Articles related to Advent
By: Stuart Blythe
Christians stress Jesus' human birth at this season, but we seemingly aren't comfortable with his humanity the rest of the year. Perhaps focusing on his humanity reminds us of how we fall short.
By: Brent McDougal
"We wait for light, but lo, there is darkness," Isaiah wrote. The U.S. feels like that for many right now. Gloom, argument and disruption create fear for the future. It's like groping in the dark. But there's a glimmer of hope.
By: Barry Howard
War seems to be this earth's constant companion. As we approach Christmas, once again preparing to celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace, let us call on leaders in the highest places to cease provocation.
By: Paul Beasley-Murray
Christmas Eve services are a meaningful time but too often each one seems to merge into the other. None really stands out. To create a memorable Christmas Eve service, consider going Coptic.
By: Jeni Martin Johnson
Mary experienced great joy raising Jesus, but God's choice for Mary was also a difficult road of suffering. When feelings of suffering come, remember Mary. God saw her through and will see you through as well.
By: Colin Harris
Throughout history, empires focused on short-term greatness and domination. Advent reminds us there's another path. And it focuses on long-term goodness and community.
By: Bob Newell
Jesus taking on a human body is a basic assertion of Christmas; the fully divine God became a social and cultural being. Our churches today, in all of their diversity and cultural nuances, reflect that original body of Christ.
By: Nick Megoran
For much of its history, Christianity has been the cause of, or at least the excuse, for many wars. It's time to return to a more authentic understanding of the gospel, which means rejecting war.
By: Frank Rees
All the holiday hubbub makes Christmas the most wonderful time of the year, as the song goes. Despite the commercial hype, the season of Advent is actually a time for reflection and preparation.
By: Mitch Randall
This year brought numerous moments when the darkness of this world seemed to overcome the light of hope. While the darkness had its moments, it's a reminder we need Advent more now than ever before.
By: James Gordon
Advent - the season of anticipation for the signs of coming change - is approaching. It's an annual reminder that nothing is forever, except God and all to which God gives life and sustenance.
By: Barry Howard
A drum tree, composed of 34 drums from different eras, stands amid First Baptist Pensacola's Christmas décor. It's a reminder that our faith calls us to march to a countercultural cadence during this hectic season.
By: Mike Massar
We call them the wise men, but those magi who visited Jesus at his birth were viewed with scorn. While it wasn't their intelligence quotient that made them wise, it was the commitment of their hearts.
By: Chuck Summers
Working to preserve and protect the creation is both a religious obligation and an act of worship. People of faith must now, more than ever, be willing to take a stand for creation care.
By: Zach Dawes
A new song titled "What I'm Thankful For" - a duet performed by Garth Brooks and James Taylor - offers a needed reminder that the Christmas season is about much more than "making a list and checking it twice."
By: Chris Smith
Christmas lights flashing, choirs singing, shoppers shopping. They all signal "the most wonderful time of the year," even though it's not for many. But when they know you care, you can help lift a broken heart.
By: Rob Hewell
Waiting just seems impractical. After all, Christmas decorations and sales arrived in stores not long ago. Honestly, we're not very good at waiting yet Advent immerses us in waiting.
By: Jim Kelsey
During Advent, we reflect upon the moment when the story of God's love went from being related to us to actually being embodied among us. And we are to embody this story that has so captured us.
By: Molly T. Marshall
Like breathing itself, hope is an intrinsic practice that sustains life. Hope helps us see beyond the present limitations and craft a different narrative for the future.
By: James Gordon
The onslaught of news - human suffering, global disaster, brutal conflict, economic doom and political instability - hits us from all directions all the time. Do Christians avoid the news or learn to listen differently?
By: Larry Eubanks
The title of "city of David" had always referred to Jerusalem until Luke's Gospel, when he bestowed that title on Bethlehem. It was Luke's way to highlight Jesus' opposition to the powers that be in Jerusalem.
By: Jim Kelsey
Every Christmas, Joseph gets short shrift. But like Mary, Joseph was an extraordinary human being used by God to usher in a new chapter in God's pursuit of us.
