Advent 2021 Schedule

The Advent Season is a time of reflection, remembrance, and realignment of our lives with God's story. This season, we encourage you to make time to find presence for the things within your own story through the lens of your part in God's larger work in the world and kingdom. 

We will have several opportunities to prepare hearts and minds for the anticipated Christmas Day, and we hope you'll join us for as many as possible. Below this schedule of events you will find daily readings to help you focus your heart and mind on the coming of Christ Jesus. 

Wednesday, December 1st, 5-7 pm: A Night in Bethlehem

This intergenerational, VBS style event will allow families and congregants of all ages to wander the streets of Bethlehem to make crafts with artisans while hearing the Christmas story. We will begin with dinner from 5-5:30. 

Friday, December 3rd, 6-8:30 pm: Parents Night Out

This event is for the children and youth to spend time together for a fun evening of Advent themed activities, movie, and snacks while the adults take time for a date night or Christmas shopping. Please register your child on the form under the events tab or by contacting Rachael Gibson at

December 8th, 5-7 pm: Church-wide Christmas Party

Wear your favorite holiday sweater for this intergenerational evening of Christmas fellowship and festive fun! Dinner will be served from 5-6. Please RSVP for dinner by December 7th by calling the office at 304-523-0115 or

December 15th, 5-7 pm: A Joyful Noise

Our choir ensemble and additional holiday singers have been working hard to prepare an evening of music reminiscent of Christmases past. They will present favorite carols and hymns featured in the "Singing Christmas Tree" of our FAB history. Dinner will be served from 5-5:45, and music will begin in the sanctuary at 6. 

December 19th, 9:30-10:30 am: Breakfast at the Manger

FABKids presents Breakfast at the Manger in Fellowship Hall for children, youth, and parents. Join us for breakfast, a craft, and photos at the manger.

December 19th, 5-6 pm: Christmas Caroling

We will meet at the church and divide into groups who will travel to various neighborhoods to sing Christmas carols for our homebound members. Anyone participating is welcome to return to the church and enjoy dinner, fellowship, and worship with the Young Adult ministry, Revolution from 6-7:30.

December 24th, 11:00am: Family Christmas Eve Worship

Join us in the Chapel for a family-friendly Christmas Eve service.

December 24th, 1:00pm: Woodlands Christmas Eve Service

This service is not open to the public, but the residents of the Woodlands are invited to participate in this Christmas Eve service with Rev. Eric S. Porterfield.

December 24th, 9:00pm: Traditional Christmas Eve Service

Join us in the sanctuary for our annual Christmas Eve worship service. 

Sunday, November 28

Readings: Titus 2:11-14, Revelation 1:7-8

Titus 2:11-14

11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

Revelation 1:7-8

“Look, he is coming with the clouds,”[aand “every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him”; and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.”[b]
So shall it be! Amen. 8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”

On this day, we begin the season of Advent, a time of reflection, remembrance, and realignment of our lives with God's story. Today, reflect on Titus 2:11-14 and Revelation 1:7-8 as a reminder of the HOPE of what is to come. 

By starting Advent with the end, the Second Advent, our season begins with Christ's power, glory, righteous judgment, and eternal reign. As we ponder these passages and Christ's holiness and power, we are humbled and brought to our knees. The Second Advent makes it clear: to be a follower of Jesus awaiting his return is to live a life surrendered to him in obedience and worship. 

How does Christ's future return affect you and how you are moved to respond in the present day? 

Monday, November 29

Reading: Luke 21:25-36 (click to open passage)

“When these things take place, stand up and LIFT UP YOUR HEADS, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28, emphasis added). 

When you read today’s passage, Luke 21:25-36, pause and note what emotions stir in you. Unless you are a scientist or a hobbyist of all things creation, you probably don’t spend much time pondering the depths and breadths of God’s creation. In fact, many of us could admit a very small percentage of our time is spent getting to know our Creator through the admiration and study of creation. But, we are called to know it, understand it, appreciate it, and recognize when the signs in the sun, moon, stars, and earth occur. We are called to look up, around, and ahead in hopeful anticipation of our redemption.

