Adventures in Advent
Five Family Devotions
(One For Each Sunday In Advent & Christmas)
The practice for the kids’ ballet recital was an all-day affair. One long Saturday morning from 9 am – 1 pm, with each group practicing their own pieces and then waiting to practice the grand finale together. To keep the younger daughter busy while we waited for lunch, we went outside to walk around. The rain had finally stopped and the sun was peeking out. It was like we entered a little kids’ dream world: crisp and clear puddles all over the heavily concreted college campus courtyard. We began jumping from puddle to puddle and before we knew it, we had walked around for an hour.
Eventually, back inside, the younger daughter talked and talked about playing in the puddles. She had to tell her mom everything that happened. It became a memory that is still with her today – years later.
It’s in waiting that we sometimes have the greatest adventures.
Waiting doesn’t come naturally to the modern person. Maybe that’s not good, but it’s a fact of life. We are used to things coming quickly, with all the digital conveniences at our fingertips, and all the inventions to make life easy, patience is becoming a lost art in many ways.
For most of us, waiting in line for rides in a busy theme park is excruciating. The stakes are a bit higher while waiting for a phone call about a particular job application or project update. Sometimes waiting may be heart wrenching – the toughest of times like waiting for the results of a medical test or emergency surgery.
Maybe it’s why the Advent season is so important. It reminds us to wait and be expectant. You can’t rush it. You can’t force a rose to bloom, the only way is to wait.
Most often, we lump advent and Christmas together into one big overwhelming month. But there is a distinct difference. Advent is about preparation for Christ’s coming (and coming again). Christmas is the celebration of Jesus with us – Emmanuel.
Advent is the period of four Sundays and weeks before Christmas (or from the first of December to Christmas Day!). Advent means ‘Coming’ in Latin. This is the coming of Jesus into the world. Christians use the four Sundays and weeks of Advent to prepare and remember the real meaning of Christmas.
If you’re a kid, waiting for Christmas day is nearly impossible. But in some ways, it’s the waiting and the expectation that makes Christmas, Christmas.
Let’s be ready to wait this advent season. And in the waiting, we will watch for the adventures God takes us on.
SONG – WE WAIT FOR YOU
We Wait For You (c) 2004, Tim Price, Harvest Ministry [Lyrics and Chords]
About the Devotions
Each devotion includes a scripture, story, song, questions, an activity (especially for kids, although everyone is invited), and the adventure for the week. You can use whichever parts work for you. We suggest taking 5-10 minutes to do these devotions on Sunday afternoons or evenings.
ADVENTURE ONE – HOPE
Faith is being sure of what we hope for. It is being certain of what we do not see. – Heb. 11:1
What do you think it was like before you were born? What kinds of things did your family do as they were “expecting” you and waiting for your arrival?
Have you ever thought about what kinds of preparations were made for you were before you born? Can you imagine what took place during those months as someone waited for you even though they didn’t know what you would look like, how you might act and how life would change? So many stories could be told.
There is so much hope that surrounds a birth. Hope for a new life that will grow to be all that God wants that person to be. There is hope for the baby even before birth.
Many different people had hope in the coming Messiah. It had been foretold for years, through the Old Testament scriptures. Old Testament scriptures proclaimed that the Messiah would be in the line of David, would be the Passover Lamb, would be called God’s Son, would be born of a virgin, and many more ancient predictions. Now, this Advent Season, we anticipate Christ’s birth again – Christmas is coming! Though we don’t have to wait for years, this season of Advent is a season of hope in the promised coming of Christ. These few weeks give us an adventure in waiting hopefully.
What is hope? Hope is a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.
Hope comes to us when we can trust in a promise for the future. Just like we celebrate God sending Jesus at Christmas, we can trust God’s promise of his son, Jesus, coming to earth again. We have hope! He has come and is coming again.
