Emily and I wanted to begin some family traditions this advent season, specifically simply observing advent. Advent is the time leading up to Christmas, it is a time of preparation and waiting for the birth of Jesus. A couple years ago we had looked at some wooden advent calendars and this year we finally bought one.
It has twenty-four doors, one for each day of the month leading up to Christmas. There is plenty of room inside each door for little gifts. The plan is that each day Junia, Emily and I will open a door and Junia will get a gift (a snack, a dollar for her piggy bank, a toy) and we will read a Bible verse appropriate to the Advent season.
I spent a little bit of time trying to find a good list of scripture readings and I did find a few helpful resources that listed one for each day. But in the end, with a little help from such places, I basically made my own list. Each day I’ll post the scriptures here so any who are interested can enjoy preparing for the coming of Jesus with the Hershey family!
December 1 – Blessed to be a Blessing
Genesis 12:1-3 – 1 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. 2 “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you
Galatians 3:7-9 – 7 Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. 8 Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” 9 So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith
Genesis 12 illustrates the fact that when God began a rescue-operation directed towards creation, the idea was never to save only one group of people at the expense of the rest. God chose Abraham for the express purpose that through him, all peoples on earth would be blessed. In other words, the hope was always that all people could experience relationship with God. This is part of the beauty of Christmas then, as this promise is fulfilled in Jesus Christ: all who come in faith are welcomed into God’s family.
The challenging question for me then is, if Abraham was called to bring blessing and if this is fulfilled in Jesus then part of our mission as Christians is to also bring blessing into the world. Simply put, who have you blessed today?
December 2 – The Coming King
2 Samuel 7:8-17 – 8 “Now then, tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty says: I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock, and appointed you ruler over my people Israel. 9 I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men on earth. 10 And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning 11 and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders h over my people Israel. I will also give you rest from all your enemies.
“ ‘The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you: 12 When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands. 15 But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.’ ”
Romans 1:1-4- 1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God—2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life g was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power i by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.
I started off with two days focusing on how Jesus is the fulfillment of promises, the climax of the entire story of scripture. Here we see the promise God made to the great King David that one of his descendants would always sit the throne. This seemed to fall apart as eventually there was no more king in Jerusalem. But the early Christians saw Jesus as the true “Son of David”, the fulfillment of this promise. Only, the kingdom that Jesus is king of is not centered on any one city on earth, but encompasses the whole world. It is a kingdom that will never end.
It is also a kingdom that is in some ways already here, but in some ways not yet here. Jesus announced the coming of the kingdom of God in his ministry, yet we realize this world is still a broken place. As we pray, “your kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven” we are asking for the kingdom to advance. The kingdom advances as we live out the mission of Jesus: overcoming injustice, hunger, oppression, spiritual bondage and the like. What am I doing to bring about Jesus’ dream for the kingdom into this world today?