You see, none of the things of this world can offer what Jesus Christ offers. In spite of this fact, we keep our heads down, our hearts weighted, and our postures bent toward the trappings of this world. The very world that will be in anguish and perplexity when Jesus returns. We are called to pay attention, prayerfully rely on the God of Hope, and lay down the weight of the world so we are able to stand before him, fully unburdened. 

How does this passage convict and inspire you? 


READINGS: Matthew 25:31-46; Matthew 7: 21-23; 22:37-40

What do you see first when you examine the Matthew 25 passage? In chapters 24 and 25, Jesus spends time describing what the kingdom of heaven will be like through various parables. Let’s take note of the surprise. Both the sheep and goats in this parable were surprised they had missed serving (or refused to serve) someone as magnificent as the Son of Man in his glory. They were either rewarded or rejected for their allegiance.

Yesterday’s passage challenged us to remain watchful and prayerful. If we do so, hopefully, we will always recognize God’s people as our brothers and sisters—no matter the differences. In Matthew 12:50, Jesus reminds us that anyone who does the will of his Father in heaven is someone with whom he is identified and unified.

Jesus came as one of the least of these, and he asks us to believe that serving the lowly and marginalized Christians is more important than miracles and prophecy (Matt. 7:21-23). We are reminded today that loving our neighbors is loving God; and loving God with all our heart, soul, and mind will lead to loving our neighbors. These two commands are inextricably linked as are we with all who follow Jesus. 

How does today’s teaching about Christ’s return and judgment shape your understanding of what true allegiance means as a follower of Jesus?

Wednesday, December 1

READING: Revelation 21:1-6 (click to open passage)

HOPE for a new creation is what we find in today’s passage. In this time of a global pandemic, we have witnessed a generation’s share of suffering and sadness. For some, there has been great loss accompanied by painful life change. For others, this has been a positive season of pruning and spiritual growth amidst the difficulty. God knows and loves us through it all. 

Some might say there isn’t much evidence of love in the book of Revelation, or the pandemic for that matter. In October, when our friend Cliff Winters visited to teach us, we learned to see the love in the last book of the Bible. We can have hope in this season of Advent because we read words like this in Rev. 21:4, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away.” 

At the heart of our new future is God. How exciting! God’s dwelling place will be with US. In our current pandemic climate, a life like the one described here may feel far off or unlikely. John’s vision invites us to raise our eyes to the high mountain (v. 10) where the New Jerusalem comes from heaven. Through his eyes, we are able to see beyond our usual limitations. Actively bending our vision and lives toward the future promises of God can make all the difference in the present.

How does this passage speak to the pain and hardship in your own life? In the world? Take a moment to offer a prayer of worship and trust. 

Thursday, december 2

READINGS: Revelation 21:9-22:5 (click to open passage)

Sun shining through a stained glass window is the image that came to mind when reading the imagery in John’s description of the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven. When the sun shines through a stained glass window, it illuminates every detail of the artistry within the larger piece of work, leaving the viewer with a renewed appreciation for the artist. 

In the New Jerusalem, we won’t need the sun or the moon to illuminate the details and beauty of God’s handiwork. The created reality will be illuminated by the Lamb, by the light of God’s presence. 

For now, we live in a world that can feel full of darkness, but there’s hope! This passage challenges us to see the ways God’s light shines into our lives, and how we can walk in that light now. If we allow the Light of the World to illuminate our path, our journey to the city of light will be all the brighter. 

What truths do the descriptions of light and glory convey about God, the new creation, and our hope as followers of Jesus? 

Friday, December 3

READING: Revelation 22:12-20

A promise and a prayer are the bookends of today’s passage. The promise offered by Jesus, “I am coming soon” is woven throughout the whole book of Revelation (2:5, 16; 3:11; 16:15; 22:7, 12, 20). He promises judgment for some and blessing for those who keep his commands, and the promise evokes a prayer of response, “Come!” 

