Advent Meditations Week Two
Updated: Dec 30, 2022
In this week’s Advent Meditation, we’ll engage with three spiritual practices – Scripture, the artwork, and music.
Advent is a season of preparing for the celebration of Christmas. It begins four Sundays before Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve. Advent is derived from a Latin word (adventus) which means both “coming” and “arrival” and references three important events for every Christian: 1) the birth of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, 2) that Jesus comes and resides in every believer through the Holy Spirit, and 3) the second coming of Christ.
Advent is a season of waiting. Think about those who waited and longed for the prophesied Messiah to come. Isaiah, who gave us the most comprehensive prophetic depiction of the Messiah, lived about 700 years before Jesus was born. So, for those who were waiting for the Promised One, it was a very long wait. And it was a dark wait, as well. The people endured the darkness of despair, sin, suffering, evil – and they lived deeply within it. Yet, they remembered God’s faithfulness - and so they continued, with hope, to wait. As we observe Advent, we identify with those who waited for the first coming of the Messiah as we wait for His return.
Waiting, more than ever seems like such a hard thing to do. The truth is that most of us don’t regulate our lives around waiting. Instead, we work really hard to become more and more efficient. Often, we see waiting as a waste of time. In fact, when we are required to wait, we often have technology to help us pass the time. Efficiency in some areas of life is not a bad thing. But when it comes to slowing down to hear the voice of God, to reflect, notice our longings, and to be present with Him… well, that isn’t something we want to become more efficient in doing. I’ve never heard someone say, “I’d really like to have a more efficient relationship with God.” Not at all. But more importantly, I don’t recall anywhere in Scripture where Jesus invites us to have an efficient relationship with Him.
In the Scripture reading of this week's Advent Meditation, we are going to do something Jesus often invited his listeners to do – to use their imaginations. Examples of Jesus doing this are stories we know well – the prodigal son, the good Samaritan, the pearl of great price… and there are many more. In this spiritual practice, we simply invite the Holy Spirit to speak to us through immersing ourselves in Scripture. We stay true to the Biblical story, and we actively engage with it. (For more information on this particular spiritual practice, see my blog Imaginative Prayer.)
Advent Mediation – Week Two
Set aside time alone to meet with God and meditate on the following Scriptures, art, and music.
Silence – prepare yourself for this practice by quieting your mind and body, notice God’s presence with you.
Before beginning the Scripture meditation, notice the background of the story in Luke 1:5-9. Luke sets the scene by giving us a few facts - that what he is describing happened when Herod the Great was the King of Judea. Zechariah was a Jewish priest who served in the temple as part of the priestly order of Abijah. His wife, Elizabeth, was also from a family of priests, and was a descendant of Aaron. Luke also tells us they were both known “to be righteous before God, living virtuously and following the commandments of the Lord blamelessly.” (Luke 1:6 TPT) But they were childless because Elizabeth was barren, and now they both were quite old. This very virtuous couple, both descendants from families of priests, had prayed and waited to have a child, but it had never happened in Elizabeth’s childbearing years.
Zechariah was only one of many priests serving the Lord. So, to choose which priest got to go into the Holy Place and burn incense, their custom was to cast lots. It was an honor to be chosen for this task, because a priest may have been chosen to go into the Holy Place and burn incense only once in his lifetime.
The Scripture passage we are meditating on begins when Zechariah has been chosen and goes in temple of the Lord to burn incense.
Read this story as if you were hearing it for the first time. Then give yourself long pauses of silence to listen to the Lord and reflect using the questions offered in the bullet points below. You’ll read the Scripture passage slowly and thoughtfully three times.
Luke 1:10-14, 18-24 (TPT)
First reading: as you read the Scripture, place yourself in the position of a silent and unseen observer. Use your five senses as you listen to and watch what is happening. Notice what you see, hear, touch, smell, and taste.
What are you waiting for in this season?
Is there a desire or longing you can identify in your soul?
Second reading: as you read the story a second time, place yourself somewhere within the scene. You may be one of the characters or perhaps an inanimate object. Once again use your five senses to enter fully into the scene.
What captures your attention?
Third reading: we always read Scripture recognizing the context of what we read. We also recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit within us speaking into the particulars of our lives today. As you listen to the passage this final time, using all five of your senses, notice how the Lord is speaking to you through this experience.
Who do you identify with in the story?
How is the Lord speaking to you through the Scripture?
Art - The Annunciation to Zechariah (1799/ 1800) – William Blake
As you gaze at the artwork, notice what the Holy Spirit highlights for you.
How does what you experienced in the Scripture along with the scene in the painting connect with you right now?
Music - Come Thou Fount (Mercy Me)
Reflect on what you hear
Respond to the Lord
Rest and simply enjoy being in the presence of the Lord
If you would like to join me in online community for Advent Meditations, you will find more information at Advent Meditations. I’d love to see you there!
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash