category: Advent

Advent 2023

Advent 2023 cover

In the apostle Paul’s letter to the believers in Rome, he makes this statement: “Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers” (13:11). What was true for Paul and the Roman followers of Jesus is still true for us; those who claim the name Christian are nearer now to salvation than when they first placed their trust in Christ. For Paul, salvation was a future event, namely the second coming of Jesus. The gift of the Holy Spirit is the assurance that one’s future salvation is guaranteed, but one must wait, nonetheless.

Advent is a celebration within this in-between time, the “already, but not yet.” God has sent God’s son to earth to provide humanity with a living example of God’s love and mercy and to defeat death and evil through his crucifixion and resurrection. But as we all know and are reminded daily, even though evil has been defeated, it still exists in the world.

And so we wait, but, as Paul says, we do so actively, as those who are awake and not asleep. According to Paul, being awake means that we “lay aside the works of darkness” and “live honorably.” Paul calls on his readers to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ,” in effect being enabled by the Spirit to be the presence of Christ wherever we are.

We all need to hear the apostle. Our culture is currently characterized all too often by selfishness, greed, and violence rather than humility, grace, and peace. Unfortunately, we who are followers of Jesus can be guilty of these same tendencies, refusing to get along with others with whom we disagree. Rather than striving for the common good, folks tend to focus on their rights or their personal theological convictions, many times confusing the kingdom of America with the Kingdom of God. Paul warns us against such behavior when he writes, “make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”

As the church, we are called to model Christ’s self-giving love for others. When those in the church selfishly demand what they think is right, they are taking their behavioral cues from our modern culture. The church is called to be different, respecting all others and seeing others as those who have been created in God’s image and for whom Christ gave himself.

I hope that this year’s devotional is a source of inspiration and grace, spiritual food for hungry souls during the Advent season. I am thankful for all who contributed devotions and for my colleagues Lisa Hollifield and Cal Robertson, without whom the devotional would not be possible.

May we all enjoy a blessed Advent season, living as those who are awake to the moving of the Spirit in our midst, leading us to be sources of grace and peace in the chaotic world in which we live.

Jim McConnell, Associate Dean
Professor of New Testament Interpretation

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2023 Advent Devotion: Day 1

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