So... a little late, but Mark made up an Advent devotional guide for our church, and I'm super proud of him and it, and wanted to share. =)
Week 1 - "God has Spoken, Not Through Words"
Scripture: John 1/1
What a blessing it is that we worship a God who communicates and desires connection with us. There are so many ways in which God chooses to reveal himself. We clearly see him revealed through the beauty of his creation. We are extradordinarily blessed to have the Bible, God's inspired written word that communicates so much of his heart and desires for us. Yet, in some ways, the revelation of God in his Word is still incomplete. The Old Testament speaks of the coming Christ often, and the Messiah was the center of the worship, rituals, and celebrations of the Israelites. Ultimately, the person of Jesus Christ - his teachings, life, death, and resurrection - is the fullest and most complete revelation of the heart of God that has been made known to us. He is literally God's Word living in the flesh of a man.
No matter how familiar we are with the Christmas Story, the arrival of the divine Christ to our mortal world is still an undeniably complex idea. Scholars have debated and have been divided throughout the centuries, attempting to explain this idea of God's Word becoming flesh - a being who was "fully God and fully man." In reponse to this unique and powerful distinction, the historical celebration of Christmas has always had two parts: the Nativity and the Epiphany. The Nativity, a celebration and feast that has occured for centuries within the church, ephasizes the human nature of Christ. This is why the Nativity is most associated with the infant Jesus in the lowly manger. The Epiphany, another Christmastime traditional celebration, usually occurs after December 25th. Historically, this feast day emphasizes the divine nature of Christ, typically involving elements such as the Magi from the East bringing gifts to the newborn King of Heaven.
Advent is a beautiful time of year - the annual rememberance of the marvelous and mysterious union of mortal and divine, of God and man. It is an incredbile thing to know that God, the Almighty Creator of the universe, cares so much for his creation that he "made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men" (Phil 2:7) And, how amazing it is that Christ - the one that displays the fullness of the heart of God - desires a vibrant and engaging relationship with us here on earth. As we begin our journey through this mysterious and joyful season of Advent, let this knowledge of God's desire for communication and connection be our foundation. Despite all of our familiarity and all the distractions that accompany Christmastime, may we never cease to be utterly humbled by these truths and Christ's desire to know us deeply.
What ideas that accompany Christmas have become familiar or stagnant to you over the years? How should this idea of God's son coming to earth continually change and shape you? How will you battle complacency and familiarity amid the distractions of Christmas this year?
See the eternal Son of God
A mortal Son of man;
Dwelling in an earthly clod,
Whom heaven cannot contain!
Stand amazed, ye heavens, at this!
See the Lord of earth and skies;
Humbled to the dust he is,
And in a manger lies.
- Charles Wesley