What is Advent?
Advent is a four-week season in the Church calendar dedicated to anticipating the arrival, or "advent," of Jesus of Nazareth, the long-awaited Messiah and King. Christians from many backgrounds celebrate this time with reflections on hope, peace, love, and joy. And while their practices may look different, all focus on the hope-filled arrival of Jesus.
Traditionally, people reflect on the concepts of hope, peace, joy, and love —one for each week leading up to Christmas. People may light Advent candles or read specific Scriptures each day to reflect on the arrival of Jesus on Earth.
We have provided a scripture (*NIV version), a reflection, a question, and a prayer for you to use as you reflect on what it means to you as we prepare our hearts for the arrival of Jesus.
Week 1: Hope
Dec 4 –
Psalm 43:5 - “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”
The psalm makes it clear that both hope and despair are part of life, and both lead to maturity. We are uncomfortable with despair because of the negative emotions that are attached to the feeling. As we pray, we can learn to remind our soul that God is near. In fact, at the birth of Christ he showed how near he intends to be! ” Like the psalmist, we can know that the antidote to despair and stress is hope in the Lord,” and we should apply it to our life on a day-to-day basis. When we recall all the incredible promise that Jesus made to us when he said he would “never leave us nor forsake us,” we can delight ourselves in the Lord and offer Him our worship. That’s the fuel that will reignite our trust in Him - and as our faith increases so fear and anxiety will be pushed away.
Question: How can we learn to trust the promises of Jesus when fear and anxiety are forefront in our hearts and minds? What practices can we implement that will remind us that God will provide the hope we need?
Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for being near to us. Your name Emmanuel (God with us) is such a good reminder that you do what you say. Help us remember that when we put our hope in you, we can overcome the presence of fear and anxiety with the powerful reminder that you are with us through it all.
Dec 5 –
Isaiah 40:31 - “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.”
This hope is an active dependence on God that patiently awaits his timing with confident expectation. This trust in God will allow us to not lean on our strength that will fail us. Placing hope in God implies that we can admit our own helplessness and commit our life completely into God’s capable hands. As we trust, we replace human weakness with the powerful metaphorical soaring wings of an eagle. Trust is never easy, but it is the key to unlocking God’s power. Trust enables us to walk the path that God has chosen for our lives (whether it be pleasant or unpleasant) without growing weary or wanting to quit.
Question: What would your life look like if you completely put your life in the hope that comes from God?
Prayer: Dear Jesus, we admit that it is not easy to relinquish control of our life. Help us trust to put all our hopes and dreams in your capable hands so we can soar like Eagles on the winds of peace and joy.
Dec 6 –
Ephesians 1:18 - “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.”
The eyes of the heart literally means spiritual eyesight. God illuminates his wisdom in us so we may understand his ways and his purpose for our lives. As we are enlightened, we see the hope to which he has called us, the inheritance which he is preparing for us, and the power of the Spirit with which he energizes us. The hope to which he has called us is the hope of glory, this is the promise of future payment in full!
Question: Where do you find hope when you are feeling weak, alone, or hurt?
Prayer: Dear Jesus, please help us see the plan you have for us as we trust you with everything in our life. During this advent season, help us know the hope of glory has been set for us by your arrival on Christmas morning.
Dec 7 –
Romans 15:13 - “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
While it is God who provides the joy and peace, it is our continuing confidence and trust in God that enables him to bless us as he does. The joy and peace given by God results in an overflow of hope in the life of the believer. Our role is to maintain a relationship of continuing trust in God. Everything else is in his hands, and he never fails. Our experience of overflowing hope is made possible by the power of the Holy Spirit. Clearly, the Christian life is God’s empowering presence in the midst of life’s uncertainties. It is not up to us to conjure up hope or any other spiritual quality. Our only access to empowerment is to believe. Then God steps in and does the rest. The Christian life is a supernatural life in the fullest sense of that term: “Christ in you, the hope of glory”
Question: Why do you think it is so hard to trust God with everything in your life?
Prayer: Dear Jesus, help me trust you with my decisions and future. Let me lean on you with all my heart instead of relying on my own imperfect understanding. Give me clear guidance in my life. I ask for your help to direct my path.
Dec 8 –
Hebrews 10:23 - “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”
This confession is the essence of the Christian faith, it is to be held “unswervingly,” that is, in an unwavering manner. The verse concludes with a declaration of the faithfulness of God who has made the promise. This indicates the grounds for the statement to “hold unswervingly.” The anchor to this verse is the phrase, “Faithful is the one who promised.” The word also connotes constancy. Believers can count on God standing behind his promise, therefore the reason we can “hold unswervingly” to the confession of our hope.
Question: What does hope in God look like for you in an “unwavering manner?”
Prayer: In my prayer for hope, Lord, I ask that Your Holy Spirit reignite within me the hope and faith in You. Give me a still heart and spirit because I know that You are a loving God that will never abandon me, and Your grace abounds in the deep unknown.