15 Daily Advent Devotionals
|Phaedra Taylor, "Annunciation" (Watercolor, 4'X2', 2005)|
The beginning of the church year, marked by the first Sunday of Advent, is two days away.
Oft nicknamed a "Little Lent," because of its invitation to feast and to repent as a way to prepare for Christmastide, Advent is a season in which we meditate on the coming of God in Christ by his Spirit. From the Latin "adventus," which is the Latin translation of the Greek word "parousia," a word frequently used to refer to the Second Coming of Christ, Advent asks:
"How does the original coming of God to earth and the future, eschatological coming of God inform our experience of God's coming here and now?"
More personally perhaps:
"What does it mean to commemorate and celebrate God's coming when he so often does not, in fact, come?"
Instead of seeing God's coming as a distant idea, fossilized in the past or far-flung in a seemingly perpetually receding future, both First Coming and Second Coming re-orient our sense of God's coming in our own day and time. If we're honest with ourself, this fact might actually terrify us, as it often did the protagonists of Luke 1 and 2. If the triune God wants to come into my life today, what does that mean? What does that look like? How does my life need to change in light of that fact?
It bears mentioning that the season of Advent, with its stress on the "coming of God," is not interested in a generic coming. It is interested in a very particular form of coming: a coming that involves an extraordinarily large amount of waiting, an experience of anticipation that resists our urges to predict the work of the Lord in a manner that excuses the need for deep trust, and an arrival that always surprises even if in retrospect it remains consonant with the character of God.
This coming of God is ever and always a communal experience: a "advent" of the triune God which is experienced by the people of God. It is never a solo project.
This coming of God is inseparable from a personalized invitation to wait and to anticipate.
What Advent does, at its best, more concretely, is to retrain us in muscles of waiting and anticipation, which are muscles that we require in all domains of our life--family, work, friendship, ministry, politics, study, economy, health, hobbies and so forth.
All-too often, despite our best wishes, we succumb to a hopeless waiting, which if allowed to occupy our heart long enough results in a low-grade form of despair that in turn births a "grinding it out" or a "making the best of it" mentality, which inevitably makes us feel sick of ourselves.
All-too easily we grow faint with anticipation. How long do I have to wait? How long must I wait for that which I have hoped for, worked towards, prayed into, yearned till it hurts to want something so intensely?
Advent reminds us that God does in fact arrive. In Christ he arrives to a first-century peasant girl betrothed to a blue collar worker. In the Spirit he arrives to a hundred and twenty of the most unlikely bedfellows, gathered on the day of Pentecost. He arrives here and now, in this time and place, to you and to me.
He arrives just on time, even if it takes him a day or two, or thirty years, or four hundred, or even a thousand to arrive on the scene.
But his arrival, just like all his arrivals, always unsettles and astonishes. His arrival always exceeds our capacity to forecast the manner of his arrival, even if, looking back, we're be able to perceive the coherent shape of God's care for us and for the world that he so loves.
The season of Advent, then, is an opportunity both to discover the nature of our enfeebled waiting muscles as well as our tired practices of anticipation and to discipline our hearts and minds, bodies and lives so that we might become, together, a people who wait with hope, who anticipate with faith, and who welcome the arrival of the Lord with courage in our hearts.
In light of the fact that we cannot do this work without practical helps, here are a few resources, in no particular oder, that might helpful to do this work well.
1. The #AdventWord Global Advent Calendar. "It’s an innovative way to engage in the season of Advent with people all over the world. Simply respond to the daily meditation emailed to you with images and prayers that speak to your heart. Your images and prayers will appear in the Advent Calendar with others from around the world."
2. The Office of Social Justice for the Christian Reformed Church: "What does the incarnation have to do with us in our daily worship, work, school, home, and play? How should Christians respond to friends and family, strangers and neighbors—literal and figurative—in light of the true light? Are we as Christians, as followers of Christ, embodied beings of love in our interactions with members in our community and beyond? What does the incarnation look like in our lives today—for us and for others? We invite you to let these questions orient your Christmas season."
3. An Advent Devotional by the Discipleship Ministries of the United Methodist Church. This devotional includes an Advent Worship Service for Families.
