Advent Readings: Sunday December 1, 2013

Readings: Isaiah 2:1-5 and Matthew 24:36-44

Reflections:
Advent is the season when Jesus’ followers remember his first coming, and practice watchful prayer and soulful readiness in anticipation of his second coming at the end of the age. Advent readings can aid our attentiveness to ways God comes to us now in comfort and care, provision and help, safe-keeping and sustenance while we wait for Christ to come again. Jesus’ invitation to keep watch means to be awake, to be fully conscious or present to God in our daily lives. During Advent, we become mindful of: Christ among us, Christ within us, Christ’s coming to us again…and again!

Reflection Questions:

  1. Can you identify places in your life that need God’s help: places of struggle, failure, disappointment? Awaken to these places of discomfort or challenge. Acknowledge your difficulty to God.
  2. Christians for centuries have responded to Christ’s promise of his second coming with a prayer: O Lord Come! or Come, Lord Jesus! (Rev.22:20). Use these words as you talk to God honestly about the challenges in your life. Ask for the Holy Spirit’s refreshment to renew hope for God to come to you, even now.
  3. Advent calls our attention to the tensions of waiting as we watch for Christ’s second coming. Waiting often makes us feel unproductive, helpless or leaves us to endure long periods of time without resolution or fulfillment. How might you embrace the invitation to wait on God for provision, answers, help and the return of Jesus without resolving the discomfort of waiting?
  4. Consider taking on a daily practice during Advent to train the soul to: awaken to God, to be present to God. In the evening or morning, look over your day (or the day prior). Ask yourself:
    • Where was I awake (or present to) God’s activities in my life, in the lives of those around me today?
    • Are there areas where I might become more aware of God’s presence with me?
    • Where would I like to see God and his kingdom come, now, to me, to those in my life?

– Elizabeth Khorey and Michelle Sudduth

John 21

Monday: John 21:1-4
Tuesday: John 21:5-8
Wednesday: John 21:9-14
Thursday: John 21:15-19
Friday: John 21:20-25

REFLECTION QUESTIONS:
1.    Having witnessed Jesus’ death and resurrection, the disciples try to return to what had been normal to them. Jesus met them where they were, but he didn’t leave them there. Are there places in your life where, after encountering Jesus, you’ve attempted to return to something familiar and “normal,” only to find that something is askew? Is Jesus working to transform your normality? To what “new normal” is he calling you?

2.    Peter tries to compare himself to another disciple. Jesus, in so many words, tells Peter to mind his own business. Have you ever felt that someone else gets a better deal from Jesus than do you? Is Jesus speaking to you now about minding your own business, to focus your attention on how he is drawing you into his work?

John 20

Monday: John 20:1-10
Tuesday: John 20:11-18
Wednesday: John 20:19-23
Thursday: John 20:24-29
Friday: John 20:30-31

REFLECTION QUESTIONS:

1. The story of God’s work begins and reaches a climax in a garden. Mary thought that Jesus was the man who tended the garden near the tomb. In Genesis 2, it is the first humans who set about to tend the garden. In John 20, Jesus rises victorious and appears to take on the posture of a gardener. How does this appearance transform the curse in Genesis 3? Is Jesus able to bring transformation to the areas of your life where you feel cursed?

2. Jesus comes back to see Thomas and gives him the physical evidence he seems to need in order to believe. Have you struggled with unbelief? Have you labored under the guilt of having that struggle in the first place? What if you offered your doubts to Jesus and asked him to give you what you need to believe? Would he love you as much as he loved Thomas?

 

John 19

Monday: John 19:1-16a
Tuesday: John 19:16b-24
Wednesday: John 19:25-30
Thursday: John 19:31-37
Friday: John 19:38-42

REFLECTION QUESTIONS:
1.    Pilate’s power is a received and temporal power. Jesus knows the opposite is true of God. How are we often formed by powers—politics, government, institutions, family, media—and then view the Lordship of Jesus through those lenses? Where is the tension in your life between the power of culture and the power of God?

2.    Jesus alone carries his cross, but dies in the company of two criminals. When he thirsts, his executioners give him some of their own cheap wine. The religious elite called Jesus “friend of sinners.” Have you considered where you stand in relation to those we call “sinners?” Do you stand far from them or side-by-side with them?