Images of Advent

Most years when December hits and the Christmas season gets underway our family scrambles to prepare well. We don’t want to lose the hope and longing for Christ in the midst of a commercialized cultural moment. So to that end, we have tried a number of different books, guides, and calendars to get our hearts fully engaged in Advent (the month-long reminder and celebration of the arrival of Jesus and expectation of his return). But each year we feel like we have to start over with materials more appropriate for our season of life and worthwhile for our kids.

This year, instead of hunting for and ordering what might work, Stacy set out to write a devotional for our family that would make much of Jesus and instill an increasing sense of hope in our hearts. The result is our Images of Advent Family Devotional.

Image 11-29-18 at 3.43 PMImages of Advent shares Scripture and a simple devotional with questions for the days leading to Christmas. There is also a paper ornament families get to decorate for each day as a reminder of the good news of Jesus at Christmas.

We are excited to freely give print copies to our friends at Reservoir Church this Sunday but for those of you far off we are glad to make the pdf of the devotional available to you to download.

Please feel free to print, share, and enjoy Jesus in the Images of Advent Family Devotional. Click the links to download:

Images of Advent.

Advent Ornaments.

The Moment Before

The Shepherd of Luke 2… 

The wind was brisk and all I could think of was Martha at home with our son, snuggled and attempting to stay warm. It has been a hard year of work as well as bringing a new child into the world under the oppression of Herod and his schemes.

Despite the struggle we are getting by, hoping for Spring and the newness that comes with a warm breeze.

Tonight’s wind, though, it was cold. It chilled and gave way to a tension in the air that felt thick enough to cut but as hard as ice. It is not that this night was different from the last in task or weather, but there was something unique. The sheep were restless and the stars in the sky seemed to stand still.

Then the moment came. the sky split open and there before us stood a being beyond description… even if I had the words to give his likeness, I would be verbalizing a mere picture of the fear inducing glory of this creature.

I could not move in his presence but he was not an angel of wrath, he came to bring good news.

“Do not be afraid, I am a messenger bringing you the greatest of news that will bring joy to the whole world.”

At his words a warmth gave my tired soul and tense body rest. He revealed that this very night a child was to be born nearby. The Christ. The promised holy one. This was not a fable of old. There was to be One that would finally save God’s people.

I remember sitting near my grandfathers feet during the passover meals commemorating the first salvation and hearing of one yet to come. Could this be it? Could the Messiah come among us as a babe? Could the redeemer of Israel be a mere child?

Other angelic beings joined the messenger and they praised the Creator: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

This is the hope we have held onto for generations. Let us go and see him…

 

This advent season, let us run after Jesus in pursuit of him. The Abide Advent sermon “The Moment Before.”

The Cross We Deserve

We have entered the season of Advent and we wait with growing expectation to celebrate the birth of our savior. But in the midst of the present buying and carol singing I am struck by the amount of reflection I am doing on the Cross of Christ.

Whether in texts for school or small group conversations I am drawn to dwell on the significance of the Cross where Jesus finally covered us in redemption and forgiveness. The Cross however was not a clean exercise in death. It was devastatingly gruesome and disturbing. Other do a much better job at fully describing crucifixion and the agony it would entail. We even have the modern word ‘excruciating’ which was created to describe the pain.

It was gory and despicable. There must be a reason Christ came at that point in history and experienced what he did. If he had come today, would he have been “lethally injected” and succumbed to this “humane” form of execution? How would we respond to Christ’s death had it been “easy” in light of the fact that we are the ones that deserved to die?

The gruesome nature of the Cross has me realizing what I deserve. Because of sin I am the one that deserves to be tortured and maimed. I deserve humiliation and condemnation. I deserve the suffocation from my own weight and shame. But I don’t face this death because God himself stood in my place, and yours, to atone for our prideful turning from our creator.

The weight of the Cross is hanging in the air like a fresh winter snow for me. Just as the snow covers the ground in purity, Christ’s blood covers me in grace and righteousness. Because of the Cross I am availed to relationship with the one that hold the realms of life and death, earth and universe. May the weight of the Cross draw me further to repentance and belief in Jesus.

Without the birth there is no Cross, and without the Cross there is no (re)birth. Let us be about the anticipation of Christmas and the realization of the Cross.