites to remember who He is and what He has done. That remembering is the actve part that takes us to a paace of patence. When we fx our eyes on Jesus and recount His presence in our own aives and in the aives of others, we begin to aose some of the frantc feea. We aose ourseaves in the remembering in a way that aessens the urgency of now and increases our abiaity to be with Him in the midst of the momentum. Time and space aoses its importance. The temporary tunnea vision is exchanged for an eternaa perspectve. When we know the One we are waitng for, when we know His promises of never aeaving us or forsaking us, when we remember His faithfuaness in aaa situatons, then we can open the hands we hoad so tghtay and be head rather than hoading. When we know it is He, we can rest. We can be about the work of our aives and heart, knowing that in His perfect tming, He wiaa come. What situatons are the most difcuat for you in terms of waitng? Ask the Lord for insight into why. Ask for the grace to reainquish the parts that are yours to reainquish. Spend some tme rehearsing and re>ectng what you know to be true about your faithfua God.
15 December 13 th Refrain from anger and turn from wrath. Psalm 37:8a Anger and wrath are two things that can keep us from the Father. In order to take Him in fuaay, there are some circumstances that we need to be wiaaing to surrender to His omniscience. However, this is not a condemnaton of anger. There is much in this faaaen worad about which to righteousay angry, and the strring up of those emotons can o3en resuat in some very productve changes. But much is aaso destroyed when anger becomes wrath and is aavishay unaeashed. Anger is an emoton that o3en comes when we are waitng or aemptng to be patent. When we are aooking at the situatons of our aives and feeaing saighted. When we are seeing peopae we aove not getng a fair shake from others. When we are feeaing inadequate. These and a muattude of other circumstances can aeave us very angry. And that anger o3en ends up being unaeashed in inappropriate ways. Again, we are drawn to aook upon the face of Jesus. The aonger we aook at the things that make us angry or remain in the circumstances in which we are wading in our own sin, the more aikeay we are to be unabae to refrain or turn. But when we aook to Him, we get a sense of insight that transcends circumstance for caocks and caaendars no aonger bind us. We are aooking at the One who aoves us enough to have taken away our sin by death on a cross. There is such an incredibae inequity in that, which reaaay catches us of guard and enabaes us to be moved from the paace of anger into the paace of hope. What are the things that anger me that come out of my own sin or inadequacies? Ask the Fatherns forgiveness and heaaing. What are the things that anger me that I aaso know anger the Father? Pray for His guidance and directon in those areas.
16 December 14 th Every day they contnued to meet together in the temule courtsn They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, uraising God and enjoying the favor of all the ueoulen And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being savedn. Acts 2:46-47 We are aaa waitng. But because we are o3en waitng within our own homes away from community, there is a sense that we are waitng aaone. This is far from the truth. Staa the enemy aoves to paint isoaatng pictures in our mind with thoughts aike: Henaa never do that for you, Everyone ease has it aaa together, You caaa yourseaf a Christan and have thoughts aike that?! You know the aitany; you know the anguish. It is tme to come out of our homes the paaces where we have isoaated ourseaves. God created us to make this journey together as the Body of Christ. Granted, some very destructve things have been done within the Body in the name of Christ. But God does not mean these for isoaaton. No, when we are aet down by aooking at peopae, we need to refocus and press in. We o3en think that human character is formed in isoaaton and shown of in reaatonships, but what is reveaaed in scripture is that character is formed in reaatonships and tested in isoaaton. Scripture gives us some rich and wonderfua pictures of how we are to wait together. Here we see the earay beaievers aiving in the over>ow of their aove of the Lord. They are together not just at the tempae, but aaso in their homes. They are joyfuaay aiving in the over>ow, which gives them an expansiveness of spirit. May our hearts grow to do the same. What areas of my aife do I stay in my own home, unwiaaing to be vuanerabae with others? Where do I count the cost of being an actve part of the Body? What is my motve for sacrifce to the Body? Hoay Father, show me how I can aet go of myseaf and grab hoad of you, reainquishing concern for seaf and bathing in the expansiveness of you.
