Advent Topical Study

<p><strong><span class="heading-lg">Worship Service Ideas for Advent</span></strong></p><p><span class="body-copy">While the rest of the world is busy hanging Christmas greenery, we &quot;deck the halls&quot; with purple and blue. The church is out of step, as usual, unable or perhaps unwilling to catch the spirit of the holidays. The world wants brightly colored lights and jingling bells; the church gets out the dark blue and sings about how lost we are. Far from what the world expects, Advent begins not on a note of joy, but with a searching inventory of our deep uneasiness and aching need. We dare not rush to Bethlehem and kneel at the manger until we spend some time here, in a purple-hung church, admitting that we do, in fact, need redemption.</span></p><p><span class="body-copy"><strong>When:</strong> The four Sundays leading up to Christmas</span><br /><span style="font-size: 16px;"><strong>Liturgical Colors:</strong> <span class="lead-copy">Purple, violet, or blue (royal blue, deep blue, or just blue)</span><br /><strong>Associated Objects/Symbols:</strong><span class="body-copy">Advent candles (hope, peace, love, joy, Advent wreath, Chrismons, Jesse Tree</span></span></p><p><strong><span class="body-copy">Themes:</span></strong></p><ul><li><span class="body-copy"><span class="body-copy">Waiting</span> (See <a href="#OldTestamentProphesy">Old Testament Prophecy</a>)</span></li><li><span style="font-size: 16px;">Christ&rsquo;s first and second coming (See <a href="#SecondAdvent">Second Advent</a>)</span></li><li><span style="font-size: 16px;">E<span class="body-copy">xamining the Christmas story</span> (See <a href="#GospelLessonsonChrist:TheSaviorHasCome">Gospel Lessons on Christ: The Savior Has Come</a>)</span></li><li><span style="font-size: 16px;"><span class="body-copy">Prophecy of Christ&rsquo;s coming</span> </span><span class="body-copy">(See <a href="#OldTestamentProphesy">Old Testament Prophecy</a>)</span></li><li><span style="font-size: 16px;"><span class="body-copy">The genealogy in Matthew 1, with a focus on the four women Figures around the birth of Christ, such as Zechariah and E</span>lizabeth, John the Baptist, Joseph, the shepherds, Herod, the Magi (<a href="#GospelLessonsonChrist:TheSaviorHasCome">See Gospel Lessons on Christ: The Savior Has Come</a>)</span></li></ul><p><strong><span class="heading-lg">Ideas for Advent from Scripture</span></strong></p><p><span class="body-copy">In churches that follow the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL), the readings for Advent focus on hope in Christ&#39;s second coming, repentance (John the Baptist), the anticipation of Christ&#39;s birth in prophecy (especially in the book of Isaiah), and the Virgin Mary. However, many passages throughout the entirety of the Bible point to the coming of Christ and are appropriate to use during Advent.</span></p><p><strong><span class="heading-sm"><span class="anchor" id="Old Testament Prophecy" name="Old Testament Prophecy">Old Testament Prophecy</span></span></strong></p><p><span class="body-copy">Throughout the Old Testament, particularly in the prophets, there are numerous passages pointing to Christ&rsquo;s coming. Advent provides an opportunity to engage with those texts not only in their original settings, but also in how they point to Christ&rsquo;s coming. Some of these passages point to the need for Christ; some point to Christ&rsquo;s sacrifice; some point to the Messiah coming in the lineage of David; and still others foretell the Messiah&rsquo;s coming and his saving work. A broad selection of these passages could be used, or a particular book, such as Isaiah, could be the foundation for an Advent sermon series.</span></p><ul><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/genesis%203%3A8-15">Genesis 3:8&ndash;15</a>, the fall</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Genesis%2022%3A1%E2%80%938">Genesis 22:1&ndash;8</a>, <span class="body-copy">Abraham tested</span></span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Numbers%2024%3A17">Numbers 24:17</a>, <span class="body-copy">a star will come out of Jacob</span></span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/2%20Samuel%207">2 Samuel 7</a>, God&rsquo;s <span class="body-copy">promise to Davi</span>d</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Isaiah%202%3A1%E2%80%935">Isaiah 2:1&ndash;5</a>, The m<span class="body-copy">ountain</span> of the L<span class="small-caps">ord</span></span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Isaiah%207%3A10%E2%80%9316">Isaiah 7:10&ndash;16</a>, a vi<span class="body-copy">rgin will give b</span>irth to a son who will be called Immanuel </span></li><li><span style="font-size: 16px;"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Isaiah%2011%3A1%E2%80%9310">Isaiah 11:1&ndash;10</a>, the b<span class="body-copy">ranch from</span> Jesse</span></li><li><span style="font-size: 16px;"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Isaiah%2012%3A2%E2%80%936">Isaiah 12:2&ndash;6</a>, G<span class="body-copy">od is my salvat</span>ion</span></li><li><span style="font-size: 16px;"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/isaiah%2035">Isaiah 35</a>, joy o<span class="body-copy">f the redeem</span>ed</span></li><li><span style="font-size: 16px;"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Isaiah%2040%3A1%E2%80%9311">Isaiah 40:1&ndash;11</a>, co<span class="body-copy">mfort for God&rsquo;s peop</span>le</span></li><li><span style="font-size: 16px;"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Isaiah%2061%3A1%E2%80%934%2C%208-11">Isaiah 61:1&ndash;4, 8-11</a>, t<span class="body-copy">he year of t</span>he L<span class="small-caps">ord</span>&rsquo;s favor</span></li><li><span style="font-size: 16px;"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Isaiah%2064%3A1%E2%80%939">Isaiah 64:1&ndash;9</a>, how<span class="body-copy">can we be sav</span>ed?</span></li><li><span style="font-size: 16px;"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Jeremiah%2023%3A5%E2%80%936">Jeremiah 23:5&ndash;6</a>, Judah w<span class="body-copy">ill be saved and Israel </span>will live in safety</span></li><li><span style="font-size: 16px;"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Jeremiah%2033%3A14%E2%80%9316">Jeremiah 33:14&ndash;16</a>, the L<span class="small-caps">ord</span> will fulfi<span class="body-copy">ll the good prom</span>ise</span></li><li><span style="font-size: 16px;"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Micah%205%3A2%E2%80%935">Micah 5:2&ndash;5</a>, out of Bethlehem <span class="body-copy">will come a</span> ruler</span></li><li><span style="font-size: 16px;"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Zephaniah%203%3A14%E2%80%9320">Zephaniah 3:14&ndash;20</a>, the M<span class="body-copy">ighty Warri</span>or will save</span></li></ul><p><strong><span class="heading-sm">Advent in the Psalms</span></strong></p><p><span class="body-copy">The psalms reflect themes of forgiveness, of trusting God, of love of God, of King David and his lineage, and the salvation of God. While many of these are less obviously linked to Christ than some of the Old Testament passages listed above, they still point to Christ. These psalms could serve as calls to worship, prayers of confession, or other pieces of the liturgy, including the sermon text.</span></p><ul><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Psalm%2025">Psalm 25</a>, In you, L<span class="small-caps">ord</span> my God, I put my trust</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Psalm%2040">Psalm 40</a>, I waited patiently for the L<span class="small-caps">ord</span></span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Psalm%2042">Psalm 42</a>, As the deer pants for streams of water</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Psalm%2072">Psalm 72</a>, Endow the king with your justice, O God</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Psalm%2080">Psalm 80</a>, Hear us, Shepherd of Israel</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Psalm%2085">Psalm 85</a>, You, L<span class="small-caps">ord</span>, showed favor to your land</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Psalm%2089">Psalm 89</a>, I will sing of the L<span class="small-caps">ord</span>&rsquo;s great love forever</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Psalm%20126">Psalm 126</a>, When the L<span class="small-caps">ord</span> restored the fortunes of Zion</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Psalm%20146">Psalm 146</a>, Praise the L<span class="small-caps">ord</span>. Praise the Lord, my soul</span></li></ul><p><strong><span class="heading-sm"><span class="anchor" id="Gospel Lessons on Christ: The Savior Has Come" name="Gospel Lessons on Christ: The Savior Has Come">Gospel Lessons on Christ: The Savior Has Come</span></span></strong></p><p><span class="body-copy">These passages are from the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) and from John&rsquo;s gospel and provide narratives of Christ&rsquo;s birth.