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.
Images 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.
“If out of forgetfulness or inattention our worship doesn’t take place under the cross of Jesus, worship almost inevitably becomes an exercise in wish fulfillment, and praise becomes self-congratulation – private needs and emotions given religious sanction.”
Eugene Petersen, The Pastor
Often times, when we talk about church growth or planting a common marker of health is when families, especially young families start to attend and make the church their own. This is a good thing and pastoring a small church with some amazing families, I get the inclination. But what of those single, both by choice or by circumstance? If the church is meant to be their family as well, how are we endeavoring to give them space for flourishing?
Part of the problem is expectation. In the church, there is an assumption that human completion is in pairing off. While this is a wonderful and biblical thing, it is not the only thing. So as a church maybe we stop assuming a single person needs to be married. Instead, we should be taking steps to integrate everyone into the life of the church regardless of relational status.
Next, do single people have a voice in the decisions of the church, in the progress of the life of the church? Give them a place and hear them. Let single people communicate what support they need and how you can best encourage them in the faith.
Then in our preaching, and discipleship, the ideal presented is following after Jesus, surrender all of our lives, married, single, whatever, to our Savior for his glory and our good. Are we up for this?
I know that at Reservoir we have a way to go before we are seen as a church for the flourishing of single people. But let’s lean into it and see what the Lord will do.
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” — Matthew 11:28-30 (CSB)
This week I had a change in schedule that took the biggest item of work off the task list. The thing that each week looms as the necessity to be accomplished and product to produce. It is my routine deadline and as the week progresses, if the task is not done I increasingly wrestle with anxiety and stress toward the goal of accomplishing it.
This week, however, someone else has taken on the weight of what usually drives my schedule and because of it I can’t help but think of rest.
I have had more freedom, without the deadline and the pressure, to look into other things and catch up on items that usually don’t get much attention. And if nothing was accomplished there was no burden, no weight to lift because the major task had been taken care of.
This has been for me a small glimpse into the rest we have in Christ. Here we have his key invitation, and it still stands for everyone everywhere. Weary and burdened, in need of rest, come. The work has been done, sin has been atoned for and there are no more spiritual or cosmic deadlines to pressure you. Relief. Security. Salvation.
Oh what joy we are given, what a gift it is to rest in Jesus. To know that his way is easy. Because of his humility we can find rest for our souls. More of this, please!
What are the things that are your glimpses of rest? The embrace of a comfortable bed? The licks of a pup? The refreshing cold water when you are parched? Laughter with friends around a fire? Enjoy it. And let it remind you of the rest you have in Christ. Let it give you a taste for what is still to come in him. Rest.