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Posts Tagged ‘Advent’

 

 

With Advent near the surface of my thinking these days, I was primed to notice a new-to-me phenomenon in the word adventure.

It begins with Advent!

I don’t know how I’ve missed that similarity before. But once the word-within-a-word jumped out at me, I began to wonder: Are the two words related or is it just coincidence? Might there be significance to the similarity?

Research uncovered several interesting insights.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines Advent as “the arrival of a notable person or thing.” It comes to us from Latin; ad- means “to” and venire means “come” (1).

 

 

Adventure refers to an undertaking that may involve danger and unknown risks, and/or an exciting or remarkable experience (2).

Etymologically the words are more like distant cousins than siblings. But they do come together at Christ’s advent into the world—and in our individual lives—because he does offer grand adventure—the adventure of faith.

Mary certainly chose such an adventure as Gabriel announced she would conceive the Son of God. “I am the Lord’s servant,” she affirmed. “May your word to me be fulfilled” (Luke 1:38).

Joseph also stepped into the adventure of the Messiah’s birth, risking the derision of his community (Matthew 1:18-25).  If his neighbors didn’t know it yet, they’d learn soon enough that his betrothed was pregnant.

 

 

Neither Joseph nor Mary knew the dangers they’d face (including King Herod’s paranoia) and the uncertainties of parenting the perfect Son of God who would be misunderstood, scorned, and even murdered.

For their adventure, the shepherds ignored the first rule of sheep-tending: never leave the flock to fend for themselves. Instead, these men  threw caution to the wind and participated in a remarkable experience. They were among the first to see the long-anticipated Christ Child (Luke 2:8-18).

The wise men most likely adventured for two years, traveling to Judea from Babylon or Persia in order to worship the newborn King (Matthew 2:1-12). Imagine the stories of danger, risk, and astonishment they had to tell.

 

 

And now it’s our turn to choose. Will we step into the adventure of faith as they did—not knowing exactly what will happen and not being in control?

Yes, we might encounter danger or risk, but we are also guaranteed remarkable experiences, including:

  • Being used by God for eternal good, as we offer ourselves as his servants, just like Mary did.
  • Becoming the best version of ourselves as God works within us, developing our character and maturity (Galatians 5:22-23).
  • Looking for the miracle-drenched moments—taking holy delight in the ordinary (Psalm 40:5).
  • Getting acquainted with the Bible, finding sincere pleasure in knowing God’s Word. The more we know him, the more we love him, and the more wonder we experience (Psalm 112:1).
  • Participating in God’s work through prayer (James 5:16b).

 

 

Two years ago our son and daughter-in-law gave us three wooden Christmas ornaments, created by a girl overseas. We’ll call her Kiana. Kiana works in a factory run by a missionary couple sent out from our church.

On the tag attached to the ornaments was Kiana’s name and picture. Her sparkling eyes and joyous smile grabbed my heart and seemed to indicate Kiana just might know Jesus.

I began to pray for this young woman on a regular basis, thanking God for his promised provision and protection over her. I asked God to honor Kiana, bringing her to Jesus if she did not know him yet, and using her to impact others if she was already a believer.

Not long ago, those missionaries came home on furlough. I had the chance to ask about Kiana and learned she is a sweet Christian and even leads a Bible study.

My eyes filled with tears as I realized the privilege God had given me, to participate with him in the work he’s doing half-way around the world—through the adventure of prayer.

 

(One of the ornaments created by Kiana)

 

‘You see how gracious God is? Advent is only the beginning. The joy of this season can become an extended adventure that unfolds day after day, year after year, as we make ourselves available to him.

And that’s not all. The remarkable experience of heaven is yet to come.

The question is: will we embrace the adventure that begins with Advent, or will we withdraw?

 

Notes:

  1. https://www.europelanguagejobs.com/blog/turning_advent_into_adventure.php
  2. Mirriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition, 2001.

 

Photo and art credits:  http://www.thebluediamondgallery.com; http://www.canva.com; http://www.wikimedia.com (painting by James Tissot); http://www.flickr.com; http://www.canva.com; Nancy Ruegg

 

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Christmas is indeed a season of light.

Candles glow and twinkling lights glimmer from houses, buildings, and trees.

People love all the flickering and shimmering!  Some spend weeks decorating their yards and rooftops in spectacles of illumination.  If you asked them why, they might be hard-pressed to express more than, “They’re beautiful!”

 

 

But perhaps it’s more than just aesthetics.  Perhaps it’s a heart-response.

Light is symbolic for:

  • Beauty.  Light grabs our attention, whether it’s sparkling and dazzling or soft and luminous.

 

 

  • Safety.  Where there is light, we can navigate through our surroundings.
  • Comfort.  A nightlight offers just that for many a child who is afraid of the dark.
  • Hope.  Light gleams triumphantly in the darkness at the end of a tunnel.
  • Guidance.  Light illuminates the way.

 

 

Might it be that people respond to light, especially when associated with Christmas, because the human spirit is made to respond to the Light?

Jesus came from the Father who is Light (1 John 1:5), and proclaimed, “I am the Light of the world” (John 8:12).

But that statement is more than symbolic.

God the Son is our safety, because he offers eternal life.

 

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish;

no one can snatch them out of my hand.”

John 10:28-29

 

 

God the Father is our comfort, because he is loving and compassionate.

  

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,

who comforts us in all our troubles.”

2 Corinthians 1:3-4a

 

God the Son is our hope, because of his resurrectionWe will be raised from the dead because he was. 

 

“In his great mercy [God] has given us new birth

into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade—

kept in heaven for you.”

1 Peter 1:3b-4

 

 

God the Father is beauty, because of all his exquisite attributes.  And we have the opportunity to bask in that beauty.