</span></p><ul><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Matthew%201%3A18%E2%80%9325">Matthew 1:18&ndash;25</a>, Joseph accepts Jesus as his son</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Matthew%203%3A1%E2%80%9312">Matthew 3:1&ndash;12</a>, John the Baptist prepares the way</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Matthew%2011%3A2%E2%80%9311">Matthew 11:2&ndash;11</a>, John hears about Jesus&rsquo; deeds</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Mark%201%3A1%E2%80%938">Mark 1:1&ndash;8</a>, John the Baptist prepares the way</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Luke%202%3A1-21">Luke 2:1-21</a>, the birth of Jesus</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Luke%203%3A1%E2%80%936">Luke 3:1&ndash;6</a>, John the Baptist prepares the way</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Luke%203%3A7%E2%80%9318">Luke 3:7&ndash;18</a>, John baptizes with water</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/John%201%3A6%E2%80%938%2C%2019%E2%80%9328">John 1:6&ndash;8, 19&ndash;28</a>, John as a witness to the light</span></li></ul><p><strong><span class="heading-sm"><span class="anchor" id="Second Advent" name="Second Advent">Second Advent</span></span></strong></p><p><span class="body-copy">The epistles connect to Advent by tying Christ&rsquo;s incarnation to calls for God&rsquo;s people to live in eager expectation of Christ&rsquo;s second coming. All of these passages point to Christ&rsquo;s second coming and what was accomplished in the first coming of Christ. These are appropriate in the Advent season of waiting and eager expectation. The season of Advent, a season of waiting, is designed to cultivate our awareness of God&rsquo;s actions&mdash;past, present, and future. In Advent we hear the prophecies of the Messiah&rsquo;s coming as addressed to us&mdash;people who wait for the second coming. In Advent we heighten our anticipation for the ultimate fulfillment of all Old Testament promises, when the wolf will lie down with the lamb, death will be swallowed up, and every tear will be wiped away. In this way Advent highlights for us the larger story of God&rsquo;s redemptive plan.</span> <span class="body-copy-sm">(The Worship Sourbook, 2nd ed. [Grand Rapids: Faith Alive Christian Resources, 2013], 427)</span></p><p><span class="body-copy">For some, Christ&#39;s [second] coming is terrifying. Old verities give way at his arrival. Those who make their living by the status quo do not rejoice when the status quo is threatened. Caesar trembles, empires topple, and the earth shakes. For those tied to the old age and its gods, its armies, its delusions of immortality, its false securities, the arrival of the Son of Man is bad news. &ldquo;Apocalypse now,&rdquo; cry the prophets of doom. Let us put away these prophets, close our eyes and speak optimistically of tomorrow. But those who have watched, who have heeded the signs, who have never made peace with the status quo, who have lived as if there were no tomorrow prick up their ears, straighten, stand on tiptoes. The Anointed One comes, their redemption is near and the world&#39;s doom becomes their deliverance.</span> <span class="body-copy-sm">(William Willimon, Christian Century [Jan. 1, 1983], 1102)</span></p><ul><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Matthew%2024%3A36%E2%80%9344">Matthew 24:36&ndash;44</a>, the day and hour unknown</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Mark%2013%3A24%E2%80%9337">Mark 13:24&ndash;37</a>, the day and hour unknown</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Luke%2021%3A25%E2%80%9336">Luke 21:25&ndash;36</a>, there will be signs</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Romans%2013%3A11%E2%80%9314">Romans 13:11&ndash;14</a>, day is near</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Romans%2015%3A4%E2%80%9313">Romans 15:4&ndash;13</a>, God gives endurance and encouragement</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Romans%2016%3A25%E2%80%9327">Romans 16:25&ndash;27</a>, come to obedience that comes from faith</span></li><li><span style="font-size: 16px;"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/1%20Corinthians%201%3A3%E2%80%939">1 Corinthians 1:3&ndash;9</a>,<span class="body-copy">thanksgiving</span></span></li><li><span style="font-size: 16px;"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Philippians%201%3A3%E2%80%9311">Philippians 1:3&ndash;11</a>, <span class="body-copy">thanksgiving and prayer</span></span></li><li><span style="font-size: 16px;"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Philippians%204%3A4%E2%80%937">Philippians 4:4&ndash;7</a>, <span class="body-copy">rejoice in the Lord always</span></span></li><li><span style="font-size: 16px;"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/1%20Thessalonians%203%3A9%E2%80%9313">1 Thessalonians 3:9&ndash;13</a>, <span class="body-copy">may the Lord strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless</span></span></li><li><span style="font-size: 16px;"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/1%20Thessalonians%205%3A16%E2%80%9324">1 Thessalonians 5:16&ndash;24</a>, <span class="body-copy">rejoice always, pray continually</span></span></li><li><span style="font-size: 16px;"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Hebrews%2010%3A5%E2%80%9310">Hebrews 