In verse 17, there are two invitations: the call from the Spirit and the Bride for Jesus to “Come”, and the call for the one who is thirsty to come and take the water of life. The bride is the church as it should be, adorned like a bride on her wedding day eagerly awaiting her groom and the fulfillment of promises made. We as God’s people should be so expectant and prepared for our Savior’s return, identifying ourselves as the bride of the Lamb by praying, “Come, Lord Jesus!” 

The water of life belongs in the new creation and the New Jerusalem, and it is available now to all who await the coming of Jesus. We are given a foretaste of glory divine upon salvation along with a blessed assurance of our future reunion with Jesus Christ, our Savior and King. This passage challenges us to live lives of invitation, eager expectation, and prayer for the day when we will thirst no more. 

How does the prayer, “Come, Lord Jesus” challenge or change you? 

Saturday, December 4

READING: 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13

We are in a season of “missing.” Not only because the pandemic has kept us apart in many ways over the past two years, but because the holiday season often leads to missing loved ones far away or gone before us. We miss the traditions, the foods only they could make, a laugh like none other, the hug that felt like home. Most of us know the feeling of longing to see someone we love, especially when Zoom or photos just don’t cut it. 

Paul understands this yearning as he also wanted to see the Thessalonian believers face to face, but this letter would have to do. Paul shares his desire for the Lord to help them live out Jesus’ love in the way they loved one another and everyone else. That type of love is a challenge to embody when our communities, families, churches, and nation are so divided. 

We cannot be a self-proclaimed people eagerly awaiting the coming of our Lord if our hearts are hardened towards those with whom we will spend eternity, especially the ones in the “everyone else” category. Living a life of hopeful anticipation challenges us to pursue what brings glory to God, and this is often counter-cultural. Like Paul and the Thessalonians, we long to see Jesus face to face, and Advent reminds us we will. Let us allow our future hope to shape our present discipleship. “And may the Lord cause you to increase and overflow with love for one another and for everyone, just as we do for you” (v. 12).

On this Saturday, take time for prayer and reflection, inviting God to strengthen your heart and love for others. How does your future hope of Christ’s return shape your daily life? 

Sunday, December 5

READING: Malachi 3:1-4

In this final prophetic message from God before the end of the Old Testament, Malachi hurls words of judgment on the people of Judah for their words, thoughts, and attitudes. God commanded authentic worship rooted in real faith and fear of the Lord; and the priests failed to properly lead the people of Judah, leading to their indifference toward God. 

Israel pleads for God to show up, and in our passage we see God’s promise to send a messenger to clear the way. “Then the Lord you seek will suddenly come to his temple” is the hopeful promise they receive. In spite of their infidelity, God still promises to come to them, but not without first putting them through the wringer for their waywardness. 

Our God is not a God who leaves us alone. Our God loves us in spite of ourselves, awakening us to the parts of our lives that need a savior. A revealing love like this changes us. This season as we yearn for the God of justice to arrive, let us remain open to God’s refining love entering and reordering our lives. We can trust that God is good, God is faithful, and God will never abandon us—even when we have behaved treacherously. 

What does this passage reveal to you about God’s character and love?

Monday, December 6

READING: Isaiah 40:1-26

Comfort and peace are two words that are almost interchangeable. Both mean freedom from disturbance, pain, constraint. Both relate to a sense of ease. Our verses today speak nothing but peace and assurance. ‘“Comfort, comfort my people,” says your God’ (v.1)

We then hear words pointing to the divine revelation in the New Testament and the identification of John the Baptist’s role as the one preparing the way for our Jesus. After a time of war and tragedy, the Israelites are comforted. Their story does not end in judgment alone—and neither does ours. 

We live in a disposable society, and our trust is often misplaced in the things (and people) of this world. This passage reminds us, all these things are nothing before God. When everything else is reduced to nothing, our God remains. This Advent season, we can find peace in God’s prevailing power, unrivaled strength, and the promise of unyielding love. We can give thanks we are a people who have been invited into the new covenant with God through his Son, Jesus. 

How does this passage offer you peace? 

Tuesday, December 7

READING: Luke 1:67-79

Upon first reading this passage, what came to mind was a father’s joy at who his son was chosen to be: a prophet of the Most High! It is a song of a man whose voice had been removed until the birth of his son, and who was now free to praise God. It is a song of hope, peace, and joy that the promises of God were being fulfilled in the coming of God’s own son, Jesus. 

