This series of Advent devotionals is based on the themes of Advent, starting with the theme of Hope. For this first week, all of the Bible quotations are taken from the book of Psalms.
Since Advent always begins with a Sunday, this set of devotions can be used any year!
First Sunday of Advent
We begin every Advent with the theme of hope – a word of faith that becomes especially vital in hard times. Unlike false hope, true hope depends on the word we have received from God. It doesn’t mean that things will work out like we want them to. We have to work to depend on God for our comfort. The root of this word, “comfort,” means “to sigh,” “to breathe strongly.” Remembering that God’s, “promise gives [you] life,” breathe out your fear and your worry this day. Know that God is with you.
Calm and quiet are two words that very rarely describe our Decembers nowadays. Yet, we so often long for this feeling of stillness and connection. In this Psalm, we find that learning humility can help us move closer to God. It takes real humility to admit that there are so many things in the life of our faith that we do not understand, cannot understand. But this doesn’t stop us from approaching God, trusting that we will be received, trusting that we can grow in the life of faithfulness. God is surely our hope forever.
When scripture talks about “hope,” it means waiting with expectation. It means growing in patience and trust as we anticipate what God will do in our lives and in our world. So, what better word to describe this longing than thirst? We know what it is to want water so badly that it consumes our thoughts and directs our steps towards the nearest source of relief. Or, similarly, we can envision a deer or a dog panting earnestly to cool down until refreshing waters are found. Advent teaches us to lean in to our longing even as we hope in God.
Our hope will forever be wrapped up in our understanding that God is the one who redeems us – that God has great power to redeem. In times of trial, we can start to feel hopeless and helpless. Yet, our faith teaches us that God is loving enough, powerful enough, merciful enough, and gracious enough to receive anyone who comes with a penitent heart. God loves you and will deliver you and bring you safely home.
Silence here is not the “I stopped talking while you were talking” kind of silence. It’s not the “I’m bored and twiddling my thumbs” silence either. This is “I’m so amazed, words fail me” silence. This is the silence that comes when you can only be still and marvel at God’s greatness. This kind of silence mixes humility, faith in God’s might, and expectant waiting in hope. As you think about Christ coming into the world today, think about what that would mean, what things would change. Embrace the awe and let yourself be quieted in grateful silence.
It’s easy to get caught up in trying to make (and keep) ourselves delighted. But we sometimes forget to wonder what makes God delighted. In the Bible, delight means excited attention. It means being mindful of someone or something and wanting to keep or protect it. Sometimes when we are delighted by a child, we will bend down to them to get down on the ground with them. Or we will bend to lift them up to share our glee. God’s heart is similarly inclined to us, providing for the earth, for the animals, and for our needs. So, let’s be delightful today! Let’s sing and make melody, approach God with wonder and hold fast to God’s love.
Faithfulness is a fabulous word to keep you moving on the path towards Christmas. But here, we are focused on God’s faithfulness. This means that God is steadfast and loyal to us. The same word used in other places means “honesty,” “trust,” “truth,” even “responsibility.” It’s also the same word that we get “Amen” from! The root of all of these concepts is the idea of standing firm – physically and morally. God’s work is solid and dependable – no wonder God is our hope, our help, and our shield!
Feature Image credit: Jays and Berries by AlanH20.