As we enter the Advent season, I am growing increasingly aware that believers around the world are returning to traditions of old and rekindling their engagement with the liturgies of long ago. I think there is something comforting and reassuring in these disciplines and rituals.
For some, perhaps they reek too much of organized religion. Unfortunately, I think those who choose to disregard traditions inadvertently discount the beauty of organized worship. Such is the era that proclaims all genuine worship must be spontaneous and erupt as an overflow of the Spirit moving amongst God’s people. Sadly, this spontaneity is often contrived and orchestrated by human hands.
To delve into liturgy is not at the expense of genuine, heartfelt worship, but rather a means to connect deeply with the faith stories of those followers of Jesus who have gone before us. Our forerunners often sacrificed their all for professing their faith. Proclaiming their faith often came with great peril.
Today, as we navigate our way out from the clutches of the pandemic, I envision many believers returning to the familiar observances of faith, like Advent.
Did you know that for Christians, Advent marks the beginning of the Christian calendar? After all, the Incarnation is the event that changed the world forever. It marks the time and space when God came to dwell among us for the first time since the days He walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden. Once, we looked forward to the First Advent of Christ. Now, we await with great anticipation for His Second Coming.
And as he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?” And Jesus began to say to them, “See that no one leads you astray. And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains. “But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them. And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. And brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death. And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.Mark 13:3-13 (English Standard Version)
An Advent Evening Prayer
Help Us Endure, O Lord
O, Lord, help us remain steadfast in the moments that this world attempts to shake our faith. When money and riches come calling, enticing us to leave You behind, help us, O Lord, remain faithful to Your calling on our lives. When lust and covet beckon our hearts to take our eyes off of You, help us keep our eyes affixed to Jesus, our Rock and Salvation. When we are afraid, keep us steadfast and firm in our faith, knowing Your goodness and trusting Your faithfulness. As we wander into the world to engage it, may the peace of You, our Lord, go with us. May us remain faithful, wherever You call us to serve. Guide us through the treacherous wilderness, protect us from every storm, and fill our homes with laughter and rejoicing. Let Your love reign throughout every room and beyond every door. Give us grateful hearts, O Lord, as only You can O, God. We thank You for Your goodness, Lord. We thank You for Your faithfulness. May we look forward to Your return, sweet Jesus. May we look forward to Your coming again, our Lord and Savior. Lord, our God, help us endure to the end. Amen.
In the weeks leading up to Christmas, please try and set your heart on the future, knowing that Jesus is coming back.
May your soul rise up to meet the Lord, our Creator as the day rises to meet the sun.
The Devotional Guy™