Advent Reflections

Week 1 of Advent Readings: Hope

Today, along with members of Christ’s body all around the world, we begin the season of expectation and reflection that is Advent. Today we focus on the hope of Christ – not only the hope he brought with his first coming as the Incarnate God-man that we celebrate at Christmas, but we also celebrate the hope of redemption that he set in motion and the hope of him coming again to make all things new.

As we light the candle of hope, let’s prepare our hearts together…

Lord, as we prepare for the coming Christmas season, we would also prepare our hearts for the returning Christ. You came once for your people, O Lord, and you will come for us again.

Though there was no room at the inn to receive you upon your first arrival, we would prepare you room here in our hearts and here in our homes, Lord Christ.

As we decorate and celebrate, we do so to mark the memory of your redemptive movement into our broken world, O God.

Our glittering ornaments and Christmas trees, Our festive carols, our sumptuous feasts—By these small tokens we affirm that something amazing has happened in time and space—that God, on a particular night, in a particular place, so many years ago, was born to us, an infant King, our Prince of Peace.

Our wreaths and ribbons and colored lights, our giving of gifts, our parties with friends—these have never been ends in themselves. They are but small ways in which we repeat that sounding joy first proclaimed by angels in the skies near Bethlehem.

In view of such great tidings of love announced to us, and to all people, how can we not be moved to praise and celebration in this Christmas season?

As we decorate our tree, and as we feast and laugh and sing together, we are rehearsing our coming joy! We are making ready to receive the one who has already, with open arms, received us! We would prepare you room here in our hearts and here in our homes, Lord Christ

Now we celebrate your first coming, Immanuel, even as we long for your return. O Prince of Peace, our elder brother, return soon. We miss you so!

Amen.

(Portions adapted from Every Moment Holy published by Rabbit Room Press COPYRIGHT © 2017 DOUGLAS MCKELVEY)

Week 2 of Advent Readings: Peace

As we continue to celebrate Advent with longing and expectation, we relight the candle of hope, remembering that, through Jesus, God made a redemptive movement into our broken world.  Christ is our hope – he is making all things new.

Today we focus on the peace of Christ. Like we’ve done through communion, let’s continue celebrating what God has done and is doing through Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

As we light the candle of peace, let’s prepare our hearts together…

Lord, as we prepare for the coming Christmas season, we would also prepare you room here in our hearts and here in our homes, Lord Christ.

For even while the heavenly hosts rightfully proclaimed your glory and splendour in the starry skies, you choose to dwell with us as a human, a lowly baby, a humble servant. In this way you were pleased to make peace, pleased to enter communion with your creation once again.

As we adorn and order our homes with carefully placed decorations, as we bring family and friends together around shared tables, we are marking the memory of your peace-making movement into our world, O God.

But in all it’s festivities, Lord, this season can quickly become busy and burdensome, reminding us of our brokenness. So we long for you to come again and grant us peace. 

In our many to-do lists and hurried preparations, grant us peace.

In our fits of anger and bouts of anxiety, grant us peace.

In our interactions with neighbors, cashiers, and extended family, grant us peace.

In the wars that rage in our minds, hearts, relationships, and world, grant us peace.

Whenever the hustle and bustle of this season overwhelms us, and our festivities cease to remind us of your goodness, grant us peace. We want to prepare you room here in our hearts and here in our homes, Lord Christ

Now we celebrate your first coming, Immanuel, even as we long for full communion with you once again. O Prince of Peace, our elder brother, return soon. We miss you so!

Amen.

(Portions adapted from Every Moment Holy published by Rabbit Room Press COPYRIGHT © 2017 DOUGLAS MCKELVEY)

Week 3 of Advent Readings: Joy

This morning, in the midst of a sometimes overwhelming holiday season, we rekindle our expectation and relight the candle of hope. We remember that God, through Jesus, made a redemptive movement into our broken world.  Christ is our hope – he is making all things new.    

We relight the candle of peace, remembering that this Jesus was pleased to make peace by the blood of his cross, by dwelling among us, and by bringing us once again into communion with our Maker. But we are busy, restless creatures, so we pray once again: whenever the hustle and bustle of this season overwhelms us, Lord, and our festivities cease to remind us of your goodness, grant us peace.

Today we focus on the joy of Christ, remembering that, at its core, the coming of Christ and his kingdom is good news of great joy for all people! The redemption and restoration of all things comes through the glad hand of a good Lord, the God of all mirth, creative majesty, and wonderful mystery.   

As we light the candle of joy, let’s prepare our hearts together…

Lord, as we prepare for the coming Christmas season, we would also prepare you room here in our hearts and here in our homes, Lord Christ.

When the days are cut short and the nights grow longer, the winter season may seem long and bleak, but still we huddle around wood stoves and rest in the warm glow of Christmas lights and candles. Use these practices to remind us of the deep-seated joy that flows from the truth of your salvation, O God.  

In a selfish, bleak world where we no longer dare to believe in beauty, in joy, or in true rest – may our Joy form a resistance, a battle against the bleak midwinter, a dance in the face of darkness.

In the light of your great grace and grandeur, Lord, the greatest thing we can do is behold. To be still and behold our God. Behold his creation. Behold his incarnation. Behold his redemption.

O Christ, we find great joy in who you are. We behold your glory. We rejoice at your coming and dwelling with us. Let this rejoicing work its way into every corner of our lives this Christmas season. 

