Advent 2017

AN ADVENT INVITATION

The Old Testament book of Ruth is a beloved story of redemption in the face of devastating loss. It’s a book which captures the realism of the human condition – giving us snapshots of both the joys and pains of life in a broken world. The story of Ruth follows a narrative arc “from famine to fullness” and provides a significant window into how grace from the outside is necessary for the losses and longings in our lives to be finally and fully met. This is the message of Christmas, isn’t it? Jesus makes his way into our world from the outside, offering himself as the ultimate source of healing, forgiveness, and redemption. Jesus binds himself to us, making our plight his plight and our pain his pain. Hope hinges on redemption and the one who offers it. This is the story of Ruth, the story of Jesus, and heart-warmingly, the story of Christmas.

This Advent season we’ll be re-discovering and re-imagining the implications of Christ’s Incarnation as we journey through Ruth. We hope you’ll be with us – and we encourage you to invite a curious or skeptical friend to be a part of the journey with you!

P R E P A R I N G   F O R   A D V E N T

Philip Reinders writes, “More than just remembering Christ's first arrival, Advent hopes for Christ's second coming. Advent is a season of expectant waiting, tapping into the sense we have that all is not well, the longing for the world to be made right again. It’s a season for restless hearts and people weary of a broken world who want, with all our being, to know there’s more than this. Advent cultivates in us a discerning eye, helping us to spot the sin that clutters our lives and notice all the ways we need to be saved. By helping us to hope intensely for restoration, to feel our own need to be saved, Advent prepares us for genuine Christmas joy and faith in the One who saves us from our sin, Jesus.”

The pace of the Christmas season is rarely conducive to slowing down. Yet reflection is a necessary part of celebrating the arrival of Jesus – his arrival then – and the hope of it now! The storyline of Christianity promises that just as Christ came once, He’ll also come again to complete what he began that first Christmas. Advent gives voice to our hope for more, for better, and for fullness and satisfaction.

As you prepare for Christmas this year, we’ve provided a few links to thoughtful resources. Below you’ll find two devotionals, one designed for individuals, the other for families. These can serve as a way to tune the heart for the joy of Christ’s arrival!

Here are additional links to a selection of Advent and Christmas resources:

  1. Hidden Christmas by Tim Keller
  2. The One True Story by Tim Chester
  3. Seeking God's Face by Philip Reinders
  4. A Not So Silent Night by Verlyn Verbrugge
  5. Come Let Us Adore Him by Paul Tripp
  6. God is in the Manger by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  7. Advent and Christmas Wisdom by Henri Nouwen

For families:

  1. The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones
  2. Unwrapping the Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp
  3. Little One, We Knew You'd Come by Sally Lloyd-Jones
  4. Loving My Actual Christmas by Alexandra Kuykendall
  5. Messy Christmas by Lucy Moore and Jane Leadbetter