The little boy being named would be the one pointing away from himself and toward the Messiah who would bring salvation to the lost and deliver Israel in total victory against her enemies. Zechariah takes God’s promises to Israel very seriously and believes expectantly in their fulfillment. In this song, Zechariah gives us pictures of what salvation through Jesus will look like: release from bondage to sin and death, deliverance from danger, dismissal of an unpayable debt, and the dawning of a new day. 

As we look forward to the dawning of a new day and the Light that will guide us on the path of peace, let us be like Zechariah who believed the good news. Those who believe it can experience a joy that only comes from above, and that always leads to praise. 

What is God drawing your attention to in Zechariah’s prophecy? 

Wednesday, December 8

READING: Luke 3:1-6

Luke introduces us to a world long ago, yet still recognizable. It was a world where power, wealth, and celebrity reigned. The people needed a voice from God, and John the Baptist was that faithful voice. 

John proclaims a baptism that leads to release from sins. The release or forgiveness that follows repentance doesn’t undo past sins, but it does unbind people from them, opening the way for a new life lived in God’s service.

Preparing the Lord’s path toward peace requires overturning the world as we know it. Preparing for God’s arrival means rethinking systems and structures that we see as normal but God condemns as crooked and oppressive. It means letting God humble everything proud and self-satisfied in us. It means letting God heal and lift up what is broken and beaten down.

This Advent, we are reminded that repentance is only possible because God gives the Word flesh and sends him to dwell, teach, and save. Spend time in prayer and reflection on John’s call to repentance, asking God to deepen your understanding of repentance as a life-saver. 

Thursday, December 9

READING: Luke 3:7-18

Searing words and seriously good news is what John brought in his sermon. John’s message of repentance and baptism was a call to a changed life—a life of generosity, honesty, and integrity. The Israelites were an obedient people because they were God’s chosen, but their family status wasn’t dependent upon their obedience. Jesus was coming to restore spiritual health to God’s people, and he would not hesitate to prune the unproductive family trees.

John’s message is a lovingly severe message of hope. As a failed people, they needed something more than a call to change to become a changed people. They needed what Jesus brings: a baptism by the Holy Spirit and fire. Like the people to whom John preached, we need something outside of our self-effort to effect real change and lead us into a new way of being. 

The good news of Jesus’ coming is that we don’t have to stay stuck in generational patterns, sinful lifestyles, or religious dabbling. Through the Holy Spirit, we can live fruitful lives reflective of our true repentance. 

What might you need to hear from John’s seriously good news today? 

Friday, December 10

READING: Matthew 3:1-12

In a time where babies had been killed at the hand of an ambitious leader and families still lived in fear, John the Baptist came like Elijah in manner and dress to preach the good news. It might have been hard to believe that in such an evil climate heaven was remotely close.

“Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near” (v.2). The prophets before John the Baptist preached a similar message. It is a word of good news: there is about to be a change in regime, so get ready. Unlike the reign of Herod or of past rulers, the new government would be one of peace. 

To follow Jesus as our King is not just to be saved by him for eternal security, it is also to be changed by him. John the Baptist’s sermon reminds us the work of Jesus’ saving grace is evidenced in our lives. If Advent brings the new dawn, then repentance is the daily action of walking in its light. 

How does the news of the kingdom coming near add to John’s call to repentance?

Saturday, December 11

READING: John 1:29-34

When was the last time you saw a shepherd? It’s not a very common career path these days, but in the Old Testament it was a vital position due to the need for lambs as sacrifices. Because of sin, God required sacrifices, and the lamb had to be as close to perfect as possible (Lev. 22:21-22). However, the lambs provided by men were never good enough to completely take away sin (Heb. 10:4). 

Today’s passage answers the question found throughout the Old Testament, “Where is the lamb?” (Gen. 22:7), when John the Baptist proclaims, “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). Advent is a reminder that we are not waiting for the lamb anymore! Jesus is the final sacrificial lamb, crucified in our place, and he is the only lamb whose sacrifice covers sins forever (Heb. 10:12). May we carry John’s proclamation in our hearts and on our lips this Advent season: “Behold the lamb!”