By: Zach Dawes
The recent tragic headlines cannot overpower the love and joy we experience as we celebrate Christmas. Both traditional and little-known holiday songs reflect God's powerful love.
By: James Gordon
The story of Jesus turning water into wine resonates with a world that needs to recover hope from hopelessness. He will give you more than you can contain and offer more blessing than you can think.
By: EthicsDaily Staff
Churches are a pipeline for gift-giving throughout the year. Here are more reports on what local churches are doing to support the common good in their communities during this Christmas season.
By: Chuck Summers
Hate is incredibly strong these days and seemingly drowns out all hope of peace. Is there any place you can go to find peace? Surrounded by God's creation, you can find tranquility.
By: Juan Aragon
Followers of Jesus need to be intentional about making real and meaningful bridges with people from different languages, beliefs, values, behaviors, customs and attitudes.
By: Jerrod Hugenot
Zephaniah, a biblical prophet, spent much of his time railing against the excesses of the day. We live in no less fractured times. Zephaniah reminds people of faith to keep our eyes on the prize.
By: Guy Sayles
Christmas is the season of joy, but sometimes our joy gets crowded out by skepticism and suspicion. Despite that, we can trust God to show up in places as unexpected as our weary cynicism.
By: Robert Parham
The Christian Christmas tradition is about proclamations and promises of good news. Newspapers and cable TV, however, offer a steady drumbeat of bad news. So, where is the good news?
By: EthicsDaily Staff
Churches are gift-giving institutions during the Christmas season. Here are how a few churches are enhancing their communities and advancing the common good this holiday season.
By: Colin Harris
Every Christmas season looks familiar: gift shopping, holiday entertaining, time off from work and school, special church services. But that's just wrapping. Let's look at the gift's contents.
By: Logan Carpenter
We're well into the Christmas season. Squished in with hope, joy and peace are parties, shopping, obligations, family gatherings and more. Know what you need? An invitation to the Slow Club.
By: Larry Eubanks
There's a tension between fear and love. A person living in constant fear and anxiety dies from the inside out. A person surrounded by unconditional love flourishes even in the harshest conditions.
By: Greg DeLoach
We're all living in-between addresses. It is not where you are from or even where you are going that matters most, but where you are right now. And Advent reminds us of that.
By: Chuck Summers
Nature has its own pace and doesn't tend to rush things. We could learn something from nature. Our rush through life keeps us from experiencing what God has in mind for us here and now.
By: Matt Sapp
What do we do following yet another mass shooting? Christian political engagement is no substitute for personal, individual action. One thing's clear: We can't match hatred for hatred.
By: Elmo Familiaran
The horrific acts of murder and terror remind us we live in a world of violence, hate and evil. Add election-year rhetoric to the mix, and fear covers us like thunderclouds. Will the voice of the church be heard?
By: EthicsDaily Staff
Tired of dealing with the craziness of the Christmas season? See how one church confronts it to encourage a more meaningful observance in the latest video interview from EthicsDaily.com.
By: Elmo Familiaran
Fear, hatred and violence grip our world. Fear is the mother of hate, and hate has many offspring - slavery, avarice, genocide, bigotry, violence. But fear cannot drown out the words of the Prince of Peace.
By: Larry Eubanks
When you live in relative comfort, believing that God is with you is easy. Those who are vulnerable or impoverished find it hard to believe that God is with them – unless we serve as God's hands.
By: Bill Wilson
Healthy churches start with a powerful, shared vision that captures God's dream for them and then work tirelessly to embrace it across every aspect of congregational life.
By: Matt Sapp
When people are afraid, they quickly fall into an "us" versus "them" mentality. This Christmas, let's no longer remain silent and have the courage to speak out against prejudice.
By: Joe LaGuardia
Advent encourages anticipation and hope, reminding us that God expects to find us meeting the needs of victims of violence with a resolve that rests on the fact that God's future will call all creation to account.
By: Colin Harris
No matter how authentic and spectacular our Advent celebrations are, if we fail to embrace the life to which incarnation invites us, we have participated in only half of the celebration.
