For these past few years I have been Following the Star with an online site each year during the season of advent.  I invite you to join me.   The link can be found here.   I have selected material from the firsts three days to whet your spiritual appetite.  May you have a blessed advent!

We are in the season of Advent. Advent is the name for these days leading us to Christmas and the birth of Jesus. It is a season to give attention to God’s gift for us that is new every year.

We watch and we wait in Advent. We watch so that we might be found.

DAY ONE

O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence — as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil — to make your name known to your adversaries, so that the nations might tremble at your presence! When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence. From ages past no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who works for those who wait for him.

Isaiah 64:1-4

Do we really know what we are preparing for? We are preparing for God to be born in our world and into our hearts. It is about unexpected gifts.

Isaiah tells of a God whose awesome deeds are surprising. Isaiah offers us a bold promise that God is bound to act. It will be surprising and nothing that we expect.

I step into this season with an open heart, O God. As I wait for you, surprise me with the hope of Christmas that will fill the empty places. Amen.

Let us begin Advent, waiting.
  Not the “going back to sleep” kind of waiting.
  Not the impatient pacing. 
  Or the wasted anxiety of waiting.
  Not even the passive-aggressive waiting that says, “Really? We’ll see.”

Let us begin Advent, waiting.
  Getting up and joining the adventure,
  Even when we don’t know where it will take us.
  Shifting the impatient waiting to expectant living.
  Boldly claiming the Good News that we know will come.
  Waiting with joy as we reach out with the grace of God that is so much more than amazing.

Let us begin Advent.

DAY TWO
“But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.

Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory. Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.”

Mark 13:24-27

Many of us carry the false assumption that the goal in life is to be happy. That is why so many people around us mask their struggles and claim a false sense of happiness. Doesn’t God want us to be happy? God cannot intend for us to be in darkness, depression, despair. 

Mark tells this story so we would not forget that darkness cannot stop God. Mark calls us to be honest. Yes, there is darkness. It hurts when someone close to us dies. Our hearts break when a friend abandons us. The pressure to succeed smothers us at times and we don’t know if we will ever see the light of day. The one who comes may come right in the midst of that darkness. Darkness does not stop him from making all things new. True, the one who comes may not bring simple happiness. The one who comes will bring meaning.

Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace, come again into all the corners of my life. In the darkness, give me your wise counsel and a peace that passes all understanding. Guide me as I seek to find deep meaning and joy that is real. Amen.

DAY THREE

We watch and we wait in Advent. We watch so that we might be found.

“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”

Mark 13:28-31

Only twenty-six more days! What are you waiting for? For school to be out for Christmas! For Christmas cards to come in the mail. My family’s ritual is to pray those Christmas cards every night at dinner. I am waiting to open that one gift on Christmas Eve, even though I know what it will be. They will be pajamas that match the same ones worn by every single member of my family, even grandma!

We know what to expect at Christmas. Maybe that is why it is easier to wait for Christmas than wait for Christ. We know he is near, but we never really know when or how Christ will be born into our lives this year.   

There is still time. Not just time to shop, but time to encounter the living Christ in your waiting. In our waiting, we remember Christ has come, is coming and will definitely come again. That is what we are waiting for!

Surprising God, give me a new vision of Advent. As the excitement for Christmas surrounds me, may I have excitement for the coming of Christ. Amen.

About the series–

Michelle Thomas-Bush is associate pastor of youth and their families at Myers Park Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. She has served in youth ministry for more than twenty years and loves every minute of her job.

Joseph Martin is the pianist/composer for the devotion…

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