How does contemplating Jesus as the Lamb of God affect your response to him?

Sunday, December 12

READING: Isaiah 52:13-53:12

When we think of Advent, we think largely upon the Incarnation of Jesus—a baby born of a virgin in a lowly manger in a tiny town called Bethlehem. Many of our songs sing of this special night, and the awaited infant King. As we think of Jesus as a baby, we look forward to his ministry as Wonderful Counselor and Prince of Peace. Today’s passage, however, reminds us that Jesus came to suffer and die. He was rejected (53:3) and punished in our place (53:5) instead of being exalted as the Messiah. All of this is part of God’s plan, and Jesus’ suffering shows his willingness to be our sacrificial lamb.

We serve a God who suffers. One who knows pain, sickness, and the darkest corners of what it means to be human. For some, this season is painful or lonely, and we can all take comfort in knowing Jesus understands all we experience. Jesus’ story doesn’t end in suffering, and neither does ours. No, he sees “the light of life” and is satisfied (53:11), claiming victory over sin and death! He shares in our suffering so we can share in his resurrection. By his wounds we are healed (53:5).

How do these descriptions of what Jesus endured change your observance of Advent? 

Monday, December 13

READING: Isaiah 11:1-5; Jeremiah 33:14-16

If anyone struggled with hope, it would have been the Israelites in the generations between Isaiah and Jeremiah’s time. They experienced firsthand the judgment of God for the sins of their people, and they yearned for a savior to rescue them from their enemies. God sent words of hope through the prophets of Isaiah and Jeremiah through the future promise for “a shoot from the stump of Jesse” like a “Righteous Branch” from David’s line (Isa. 11:1; Jer. 33:15). 

The story of Jesus’ lineage and God’s timing inspires wonder and awe. The bird’s eye view of the God’s faithfulness to an unfaithful people, leading to the gift of God with us, is enough to bring us to our knees in worship. May we remember this Advent season that our God shows up in the most unexpected ways and places, and he keeps his promises. Like a sprout in a forest decimated by fire, God gives us hope and salvation.

What hope do these passages offer you? 

Tuesday, December 14

READING: Isaiah 12:2-6; 52:7-10 & Zephaniah 3:14-20

Home is a powerful word as it has the ability to conjure different thoughts, memories, and experiences for each of us. Home, defined relates to our physical dwelling, to the place where our basic need for shelter is met. It’s part of our human nature to long for somewhere we belong, a feeling or sense of being home. The good news in today’s reading is the Lord’s promise in Zephaniah 3:20, “At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home.”

In these words we can find comfort, peace, and joy for the day people of all nations are gathered home to our Heavenly Father. What a homecoming that will be! We will finally experience home in the presence of the Lord as our “strength and defense” (Isa. 52:2). In this ideal refuge, all of God’s people will live in their created reality, experiencing justice and freedom from oppression (Zeph. 3:19-20). 

In John 14, we hear Jesus tell us he’s preparing a place for us, and anyone who obeys his teaching out of love for him will have a home with him and his Father. Our true home is with God, and God with us—now and in the future. In the present day, we can be cooperative friends of God, helping others find their eternal place of belonging by heralding the good news of Jesus with our lives (Isa. 52:7).  

How does this passage help you understand what Jesus came to offer in a new way? 

Wednesday, December 15

READING: Isaiah 42:1-7

Idols are everywhere. We cling to things like power, money, pride, institutions, information, and even tradition. Thankfully, God is the great exposer of impermanence and empty promises. In today’s passage, God speaks to the idolatry and false gods in Isaiah 41 by announcing his coming servant. God’s faithful servant will bring with him justice and compassion.

In a world where injustice seems to win, the weary are not given relief, and idols attract even the most faithful, it can be hard to see God at work. This passage tells us that God’s promised servant will make all that is wrong right, bringing justice through humility and love. This is hope-inspiring. As we reflect this Advent season on God’s faithfulness and the fulfillment of these promises in the Second Advent, we can ask God to expose our misplaced hope and help us to place our full hope in him.

