advent

The time of Advent,  that begins today, is a time of prayerful, repentant and  joyous  waiting.

Our most gracious God, we pray for your blessings as we begin our Advent journey. Turn our hearts toward You. Forgive us our selfish preoccupations. Quiet us with Your words of comfort, peace and hope.  And as we anticipate Your coming in glory, remind us of Your humble ‘comings’ to us—as a baby in a manger, on a donkey into Jerusalem, as our Savior on the cross, as Your body and blood served at Your table, in the waters of baptism, and in Your most Holy Word.

I sat right on the edge of the sofa, staring a hole through the window, admiring how the sun danced on the worn out Levi’s as they rippled in rhythm on the line.  I must have been about nine, but one thing’s for sure—I was still young enough to believe in miracles.  The world around me—harsh as it was—had not been able to snuff out the hope.   It was my birthday and I knew he would come for me.  Daddy was a man who could make you laugh at the drop of hat and break your heart even faster.  It was  slim pickins in my hand me down wardrobe,  but I remember thinking I looked pretty.  Memory tells me I must have been wearing red, the color of every festive occasion in my blue-washed life.

I heard my mamaw say,  “WHY are you still waitin for him?  He’s laid up drunk somewhere and you’ll be lucky to see him by Tuesday.

Down deep, I knew she was right, but when a girl is waiting for her daddy, she holds on to the slightest ray of maybe.   Night came like a ravaging thief and stole her birthday and a little more of her innocence.  The darkness and the tears stayed like good friends, and so did the sense that the waiting wouldn’t always be in vain.

Why do we need Advent so desperately?

Because life has broken our hearts. Because time after time, we’ve been disappointed, left out, and let down.  Because we need rescuing from the One whose coming changes everything.

The waiting, itself, implies our desperation.  We need Him so desperately to come to us.  In our sin and our hopelessness, we are wandering around in the darkness, praying for light, for relief, for anything to give us peace.

Maybe the pleasures of this life have lulled us to sleep.  We neglect His house. We fail to receive the instruction of His Word. We doubt Him at the Supper. Our hearts are hardened toward Him and closed to our neighbor.

We beg Him to break in—to find us, to shatter our idols, to rescue us from sin and death, to pursue us in our depravity and wandering.  He must come to us for we are unable and unwilling to come to Him.  Advent answers our despair and our self-righteousness with the beautiful mystery of Christ’s incarnation.  We are not waiting in vain! We learn on the first Sunday of Advent, as He rides in to Jerusalem on a donkey, that He is coming with His eyes set like a flint on the cross. He means to be our Savior, to conquer death, hell, and every sin that so easily besets us.

The waiting gives us time to repent, to prepare for the Savior of the world to be born, not just in manger, but in our hearts.

The season of Advent teaches us to live in expectation and repentance—to yearn for Him, to remember what it was like to live in darkness and to give thanks to the One who is always shattering the night.

We are desperate for the One who comes.

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The theme of the  first Sunday in Advent is hope, and is celebrated by lighting the first violet candle.

 Stir up Your power,O Lord, and come, that by Your protection we may be rescued from the threatening perils of our sins and saved by Your mighty deliverance; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

The Readings:

Isaiah 2: 1—5

It shall come to pass in the latter days, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall come, and say:  “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob,  that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.”For out of Zion shall go the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.  He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lor

Romans 13:  11—14

Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.  But, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Matthew 21: 1—11 (the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem)

 Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” This took place tto fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,  “Say to the daughter of Zion,  Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt,  the foal of a beast of burden.’”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”  And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?”   And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”

Resources for Advent

In the past,  I have used this Jesse Tree Book, which was perfect for the ages of my girls.   But I wanted something with more depth this year, like this  iphone app I found last year, which is a wonderful collection of readings, prayers, hymns and sacred artwork. We will use it and I will be reading Martin Luther’s Advent and Christmas sermons. Ann Voskamp’s  wonderful book, The Greatest Gift, is a perfect Advent devotional with Jesse tree ornaments that can be printed and used.  (Thank you sweet Ann, for your sacrifice of time and words)

If you are new to the liturgical calendar, this Issues, Etc podcast is incredibly helpful.    For more information on Advent, you’ll find this podcast helpful.

This colorful and helpful Church calendar, complete with the seasons, feasts, and colors of the church year  can be purchased here.

One of the most peculiar things for me to subscribe to when I became Lutheran was the liturgy and the church calendar.  I’ve been in a liturgical church for seven years  and I’m just now starting to really anticipate the rhythm and the meaning of it.  In some ways, it seems simple and straight forward but then it’s also rich, complex  and layered with the purpose of focusing on the gospel of Christ.   By following a set calendar and lectionary, the scriptures are covered in a systematic way, with the life and cross of Jesus at its’ center.

