We love Advent at Living Hope. Although it is an incredibly busy season, we try to intentionally slow down and focus together on the hope we have in Christ. We invite you to walk through this season with us by utilizing this Advent devotional guide. It will include scriptures and devotionals for each day of Advent. The devotionals on Sundays can be done individually, but are designed to be shared with your family around an Advent wreath. (If you don’t have one, you can find out how to make one here.)
Each Sunday devotional will also be accompanied by a song and music video recorded by Living Hope’s worship team.
“In the Christian story God descends to re-ascend. He comes down…
down to the very roots and sea-bed of the Nature he has created. But He goes down to come up again
and bring the whole ruined world up with Him.” – C. S. Lewis
Every Christmas season there is a flurry of mixed emotions and expectations, familiar movies, long lines at the mall, and loads of bright decorations. For some of us this is the best and most anticipated time of year. It is a time to relax, to celebrate with friends and family, perhaps to spread the gift of “Christmas cheer” by donating to a charity or finding some other way of being generous. For others this season is something to tolerate or survive. It is an exercise in spending money we don’t have, or entertaining guests we don’t particularly like.
Sadly, for many, the Christmas season brings painful reminders of loneliness and personal tragedy. Popular culture will try to dismiss these less-than-chipper people as “grinches” or “scrooges,” but deep down we all know better. In the face of things like cancer, divorce, abuse, layoffs, poverty, corruption, and wars around the world, finding even one good reason to be cheery can seem almost impossible. The ideal world of “Christmas” seems so far from the dark, broken, and disappointing world in which we find ourselves.
So how can Christmas bring hope? This is exactly the question that bothered Charlie Brown in A Charlie Brown Christmas. No one could tell him why the holiday was such a big deal, or what it even meant. He could see that if Christmas was only about giving and receiving then it was nothing more than a giant sale. And if it was only about happiness for sake of happiness, then a person was hopeless as soon as life’s circumstances changed for the worse.
This line of reasoning was so serious that it eventually led Linus to recite Luke 2:8-14 in his famous lines on the true meaning of Christmas. That was the best answer that could have been given. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, it was the culmination of biblical prophecy. It marked the fulfillment of all the lofty promises God had made to generations of believers about where this dark, broken, and disappointing world was headed. Those who knew the prophecies knew that the newborn Jesus was to redeem the world by entering into it.
This Advent devotional is going to build upon Luke 2:8-14 by putting the narratives about Jesus’ birth into a larger biblical context. Each devotion is related to the theme of hope as it is expressed in relation to salvation, comfort, renewal, and kingly justice.
These passages are not set out in the order of a story; they “jump around” a bit and come from various parts of the Bible with overlapping themes. Some passages, on the surface, will seem to have very little to do with Christmas; others will be pulled straight from the heart of the Christmas story. Some passages anticipate Jesus’s birth (or “advent”), while others look back on Christ’s coming. Still others look forward to his second coming (or “second advent”). But all these passages demonstrate in one way or another that hope, in the biblical sense, is never just an emotion or vague expectation, nor is it restrained to a few weeks of celebration every December. Each passage shows in a unique way that the hope of Christmas changes everyday life, because God means what he says and keeps all his promises – even the ones that may seem unbelievable to us.