Daily Advent Devotionals

adventdevotionals

Your source for daily Advent devotionals!

A new Advent devotion for you, every day.

Sign up now for daily emails, sent Monday thru Friday, with videos, readings, and everything you need to keep Jesus front and center throughout the Advent season.

Advent is the 28 days leading up to December 25th—Christmas day! Each day, we will bring you a new Advent devotional, including reflections and next steps.

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Advent Day 6 - Coming Soon!

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Each Friday, we invite you to set aside time to personally encounter God. To help you get started, we will provide Scripture, music, art, and journal prompts focused on the weekly Advent theme.

Begin by finding a quiet, comfortable place. Take deep breaths, inviting God to meet you there and help you quiet your mind. As you engage with Him, explore any of the following questions:

  • What is happening in and around you? What feelings are you experiencing?
  • How are you sensing God’s presence? (There’s no right or wrong way to experience God.)
  • What stands out to you in the Scripture, art, music, or in your own thoughts? What does that reveal to you about the God of Hope?
  • What do you think God is saying to you?
  • How can spending time with God fill you with hope?

Encounter Jesus...

…Through Scripture:

For to us a child is born,

to us a son is given,

and the government will be on his shoulders.

And he will be called

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 

Isaiah 9:6 

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”

Luke 2:8–11

...Through Music: 

  • “O Holy Night,” composed by Adolphe Adam, sung by Becky Johnson, North Shore Campus Worship Pastor

...Through Art: 

...Through Journaling:

  • What does hope mean to you? 
  • If you were to draw an image representing hope, what would you draw? Why? Then, even if you don’t consider yourself an artist, try drawing it!

Written by: Katie Franzen, Core Strategic Initiatives Director and Jennifer Grabianski, Core Content Associate

Scripture Reference 

These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you.

 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Deuteronomy 6:1–9

In the midst of our busy days and late nights, finding time to get into the Word and spend time with the Lord can be hard. With our lives starting to pick up again to the pace they were at before the pandemic, these free moments to spend with God can be sparse.

However, God urges us to love him with all our heart, soul, and strength. One way we can love him is by keeping his commandments and talking about them with those around us. 

This might seem tough or even anxiety-inducing. We may not always be around believers and people we feel comfortable sharing God’s Word with. But, God calls us to talk about Him when we’re at home and when we walk along the road. We can pray for boldness and strength to help build our courage. Also, we can begin with our families and close friends before reaching out to others.

What could it look like to talk about God? Sometimes, it might involve directly quoting Scripture. For this reason, it’s important to be reading the Bible regularly so that we can get to know God and His character. As we grow in knowledge, His Spirit will bring the right verse to the tip of our tongue at just the right time.

But other times, God uniquely uses us and our own words to share his message with others. The season of Advent is a great time to do this! As you participate in old family traditions and create new ones, talk about how you’ve experienced the hope of Jesus in your life. Describe the history of the tradition, or share what this time of year means to you. As you keep holiday traditions alive, you also give life to God’s message of hope, passing it down to the next generation or to friends who can do the same. 

This Advent, how will you fulfill the greatest commandment of all? How will you love God, love your neighbors, and change the world? 

Next Steps

  • Ask God who in your life might need to hear His Word and be reminded of his hope. 
  • Think about some of your favorite holiday traditions. Do you know their origins or what they symbolize? Do some research and share what you learn with the person God brought to mind!
  • Start a new tradition by serving during Willow’s Season of Hope, or find other creative ideas here.

Written by: Hannah Price, High School Ministry Student, Huntley Campus

Scripture Reference 

I will exalt you, my God the King;

I will praise your name for ever and ever. 

Every day I will praise you 

and extol your name for ever and ever. 

Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;

his greatness no one can fathom. 

One generation commends your works to another;

they tell of your mighty acts. 

They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—

and I will meditate on your wonderful works. 

They tell of the power of your awesome works—

and I will proclaim your great deeds. 

They celebrate your abundant goodness

and joyfully sing of your righteousness. 

Psalm 145:1–7

Reflection 

The book of Psalms ends with a celebration. From Psalm 145 to Psalm 150, we are prompted to praise God with energy and excitement. We are taught to “turn up” and led to “get lit” in response to God’s love, saving and healing power, and mercy that endures through all generations.

During this first week of Advent, we celebrate especially the hope Jesus brings to all generations. It’s a good time to live out Psalm 145:4 and Willow Creek’s core value of Growing Younger, sharing God’s hope with the next generation as we honor and celebrate the life and beauty they add to our world, both now and in the future.

When we reflect on the last two years and realize their impact on our lives and the lives of our children, it can be difficult to do what the rapper Tupac said and “keep ya head up.” It can feel like we are faced with a never-ending cycle of hopelessness and despair. To make matters worse, in our quest to look like “good Christians,” we sometimes keep our real feelings inside, wondering what we should do when surrounded by trials, trouble, hopelessness, and helplessness. Psalm 145 gives us a few cues.  

1. Lift Him Up!

Our greatest challenges are light work to the King, whose greatness is incomprehensible to us. How cool is it that we can lay our hearts before the majestic, compassionate Lord, Who is rich in love and mercy? Like David, who had his fair share of low moments, we should practice hoping in God through praise. How do we do that? Keep reading … it’s almost party time! 

2. Get Loud!

The Hebrew word for “celebrate'' in verse 7 means to “belch forth” (ew, gross, lol). To “joyfully sing” means to “shout for joy, give a ringing cry.” In other words, get loud! Blogger Rae Oliver wrote, “Scream therapy gives (us) a way to release anger and frustration or take the edge off of building feelings of anxiety.” So when life makes you “wanna holler,” as Marvin Gaye sang, Psalm 145 gives you permission to do it!

