December 1st marks the beginning of Advent. Advent (taken from the Latin for “arrival,” or “coming”) is the annual time in the church calendar where we look back to the first coming of Christ on Christmas and forward to the second coming of Christ when He fully consummates His Kingdom.
As a church we are prayerfully asking the Holy Spirit to orient our hearts away from religious activities that only create the appearance of godliness (2 Timothy 3:5), and towards an authentic and life-transforming worship of Jesus as the King of Kings. Our hope is that over the course of the twenty-five days of Advent we can collectively participate in two formative practices that will serve to orient our affections towards Jesus. The practices are:
Scripture Before Phone
For most of us, our day begins by reaching for our phone first thing, checking texts, email, news, and social media. This habit has a formative practice of its own, training us to find worth/value/significance in the messages that our phone sends us. But our souls have a far greater need to hear from Jesus. So, as a church family we are going to commit to reach for our Bibles every morning before we touch our phone. This discipline will remind us that what God says about Himself (and about us) is far more important as we begin our day.
An excellent resource on this practice is Justin Earley’s book, The Common Rule. He has put together many helpful resources on “Scripture Before Phone” that can be accessed on his website, including a short summary of the practice, and a video explaining why the discipline is important.
The Dawning of Indestructible Joy, by John Piper
We have purchased a copy of John Piper’s book, The Dawning of Indestructible Joy for each household in our church (so make sure to grab one Sunday!). This short devotional has a reading for each day of Advent and only takes a few minutes to read aloud. Our hope is that we would read these devotionals over a meal (with your children, roommates, or coworkers) as a daily reminder of why Christmas is so significant. If you would prefer an electronic copy one can be dowloaded for free here.
As I mentioned above, our hope is that every person in our church family would participate in these two practices this Advent season, so that we can collectively experience the joy of Christmas in a fresh way. Let us all be praying that our church would not be a place with the mere “appearance of godliness,” or a place where we only “play church,” but rather that we would be a people transformed and strengthened by the authentic grace of Jesus.