December 2, 2012
“Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth.” (Luke 21:34-35)
As we enter the season of Advent, we are reminded of God’s gracious providence. These verses from Jeremiah were a reminder to God’s people in the midst of exile of the promise of a Davidic Messiah and the divine grace that will bring peace and security. For us today, it is an announcement that God’s providence is still relevant for our lives. God continues to be concerned about our situation and circumstances, a wonderful reminder in the midst of economic uncertainty, political friction and natural disasters. We are shown love and care in that God desires justice and righteousness to be executed on behalf of God’s people, and we are promised security and safety within our community. What is most profound is that we, as a community of faithful, are claimed and defined by the righteousness of God.
How should the providence of God shape the orientation of our faith and our daily lives?
What does it mean as a community to be defined by an attribute of God?
The psalmist captures a deep desire to be engaged and formed by the very life of God. Beginning by acknowledging a dependence on God, the psalmist petitions for God’s movement in his life: deliverance, direction and forgiveness. As we enter Advent, this type of posture grants us an unparalleled opportunity as we wait expectantly for God’s movement and what is to unfold. This psalm is an honest call to self-reflection as we approach the throne of grace with our brokenness. Finally, the psalmist proclaims hope in God’s divine providence in anticipation of new beginnings.
In the midst of the noise of the public, secular Christmas season, how can we engage authentic self-reflection?
What most gets in the way of expectantly waiting for and engaging God’s movement in our lives and in the world?
1 Thessalonians 3:9-13
Hope frames our preparations as we await God’s movement expectantly. But we are not to wait passively. We are called to engage others in love. Our formation as the people of God is rooted in the love of others. And so as we prepare ourselves for God’s movement in the world and in our lives, as we seek the holiness of God and prepare for the coming of the Christ, we are called to be a blessing to the people our lives come into contact with.
How does this posture frame the Advent season on a personal level?
How could this orientation encourage families to engage others during Advent in creative and practical ways?
How would it look different if we gave presence instead of just presents?
We can easily find apocalyptic literature a bit bewildering, and it is not any easier to swallow when it comes from the mouth of Jesus. What we have to remember, though, is that Jesus does not speak of the end times or the end of the world. This apocalyptic discourse that ushers in the season of Advent is a reminder and proclamation of new things to come: new realities and new life. The coming of the Kingdom of God ushers in a hope for the redemption of the brokenness of the world in which we live.
But maybe what is most amazing is that the words of Jesus tell us that this movement is so big and so essential that the entirety of the cosmos echoes with signs of the coming of the Kingdom of God. Creation groans with expectation for the incarnate Jesus and the movement of God in the world.
Where do you see the movement of God in the world?
Where do you see signs of redemption?
How does the promise of the coming of the Kingdom of God give you hope, individually and corporately?
As a follower of Jesus, how are you motivated by the hope found and promised in Jesus?