I grew up with Christian Christmas, but I did not grow up observing Advent. Maybe because of the time involved, or the structure of observing it, but for whatever reason I found it to be too structured, too serious for my preferred kind of Christmas cheer. Or perhaps I'm just lazy.
It wasn't until I moved to London for a long, lonely year or so, that I found a deeper comfort in the structure that I once found too binding. It created for me a path through which I could guide that loneliness, ending it at a place that I already knew well but do not often visit: a small stable at the edge of a forgotten town.
And since then, I have continued to observe, even for just an extra minute, on my - our - Bright Morning Star, a Savior who chose insignificance so I could know the utter vastness of His love.
I hope these short, brief words will bring a certain lingering light into your days; indeed, I hope He uses them to do so.
The Advent Daily Reflections are a free electronic resource. But if you find that you are moved not only to a deeper reflection of the the Nativity, and in turn, the Gospel, we would like to suggest making a donation to Preemptive Love Coalition, a nonprofit organization that serves to meet the needs of Iraqi, Libyan, Iranian, and Syrian individuals left in crisis due to ongoing conflicts with Islamic militant groups.
In their own words, Preemptive Love Coalition describes themselves as “a global movement of peacemakers changing the way we engage the world’s most polarizing conflicts by confronting fear with acts of love.”
Preemptive Love provides crucial heart surgeries for children, microloans, crisis supplies, and employment and educational opportunities for refugees displaced and left in disarray by these conflicts - entering into one of the world’s most dangerous, yet quickly forgotten places, with nothing but love.
What a strangely familiar story, no?
Make a donation through our fundraising page by clicking here.
I. EXPECTATION - Day One
Lingering near to the God with us
“And we have come to worship him.”
There is a reason why churches have a Call to Worship. We have to be beckoned into a posture of praise. It does not come naturally, especially in a country that often wastes rest, taking the Sabbath for granted. Sabbath has become about ourselves - our needs, our preferences, our post-service lunch plans - and less about the Call to Worship.
The wise men saw the Star as their Call to Worship, and not only obeyed, but refused to stop until they did. They had a different expectation of worship - not that their needs would be met if they brought their praise, but that it was absolutely imperative that it was done.
Father - Shift our expectations. Help us push back the urge to cap our joy, and to fix our eyes on the light in the stable.
13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born.
Elizabeth eventually gave birth to a man who ate insects and raw honey, who called respected men vipers, and after calling a king out for his wrongdoing, was beheaded and humiliated post-mortem. On the surface, he was a misunderstood outcast who died an untimely death. But John the Baptist was not absorbed in his social standing; the son of Zechariah defied even his own followers’ expectations for recognition. This was the man who, filled with the Spirit, would insist that “He must become greater, I must become less.”
Father, increase our expectations for your Spirit in us. As we think about Jesus, help us also to remember John, a miracle child himself, who did not even consider himself worthy to tie Jesus’ sandals. Nurture us in the same Spirit.