A Prayer of Hope :: Hope of Advent

Habakkuk 2.3
For the revelation awaits an appointed time;
it speaks of the end
and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it;
it will certainly come
and will not delay.

Luke 21.28
When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.

Reflection: A Prayer of Hope :: Hope of Advent
By John Tillman

During Advent we trim our lamps and supply ourselves with oil that we may be ready when Christ comes.

A guided prayer using today’s readings from Habakkuk and Luke:

Lord, as the world grows darker, the hope we have in Christ, burns brighter.

When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.

I will stand at my watch
and station myself on the ramparts;
I will look to see what he will say to me

“Write down the revelation
and make it plain on tablets
so that a herald may run with it.
For the revelation awaits an appointed time;
it speaks of the end
and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it;
It will certainly come
and will not delay.

We wait, O Lord, for your word.
We wait, O Lord, for your presence.
Give us your word, that we may be your herald, running with beautiful feet that bring your good news.

For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.

“Teacher,” they asked, “when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?”

We are impatient, Lord. Teach us endurance in the waiting.
We are anxious, Lord. Teach us to be calmed by you.
We are fearful, Lord. Teach us to trust you in all circumstances.
Trusting you is equally difficult in suffering and in plenty.
In plenty we do not trust you for we have no needs.
In want we do not trust you for we fear you caused our suffering.

No matter how much or how little we have in this world, one thing is true—it is all dust that is passing away.
May we find rest and peace by trusting our lives to you—by putting our hope in your word.

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

What are we waiting for? We wait, Lord, for your word.
We wait, Lord, to hear you speak that light will come forth.

The Lord is in his holy temple;
let all the earth be silent before him.

Let us hear from you in silence.
Let us worship you in hope.

Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  —2 Corinthians 4:6

– Prayer from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Prayers from The Divine Hours available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
Habakkuk 2 (Listen – 3:20)
Luke 21 (Listen – 4:18)

This Weekend’s Readings
Habakkuk 3 (Listen – 2:59) Luke 22 (Listen – 7:58)
Zephaniah 1 (Listen – 3:09) Luke 23 (Listen – 6:39)

Additional Reading
Read More about Resting in Hopelessness :: Readers’ Choice
We fear contentment because it has become conflated with complacency. How can we rest at peace when there are great things to accomplish, proper beliefs to be held, and greener pastures in which we could find ourselves? And so we press on—unaware, performing, and restless.

Read More about Seeing the Lord :: Readers’ Choice
My eyes were blinded by the temporal, until an
eternal God shook the doorposts of my soul.
He came to me

Support our Work

Each month over 22,000 Park Forum email devotionals are read around the world. Support our readers with a monthly or a one time donation. 

Abandoning Sinful Hopes :: Hope of Advent

Luke 20.13, 38
“Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.’

Reflection: Abandoning Sinful Hopes :: Hope of Advent
By John Tillman

In Christ’s parable, the advent of the landowner’s son was revealing. It revealed the sinful depths of the tenant farmers’ hearts.

In their hearts, they denied their own identity as tenants and stewards.
They maintained the pretense that they were owners, the sole determiners of their fate.
They denied that they relied on the landowner.
They denied what they owed the landowner.
They eventually, through murder, attempted to deny the existence of the landowner.

They are remarkably like us.

In the context of Luke, this parable is tied directly to Christ’s advent to Jerusalem. It is targeted directly, scandalously, at the religious leaders. The religious leaders understood it, but his disciples seem to miss the point. The twelve, despite this parable, don’t realize that Jesus is not about to enact the landowner’s revenge that they hope for, but the son’s unjust murder.

But the parable can also be applied to us. Are we so different in what we wish for, than the religious leaders and disciples who first heard this parable? Aren’t we in many ways waiting for the things they were waiting for? Revenge? Power? Worldly success?

Christ’s Advent will be revealing in our lives. Too often what we hope for condemns us.

Do we hope for salvation from our lusts, or the submission of others to fulfill our lusts?
Do we hope for deliverance from our desire for power, or that worldly power (and people) would be delivered for our domination?
Do we hope to be freed from our greed, or for others to appease our greed?
Do we hope for the freedom to live out Christ’s directives to us, or for the power to enslave others to our directives?

What are you waiting for? Let go of the sinful things you hope for. Give them up to him. Grasp instead the abundance of God’s grace that is our hope.

Prayer: The Request for Presence
For God alone my soul in silence wits, truly, my hope is in him.  — Psalm 62:6

– Prayer from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Prayers from The Divine Hours available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
Habakkuk 1 (Listen – 2:39)
Luke 20 (Listen – 5:07)

Additional Reading
Read More about Fasting According to our Lusts :: Throwback Thursday
May we fast from whatever lust holds our heart most tightly, loosening its grip on us and tightening our grip on Jesus Christ.

Read More about In Denial about Greed and Power
Ezekiel’s purposely shocking parable is intended to connect the established shame of sexual sins to the sins Israel was unashamed of—greed and pursuit of power.

Support our Work
Each month over 22,000 Park Forum email devotionals are read around the world. Support our readers with a monthly or a one time donation. 