10:5&ndash;10</a>,&nbsp;<span class="body-copy">we have been made holy</span></span></li><li><span style="font-size: 16px;"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/James%205%3A7%E2%80%9310">James 5:7&ndash;10</a>,&nbsp;<span class="body-copy">patience in suffering</span></span></li><li><span style="font-size: 16px;"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/2%20Peter%203%3A8%E2%80%9315">2 Peter 3:8&ndash;15</a>,<span class="body-copy">a day is like a thousand years</span></span></li></ul><p><strong><span class="heading-sm">Scripture Songs of Advent</span></strong></p><p><span class="body-copy">While the Magnificat is the most striking song in the Advent season, songs from both the Old and New Testament that speak of God&rsquo;s liberation of Israel, God opening the womb of the barren, and others are also appropriate for this time and can be used to praise God not only as a sermon text but sung in services throughout Advent</span></p><ul><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Exodus%2015%3A1%E2%80%9319">Exodus 15:1&ndash;19</a>, Song of Moses and Miriam</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/1%20Samuel%202%3A1%E2%80%9310">1 Samuel 2:1&ndash;10</a>, Song of Hannah</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Luke%201%3A46%E2%80%9355">Luke 1:46&ndash;55</a>, Song of Mary</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Luke%201%3A67%E2%80%9379">Luke 1:67&ndash;79</a>, Song of Zechariah</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Luke%202%3A13%E2%80%9315">Luke 2:13&ndash;15</a>, Song of the Angels</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Luke%202%3A28%E2%80%9332">Luke 2:28&ndash;32</a>, Song of Simeon</span></li></ul><p><strong><span class="heading-sm">Light of Christ</span></strong></p><p><span class="body-copy">I&#39;ve learned how much the Advent season holds, how it breaks into our lives with images of light and dark, first and last things, watchfulness and longing, origin and destiny.</span> <span class="body-copy-sm">(Kathleen Norris, Cloister Walk [New York: Riverhead Books, 1996], 72) </span></p><ul><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Genesis%201%3A14%E2%80%9319">Genesis 1:14&ndash;19</a>, God created light</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Exodus%2013%3A21">Exodus 13:21</a>, God leads the Israelites to freedom from Egypt</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Psalm%2027">Psalm 27</a>, The L<span class="small-caps">ord</span> is my light and my salvation&mdash;whom shall I fear?</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Psalm%2036%3A9">Psalm 36:9</a>, For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Psalm%2043">Psalm 43</a>, Vindicate me, my God</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Psalm%2056%3A13">Psalm 56:13</a>, For you have delivered me from death</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Psalm%20112%3A4">Psalm 112:4</a>, Even in darkness light dawns for the upright</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Psalm%20119%3A105">Psalm 119:105</a>, Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Psalm%20139%3A11%E2%80%9312">Psalm 139:11&ndash;12</a>, Even the darkness will not be dark to you</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Isaiah%202%3A5">Isaiah 2:5</a>, walk in the light of the L<span class="small-caps">ord</span></span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Isaiah%209%3A2">Isaiah 9:2</a>, the people walking in darkness have seen a great light</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Isaiah%2042%3A6">Isaiah 42:6</a>, the L<span class="small-caps">ord</span> will make you a light</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Isaiah%2051%3A4">Isaiah 51:4</a>, God&rsquo;s justice will become a light</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Isaiah%2053%3A11">Isaiah 53:11</a>, satisfied by the light of life</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Isaiah%2059%3A9">Isaiah 59:9</a>, we look for light</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Isaiah%2060">Isaiah 60</a>, the glory of Zion</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Matthew%204%3A16">Matthew 4:16</a>, people living in the darkness have seen a great light</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Matthew%205%3A13%E2%80%9316">Matthew 5:13&ndash;16</a>, salt and light</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Luke%202%3A29%E2%80%9332">Luke 2:29&ndash;32</a>, song of Simeon</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Luke%208%3A16%E2%80%9318">Luke 8:16&ndash;18</a>, a lamp on a stand</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Luke%2011%3A33%E2%80%9336">Luke 11:33&ndash;36</a>, the lamp of the body</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/John%201%3A1%E2%80%9318">John 