ADVENT 2019

Welcome to Advent at Chase Oaks Church. During the Advent season, we celebrate the moment that God sent Christ into the world because He wanted an everlasting, loving relationship with His creation.

As you prepare for Christmas, please see each week of this Advent guide as an invitation, an invitation to spend time with God, to reflect, and to worship. Each week will feature a devotional around the four key words of this Advent season: hope, peace, joy, and love. Each week will also feature a variety of art forms to aid your time of reflection and worship, including poetry, music, and visual art. Our hope is that you will be amazed all over again by the incredible love of God and the hope we can all have because Jesus came for us.

WEEK 1
WEEK 2
WEEK 3
WEEK 4
CREDITS

WEEK 4: LOVE

Reflections, 2013 Charles Nkomo
ABOUT

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God sent not the Son into the world to judge the world; but that the world should be saved through him.” —John 3:16-17

HYMN

THE GREATEST RELATIONSHIP
Samuel Francis wrote the following words describing God’s love:

“Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus–vast, unmeasured, boundless, free. Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me. Underneath me, all around me, is the current of his love, leading onward, leading homeward to his glorious rest above. Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus spread his praise from shore to shore. How he loveth, ever loveth, changeth never, nevermore. How he watches o’er His loved ones, died to call them all his own. How for them, he intercedeth, watchet o’er them from the throne.”

This powerful Christian hymn barely begins to scratch the surface in its attempt to describe Christ’s staggering love for his own. God in essence is love. He not only created us, but desperately wants to be in relationship with us, a relationship that can’t begin to compare with any human unions we have known. One theologian remarked, “Christ’s love is so intimate and personal that every human being could say that Christ became man for him or her specifically.” This depth of love (for those who are watching and waiting) finds full expression in the Advent of Christ “who is and was and is to come” (Revelations 1:8).

DEVOTIONAL

Love appears to be an easier topic for some of us than others. Some people easily give of their heart while others have giant walls built around their hearts and take time to let love flow.

According to Wikipedia, “love encompasses a range of strong and positive emotional and mental states, from the most sublime virtue or good habit, the deepest interpersonal affection and to the simplest pleasure.”

For example, the love of a mother differs from the love of a spouse, which differs from the love of food. Most commonly, love refers to a feeling of strong attraction and emotional attachment.

If we turn to the Bible to see what God says about love, we will find that God’s definition is often different than ours.

God’s love is all-encompassing.

In John 3:16-17, we are told that God’s love is for everyone in the world regardless of our physical appearance or financial status.

God tells us, in Luke 6:27-36, to love our enemies. How many of us do this? This one is particularly difficult.

While Christ was being crucified, He said “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). He loved us while we were persecuting Him.

God’s love is sacrificial.

Romans 5:7-8 tells us that Christ died for us while we were still sinners. We did not earn His love. He just loves us, and out of that love, He gave Himself for us.

God’s love is steadfast and unmovable.

In Romans 8:38-39, we are told nothing will separate us from God’s love.

How should the realization of God’s incredible love for us affect the way we see God, ourselves, and others? God’s demonstrated love has the power to strengthen our trust because we know that God cares. Additionally, remembering God’s amazing love can bolster our own sense of worth when life beats us down. And knowing that God loves all of us with an infinite and patient love should give us pause when we are prone toward anger, envy, or lack of forgiveness toward others.

God’s love has the power to change how we see the world. As we remember God’s love this Christmas, how do you feel God would like to change the way you view Him, yourself, and the people in your life?

WEEK 3: JOY

Pinoy Belem (2013) by Wayne Forte
ABOUT

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from henceforth even for ever.” —Isaiah 9:6-7

PRAYER

Let the just rejoice,
For their Justifier is born.
Let the sick and infirm rejoice,
For their Savior is born.
Let the captives rejoice,
For their Redeemer is born.
Let slaves rejoice,
For their Master is born.
Let free men rejoice,
For their Liberator is born.
Let all Christians rejoice,
For Jesus Christ is born.
St. Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-440)

DEVOTIONAL

Sometimes, we hear people defining joy as an internal state of happiness resulting from external stimuli. The dictionary defines joy as a feeling of great pleasure and happiness. So, how is it possible to count our trials all joy as commanded in James?

Pastor Steven Furtick puts it as “joy is a focus before it’s a feeling.” In Hebrews 12:2, we learn that “…because of the joy awaiting him, [Jesus] endured the cross.” Jesus did not enjoy the cross but endured it because He was focused on the joy that is awaiting Him. Where we put our focus will determine how we feel about any situation.

In Western culture, we usually associate happiness with material or personal gain. We get happy with our new house, new car, new job, new toys until we see someone else with a bigger or better one. Our short-lived high leaves us empty, looking for something else to lift us up again. We are created by God and for God. No matter how hard we try, we will never find lasting satisfaction outside of God.

So, this year, let us change our focus for JOY: Jesus first; Others second; You last.

