Becoming Light — Hope of Advent

Scripture Focus: Nahum 2.2
2 The Lord will restore the splendor of Jacob
    like the splendor of Israel,
though destroyers have laid them waste
    and have ruined their vines.

Ephesians 5.8
8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.

1 Thessalonians 5.5
5 You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.

Reflection: Becoming Light — Hope of Advent
By John Tillman

As we close out the first week of Advent, we move from hope to love.

We can have hope because God has love for us as his motivation. The core of who God is, is love. Therefore, we can have hope.

No matter what army comes…
No matter what sickness stalks…
No matter what calamity crashes down on us…
No matter what attack the enemy brings against us…
No matter what destroyers come and lay our work to waste…
God is our restorer and he will work in us to bring forth his splendor.

Our hope is unshakeable because God’s love for us is unshakeable. Even in the judgment that Israel faced, even in the exile that would come in a few years for Judah, God was still working things together for their good. He was refining them through the struggle and the exile into a people who would become a light for the nations. This was always God’s intention for them and is his intention for us as well.

What does it take to be a light to the nations? Let us pray using some of Paul’s words from Ephesians 5.7-14 and 1 Thessalonians 5.4-8.

Remind us, Lord, we are not of the darkness 
We are children of the light and children of the day. 
We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 
So then, help us not be like those who are of the dark.
They are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. 
Since we belong to the day, let us put on faith and love and hope as armor.

We were once darkness, Lord, but now you are making us light. 
Help us to live as children of light
May the fruit of the light shine from us.
May goodness, righteousness, and truth beam from us.
May this be pleasing to you, Lord. 
We reject the fruitless deeds of darkness and seek to expose them
In our communities and in our own hearts.
May everything exposed by the light be confessed and repented of.
By your grace, may we be transformed and become a light
We do not want to sleep any longer.
Wake us up.
Raise us from darkness and death to light and life.
Shine on us and through us, O Christ.

Divine Hours 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

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle
Today’s Readings
Nahum 2 (Listen – 2:06)
Luke 18 (Listen – 5:27)

This Weekend’s Readings
Nahum 3 (Listen – 3:04), Luke 19 (Listen -5:29)
Habakkuk 1 (Listen – 2:39), Luke 20 (Listen – 5:07)

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Read more about The Gift of Hope :: Hope of Advent
The hope of Advent is not a naive or weak hope, but one that perseveres into the darkness.

https://theparkforum.org/843-acres/becoming-light-hope-of-advent

Invading Darkness — Hope of Advent

Scripture Focus: Nahum 1.7-8, 15
7 The Lord is good, 
a refuge in times of trouble. 
He cares for those who trust in him, 
8 but with an overwhelming flood 
he will make an end of Nineveh; 
he will pursue his foes into the realm of darkness. 

15 Look, there on the mountains, 
the feet of one who brings good news, 
who proclaims peace! 
Celebrate your festivals, Judah, 
and fulfill your vows. 
No more will the wicked invade you; 
they will be completely destroyed. 

Reflection: Invading Darkness — Hope of Advent
By John Tillman 

Nahum is a contemporary of Jeremiah and Zephaniah. Nahum wrote approximately 150 years after Jonah’s message to Nineveh. 

The repentance of the Assyrian capital of Nineveh after Jonah’s preaching may not have lasted long, but Jonah’s own country of Israel, never repented at all. As a result of Israel’s refusal to repent, 30 years after the repentance of Nineveh, God used the Assyians to conquer Israel in judgment.

After pouring over Israel like a boiling pot, leaving only scattered remnants, the Assyrians remained a terrifying force which darkened the horizons of Judah. Judah had lived under their threats and attacks for many decades.

But Nahum’s message is to Judah and unlike many of the smaller books of prophecy in the Old Testament, Nahum has mostly good news. His message is one of hope and relief from suffering. The Assyrians were a terrifying force which darkened the horizons, threatening Judah. 

Nahum writes to call Judah to rejoice that their great oppressor will soon be overthrown and punished for the excessive violence of the campaign against Israel.

We too, face a dark oppressive world dominated by sin and under the sway of evil spiritual powers. Like Paul, we fight and contend with sin within ourselves and with dark powers of the spiritual realm. With Paul we say, “Who will deliver us from this body of death?” (Romans 7.20-26) And, also, “Our battle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6.12-13)

There is hope for us on the horizon. Light will break the darkness. 

