We’ve waited the long weeks of Advent, trying to focus expectant hearts to celebrate the birth of Christ with even a modicum of the glory and reverence it deserves. We know we fall short every year, but maybe this year—Christmas in the middle of a global pandemic—is the most difficult yet.
When chaos descends upon us, our instinct is to recoil. We want to escape it, and we want to lean back into what is familiar. We want to cling to what we know because what we know is comfortable. The trouble is, in our longing for normalcy, we let go of the steadying hand of grace.
I am struck by how often I have felt what I imagine these parents felt—a paradox between the peaceful, sleeping children and the worries, concerns, and fear that come with living in a world full of really bad news.
In Romans 5, Paul tells us that the antecedent to hope is suffering, patience (perseverance), and character.
“Of the Father’s Love Begotten” ends with a shout and a whisper and a promise. First the undeniable joy of hymns and chants and high thanksgiving, a fellowship of worship that invites us all into this moment—no, this eternity—of jubilee. It’s a no holds barred, throw the doors wide, raucous celebration of the Father’s love perfected in the sacrifice of his son and fulfilled in the sanctification of his bride.
Honestly, Joy seems like too much to ask for right now. It is the most difficult of the Advent virtues: Hope, Peace, Joy, Love. It feels like an unlikely indulgence for the privileged, unconscionable in light of today’s news.
I love the hymn “O Holy Night” for its drama, for its soaring melody, and mostly for its seemingly impossible theological and historical claims.
This Advent season, iAt reflects on each week’s theme (Hope, Peace, Joy, & Love) and how the promise of the incarnation transforms how we view what’s happening in our culture today. We finish off today with Love.
What is it about some of the Christmas golden oldies that evoke such warm feelings of home and holiday?
But if the Christmas story in Luke is framed with joy, there is a different kind of joy in John, a strange kind, the joy of tent-living.
This Advent season, iAt reflects on each week’s theme (Hope, Peace, Joy, & Love) and how the promise of the incarnation transforms how we view what’s happening in our culture today. We continue this week with Peace.
According to its translation from Latin, Advent means “coming,” and throughout the season of Advent, we begin a time of waiting for the celebration of Christ’s coming into the world on Christmas Day.
I find the season ahead somewhat daunting. Despite the cheerful vibe, I can easily get stressed about all of it: the advertising, the events, the deadlines, the search for appropriate gifts.
This Advent season, iAt reflects on each week’s theme (Hope, Peace, Joy, & Love) and how the promise of the incarnation transforms how we view what’s happening in our culture today. We start this week with Hope.
Advent is a time and a space for us to prepare for the coming of so many things – Christmas parties, family members, and the new year ahead – but if we are not rooted and fixed on the person of Jesus coming into the world, the chaos that reigns in the month of December threatens to swallow us whole.
The problem with the instantaneous switch from “regular music” to “all Christmas, all the time” is that this isn’t really what the season is about. It is time Advent is reclaimed for what it is really about.
When you compose your song, let your verses be full of praise and adoration for our God.
This season is a reminder that “we are children, not of the slave but of the free woman. For freedom in Christ has set us free.” Whether we are old or young, we are all children that have been set free by Christ.
To be ready for Christ when he comes, our hearts must first be prepared for him. This is why the church originally celebrated the season of Advent before the season of Christmas—four weeks of preparation, candle-lighting, and quiet anticipation, followed by twelve days of feast and joyous celebration: the famous twelve days of Christmas.
In this Advent Season we plead for God to restore us; and we’re tempted to cry out for a former time when life seemed better. The truth is, if we could go back, when we got there, it wouldn’t be the same.
We will all find ourselves in the position of the psalmist at some point: desperately thirsty, cut off from the source of life. Each of us will come to a place of feeling lost, of feeling far from the Lord.
Does our soul pant for God in the same way that a dog that has been playing outside on a hot summer day pants for a bowl of cold water? Do we really long for fellowship with God? Or do we just take a sip as we pass by out of habit, rather than because we are really thirsty?
Does living with plenty dull the sense of our own sin and misery? Are we even aware of our need for a Savior? Of our gratitude for deliverance? Could our material comforts and security be actually diminishing our joy?
Can you remember one of the last times that you allowed yourself to enter into the type of praise that David describes?
My name is Zechariah. Nothing so remarkable there, as thirty Zechariahs before me are recorded in the Scriptures. But Zechariah means “Yahweh remembers,” and that seems remarkable to me, especially after…well, I’ll explain in a minute.