After all, He is called:

Wonderful: Extremely good, marvelous

Counselor: One who can give guidance

Mighty God: Has no equal

Everlasting Father: One who is willing to step up and care for His children always

Prince of Peace: Royal ruler of tranquility

This season, let us surrender and make room for God to do whatever He wants in our lives. Let Him be the only One we are chasing. Then, like the psalmist, we can say, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).

WEEK 2: PEACE

Follower 2013 by Chun Ye He
ABOUT

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” —John 14:27

POEM

Invitation by Vassar Miller

Here is the land where children
Feel snows that never freeze,
Where a star’s the reflection
Of a baby’s eyes.

Where both wise men and shepherds
Measure all Heaven no smaller
Nor larger than He is
And judge a lamb is taller,

Where old and cold for proof
Would take a stone apart,
Who find a wisp of hay
Less heavy on the heart

Come near the cradle where
The Light on hay reposes,
Where hands may touch the Word
This winter warm with roses.

DEVOTIONAL

At Jesus’ birth, angels appeared to the shepherds, proclaiming, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased” (Luke 2:14). In John 14, when Jesus speaks to His disciples for the last time, He reiterates the promise made by the angels: “My peace I give to you.”
The world defines peace as the absence of struggle, the moments when all is calm. Jesus and the angels are referring to a deeper reality: reconciliation with God; an end to the fundamental conflict that had raged since Adam’s sin.
Writing to the Romans, Paul explains, “…since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). Although “we were enemies[,] we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son” (Romans 5:10).
The figures in the nativity sets always seem peaceful: Joseph and Mary looking down serenely at the baby Jesus, flanked by worshipful shepherds and sedate livestock. In worldly terms, that peace is illusory. Joseph and Mary had immediate, pressing concerns. They needed a real home for their infant son and food for the days ahead. The shepherds had sheep waiting for them back on the hillside.
For all of them, the ordinary pressures of life remained. If they found real peace in that moment, it was not because their earthly concerns had disappeared, but it was because those problems were insignificant in light of the angels’ promise.
It’s the same with us. In postcards and paintings, Christmas is frequently depicted as a calm, jolly holiday, but the reality is often the opposite. The Christmas season is invariably over-scheduled, often marred by conflict, and sometimes clouded by disappointment. All too often, we stagger from Thanksgiving to Christmas to the New Year, simply trying to keep up with our commitments and check off the boxes on our to-do lists. Real peace isn’t something the world gives, and the harder we try to find it there, the further it slips from our grasp.
If we are to find peace, it must come from Jesus. It must be the peace He gave us with His death and resurrection, when He reconciled us to God. When I grasp that reality, it’s easy to be as serene as the shepherds, regardless of the chaos around me.

WEEK 1: HOPE

One Who Came on the Waters of Time Series Incarnation 2013 by Grace Carol Bomer
ABOUT

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” —John 1:14

POETRY

Of the Mystery of the Incarnation
by Denise Levertov

It’s when we face for a moment
the worst our kind can do, and shudder to know
the taint in our own selves, that awe
cracks the mind’s shell and enters the heart:
not to a flower, not to a dolphin,
to no innocent form
but to this creature vainly sure
it and no other is god-like, God
(out of compassion for our ugly
failure to evolve) entrusts,
as guest, as brother,
the Word.

DEVOTIONAL

Finally, the long waiting period came to an end: The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. The birth of Jesus brought mixed feelings of hope. Some hoped their oppression by the Roman Empire would end. Some hoped their illness would be cured. Some hoped for political power. Even his own family and friends misunderstood him.

How about today? What hope does Christ’s birth bring in your life?

It’s good and fun to see all the lights and songs. The shopping and family gatherings are exciting. But are we missing the real meaning of the season?

If we grew up in the church, we have the tendency of making Christmas a routine: A program we prepare for once a year. We sometimes forget what it truly means to have Immanuel, God with us. Our hopes and wishes are superficial and materialistic.

The birth of Jesus is the ultimate expression of God’s love for us. What other king would leave his throne and glory? Who would choose to be limited in the body he created? Who would volunteer to be weak and vulnerable? And how many fathers would give up their sons for others?

As we prepare for this Christmas, let us bring our hearts to the only King who loves us and gives us hope. To him who said, “I know the plans I have for you…plans to give you a hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

CREDITS 

We would like to thank CCCA at Biola University for allowing us to adapt their Advent Project. We would also like to thank the curators for the Advent Project: Professor Emeritus of Art Barry Krammes for his work on selecting the Scriptures, Poet Amy Munson for selecting all the poetry, Art Historian Dr. Rachel Hostetter Smith for curating the artwork, and Rachel Glazener for selecting the music for the project. Through the layering of Scripture, prayers, and the arts, The Advent Project offers a wonderful opportunity for daily reflection, an occasion for us to pray with our eyes and ears as well as our hearts and minds. We hope you are blessed.