Next Steps

Written by: Ken Barry, Development Director, Compassion & Justice Core Team

References 

blog Scream Therapy: 5 Reasons Why Screaming is Good For You

https://trulyexperiences.com/blog/why-screaming-good-for-you/

Blueletterbible.org

Scripture Reference 

A woman who had suffered a condition of hemorrhaging for twelve years—a long succession of physicians had treated her, and treated her badly, taking all her money and leaving her worse off than before—had heard about Jesus. She slipped in from behind and touched his robe. She was thinking to herself, “If I can put a finger on his robe, I can get well.” The moment she did it, the flow of blood dried up. She could feel the change and knew her plague was over and done with.

At the same moment, Jesus felt energy discharging from him. He turned around to the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?”

His disciples said, “What are you talking about? With this crowd pushing and jostling you, you’re asking, ‘Who touched me?’ Dozens have touched you!”

But he went on asking, looking around to see who had done it. The woman, knowing what had happened, knowing she was the one, stepped up in fear and trembling, knelt before him, and gave him the whole story.

Jesus said to her, “Daughter, you took a risk of faith, and now you’re healed and whole. Live well, live blessed! Be healed of your plague.”

Mark 5:25–34 (MSG)

Wherever we are in life, we have choices to make. Our choices often reflect our character, and they both influence our relationship with God. 

If you tend to be a hopeful person, you’ll probably be hopeful about what God can do. If you tend to be a more pessimistic person, you’ll probably have a pessimistic attitude toward God. Joyful people might experience God with joy, and worried people might feel anxious about God. 

But often, our character is shaped by choices we cannot make or are forced to make as our lives are dictated by the brokenness we find in the world.

Some people’s work schedules aren’t flexible enough to spend the time they desire with their family, so their relationships suffer. Others live in areas where healthy food options are scarce, so their physical health suffers. When children are born into difficult circumstances, they may experience the brokenness that exists in a potentially pressure-filled household, so their emotional health suffers. Other people face unexpected hardships, such as sickness or losing a loved one, so their spiritual health suffers. 

In today’s passage, we see a woman facing incredibly tough circumstances. She had every right to be cynical, anxious, sad, or angry—certainly without hope. But she dared to hope in the healing power of Jesus, and she experienced the goodness that God offers all of us. 

How will we choose to respond to hard circumstances? Whether we are in positions of privilege or obscurity, in the midst of suffering, pain, or fear, we can choose to find hope in Jesus—our Healer, our Miracle Worker, our Powerful Protector, the Hope of the World. 

Next Steps

  • If you want to learn about the hard choices people in tough situations make every day, join us for Willow’s Quick to Listen series, launching on December 1. During this Zoom meeting, we’ll learn about the challenges faced by immigrant youth. Register here
  • On Tuesdays during this series, we invite you to meditate on an original piece of art by congregant Marsha English. Each week, you’ll see a new layer that symbolizes that week’s traditional Advent theme. 
    • This week, the star that led people to Jesus symbolizes HOPE. How do you see the theme of hope represented in this week’s image?
    • Marsha created versions of her artwork for each campus, so that all Willow attenders can see it throughout Advent. Can you find it in the lobby at your campus? 

Advent  2021 Art Week 1 Hope

Written by: Kyle Healy, C&J Pastor, South Barrington

Scripture Reference 

When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.

When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!” For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!”

Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”

“My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.

A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.

As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.

Mark 5:2–13, 18–20

“The true measure of our character is how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned.” 

–Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative

“It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails.  A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.”  

–Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, anti-apartheid revolutionary, first president of South Africa

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.  We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.  Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”  

–Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., slain leader of the American civil rights movement

​No matter where we are in our moments of crisis, those of us who proclaim to be true believers in Jesus Christ must believe that Jesus is on his way to us—not just in this season of hope called Advent, but all the time. For we have read time and again about how He traveled by foot, boat, and even mule to get to where He was needed, even to the cross. Jesus never suffered transportation or traffic issues, so we don't need to  worry.  He always shows up, and He's never late.  

He is always in the right place, at the right time, for the right reason. If we could start viewing our crises through this hope-filled lens, we’d begin to understand that we're undergoing the process of being redeemed. The challenges we wrestle with, work through, and overcome—addictions, financial debt, relational and other issues—aren't meant to destroy us, but to set up a face-to-face meeting between us and the God of Hope. When we keep our eyes on our Redeemer, we must face Him with all of our problems as well, falling before Him and crying out, "What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?”

Next Steps

  • As we begin the season of Advent, reflect on times when you’ve lost hope, wanting to tap out on God and the church.
  • Contemplate the last time your heart totally broke for another person.
  • Visit Prison Fellowship’s  Justice Action Center to learn more and join the movement.
  • Sign up to fill Hope Packs for people incarcerated in Illinois.

Written by:  Marquelle, an incarcerated man in DuPage County Correctional Facility, enrolled in JUST of DuPage programs; and Andrea Best, Compassion & Justice Pastor, Wheaton Campus

References 

Brian Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Letters from a Birmingham Jail”.

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandel, “The Nelson Mandela Rules”, the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. 

Justice Action Center for Prison Fellowship.


What is Christmas?

Want to find out more about Christmas and why we celebrate? We answer some common questions around Christmas, including who were the three wise men? What is Advent? And what does the Star of Bethlehem look like? Click here for all our Christmas questions!

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