The season of Advent is a wonderful time for all Christians to pause, center, and think carefully about the meaning of the coming of Jesus Christ. I hope this weekly Advent Guide will help deepen and form your faith over the next month.
It is my goal to help our church family observe the Advent season both individually and along with the greater church body. For several years, we have celebrated Advent with Scripture readings and the use of an Advent wreath; this month we will expand on our understanding and observation of Advent, primarily by helping families worship together at home. This Advent celebration marks the first step of our church’s journey through “A Year in the Life of Our Lord.”
Week 1 || Dec 1-7
“Advent” simply means “coming,” and for Christ-followers, the season of Advent is a time to look simultaneously backward, inward, and forward to the coming of Jesus Christ. We look backward as we identify with early believers who waited for the coming of the promised Messiah. We look inward as we celebrate Messiah’s coming into our hearts. We look forward to Messiah Jesus’ Second Coming at the end of time.
Our focus this week is on the Second Coming of Christ and our need to prepare for His return. Matthew 24 reminds us that Jesus’ return is imminent, so we must be ready for that day (v. 44). Romans 13 shares the same theme, warning that the night is nearly over and the daylight is near (v. 12). Our salvation depends upon our putting on the Lord Jesus Christ, making no plans to satisfy our fleshly desires (v. 14).
Just as the Israelites waited for Messiah’s first coming, me must be morally and spiritually prepared for His second. 2 Peter 3:11 challenges us to live as holy, Godly people in preparation for Christ’s return. As we thoughtfully observe this Advent season, let us allow God to call us into a time of waiting, hope, and longing as we look toward the day of the Lord.
Prayer for Each Day
Unexpected God, Your advent alarms us. Wake us from drowsy worship, from the sleep that neglects love, and the sedative of misdirected frenzy. Awaken us now to your coming, and bend our angers into Your peace. Amen.
Sunday, Dec 1
- Read Romans 13:11-14
- Consider making a family Advent calendar to help everyone visualize the season. Here is a list of great ideas for an Advent calendar: https://theadventusproject.wordpress.com/resources/make-something/advent-calendars/
Monday, Dec 2
- Read Matthew 24:36-44
- Enjoy this article exploring art that depicts the angel’s visit with Mary: https://theadventusproject.wordpress.com/resources/advent-art/annunciation-art/
Tuesday, Dec 3
- Read Psalm 122
- If you have children, try some of these Advent activities: https://theadventusproject.wordpress.com/resources/advent-with-children/the-meolis-truth-in-the-tinsel/
Wednesday, Dec 4
- Read Isaiah 2:1-5
- Spend some time thinking about this poem by C.S. Lewis: https://theadventusproject.wordpress.com/resources/poetry/lewis-what-the-bird/
Thursday, Dec 5
- Read Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19
- Check out this webpage about Relational Gift Ideas at AdventConspiracy.org: https://adventconspiracy.org/relational-gift-ideas/ (HINT: You’ll have to register to be able to access it, and it’s well worth it!)
Friday, Dec 6
- Read Isaiah 4:2-6
- If you have children, begin playing this Advent Calendar Bingo game:
Saturday, Dec 7
- Read Acts 1:12-17, 21-26
- Listen to an album of Advent songs, like this one: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/7CmdotlNN9vt0maq98vtSU?si=8DrDU3B4RCSQbl8xt41MeA
Week 2 || Dec 8-14
The four weeks of Advent are meant to serve as a corporate spiritual journey. We remember, introspect, and wait for Jesus’ return. But Advent is not a season celebrated for its own sake… The lessons and devotions of Advent are only meaningful when we remember what our Messiah came to earth to do: die and be resurrected in order to purchase salvation for all people.
“The Light for which we wait in Advent is the Light that dispels the darkness at Easter.”(TCLCW 109)
Christ’s first and second comings are equally important parts of the Gospel story.
In this second week of Advent, we continue our forward-looking, preparing ourselves for Christ’s return. In order to be ready, we must allow ourselves to dwell in a season of repentance and confession. John the Baptist’s message applies today: “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2). Jesus’ message was the same: “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17 and 10:17). If we’re not careful, we can get caught up in the commercial sentiment of Christmas a little too early… Advent is a time for repentance and preparation. The joy, cheer, and celebration begins on Christmas Day!
