By: Eric Doolittle, College Chaplain
We don’t know exactly when the season of Advent began, but we know Christians as far back as the 5th century set aside a special time to prepare to celebrate Christ’s birth. Over time, it developed into our current practice starting four Sundays before Christmas. Advent is meant to mirror Lent as a time of solemn reflection and renewal of disciplines. In modern times, Advent and the traditional twelve day season of Christmastide (from December 25 to January 6) have blended together, with parties, decorations, and festivities starting earlier and earlier slowly squeezing out any time for prayer, repentance, and fasting.
Our Advent Daily Devotional runs counter to modern sensibilities. The scriptures are those of prophecy, of longing, of anticipation. They tell the stories of prophets, of outcasts, of those still looking for the coming of the Messiah. The goal is to not only remind us of the coming of Christ as the child in Bethlehem, but to also restore our diligence to prepare for his second coming in triumph. Advent both looks back to the past and forward to the future, the “was” alongside the “is to come.” Over the coming six weeks, we hope you can find time and space to look back, to peer ahead, and to find space in the moment for an encounter with the living Christ.
Our devotional’s format also blends together the past and the future. New this year are the hashtag themes accompanying each day. We encourage you to engage others on Instagram, Twitter, and other platforms by using that daily hashtag, the #NCCAdvent, and the link to the devotional on our blog. You’ll also notice that the devotionals are coming through our new Office of Ministry & Service blog—Memoirs and Musings. I encourage you to explore some of the wonderful stories, videos, photos, and reflections from our service trips, worship time, and life on campus.
This year’s contributors come to us from across our North Central College family—students, alumni, coaches, faculty, staff, and friends. They represent Christians from across the spectrum of belief and practices, and as such, their devotionals may be different or even contrary to closely held personal theology. As an institution that has always welcomed discussion and diversity, I hope you’ll see that difference as a moment of gracious acceptance and learning.
Finally, thank you for giving your time during this hectic season. Thank you for trusting us to share meaningfully with you. Thank you for supporting the NCC family and the Office of Ministry and Service. We have been blessed to bring this devotional together, and pray that you are blessed in reading, contemplating, and sharing it.
Lord God, You are Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. You set the universe to work and set the patterns of the world into motion. In the vastness of time, we established certain seasons for reflection and renewal, and so we come together again to remember the birth of Jesus and to anticipate his return to complete your kingdom. Keep us faithful and focused during the hubbub of our modern world’s facade of tinsel and lights, to see the truth and depth that rest just behind the curtains. Pour your Holy Spirit onto the readers of these devotionals that we may hear with open ears, see with clear eyes, and be restored to full hearts. This prayer I humbly lift in the name of the coming savior, Jesus the Christ. Amen.