This Advent devotion may stand alone, but it is also meant to accompany a podcast: For the Love of Christmas: Hope that I recorded for Greenwood Community Church. To listen, please follow this link: http://greenwoodcc.libsyn.com/advent-podcast-week-2 .
I pray it may be an uplifting and restful interlude for you in this season of heightened emotion and activity.
I think of these as Thoughts for Grace. I hope they help you receive Hope more deeply into your heart. Perhaps you can take a few moments to quiet yourself with a cup of coffee. Remember that the Lord is near; ask Him to be with you, and then move at a gentle pace through what follows:
CONSIDER: Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes . . . and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent.”
READ: And Jesus said He came to earth “to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives, and release from darkness for the prisoners,” (Isaiah 61:1, Luke 4:18-19).
CONSIDER: Do you feel the need to be released from a prison: A prison of fear? Of Shame? Of Anger? Of Hurt? Of Guilt? Of Despair? Of Disappointment?
PRAY: Picture yourself in a prison cell, waiting for the door to open from the outside. Cry out to the Lord and ask Him to set you free. Imagine what life could be like outside of that cell. What might it be like to live completely free from what imprisons you?
Ask Him for the grace to trust that He is coming for you, as He already has come. Imagine that He comes to release to you. The door opens. You walk out into freedom. What do you need to leave behind? Take a deep breath of fresh air, fresh life.
Thank Him for the freedom He comes to bring.
READ: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God with us,’” Matthew 1:23.
CONSIDER: If we have Jesus with us, we have the richest of most glorious mysteries at work in us: “Christ in you, the hope of glory,” Colossians 1:27. One day, “everything sad will come untrue,” (J.R. Tolkien). We will live, as Tim Keller describes, based upon an experience He had of the presence of the Lord, in a place of uninterrupted “JOY, MIRTH, and HIGH BEAUTY,” Walking with God through Pain and Suffering.
PRAY: Ask the Lord for the grace to hope in glory.
THANK: Taking time to thank God is one way we take His promises deeper into our hearts. Thank Him that because He sent Jesus, one day He will also “wipe away every tear from our eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore,” Revelation 21:4. Thank Him for the hope that everything sad will come untrue; thank Him for the hope of joy, mirth, and high beauty. Thank Him for Jesus, Immanuel.
A DAILY PRAYER FOR THIS WEEK:
“God of hope, please fill me and those I love with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit we may abound in hope.”
Jasona, Thank you for these words of hope. This week I have been praying for loved ones who are in prisons of isolation of one form or another. I have needed hope in order to hope.