By: Molly T. Marshall
God's love is broad and inclusive, yet human readiness to receive it matters. Although some live life without a sense of limits, serious disciples live out the gospel for the long haul.
By: Larry Coleman
Baptists have their own informal liturgical calendar. The more you embed your life in the Christian calendar, the more meaningful the gospel will become. It's an invitation to experience all of Christ repeatedly.
What do we do with that close-up vision of the face of Jesus causing us to come to a mute stillness to take it in? The face is meant for us to remember that God came in the form of a child born in the night among beasts. “And nothing is ever the same again.”
Being a person of faith will take you down roads you never thought you would travel. Don’t wait to begin that journey until all your questions have been answered, or you know where the road will end. Take the first step and rely upon God to go with you and guide you. This was what Joseph did. He responded to God’s call upon his life with more questions in his heart than answers, but he discovered that God took every step with him and provided what he needed all along the way.
. The only way we can connect with others is by making ourselves vulnerable. And as I heard her talk about this I thought about God Almighty—the only one who is actually perfect and in complete control—coming to us in the form of a tiny baby, making himself vulnerable, saying “I love you” first, being willing to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out. That’s putting some skin in the game.
Mary was a lowly peasant girl. Most of us wouldn't have trusted her to babysit our kids. Yet her song, the Magnificat, reads, not like a normal Christmas carol, but like a song of social subversion and reversal.
As you look for his coming in this Advent season, look straight at where your doubts are. You will find [Jesus] there, holding his hands out to you, and offering you his hope, his love, his joy, his peace. And that is what you will hear and see.
But please don’t think badly of John. Near the end of today’s Gospel reading Jesus says that “among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist. He is not only a prophet, he is “the Messenger” sent to prepare the way (Mal. 3:1). And yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is.” Jesus says it as he’s looking around at those people he has come to help and heal—the blind, the deaf, the lepers, the lame, and the poor. His dream is not national; it’s global. And it’s not political; it’s personal. Because while he has come for everyone in the world he also makes it clear that he has come for every one
Waiting is an inevitable part of life. No one really enjoys it, and it doesn't often elicit our best qualities. Still, the Bible presents waiting as something God enjoys.
As we move through Advent's preparation for the church's celebration of that first birthday we call Christmas, we look forward to reliving the joy of the new life that has changed the world in so many ways.
Fasting from something you usually do can provide a positive opportunity to deepen and re-order your life in a healthier way. Why not plan a fast from using social media?
In our world torn by war and dysfunction and stress, peace seems to be an elusive prize. Jesus offers a peace to us that can't be shaken by storms or enemies or crisis or even death.
The Old Testament longs for the day of peace, the day of the Messiah. And Zacharias and the angels declare with the coming of the Christ child, “peace has arrived.” What do we know about peace?
Many Christians are thankful at Christmas that their personal sins have been taken care, but that's only part of the story. Many don't concern themselves with the societal sins that burden the "least of these."
Each year, thousands of people pitch tents outside stores awaiting the promise of joy through low prices. Yet if a homeless person tried to sleep outside the store any other night, they'd be run off.
Baptist churches across the United States are, once again, providing significant social capital during the Advent and Christmas holidays. Here are a few ways they're making a difference.
Many of us feel forced to travel toward Christmas in the fast lane in a culture focused on shopping and accumulating. Advent encourages us to go slow and breathe in the scenery.
Jesus may not yet be interested in a birthday party, but I do think he is definitely interested in coming to meet you... that what he wants to do is come to you in ways he has never done so before. Whether Jesus has come to you once or twice, or many times over, he’s waiting yet again for an invitation from you to accept him into your heart. I do believe he is interested in that[...]
In our world, as good as it is to have “a place of peace” in a comfy chair or in a bubble bath, it is just not enough. For what we truly long for is not just a “private peace” for ourselves while the rest of the world wages war. What we desire is not an “escapist peace” for ourselves while millions of others are left behind to suffer.[...]What we truly need is “Emmanuel,” the dwelling of God being with us. That is the place of peace, of shalom, of wholeness and completeness that we humans and the whole cosmos long for.
There are remarkable moments in history where, for however brief a time, humanity chooses to see the best in each other instead of the worst. One of the moments occurred on Christmas Eve in 1914.
Many Christians will embrace a new way to celebrate the season of Christ's birth in their homes with a Chrismon tree, offering an alternative to our culture's secular view of the holiday.
Retailers push Christmas earlier and earlier. The rush can leave us totally depleted by the time Christmas actually arrives. By slowing the mad dash, we can make the holiday more meaningful.
With angels, shepherds and barnyard animals present, Mary and Joseph weren't likely to have a silent night. Amid the season's clutter, it's hard to focus on the true meaning of Christmas.
Advent is about anticipation, waiting for the arrival of Emmanuel. However, teaching fidgety youngsters about expectantly waiting can prove to be a challenge. Here are some ways to do it.
Introducing Advent to congregations who haven't observed the season can be challenging. Few churches respond quickly to change. Here are seven ways to help.
Advent, which is Latin for "coming" or "arrival," is the four-week period leading up to Christmas, offering worshippers a time to prepare for the celebration of Jesus' birth.
The Advent season will soon be upon us. If you're looking for Advent materials, EthicsDaily.com has compiled numerous resources for Advent planning and reflection.
In the midst of the darkness, Advent declares that God has come. Christ is born. The Holy Spirit is moving. So never, never give in.
The message of God’s word long before we get to Jesus’ death is that our lives really are all about grace, all about mercy. That we exist at all is a gift of grace. That we have air to breathe, and lungs to breathe with is a work of God’s mercy. Every moment of every day is grounded God’s love and grace.
We don’t conjure up our own peace. It is a by-product of a vital relationship with this babe from Bethlehem who is uniquely qualified to give us security when life is falling apart at the seams.
Nothing is wrong in celebrating only Christmas, Palm Sunday and Easter, but we still miss a rich and rewarding worship journey when we don't observe Lent.
Mary had a tremendous influence on her eldest son by embodying and professing this subversive, if not absurd, way of life and faith.
The good things of God are happening if we would but open our eyes and walk the path with Jesus.
Leave your old life behind on the riverbank of 2012, and when you come up on the other side put on the new life in Christ. Live it throughout this next year.
Jesus calls us to a radical belief, a faith through which we are no longer being conformed to a self-centered way of living but are being transformed by the gospel of God.
It happens every year about this time—the desire for a better world or a better life, a world where things that take place are not as dark, not as foreboding or not as sinful.
What if we committed ourselves to the work of the Kingdom, to doing the things Jesus would do until he comes to finish the job?
Repentance is more than a magical formula we use to get in right relationship with God. It's yielding our lives to the will and purposes of God and God's just rule on earth.
Are the rules we observe during Advent just for the four Sundays before Christmas? Or do these principles apply to the Christian life throughout the year?
Scripture's many references to the act of hearing imply that God has something to say to us. Despite these clear commands, obstacles deafen our ears to God's voice.
The coming Peace Child wants to make fractured people whole. The coming Peace Child wants to save us from our enemies, even when the enemy is ourselves.
There’s a huge difference between thinking that the world is going to end and thinking that the Lord is going to come.
Even when you discern the difference between the biblical story and the natural lore that appeared later, the question still remains: Who is the "real" Jesus?
Mark's Gospel, unlike Matthew and Luke, doesn't say anything about Jesus' birth, but this doesn't mean Mark lacks an Advent theme. One of those themes is waiting.
Giving hope was certainly high on Jeremiah’s gift list.
Advent season is about hoping and waiting for someone who will end the age of injustice and make things right in our lives. So despite the fact that Advent season contains none of the festive atmosphere of Christmastime, there is good news in it.
How would you live your life if you knew that you had less than three weeks to live? What would you do differently? That’s a question worth considering whether or not the rumor is true.
Advent is all about watching and waiting, something our society doesn't do too well. During these next four weeks, here are two reasons you should observe Advent.
