Yes, just under the wire… something to use tomorrow for the start of Advent! I hope you can use this simple exercise to help you focus on Jesus during this season. Feel free to share with anyone and do it by yourself, with friends or family, at church, etc. I will have something for the subsequent weeks of Advent and Christmas Eve/Day available next week.
I was looking for something fresh for Advent this year. I appreciate the themes, characters, and traditions that we remember year after year. They are all very helpful in preparing ourselves for Christ’s coming. But I find that these can sometimes lose their impact due to the repetition and overly-simplistic way we are lead to remember them. They just don’t seem to speak to our longing for Jesus in the real world. Also, I am struck by how often we create our own expectations of God and sometimes forget to see what is on His heart. As we prepare for the birth of Jesus, it is a good time to align our hopes with His.
So, I created something new. It’s actual a pretty simple set of Advent-sessions, centered around a central text, some reflection, a [hopefully] fun activity, and prayer. I’ve left out nearly any explanation or “teaching” because I believe this forces us to think and sit with God ourselves. Also, because I got unbelievably sick just days before having this ready to launch, I haven’t spent ANY time making it look pretty. Sorry – no formatting, pictures, etc. Just some stripped-down thoughts that I hope you find helpful.
The reading comes from Isaiah 61, a wonderful prophetic passage about what the Messiah would fulfill at his coming. It was a source of great hope for the Jewish people through times of war and tribulation. The pictures of restoration and beauty – things made right – continue to inspire people around the globe for what is yet to completely come. This passage was famously quoted by Jesus in Luke 4, where he followed the traditional reading of scripture in the synagogue by declaring that today, in him, this Scripture had come true. And so began this new chapter in God’s plan of redemption. I thought this scripture on the in-breaking of God’s Kingdom, something I still long to see completed, would be appropriate to focus on during this Advent.
I would love any feedback, especially how it is significant for you during this Advent season. I’m a big fan of sharing stories – real, honest, and hopefully encouraging to one another. There are LOTS of people who are seeking Jesus this Advent season. Maybe our stories will help one another on this journey.
This week: Sunday, November 29
What you need
4 candles that are the same color (for the four weeks of Advent’s expectation of Jesus), 1 candle that is a different color (representing Christ, the fulfillment)
Bonus points if you can keep them in the same space over the next weeks, preferably somewhere you can see them and be reminded of your commitment to focus on Jesus this season.
Light one of the 4 similar candles as you begin. Keep it lit throughout your time, and you may re-light it throughout the week if you set aside special time for prayer.
Say a prayer to focus your attention on Jesus and asking Him to meet you during this time.
If you prefer, you may read all of Isaiah 61, then re-read/focus on verses 1-3
Many are mentioned in these few verses that benefit from the Anointed One. We so easily think of the poor, brokenhearted, prisoners, and those who mourn in general terms. The problem is, this often causes us to think of God’s promise to them/us in general terms as well. “Jesus will do good things for lots of people.” Boring.
- Stop for a moment and read again who is mentioned here – write them down.
- And, what is promised for them? Write that down too.
If you’re like me, wouldn’t you LOVE to see God’s hand at work in these ways for those mentioned here?
Go and look for some of the people mentioned in this passage. Maybe you know some personally. Perhaps, because of time and circumstances, you can’t physically go look right now. If so, watch the news, read the paper, or even jump on the internet. Pretty sure you will find some people like we are talking about.
The point is that God is talking about REAL people, people with names, people all around us. Who are they?
- If possible, place a picture or name on a piece of paper by your Advent candles to remind you to pray throughout the week.
Pray that Jesus would do now what God said he came for. Pray with faces and names in mind. You might be able to pray with people, but it’s ok if you simply pray on their behalf.
You can also use this time for any other special prayers you have right now.
In the upcoming week
Continue to pray for those God brought to mind, and keep looking for others.
You might set aside a specific time each day for these special Advent prayers.