category: Advent

Advent Devotion: Day 1

Sunday, November 27

Isaiah 2:1-5; Psalm 122; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:36-44

Advent begins today! As the children’s song we used to sing said: “All I want for Christmas is …” and we get to fill in the blank. For me, what Isaiah 2, Psalm 122, and Jesus said in Matthew 24 sum it up nicely. Paul, of course, put a fine point on what Advent truly means. He wrote that our “salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed” (Rom 13:11b).

The biblical word “salvation” is so rich with meaning that it takes three verb tenses to capture it. We are saved and can look back to what happened to us in the past. We are being saved right now in the present and can celebrate what is happening now. We also look forward to the future when, finally, we will be saved from all the things that still trouble us.

To say that we live in a troubled time is pretty obvious. Isaiah, the Psalmist, Jesus, and Paul were quite familiar with trouble in their days. They knew that the world was very different than how God intends it to be. Paul, in particular, was keenly aware that throughout the year we can get distracted, become overly involved and weary with life stuff, and we can fall asleep.

To illustrate his point, Paul spoke of sleep, night, and darkness that require the “armor of light” to overcome them. Certainly, darkness becomes more obvious this time of year than at any other time. In fact, we are approaching the shortest day of the year. By the time Christmas Day arrives, we will have experienced the darkest day, the winter solstice, on December 21. Not surprisingly, God chose to send Jesus into the world during the darkest time of the year so that he could bring light into our dark world.

Advent and the Christmas season are all about light—lighting candles in particular. I look forward each year to seeing candles in the windows of homes, in Dover Chapel at Gardner-Webb University, and lights on Christmas trees. They remind us, as Paul wrote, to “lay aside the works of darkness,” “to live honorably,” to stop “quarreling and jealousy,” and to put an end to other behaviors from which we need to be saved.

How do we do this? How does this change happen to us and to our world? Paul said, “Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 13:14).

Let us begin Advent 2022 by doing just that—putting selfish ambitions behind us and putting on Jesus’ Spirit of love, giving, and light. And let’s pray the same for everyone.

Robert W. Canoy
Dean, Professor of Theology

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