In Advent we anticipate and celebrate Christ’s triumph over the spiritual darkness in the world around us. We also celebrate the triumph of Christ over the spiritual darkness of sins within us that still seek to master us.

Let us pray with the words of Nahum:
The Lord is good.
In trouble he is our refuge.
He will come to overwhelm our oppressors and our accuser, Satan.
He will invade with light the darkness of the world and of our hearts.
Help us to run on the mountains, proclaiming your good news.
May we carry with us the peace he offers freely.
Amen.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
For God alone my soul in silence waits; truly, my hope is in him. — Psalm 62.6

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle
Today’s Readings
Nahum 1 (Listen – 2:24)
Luke 17 (Listen – 4:22)

Read more about Expectation Affects Anticipation :: Hope of Advent
The gifts we anticipate have already been purchased at great cost, and contain more than we can ever hope for.

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Hope on a Limb :: Hope of Advent

Luke 19.4, 9
So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
…Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house…”

Luke 19.37-38 (Psalm 118.26)
When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

Reflection: Hope on a Limb :: Hope of Advent
By John Tillman

Luke chapter 19 is packed from end-to-end with signs of Christ’s Advent. His gifts during his Advent to the city of Jerusalem highlighted the fact that he was not the king the city wanted.

He gave the gift of his presence, salvation, and peace to Zacchaeus—a traitor, a government thug, and a corporate thief.
He gave a warning parable about an unwanted king, “because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once.”
He gave, in his parable, more resources to the already rich, over the objections of the crowd.
Then he ran the rich and powerful out of the Temple in order to give it back to the outcasts, the foreigners, the blind, and the lame.

Jesus is, for some, the unwanted king of the parable. His Advent will frustrate those who wait for earthly adulation and success.

But Jesus is for others, the yearned for King of Glory. He endlessly supplies those whose hopes rise higher.

What we hope for in Advent is not a political power broker.
What we hope for in Advent is not a market economist.
What we hope for in Advent is not a government regulatory watchdog.
What we hope for in Advent is not a resource of earthly wealth, success, fame, and power.

The king we hope for brings healing.
The king we hope for brings peace.
The king we hope for brings love.

In the season of Advent, we climb out, hopefully, on a limb with Zacchaeus.
We run ahead, inquiring about a colt, like the disciples.
We line the streets, hopefully, straining to see his approach.
We lay down our cloaks, marking his entrance into our lives with our sacrifice and humility.
We linger outside the Temple, waiting for his zeal to drive out the greedy and powerful, making room for us—the broken, the blind, the sick, and the outcast.

The king we hope for brings the glory of Heaven to earth in our hearts and expresses his love through our lives.

We can be assured as we stand on Zacchaeus’s hope-filled Sycamore limb, that the King of Glory we hope for will not pass us by. The colt will carry our King. And in the end, all the broken who enter the courts of His temple, will be healed.

What are you waiting for? Climb up on the limb in hope.

Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
With my whole heart I seek you, let me not stray from your commandments,— Psalm 119:10

– 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
Nahum 3 (Listen – 3:04)
Luke 19 (Listen – 5:29)

Additional Reading
Read More about Hope Born on the Cross
Hope is personal. Very personal. Whether through worship, adversity, desperation or pain, we collide into the reality that our only hope is Jesus.

Read More about Radical Outreach to Outcasts :: Epiphany
Jesus chose to go out of his way to reach out to despised people—tax collectors, prostitutes, Samaritans, Roman Centurions, lepers, adulterers, foreigners. We must choose to manifest his same radical love and outreach to outcasts.

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The Gift of Hope :: Hope of Advent

Luke 18.8
When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?

Reflection: The Gift of Hope :: Hope of Advent
By John Tillman

When the church decided to set its celebration of Christ’s birth around the Winter solstice, it was no accident or happenstance. And it certainly wasn’t because anyone believed that day was Christ’s actual birthdate. It was instead based on the teaching tool available in the signs of the heavens—in the darkening of the year.

As the year gets darker and darker, an ancient tension grows and a question rises. Will the light return? At the turning of the year, there is a point at which ancient astronomers could not measure whether the light was receding or had begun to return. At the year’s darkest point, humanity waits until the light returns, like a second Easter.

In the season of Advent, we confidently wait in a dimming world, knowing our hope in the return of the light is assured. The hope of Advent is not a naive or weak hope, but one that perseveres into the darkness.

