Advent Devotional: Dec. 13, 2019

Waiting

by Carla Dennis

Psalm 40:1 (The Message)
I waited and waited and waited for God. At last he looked; finally he listened.

Are we there yet? When will dinner be ready? As a child, my dad would frequently remind me that “patience is a virtue,” and I would usually snap back, “a virtue I don’t have!” 

Having patience when you’re waiting is not easy. The other evening our family was waiting for Matthew’s 3rd grade production of the Nutcracker to begin, and I was asked three times about when the play was going to start (of course, after about song number six that same person also asked me when the play was going to end). 

As I reflect on this year’s Advent them waiting with purpose, the concept of waiting seems contradictory to all of the hustle and bustle happening in preparation for the holidays. At work, people are rushing through end-of-the-year tasks to get to winter break. Schools have scheduled classroom parties, field trips and other events in the race to end the semester. Stores are filled with customers trying to hurry through their lists to wrap up their Christmas shopping. 

It is for those reasons that I never really saw Advent as a time of waiting. The world around me seemed way too busy this time of year, and I felt way too impatient to take a pause. It was just easier to rush through Advent to get to Christmas as if I was checking things off my list. I wanted to jump to singing carols and opening Christmas presents as if the Advent candles each Sunday served as a countdown to Christmas rather than a chance to focus on the preparation for the arrival of Jesus. 

Most people are not good at waiting. Waiting is often uncomfortable, and at times, boring. Sometimes when waiting for the unknown, fear can enter in. Patience during the waiting is often difficult because things feel out of control. It’s no wonder why we want to complain when we have to wait for things! Yet because we know God is in control, we can be patient. We can relax and we can wait because we know that God loves us. We can take time to pause during Advent to remind ourselves to prepare not just our homes for Christmas, but more importantly our hearts and our minds.

Prayer: Loving God, I appreciate that you are in control and that I can let go. Although everything around me feels so busy, I pray for the patience to wait with purpose this Advent season. Please grant me a calm and present heart to allow me to truly prepare for your coming.

Advent Devotional: Dec. 8, 2019

Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus

by Rob Yongue
December 8, 2019

Read Isaiah 40:27-31

Daniel 7:13-14“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

I hate waiting. Waiting in line. Waiting for the light to turn green. Waiting for the previews to end and the movie to begin. Waiting for food to cook. Waiting for test results to come back. Waiting for the new year to begin … and then waiting for it to end. Waiting for answers. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Sometimes the waiting is brief, but at other times the waiting can seem to go on indefinitely. But one thing is constant…I’m always longing to fast forward through the present circumstances and get to the place where the waiting is behind me.

Charles Wesley first published “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus”, in 1744. In writing this great hymn, it was his intent that people recognize the significance of Advent in the midst of the Christmas season – we commemorate the birth of Christ and express our longing for His second coming. The hymn is a prayer that begs God to be among us—a prayer and a cry of all who wait on the Lord. “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus” calls out to the longing in our hearts—the deepest part of our hearts—and shares the hope of the season we are entering—God’s son has come as Savior of the world.

Although we live in a different time than Charles Wesley, the longings of people’s hearts run just as deep today. We long for security, love, relationships, meaning. We long for an end to all of our waiting. Let us open ourselves to the message of this hymn that identifies with that longing at the deepest levels of our existence. Let us all take heart in Jesus; our long expected Jesus, who has come…and who will come again!

Prayer: God, We know that Christ goes with us and before us every day, but we long for the day when we are with Him in all of the fullness and glory He will bring. We long for the day when we are with Him in a New Heaven and New Earth, when all things are made new. Amen.