SONG – THERE IS HOPE
(c) 2000 Tim Price | Harvest Ministry Team | Album: There Is Hope [Lyrics and Chords]
Create a scripture card with the verse Heb. 11:1. A scripture card is just a little piece of paper with the scripture verse written neatly (or for younger kids, already typed or written) and then decorated (with crayons, colored pencils or markers). Hang this scripture card up someplace where you will see it each day and memorize it.
Jesus, we put our hope in you. We place our hope in your promise. You came to us as a baby to show us the way to God and our hope is you. We trust that you are still at work in us. During this advent season, help us seek you.
All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgina] will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’). Is. 7:14
ADVENTURE TWO – LOVE
We love each other because he loved us first. -1 John 4:19
In what ways is it easy to miss Jesus during this time of year? In what ways can we ensure that we will recognize him?
One great Christmas story is about the old shoe cobbler who dreamed one Christmas Eve that Jesus would come to visit him the next day. The dream was so real that he was convinced it would come true.
So the next morning he got up and went out and cut green boughs and decorated his little cobbler shop and got all ready for Jesus to come and visit. He was so sure that Jesus was going to come that he just sat down and waited for Him.
The hours passed and Jesus didn’t come. But an old man came. He came inside for a moment to get warm out of the winter cold. As the cobbler talked with him he noticed the holes in the old man’s shoes, so he reached up on the shelf and got him a new pair of shoes. He made sure they fit and that his socks were dry and sent him on his way.
Still, he waited. But Jesus didn’t come. An old woman came. A woman who hadn’t had a decent meal in two days. They sat and visited for a while, and then he prepared some food for her to eat. He gave her a nourishing meal and sent her on her way.
Then he sat down again to wait for Jesus. But Jesus still didn’t come.
Then he heard a little boy crying out in front of his shop. He went out and talked with the boy, and discovered that the boy had been separated from his parents and didn’t know how to get home. So he put on his coat, took the boy by the hand and led him home.
When he came back to his little shoe shop it was almost dark and the streets were emptied of people. And then in a moment of despair, he lifted his voice to heaven and said, “Oh Lord Jesus, why didn’t you come?”
And then in a moment of silence, he seemed to hear a voice saying, “Oh shoe cobbler, lift up your heart. I kept my word. Three times I knocked on your friendly door. Three times my shadow fell across your floor. I was the man with the bruised feet. I was the woman you gave food to eat. I was the boy on the homeless street.”
Jesus had come. The cobbler just didn’t realize it. (Melvin Newland)
Much like this story, God put his love into action when he came to us as a baby at Christmas. One of the best things we can do this season is to imitate that love for others. Love is not something we wait to give, we give it now.
SONG – COME THOU LONG EXPECTED JESUS
(c) 2011 Acoustic Christmas Album | Harvest Ministry Teams | Tim Price / Roy Wells
Create a homemade Christmas card to give to someone who may be forgotten in your community.
Make a plan to take your Christmas card(s) to someone in your community who may be forgotten – shut-in, elderly or nursing home resident.
Lord, help us to love others as you first loved us. We thank you for this season of expectation, seeking you at every turn. Help us to recognize the way you are at work in our lives and fill us with your love for the world.
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn… Is. 61:1-2
ADVENTURE THREE – JOY
The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing. Zeph 3:17
When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy. Ps. 94:19
What are you most joyful about leading up to Christmas? Gifts? Parties? Vacation? A gift you are planning to give?
Have you heard the story of the Gift of The Magi? It’s a classic Christmas story about giving and the joy we find in it. It was just before Christmas when a young, newly married couple, realized they didn’t have much money to buy each other a gift. They loved each other but felt horrible about their impossible financial situation. The young wife wanted to buy her husband a chain for his prized, inherited expensive pocket watch. The young husband wanted to buy a top-of-the-line brush and comb set for his wife’s beautiful long hair. Just before Christmas, unbeknownst to each other, the husband sold his watch to buy the brush set, and the wife cut and sold her hair to buy the pocket watch chain. In the end, once they realized what happened, they understood the deep love they had for one another to sacrifice.