What stands out to you in the description of the servant? How does Jesus fulfill these promises now and in the future? 

Thursday, December 16

READING: Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11

This Advent, as we live in a world affected by social and medical pandemics, we look for what to expect. Today’s passage teaches us how to expect joy. Advent is an arrival, a time when we expect God to show up and reveal who God is, and God does just that in this passage. In verse 1, the prophet is overcome by the Spirit, commanding that he speak to the people of God and the oppressors. In verse 8, we see God speak, saying who God is and for whom God is concerned. God reveals God.

God speaks of God’s priorities, and of God’s actions. Then we see the people respond in verse 10—with joy. They speak with a confident, anticipatory joy, and so can we. We can speak from the belief that God will speak a new word for us in this era, and that we are held firmly in the grasp of the Spirit. The people responded to the prophet, to divine action, with joy. Oh, to respond to God’s Word with such joy and praise!

What did this passage illuminate about God’s character and plans? What stands out to you as you read this promise through the lens of Jesus and the gospel? 

Friday, December 17

READING: Isaiah 9:1-2

Can you imagine a time where there is no gloom or darkness? When we won’t see brokenness in the people we pass, avoid, or love? Advent positions our world within a larger, hopeful story of God’s light amidst his people. In this passage we are invited to prayerfully expect God’s resplendent light.

Isaiah announces a great light coming from an unexpected source. It can’t be found in the next trend, self-help guru, political power, or religious leader. Jesus is the light that can illuminate the darkness, and that light cannot be overcome (John 1:5). Advent reminds us, no matter how dark it gets in the world around us, the light has already come and is coming again. Darkness, grief, and anxieties do not have the final word. 

What darkness is difficult for you to face? How does this promise of a coming light encourage you? How does Jesus overcome darkness in your life?

Saturday, December 18

READING: Isaiah 9:6-7

Isaiah prophecies about Jesus’ coming rule on earth in this passage. He announces the birth, the deity, the government, his peaceful kingdom, and the eternal nature of Christ. Jesus came for us, as a human child, fully man and fully divine. The arrival of Jesus was a gift and a wonder, transcending human understanding. 

The Jewish community was seeking freedom from “distress and darkness and fearful gloom” (8:22), and the purpose of Christ’s coming was for them, for us, for all. He came to reveal the nature of God, to counsel and comfort us from God’s perspective. Isaiah reminds the Israelites that God is a covenant-keeper when he references God’s promise to David to “raise up your offspring to succeed you…” (2 Sam. 7:12-13), and that nothing can stop God from fulfilling his promises. 

This is the news we are called to share with the world—the light has come, His name is Jesus, and he wants to reign in your hearts. Spend time reflecting on these verses and their connection to the gospel, praising Christ for each part of his identity revealed in these verses. 

Sunday, December 19

READING: Philippians 2:5-11

Imagine a community formed by the mind of Christ. This community would be ruled by a spirit of humility and service instead of competition and self-serving power struggles. This is what Paul is urging the Philippians to do in this Christ hymn—be united in a spirit of love and concern for the good of all. 

As we see in v. 6, Jesus did not use his divinity to his advantage, and instead emptied himself to serve humanity obediently to the point of death on a cross. In his life as a man, Jesus showed us what it means to be fully human. The One we celebrate this season and anticipate for a time to come is the One who most reveals the nature of God—who God is and how God acts. His name is above every other name and is worthy of praise.

What does the Incarnation teach us about the love and nature of God? How do these truths impact your life? 

Monday, December 20

READING: Luke 1:5-25, 57-66

On one hand this passage reads like the happy ending to a long, sad journey of a couple who desperately wanted a child of their own. However, there’s more to this story: an element of unbelief. Zechariah struggled to believe Gabriel’s news that his wife would bear him a son, and he was struck mute for the duration of her pregnancy as a result. 

