An Advent Word Delivery

I’m pretty good at shameless promotion over on Lent Madness, but I often forget to share work I’ve done on my own blog. So if you don’t want this kind of “commercial interruption” today, just move on to the next thing in your queue to read.

Watching & Watching coverI’m especially proud of this year’s Advent devotional book from Forward Movement, Waiting and Watching: Advent Word Reflections. We’ve partnered with the folks behind the Advent Word, a global online Advent devotion. Each day of Advent, you’re encouraged to post a thought or a photo on social media connecting an Advent-related word to your own life and experience. It’s both inspiring and fun. Well, Forward Movement has created a devotional booklet with meditations on each of the Advent words, and a bonus entry for Christmas day. The book has contributions from Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Ian Markham, Sarah Stonesifer Boylan, Hugo Olaiz, Richelle Thompson, Miriam McKenney, and yours truly. Illustrations are by Sybil MacBeth.

You can get a paper book for seven bucks from Forward Movement. If you want a bunch for your church (book group, online discussion, or just to pass out to members as a way of encouraging Advent practice and community connection), you can get them for as little as four bucks. Order soon though, because standard shipping is cheaper. If you’re not sure what kind of shipping you need to get books by Advent, just call the friendly folks at Forward Movement (800-543-1813). We are not Amazon, so you’ll get to talk with a kind person (during business hours). Not being Amazon also means it takes us longer to ship things to you. Ebooks are just $5.99.

There’s also a poster for the Advent words, making a fun way for you and your friends or family to color your way through the season.

I don’t know about you, but I am super grateful Advent is almost here. After this chaotic, sad, and disappointing year, a season to turn toward Jesus is just what I need.

Anyway, here’s a sample meditation, if you want a flavor for what’s in the book. I wrote this one for the Advent Word on November 30.


Deliver

These days, we can get almost anything delivered to our homes. We order groceries, consumer goods, books, and of course, meals that are delivered to our door. Often we use “delivery” to mean something that is brought to us. A convenience.

But deliver has another meaning. In the Lord’s Prayer, we pray, “Deliver us from evil.” Deliver used this way means to free us from captivity. The ancient Israelites were delivered from pharaoh as they crossed the Red Sea. The psalms are full of hymns about deliverance, as in Psalm 31, which begins, “In you, O Lord, have I taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness.” Saint Paul writes in the letter to the Philippians, “For I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance” (Philippians 1:19).

This season of Advent is, in many ways, about deliverance. Ironically, many of us receive deliveries as we shop to prepare for Christmas gift-giving, yet our focus on that type of delivery steers us away from Advent’s invitation to deliver us from chaos, fear, and anxiety.

In Advent, we prepare to meet our redeemer. Whether we are preparing to meet Jesus Christ when he comes again in glory or to meet him as we adore him at Christmas, our work is the same. We prepare our hearts to meet him, that when we meet Jesus, he “may find in us a mansion prepared for himself ” (The Book of Common Prayer, p. 212).

You see, we need deliverance. Our world is messed up. Our lives are messed up. We are sinners who cannot save ourselves. We need a savior, a deliverer. Advent invites us to repent, to turn to Jesus. We are invited to reject rampant consumerism and the idea that we can find our happiness in earthly things and to embrace our true joy, the peace that passes all understanding.

In other words, more deliveries won’t fix us. But deliverance can.

Jesus offers us the free gift of gracious love. His life shows us true life. His death has conquered death. Jesus offers us redemption from sin and freedom from death. Jesus is our deliverer.

Meditation text © 2020 Forward Movement. All rights reserved. Used by permission.