The other day, during our preaching team meeting, we discussed our individual experiences celebrating Advent. Our team is a beautiful blend of men from diverse cultural and spiritual backgrounds. The common thread that binds us together is our love of God. And, we are all actively involved in homeless ministry.
Growing up, Advent was a regular part of Christmas even though I grew up in a non-religious home. Each year, my Oma would send me a colorful Advent calendar from Germany. I would look forward to opening the different doors for the corresponding days to get the piece of candy or a little toy. I don’t remember if I connected the calendar to celebrating the birth of Jesus. For me, Christmas was about a lot of other things apart from the little Messiah being born in a manger in Bethlehem. If my memory is accurate, our Savior’s birth was part of the story, but stood more in the background.The birth of Christ was a secondary focal point, not a primary one.
Advent is a time of preparing our hearts in anticipation as we commemorate the birth of Jesus. As we enter Advent, we center our minds on the meaning of God becoming flesh and dwelling among us (John 1:14). It is also a time to recall the promise of His return and look forward with great anticipation to Jesus’ Second Coming.
The celebration of Advent is possible only to those who are troubled in soul, who know themselves to be poor and imperfect, and who look forward to something greater to come.Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Today, Advent embodies the current state of the church (universal body of believers) during these Last Days. All of God’s people wait for Jesus to return in the fullness of glory to consummate the eternal Kingdom. Like the Old Testament nation of Israel, Christians live in exile, waiting and hoping for the return of our Messiah.
Advent simultaneously reflects back to the first coming of Christ while looking forward to the return of Jesus.
In prayer, we reflect and confess our sinfulness and need for grace. We ask the Holy Spirit to renew His work in conforming us into the likeness of Christ. This is what the Holy Spirit does: He helps us become more like Jesus with each passing day. Advent also offers us an opportunity to lament the violence and evil permeating our present world as we cry out to God to come and make things right. As believers, we want to see the darkness of evil put to death once and for all.
He must increase, but I must decrease.”John 3:30 (ESV)
Second Advent Prayer
Father God, heal the brokenness and bitterness saturating our land. Give us peace, O God. Give us peace. In humility, we confess our shortcomings and decry our sinfulness. Forgive us of our sins, dear Jesus. Forgive us for our shortcomings. We lament the violence and evil of this present world, dear God. Heal our hurts. Heal our aching hearts. Let us lay our burdens at your feet, sweet Jesus. We rejoice, Lord, in your coming as we anticipate Your return. In Jesus name, Amen.
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.Matthew 11:28 (NLT)
May the Lord shine His favor on you as you celebrate this Advent season.
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The Devotional Guy™