Even So, Come Quickly, Lord
Reflections on Advent
Welcome to Advent at All Saints Church!
The word Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, simply meaning “arrival”or “coming.” As a liturgical season, Advent spans the four weeks that lead up to Christmas Day. The color for the season is purple, signifying preparation.
The preparatory purpose of Advent is two-fold: first, to spiritually prepare for
Christmas as we remember Christ’s first coming in the Incarnation and, second,
to prepare for his promised return. How does this work? The Church has long
understood that as we face our personal longing for Christ’s return today, we can
look back and identify with the longings of the ancient Jews as they awaited
their redemption in the promised coming of the Messiah.
By looking ahead to the future and by remembering the past, Advent has a
remarkable way of revealing the reality of the present. If we are honest, we
acknowledge our very real need for rescue and redemption now. The exile is not
over. The road through the desert is not paved. War and violence still abound.
The devastation of poverty continues to plague our world. Injustice goes unnoticed.Disease ravages our bodies. We long for the Lord to come to make all things new and to wipe away every tear from our eyes. The Advent cry is:
“Come, Lord Jesus, come!”
As such, when we arrive at Christmas morning this year, remembering that the
“Word took on flesh and dwelt among us,” not only are we filled with all the
joy that comes from knowing that God is with us and that, in Christ, he comes
with our salvation, we are also strengthened in the sure hope that he is coming
The goal of Advent is not simply to observe an Advent calendar or to sing Advent hymns or to light candles on an Advent wreath. While these are good and helpful things, it is important that we learn how to cultivate Advent hearts—
hearts that are continually open to experiencing Christ’s ongoing ministry in our lives through the Holy Spirit.
Introduction to this Devotional
This devotional covers all the days of Advent as well as Christmas Day. For
each day there is a Scripture reading accompanied by a reflection and/or piece
of artwork by a member of All Saints Church Chapel Hill – Durham. We’ve organized the devotional into four different but related themes: “Light and Darkness,” “Waiting and Journeying,” “Joy and Sorrow,” and “Arriving and Hoping.”
Each theme was chosen to offer an opportunity to our writers to explore the
tension between two poles. As many of us know, life is rarely a “black and
white” affair. Shades of grey, paradoxes, seemingly unresolvable tensions, painful experiences and deep mysteries mark the life of a follower of Christ. Advent is a time when we acknowledge both light and darkness. We embrace both waiting and journeying. We drink of both joy and sorrow. We pay attention to both the arrival of things long desired and the hope for a still fuller fulfillment of God’s promises. As editors we felt that it would be good for us as writers and readers to acknowledge these tensions, to enter into them by faith, with hope. At the very least they might serve as a small reminder to avoid the extremes that so often tempt us with easy solutions (for example, believing that for the Christian there is only light without darkness, or only darkness without light, or a joyless sorrow or a sorrowless joy).
How to Use this Devotional
Each day when you come to this devotional, slow down and pray the collect for
the week (printed on each Sunday). Then read a Psalm. Read the Scriptures for
the day. Then read the personal reflection, noticing the images. Be attentive to
the presence of God in your life.
As editors, we have added a new element to this year’s Devotional. In the
spirit of Richard Foster’s Devotional Classics, we have written daily exercises
to accompany each reflection, excluding those that come from non-All Saints
members (St. Augustine, for example!). These “exercises” have a practical aim.
They are intended to offer the reader an opportunity to respond in some active,
relational or spiritual way to what they have read. In this way, the hope is that
we’ll become not only hearers of the Word but also doers. Hopefully, too, it’ll be
a fun way to engage the reflections throughout the course of our day. Principally, the desire is to see Christ’s life seep itself more deeply into the “changes and chances” of our life.
We encourage you to make this guide your own—write on it, underline words or
phrases that strike a chord, journal as you go. In this hurried season, we have an
opportunity to choose to live differently. Take your time. Be leisurely with these
readings and reflections. Remember that others are taking this journey with you.
Know that God is indeed Emmanuel, God with us. Pray before you finish.
It is the sincere prayer of the church leadership that this devotional will bless
you and the community of All Saints as well as the Body of Christ at large.
Many thanks to the pastoral staff of All Saints, David Hyman, rector of Holy
Trinity Chatham, Erik Newby for his design work, Jim Janknegt for the cover
art, the photographers and all the writers who contributed work.
The editors – Tanner Capps and David Taylor