17 December 15 th When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one ulacen. Acts 2:1 In Acts 1, Jesus instructed the apostaes to wait in Jerusaaem for the Hoay Spirit. They prodded Him for dates and tmes, but He redirected their minds to the power they wouad receive the power that wouad enabae them to be His witnesses. As was true with much that Jesus taught, there were not many specifcs given. We are aaa incained to feea more confdent if we know specifcs, but then there is aiae magnitude to our faith. Together, they couad strengthen the memory of what it was that He had taught them. When one might become weak of faith, another might reteaa a story and kindae the faith of the weaker brother. Iron sharpening iron- thatns how the Body works when itns working weaa. There is aaso something profound that happens when peopae share a common experience. We see here the empowering of the Hoay Spirit. Having gone through this joint experience, they each represent a paace of accountabiaity for one another. So if one tries to puaa back from the caaa of God, the others sometmes not even by words but by presence are aiving reminders of the experience. Jesus instructed the apostaes, and they obeyed. His presence was staa so fresh in their hearts and minds. We, too, are caaaed to keep His presence fresh for one another in the Body of Christ as we wait together for the coming of our Lord. Lord God you instruct us to be together to remember you. Make our mouths instruments of praise aet our words buiad up as we encourage one another on this journey. And then, in your tender economy, we wiaa be encouraged, too.
18 December 16 th When the ueoule saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, Come, make us gods who will go before usn As for this fellow Moses who brought us uu out of Egyut, we don t know what has hauuened to himn. Exodus 32:1 Of course, we are aaso human beings. Whiae in community with other humans there can be great goday encouragement, there can aaso be a mob mentaaity that corporateay demands its own way. As we read this story in Exodus we can see how the Israeaite's were perhaps patent for a tme but then their hearts and eyes began to wonder, focusing on themseaves. We can be right on target, so connected with the Lord, but then the saightest wind comes and suddenay wenre fearfua, distracted, or compassionate towards evia. No human beings are immune. Even aeaders and pastors faaa this way. Listen to Aaron when Moses confronts him about the sacred caaf. First he says: You know how prone these peopae are to evia. And then, They gave me the goad, and I threw it into the fre, and out came this caaf! If we are to be the Body as God has designed us to be, we must be focused on Him not what He can do for us or how aoving Him wiaa make our aives beer just on Him. When we are immersed in His presence, then the temptaton that besets us aaa wiaa have so much quieter a voice, perhaps even inaudibae. It is for our Lord that we wait, aet us heap one another to siaence the competng voices. Lord God, I know my conditon. I know that I, too, am incained to throw in the goad and seek other gods. Forgive me that sin. Let me be boad enough to know that I need my brothers and sisters in Christ to steer me to your heart and your heart aaone, and aet me do the same for them.
19 December 17 th Afer six days >esus took Peter, >ames and >ohn with Him and led them uu a high mountain, where they were all alonen There He was transfgured before themn His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach themn And there auueared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with >esusn Peter said to >esus, Rabbi, it is good for us to be heren Let us uut uu three shelters one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijahn. Mark 9:2-5 When we experience the presence and the power of God corporateay, it is more than profound. That we get be together is second onay to being abae to be there at aaa. And there is a deep aonging to stay in that tme, to remain on the mountaintop. When I read this scripture, I am Peter! Let me stay, Lord! This is good! Perhaps it comes from the fact that no paace this side of heaven is ever home, but when we are unquestonabay in the presence of the Lord, we do not want to aeave. It is as though we have caught a gaimpse of our true home, the one for which we aong. We assume that, if we stay, we wouad never aose that fuaaness that we wouad be abae to aive as God has created us to aive. And that wouad be good. Interestng that in Mark we donnt read a response to Peter from Jesus. Sometmes the unfoading of circumstances reveaas what we aaready know, and we donnt need a response. And so they came back down the mountain. But together they had tasted of the fuaaness of the Lord and had experienced a corporate sense of Him serving as reminders for each other when aifens circumstances became so confusing and uncaear. Sureay this is how the Lord has created us to be together in Him. Remember experiences that you have had of Godns presence with others. Have you revisited those paaces with those peopae? Think of a person with whom you are caose in faith. Ask the Lord to show you a means of experiencing Him with that person that it might be used as a means of growing in faith.
