Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him and He will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for Him.
FAMILY STORIES OF LOVE1
Today, connect your family stories to this week’s Advent theme of love. Think about how you can begin sharing your family stories of loving God and loving others.
Have everyone in your family find a possession that helps him or her feel loved. Invite each person to share their item and tell why it is a reminder of love.
- What does love feel like?
- When have you felt loved by family and friends?
- When have you experienced God’s love in a tangible way?
Light the Advent Candles Gospel Reading: Matt. 23:13-26
ACTS OF LOVE
It seems that this time of year, though thrilling and celebratory, typically is one of the busiest seasons we have. It seems that everyone is trying to get something finished before the holidays set-in, and then there are all the additional holiday activities that just add to the mix.
In today’s gospel reading, Jesus is again reminding us to make sure our priorities are straight. If our Advent season simply becomes a checklist making sure we’re doing devotions, going to church services, decorating, going to Christmas play rehearsals, and whatever else we think we need to do, but we fail to seek God and to live out the things he has commanded of us, we will have missed it. Like the scripture says, it’ll be like we “strain[ed] out a gnat but swallow[ed] a camel.”
God is passionate about love, justice, mercy, and faithfulness. It’s why He’s kept at it, seeking us out, trying to reconcile humanity back to Himself ever since sin first happened. It’s why he came to earth as baby Jesus. It’s why He’s going to come back as a reigning King. If we remember God’s story at Christmastime, but we forget the big things He cares about, the very reasons He came, we’ll have totally missed the big picture. As you prepare your hearts for our coming King, don’t just remember that God loves “justice, mercy, and faithfulness” — instead, start practicing those things in your family, in your community, and in your world, and begin to get to know God better as you start to partner with Him in those things He cares so much about.
Come, O long expected Jesus, born to set your people free. From our fears and sins release us, and let us find our rest in you.6
1)Adapted from Paul Sheneman, Illuminate: an Advent Experience. Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill of Kansas City, 2011. Print.
6)Adapted from Charles Wesley, “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus” (1745), Cyber Hymnal, http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/c/o/m/comtlong.htm.