An Advent Devotion

A devotion I wrote for FBC Chattanooga’s Advent Devotion book. Many thanks to Jeanie & David Gushee for their compliation of Christian prayers  (Yours Is the Day, Lord, Yours Is the Night), which added so much to this devotion.

Advent Devotion: Worship

John 1:1-5

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. 4 What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

There is much talk about light and hope during Advent season. We all try desperately to focus not on ourselves, but on the light that Jesus, the Word made Flesh, brought to earth when he was born. But in the midst of millions of tiny colored, sparkling lights, the days get shorter and colder…and darker. This time of year sees the most suicides and depression. This time of year can consume us with loneliness – whether through the loss of a loved one or simply a sense of loneliness when we feel alienated by bustle of the season.

What is so beautiful, I think, about the promise of the Light of the World is when it falls in our calendar – at the darkest time of year (and perhaps the darkest time of life). Holidays may bring loneliness or remind us of a bygone year of pain. We might have gotten divorced, lost a child, parent, or friend. We might have made poor decisions and be filled with regret. We might be spending our first Christmas alone. We might sob during the long, dark nights of December. Light and hope are the last things on our mind.

But this, I think, is when we can most find comfort in Advent worship. We don’t need to start out joyful – we come to the manger as we are: sad, lonely, hurting, depressed. And we find comfort, community, love, and acceptance. Jesus is the Prince of Peace because of the offering of love and community at his table. Christmas worship is as much about being joyful as it is offering the love of Christ to others to create joy in community and love during the darkest days of the year.

May this be our meditation and prayer during Advent’s dark days:

Come, true light. Come, life eternal.
Come, hidden mystery…Come, reality beyond all words.
Come, person beyond all understanding. Come, rejoicing without end.
Come, light that knows no evening.
Come, unfailing expectation of the saved.
Come, raising of the fallen. Come, resurrection of the dead.
Come, all-powerful, for unceasingly You create…
Come, for Your name fills our hearts with longing
and is ever on our lips…
Come, for You are Yourself the desire that is within me.
Come, the consolation of my humble soul.
Come, my joy, my endless delight.

– Symeon The New Theologian (949-1022)

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