John the Baptist reminds us there is no better time to repent, to turn around and start the road back home than Advent.
A person of fierce faith, Mary believed the promises of God to her downtrodden people. Do you have the same profound expectation that God's strong arm will put to rights the world's injustice?
ne of the surprises we discover in immersing ourselves in the stories of the Bible is that those stories are often renderings of our own stories. They resonate because they shimmer with our own experiences in life.
God uses ordinary people along their journeys to help those who are struggling, and God doesn’t wait until everything has been marked off our list. So get ready.
The dreary days of winter remind us how much we crave sunlight, which liberates us from the darkness. Advent reminds us that the darkness in our lives will end when we follow the Light.
Your will be done on earth as in heaven. We can trust God's grace and power to make us agents of the kingdom of heaven in this life.
While many of us don't have the ability to influence peace on a global scale, we can still do our part to seek peacemaking opportunities that are closer to home.
Advent reminds us gently of the interplay between darkness and light. We live in both because life is made up of such realities.
Today, we begin our journey through Advent, a season of anticipation and preparation for Christmas. I like Dr. Bill Self’s description of Advent. He says it is like the hush in the theater just before the curtain rises.
Christmas will mean so much more to us if we pull aside everyday to feed our spirits through study, prayer, reflection and meditation.
Maybe John Lennon and Picasso had the right idea. During Advent, we are called to imagine the world not as we see and know it to be, but as we think and hope it could be.
We all carry our own issues into worship today, don’t we, our distractions and sometimes our depression? This is how we begin this Christmas season. When you stop and think about it, it’s pretty much how we start every Christmas season. We’re exhausted and we still have a month to go.
God can still make something useful from us. The issue is whether we will prayerfully surrender ourselves to be re-made, redeemed, renewed, and reconciled for God's holy purposes.
We all want God to perform mighty acts as in the past. Yet waiting in hope requires a fundamental trust in God's faithfulness and the humility to allow the mystery of God's work to unfold over time.
Like the first encounter in the fantastic land of C.S. Lewis' Narnia, our own lives can be captive to a life that's "always winter and never Christmas." But it doesn't have to stay that way.
Featuring numerous church programs and parties, Advent is a busy time of year for a minister. Here are five precautions to ensure your minister doesn't run out of gas before Christmas Eve.
Did you know there are two versions of the Christmas story in the New Testament? Often we feel compelled to fuse them together, or we try to, in order to harmonize the two divergent stories into one story. But try as we might, they really are two different stories about the same event and they resist our efforts to meld them together.
Our reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah is set about seven hundred years before Jesus was born. The prophet finds himself right smack dab in the midst of some real international intrigue.
We're familiar with the expression "can't see the forest for the trees." The lessons for the Fourth Sunday of Advent from the Hebrew Testament and Gospel of Matthew provide a working example of that expression.
The child is a sign of what matters most to humanity. And the unlikely source of God's redemption is a child who will know "how to refuse the evil and choose the good."
OMG, shorthand for "Oh My God," is used every day in the most inane ways. While "God" seems to be added only out of habit, could there be a spiritual dimension to this exclamation?
With its message about the wealth disparity in the early church, James is just as relevant today, with politicians ready to extend income tax reductions for the rich.
We often reflect on the birth and death of Jesus during Advent but neglect all the events that happened in between. Jesus came not just to die but to show us how to live.
A small stand of solidarity may seem like a routine action but can be a source of God's healing love for those in need. For 14 Advents, Highland Baptist Church has placed crosses on their lawn in memory of victims of violence.
While Christians typically focus on the themes of hope, peace, joy and love during Advent, Mark's Gospel reveals other themes. One of them, waiting, is a challenge for a society that lives for quick gratification.
Sacred texts and prophetic voices from myriad faith traditions across the world all contain a call to love one another in the form of exhortations to treat others as we would have them treat us. So what stops us?
What are you hoping for this season? Perhaps responding to an invitation will help. No, not an invitation to yet another party. An invitation offered you by the prophet Isaiah. He says to you and me, “Come, let us walk in the light of the LORD.”