1:1&ndash;18</a>, the word became flesh</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/John%203%3A16%E2%80%9321">John 3:16&ndash;21</a>, light has come into the world</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/John%208%3A12">John 8:12</a>, dispute over Jesus&rsquo; testimony</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/John%2012%3A35%E2%80%9346">John 12:35&ndash;46</a>, walk while you have the light before darkness overtakes you</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Ephesians%205%3A6%E2%80%9314">Ephesians 5:6&ndash;14</a>, live as children of the light</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/1%20Thessalonians%205%3A5">1 Thessalonians 5:5</a>, you are all children of the light</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/1%20John%201%3A7">1 John 1:7</a>, if we walk in the light</span></li></ul><p><strong><span class="heading-sm">Call to Repentance</span></strong></p><p><span class="body-copy">John the Baptist calls us to &quot;prepare the way of the Lord&quot; through repentance, echoing a call that repeats throughout scripture. That&#39;s why the church generally refrains from singing Christmas carols during Advent. That&#39;s why purple, the color of penitence, adorns our altar and the neck of your preacher. We dare not rush to greet the Redeemer prematurely until we pause here, in a darkened church, to admit that we do need redemption. Nothing within us can save us. No thing can save us. We&#39;ve tried that before. No president, no bomb, no new car, no bottle, no white Christmas can save. No! to all false consolation, we say. No! to the empty, contrived merriment of a terminal world. Our hope must be in someone out there who comes to us. We find our way only because One comes, takes our hand and leads us home.</span> <span class="body-copy-sm">(William Willimon, Christian Century [Jan. 1, 1984], 1193</span></p><ul><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/2%20Kings%201%3A8">2 Kings 1:8</a>, Elijah the Tishbite</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Psalm%20126">Psalm 126</a>, When the L<span class="small-caps">ord</span> restored the fortunes of Zion</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Isaiah%2040">Isaiah 40</a>, comfort, comfort my people</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Isaiah%2059">Isaiah 59</a>, sin, confession, and redemption</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Isaiah%2060%3A1%E2%80%933">Isaiah 60:1&ndash;3</a>, the glory of Zion</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Jeremiah%2033%3A14%E2%80%9316">Jeremiah 33:14&ndash;16</a>, the days are coming</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Zechariah%2013%3A1-6">Zechariah 13:1-6</a>, cleansing from sin</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Malachi%203%3A1%E2%80%934">Malachi 3:1&ndash;4</a>, refiner&rsquo;s fire</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Matthew%203%3A1%E2%80%9312">Matthew 3:1&ndash;12</a>, John the Baptist prepares the way</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Matthew%204%3A17">Matthew 4:17</a>, the kingdom of heaven is near</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Matthew%2010%3A7">Matthew 10:7</a>, the kingdom of heaven has come near</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Matthew%2011%3A1-19">Matthew 11:1-19</a>, Jesus and John the Baptist</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://preachingandworship.org/search/Matthew%2017%3A11%E2%80%9313">Matthew 17:11&ndash;13</a>, they did not recognize him</span></li></ul><p><strong><span class="heading-lg">Reflection on Advent</span></strong></p><p><span class="body-copy">Advent is a season of waiting and an opportunity to discover the unique spirituality of waiting. During the waiting times God is vibrantly at work within us, and if, through the Spirit of God, we have been united with the Father in dynamic relationship, if God has sown his gospel seed in us, then Jesus is being formed within us little by little, day by day. But we have to wait if the word is to become flesh within us. And that kind of waiting feels like work.</span> <span class="body-copy-sm">(Luci Shaw, Breath for the Bones [Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2007], 119</span></p><p><strong><span class="heading-lg">Affirmation of Faith for Advent</span></strong></p><p><strong><span class="heading-sm">Belgic Confession, Article 18</span></strong></p><p><span class="body-copy">So then we confess<br />that God fulfilled the promise<br />made to the early fathers and mothers<br />by the mouth of the holy prophets<br />when he sent the only and eternal Son of God<br />into the world<br />at the time appointed.