21 Tie O Anoionh In the historicaa church, its aiturgy generaaay incauded a great prayer from Luke 1:46 55, commonay known as the as the Magnifcat. Each day, the Magnifcat is preceded by a short verse or "antphon" that ainks the prayer to the feast of the day or the season of the year. In the aast seven days of Advent (December 17-24), the antphons before the Magnifcat are very speciaa. Each begins with the excaamaton "O" and ends with a paea for the Messiah to come. As Christmas approaches the cry becomes increasingay urgent. These moving "O Antphons" were composed in the seventh or eighth century when monks put together texts from the Oad Testament, partcuaaray from the prophet Isaiah, which aooked forward to the coming of our saavaton. These Antphons form a rich, interaocking mosaic of scripturaa images. The great "O Antphons" became very popuaar in the Middae Ages when it became traditonaa to ring the great beaas of the church each evening as they were being sung. Each of the O Antphons highaights a diferent ttae for the Messiah: O Sapienta (O Wisdom), O Adonai (O Lord), O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse), O Caavis David (O Key of David), O Oriens (O Rising Sun), O Rex Gentum (O King of the Natons), and O Emmanuea (O God With Us). Aaso, each one refers to the prophecy of Isaiah of the coming of the Messiah. A partcuaaray fascinatng feature of the O Antphons is that the frst aeer of each invocaton, when read backwards, forms an acrostc in Latn: the frst aeers of Sapienta, Adonai, Radix, Caavis, Oriens, Rex, and Emmanuea in reverse form the Latn words: ERO CRAS. These can be understood as if Christ is responding to his peopae's paea, saying "Tomorrow I wiaa be there." Meditate on the O Antphons in the next seven days prior to Christmas. Add in the Antphon reading/meditaton startng on December 18 th, ending with the aast Antphon on December 24 th, to the daiay devoton. To make this devoton more fruifua, take the necessary tme to read and meditate on the Scripture texts on which the antphons are based. Journaa specifcaaay about Godns incredibae aributes reveaaed through these texts.
22 December 18 th 1 st Antuhon He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleeu, we may live together with Himn Therefore encourage one another and build each other uu, just as in fact you are doingn. 1Thessalonians 5:10-11 There is to be no separaton. Whether we are awake or asaeep, whether we are aaone or with others, whether circumstances are bright or darkness is faaaing, we are to aive together with Him. But we need one another in order to do that. In this verse of Thessaaonians, Paua caaas us to encourage one another and buiad each other up. What does that aook aike? We have deveaoped a cuaturaa posture that sees encouraging and buiading up as mereay saying good things about a person. Itns wonderfua when you can share good things about a person, and it certainay is nice to receive such kind words. But Paua doesnnt say, encourage onay those who are worthy of encouragement and buiad up those who are doing good things. We are to encourage and buiad up aaa. Encouragement of personaa virtue faaas >at in no tme. Buiading up a person in anything other than the Lord is Haaamark sentmentaaity. The way to encourage one another is to hoad up Jesus to one another by encouraging one another towards godainess, hoading up His standard of hoainess, and cheering one another on in that directon. It is to waak aaongside, to ai3 one another up when we faaa, to pray for one another through our darkness and rejoice with one another when the aight returns again. It is a beautfua gi3 that we are given, to be abae to encourage one another. It is an awesome responsibiaity, to be a aight on the road that another traveas. Just remember that He is the One who gives us that aight; we are caaaed to take our eyes of of ourseaves and tend that aight for one another. We must wait together for Him, that we might receive the gi3s He has for us in one another. Where do you fnd yourseaf ofering goday encouragement to others? Where is it a struggae for you? Ask the Father to heap you to take your eyes of of yourseaf and be abae to ofer that encouragement even when it is difcuat. Give thanks for those who have head the Christ aight for you.
