Advent: Wait + Watch + Wonder
In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things were made through him,
and without him was not anything made that was made.
In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.
Christ Is Made the Sure Foundation
Westminster Abbey Choir
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Monday, December 24th
Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).
A Cry Breaks Through
By Liz Smith
Hidden truths once spoken,
Pointing forward into time,
Speak of joy and sorrow
That will heal the heart and mind.
This quiet wisdom from the past
Enlightens and emboldens,
Touching wounds with tenderness,
As truth in love enfolds us.
Less is more, the first are last
And giving is receiving.
The weak are strong, the lost are found
And loving is believing.
Hearts may ache, lives run wild,
But still, we watch, we wait, we listen.
For stars to shine, an angel’s song,
A virgin’s womb to open.
And when, at last, a cry breaks through,
As piercing as the thunder,
The wise draw near, the world is new
And darkness turns to wonder.
“Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus,”
Chris Tomlin/ Christy Nockels
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Sunday, December 23rd
The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
performed by the Monteverdi Choir and John Eliot Gardiner
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O great mystery,
and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see the newborn Lord,
lying in a manger!
Blessed is the virgin whose womb
was worthy to bear
the Lord, Jesus Christ.
Saturday, December 22nd
“But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come.
It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. Therefore stay awake-for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”
Friday, December 21st
Photo painting by Beth Bizier
But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
Thursday, December 20th
'Poor Little Bear' by John Bauer
Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist,
and faithfulness the belt of his loins.
The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze;
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra,
and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder's den.
They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.
Wednesday, December 19th
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
2 And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
3 And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide disputes by what his ears hear,
4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
Canticle of the Turning
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Tuesday, December 18th
"Adoration of the Lamb" by Jan van Eyck (1390 – 1441)
But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
Behold the Lamb of God
By Andrew Peterson
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Monday, December 17th
1 Peter 3:8-13
But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
‘Hail to the Lord’s Anointed’
Sandra McCracken and Indelible Grace
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Sunday, December 16th
The Starry Night' by Vincent van Gogh
But our citizenship is in heaven,
and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,
who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body,
by the power that enables him even to
subject all things to himself.
All Things New
Red Mountain Music
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Saturday, December 15th
Introduction to Bach’s Magnificat in D major
Munich Bach Orchestra, Hansjorg Albrecht & Munich Bach Choir
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Friday, December 14th
Acts 10: 39-43
Thursday, December 13th
Making the House Ready for the Lord
By Mary Oliver
Dear Lord, I have swept and I have washed but
still nothing is as shining as it should be
for you. Under the sink, for example, is an
uproar of mice -- it is the season of their
many children. What shall I do? And under the eaves
and through the walls the squirrels
have gnawed their ragged entrances -- but it is the season
when they need shelter, so what shall I do? And
the raccoon limps into the kitchen and opens the cupboard
while the dog snores, the cat hugs the pillow;
what shall I do? Beautiful is the new snow falling
in the yard and the fox who is staring boldly
up the path, to the door. And still I believe you will
come, Lord: you will, when I speak to the fox,
the sparrow, the lost dog, the shivering sea-goose,
know that really, I am speaking to you
whenever I say, as I do all morning and afternoon:
Come in, Come in.
Wednesday, December 12th
Jeremiah 31: 31-34
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
Tuesday, December 11th
The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock,
and exalted be the God of my salvation—
the God who gave me vengeance
and subdued peoples under me,
who rescued me from my enemies;
yes, you exalted me above those who rose against me;
you delivered me from the man of violence.
For this I will praise you, O Lord,
among the nations, and sing to your name.
Great salvation he brings to his king,
and shows steadfast love to his anointed,
to David and his offspring forever.
Monday, December 10th
This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true;
he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.
For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God?
The God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless.
He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights.
He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great.
You gave a wide place for my steps under me, and my feet did not slip.
“O God, Our Help in Ages Past,”
Westminster Abbey Choir, Martin Neary, Martin Baker
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sunday, December 9th
I love you, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
and I am saved from my enemies.
The cords of death encompassed me;
the torrents of destruction assailed me;
the cords of Sheol entangled me;
the snares of death confronted me.
In my distress I called upon the Lord;
to my God I cried for help.
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry to him reached his ears.
Second week of Advent
Saturday, December 8th
Friday, December 7th
Father Philotheos of St. Anthony’s monastery, Egypt (photo by Jan Ciglenecki, all photos courtesy the Heritage of the Desert Fathers)
I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also, my heart instructs me.
I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;my flesh also dwells secure.
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Thursday, December 6th
(From 'The Creation of Adam' by Michelangelo)
Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.”
As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones in whom is all my delight.
The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;
their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names on my lips.
The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
"My Hope Is Jesus"
by Stephen McPherson for Hillsong
Click Here to Play
Wednesday, December 5th
Sketch by Alan Robertson
Psalm 143: 1-6
1Hear my prayer, O Lord; give ear to my pleas for mercy!
In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness!
2 Enter not into judgment with your servant,
for no one living is righteous before you.
3 For the enemy has pursued my soul;
he has crushed my life to the ground;
he has made me sit in darkness
like those long dead.
4 Therefore my spirit faints within me;
my heart within me is appalled.
5 I remember the days of old;
I meditate on all that you have done;
I ponder the work of your hands.
6 I stretch out my hands to you;
my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.
(Voices of Ascension Chorus and Dennis Keene)
Tuesday, December 4th
Painting by Alice Dighton
8But now, O Lord, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
9 Be not so terribly angry, O Lord,
and remember not iniquity forever.
Behold, please look, we are all your people.
Monday, December 3rd
5You meet him who joyfully works righteousness, those who remember you in your ways. Behold, you were angry, and we sinned; in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved?
6We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities,
like the wind, take us away.
7 There is no one who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities.
Click to play music:
By Dave Hunt
Photo credits: Photo by Gustav Willet:
sunday, December 2nd
Day to day and throughout each day, we find ourselves waiting in small, perhaps insignificant ways. We wait for the mail, for the kids to get home, for grocery store lines to speed up, for traffic lights to change, for colds to pass and for payday to come. However, in Advent, we can choose to enter into three far more significant and difficult kinds of waiting- that of waiting to be delivered from something, for something and into something much bigger than ourselves.
First, there is waiting to be delivered- from our own sin, from the sin of others and even from the sin of the broken world we inhabit. This is often a passive waiting because we find ourselves unable to deliver ourselves from the pain, the injustice around us; so we wait for a deliverer. However, we also believe in a second kind of waiting. This is a waiting for something, for a salvation that begins and ends in Christ. A salvation that unfolds in new and unexpected ways as each of us becomes the person God first created us to be. Finally, there is a third kind of waiting that we remember in Advent. We wait to enter into a world without injustice, pain, sickness, cruelty, or death. We wait for all men to be at peace with one another and to walk with God as friends; we wait to live in a world that is as perfect in reality as God first created it to be. We wait for God’s kingdom to come!
Advent is a season, once a year, when we wait and watch to see how God can do what He has promised; a season when we are filled with wonder at the surprising way God chose to accomplish His grandest purposes through the birth of a helpless child. We are filled with wonder as we reflect on how He reveals himself in our sorrows, in our joys and in His promises. Counter to the cultural messages that inundate us, we are invited to enter into Advent as a sober time of waiting. A time when, even though we know the story, we remember once again its ups and downs, its possibilities. A time when we wait and watch and wonder at what has been, what is and what is yet to come in Christ the King.