William Stringfellow writes:
“In the first Advent, Christ the Lord comes into the world; in the next Advent, Christ the Lord comes as Judge of the world…in vindication of his Lordship and the reign of the Word of God in history. This is the truth, which the world hates, which biblical people–repentant people–bear, and by which they live as the church in the world in the time between the two Advents.”.(TCLCW 112)
We live in the time between two Advents… Allow yourself to feel the tension, and let that tension guide you as you pray for yourself, your family and friends, and for the lost world around us. Then go share the message of Advent: “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
Prayer for Each Day
Laboring God, by Your great power you clear a holy space where hurt and destruction have no place, and a little child holds sway. In the same way, clear our lives of hatred and despair, sow seeds of joy and peace, that shoots of hope may spring forth and we may live in harmony with one another. Amen.
Sunday, Dec 8
- Check out the incredible devotions at http://ccca.biola.edu/advent/2019/#
- Talk with your family or a friend about the Scriptures and sermon we heard at church today.
Monday, Dec 9
- Read Isaiah 11:1-10
- Focus today’s prayer on asking God to clear your life of hatred and despair, replacing them with joy, peace, and hope.
- If you have children, try making this awesome LEGO nativity: https://theadventusproject.wordpress.com/resources/advent-with-children/the-hookers-a-lego-nativity/
Tuesday, Dec 10
- Read Psalm 72:18-19
- If you have kids, enjoy one or both of these Advent word games:
Wednesday, Dec 11
- Read Romans 15:7-13
- Reflect on how you can be welcoming to others as you share the message of hope found in Jesus. How can you practice and spread the Gospel by serving others?
Thursday, Dec 12
- Read Matthew 3:1-12
- As you pray, ask God what secret sins you should confess and repent of. Focus your mind on living as one who has repented and found forgiveness.
- If you’re into country music, check out this Advent playlist: https://theadventusproject.wordpress.com/resources/music/rain-for-roots-waiting-songs/
Friday, Dec 13
- Read Romans 15:4-6
- Think about someone you could encourage with the words of today’s Scripture. Send them a note, text or email, or even call and have a conversation in which you speak a blessing over them with today’s Scripture.
Saturday, Dec 14
- Read Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19
- Spend some time reading and reflecting on the passages of Scripture we read this week.
- Take some time to read and reflect on this sermon by Oliver O’Donovan: https://theadventusproject.wordpress.com/resources/sermons-and-devotions/come-oliver-odonovan/
Week 3 || Dec 15-21
This is the third week of Advent. For the first two weeks, we looked at Advent primarily through the lens of the Second Coming of Christ the Messiah. Today we begin to emphasize the feeling of JOY as we look forward to the return of Jesus on the last day.
When Jesus came to the earth at the completion of the first Advent, he made the way for us to be saved, redeemed, renewed, and restored to God. All of this stirs up joy in the heart of the believer, so we celebrate this week, looking forward with grateful anticipation toward the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
Prayer for Each Day
Shepherd of Israel, may Jesus – Emmanuel and son of Mary – be more than just a dream in our hearts.
With the apostles, prophets, and saints, save us, restore us, and lead us in the way of grace and peace, that we may bear your promise into the world.
Sunday, Dec 15
- Take a few minutes to read through the Advent devotional from Biola University here: http://ccca.biola.edu/advent/2019/#day-dec-15
- Spend some time thinking through what it must have been like for Mary to be faced with the decision of bearing the infant Savior.
- Enjoy the poem that is particularly insightful as you ponder Mary’s reaction.
Monday, Dec 16
- Read Psalm 42 with your family or a friend.
- If you have children, remember to keep looking at your Advent Calendar from week 1. (If you haven’t yet made one, scroll up to the devotion for Dec 1 to find some ideas.)
- Pray that God will fill you with his JOY this week!
Tuesday, Dec 17
Follow this devotional from The Advent Conspiracy: https://adventconspiracy.org/devotional15/
Wednesday, Dec 18
- Read Zechariah 8:1-17 today
- God promised to deliver his people; how might this bring them joy, even though it didn’t happen in their lifetime?
- “There will be a sowing of peace…” What do you think that will look like?
- Discuss with a friend or your family: What would life be like if we all spoke the truth, strove for peace, and avoided hurting one another, as the Lord instructs?
