Family Devotional Week 1: Entering Into Advent

Week 1: Entering Into Advent

A little child hands you a book. Now, this isn’t just any book. Apparently, the child and this book have a special relationship. You have been asked to read this same book at least 10 times in the last week, and in fact, there are times that you have finished the book only to have the child look up at you with those big, round eyes and say “Read it again.”

Is the child suffering from memory loss? Does this little one really forget the plot, the characters, the pictures and the ending that quickly that you must read that book again and again until he or she truly understands it? No.

The child, like God, relishes in the repetition of a great story. Just as God tells the flowers to bloom again every spring, so too the child knows that the most beautiful things in life should be repeated, over and over again across a lifetime.

As G.K. Chesterton said, children are much more like God in this – that while we get bored as adults and ready to move on to the next thing, God and children revel in repetition. God, it seems, is younger than we are.

Advent, and the whole Worship Year, in fact, is the retelling of the greatest story human ears will ever hear. Into the world God speaks, acts, moves, loves and heals. Though we love to talk and think about all the beautiful things in life when we’re together, our relationships, good food, enjoyable entertainment, music we love, the reality is this.

While we sit here, dictators are invading the lives of innocent people and are having families slaughtered. Young girls are being absorbed into the sex trade in California. Fathers are struggling with anger and are placing burdens on their children to perform for their love – just like their father did to them. Consumers are raping the world of its resources, people in your neighborhood are suffering tremendous injustice, and educators with veiled motives are presenting fact as fiction and distortions as truth to college students.

And yet there is beauty, and love, and good leaders, healthy homes, voices against consumerism, justice-doers and good, even great, educators.

Into this world, God speaks. No, everything is not okay. No, everything is not horrible. It is a beautiful but broken world. And though human beings can come up with temporary fixes, even ones that last a generation or two, they can’t fix the human heart over eons.

God knew this, and this is why the incarnation had to occur. God becomes one of us, and fixed, heals, delivers the human heart from itself.

So, we gather around the Story again this year. With big, round eyes, we look at the scriptures, and say “Read it again.” Why? Yes, we do forget it and need to remember. But more importantly, it is your Story and mine, and the Story of every human being who ever lived. It’s time to become younger, and read the Story again, to feel it’s plot, to see it’s pictures, to remember it’s great meaning for our beautiful, yet broken world.

Enter into Advent once again.

Verses (share the readings):

Old Testament: Isaiah 64:1-9a

Epistle: 1 Corinthians 1:1-9

Gospel: Mark 13: 24-32; 33-37

Psalm: Psalm 80:1-7


O Come O Come Emmanuel (first verse only)

A Family Prayer

Lord, we enter into Advent this year with expectation – the expectation that pieces of this story will come alive for us like never before. Open our eyes, open our ears, open our minds and imaginations and souls, to your Story once again.


Sheltering Mercy: Prayers Inspired by the Psalms

Sheltering Mercy, along with its companion volume, Endless Grace, helps us rediscover the rich treasures of the Psalms—through free-verse prayer renderings of their poems and hymns—as a guide to personal devotion and meditation.

The church has always used the Psalms as part of its prayer life, and they have inspired countless other prayers. This book contains 75 prayers drawn from Psalms 1-75, providing lyrical sketches of what authors Ryan Smith and Dan Wilt have seen, heard, and felt while sojourning in the Psalms. Each prayer is a response to the Psalms written in harmony with Scripture. These prayers help us quiet our hearts before God and welcome us into a safe place amid the storms of life.

This artful, poetic, and classic devotional book features compelling custom illustrations and foil-stamped hardcover binding, offering a fresh way to reflect on and pray the Psalms.