Advent Day One: Keeping Watch

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
    and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
    more than watchmen wait for the morning,
    more than watchmen wait for the morning.

                            —Psalm 130:5-6 (NIV)

What comes to mind when you think about the word HOPE? What helps you to persevere in HOPE?

 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” — Luke 1:28 (NIV)

Ponder what it means to be loved, chosen, favoured by God. Which Scripture verses remind you of the love of God? Write them down.

The greek word for “favoured” in Luke 1:28 means “graced.” In fact, the apostle Paul uses the same word in Ephesians 1:6 to describe God pouring out his grace upon us: “to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” Write down your own response to the word “favoured.” What helps you to receive the good news of God’s grace? What makes it hard to believe?

Spiritual Practice: Celebration

Ponder what it means to be “pregnant with the Son of God,” to be chosen and graced and favoured to bear Christ like Mary. Find a way to celebrate the Spirit’s work in making you a dwelling place of the Most High God.

Practice standing in front of a mirror and saying these words: “Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you!” Notice your receptivity or resistance to the exercise.

Jesus was not born in the Bethlehem Hilton, He came right into the mess of our world. And we look around at the mess of our lives and wonder, what can be born in a place like this?

Spend time considering the landscape of your own life. How are you welcoming Christ’s presence into chaos, trials, or mess? Or if nothing comes to mind with a current situation, contemplate a past experience. How did Jesus make his presence known? How might the memory of God’s faithfulness encourage you to trust God in the future?

Spiritual Practice: Waiting

One of the common ways God forms us is through waiting. If you find it difficult to wait – perhaps you find yourself battling impatience while waiting – look for opportunities to practice waiting well. If you choose to wait in the longest line in the store, don’t distract yourself with your phone or magazine while you wait. Use the wait time to be attentive to the presence of God. What would God have you notice about the people around you? How might you pray for them? Offer a word of kindness? Provide a simple act of service? Practice prayerfulness in the waiting times.

reflections taken from Two Steps Forward: A Story of Persevering in Hope by Sharon Garlough Brown