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.
Look once more at the list of activities above. Will you practice any of these during Advent? Share your thoughts.
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).
(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)
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