4. Let There Be Light Advent 2017: LET THERE BE COLOR DEVOTIONAL. "Beginning with December 3rd, 2017, this daily devotional will invite you to draw, read, reflect, pray, and color your way through the end of 2017. This is a great resource for older youth and adults, but parents could also invite children to help them add color to the pages while they discuss the daily scriptures together."
5. Christianity Today's Advent Devotional: "Advent is a 30-day devotional to help individuals and families journey through the 2017 Advent season. It features devotions by Christianity Today contributors and editors such as N.T. Wright, John Ortberg, Fleming Rutledge, Peter Chin, Joni Eareckson Tada, Russell Moore, Tony Evans, and more."
6. Cru's Advent Devotional: "The Savior is Here: Advent Study. As our awareness for the first coming of Christ is heightened, our longing and expectation for his second advent should increase as well. Beginning four Sundays before Christmas we focus on advent, a season of reflection and longing for the coming King."
7. InterVarsity Christian Fellowship Advent Devotional: "A Pregnant Pause: Each section contains a number of different elements: a painting, Scripture passage, written reflection, questions, and a guided prayer. I encourage you to see each component as an opportunity to converse with God. Take the time to step away from distraction and allow God to meet you through this work. Enjoy His presence with you and respond as He leads. It is more important that you engage with Him than whether you get through all the content. Allow the Holy Spirit to bring you to a place of rest, refreshment, and transformation in His way and at His pace."
8. Amy Julia Becker's Advent Devotional: "Hello! I'm Amy Julia Becker. I write about faith, family, disability, and privilege, and I would love to connect with you. Provide your email below to join my mailing list, and I'll send you my new ebook, Prepare Him Room: Advent Reflections on What Happens When God Shows Up."
9. The Common Rule Advent Devotional: "The Common Rule - Advent Edition! is a seasonal version of The Common Rule which provides a set of daily and seasonal practices for celebrating the King that has come and waiting for the King that will come again."
10. The Englewood Review of Books: Advent Calendar 2017 – Best Books of 2017! "Each day of December leading up to Christmas, we will feature one of the best books of 2017!"
11. The Image Journal Advent Calendar: Day 1 includes "Flannery O’Connor & The Art of Possible."
12. Biola University's Center for Christianity, Culture and the Arts Advent Devotional: "Join us daily for the CCCA’s popular Advent Project, an online resource with scripture, devotionals, art, video, and music -- as we remember the mystery of the incarnation and the Word made flesh."
13. Paraclete Press' book All Creation Waits. The Advent Mystery of New Beginnings by Gayle Boss: "Dear friends, We’re very excited to offer our best-selling Advent devotional, All Creation Waits, as an e-subscription. Chapter one can be viewed here."
14. Tamara Murphy's Advent Daybook: "If you've ever considered following the ancient rhythms of the liturgical calendar, there's no better time to start than at the Church's New Year: Advent. Even if your church follows the civic calendar more prominently than the liturgical, you can follow along with your brothers and sisters in Christ across the globe from the quiet spaces of your own home. You could create -- figuratively or, even, literally -- a family altar. This does not have to be elaborate, time-consuming, or expensive. Simple tangible acts will impress themselves upon your hearts and minds for a lifetime: a book or two filled with rich images and time-tested writings, mealtime prayers, a candle or two. It's one of my greatest joys to walk alongside you through Advent with suggested resources and daily encouragement in the form of the Advent Daybook blog series."
15. And just for fun: "Premium Whisky Advent Calendar (2017 Edition)": "Drinks by the Dram’s Premium Whisky Advent Calendar is packed with 24 rather thrilling whiskies that are a step up from the already incredible stash squirreled away within the Whisky Advent Calendar. Behind each of the 24 doors is a different 3cl dram of deliciousness, from some of the most coveted world whiskies to a 50 year old Scotch. There’s even a whisky worth £600 a bottle to really get that festive spirit flowing!"
PS: If you know of any other good daily Advent devotionals, please feel free to add them in the comments section.
|Donald Jackson, "Luke Frontispiece: The Birth of Christ (Preparatory sketch 1)"|