Our wreaths and ribbons and colored lights, our giving of gifts, our parties with friends—these have never been ends in themselves. They are but small ways in which we repeat that sounding joy first proclaimed by angels in the skies near Bethlehem.

As we feast and laugh and sing together, we are rehearsing our coming joy! We are making ready to receive the one who has already, with open arms, received us! We would prepare you room here in our hearts and here in our homes, Lord Christ

Now we celebrate your first coming, Immanuel, and we long for the complete joy of your salvation. O Prince of Peace, our elder brother, return soon. We miss you so!

Amen.

(Portions adapted from Every Moment Holy published by Rabbit Room Press COPYRIGHT © 2017 DOUGLAS MCKELVEY)

Week 4 of Advent Readings: Love

Today, even as this Christmas season will soon reach its culmination, we rekindle our expectation and relight the candle of hope. We remember that God, through Jesus, made a redemptive movement into our broken world.  Christ is our hope – he is making all things new.    

We relight the candle of peace, remembering that this Jesus was pleased to make peace by the blood of his cross, by dwelling among us, and by bringing us once again into communion with our Maker. But we are busy, restless creatures, so we pray once again: whenever the hustle and bustle of this season overwhelms us, Lord, and our festivities cease to remind us of your goodness, grant us peace.

We relight the candle of joy, remembering that, at its core, the coming of Christ and his kingdom is good news of great joy for all people! The redemption and restoration of all things comes through the glad hand of a good Lord, the God of all mirth, creative majesty, and wonderful mystery. May we continue to find great joy in who Christ is. May this rejoicing work its way into every corner of our lives.

Today we focus on the love of Christ, recognizing that the act of Incarnation is an act of exceedingly humble and gracious love. The love of Christ is not a Hallmark, Hollywood love, but a sacrificial love, the gratuitous gift of a giving God. This is what love looks like: the good right and perfect One, who holds the universe together, putting on skin and bone and dirt and death and dwelling among us. And we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. Yes, through Jesus and his reconciling work we both know love and know how to love.   

As we light the candle of love, let’s prepare our hearts together…

O King Jesus, come and make room and dwell in our hearts. Root us and ground us in your love. Grant us the strength to comprehend what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge. O that you would fill us with your fullness and give grace upon grace!

Without the gracious act of Incarnation, there is no reason to hope for restoration.

Without the gracious act of Incarnation, there is no reason for the peace of reconciliation.

Without the gracious act of Incarnation, there is no joy of redemption.

Without the gracious act of Incarnation, how could we truly believe in the Creator’s love for creation? 

This we believe, O God, that in love you came, and in love your story is rushing towards a culmination of communion between Creator and creation. Now teach us how to love, Lord – how to dwell in this world and love in the same sacrificial and beautiful way of Christ.

We celebrate your first coming, Immanuel, and we long to see and experience and act in the fullness of your love. O Prince of Peace, our elder brother, return soon. We miss you so!

Amen.

(Portions adapted from Every Moment Holy published by Rabbit Room Press COPYRIGHT © 2017 DOUGLAS MCKELVEY)

Christmas Eve Advent Reading: Christ

Tonight, when we might be tempted to simply celebrate a sentimental baby in a manger, we instead honestly admit our deep brokenness, and yet we  rejoice and trust in all of who Jesus is, and what he has done, and what he is doing, and what he will do.

So we rekindle our expectation and relight the candle of hope. We remember that God, through Jesus, made a redemptive movement into our broken world.  Christ is our hope – he is making all things new.    

We relight the candle of peace, remembering that this Jesus was pleased to make peace by the blood of his cross, by dwelling among us, and by bringing us once again into communion with our Maker.

We relight the candle of joy, remembering that, at its core, the coming of Christ and his kingdom is good news of great joy for all people! The redemption and restoration of all things comes through the glad hand of a good Lord, the God of all mirth, creative majesty, and wonderful mystery. 

We relight the candle of love, recognizing that the act of Incarnation is an act of exceedingly humble and gracious love. This is what love looks like: the good right and perfect One, who holds the universe together, putting on skin and bone and dirt and death and dwelling among us. Yes, through Jesus and his reconciling work we both know love and know how to love.

As we celebrate the culmination of this Christmas season, let’s turn our hearts now to remembrance of Christ’s works:

You came to us, O Lord,

As a lantern in our darkness.

Now illuminate our way.

You came to us as a song 

In the midst of our sorrow.

Now kindle our hope.

You came to us as a balm

On the bed of our sufferings.

Now be our healing.

You came to us as a shelter

Amidst the violence of storms.

Now grant us peace.

You came to us as mercy

In the place of our shame.

Now be our righteousness.

You came to us as a king

Upon the fields of our defeat.

Now be our salvation.

You came to us as a child

In the midnight of our despair.

Now be our God.

Remembering these manifold joys and blessings of your first advent, how our hearts long to witness the glories of your promised return. Come quickly, Lord Jesus! O come, O come, Emmanuel.

But we are busy, restless creatures, so we pray once again: whenever the hustle and bustle of this season overwhelms us, Lord, and our festivities cease to remind us of your goodness, grant us peace.

May we continue to find great joy in who you are, King Jesus. May this rejoicing work its way into every corner of our lives.

And teach us how to love, Lord – how to dwell in this world and love in the same sacrificial and beautiful way of Jesus.

Christ, we adore you, for you are worthy. We give you all the glory. Amen.

(Portions adapted from Every Moment Holy published by Rabbit Room Press COPYRIGHT © 2017 DOUGLAS MCKELVEY)

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