Preparing for Advent

Note: Advent 2008 begins tomorrow, November 30. Lent & Beyond will be posting Advent devotionals and links to many online Advent resources. You can find all our Advent entries here.

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[originally posted 2006]

Excerpted from the Creighton University Praying Advent site (one of my favorite online Advent resources), the following meditation on preparing for Advent was very helpful to me in terms of reminding me to ask the Lord what He is wanting to do in my life this coming Advent — in what ways do I need to see more of the fruit of Salvation in my life. In what areas am I still walking in darkness and need to allow the Lord’s light to break through?

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We are about to read and pray about the expectant hope of Israel, as expressed through Isaiah. The images we will be using are about darkness and gloom – about thick clouds covering the people – and about hunger and thirst. They are images that attempt to capture a sense of what we feel when we are distant from our God. There are many images about war and conflict. They express the powerlessness and anxiety we experience when we feel vulnerable and defense-less. Most of all, there are images of a future day – a day that can only be called the Lord’s – when all the tears will be wiped away, when there will be plenty to eat and drink, and when there will be no more conflict and no more war. God’s salvation will be made known. God’s victory will be complete.

These are very precious days for us to come into intimate contact with our own need for salvation. It is a time to make friends with our tears, our darkness, our hunger and thirst. What is missing? What eludes my grasp? What name can I give to the “restlessness” in my heart? What is the emptiness I keep trying to “feed” with food, with fantasy, with excitement, with busyness? What is the conflict that is “eating at me”? What is the sinful, unloving, self-centered pattern for which I haven’t asked for forgiveness and healing? Where do I need a peace that the world cannot give?

Coming to know where I need a Savior is how I can prepare for Advent. I am preparing to listen to the promises, listen to these rich texts announcing the liberation I can truly long for. When my heart is open, when my hands are open, when my mouth is open and ready to ask for freedom, healing and peace, then I am ready to begin Advent.

Come, Lord, Jesus. Come and Visit Your People.
We Await Your Coming; Come, O, Lord.

Isaiah 35

The desert and the parched land will exult; the steppe will rejoice and bloom.

They will bloom with abundant flowers, and rejoice with joyful song. The glory of Lebanon will be given to them, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; They will see the glory of the LORD, the splendor of our God.

Strengthen the hands that are feeble, make firm the knees that are weak,

Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication; With divine recompense he comes to save you.

Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the dumb will sing. Streams will burst forth in the desert, and rivers in the steppe. The burning sands will become pools, and the thirsty ground, springs of water; the abode where jackals lurk will be a marsh for the reed and papyrus. A highway will be there, called the holy way; No one unclean may pass over it, nor fools go astray on it. No lion will be there, nor beast of prey go up to be met upon it. It is for those with a journey to make, and on it the redeemed will walk.

Those whom the LORD has ransomed will return and enter Zion singing, crowned with everlasting joy; They will meet with joy and gladness, sorrow and mourning will flee.

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