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 Blessed Advent to you all.

(Enjoy a five year old video of my kids singing O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, complete with a little version of Emme and Hank!)

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21 comments on “Why We Need Advent So Desperately (Week 1)”

  1. Beautiful (again). Thank you for taking the time to share the readings and resources. But most of all the personal message. I grew up with Advent and now do not practice it exactly. LOL Different.
    I still very much need and believe in big, amazing miracles. I have come to think of waiting as sacred, like pregnancy. Nothing to be rushed. There is purpose in it, and I savor it.(usually LOL)
    Happy Advent Edie. May you discover every miracle you need.

    xoxo love from oklahoma

  2. We are finding we embrace even more the beauty of liturgy and the church seasons this year. Our church is not liturgical.I like the tradtions that draw our attention and hearts to worship. I have always missed that aspect of “church”. Thank you for sharing this today.

  3. beautifully said. I saw that advent app a while back and liked it too. I wish they’d come out with a 2013 one! But its got some good stuff regardless. I love advent. I feel that the yearly season of Advent helps us remember how our whole lives are waiting for that last, big Advent, the last great coming of the Christ, as King this time…

    I just posted my advent reading list on my site. I think you’d enjoy God in the Manger by Bonhoeffer. I love it, mostly written in prison:
    “Life in a prison cell may well be compared to Advent. One waits, hopes, and does this, that, or the other–things that are really of no consequence–the door is shut, and can only be opened from the outside.” – Bonheoffer

    • Hi Sarah!!
      Hope your newest little one is well!
      We loved Bonhoeffer’s book and used it last year—it’s a gem. I kept waiting for an updated version of that app, too, but it’s so good, even to use again and again.
      Blessed Advent to you.
      Much love!
      xoxo

  4. My heart breaks thinking of that little girl. We have all experienced it in one way or another, but your words bring such hope, almost as if I were hearing it for the first time. Thank you for the references. We have read Ann’s devotional from her blog with her Jesse Tree ornaments for the past two years and are waiting on the book to arrive this week. Anticipation.

  5. I would love to get that updated church year calendar, but the link goes to CPH’s home page, and I can’t seem to find it when I do a search. (I must not be searching using the correct words.) Do you happen to know the item number?

  6. We were so blessed at our rural Methodist church this morning. We celebrated the first day af Advent(my husband and I got to light the Hope candle!), it was Holy Communion day, and at service end, two young sisters made their confessions of faith in Christ and were baptized by immersion. It was awesome! And tonight I’m sitting here in Southern Arkansas awaiting a call from my very pregnant daughter-in-law who will deliver hers and my son’s baby boy tomorrow morning way up near Seattle, Washington! Yes, I understand waiting, but what sweet anticipation, abd how dear to have a December child. Thank you, Edie, for being part of my waiting tonight and an important part of Advent for all of us in “your” world.

  7. Oh, we need some hope this season. As I revisit some places in my life that are in need of my hand to loosen and God’s love to redeem, I am thankful for Advent and the reminder of hope. Thank you for a resource for children. I was reading sweet Ann Voskamp’s book yesterday and thinking I wanted this message for my boy. Looking forward to this with him.

  8. Edie, You continue to surprise me! You have always followed HIM….why would you even think about criticism from others. Your writing is inspirational and your heart is sweet. Love to you all!

  9. Thank you Eddie. After reading your post on advent a couple of years back, my little ones and I have begun to participate in this beautiful tradition at home. Thank you for always showing us your wounds, and always pointing to Christ as your salvation. May you have a blessed advent season! – Marta

  10. Hi Edie. I used to read your blog a lot. I admit I forgot about it, but mostly because I was trying to declutter my life, and focus on living it instead of reading about it. I truly believe everything is for a season, and I have gone through a season of blog-absence! In the past few months, I have been awakened to God’s presence in a way that in 16 years of haphazard faithfulness, I had never truly experienced. A passion for his word and his glory. As advent approached I grew excited by the countdown, for more than trees and carols and my little ones joy, for the Christ child and what that began. I got to thinking about you again, and how I could never quite understand all the reading you did, the Lutheran calendar, and how no matter what else was going on in your world, you always seemed to be dipping into a study, into scripture, into a devotional. I never got it. I get it now. My current season is of such thirst for His word, and for knowledge and understanding in the heart, such thirst. Anyway it made me think of you and so I stopped by, and I’m glad I did. http://mainemummy.blogspot.com/2013/12/the-words.html

  11. I’ve been browsing online more than 2 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It is pretty worth enough for me. Personally, if all site owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the internet will be much more useful than ever before.

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