 

“I’m asking God for one thing…

To live with him in his house my whole life long.

I’ll contemplate his beauty; I’ll study at his feet.”

Psalm 27:4  MSG

 

God the Father is guidance, characterized by wisdom, compassion, and readiness.

 

 

The Light of the world offers us all this and more.

I can’t imagine life without him, can you?

Let’s make time to linger in his Light during this Advent season.

 

 

Let’s be watchful for “Glory-moments, awash in his dazzling Light” (Sarah Young).

 

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *    *

 

How else might we expand our heart-response to Jesus?  Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!

 

Photo credits: http://www.pxhere.com; http://www.wikimedia.com; http://www.tOrangebiz; http://www.flickr.com; http://www.dailyverses.net; http://www.canva.com (3).

 

(Revised and reblogged from December 2, 2013.)

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“Advent:

the time to listen for footsteps –

you can’t hear footsteps

when
 you’re running yourself.”

Bill McKibben

 

Are you caught up in the Holiday Hurry yet? I’m talking about the decorating–baking– card-writing—shopping—wrapping—parties—rehearsals—event-participation and attendance. No doubt I omitted a few items on your list.

Perhaps you’re craving a bit of quiet this Christmas. Time to enjoy the presence of your Savior. Time to reflect on Bethlehem blessings—those gifts we enjoy as a result of Christ’s advent into the world.

But how can we stop running long enough to hear our Savior’s footsteps? How can we avail ourselves of his peace and strength when our days are doubly-busy?

May I recommend the devotional book, Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room (Barbour Publishing, 2014), by my good blogger-friend, Jean Wise?

First, the soft, leather-like cover is a pleasure to hold. The thick, gilded pages are a delight to turn. And the subtle, star-studded border on each page adds beauty to the text.

Jean has provided four weeks of quieting devotionals, offering a perfect start for each day. Each week has its own theme: 1) Preparation, 2) Pause, 3) Ponder, and 4) Promise.

Each reading includes a brief devotional, appropriate scriptures, well-chosen quotes, suggestions for a more meaningful Advent season, and a closing prayer.

I’ve just begun reading and internalizing this book myself. But already my spirit has been calmed by Jean’s soothing words. For example:

“We drink in His presence and linger in His light for warmth and nourishment. We quench our thirst at His well” (p. 27).

Doesn’t that sound refreshing and rejuvenating? So “take a deep breath and enjoy the journey,” Jean recommends. Embrace moments of stillness, thank God for the gift of His Son, express gratitude, and rest.

Jean also provides gentle challenge. She well knows the tyranny of the to-do list at this time of year. A pointed question steers our focus in the right direction:

“What are we clinging to so tightly we can’t reach out to God” (p. 16)?

And then there are those readings where God’s wisdom flows through Jean’s words.

In the devotional entitled, “Advent Assignments,” she reminds us that our role in the Christmas season is not to be the perfect hostess or flawless decorator, and not to portray the ideal family.

“Preparing our hearts for the Lord implies knowing our boundaries and acknowledging our limitations…Focus on the manger in the center of the stage of our hearts (p. 32).”

Each day Jean encourages me to “reduce the clutter.” Her words bring me to the center of the stage of my heart, to “spend less time on busy work and more time with God” (p. 12).

Time to reflect. Time to listen. Time to savor the presence of my Savior.

Won’t you join me?

(You may order the book on http://www.barnesandnoble.com or purchase at a Family Christian bookstore and at Christian Book Distributors.) 

 

 

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Cover of "The Guernsey Literary and Potat...

Cover via Amazon

The title grabbed my attention:  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows).   And it turned out to be an excellent read, especially since I particularly enjoy historical fiction.

But this post is not a book review.  It’s about a statement one of the characters makes.

First, a bit of background.  A group of folk who lived on the island of Guernsey, in the late 1940s, were greatly anticipating the arrival of a writer.  She was going to tell their story of what happened during the German occupation of World War II.

Upon her arrival, one of the village residents, Juliet, says, “How beautiful of you to come” (p. 26).

Note she did not say, “How wonderful of you to come.”  She said, beautiful.

I love the use of an unexpected word that catches me by surprise and makes me think.

As I read Juliet’s statement, I thought it made a perfect gratitude prayer to Jesus, especially at Christmastime.

How beautiful of you to come—how lovely, graceful, goodly, splendorous, and magnificent.

Oh, yes, Lord Jesus.

 How beautiful of you to come, leaving the resplendent perfection of heaven behind, and:

  • Making yourself nothing,
  • Taking the very nature of a servant,
  • Becoming obedient to death (Philippians 2:7-8).

How beautiful of you to come, with glorious qualities that delight our hearts—qualities such as:

  • Love, expressed with forgiveness, patience, and benevolence (1 Corinthians 13:4-5).
  • Perfect sinlessness, giving us a worthy example to follow (Hebrews 4:15).
  • Truth, in which we can trust (John 14:6).
  • Peace that defies explanation (Philippians 4:6-7).

How beautiful of you to come, to:

  • Turn my darkness into light (2 Samuel 22:29b).
  • Be the source of my salvation (Hebrews 5:9).
  • Be with me always (Matthew 28:20).
  • Provide blessing after blessing (John 1:16).

How beautiful of you to come. 

And as we welcome you into our hearts, Lord Jesus, you make us new (2 Corinthians 5:17).

You make us beautiful!  We can:

  • Shine like stars (Philippians 2:15).
  • Be the aroma of Christ to others (2 Corinthians 2:14-15).
  • Reflect your image (Romans 8:29) of holiness, moral purity, and love.

Oh, how beautiful of you to come!

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