November 25, 2021 • Life for Leaders
Scripture – Psalm 62:5 (NRSV)
For God alone my soul waits in silence,
for my hope is from him.
The season of Advent is almost here. We’re coming into a time when we get in touch with our yearning for healing, justice, peace, and salvation. Most of all, Advent is a time for us to feel more strongly our yearning for God, even as we prepare our hearts to celebrate the birth of the Messiah at Christmas.
We have two online resources to help you have a rich celebration of Advent:
Welcome to Advent: Discover the meaning and spiritual value of Advent. I share my personal experience of Advent, including “My Greatest Advent Discovery.”
Advent Devotions: Working Well in a Season of Waiting: This is a wonderful devotional guide written by Meryl Herr, who recently joined the De Pree Center as a senior researcher. Meryl has written something I’ve never seen before, namely, an Advent devotional guide that addresses the realities and challenges of daily work. You can get it as a gift from the De Pree Center.
It has been my tradition in recent years to talk about Advent on the Friday after Thanksgiving Day in the United States. We’re not quite yet in Advent, but it’s coming soon. I’d like to help you get ready for a rich experience of God’s grace in this special season of the year. I have found Advent to be a time for deepening and enriching my relationship with the Lord. I’d love to help this be true for you also.
Officially, Advent begins this coming Sunday, November 28th, the first of four Sundays prior to Christmas Day. The length of Advent varies a bit each year because Christmas Day moves around in the week. In 2021, with Christmas Day on a Saturday, Advent lasts for 27 days, beginning on November 28th and ending on Friday, December 24th, Christmas Eve.
As you may know, the word “advent” is derived from the Latin term adventus, which means “visit” or “coming.” During Advent, Christians focus on the advent of Jesus . . . actually on two advents. We remember the ancient Jewish longing for God’s salvation through the Messiah, the Anointed King. In this way we yearn for the first advent of Jesus. Also, we get in touch with our own longing for Christ’s return, when God will establish his kingdom and wipe away every tear. Thus, Advent stirs up our yearning for the second advent of Jesus.
Many people I know—including me—feel glad about the approach of Advent, much as we might feel about the pending visit of a dear, old friend. Yet, many others among my friends don’t really pay much attention to Advent. These include quite a few of my Christian friends, by the way. They really aren’t even sure what Advent is or why anyone should be excited about it.
Why do I love Advent? First of all, it is a season of preparation for Christmas. It helps our hearts to get ready for a truly joyous celebration of the birth of Jesus. Advent, though, isn’t merely a kind of Christmas-lite. It has its own distinctive themes, moods, and colors. Christmas decorations feature red and green, backed up by white, silver, and gold. The major Advent color, depending on your church tradition, is either purple or deep blue, with pink as an optional secondary color. The distinct colors of Advent illustrate the fact that it isn’t only a time to get ready for Christmas. (If you want to learn more about Advent colors, check out Welcome to Advent.)
Above all, Advent is a season of waiting and hoping. Remembering what the Jewish people experienced as they waited and hoped for the Messiah, we also wait and hope for the two advents of Christ. Psalm 62:5 captures the spirit of Advent perfectly: “For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him.” Even the mention of silence is an Advent sort of theme. Whereas Christmas celebrations can be happily loud as we belt out “Joy to the World” and/or the “Hallelujah Chorus,” Advent invites us into a time of quiet reflection.
In a day where there is so much about our world that is broken, my heart is unusually eager for Advent. The pain in our lives stirs up my hope for God’s salvation. Plus, in this time, we are waiting. Yes, we are waiting for the end of a global pandemic. Yes, we are waiting for an improved economy and for a more just world. But, when we take time to reflect, we realize that we are waiting, most of all, for God. As we read in Psalm 62:1-2, “For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall never be shaken.”
What is your experience of Advent? What, if anything, does Advent mean to you?
In what way (or ways) are you waiting on God right now?
In what way (or ways) are you hoping in God right now?
If you have Advent traditions that you cherish, then make plans to invest in those traditions this year. If Advent is new to you, consider adding an Advent practice in your life. You can find lots of ideas in my Welcome to Advent article.
And if you’re looking for an Advent devotional, let me once more recommend Advent Devotions: Working Well in a Season of Waiting by Meryl Herr.
Gracious God, as we come upon the season of Advent, I would love to draw near to you in a special way. I’d like to enter into this time of hope and waiting in a way that renews my relationship with you. I’d like to prepare my heart for a more meaningful celebration of the birth of Jesus. So I ask you to help me reorient my heart in the coming season. May I be more attentive to you and more in touch with my soul’s longing for you.
For you alone, Lord, my soul waits in silence; from you comes my salvation. You alone are my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall never be shaken. Amen.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Waiting for God
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Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.