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Advent Disciplines

Today’s Reflection

ON THE SUNDAYS leading up to Christmas Day, church members often place an Advent wreath at the front of the church. This wreath contains five candles—four candles, which represent the four weeks of Advent, and one Christ candle, which represents the Light of the world. Each week, the service may open with someone lighting the appropriate candle and singing an Advent hymn. The mood of this worship moment is usually joyful, expectant, and filled with anticipation.

The Advent wreath serves as more than seasonal decoration. It carries both a hopeful meaning and a powerful challenge. To explain its meaning, Paul draws a helpful analogy in First Corinthians. Serious athletes, he points out, enter competitions in order to win a wreath or prize that gathers dust and may eventually be thrown away. In contrast, God promises an eternal and everlasting wreath to those Christ followers who remain faithful to the end. They will inherit a deathless, incorruptible, and glorious body in God’s new heaven and earth.

The challenge of the wreath follows this promise. To become the people God wants us to be, we need to employ a strict training regimen, just like successful athletes do. This training will require us to engage in activities that grow our discipleship, such as study, worship, confession, service, and prayer. This training may also mean abstaining from our normal desires for food, conversation, company, and comfort for certain periods of time through the disciplines of fasting, silence, solitude, simplicity, and sacrifice. Without actually practicing spiritual exercises, we will not experience the joyful fulfillment that comes from being Christ followers.

– Trevor Hudson
Pauses for Advent

From pages 17-18 of Pauses for Advent: Words of Wonder by Trevor Hudson. Copyright © 2017 by Trevor Hudson. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Look once more at the list of activities above. Will you practice any of these during Advent? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come.
Mark 13:33, NRSV

This Week: pray for hope. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

Did You Know?

In need of prayer? The Upper Room Living Prayer Center is a 7-day-a-week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by trained volunteers. Call 1-800-251-2468 or visit The Living Prayer Center website.

This week we remember: Dorothy Day (November 29).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

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{ 3 comments… add one }

  • Marcy December 3, 2017, 4:27 pm

    I am finally able to read today and have begun “Advent and Christmas Wisdom for St. Francis of Assisi” daily Advent disciplines. It includes prayers and writings of St. Francis, Scripture readings, prayers and Advent actions.

    Prayers for all who visit the Advent Disciplines and still praying about Hope.

    Blessings!

    • Marcy December 4, 2017, 11:15 am

      Correction: “Advent and Christmas Wisdom from Saint Francis of Assisi” daily Advent disciplines.

      Good to see you here, Robert. I am determined to attend church services for Advent. Please, Lord, let that be Your plan!

  • robert moeller December 4, 2017, 10:04 am

    Yes, I will do some of these activities through Advent. Need to focus more and decide. Not sure why I didn’t get the reflection yesterday or today.

    Thankful for a wonderful first Advent Sunday. There was Communion, yummy snacks/lunch after the service, practice for the pageant next week, and angel Bible study.

    Went to heart rehab this morning and had a good 1 hour workout. Picked up some items needed at home, and hung the garland on the fence in front of the church. Now it’s Quiet Time.

    Prayers for all of you as a new week begins. Blessings, peace and love!

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