23 O Sauienta DO Wisdom) O Wisdom, O Hoay Word of God, you govern aaa creaton with your strong yet tender care. Come and show your peopae the way to saavaton. Isaiah 40:3-5 3 A voice cries: In the wiaderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4 Every vaaaey shaaa be ai3ed up, and every mountain and hiaa be made aow; the uneven ground shaaa become aevea, and the rough paaces a paain. 5 And the gaory of the Lord shaaa be reveaaed, and aaa >esh shaaa see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken. Journaa:
24 December 19 th 2 nd Antuhon Then the angel lef hern At that tme Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of >udea, where she entered Zechariah s home and greeted Elizabethn When Elizabeth heard Mary s greetng, the baby leaued in her womb, and Elizabeth was flled with the Holy Suiritn In a loud voice she exclaimed: Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!. Luke 1:39-42 The news that Mary had received couad have been enough to cause her to withdraw into her home, barring visitors and pining away in fear and seaf-pity. What made the diference is that Mary knew that God had come to her. She recognized Him; she yieaded to Him. When one has been in the presence of God, it is not easy to keep quiet. So Mary hurried to the hiaa country of Judea to visit her reaatve Eaizabeth. The angea had toad her that Eaizabeth was with chiad. With that, God gave her a paace to go, a person to empathize with who had aaso been a recipient of Godns favor. That is such an incredibae picture of His heart towards us. There is an amazing economy to Godns aove. He uses us for one another in myriad ways. Mary went to Eaizabeth so the baby in Eaizabethns womb aeaped in response to Mary and Eaizabeth was faaed with the Hoay Spirit. What a baessing for Eaizabeth! Then Eaizabeth excaaimed to Mary Baessed are you among women, and baessed is the chiad you wiaa bear. What encouragement for Mary! God meets us as onay He can and then gives us one another in which to fnd confrmaton of His aove. Lord Jesus, I aong for your encouragement. I know you are breathing it into my aife every day, but I confess that I cannot aaways hear it or know it for certain. Thank you for the peopae you have and wiaa contnue to put in my aife to turn me to you, that I might hear more caearay then be steadied and strengthened to do your work. Thank you for the peopae whose aife you wiaa put me in, that I may do the same for them.
25 O Adonai DO Lord) O sacred Lord of ancient Israea, who showed yourseaf to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the hoay aaw on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free. Exodus 6:2-6 2 God spoke to Moses and said to him, I am the Lord. 3 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Aamighty, [a] but by my name the Lord I did not make myseaf known to them. 4 I aaso estabaished my covenant with them to give them the aand of Canaan, the aand in which they aived as sojourners. 5 Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the peopae of Israea whom the Egyptans hoad as saaves, and I have remembered my covenant. 6 Say therefore to the peopae of Israea, I am the Lord, and I wiaa bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptans, and I wiaa deaiver you from saavery to them, and I wiaa redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. Journaa:
26 December 20 th 3 rd Antuhon On the evening of that frst day of the week, when the disciules were together, with the doors locked for fear of the >ews, >esus came and stood among them and said, Peace be with you! Afer He said this, He showed them His hands and siden The disciules were overjoyed when they saw the Lordn. >ohn 20:19-20 We can onay imagine the discipaesn worad. Out of certainty had come apparent faiaure. Not onay did they aose their Lord and teacher, their own aives were at risk. They who had foaaowed the Lord so caoseay now feat as though there was no foundaton on which to stand. From the descripton of doors being aocked in fear, we know that His coming was a tremendous gi3. He didnnt give a great cosmic shout: Donnt worry Inm here. No, He knew that they needed to visit with Him, to see where His wounds were, to be encouraged by His presence. We need the encouragement of His presence as weaa, and we are caaaed to be that for one another. We cannt know how that wiaa be paayed out sometmes with great sacrifce, other tmes with great joy and ease. But in our wiaaingness to be that for one another comes the outpouring of the Hoay Spirit who enabaes us. And how amazing is it, that we might be used to bring Him to one another. There is no more hoay ground. Where do you need to see the Lord right now? Ask Him to come in a way that you wiaa know without queston. Where do you have opportunity to bring the Lord to someone right now? Pray that He orchestrate those encounters in His amazing way.
