I wasn’t raised in a liturgical church background. I marked time as any other Jersey girl would – by moving my fall and winter clothes out of storage when the weather turned chilly, and by returning them to their moth balls as soon as the first warm breath of spring air blew through my open windows. Summer began the day school let out, and fall began on that sad day when we traded in the freedom of long lazy afternoons for the structure of the school day. Spring arrived abruptly on Easter Sunday, for that was the day we dressed in our new wispy cotton Easter dresses, regardless if the temperature was 72 or 42. And winter was ushered in when the autumn decorations were swiftly replaced with images of the Baby Jesus and Santa Claus.
There was no experience of Advent or Lent in my faith upbringing. My parents faithfully made sure we girls loved God, trusted in Jesus, and were growing in faith through the Holy Spirit. We were avid Bible readers and knew that God’s sense of time was very different from our own.
But we never learned to mark time using the Christian calendar.
Being active now in a church that organizes itself around the Christian calendar, I have found such beauty in the practice of celebrating such time-defining periods as Advent and Lent. These are seasons of waiting. Of longing. Of preparing. Of looking inward at my own need for a Savior and then, of course, at looking up and finding that need fulfilled in the God-Man, Jesus.
These are the seasons of hope.
This Advent season, the Women’s Ministry of my church has compiled an Advent Daily Devotional Guide titled Behold God’s Promises, and I was asked to prepare one of the reflections. Mine is the Christmas Eve devotional, and it is based on the daily readings for December 24: Psalm 45 & 46; Isaiah 35:1-10; Revelation 22:12-17, 21; and Luke 1:67-80.
What follows below is my Christmas Eve reflection from Behold God’s Promises. Perhaps this Advent season you too are yearning to slow down and prepare, to look inward, and to look up and find a loving God looking back at you with open arms. If so, I invite you to enjoy the entire Advent Daily Devotional Guide, available for download here.
“The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let the one who hears say, “Come.” Let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.” (Revelation 22:17)
On this night, of all nights, like the shepherds of old, we await with great expectation and longing the coming of our King. But we are not gazing heavenward for a star to guide us to a lonely, humble stable. Our true Advent is awaiting Jesus’ return, when He comes to us as our righteous King!
His throne is a throne that lasts forever and ever. From His city flows a river, which brings life to everything it touches. Where once there was a desert, pools of cool water have healed the scorched land. His water is living water and He freely gives it to all who call upon His name.
“Come,” says the King. “Come and walk with me. Only the redeemed of the Lord may join me here. It is I who have redeemed you out of my great love for you. Take my hand. With me there is no more sorrow or sighing; you will find only gladness and joy.”
Oh how we long for that coming kingdom! How we long to walk hand-in-hand with our Savior-King. And yet, for a little while longer, we must wait, expectantly longing for His return. And as we wait, we come, day by day, moment by moment, drinking from the water of life.
Dear King Jesus, on this last night of Advent, would You help me to know You not just as the baby in the manger, but also as my righteous King? Deepen my longing to come to You as I await your triumphant return. Amen. Come Lord Jesus.