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
“The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?” (Psalm 27:1)
Read the following passages and then spend a moment in quiet stillness before God.
Readings: Psalm 85:1-7 and Luke 1:68-79
Read again, perhaps out loud…how has God’s Word moved you? Ponder and meditate what has connected with your heart or mind…pray to God what it is that has moved you today…turn your thoughts to God and quietly enjoy being with him.
- Pray for governments, leaders, and the needs of our world
- Pray for the continent of Asia
- Pray for areas of hunger, famine, and disease
Sure to come Savior, I believe your coming again will mean the righting of all that is wrong; it will complete your rescue plan and fully carry out your redemption. But that sweet comfort makes the waiting all that much harder. Come quickly, Lord Jesus, and redeem your people; come quickly and rescue us. Amen (prayer based on the Belgic Confession, question 37).
*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.
Nations that Long in Darkness Walked by Andy Gullahorn and Jill Phillips
Husband and wife, Andy Gullahorn and Jill Phillips, have collaborated throughout their careers, and this song is one of my favorites that they worked together to retune and revive. The hymn is based on Isaiah 9:2-7 where light and darkness contrast the sad state of God’s fallen Creation and the in-breaking of God himself, as a beam of light in the person of Christ Jesus: God in human vesture!
Isaiah’s description of the spiritual peril of nations walking outside God’s bright counsel always reminds me of the time when, as a child, I got lost in the dark woods on our family’s property. I had somehow wandered off the well-worn path. I panicked. Desperately alone held onto a tree and cried. I was longing for light, any light, to guide me home. I prayed for someone to come and find me as I scrabbled to make my way through the clouding night.
That same desolation creeps up on me still from time to time, and I wonder, “Is this what the LORD was talking about through his prophet Isaiah? Are we meant, in this season of Advent, to recall our own spiritual desolation, far from the light of home, and to cry out for him still?” Perhaps that is exactly what Scottish hymn writer, John Morison, hoped we’d sense when he penned these words in 1781.
[Click the image below to hear the song]
Nations, that long in Darkness walk’d,.
Have now beheld a glorious Light;
On them, who dwelt in Shades of Death,
The Light hath shined heav’nly bright.
For lo! the Virgin’s Child is born,
To us the Son of God is giv’n;
Upon his Shoulders shall be lay’d
The Government of Earth, and Heav’n;
His Name is called Wonderfull,
The Counsellour, the mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace:
Peace dearly purchas’d with his Blood.
His Government shall know no Bounds,
But far and wide, o’er all extend;
And happy Peace, the glorious Fruits
Of his just Reign, shall know no End.
And everything is gonna change
And everything’s already changed.
Words: John Morison
Music and additional lyrics: Andy Gullahorn and Jill Phillips.
“Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” (Ps. 27:14)