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)
Read the following passages and then spend a moment in quiet stillness before God.
Readings: Psalm 126 and 1 Timothy 2:1-6
Remind yourself you are in God’s presence and read again…notice how God might be speaking to you through his Word—dwell on a word or phrase that jumps out at you…let your heart respond to God in prayer…take refreshment in God’s presence!
- Pray for those living in poverty and suffering injustice
- Pray for our capacity to suffer with others
- Pray for those persecuted for their faith
Lord God, you defy all my tidy categories for understanding you, especially at Christmas. What a paradox the incarnation is—true God and authentic humanity knit into one person, your Son, Jesus Christ. I worship you for this marvelous mystery—as true God you conquered death by your power, and as a real human you died for me in the weakness of your flesh. Amen. (prayer based on the Belgic Confession, Question 19).
*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.
City of Light by Richard Bauckham
Richard Bauckham is a world-class biblical scholar at Ridley Hall, Cambridge, and when I came across his short meditation on the New Creation in The Gospel of Advent, I knew that it was a perfect meditation for this year’s Advent Devotional where we’ve focused so much on the contrast of the darkness of this world and the light Christ promises.
Then I saw the image that CT paired with his words and, well, I’ll let you enjoy it for yourself! So here’s what I’d like you to do:
- Take a look below at the image of “The Lion of Judah”
- Read Dr. Bauckham’s words and then Revelation 21:9-22:5
Reflection by Richard Bauckham
When I moved from England to live in Scotland, one thing I found difficult was the shorter periods of daylight in the winter. On dull days, it could seem like it never got light at all. I found this mildly depressing, but some people are seriously affected by it and have to sit with lamps that imitate sunlight. We are all dependent on sunlight for our physical health and our mental well-being.
It is not surprising that in many cultures people have worshiped the sun, and sometimes the moon, too. Why does a sunny day lift our spirits? Why do many people love to bask in the sun? Science confirms that our planet’s distance from the sun, with the light and heat that it provides, is essential to life on earth.
In this creation, God’s blessings are mediated to us through creaturely means, sunlight among them. In the new creation, we shall live in God’s immediate presence, immersed in it as we now are in daylight— and there will be no night.
Imagine it: a city filled with light. Imagine it like a brilliant crystalline jewel (Rev. 21:11), the light reflected in all the precious stones of many colors listed in verses 19–20. Imagine, if you can, the way the light shines through the transparent gold of which the city is made (vv. 18, 21).
Get a view of the city from a distance. It stands atop a mountain (v. 10) and shines out over all the surrounding country. It is the sunlight of that world. It is the light by which people live (v. 24).
Think, now, of a stained-glass window in a church with vivid depictions of biblical or other figures. The window itself is beautiful enough at all times, but when the sun shines through it, it glows. Its intense colors light up! In the New Jerusalem, the loveliness of all God’s creatures will be a delight for all. We shall see them in their true colors. The light of God’s immediate presence will not cancel out their shapes and colors, their created reality, but it will light them up, transfiguring them.
All through the Bible, light is a symbol of God and of Jesus (who said, “I am the light of the world” in John 8:12). Think about the ways God’s light shines already into our lives in this world—how it lights up our lives, how we can walk in that light? If we see the light now, it will light up the path we can walk to the city of light. What can we take with us to present to God and to contribute to the life of that eternal city (Rev. 21:24, 26)?
What strikes you most about this beautiful imagery? What truths do the descriptions of shining light and illuminating glory convey about God? About the new creation? About our ultimate hope?
“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them.” (Luke 1:68)