Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Advent Devotional I December 2, 2018

We talk about Advent as if we all understand what Advent is, and yet, the experience of Advent occurs distinctly for each of us.  In the church, Advent is our time of preparation for the coming of the Messiah, a time to prayerfully listen to God’s Word and inscribe that Word on our hearts. It is a time of making ready, of quiet anticipation. Frederick Buechner captures this sense in his book, “Whistling in the Dark, a Doubter’s Dictionary.” He defines Advent as follows:
The house lights go off and the footlights come on. Even the chattiest stop chattering as they wait in darkness for the curtain to rise.  In the orchestra pit, the violin bows are poised.  The conductor has raised his baton.
In the silence of a midwinter dusk there is far off in the deeps of it somewhere a sound so faint that for all you can tell it may be only the sound of the silence itself. You hold your breath to listen.
You walk up the steps to the front door.  The empty windows at either side of it tell you nothing, or almost nothing.  For a second you catch a whiff in the air of some fragrance that reminds you of a place you’ve never been and a time you have no words for.  You are aware of the beating of your heart.
The extraordinary thing that is about to happen is matched only by the extraordinary moment just before it happens.  Advent is the name of that moment.
The Salvation Army Santa Claus clangs his bell.  The sidewalks are so crowded you can hardly move.  Exhaust fumes are the chief fragrance in the air, and everybody is as bundled up against any sense of what all the fuss is really about as they are bundled up against the windchill factor.
But if you concentrate just for an instant, far off in the deeps of you somewhere you can feel the beating of your heart.  For all its madness and lostness, not to mention your own, you can hear the world itself holding its breath.   
As we hold our breaths awaiting the coming of our Messiah, we contemplate that first year—the year of the birth of Jesus -- and we consider the words of God preparing His people for the birth of the Holy Infant.   The theme of this Advent season is God revealed through His messengers. Today’s Scripture for the opening Advent devotional is from the Book of Isaiah. The message of it shouts God’s sovereignty. It upholds God’s perfect majesty. It affirms His covenant relationship with His people.
Listen to the words of the Lord as told in Isaiah 55:8-13:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
12 You will go out in joy
    and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
    will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
    will clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
    and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
    for an everlasting sign,
    that will endure forever.”

Father thank You for speaking to us, sending Your messengers and Your message that we may become Your children, that we may seek You, that we may know Your Word and Your Way, that we may wonder at Your mighty power and that You still regard us. This Advent season open our hearts and our minds to the wonder of Your sovereignty, oh God. Your words created the impossible, that Zechariah and Elizabeth should have a child. You humbled Yourself in the form of Your Son, sacrificed Him for the propitiation of our sins, loving us before we knew You. Let this season be one of joy, love, worship and surrender. May Your message plant deep in our hearts. Amen

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