November 20, 2017
Believe it or not, Advent begins soon. On the first Sunday of Advent, we often sing, “O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel, that mourns in lonely exile here, until the Son of God appear.” The reality for many of us, however, is that Advent is simply a call to prepare for the chaos of the Christmas season – parties, program practices, concerts, decorations, shopping trips, road trips, and more.
If you were to meet Dr. Philip Thompson, Professor of Systematic Theology and Christian Heritage at Sioux Falls Seminary on the first Sunday of Advent, he might extend a “happy new year” greeting to you. This is because, in the church calendar, Advent marks the beginning of the liturgical year. The word “advent” derives from the Latin word adventus which means coming. It is a translation of the Greek word parousia – a term sometimes used in reference to the second coming of Christ. Scholars point out that it was sometime during the Middle Ages that “advent” was explicitly linked to Christ’s first coming at Christmas. 1
Today, Advent, which includes the four Sundays leading up to Christmas, is a time when the Church looks back with celebration on Christ’s coming while also looking forward in anticipation to the coming of Christ’s kingdom.1 With the hymn writer we sing, “Come thou long-expected Jesus . . . Joy of every longing heart.”
Following a long Advent tradition, Sioux Falls Seminary is once again sharing a series of Advent devotionals available to churches, friends and constituents through our website. Our theme is “Fully Alive,” which is based on the seminary’s ministry focus and is anchored in Paul’s admonition: “And whatever you do in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus. . . ” (Colossians 3:17). The Second Century Church Father, Ireneaus, is often credited with the statement, “The glory of God is man fully alive.” Dr. Taylor Marshall interprets this statement by saying that “God is truly glorified when we live the life of grace here on earth.”2
Each devotional in our upcoming Advent series, which will be released one per week through our website story center, will focus on this theme and around the idea that we can become fully alive through prayer, service, steadfastness, love, and proclamation. This year, Sioux Falls Seminary alumni are our writers.
Our prayer is that the devotional series will be a useful tool for worship during this Holy Season! Please feel free to duplicate and share these devotionals with your church family, friends, or neighbors.
Devotional Series Release Dates
November 27 – Week 1 (12/3) Through Prayer
December 4 – Week 2 (12/10) Through Service
December 11 – Week 3 (12/17) Through Steadfastness
December 18 – Week 4 (12/24) Through Love
December 21 – Christmas (12/25) Through Proclamation