First Sunday in Advent – Today’s Reading: click here – Hebrews 1:1-4 (to open the scripture links – hover over, right click, open hyperlink)
Welcome to our Advent Devotions for 2020! What is Advent, some may ask? Good Question. Like our Lenten season that precedes our Easter Resurrection Celebration, Advent precedes the Celebration of the birth of our Savior, a time of hope and expectation, prompting us to pause each day, bringing a slowness in the midst of a frantic season to remember Jesus’ birth at Christmas. I like to think of it as a time of More-Christ; CHRIST-MAS, to practice patience and expectant waiting for a celebration with grand anticipation.
All through the Old Testament, God uses many approaches to bring light to the promises and prophesies of past and present generations of Saints longing for a Messiah, about the Coming of a King, a Savior for all. The book of Hebrews seems sets the groundwork to present the abundance, authority, and true identity of Christ Jesus.
‘ADVENT’ in Latin terms, means ‘Coming’; the coming of Jesus into the world. The first day of Advent is the first day of a new Liturgical (or church) calendar and begins with a four week period (Sundays) of preparation in anticipation of the birth of a Savior at Christmas through the stillness and observation of boundless Hope, Faith, Love, Peace, and Joy, even is such a time as this.
You’ll see images of what we call the Advent wreath. It is a symbol of the season. It can be created out of evergreens, symbolizing everlasting life in the midst of winter and death as the evergreen is continuously green. The circle reminds us of God’s unending love and the eternal life He makes possible. Pine cones confirm new life in Christ Jesus, as a child of God. Advent candles are often nestled in the evergreen wreath, shining brightly in the midst of darkness, symbolizing and reminding us that Jesus came as Light into our dark world. A candle is lit each of the four Sundays and the final fifth candle representing Jesus is lit on Christmas Day. The light of the flickering candle flames reminds us who Jesus is: “In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5).
The Advent Season is a time of reflection and preparation to welcome Christ, the newborn King into our hearts and homes. Prayer and fasting are common customs during Advent to help one concentrate on preparing and waiting on the Messiah’s coming, Jesus’ birth and His final return. Someone once suggested to me to read the Gospel of Luke, one chapter a day (24 chapters) as a meaningful journey through Advent, to remind us of God’s greatest gift, and refresh our perspective that God’s grander plan is that we would believe in His gift of His Son, to have eternal everlasting life.
If you can imagine for a moment, my startling amazement and wonder as a new Christian adult, hearing the beautiful hymns of Christmas as if for the very first time. The ones I had sung every Christmas since a child, now for the first time, came alive. The meaning of Christmas illuminated my heart bright like the Christmas star and the advent candles. The hymns and songs were no longer just words of a bright star, a virgin mother, a little town in Bethlehem, a boy and his drum, a baby in a stable, shepherds wandering in the night, three kings from afar, joy in the world, or just a silent night. This first Christmas as a new adult Christian was the beginning of something so wonderful, amazing and promising than I had never known or imagined. Every year still, it’s an epiphany all over again of rediscovered scripture, a new song, or the wondrous love of family and friends that awakens my faith, revives my still heart, and uncovers renewed hope as I prepare and celebrate again the extraordinary miracle of the birth of ONE baby boy for the whole world.
So if you are like me, and did not grow up with the tradition of Advent in your family or church, consider now, today, to be the reassurance and promise to your Christian walk this season by joining your brothers and sisters in Christ, who have found great benefit in purposefully preparing and waiting during Advent, through the glorious awaited celebration of Christmas, joining the voices of generations of saints past and present, let us encounter HOPE this day that is for all the world.
Let us begin again. Come, let us adore Him.
Here are a few songs for your spiritual listening pleasure and Advent meditation:
‘Graves Into Gardens’ by Elevation Worship w/Brandon Lake (turn up the volume ~this one’s so good!)
Heavenly Father, as I step into this season of preparation and waiting, I pray that my heart and eyes are unhindered to receive your many gifts that be-still my heart and ignite my faith in Your son, Jesus, our newborn King, the Savior of the world. Help me Father, to truly understand your great reward of not only giving but to joyfully receive as well. Prepare me as your righteous and holy child to walk each new day in the light and faith of your Son, my Savior, Jesus. I want nothing more. AMEN.