That first Christmas was also a mixture of emotions. Mary and Joseph had to make the journey to their home city. They were denied a room in the inn because the city was so crowded. They didn’t have a proper place to sleep, much less a proper place to have a child. Yet, they were filled with joy because they knew of the promised Messiah – Jesus was to be born.
For many, Christmas is a mix of emotions – sometimes sad ones. But even in those times, we can have joy knowing that Jesus is coming. We can walk the road of life knowing that joy runs deeper than our life circumstances.
Sometimes having joy is a matter of being reminded that we have something to be joyful about! Jesus is coming! Let’s live like we believe it and are joyful in the truth.
SONG – THERE IS JOY
(c) 2015 Tim Price, Ruby Price | Price Family Music
Create a joy bucket. Get a basket or a bowl and several slips of paper. Write down some ways you have joy and ways you want to have joy. Remember, we have joy because of God’s work and it’s not dependent on anyone else. Focus on the joy that comes from knowing Jesus. Over the next couple of weeks, put all the “joy” you can in the bucket. Later, you can take them out and read them. (And if you want to make a game of it, try to guess who in the family wrote each one as you read them aloud).
It’s a busy time of year, but now is a good time to share your joy with someone. Take cookies to your neighbors with a note of encouragement and Christmas cheer!
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13
ADVENTURE FOUR – PEACE
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Is. 9:6
How does waiting give us peace? How can you show the peace of Christ to others? Are you patient with others?
My friend was high above the trees, standing on a small platform. The only thing I could make out clearly was the bright, neon green helmet he was wearing. I didn’t really want to do it at all, but I was in the line and heading in that direction. All at once, my friend jumped and sailed effortlessly across the deep ravine down the cable to which he was attached. Though he was totally safe, he let out a long scream as he sped down the incline of the zip line.
There were still several people in line before me, but I just wasn’t sure. I’m not a fan of heights or adventure, and though it wasn’t required, we were strongly encouraged to take part in this adventure by the boss.
As I watched each person descend and as I got closer to the platform, I realized I had to make a choice. Either I was going to do it or not. Finally, for whatever reason, I determined I would try it. There were still a few others in front of me, but from that point on, I had peace about taking the leap.
Peace is one of the fruits of the spirit and critical to a healthy and balanced life. And though a zip line is a “fun” activity, there are so many other obstacles we may face. Often, the preparation in waiting, allows us to fully come to a point of peace.
The Advent Season leads us toward peace through waiting on Christ. The very act of waiting patiently prompts our spirits to slow down and seek Him. Jesus is the Prince of Peace and is able to bring a calm to us.
As his followers, we can also share that peaceful calm with others around us.
I did make it to the top and like others around me, sailed across the ravine attached only to a harness and cable. It was exhilarating and worth the wait.
Jesus came to us as the Prince of Peace and as his followers, we are also bearers of his peace. We must live a life of peace with others in our homes, neighborhoods, and workplaces.
SONG – YOU ALONE
(c) 2004 Tim Price [Lyrics and Chords]
Create a top ten list of Bible promises or words of Jesus that give you peace. Memorize one (or a new one) this week.
Share these “peace” scripture cards with family, co-workers, friends and random places around town (such as the bank, post office or library).
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:7
CHRISTMAS DAY IS HERE!
Jesus, God’s son, here among us. Emmanuel!
The waiting during Advent is what makes Christmas so wonderful.
Let’s review the Christmas story – slowly and simply.
- Jesus is the light of the world.
- He is God, born as a baby, in the most humble way.
- He came to earth to be among us and show us the way to God.
- God with us – Emmanuel.
- He lived to die and give us new life.
- And we celebrate Jesus, today, on Christmas day.
Read: Luke 2:1-20