First week of Advent theme: Hope




The first week of Advent centers on the hope that comes from the announcement of Christ’s birth and the expectation of His certain return.

Advent is a time of waiting, of holy expectation for what is to come. It is a time of preparing our hearts and our homes for Christmas joy. Just four weeks from now, we celebrate God’s revelation of true love in the person of Jesus.
During Advent, we remember the incarnation of Jesus, born to a young woman who, but for love, would have been an outcast. Born in a barn, God incarnate had a rocky start.
The God we meet in Jesus is a God of compassion, righteousness, and profound love like no other. The God who created the heavens and the earth becomes flesh and dwells among us: Emmanuel, God with us.
There was a man in the desert who called people to wait for Jesus. He reminded them of an ancient prophecy and told them it was about to come true. In Matthew 3:3, this man—John the Baptist—tells us to “Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him,” reminding us of the prophecy of Isaiah 40: “Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it.”
 
In our world, there are valleys, the way is rough, and the road is often crooked. Things are not how God intends them to be. Mary, the mother of Jesus, walked a very rough road. The world tried to condemn her, but the strength she received from God carried her through her trials, as it does so many in today’s troubled world.

Prayer
 
Dear God,
 
Christmas is Your light breaking into the darkness. We confess that we are sometimes blinded, not by Your glory, but by consumerism, greed, and the oppression of packed schedules. Help us this year to see and respond to Christmas differently. Strengthen us to resist the lure of getting more in a world where so many have so little. Equip us to use this time to remember Your birth and think about how we do Your will here on earth, as it is done in heaven. By breaking into human history, You showed us a different way—the way of reconciliation, redemption, and resurrection. As we celebrate how You came, help us remember why You came—and live differently because of it.
 
Amen.
 
Live it out
 
Think about people in your community or elsewhere who need hope this Christmas season. Write down the name(s) of one or a few of these people. Then think of some ways you can bless them during Advent. Maybe you can write a note of encouragement to a friend going through a difficult time. Maybe you can volunteer to serve a meal or help at a local shelter. Maybe you can invite someone who doesn’t have family nearby for a meal. Be creative and follow through with whatever you decide to do.
 
Courtesy of World Vision.



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