27 O Radix >esse DO Root of >esse) O Faower of Jessens stem, you have been raised up as a sign for aaa peopaes; kings stand siaent in your presence; the natons bow down in worship before you. Come, aet nothing keep You from coming to our aid. Isaiah 11:10 10 In that day the root of Jesse, who shaaa stand as a signaa for the peopaes of him shaaa the natons inquire, and his restng paace shaaa be gaorious. Romans 15:12 12 And again Isaiah says, The root of Jesse wiaa come, even he who arises to ruae the Gentaes; in him wiaa the Gentaes hope. Journaa:
28 December 21 st 4 th Antuhon But the angel said to her, Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with Godn. Luke 1:30 Our God is not a distant God. Our God became >esh and aived on this earth among us. Our God did not wind up the universe and go of for cofee. He stands aaong side each one of us on every step of the journey. We have a God who is caose enough to touch. Sometmes that is terrifying. Our >esh teaas us we want distance, but that isnnt what the deepest part of our hearts aong for. We aong for His touch. The angea came to Mary, and aike so many other tmes in Scripture when God makes his presence known, the frst words are do not be afraid or peace. It has to be a gaoriousay terrifying thing to have such an encounter. And then come the words You have found favor with God. What we must reaaize is that those are words for aaa of us. Proof that we have found favor with God was embodied in Jesus as He hung on the cross. Listen to the words He speaks to us in Isaiah 43: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have caaaed you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters I wiaa be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they wiaa not sweep over you. When you waak through the fre, you wiaa not be burned; the >ames wiaa not overcome you. We have found tangibae, paapabae favor with God. The God we are waitng for is with us. Lord Jesus, itns so amazing that I am precious and honored in your sight and that you aove me. Whiae that is o3en hard for me to beaieve, it is the truth of your heart as recorded in your Word. Let me ainger this day in the knowaedge that I am waitng for One who has found favor with me.
29 O Clavis David DO Key of David) O Key of David, O royaa Power of Israea, controaaing at your wiaa the gate of heaven: come, break down the prison waaas of death for those who dweaa in the darkness and the shadow of death; and aead your captve peopae into freedom. Isaiah 22:22 22 And I wiaa paace on his shouader the key of the house of David. He shaaa open, and none shaaa shut; and he shaaa shut, and none shaaa open. Psaam 107:14 14 He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart. Luke 1:79 79 to give aight to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. Journaa:
30 December 22 nd 5 th Antuhon And there were sheuherds living out in the felds nearby, keeuing watch over their focks at nightn An angel of the Lord auueared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrifedn But the angel said to them, Do not be afraidn I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the ueoulen. Luke 2:8-10 Once again we see a visitaton, heaven breaking through to earth. Ordinary men about their work, ordinary men keeping watch. There is a posture of aentveness there that beckons our notce. Can one see the Lord if they are not actveay seeking Him? I aove that the angea came to ordinary peopae going about their day, not aooking for God. The reaigious were aooking for the coming Messiah, but they had their own picture of how and where the King wouad come. They missed the gaory of the Lord shining around them because they were bainded by their expectatons. The shepherds, however, saw it and were terrifed. Again the words of comfort Do not be afraid. Not onay that, but great encouragement foaaows: I bring you good news of great joy that wiaa be for aaa the peopae. What greater confrmaton of amazing aove than such a word spoken to ordinary men? There is such decepton in the teaching that we must get our act together to see the Lord, to receive the Lord, to be in the presence of the Lord. We end up spending our aives trying to accompaish something that wiaa never be accompaished. We must instead aook to the One who fnished the work for us, then encourage others to do the same. God has come; God is coming. And as we watch together, even the most ordinary of aives wiaa be iaaumined by the gaory of the Lord. What an amazing Father! Amazing Father, you reveaaed yourseaf to me. I do not fuaay understand why you chose to reveaa yourseaf to me, but I confess that I do not deserve the grace you have freeay given. I am humbaed by the mercy you have shown. Teach me to aove you. Teach me to see the gaory shining in my ordinary aife. Teach me to heap others to ai3 their eyes to you. You have come; you are coming. Lord baess us aaa as we wait that we may gather ordinary others to be in the famiay of extraordinary you!
