Each year I write the Advent Devotional for Easter. I started writing the devotional because my work travel schedule was too constant to commit to volunteer opportunities. I can write anywhere I am and in between. I have loved Advent devotionals since the first one I got in Sunday School when I was 5. Writing the devotional has been a humbling and soul awakening journey. It is part Bible study, part memoir, part history lesson, part music appreciation, part literature class, part eye opener. Most of all it has been an amazing ride of love.
This year we will be posting bits of the devotional each day. The entire devotional can be found as a downloadable PDF at http://easter.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/2014-Advent-Devotional.pdf
Each day contains a scripture, song, reflection, action and prayer. There is an weekly activity idea that corresponds to that week’s theme. It is designed for families but can easily be something used by prayer groups, bible study groups or just groups of friends.
The theme for Advent this year is Promise. The weekly themes are:
- A Promise Big Enough to Save
- A Promise So Ordinary It’s Easy to Miss
- A Promise Each of Us Is Invited Into
- A Promise That Changes the World
We all know what a promise is. An online dictionary defines a promise as “a declaration or assurance that one will do a particular thing or that a particular thing will happen”. Webster’s says a promise is “a reason to expect that something will happen in the future “.
We make promises in baptism, we make them at confirmation, in wedding vows and professional decrees. We make them as children, as parents, as friends, as employees, as borrowers. A promise is reliant on the ability of the one who makes it to carry through. It also requires a willingness to keep the promise. Some take them lightly, others take them very seriously. Some promises are kept, others are broken.
“God never made a promise that was too good to be true.” ― D.L. Moody
What can we expect of God’s promises? One has to look at God’s promises made and kept to get a sense of how he values his promises.
In Genesis 12, God spoke to Abraham of his promise. “The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
Again in Genesis 22, the promise is repeated. “And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. “
Paul told the Galatians that God’s promise to Abraham was kept through Jesus. Galatians 3:16 says, “The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ.”
And Paul states in Acts 13, “And we declare unto you glad tidings how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again.”
Big promise made. Big promise kept. Promises are a big deal to God.
“At any moment we can demonstrate our faith by taking action that shows our belief in God’s promises!” ― Alisa Hope Wagner
This Advent we will reflect on God’s promises, given and kept. As we ready ourselves and our hearts for Jesus, we will consider Jesus as the proof of a God’s promise kept. We will look for those promises in our daily lives, in our prayers, in our own keeping of promises. We will look under the promise that saved us, its everydayness that makes us miss it, the easy hospitality it gives us and how it has changed the world unlike nothing else. We will also practice celebrating the glorious promise brought to us by natal star.
Song: Promises https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pB_jxGYXRw
Dear God, Ready us, as we journey again through the Advent season, preparing our hearts to welcome Jesus as a promise kept. Still us, so that we can absorb the bigness of your promise in such a little babe. Thank you for keeping your promise and giving us the richness of love that we know from the story of Jesus’ birth and life. Give us hearts to keep our own promises, big and small. Hear our thanks in our songs and our prayers for showing us the path for keeping promises and keeping us close. In Glory, Amen.