ADVENT WEEK ONE | day one | HOPE
WAITING WITH CHRIST

REST:

Take a few moments of silence to clear your head and begin to practice listening to the Spirit. Then slowly pray these words.

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

READ:

Read and meditate on the scriptures for this week of advent.

Isaiah 64:1-9

Psalm 80:1-7, 16-18

1 Corinthians 1:3-9

Mark 13:24-37

REFLECT:

[Today’s devotional is written by Eddie Kirkland.]

I don’t like to wait.  It’s not really all that fun.  Sometimes we wait for something fun, like Christmas, for instance.  As a kid, the month of December seemed to take forever.  Time slowed down and eventually ground to a halt as December 25th approached.

Sometimes, though, we wait for something that’s not so fun and cheerful; like a job, a spouse, a baby, or a diagnosis.  In these instances, we don’t know when the waiting will end, and we don’t know what to expect on the other side.  That kind of waiting is even more difficult, and it requires something more than just patience.  Waiting in the unknown requires hope.

Each week of Advent we will introduce a theme.  It’s a simple word that is found in the readings which carries us through the next seven days.  This week’s theme is Hope, and it’s something we all desperately need.

Today, as I open these four passages for the first time, I’m struck immediately by how dark, gloomy, and hope-less some of them seem.  Several of them don’t seem all that Christmas-y at all.  In fact, the Psalm and passage from Isaiah seem downright discouraging.  But I find something different in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians.  I love the way The Message translates this passage:

“Just think—you don’t need a thing, you’ve got it all. All God’s gifts are right in front of you as you wait expectantly for our Master Jesus to arrive on the scene for the Finale.  And not only that, but God himself is right alongside to keep you steady and on track until all things are wrapped up by Jesus.” (I Cor. 1:7-8, MSG)

I’ve heard people say over and over, “As Christians, we have hope because we know how the story ends.”  And they’re right, we do.  If we believe in Jesus, we know what the last chapter looks like.  That should be enough to bring us hope, right?

But Paul takes it a step farther.  He says, not only do you have a future hope, you have a hope in the here & now.  “You don’t need a thing, you’ve got it all.”  Every spiritual gift is available to us – now.  Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness… all of these things are available to us today.  No matter what it is that we are hoping for, according to Paul, we already have everything that we need.

“I don’t need a thing.”  What if we spent the next four weeks believing that was true? What if we waited, but we waited with hope?  Hope that one day, Christ will make all things new and right.  But more powerfully, hope that Christ will give us whatever we need to sustain us through this season.

The next four weeks is a season of waiting.  But as we wait, let’s embrace hope.  Today, let’s remember that we “don’t need a thing,” and that God himself will carry us across the finish line.

RESPOND:

OPTION 1: Set aside three moment today to pause, even for just 1 minute, to reflect on the hope we have in Christ.

OPTION 2: Do An Advent Wreath – Go to the store and purchase an advent wreath, or make your own to set up in your home. Every Monday as you begin a new theme for the week, light the corresponding candle for that theme. As each week passes you will light that week’s candle till all 5 are lit on December 25th.  Leave this advent wreath set up in your home, and light it periodically throughout the week as a reminder of the Advent season and theme for that week. 

Every Monday when you light a new candle, do one of the devotionals from that week and end with prayer centered around the theme.  For example for this week you might pray, “God, thank you for giving us hope because of your son, Jesus.  We can’t wait to celebrate his birthday at Christmas.  Help us count down each day with patience and hope.”

You can do this as a family, community group, or individually.

Click here for more info about the advent wreath.