ADVENT WEEK tHREE | day four
JOY | life in common
Take a few moments of silence to clear your head and begin to practice listening to the Spirit. Then slowly pray these words, our prayer for this week.
Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.
Read and meditate on this week’s scripture passages.
[Today’s devotional is written by Mike and Beth Nelson.]
Why do we gather together each week as a church? Is it because it’s the most efficient way for us to be taught by a preacher? But we have podcasts and books and videos in our own homes. Is it so we can see each other and catch up? We have phones and social media for that. Is it just because the church has always done it that way? Is it because all of us singing together sounds better than just one or two of us?
Maybe this is all true. And maybe there’s more. In our culture, the communal church experience is sometimes viewed as an augmentation of our individual walks with God. But today’s readings might imply a personal walk with God is incomplete without this kind of communal experience.
“We were filled with laughter, and we sang for joy. And the other nations said, ‘What amazing things the LORD has done for them.’ Yes, the LORD has done amazing things for us! What joy!” Psalm 126:2-3, NLT
WE laughed. WE sang. Amazing things for US. As we worship on Sundays, we look in each other’s faces, mindful of the joys and tears and anxieties reflected in those faces. And our worship and our community is greater for it–we celebrate not only our own experience, but that of others, too. The passing of the peace is traditionally a time for damaged relationships to be mended so both parties can come into the fullness of worship and community unhindered. We pray the prayers of the people together, remembering by name those in our church, nation, and world in desperate need of the Lord’s intervention.
Why is it more fun to celebrate a team’s victory in the stadium rather than alone in our living rooms? Why do we call everyone we know with good news about an engagement, a new baby, a new job? What is it about being surrounded by people who love you that makes pain and heartache just a little more bearable? At Christmas, why do we attend gatherings with all our different circles–extended family, church friends, college friends, coworkers? All this is because we are communal to our cores. We were made to live life in common; the isolated Christian life is an incomplete Christian life.
Put your prayer into action throughout the day.
Today, magnify your joy by sharing it in community. Make an appointment for coffee, breakfast, a play date, or just a visit with someone in the church. Even if it’s just a quick phone call to check in, take time to find joy in sharing life with someone else.