Advent: Listening to the prophets, 

longing for the king's presence

Listen to the 2016 Advent Series, "Listening to the Prophets, Longing for the King's Presence"

Advent Meditation on Hope: Listening to Isaiah           Download the Study Guide Here.

Advent Meditation on Peace: Listening to Joel             Download the Study Guide Here.

Advent Meditation on Joy: Listening to Zechariah        Download the Study Guide Here.

Advent Meditation on Love: Listening to Hosea


Time is about anticipation and expectation. How we tell time defines who we are as a people. For example, if you expect fireworks on the fourth day of July you are an American. Keeping time in this way forms a calendar that creates culture as it rehearses the story of a people or society. It is a primitive human impulse, one dating back as far as the first human civilization that continues today. The Roman calendar told the Roman story. The American calendar tells the American story. The Jewish calendar tells the Jewish story. 

The Christian calendar tells the Christian story.


For almost two thousand years the church has marked time in light of the gospel story of King Jesus. “Advent” anticipates the coming of Messiah (Advent marks the beginning of the new year for the Church). “Christmas” celebrates the birth of Jesus. “Lent” remembers the journey to the cross. “Easter” is the celebration of the resurrection. “Pentecost” celebrates the birth of the church. “Ordinary Time” leads us through the year, 

back to Advent.

The focus of advent

Today is the first Sunday of Advent. Advent is the story of God as the Coming One who disorders the world as we know it for the sake of an alternative world in line with the realities of the coming future of God. It is the story of a divine proposal: Jesus, as Israel’s Messiah, proclaimed the coming Kingdom of God as good news and demonstrated the nature of that reign by proclaiming the forgiveness of sins, healing the sick, casting out demons, eating with tax collectors and sinners, and inviting all hearers to leave the realities of the old way of doing things behind to serve the coming future of God. God has come and is coming, offering us the hope of a world the principalities and powers of the age are incapable of giving us—a restored world where self-giving love, abiding peace and unending joy flow from the fullness of God’s presence. It is a world that through His in-breaking kingdom, has come into the present through the Resurrected Lord, yet is a world that will fully come in His Return in the consummation of His kingdom—the final Advent. This is the advent story. This is the gospel.


For those of us who have accepted God’s proposal, this is the world for which we wait, but we do so in hope, peace, joy and love. In a world filled with divisive politics, the suffering of Aleppo, the violence of poverty despite the abundance of wealth, and the sheer weight of brokenness that arises from the death-dealing grip of the pursuit of power, we need Advent in order to remember. We need to remember to trust that God is at work in the world. We need to remember that through the coming of the long expected King Jesus God's people have been invited to join him in his work as watchful, waiting and discerning witnesses to the world that is and is to come. 


We recover the watchful expectation of the poets and prophets, poet-prophets like Isaiah (9:1-7):


"Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory.

2 The people who walk in darkness

    will see a great light.

For those who live in a land of deep darkness,

    a light will shine.

3 You will enlarge the nation of Israel,

    and its people will rejoice.

They will rejoice before you

    as people rejoice at the harvest

    and like warriors dividing the plunder.

4 For you will break the yoke of their slavery

    and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders.

You will break the oppressor’s rod,

    just as you did when you destroyed the army of Midian.

5 The boots of the warrior

    and the uniforms bloodstained by war

will all be burned.

    They will be fuel for the fire.

6 For a child is born to us,

    a son is given to us.

The government will rest on his shoulders.

    And he will be called:

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

7 His government and its peace

    will never end.

He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David

    for all eternity.

The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies

    will make this happen!"


Before Christ’s incarnate arrival at Bethlehem, the people of Israel were earnestly longing for the Messiah who would rescue and restore them as had been promised by the Old Testament prophets. During Advent, we meditate and hope in God’s promise spoken through Isaiah, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”


While remembering the anticipation of those awaiting Christ’s coming, we give thanks during Advent that we have experienced his coming already and long to experience his coming each day in our lives. We ask that God move among us as Jesus encouraged us to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” We celebrate the gospel, that God the Son humbled himself to being born in a barn, putting on flesh, dwelling among us, and rescuing us in his death and resurrection. The Advent Season gives thanks for the incredible miracle of Christ’s incarnate arrival.


Finally, we look forward to Christ’s promised return. Just as Jesus tells his followers to be dressed for service with lamps kept burning (Matthew 25.1-13), so are we to await his coming with eager expectancy. Our hope, peace, love and joy should burn brightly by the constant fuel of knowing his return will finally bring all things to full redemption. Like the prophets of old, our lives ought to be oriented towards this coming event: living each day as though his face would be seen on the horizon.


a brief historical sketch

of advent

Since the 4th century, the Church has prepared to celebrate Christmas with the tradition of Advent. Beginning four Sundays before Christmas Day, the Advent Season (meaning “arriving” or “coming” in Latin, which specifically speaks to something new arriving) builds our anticipation for Christ’s coming. We remember his arrival at Bethlehem, praying that he would continually arrive now in our lives as we look forward to his promised return. The proposal of Advent is an invitation to wait in hope, peace, joy and love. In the christian tradition, Advent is the beginning of the new year.


Five candles in a circle of evergreens. Three candles are purple and the fourth is pink. There is a candle for each week before we celebrate Christ's coming into the world on Christmas. We light the candles, adding light each week to show that Jesus' light continues to grow in our world, especially in the dark days of winter. The four candles standing symbolize the four centuries (400 years) of waiting between the prophet Malachi and the birth of Christ.


Traditionally, the three purple candles represent the Hope, Peace, and Love that Jesus brings. Purple is a symbol of royalty, because Jesus is our King. The one pink candle represents Joy. Pink is a symbol of celebration, because we rejoice that King Jesus comes into our lives and into our world. And the one white candle represents Christ. White is a symbol of purity and holiness, because Jesus is our holy God and sinless Savior. In Jesus, our Lord and Savior, we also become holy and pure from our sins. 


Our advent Prayer

Come make Yourself known to us, long-expected King Jesus. 

Excite in us a wonder at the wisdom and power of God our Father. 

Receive our prayer as part of our worship of You. 


Come make Yourself known to us, long-expected King Jesus. 

You are the Hope of the world. Provoke in us a strength to wait in Hope: open the eyes of our hearts to see the abundant life offered to us through Your Gospel, and as citizens of Your eternal Kingdom, for Your birth, death and resurrection invites us in God's own work for redemption, restoration and justice. 

For in our baptism we have accepted Your invitation and in your grace we will proclaim your gospel of Hope.


Come make Yourself known to us, long-expected King Jesus. 

You are the Prince of Peace. Provoke in us a hunger for peace: peace in the world, peace in Your Church, peace in our homes, peace in ourselves. 


Come make Yourself known to us, long-expected King Jesus. 

Provoke in us a joy that reflects our Father's joy. 

Our desire is to seek His will so we may join You in your mission to restore all of creation and make disciples of all nations, with joy, thanksgiving and love. 


Come make Yourself known to us, long-expected King Jesus. 

Provoke in us the joy, love and peace that is proper to bring to the manger of our Lord. Raise in us sober reverence for you oh Holy God, as it was You who lay in the manger. 


We pray in the name of Jesus Christ our Redeeming King, amen.