The Heart of Advent

I am reading through two Advent devotionals (in typical Lisbeth several-books-happening-at-once-fashion) that are revolutionizing this Christmas season for me. One was given to me by my sweet, reflective friend Abby. It’s called Living the Christian Year: Time to Inhabit the Story of God by Bobby Gross. And my other dear friends since childhood, Henry and Ruth, sent me a C.S. Lewis Advent devotional (what gets better than Advent + Lewis?). I’m sure I’ll feature something from Lewis soon. But this amazing excerpt is from Living the Christian Year:

The Heart of Advent

“In Advent we focus on three “comings” of Christ: his arrival in history as a baby born of Mary, his return in fearsome glory at the end of time and his intermediate entrance into our own lives. During Advent we are engaged by the prophets of Israel- Isaiah, Zephaniah, Micah, Malachi- and their messianic visions. We are confronted by John the Baptist’s stern call to prepare for Jesus by repenting. We are beckoned to walk with Mary and Joseph in their anxiety and expectation. We are sobered by the teachings of Jesus and his apostles on the judgment to come at the end of the age.

But to seriously attend to things both eschatological (about the end times) and historical in a few short weeks (Advent lasts twenty-two to twenty-eight days, depending on the year) is not easy, especially when these weeks are for many of us the busiest and most demanding of the year. How can we experience Christ coming anew into our already full lives? How can our lives be enlarged in so brief a time?

Clearly it takes some work, some wrestling against the culture and our own proclivities. But making it happen isn’t all on us. A grace is also at work in this season. Think again of a pregnant woman. Yes, she must pay attention to her body and take care of herself, but the life within her mysteriously takes shape and steadily grows of its own accord…

…The paradoxical work of waiting. The prophets and psalmists can help us. Old Elizabeth and Zechariah can help us. Their son John can help us. Young, expectant Mary can help us. We can enter their stories, listen to their words and pray their prayers over these weeks. By so doing, we deepen our longing and heighten our hope for God’s coming. By so doing, we become more attuned to the joyous wonder of Christ’s incarnation and better prepared for the fierce glory of his return. By so doing, year after year, we will be changed as Word becomes flesh in us.”

Yikes! This gets me so excited! Gross later on writes that the whole of the Old Testament is text for Advent. They were all waiting. And now we’re waiting, too. We have “permission to sing” like them and “permission to groan” like them. Let’s ponder God’s great work in our own lives and throughout redemptive history, including what he is doing now and what he promises to do in the future. Advent is about his long-awaited arrival. Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again!

*Perfect Christmas soundtrack that I’m playing right now.

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6 thoughts on “The Heart of Advent

  1. Wow. Good stuff! I will have to come back and re-read this again. Waiting expectantly! Thanks for sharing your advent reading from Living the Christian Year. Such a special gift from Abby!

    I am also reading the CS Lewis advent devotional, kindness of Ruth and Henry. It was so good today about how Christianity keeps you guessing. It’s not obvious what will happen next.

    I am also balancing two devotionals. My other one is by Dr. Ryken, President of Wheaton College. It’s just for the Sundays in Advent and a couple beyond Dec. as well. But don’t you go adding a third one! 🙂

    Lauren and I listened to your soundtrack of Little Women while reading this. What a remarkable story/movie! And I do like what they call their mom. I have such a sweet memory of you playing that role at Wheaton.

      1. That’s neat how going back to a post reminds and inspires us! I was good about the Advent readings up until about 10 days before Christmas. Then they fell by the wayside. Will have to work on follow through next year.

        I already put it on my google calendar to explore ordering some advent devotionals for our church families next year.

  2. We’ve been using the Advent Devotional we got from President Ryken at Wheaton…and during Mom’s visit, she read from the C.S. Lewis devotional. And now, this one – – so chock full of rich meditations. Love that – – permission to sing and permission to groan…while we work at waiting. Now, off to play some Little Women while I work on blog comments! Love ya sistah.

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