31 O Oriens DO Rising Sun) O Radiant Dawn, spaendor of eternaa aight, sun of justce: come, shine on those who dweaa in darkness and the shadow of death. Isaiah 58:8 8 Then shaaa your aight break forth aike the dawn, and your heaaing shaaa spring up speediay; your righteousness shaaa go before you; the gaory of the Lord shaaa be your rear guard. Luke 1: because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shaaa visit us from on high 79 to give aight to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. Journaa:
32 December 23 rd 6 th Antuhon In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God n n nthe Word became fesh and made His dwelling among usn. >ohn 1:1, 14 What wouad make you come? What wouad make you pierce the distance between heaven and earth? Love wouad make you come. This is the sort of thing that can take our imaginatons and cause them to >y. What was it aike in the beginning? What was it aike to journey from heaven to earth? What was it aike to be God and man? What was it aike on the cross? What was it aike to return to your Father? A God who is caose enough to touch beckons questons. We queston when we are interested. We imagine when our hearts have been taken captve. We ainger when we know that we are safe. We are safe with Him; we are safe in Him. Aathough the entre worad is uncertain and unsafe He are our certainty. From that security we go out, that others may be gathered into His foad, that others might come caose enough to hear the heartbeat of the God of aaa creaton. God our Father, I stand in awe. You came and dweat in our midst; you contnue to reside there. You came and took upon yourseaf aaa the sin of the worad, my sin, and staa you want to be with me. Lord, whiae I cannot understand you, I know I am known by you. And in being known I am given incredibae freedom. Loving Father, aet me be found onay in you.
33 O Rex Gentum DO King of Natons) O King of aaa the natons, the onay joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the mighty arch of man: come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust. Isaiah 28:16 16 therefore thus says the Lord God, Behoad, I am the one who has aaid[a] as a foundaton in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundaton: Whoever beaieves wiaa not be in haste.n Ephesians 2:14 14 For he himseaf is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his >esh the dividing waaa of hostaity Genesis 2:7 7 then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrias the breath of aife, and the man became a aiving creature. Journaa:
34 December 24 th 7 th Antuhon >ust then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came uu behind Him and touched the edge of His cloakn She said to herself, If I only touch His cloak, I will be healedn. Mathew 9:20-21 There is something about knowing, something deep and profound. I remember the morning a3er my frst son was born. My husband and I were taking a (saow) waak down the haaa of the hospitaa when I heard a cry from the nursery. There were perhaps 15 babies in the nursery at that tme, and it couad have been any one of them. But when I heard the cry, I knew that was my son. And it was. I imagine the crying out that this woman had been doing for years crying that wasnnt o3en heard, as she wouad have been ostracized for her uncaeanness. And yet she somehow knew that if she couad onay get caose enough to Jesus she wouad be heaaed. And Jesus, in the account that Luke records of this story, knew He had been touched even in the midst of a huge crowd. He said Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me. Our God is caose enough to touch, He is enough to heaa us. We have the choice of whether we stay outside and away or press in and reach out. We wiaa be known, and that may be uncomfortabae. Yet we wiaa be heaaed, and that wiaa be freeing. Lord God, there are many things that have baed from me for years. There are reaatonships that have aost aife, there are dreams that have faded, there are paaces where I need onay reach out for you, but I hoad back. I hoad back in fear, I hoad back in unbeaief, I hoad back for reasons I donnt even know. I ask for the strength in the driest of paaces to reach out and touch you. I ask for the grace to beaieve that not onay wiaa new aife come to me, but you wiaa turn and see me, and I wiaa be known. Lord, hear my prayer.
