Making the Most of Advent - Week 2 by William Challis
The Archbishops have prepared a ‘Nine Lessons and Carols’ for the Christmas season that we can all use in our own homes. It is called ‘Comfort and Joy’ and takes us from Christmas Day to January 2nd. We can access it at: www.churchofengland/ComfortAndJoy and we hope many of us will use it in our own prayer.
But why wait for Christmas? As we look ahead to Christmas, we can use the Advent season as a time to develop good habits of reading and meditating on God’s Word, following the example of Christians through the ages. The word ‘Advent,’ of course, means ‘coming.’ It is a time to reflect on Jesus’ first coming, the ways in which he comes to us every day by his Holy Spirit, and our hope that he will come again to renew the world and the whole universe.
This week we are going back into the Old Testament, the basis of the whole New Testament, the words and world which formed those who wrote the New Testament. The Old Testament is constantly on the lips of Jesus and is regularly quoted or underlying the rest of the New Testament. One of the themes of Advent is ‘The Prophets’ so this week we are going to look at various passages from Isaiah.
Isaiah is a book of two halves – the first part is set against the crisis of the 8th century BC, when the Assyrians were threatening Israel; the second half is reflecting the time at the beginning of the 6th century BC when the Babylonians were the enemy. Isaiah was given words from God that pointed towards a leader who would transform Israel, a new David.
Each day there is a very simple format to help us: A passage to read and a question to help you reflect. There are always difficult things to grasp in the Bible - don’t get stuck on those, but it might help you to write your questions down and share them with someone else – things often become clearer when we talk them through with another Christian. There is also a prayer to use each day through the week to help us come closer to God.
Monday December 7th
Isaiah 9 vv.1-7 (see Luke 2 vv.8-12)
These are very familiar words from Christmas Carol Services – but when we read the whole passage, we realise that this child is coming into a dangerous, war-ravaged world. Is our understanding of the world Jesus came to realistic – or is it too romantic?
Tuesday December 8th
Isaiah 5 vv.1-7 (see Isaiah 27 vv.1-6, Mark 12 vv.1-12 and John 15 vv.1-8)
Jesus comes as a gardener – how might we pray around that picture?
Wednesday December 9th
Isaiah 44 vv.1-11 (see Luke 3 vv.15-22)
People who have been deported across hundreds of miles of waterless desert are promised that God will pour out his Spirit to transform their dryness. How does Jesus come to pour out God’s Spirit today?
Thursday December 10th
Isaiah 49 vv.1-7 (see Luke 2 vv.25-32)
Can we use these verses and Simeon’s song of praise as our own prayer?
Friday December 11th
Isaiah 52 v.13-53 v.12 (see 1 Peter 2 vv.21-25)
Perhaps the best known passage in Isaiah. Take time to reflect on the fact that Jesus has come as a suffering servant.
A Prayer for each day:
Jesus, light of the world,
Come to us in your mercy to renew us and transform us,
In the power of your Holy Spirit.
And don’t forget to look out for next week’s reflections.