And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. (1 Peter 5:10)
We anticipate the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, the second coming of Christ, as we move through Advent. Our experience of life as we wait for Christ is filled with joy and fraught with pain. Perhaps the best way to encounter, endure and overcome that which confronts us on this path is to acknowledge the truth about our experience. God wants us to be honest with ourselves even as we are devoted in Christ; it is God’s gift to us through which we can receive the Son. A wonderful article in The Christian Century put it this way:
"It's because everything hurts that we prepare for Advent. It's because we have stood in hospital rooms and gravesides, empty churches, and quiet bedrooms that we resolutely lay out candles and matches.
We don't get to have hope without having grief. Hope dares to admit that not everything is as it should be, and so if we want to be hopeful, first we have to grieve. First, we have to see that something is broken and there is a reason for why we need hope to begin with.
Advent matters, because it's our way of keeping our eyes and our hearts and our arms all wide open even in the midst of our grief and longing. The weary world is still waiting in so many ways, in so many hearts, in so many places, for the fullness of the Kingdom of God to come. Advent is for the ones who know longing.
Advent is the Church's way of observing and remembering, of marking the truth we believe that God came to be with us once, and God is still with us, and God is coming again to set all things right." 12/1/19
As we move through Advent our observance and transformation can be aided and marked by our beloved Advent Wreath tradition. I commend this to you as your daily practice for the remainder of Advent.
The candles are traditionally named in this order:
The Prophecy Candle - opening the period of waiting for the coming of Christ
The Angel's Candle - the candle of love and understanding
The Bethlehem Candle - symbolizing the preparations being made to receive the Christ Child
The Shepherd's Candle - typifying the act of sharing Christ
The Christ Candle - representing Jesus Christ the Light of the World
Suggested Readings for Advent
Below is a schedule of Scripture readings for each day in the four weeks of Advent. You can read them alone or with your family. You can read the Scripture daily or you can read through one whole set each Sunday, but you should light and pray the candles every day.
FIRST WEEK IN ADVENT
Psalm 8 Creation and Humanity
Genesis 1:26-31 We are caretakers of Creation Genesis 2:15-17 & 3:1-13 We want to be God Genesis 4:1-8 We disobey and are separated Genesis 6:5-22 God is angry with us Genesis 9:1-3 & 8-17 God gives us a new start Genesis 11:1-9 We disobey again
SECOND WEEK IN ADVENT
Psalm 98 Man worships God
Genesis 12:1-8 God's call to Abram Genesis 22:1-19 Abraham trusts in God Genesis 37:1-36 Dissention in God's Family Exodus 1:1-14 Famine brings slavery in Egypt Exodus 14:5-31 Freedom comes Exodus 19: 1-5 & 20: 1-17 A covenant response
THIRD WEEK IN ADVENT
Psalm 136 Celebration of God's victory
Isaiah 7:13-15 How God will enter the world Isaiah 9:6-7 What the Messiah will be like Isaiah 42:1-9 What the Messiah will do Isaiah 2:1-5 What the Messiah will bring Isaiah 35 The result of His presence Jeremiah 31:31-34 A New Covenant is coming
FOURTH WEEK IN ADVENT
Psalm l03 God's love for all humanity
Isaiah 11:1-10 Messiah come from the root of Jesse Micah 5:1-4 Where the birth is to take place Luke 1:26-38 Elizabeth to have a child Matthew 1: 18-25 Joseph told not to break engagement, Luke 1:39-56 Mary visits Elizabeth
CHRISTMAS EVE OR DAY: Luke 2:1-20 or John 1:1-14
Peace in Christ,
Father Bill Burk†