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 89:1-4, 20-24 and Romans 15:5-7, 13
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 spiritual renewal and a yearning to know God
- Pray for family members and friends who do not yet have faith
- Pray for racial reconciliation
God of hope, fill me with edge-of-the-seat anticipation as I wait for that unimaginable day when I will be crowned with glory and honor, hear you call out my name, and have you wipe away every tear from my eyes. May my hope for that good future temper the tragedy and mess of today. In Christ’s name, 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.
Peace by Phaedra Taylor (words by David Taylor)
What happens when a theologian and an artist get married? They collaborate to create beautiful and spiritually insightful art, that’s what!
This year they have created a wonderful set of prayer cards entitled The Light Has Come. Each has a theme and a image to help us take a step out of the swirling chaos and enter into the mystery, calm, and reality of Advent. David writes,
“The season of Christmas is, for so many of us, a crazy-busy, head-spinning, noise-making, exhausting affair.
We’re supposed to feel peace on earth but our days and nights are anything but peaceful.
Every heart is expected “to prepare Him room” but, like the Bethlehem Inn of Luke 2:7, there’s no room in our hearts for Jesus to make a leisurely visit, crowded as they are with worries over things that we can rarely control.
We sing about silent nights, but we find ourselves tumbling from one commitment to another and our head space is anything but the language of the beloved carol, “Silent Night,” where all said to be “calm.”
So what do we do?
One thing we can do is resist the story that the “market” keeps telling us and instead read, as if for the first time, the story that Matthew and Luke tell—discovering in this re-reading something far more life-giving than we ever imagined possible.
And it’s something that Phaedra and I have tried to wrestle with in our own family practices and in this new set of illustrated prayer cards that we’ve created…
Our hope, more critically, is to help re-imagine the season of Advent, wherein our own experiences of painful longing are not inimical to true happiness, nor a sign that we have failed in some way and are thereby being punished by God, but are rather central to God’s work of making us more like Jesus.
“Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” (Ps. 27:14)