Thursday, Dec 19
Today, we begin to focus toward the fourth Sunday of Advent – we’re in the final stretch!
- Read Galatians 3:23-29 today.
- If you are a believer, rejoice in the difference that knowing Jesus makes in your life. Thank God for some specific things, like salvation, justification, and adoption into his family.
Friday, Dec 20
- Read 2 Samuel 7:18-22 today.
- As you go through the day, re-read the passage several times, and spend today praising God for his promises, his uniqueness, his power, and his love for you.
Saturday, Dec 21
- Read Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
- As you live and work in the world today, pray often that God will restore you and restore your church, and that his face would shine on us, so that we may be saved.
Week 4 || Dec 22-28
On this, the final week of Advent, may you be blessed by celebrating the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, God WITH Us.
During these last few days before Christmas, may your heart be glad and may your spirit rejoice just as the virgin Mary’s did:
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior, because He has looked with favor on the humble condition of His slave. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed, because the Mighty One has done great things for me, and His name is holy.Luke 1:46-49 (HCSB)
Prayer for Each Day
God of all ages, in the birth of Christ your boundless love for your people shattered the power of darkness. Be born in us with that same love and light, that our song may blend with all the choirs of heaven and earth to the glory of your holy name. Amen.
Sunday, Dec 22
As you reflect on the coming of Messiah today, enjoy the performance of this poem, “Christmas in Dark Places.” Click HERE
Monday, Dec 23
Today’s devotional was published a couple days ago, but is very helpful for us today. Click HERE
Tuesday, Dec 24
- Read John 1:1-4
As the Bread of Heaven, that we might be fed,Carl P. Daw, Jr. (“When God’s Time Had Ripened,” vv. 3–4)
Chose a manger cradle in the House of Bread,
So has Life Eternal mingled in the womb
With our mortal nature to confound the tomb.
For this swaddled infant in a humble place,
Holds our hope of glory and our means of grace;
In the love enfleshed here dawns the world’s rebirth,
Promise of salvation, pledge of peace on earth.
From Dr. James R. Hart, President of the Robert Webber Institute for Worship Studies:
He who is, became. The Bread of Life was born in the House of Bread (Bethlehem). He who is true food for the world was laid in a feed trough so we may receive divine nourishment. He who is eternal entered time so we who are constrained by time may gain eternity. He whose richness is unfathomable became impoverished so we may be beneficiaries of the richness of glory. He who is perfect freedom became confined by swaddling cloths so we who are swaddled in the human condition may become “unswaddled” from our frail mortality, our degradation, failure and grief. In that great act he shows us the true freedom of giving ourselves away in love for others, to be bound for the sake of the other.
At Christmas we celebrate this “great exchange.” Since through the incarnation God has fully participated in our human nature, we therefore have the calling and privilege of participating in his divine nature, being truly “united with God.” May it be so in increasing measure. Thanks be to God! (Extracted from Dr. Hart’s “Merry Christmas from IWS!” email, Dec. 20, 2019)
Wednesday, December 25
Merry Christmas! You and your family may want to read the story of the birth of Christ from Luke 2. May you be filled with joy today because of the birth of Jesus, our Savior, and may you find peace and rest through the Holy Spirt both now and in the new year.
Advent Conspiracy (www.adventconspiracy.org)
- A great website that will guide us through a beautiful, humble, generous Advent season
- Includes a Scripture reading plan, children’s activities, family activities, stories, and even a Spotify playlist
The Advent Project (www.theadventusproject.wordpress.com)
- A source for more Advent ideas, including a Bible reading plan, devotions, art, music, poetry, and ideas for celebrating Advent with children
Biola University’s Advent Project (www.ccca.biola.edu/advent/2019)
- Biola’s faculty provides a daily Advent devotional complete with Scripture readings, art, music, and video. Sign up to be notified via email when each day’s entry is posted.
- They also offer a similar devotional resource for Lent.
Webber, Robert E., ed. The Complete Library of Christian Worship, Vol. 5: The Services of the Christian Year. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1993.
- Much of the content in these devotions is guided by the articles in Webber’s collection, especially pp. 109-110.
- Quotes from this book are notated as “TCLCW.”
- This website, drawing from the Revised Common Lectionary, suggests the daily readings and prayers found in these devotions.
Hart, James R., “Merry Christmas from IWS!” email, December 20, 2019.