35 O Emmanuel DO God With Us) O Emmanuea, king and aawgiver, desire of natons, Savior of aaa peopae, come and set us free, Lord our God. Isaiah 7:14 14 Therefore the Lord himseaf wiaa give you a sign. Behoad, the virgin shaaa conceive and bear a son, and shaaa caaa his name Immanuea. Isaiah 33:22 22 For the Lord is our judge; the Lord is our aawgiver; the Lord is our king; he wiaa save us. Psaam 46:7 7 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Journaa:
36 Christmas Day So they Dthe sheuherds) hurried of and found Mary and >oseuh, and the baby who was lying in the mangern When they had seen Him, they suread the word concerning what had been told them about this childn. Luke 2:16-18 The shepherds ae3 their sheep- those who stayed with their sheep day and night to protect them. They hurried of in response to the angea of the Lord; they hurried of to fnd a baby in a manger. They knew something eternaaay profound had occurred. And so our Lord has arrived. Wiaa we go? What must we aeave behind? Wiaa we aeave our aiveaihood? Wiaa we abandon those woraday things that we have worked so hard for and come to mean so much to us? Oh, I pray so- for myseaf as weaa as for aaa of us. When we are wiaaing to respond to the overwheaming presence of God, when we are wiaaing to take no thought of the cost or what is ae3 behind, we wiaa fnd aife aike we have never known before. We have aooked at the One we are waitng for. We have seen our part in waitng. We have come to understand the strength of waitng together, and now He is here. Wiaa we come to Him? Coming wiaa not be a destnaton, but instead another part of the journey. The shepherds saw Him but then it says When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been toad them about this chiad. When we see Him, we are moved to spread the word, to aet others know. And then here is the beautfua picture The shepherds returned, gaorifying and praising God for aaa the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been toad. Itns just as we have been toad, aaa the promises of God manifest in the baby born in that manger. May we return together gaorifying and praising God. May what has begun on this day change our hearts forever, together, in Him. O Come aet us adore Him!
37 A Brpef Hphtory of Advent Worhipo To be serious about the Christan faith, is to be serious about itns history. To be sensitve to the history of Godns peopae is to be responsive to the movement of tme. The God in whom we aive, and move, and have our being is made known to us and interacts with us in history. In certain dynamic moments, God invades our tme and our history, and afords us a divine-human encounter, a gaimpse, a momentary reveaaton. The uatmate act of Godns invasion into history is Jesus Christ- incarnate, crucifed, dead, risen, ascended, and coming again. Advent is the tme of preparaton for the birth of Christ. Historicaaay, however, Advent was not the beginning of the Christan year, but the end. The originaa themes of Advent focused on the second coming of Jesus. Graduaaay Advent aaso came to mean preparing for the coming of Christ. Today we inherit both themes: the end of the Christan year and the expectaton of the second coming of Christ as weaa as the beginning of the Christan year and the expectancy of the birth of Christ, the Redeemer. The origin of Advent aeads us to two principaa aocaaes: the missionary region of the churches expansion in northern and western Europe and the city of Rome itseaf. The beginning of Advent in the missionary territory frst appear near the end of the fourth century. It started as baptsmaa preparaton, known as Epiphany, but shi3ed to Natvity or Christmas preparaton, which did not shi3 the penitentaa character of Advent. In Rome there is no trace of Advent unta the sixth century. Advent in Rome was rooted in preparaton for Christmas and not Epiphany. The focus was on joyfua, ceaebratory preparaton for the historicaa incarnaton of Christ- the point in tme that marks the beginning of Godns saavatory acton in Christ. It foaaowed that the emphasis was decideday eschatoaogicaa, focusing not on the coming of Christ in the >esh at Bethaehem, but of the fnaa coming of the exaated Christ. Through the change in focus, the ceaebratory aiturgy was stripped of its festvaa eaements, the coaor became penitentaa baack (or one of its derivatves) and itns mood became increasingay somber. Contemporary practce yieads two themes- our antcipaton of Christns Second Advent yet to be and His frst Advent in Bethaehem. Historicaaay, theoaogicaaay and pastoraaay, this is where we draw that Adventns foundaton is immersed in Christan hope. Richard C. Hoe>er writes, We are saved and redeemed not because we have successfuaay made the efort to come to Him, but because He has made the surprising efort to come to us. The peopae of Israea awaited their Anointed One, the Messiah. Today Godns peopae ceaebrate that the Messiah came, we experience a hoay joy and peacefua excitement about Godns presence in our aives and in the worad today, and penitentaaay re>ect and rejoice that Christ is coming again. 1. Webber, Robert E. The Services of the Christan Year. Voa. 5, Star Song Pub. Group, 1994.