Beautiful! One of my favorite Advent songs…
Today marked the first Sunday in Advent and not surprisingly I woke up this morning with a new sense of peace in my heart. God’s grace is amazing. When we seek Him with a repentant and desiring heart, He always shows up.
Yesterday on my blog I shared about the end of the liturgical church year. Today in church we went back to the beginning of the Book of Common Prayer and started a new season: Advent.
I love how the church takes us liturgically through the Christian year where-through the designated Scripture, prayers, and hymns that all fit together-we can truly align our hearts to God and to the true spirit and reason of the season.
Today, we lit the first of four candles in the Advent wreath.
As time passes from Advent Sunday to the Vigil of Christmas, the wreath will grow in the brightness of illumination – symbolic of the coming of Christ who is the Light of the World. The prophecies read with the lighting of the Advent wreath help us relate to the people of the Old Testament. They waited in anticipation for the coming day of the Lord as the mystery of the Incarnation unfolded through the centuries by prophets who prepared the way for His Coming.
In the Advent wreath, The first candle, The Prophecy Candle, announces the period of waiting upon God for the fulfillment of His promise.
Today’s Collect: ALMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen.
Today’s Epistle was from Romans 13 about God’s commandments and especially to love one another. …”Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.“
And from the Gospel reading in Matthew 21, we find Jesus arriving in Jerusalem on a donkey. People spread garments before him and cut down branches from the trees and placed them before Him saying, “Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is He that cometh in in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. ...then Jesus went into the temple of God and “cast out all of them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money-changers and the seats of them that sold doves, and said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.”
The collect, epistle, and Gospel from Advent 1 today shared the theme of casting off the darkness and welcoming in the light. Jesus Christ is that light.
And from our Hymns today, I especially liked this line: Fling wide the portals of your heart; Make it a temple, set apart.
And the last verse: So come, my Sovereign; enter in! Let new and nobler life begin; Thy Holy Spirit guide us on, Until the glorious crown be won.
I’m glad to enter into a new season–one of hope and blessings. I have cast off the darkness. I am making a conscious decision to give up seeking the “gifts” and will seek “The Giver,” The Light, The Savior. This Advent I will try to focus on preparing my heart for the celebration of the birth of Christ and for His second coming-which is what Advent is all about.
And, as promised, I’ll try to blog each day of Advent and share what God shows me on this journey.
And I’ll end this blog post today as we end every Sunday service: with the “Last Gospel” read together: John 1:1-14
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
Advent begins this Sunday and I am in need of a some liturgical order and ecclesiastical grounding to calm the disorder of life and to fulfill my soul’s desire for a deeper connection with God.
I’ve always been a traditional, liturgically minded Christian. The world is chaotic. I like order. Lately, I feel unsettled, not very focused, functional or disciplined. I question whether I am lined up with God’s will in all that I do. I’m in a period of waiting for a breakthrough and praying for some real fruits from my writing and our ministry efforts. I recall more glorious times in my spiritual life where I felt overwhelming joy and peace in walking with the Lord. I’m stumbling in the valley and want to get back to the mountaintop.
So, during this Advent season, I am making a personal promise to be more focused, more thoughtful, more faith-filled EACH DAY. I will attempt to blog each day about this journey, even if it’s just a Scripture quote and photo and a few words of inspiration.
Liturgically (in the Anglican tradition), last Sunday ended the church year with “Stir-up Sunday.” The reason it’s called Stir-up Sunday might have something to do with the beautiful prayer (or collect) designated for last Sunday from our 1928 Book of Common Prayer:
STIR up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may by thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
We prayed this prayer as a church community and it had deep meaning for me. My will needs to be stirred up, aligned with God’s will. I would love to see some fruits of my good works. Rewards? You bet. Here or in Heaven are welcome!
THIS SUNDAY is the first Sunday in Advent, the beginning of four weeks of Advent-our spiritual preparation for the coming of Christ (Birth of Christ) as well as His second coming. Here is our collect for this Sunday:
ALMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and [the]* dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen.
Let’s put on the armor of light. Come join me and let’s open our hearts to the inner workings of the Holy Spirit. See you tomorrow!
O Give Thanks….
Lately, more complaints have come out of my mouth than words of thanksgiving.
That’s not good.
As a Christian, I ought to be doing less complaining and more thanking. The Bible offers many verses about giving thanks. Here are some, with a few thoughts on what these Scriptures spoke to me in my season of complaints. I hope that God’s Word inspires you, as it did me, to focus on thankfulness:
“All circumstances” … ouch. This is a tough one to read. Really God? Even circumstances I don’t like? Pretty sure God is nodding his head yes.
Psalm 107:1 – Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!
Ephesians 5:20 – Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Colossians 3:15-17 – And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Philippians 4:6 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
“with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Wow, this one really struck me. It’s okay to make my requests known…which I’ve been doing, but my requests have been anxious and not in the spirit of thanksgiving. Time to change my prayers of complaints to confident prayers of thanksgiving to God that He WILL help me and hear me.
2 Corinthians 9:15 -Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
Psalm 105:1 – Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!
I’ve not done much of this lately. He’s done so many good deeds in my life and I should always make them known.
Hebrews 12:28-29 – Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.
Psalm 28:7 -The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him.
Does my heart trust in him? Completely? I say I do, but if I did, wouldn’t my heart be filled with joy? I’ve really got to readjust my thinking.
Psalm 69:30 – I will praise the name of God with song, And shall magnify Him with thanksgiving.
Colossians 2:6-7 – Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.
What a beautiful reminder.
Psalm 34:1 – I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
Psalm 100:4 – Enter His gates with thanksgiving, And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him; bless His name.
Jonah 2:9 – But I will sacrifice to You With the voice of thanksgiving. That which I have vowed I will pay Salvation is from the LORD.”
Ephesians 5:3-4 – But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.
1 Timothy 4:4-5 – For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.
Well, I’m humbled now. And am going to do my best to be more thankful. God is good. His mercy endures forever. Thank God it does. I’ve had a ungrateful heart lately…thank you Lord, for your mercy. Thank you Lord for EVERYTHING!
Happy Thanksgiving all.
While waiting for the big bucks to roll in…the big bucks are starting to roll in!
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Did you do the ice-bucket challenge for ALS? A great cause, for sure.
But…whether you took the challenge or not, here’s an amazing challenge for National Diabetes Awareness Month (November) that won’t give you a cold head. Instead, you’ll get a warm heart and an awesome personally autographed copy of a #1 Amazon Bestseller signed by a former NFL player. BOOM!
Through the month of November, my son Jake is giving $1 to the JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) or to Beyond Type One for each copy sold of his devotional book, FIRST AND GOAL – What Football Taught Me About Never Giving Up.
Awww…isn’t he cute? (I’m the mom, I can ask that, but he is cute, right?).
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FIRST AND GOAL is getting great reviews and has been trending as a #1 bestseller in several Amazon categories. So you have that….and you get a warm fuzzy feeling in your heart for helping the JDRF support a cure for Type 1 Diabetes. So hop down to the link below! We really want to give a big check to help support a cure for Type 1 Diabetes
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