Christmas Is A Longing In Devestation

“Epic Christmas 2019” Advent Guide

 

Hello everyone, and welcome to this year’s Advent Guide. In the weeks to come, we will be looking forward to the day when we celebrate the birth of Jesus! It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Simply put, Advent is a season of time, 4 weeks to be exact. It happens during the 4 weeks that lead up to Christmas. The word Advent is actually formed from a Latin word that means: “Coming” or “Arrival.”

 

There are many ways to approach Advent but what I want to do is give you a chance to reflect on some simple Scriptures and thoughts each week. Each Monday I will release a new Advent Reflection Guide for that particular week and it will go along with the theme from the previous Sunday’s sermon.

 

Some practical suggestions:

  • Find a quiet place where you will not be distracted.
  • Set aside technology if you can. I’d suggest using a literal bible rather than your phone, as this device can be quite a distraction.
  • Open your time with prayer, inviting the Holy Spirit to open your heart and lead you as you study and pray.
  • Read the Advent Guide portion for the day. Each day will have a brief selection or activity for you.
  • Give yourself 10-20 minutes to reflect. If you want to go longer you can. If you miss a day, do not get down, Jesus still loves you! I don’t want this to be an exercise in shame. This is meant to be helpful- things happen and sometimes we forget or have to choose something else. This guide is here to help you reflect upon the Lord.

 

My hope is that this guide will help you take some time, maybe 10-20 minutes out of your day, to simply reflect upon the beauty and glory of Christmas.

 

An Intro to this Advent series: Epic Christmas

What is this series about? Many of us know the Christmas story, or at least we think we do. There is a part of the story that is not so well known, a perspective on how things went down that we don’t often recognize. When we see this perspective, Christmas begins to take on new meaning and purpose. It becomes a much more gripping tale of struggle, danger and dramatic suspense. In a word, it becomes EPIC! This Advent season, I want us to look at Christmas from a different vantage point, with the hope that we will see Christmas not merely as some silent peaceful night but rather as the beginning of the greatest love story. And the most daring rescue story the world has ever seen!

 

Join us Sunday mornings here at SNC for an Epic Christmas!

 

Epic Christmas Advent Guide Week #1

Christmas Is A Longing In Devastation

 

An invitation!

During the Advent season, it is powerful to fast something. This means we cease some sort of activity during Advent to communicate our love and devotion to God and to free us up to hear from Him. One thing that is really powerful is that every time you long for this thing that you have given up you let it be a reminder to you of the longing mankind once felt for the arrival of a savior, and our longing now for the return of Jesus.

Some things people give up:

  • Television
  • Social media
  • Video games
  • Soda
  • Sugar
  • Caffeine
  • A certain type of food

*Please know that if you decide to fast food entirely you should consult with your doctor and research the best ways to go about this.

 

The point of fasting is not to make God like you more. The point of fasting is to communicate your love to God and to put yourself in a place to be more likely to hear Him. If you do not do it, that’s fine, but consider giving it a shot. Fasting would start on Sunday, December 1st and end on Christmas Eve.

 

Monday: Opening Reflection

The world was once a bright and safe place, full of hope and promise. Death, sickness, rebellion, and brokenness were not even a reality. There was God and there was man, closest of friends, in a good and beautiful world. But this friendship would not be robotic. God would not allow this. He would have man’s love and devotion but only if man would freely choose it; otherwise these things wouldn’t be genuine. So God gave man a choice.   Will you obey? If you do, there is life and peace and wonderful prosperity, but if you don’t, death will enter the scene and along with it all manners of brokenness.

 

Man and woman chose to rebel and the entire world was broken, plunged headfirst into darkness. Sin entered the scene. Death was now a reality. Rebellion, shame, pride, discord, sickness, and suffering all became a part of our human existence that was never meant to be there.

 

All was lost.

But God made a promise. Someday he would restore all that has been lost. For much of the Bible, leading up to the story of Jesus in the gospels, we see a world waiting in the midst of this devastation, longing for God’s promise to be realized. Ever since the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, the world has been waiting for His return to vanquish sin and death once and for all.

 

So long ago- that baby in a manger, was the answer to our longing in devastation. He is the realization of God’s great promise to restore all that has been taken. Today, for the remainder of this time of reflection consider this question:

How does Jesus answer my deepest longings in the midst of a world in devastation?

 

Tuesday: Genesis 3:13-15; Luke 19:10

Read these scriptures several times.

Even after the fall, after all had been destroyed and darkness had fallen, right there at the beginning of the dark night God was making a promise that He would send a Savior to crush the enemy’s head and to restore what had been lost.

What is jumping out to you from these verses?

 

Wednesday: Reflect upon a song

Here’s a YouTube link to a version of the song: “O Come O Come Emmanuel.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZnuzNTxV9M

Take a listen to it.

Here’s a link to some lyrics:

https://genius.com/Christmas-songs-o-come-o-come-emmanuel-lyrics

Consider the words and ask the Lord to speak to your heart regarding what the lyrics are saying.

 

Thursday: Isaiah 9:1-7

Read this scripture a few times.

What caught your eye during your readings of the scriptures?

 

Friday: Longing Exercise

Have you ever taken time to imagine what it might be like when Jesus restores all things? Take time to consider this. What are you excited to see Jesus restore? Jesus said in Revelation 2:15: “Behold I am making all things new.” What are you excited about what He will do?