Advent is a way of preparing spiritually for the Christmas holiday. It is a way of preparing for the birth of Christ, to once again try to experience that birth in its newness and freshness in our own hearts.
Faith determines how we live. Many people have a rear-view mirror approach to life. Their lives are spent replaying old dramas, remembering past glories, and even trying to re-capture bygone energies because they have more faith in the past than in new possibilities for the future. But Jesus did not call us to such a faith. We are called to live looking ahead.
Some folks want a Jesus who can solve all their problems, answer all their questions and be an endless source of comfort and happiness. But Jesus calls us to a path of surrender, service and sacrifice.
When we reach the season of Advent, we know it’s time to start over. Isn’t starting over what we need? So many times in life, we wish to wipe it all away and take a fresh look, make a fresh start, or take a first step all over again. Advent is a new beginning and a fresh start for those who are willing to prepare themselves.
Those seeking repeal of the first steps toward health care reform seem to value the benefits of an unreformed system more than the opportunity for greater justice in medical coverage.
When it comes, not only to Christmas, but to the world in which you live, where do you get your ideas? If you are willing to risk it, look with fresh, new eyes at that book you have in your lap. It might just change your perspective. Better yet, it might just change your world and make everything – everything – topsy-turvy.
The title of the sermon today is Sometimes Call for . . . Joy. The truth is that every time calls for joy. Doesn’t this time in our lives, in the lives of our nation and community, call for joy? If we think that joy is only going to come if the economy rebounds, and if we think joy is only going to come if we engage in repetitive acts that give us pleasure for a moment, we are just kidding ourselves.
All times call for love. This year calls for love, and whatever happens in the next year will call for love. Whatever these children who will grow up to take our places face, those times will call for love, too. May we always, always, be faithful to the God who loved us enough to send his son in the form of that Babe of Bethlehem, not to love as long as it feels good, but to love until Christ comes again because that’s what God’s people do.
The words of John the Baptist may not be Christmas-card sweet but they call us to look at our own lives, our relationships with God and the ways those relationships impact how we live our lives.
When I got up this morning, I had this sensation that I was being watched. No matter what I did – brewing coffee, checking headlines on the computer – I sensed other eyes watching me. Who was it?
It is the season of preparation, and it begins not in the usual places but in the heart. Did you hear this morning’s gospel reading from The Message? The Baptist is speaking of Jesus when he says, “He’s going to clean house – make a clean sweep of your lives.” So the next time you take up a broom to clean your home in preparation for Christmas, remember John, will you? “Come clean and come empty”2 when it is time to meet your King, and recognize there may just be a few cobwebs in your soul. It’s cleaning time, time to get ready for the coming of the King, and the best preparation begins inside, right here (the heart). How will you respond?
We can’t do much about alliances and peace treaties. But all of us face sisters who fight over mama’s money, brothers who haven’t spoken for so many years that they can’t even remember why, children who won’t come home and parents who don’t want them at home. In each of these situations there is something we can do. The peace of Christmas can break out in my relationships if I would but learn these things.
As followers of Jesus, our hope for Advent peace requires that we live in the paradox and all the tension it involves as prophetic agents for love, justice, righteousness, and truth. We do not proclaim a gospel that would have people wait for pie in the sky. We are followers of Jesus, the promised Righteous Ruler of God. As followers of Jesus, we pray and live to prepare the way of the Lord and make his paths straight. We pray and live to fill every valley of despair and push down every arrogant system of pride and prejudice. We pray and live to confront crooked government, crooked rulers, crooked systems, and crooks with a call to straighten up and fly right. We pray and live to make the rough places of life smooth for the weak, vulnerable, oppressed, and poor. We do this because we live in the paradox of Advent peace as followers of Jesus Christ, the coming Prince of Peace.
So the schoolteacher says to her class, “Now class, I am going down the hall to the principle’s office for a few minutes. I certainly hope I can trust you to act like responsible fifth graders. But just in case, I’m leaving the door open. I’ve asked the teacher across the hall to listen for trouble. I hope you will show me how responsible you are. I’m leaving now. I had better not hear a word out of you. You have work to do while I’m gone …” And with that she softly leaves the room. The anticipation of her return lingers in the quiet classroom. In our hearts, we long for Jesus’ presence, for we are at our best when the Master is with us. Build within our hearts, O God, a sense of holy expectation for Christ’s return while we stay busy quietly doing the work of God in our time.