</span><br /><span style="font-size: 16px;"><span class="body-copy">The Son took the &ldquo;form of a slave&rdquo;<br />and was made in &ldquo;human form,&rdquo;<br />truly assuming a real human nature,<br />with all its weaknesses,<br />except for sin;<br />being conceived in the womb<br />of the blessed virgin Mary<br />by the power of the Holy Spirit,<br />without male participation.<br />And Christ not only assumed human nature<br />as far as the body is concerned<br />but also a real human soul,<br />in order to be a real human being.<br />For since the soul had been lost as well as the body,<br />Christ had to assume them both<br />to save them both together.<br />Therefore we confess<br />(against the heresy of the Anabaptists<br />who deny that Christ assumed human flesh<br />from his mother)<br />that Christ shared the very flesh and blood of children;<br />being the fruit of the loins of David<br />according to the flesh,<br />descended from David according to the flesh;<br />the fruit of the womb of the virgin Mary;<br />born of a woman;<br />the seed of David;<br />the root of Jesse;<br />descended from Judah,<br />having descended from the Jews according to the flesh;<br />descended from Abraham&mdash;<br />having assumed descent from Abraham and Sarah,<br />and was made like his brothers and sisters,<br />yet without sin.<br />In this way Christ is truly our Immanuel&mdash;<br />that is: &ldquo;God with us.</span></span></p><p><strong><span class="heading-sm">Heidelberg Catechism, Q&amp;A 35&ndash;36</span></strong></p><p><span class="body-copy"><em>What does it mean that he &ldquo;was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary&rdquo;?</em><br />That the eternal Son of God, who is and remains true and eternal God, took to himself, through the working of the Holy Spirit, from the flesh and blood of the virgin Mary, a truly human nature so that he might become David&rsquo;s true descendant, like his brothers in every way except for sin. </span></p><p><span style="font-size: 16px;"><em>How does the holy conception and birth of Christ benefit you?</em><br />He is our mediator, and with his innocence and perfect holiness he removes from God&rsquo;s sight my sin&mdash;mine since I was conceived.</span></p><p><strong><span class="heading-sm">Westminster Confession, Chapter VIII, Section 2</span></strong></p><p><span class="body-copy">The Son of God, the second person in the Trinity, being very and eternal God, of one substance, and equal with the Father, did, when the fulness of time was come, take upon him man&rsquo;s nature, with all the essential properties and common infirmities thereof, yet without sin; being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the Virgin Mary, of her substance. So that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures, the Godhead and the manhood, were inseparably joined together in one person, without conversion, composition, or confusion. Which person is very God and very man, yet one Christ, the only Mediator between God and man.</span></p><p><strong><span class="heading-sm">Our Song of Hope, stanzas 1 and 2</span></strong></p><p><span class="body-copy"><em>Our Hope in the Coming of the Lord</em><br />We are a people of hope<br />waiting for the return of our Lord.<br />God has come to us<br />through the ancient people of Israel,<br />as the true Son of God, Jesus of Nazareth,<br />as the Holy Spirit at work in our world.<br />Our Lord speaks to us now through the inspired Scriptures.<br />Christ is with us day by day. </span></p><p><span style="font-size: 16px;"><span class="body-copy"><em>Our Song in a Hopeless World</em><br />We know Christ to be our only hope.<br />We have enmeshed our world in a realm of sin,<br />rebelled against God,<br />accepted inhuman oppression of humanity,<br />and even crucified God&rsquo;s son.<br />God&rsquo;s world has been trapped by our fall,<br />governments entangled by human pride,<br />and nature polluted by human greed.</span></span></p><p><strong><span class="heading-sm">Our World Belongs to God, stanza 5</span></strong></p><p><span class="body-copy">God holds this world<br />with fierce love.<br />Keeping his promise,<br />he sends Jesus into the world,<br />pours out the Holy Spirit,<br />and announces the good news:<br />sinners who repent and believe in Jesus<br />live anew as members of the family of God&mdash;<br />the firstfruits of a new creation.</span></p><p><strong><span class="heading-sm">Our World Belongs to God, stanza 23</span></strong></p><p><span class="body-copy">Remembering the promise<br />to reconcile the world to himself,<br />God joined our humanity in Jesus Christ&mdash;<br />the eternal Word made flesh.<br />He is the long-awaited Messiah,<br />one with us<br />and one with God,<br />fully human and fully divine,<br />conceived by the Holy Spirit<br />and born of the virgin Mary.</span></p>