Day 1

The First Sunday of Advent

from the Advent 2019: A Thrill of Hope reading plan

Isaiah 7:14, Psalm 130:1-8

Jesus Christ is the Alpha and Omega of the Bible. He is the constant theme of its sacred pages; from first to last they testify of Him. At the creation we at once discern Him as one of the sacred Trinity; we catch a glimpse of Him in the promise of the woman’s seed; we see Him typified in the ark of Noah; we walk with Abraham, as He sees Messiah’s day; we dwell in the tents of Isaac and Jacob, feeding upon the gracious promise; we hear the venerable Israel talking of Shiloh; and in the numerous types of the law, we find the Redeemer abundantly foreshadowed. Prophets and kings, priests and preachers, all look one way — they all stand as the cherubs did over the ark, desiring to look within, and to read the mystery of God’s great propitiation.
—Charles H. Spurgeon

No matter how busy life gets and no matter what our budget looks like as we approach December, my wife, Laurin, and I do everything we can to attend a certain Christmas concert at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. In many ways, it doesn’t feel like Christmas until we’re leaning against that sacred brick, waiting in line with our tickets in hand. For the same reason, I dig around in our attic every year to find a certain kissing ball, under which, many Christmas Eves ago, I told Laurin I loved her with all my heart and asked her to marry me.

These rituals are not alone, we’ve a thousand more besides. And in my mind, that’s how Christmas should be—bursting and overflowing with tradition. Advent is a time for remembering and rehearsing, for walking in the footprints of years past. Pulling out familiar decorations, singing songs we know by heart, and pausing to welcome family, friends, and neighbors all help to set the season in our minds and hearts. There is something sweet and inviting about that. Life can move a thousand miles per hour the rest of the year, and we can live in a state of constant flux and uncertainty from New Year’s through Thanksgiving, but at Advent, that simply won’t do.

This year, as we sat down to create our 2019 Advent reading plan, there was a collective desire for it to be at once familiar and comfortable, as if it were a part of some tradition momentarily forgotten but recovered and welcomed with joy. Though the reasons for this went largely unspoken, in my heart I know it’s because the promise of Christmas is so true and so powerful that it needs no innovation. We just need to set aside time to step back into the story we know so well and experience the thrill of hope all over again.

Over the next four weeks, we’ll read about the coming of Jesus: everything from the prophecies and their fulfillments, to the shepherds and the angels, to the wise men and the star that led their way. My prayer for you is that this Advent would be a time to remember Christ’s coming as you look forward to His return. The story isn’t over yet. You and I, like those shepherds long ago, have been graciously invited in.

Written by John Greco

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