Our work today, is to sing another verse of that ancient promise clinging to the possibility that God is still at work laboring to make the promise come true. Jesus came to us with a purpose and during Christmas, our temptation overcomes us every time we live as though there’s another purpose.
What about us? What about our congregation, community, state, nation, and world? What must change for us to be a presentable people? What must become different, be moved, refined, and purified? Are we content doing life, politics, business, government, family the way that is comfortable? Are we willing to change, seeking to change, praying to change, living to change from earth to ore, ore to molten metal, and metal to precious jewelry for God? I think of this as I ponder the refusal of our Governor to appoint people of color to the all-white Arkansas Supreme Court, and when I ponder so many other things about the way we rationalize in life. What must God's Christ do in us to make us—the people of God—"offerings to the Lord in righteousness … pleasing to the Lord? What does how we live say about what we are offering God?
Does 90 percent of America have hearing loss? They do if you count people who willfully ignore what is happening in the world. Many tune out the lack of health care, rampant Wall Street greed and other injustices.
As mission-driven Christians who live in a market-driven culture, the reflective disciplines of Advent keep us alert to stealth forces like materialism, busyness, greed and indifference.
Just as Advent invites us to think about a God who comes to us, as distinct from a God who is unapproachable, so it encourages us to be accessible, or better yet, go to those who need our help. Who would that be? With God’s guidance and help, reach out to them this week. Go sit with them in “The Waiting Place.”
This Advent season needs to find us doing our duty. And what is that? I’ll put it this way... If we do not use this season as an opportunity to be people of light who share the good news that God has come to our darkened world, then there is reason for us to question whether we are truly Christ followers.
Many churches will mark the beginning of Advent on Sunday, a month-long reflection on the meaning of Jesus' birth. It's far more significant than simply encouraging retail outlets to say "Merry Christmas."
Advent season draws nigh, so we are Singing, Seeing, Shining, and Sharing. Advent season draws nigh, because God's Love deserves our Song, God's Life is too real to not see, God's Truth is too brilliant to be hidden by the darkness of our situations and the reality of evil, and God's Christ deserves our reverent acts of sharing. We sing of God's Love. We see God's Life. We are inspired by God's Shining Truth. And we share in reverence for the Christ who is the Way, Truth, and the Life to God.
During the Sundays of Advent, we will learn how to worship more fully our true God and not the god of consumerism, because Christmas begins and ends with Jesus. We will also learn how to reorder our desires so that we’ll spend less on ourselves this Christmas in order to free our resources for things that truly matter.
The season of Advent prepares us for Christmas Day, the day that Joy came down from heaven and entered into the hardships of humanity as a vulnerable child.
If we are not loving the Lord our God with all our hearts, with all our souls, with all our strength and with all our minds and loving neighbors as ourselves (Luke 10:27), then it's very likely that we too are a part of a crowd that has our priorities all out of line during this Advent season.
I want us this season to give thought to what it would mean to be centered in faith, rather than refugees of a faith that's overwhelmed by the marketplace.
More than prophetic critique and hollow promises of political change, perhaps what our culture really needs from church leaders is a word of hope—hope understood as the courage to wait.
John Mayer's song called "Waiting for the World to Change" has been my head as I think about Christmas. Mayer writes compelling lyrics about how we often feel like we don't have the power to change our world. "Now we see everything that's going wrong/with the world and those who lead it/we just feel like we don't have the means/to rise above and beat it." So we keep waiting, Mayer says, waiting for the world to change.
Every year when December hits, we hear a lot about John. That's John, as in the strange and hairy man screaming as loud as he can that we've really messed up the world, and we all better get our act straight before it's too late.
EthicsDaily.com recently carried a Religion News Service story about a new church movement called the "Advent Conspiracy."