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Jesus is coming...again

What does Advent mean to you? Is it a cute little calendar with 24 folding doors? Is it 12 days leading up to Christmas Eve? Is it 4 white candles and 1 purple one? As I ponder the idea of advent, I think about the Latin word from which advent is derived. “Adventus” means “coming, approach, arrival.” Traditionally, our season of Advent is preparation for the celebration of Christ’s birth, whether it’s 24 days on a calendar, 12 days of Christmas, or 5 weeks of candle lighting at church. But I am led to consider this: if we are to live as if Christ is coming soon, Advent is not just a pre-Christmas season, it should be our way of life. Each day we should act, think, serve, and love as if our Savior and KING is returning anytime. How does this change our daily routines? Are we serving and loving faithfully, or hiding and counting the days until 2020 is over? (Spoiler Alert: None of this goes away on January 1st.) Of course, this is very specific to each of us, so we each must pray continually so we hear what the LORD is saying to us individually. I can’t love and serve what you are responsible for, neither can you do it for me. If I am concerned with what God told Folake to do, I may fail at what He has called me to! While the church is the “bride” corporately, so am I individually. The church is instructed to be ready, but remember how there were 10 virgins who were all waiting for the bridegroom? Five of them were welcomed to the wedding feast, but five were unprepared and shut out. (Matt 25) In His parables, Jesus repeatedly used examples of the ADVENT. The master returns, the bridegroom comes, the landowner calls his servants to account, and the door is shut. If we live each day with the understanding that my time is limited, we will live responsibly and with expectation!

We are surrounded by so many voices, both from Godly mentors and un-godly distractions. But the most important voice we MUST take time to hear and be sensitive to is the LORD’s. His is a “still, small voice” which is easy to miss if we do not purpose to hear it. Purpose to practice stillness. Purpose to wait upon Him. I am reminded of Jeremiah Johnson’s meme which says to “pray in the spirit until you feel a shift.” Patience is a fruit of the Spirit, one that we must cultivate and grow!

We ARE in a season of Advent! Jesus IS coming back!

The Bridegroom tells His bride to be prepared! Let’s purpose this Advent season to grow our patience to hear and live according to what God is saying to each of us. Reflect upon the baby Jesus in the manger, then look forward to King Jesus on a white horse! Celebrate not only the seasonal Advent of Christ’s first-coming, but live in the ADVENT of His Second Coming!

Written by: Denaye Smith

"Because in the middle of a pandemic, in the middle of all kind of uncertainty, at the end of a year of a whole lot of hurt, it’s like the whole world’s whispering: We’re waiting for You, Lord." Ann Voskamp

Advent: The Coming of Christ

The Advent season can be a great time for families to celebrate "the reason for the season"—Jesus Christ. Here's a few ways to create opportunities for your family to focus on Jesus amid all the holiday rush and put into practice habits that become a way of life for your family to live in the advent of His second coming:

1. Start a new family tradition with the Night before Advent kit.

Gather together and celebrate the beginning of Advent with this special party! Share the excitement of unwrapping the greatest gift this Christmas! Simply print out this kit, gather a few simple supplies, and set aside a special night to celebrate the beginning of the Christmas season by focusing on Christ and helping the little hearts in your life get excited about The Greatest Gift: Jesus!

2.. Read Advent Devotions as a Family.

Find a reading plan on your favorite Bible app. You can also get a free downloadable Advent guide for your family, provided by Lifeway. The PDF download includes weekly devotionals, family activities, connection questions, daily readings.

3.. Create an Advent Jesse Tree. This ancient tradition, based on Isaiah 11:1, to help learn the Christmas story and related Scripture. Start with either a small live or artificial tree. If you prefer, cut a tree out of construction paper and tape it to a wall. Select 24 Bible stories and create small ornaments that correspond with each story. Use construction paper, scissors, markers and other art supplies. Beginning December 1, read and discuss the related Scripture, discuss the Bible account, and then place the ornament on the tree.

3. Make a Prayer Garland. Cut out 24 strips of paper (red and green construction, or any "holiday" paper of your choosing). On each strip, write the name of a family member, friend or ministry. Staple the strips as links into one long garland. Hang the garland in your home as a decoration. Every day in December, have a family member remove one of the paper strips. As a family, pray for the person or ministry whose name is on that strip of paper.

4. Use Christmas Cards as Prayer Reminders. As Christmas cards arrive during December, place them in a basket in a noticeable area. Once a day, pull out one card and pray for that person or family together. Keep the Christmas card basket out all year and pray regularly for other families. You may want to write the person a note signed by your family that says, "We prayed for you today."

5. Create (or Buy) Your Own Advent Wreath with Candles. An Advent wreath is helpful and beautifully symbolic of the season. A basic Advent wreath consists of a circle with four candle holders with one candle in the middle. It may be garnished with holly or pine boughs.

6. Print this set of 25 Note Cards, one for each day in December. For mirrors and sinks and dashboards, for pockets and walls and office cubicles, for this Christmas, each card is an affirmation, a prayer, for each day this month. They are quotes from The Greatest Gift and Unwrapping the Greatest Gift, by Ann Voskamp, rewritten to be words that you can pray every day, to keep the focus and celebrate Christ!

Praying for you this Advent season!

And save the date for our December "Worship and the Word" night!

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