Use this devo as you are able, in whole or in part. Don’t feel compelled to read it all. Simply read and meditate upon whatever catches your attention. The goal is enjoying time with God through His Word and in prayer. Questions about the devotional elements?

What is Advent?

Advent is the four-week season of preparation to celebrate the coming of Jesus at Christmas. This year we will prepare room for Christ in our hearts and lives through daily readings in from Philip Reinder’s Seeking God’s Face and the occasional work of art: a song, a painting, or a poem. Something that will sneak past our usual barriers of noise, hustle and busyness to help cultivate a discerning eye for both our sin and the hope Christ carries with him.

Our hope is that this season of expectant waiting will help us to tap into both our sense that the world is not as it should be AND (a glorious and!) that God in Christ has come down to bring healing and consolation to our broken world and hearts. Advent is a season, then, where we say: All shall be well! Because the true King has come!

Call to Prayer

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” (Isa. 52:7)

Scripture Reading

Read the following passages and then spend a moment in quiet stillness before God.
Readings: Psalm 80:1-2, 14-18 and Isaiah 61:1-3


Read again slowly…find a word or phrase that catches your eye or moves your heart…slowly repeat it…pray your thoughts, desires, needs, and feelings from your meditation…enjoy the presence of your Lord and Savior.

Free Prayer

  • Pray for the the call to follow Christ in your home, neighborhood, and workplace
  • Pray for a love of and commitment to the communities in which God has placed us
  • Pray for those who work in medicine; health professionals


Anointing Spirit, by sharing in Jesus’ baptismal anointing I realize my own calling and purpose. Inspire me to be a bearer of good news wherever there is distress, a light in dark places, and a comforter in times of mourning. Flow through me to be an agent of your Jubilee kingdom. Amen. (prayer based on the Heidelberg Catechism, Question 32).

*Prayer borrowed from Philip Reinders’ Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year


Advent begins in the dark. Literally. It is the darkest time of the year. Advent, which begins our church calendar, begins facing this darkness. Advent comes to us as a gift of darkness, emptiness, and says – will you enter this period of waiting with me? Will you pause to remember and recognize your own emptiness and darkness – and practice longing for the light? These works of art invite us to enter into the wonder and waiting for the Light of the World to dawn on Christmas morn.

A Door of Hope by Tim Joyner


Reflection by Tim Joyner

“This painting was created as an iteration of a progressive altarpiece designed for Trinity Church in Bolton, MA. Based on John 12:24 (“unless a grain of wheat is planted in the ground and dies, it remains a solitary seed. But when it is planted, it produces in death a great harvest”), the altarpiece examined different aspects of the paradoxical nature of the Gospel through the framework of the Church year.

Advent is the season of two-edged hope, when we experience both the excitement of anticipation and the pang of longing. For those of us not raised in a liturgical tradition, the pairing of this season of hope with practices centered around fasting and repentance can feel uncomfortable at times. This paradox is, of course, intentional and representative of the deep truths of the Gospel. In remembering our spiritual darkness, we are made all the more aware of our need of Christ’s Light. We see Jesus’s counter-cultural, counter-intuitive truth asserting itself again: life comes only through death.

The title for the Advent iteration of the piece is taken from Hosea 2:15, wherein God promises to Israel through the prophet that he will “make the Valley of Trouble a Door of Hope.” This prophecy refers directly to Joshua 7. At the gates of the Promised Land, after the defeat of Jericho, the Israelites are commanded to not take any plunder. Because of one man’s disobedience of this command, God’s blessing leaves the nation and they are defeated in their very next battle. There, in the Valley of Achor (trouble), in the place of defeat, this sin and disobedience is rooted out and God’s favor returns to the Israelites. Joshua renews the Covenant and a door into the Promised Land is opened.

Jesus himself, of course, is the ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy. In John 10 he says “I am the Door. If anyone enters by me he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.” In this declaration, Christ identifies himself with Hosea’s door—the door through which we can enter the promised land of salvation. But more broadly, we see here the fundamental transformation of the Valley of Trouble into the Door of Hope.

All the way back in Genesis, when Adam and Eve first ate the fruit at the urging of the Serpent, God pronounces their doom. To Eve he tells of pain in childbirth and restlessness unfulfilled. To Adam he tells of endless toil and a cursed earth, bearing thorns instead of fruit. The path of the story of mankind swiftly descends into the Valley of Trouble and seems to stay within in its dark walls far longer we’d like.

But in Christ we see the Curse taken up and transmuted into Hope. It was through the painful, bloody process of childbirth that the hope of all mankind was delivered to this world. And eventually this child would be buried into the barren earth, only to produce in death a great harvest. The curse itself becomes the cure, and we see the Valley of Trouble transformed at last into the Door of Hope.”


“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them.” (Luke 1:68)