The song fills the church as silence bookends the moment. The lone voice rings out crystal clear as the lyrics stir the hearts of those present.
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
The plaintive minor key weaves through the lyrics as the song continues and the weary world awaits. Each note and supplication is a soul-filling invitation for Jesus to enter our hearts.
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel
Advent is an invitation from the One who loves us beyond words. It’s a lifelong opening of our hearts to God. When we sing songs like O Come O Come Emmanuel, we prepare to receive the gift of Jesus. Humble adoration and praise emanates from our lips even as the weary world awaits.
If Advent is an invitation, then you need to ask yourself if you will accept?
Here is where I sit and wait this week. These words accompany the quiet.
Better to have one handful with quietness
than two handfuls with hard work
and chasing the wind. Ecclesiastes 4:6 NLT
The pull is strong to lean into God and just be. But I find as easy as that sounds, my mind wanders and with it my resolve. God is not giving up on me. Just when I begin to accept that I am living an Advent life, God gently nudges me toward Him deeper and stronger.
What is it like to be fed all year long and not just the four weeks leading to Christmas? How would life look different if we embrace Advent as our way of life?
Max Lucado shares these words in Because of Bethlehem:
We enjoy the fruit of the first coming but anticipate the glory of the second. We refuse to believe that this present world is the sum total of human existence. We celebrate the First Advent to whet our appetites for the Second. God has a timeline. And because of Bethlehem, we have an idea where we stand on it.
Living an Advent life is believing that God is present with us. He desires deeper relationship with us and invites us to journey with Him to redemption. The life we are living now is a reflection of the first Advent. At that time in Bethlehem, the weary world awaited a newborn, Savior. Four hundred years of uncertainty and silence broke into new life and rejoicing when Jesus was born.
An Advent life chooses rejoicing because the gift of Jesus is better than anything the world provides.
We remain weary when holiday traditions push and pull against Advent rest and stillness. But if you are familiar with the song, O Holy Night, the words declare:
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new glorious morn
A new perspective changes everything. It’s as if God lays clues in unexpected places to remind us how much He wants to spend time with us. Our weariness can define us or shape us into a new creation. We can hold onto a sense of crushing fatigue or choose to rejoice that with God a new day dawns gloriously.
Today we are given the gift of new mercies and blessings. Let’s wrap our minds around what this perspective brings to this day and our lives. Most often people choose to remain in the space of what feels comfortable. I am learning to step into the uncomfortable and embrace this Advent life as one that comes with weariness, but also rejoicing.
I will leave you with these words from Shelly Miller, author of Rhythms of Rest: Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World:
Life is big like God’s kingdom. Relationship is small town with Jesus. He knows your name and what you will say before you utter it. His couch is always available and bread never runs out, no matter the circumstance. A forced Sabbath can be unexpected grace–a small portal of escape when life feels big, overwhelming, and interrupted.
May we take Shelly’s words and make them our own. Let’s choose rest and stillness and in the process receive deeper relationship and grace from the One, who loves us well and always.
***Here’s a little gift for you!***
Here are two lock screens for your phone created by my son, Nicholas.
And here is a little tutorial in case you don’t know how to save it to your phone!
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