Love’s Journey :: Advent’s Love

The town of St. Joseph, 60 miles north of Kansas City, MO, originally served as a starting point for the Oregon Trail. In its heyday, the streets would have been filled with thousands of pioneers provisioning for the final time before “jumping off”—a term used for leaving civilization behind for the nearly half-year journey west.

Almost thirty years after the Civil War, in 1892, Katherine Kennicott Davis was born into a second-generation pioneer family who had settled in the old trailhead town. By the time Davis was born the railroad had expanded and St. Joseph was no longer as influential. Much like the town they lived in, Davis’ family was neither culturally elite or affluent, but even as a child she showed unique talent which would shape her life.

While pioneers risked everything to travel from St. Joseph into the promise and peril of the Wild West, Davis would take her own risks, cutting her own path east. After graduating from Wellesley College in Massachusetts, she braved trans-Atlantic travel to study at the Royal Academy of Music.

Davis returned to the US and, with a world-class education, dedicated herself to teaching children music at various schools across New England. The majority of the more than 600 pieces Davis composed during her lifetime were for the children she taught.

In 1941 Davis penned, “The Carol of the Drum,” which would be popularized as, “Little Drummer Boy” when the Trapp Family Singers picked it up in 1955. Despite her volume of work and level of talent, Davis isn’t widely known for any other song.

The story of the “Little Drummer Boy” embodies part of the beauty of Davis’ story. The song begins with a boy taking a risk to travel and sit with someone great. The boy is aware of—but undeterred by—his simple heritage, offering his musical talent with great diligence. Though many might overlook such a musician, he receives the prize upon which his hope was set: the love of the One whom he has been playing for all along.

ListenLittle Drummer Boy by Burl Ives (3:17)

Today’s Reading
Habakkuk 3 (Listen – 2:59)
Luke 22 (Listen – 7:58)

All Things New :: Advent’s Love

“Experiential purchases (money spent on doing) tend to provide more enduring happiness than material purchases (money spent on having),” observes Cornell University phycologist Thomas Gilovich. Research over the past decade has converted this reality from hypothesis to near-universal belief.

It is no coincidence that Google searches for spiritual experiences, while remaining exclusively a U.S. search term, have maintained a steady clip over the same decade. This, of course, isn’t a bad trend—God’s love is irresistibly wonderful.

In his book God’s Love, David Powlison explores the glory:

God’s love actively does you good. His love is full of blood, sweat, tears, and cries. He suffered for you. He fights for you, defending the afflicted. He fights with you, pursuing you in powerful tenderness.

The experience of God’s love draws us into relationship with him. This is where we have to fight our cultural instincts. Experiential purchases are transactional—we pay to receive a benefit which outlasts material purchases. If all we want is an experience with God we’ll miss the depth of his relationship with us.

Advent draws our hearts away from a commodified experience with Christ. Timothy Keller gets at the heart of the season when he says, “The religious person finds God useful, but the Christian finds God beautiful.”

How are we to rest in the beauty of God’s love? Advent reminds us it’s by setting the tune of our heart toward God’s return. Dr. Gilovich’s research came to the conclusion that, “Waiting for experiences tends to be more positive than waiting for possessions.” No wonder the language of Heaven, which lacks details of material inheritance, is dominated by our relationship and proximity to the Father.

Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

Listen: The First Noel by Lady Antebellum (3:23)

Today’s Reading
Habakkuk 2 (Listen – 3:20)
Luke 21 (Listen – 4:18)

Quieted with Love :: Advent’s Love

“We, today, have a language to celebrate waywardness,” observes contemporary artist Makoto Fujimura, “but we do not have a cultural language to bring people back home.” This reality makes the prophetic words of Zephaniah stand out:

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you with his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

The Hebrew language, despite having extraordinarily fewer words than modern languages like English, dedicates multiple words to describing the idea and experience of love. The word the authors, poets and artists of the Hebrew Bible frequently use for God’s love is hesed, meaning God’s covenant, unfailing love.

Another word for love, often used to describe different types of love in human relationships, is ahab.

Jacob’s ahab for Rachel gives him the dedication to work 14 years for a chance at her hand in marriage. It’s ahab as a passionate, unrelenting love.

Jonathan’s ahab for his friend David leads him to remove his royal robe and place it over David’s shoulders—a symbol that David was now a rightful heir to the throne, as well as everything that belonged to Jonathan, the son of the king. It’s ahab as selfless, sacrificial love.

Zephaniah says God pursues his people in ahab.

God’s love for us is passionate and unrelenting—he pursued us even to death on a cross.

Through resurrection Christ has clothed us with the garments of salvation; he has covered us with the robe of righteousness. We are rightful heirs to the Kingdom of God, as well as everything that belongs to Jesus, the Son of the King.

Advent, as a season of reflection, tunes our hearts to depths of God’s love for us. As a season of anticipation, Advent focuses our hope to the day Christ will restore our disquieted souls, heal our deepest wounds, and rejoice over us as his beloved children.

Listen: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen by Ella Fitzgerald (1:27)

Today’s Reading
Habakkuk 1 (Listen – 2:39)
Luke 20 (Listen – 5:07)

Spur a spiritual rhythm of refreshment right in your inbox
By joining this email list you are giving us permission to send you devotional emails each weekday and to communicate occasionally regarding other aspects of the ministry.
100% Privacy. We don't spam.