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
“Restore us, O God; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved.” (Ps. 80:3)
Read the following passages and then spend a moment in quiet stillness before God.
Readings: Psalm 96:1-3, 11-13 and Matthew 1:18-25
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 the flourishing of Christ’s church everywhere
- Pray for worship that glorifies God and gathers, unites, and blesses his people
- Pray for missionaries of the gospel
- Pray for those who travel
God with us, quiet me before the Christ-child, filled with wonder that in this tiny child, you have come near. Amen. (prayer based on the Heidelberg Catechism, Question 35).
*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.
The Book of Common Prayer
The Book of Common Prayer has been used for hundreds of years to lead Christians gathering together and within the home in worship. Written out prayers provide helpful structures for the seasons of the Christian year and the moments in the Christian life when our confusion, sorrow, or simply exhaustion make words hard to come by and we lean on others to speak what our lips cannot name and our hearts cannot bear.
Many of these prayers come in the form of a “collect.” A collect is a concise prayer that focuses our attention, even if only for the moment, on the greater Story that has happened in our world through Christ Jesus. And that’s just what we have today, a Collect for Christmas Day:
Almighty God, you have give us your only begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and this day to be born of a pure virgin—grant that we, being regenerate and made your children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit, through the same, our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, world without end. Amen.
Here’s what I would like for us to do today:
- Read this collect aloud tomorrow morning (or tonight works as well!) either on your own, or with those in your household. Take note of the words and phrases that stand out to you. Turn them over in your mind.
And then realize that these are words that Christians have prayed together for centuries in celebrating our Redeemer’s coming down to bring us home to himself. Not only that but today as you pray these words, you join millions who are praying them alongside you, and you join your voice also to those who will pray these words long after you and I are dead and gone to be with our Lord Christ.
- Read the following passages in order: Psalm 100:1-2 + Psalm 97:1-6 + Luke 2:1-14 + Luke 1:68. Take joy in how these words have been realized in Christ! Raise a glass of something sweet for today is a day to toast the sure victories that Christ has won for us, “defeating our death by the abundance of his life” as Augustine once said.
- Put on Andrew Peterson’s Behold the Lamb of God album and “sing out with joy / for the brave little boy / who was God, but he made himself nothing...!
May the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven, shine on those living in darkness and guide our feet into the path of peace. (see Luke 1:78-79)