Advent Devotion 19

Advent Gifts

Dixon Martin


Arise, shine, for your light has come,
    and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth
    and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
    and his glory appears over you.
Nations will come to your light,
    and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

Isaiah 60:1-3 (NRSV)


When my nephews and niece were young, I made advent banners for them. Each 4-foot felt banner had 25 ribbons sewn to it. I used the ribbons to randomly affix 25 small, wrapped, numbered packages to each banner. On the outside of each package was a small card with a Bible verse. Inside each package was a small gift. It might be a piece of candy, a small toy, a dollar, or something as mundane as a toothbrush or a comb.


My nephews and niece, now adults, still remember their advent banners. They reminisce about the pleasure of anticipation. They recall knowing that as the days on the banner dwindled, the “big day” approached. They remember that whatever gift the day brought, there was joy in the mystery.


Our lives are something like those advent banners. Each day is a gift as we remember the first advent of Jesus the Christ and look forward to the second one. Sometimes, the blessings are obvious and the pleasures clear. Other times, we may not immediately understand the purpose of the gift. Whatever each day brings, we know that “All things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose,” (Romans 8:28 NRSV). The days, both dark and bright, are preparing us for the joyous coming of the Lord.


God, I know you are my loving parent and teacher. Help me to learn, grow, and experience the joy of mystery. I know that all of it is to prepare me for the brilliant day when your glory is fully revealed. Amen.