During Advent we have faith in things not seen. We contemplate the signs of what is hoped for. There is reason for hope and joy in the waiting.

Hope in the Christian context—as a gift of Jesus during Advent—is not like a casual wish for a Merry Christmas or a Happy New Year. It is a synonym for faith.

And faith does not disappoint us, for the one who promised to come is soon to arrive.
He is the one whose portents are seen in the sky.
The one whose forerunner cried in the wilderness.
The one who would not break a bent reed.
The one who would not snuff a smoldering wick.
The one whose birth was a scandalous miracle.
The one with healing in his wings.
The one whose face would be set like a flint.
The one who would be kissed.
The one who would be pierced.
The one who, from the darkness of the tomb…
While the disciples waited in the dark…
He burst forth, kicking down the doors of Hell, and bringing back the Light of the World.

“Will the Son of Man find faith when he comes?”

What are you waiting for? Reach out in faith. Reach out for the gift of hope.

Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Come, let us sing to the Lord, let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation. — Psalm 95:1

– 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
Nahum 2 (Listen – 2:06)
Luke 18 (Listen – 5:27)

Additional Reading
Read More about Face Like Flint :: A Guided Prayer
May we, like Christ and like Thomas, set our face like flint in anticipation of suffering. May we listen, follow, and speak, and, if not for God’s intervention, suffer or die with Christ.

Read More about A Congregation of Hope
When it comes to putting broken lives back together—when it comes, in religious terms, to the saving of souls—the human best tends to be at odds with the holy best.

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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. 

Expectation Affects Anticipation :: Hope of Advent

Nahum 1.15
Look, there on the mountains,
the feet of one who brings good news,
who proclaims peace!

Luke 17.20-21
“The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed…because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”

Reflection: Expectation Affects Anticipation :: Hope of Advent
By John Tillman

The good news that Nahum prophesied was on the other side of exile for his readers, and the kingdom that Christ’s disciples anticipated, was mysteriously already present among them. How do we anticipate the “already and not yet?” How do we wait for what is already with us? Among us? Part of us?

Advent is a time of anticipation. But anticipation with the wrong expectation, can lead to dissatisfaction or cause us to miss what we have been waiting for completely.

Those who anticipated the day of the Lord in the time of the prophets were wrong about what they waited for. Amos, Zephaniah, and other prophets knew that day would be one of darkness, not light.

Those who anticipated the coming of the Messiah were wrong about what they waited for. The Pharisees, the Zealots, and the people all expected a king who would violently defeat the Roman empire. They rejected the humble, donkey-riding healer who would violently disrupt their economic system at the Temple.

Even the Disciples expected the restoration of an earthly kingdom, asking Jesus, “Is now the time?” “Are you going to restore Israel?” Even the people who were closest to Jesus anticipated political salvation, not spiritual.

“Managing expectations” is sometimes cynically viewed as not allowing customers to get their hopes up, so that they won’t be angry when you let them down. But when it comes to our expectations of Advent, we don’t need to manage them by lowering them. We need to raise them above temporal, earthly, material matters. We already know that what we receive will be beyond what we can ask for or imagine.

The gifts we anticipate have already been purchased at great cost, and contain more than we can ever hope for. We will focus this Advent on the gifts of Jesus in the Gospel of John (which doesn’t enter our reading plan until next Monday) and on the question “What are you waiting for?”

Many have asked this question during Advent, a time of waiting and anticipation. We will attempt to not just passively dream of what we would have from God, but to turn the question into a prompt to action in response to God. He has shown us what is required.
Do good.
Shun evil.
Give extravagantly.
Live sacrificed.

This Advent, we ask ourselves, “What are we waiting for?”

Get on with it.

Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
This is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes.— Psalm 118:23

– 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
Nahum 1 (Listen – 2:24)
Luke 17 (Listen – 4:22)

Additional Reading
Read More about Restful Meditations :: Advent’s Hope
Focusing our hearts on Christ, the hope of Advent, expands the holiday experience beyond mere merriness. In the gospel our hearts find rest from pain and hope for renewal.

Read More about Anticipating His Advent
In the Old Testament, hope is often translated from the Hebrew word yachal meaning “trust.” In the New Testament, the word hope is used for elpis, which can be translated “to expect or anticipate with pleasure.”

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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. 

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