Sometimes it takes a forced silence to make us listen, put ourselves aside, and see the ways God is always working in every situation. Our silent times can be holy times. Zechariah’s story shows us God continues to work even amid our brokenness and unbelief, and our story doesn’t end in judgment. In these times we learn to stand on God’s promises, know God’s Word is true, and ask for help with our unbelief. God is on the move to bring new life into the world, and when the silent night has ended, the beauty of God’s mercy will be proclaimed. 

How does this passage help you understand God and salvation?

Tuesday, December 21

READING: Luke 1:26-38

Yesterday, we saw Zechariah ask a question and he was rendered silent. Today, we see Mary’s initial response of bewilderment at the angel’s news that she would be the one to carry and deliver the Son of the Most High God. A difference lies in Mary’s quick response of submission, “‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word’” (v.38 NRSV). 

In order for Christ to be formed in us as Paul prayed in Galatians 4:19, we must move from uncertainty and doubt to willing surrender like Mary did. As we review the circumstances of life around us, it can be tempting to hear God’s call for our life and say, “How can this be?” May we pray this season for God to give us the grace to respond as Mary did with a posture of submissive faith. 

How does Mary’s response challenge you? 

Wednesday, December 22

READING: Luke 1:39-56; 2 Samuel 6

Today we see two women who experienced a miraculous pregnancy, and who played a pivotal role in the larger story of redemption. In 2 Samuel 6, the ark of the covenant resided in the hill country of Judea for three months, and the presence of the Lord that once surrounded the ark is now resting within a young virgin, also in the hill country of Judea. Mary honors God with praise for God’s favor on her and also the coming mercy toward all who fear him (v.50). God has done great things for these women, and through them, he has kept his promises to his people. 

Mary speaks in past tense because she knows with the birth of Jesus comes victory for God. We, too, can be as worshipful and certain of God’s promises fulfilled as Mary was—even when the world around us makes it difficult to see. God chose Mary to carry the presence of the Messiah, and this privilege also belongs to all who fear the Lord, to those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. 

How do Elizabeth’s and Mary’s responses speak to you? Reflect on these passages, Mary’s song, and offer your own praise to God.

Thursday, December 23

READING: Matthew 1:18-25

Shock, shame, and disappointment are three possible emotions running through Joseph’s mind when Mary was found to be pregnant before they were married. Thankfully, Joseph was also visited by an angel to tell him the news of salvation through this coming child. 

When you read the Christmas story, does it still “wow” you like it would have Joseph? It’s easy to sing the songs, attend the parties, participate in Advent services, and still take for granted what the Incarnation of Jesus means. He came to save sinners, the repentant and unrepentant. This year, let’s allow the shock of Jesus’ birth impact us the way it did Mary and Joseph. May we be drawn into wonder as we witness Jesus as “God with us” (Matt. 1:22-23), and filled with purpose as we share the good news of the gospel with the world.

What gospel truths does this passage illuminate for you?  

Friday, December 24

READING: Luke 2:1-7

There was no room for them. No room for the coming Messiah, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and Prince of Peace. In today’s passage we see the power of Caesar Augustus over the Roman world that drew Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, fulfilling the prophecy from Micah 5:2. This “ruler over Israel” (Micah 5:2) came humbly in a manger, unnoticed by many. Those who noticed Jesus’ arrival were paying attention, eagerly seeking their Savior, and making room for him.

What if we slowed our pace enough today to reflect on the beauty and perfection of the Incarnation? The entrance of the Word made flesh into our world is exciting, joy-inducing, and awe-inspiring news. If we don’t put down the accoutrements of the season and intentionally look, we might be among those who miss seeing Jesus. May we live the kinds of lives that notice God’s incarnate presence all around us, no matter how humbly it appears. 

Take time today to express your gratitude for this beautiful part of God’s redemptive story.


READING: Luke 2:8-20

The first coming of our Lord Jesus was an offering of joy to all who heard the news. God sent his son to earth and the heavens overflowed with celebration and praise! The shepherds were diligent in finding the child and in spreading the news. As you reflect on the readings throughout Advent and the story of today, how would you like to respond to God? How can you share the good news like the shepherds did as they eagerly sought to find their Savior? 

May the peace of Christ be with you today.