Advent 2019 – Merry Christmas!

From Russ Ramsey’s The Advent of the Lamb of God: “Since Adam and Eve had eaten the fruit God told them not to touch, every generation had been groaning with the pains of childbirth, longing to be delivered from the effects of their first parents’ fall. And now their deliverer had come. He was the hero of their story, the perfect spotless lamb sent to adorn the doorposts of their hearts with his own blood. He was the descendant from Eve sent to crush the head of the deceiver. He was Isaac’s ram caught in the thicket, God’s perfectly timed...

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Advent 2019 – Day 24

From Nancy Guthrie’s (editor) Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus: “What God did when he sent his Son into the world is an absolute guarantee that he will do everything he has ever promised to do. Look at it in personal sense: ‘All things work together for good to them that love God’ – that is a promise – ‘to them who are called according to his purpose’ (Romans 8:28). ‘But how can I know that is true for me?’ asks someone. The answer is the incarnation. God has given the final proof that all his promises are sure, that he...

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Advent 2019 – Day 23

From Fleming Rutledge’s Advent: “I asked my mother yesterday to tell me why, in our family when I was growing up, we did not decorate our house until Christmas Eve. I knew the answer, of course—we were conscientious Episcopalians—but I wanted to hear what she would say. She surprised me. She said, ‘I think Christmas should come in a burst.’ Exactly. Auden writes, ‘Nothing can save us that is possible.’ The human race cannot expect to receive any lasting comfort from the world. The comfort that we so desperately need must come from somewhere else—in a burst of transcendent power...

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Advent 2019 – Day 22

From Fleming Rutledge’s Advent: The Once and Future Coming of Jesus: “One of the most excruciating passages of literature that I have ever read is about a Christmas dinner. It is in William Styron’s novel—his best by a long way, in my opinion—called Lie Down in Darkness. The family whose desperate and doomed lives make up the plot of the novel gather around the table. It is gorgeously laid with the family silver, linens, and crystal (this takes place in Tidewater Virginia). The dining room is gleaming with candlelight and festooned with evergreens. The mother has outdone herself with the...

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Advent 2019 – Day 21

From David Zahl’s Seculosity: “Christianity at its sustaining core is not a religion of good people getting better, but of real people coping with their failure to be good. . . Your life depends on letting go of control.”

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Advent 2019 – Day 20

From Eugene Peterson’s Practice Resurrection: “Why doesn’t Jesus advertise himself? If he wants to be known as God present with us, to heal and save and bless, why doesn’t he get our attention and let us know pointblank what is going on? If all those verbs and nouns that Paul has spread out for us to consider and receive are the real thing, why doesn’t Jesus at least raise his voice? The short answer: God reveals himself in personal relationship and only in personal relationship. God is not a phenomenon to be considered. God is not a force to be...

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Advent 2019 – Day 19

From Frederick Buechner’s Secrets in the Dark: “For what we need to know, of course, is not just that God exists, not just that beyond the steely brightness of the stars there is a cosmic intelligence of some kind that keeps the whole show going, but that there is a God right here in the thick of our day-by-day lives who may not be writing messages about himself in the stars but who in one way or another is trying to get messages through our blindness as we move around down here knee-deep in the fragrant muck and misery and...

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Advent 2019 – Day 18

From Eugene Peterson’s Subversive Spirituality: “We do not progress in the Christian life by becoming more competent, more knowledgeable, more virtuous, or more energetic. We do not advance in the Christian life by acquiring expertise. Each day, and many times each day, we return to Square One: God Said. We are constantly being ‘thrown back on the start and always opening up afresh.’. . .I want to simplify your lives. When others are telling you to read more, I want to tell you to read less; when others are telling you to do more, I want to tell you to...

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Advent 2019 – Day 17

From Tish Harrison Warren and Andy Crouch’s Liturgy of the Ordinary: “The kind of spiritual life and disciplines needed to sustain the Christian life are quiet, repetitive, and ordinary. I often want to skip the boring, daily stuff to get to the thrill of an edgy faith. But it’s in the dailiness of the Christian faith—the making the bed, the doing the dishes, the praying for our enemies, the reading the Bible, the quiet, the small—that God’s transformation takes root and grows.”

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Advent 2019 – Day 16

From Nancy Guthrie’s (editor) Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus: “For the Son of God to empty himself and become poor meant a laying aside of glory; a voluntary restraint of power; an acceptance of hardship, isolation, ill-treatment, malice, and misunderstanding; finally, a death that involved such agony – spiritual, even more than physical – that his mind nearly broke under the prospect of it. It meant love to the uttermost for unlovely men, who ‘through his poverty, might become rich.’ This Christmas message is that there is hope for ruined humanity – hope of pardon, hope of peace with God,...

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