Advent Week 1: Hope
The first week of Advent begins with our desperate but hopeful longing for the Messiah—the one sent from God to heal the brokenness of the world and to put everything right. This longing encompasses both the ancient hope for the coming Messiah and our current hope for His promised return. This week we acknowledge our desperate longing for the presence of Jesus in our lives. As we are reminded that all our hopes are pinned on Him, we are also reminded that He is always faithful.
This week, read and reflect on this passage from the gospel of Luke 1:26-38
Advent is a time for honoring longing—and a time that keeps pulling us back to Christ, the answer to all we long for. As we fix our eyes on Christ, our vision focuses and we see once again Emmanuel, “God-With-Us.” We are reminded that we belong to God, that all the earth belongs to God, that God breaks into our reality regularly. God is already with us, loving us, teaching us. Jesus has already been born and is already in our midst offering His healing presence and love. We may have stumbled over this gift of God’s presence a thousand times, not recognizing it for what it truly is. During Advent, then, our first step is to open up our planned-out lives so that a little surprise can sneak into our day. Loosen up, look beyond the lists, be attentive beyond our own planning, and hope for something new. God is always showing up where least expected, if only we would stop and notice and respond, “May it be to me as you have said.”
Sometime on Sunday, prayerfully light a candle to mark the beginning of your week. We light a candle, in the midst of the darkness of our lives and our world, to symbolize our hopeful longing for Jesus the Messiah; as we do so, may excitement for His coming burn in our hearts.
This week, you may wish to bake something sweet (cookies, cupcakes, brownies, etc.) for someone who might need to experience the hope of Christ. Relax as it bakes in the oven, and enjoy the warmth and the sweetness filling your home. Remember that it is sweet to wait and hope in the Lord.
As you dwell on this week's theme, consider listening to some music appropriate to the Advent season. Some of my favorite Advent albums are from Future of Forestry, The Brilliance, Page CXVI, Elizabeth Hunnicutt, Sojourn, Young Oceans, and Kings Kaleidoscope. This week, I'll be listening to the songs "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" and "Come Thou Long Expected Jesus" in particular as I wait and hope.
And Advent Prayer:
Mighty God, we find your hope in the most unlikely places: in an occupied manger and in an empty tomb. Hear these prayers, which come from the unlikely corners of our lives. As we wait and hope in you, give us ears to hear, O God, and eyes to see, that we may know your presence in our midst as we anticipate the coming of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.