In the days and weeks leading up to Christmas Day, I find my schedule filling to overflowing. Amazing events celebrating the season sprinkle across my calendar. Each neat square gets covered like an overly decorated Christmas cookie. And as a mother, grandmother, wife, ministry leader, and writer, I feel the pressure to buy all the things, bake all the things, create all the things, and be all the things for the most wonderful time of the year.
Prayerfully entering Advent during the four weeks leading up to Christmas day can transform this frantic time. Taking time each week to prepare my heart for the celebration of Jesus’ birth shifts my perspective away from the frenetic demands of this world. On Sunday, December 5th, the Second Sunday of Advent, this prayer will be prayed in Anglican churches around the world.
Inside this prayer I find a clear directive to, “hold fast to the blessed hope of everlasting life.”
In His kindness, God doesn’t simply direct us to do this in our sheer willpower. Instead, He provides believers with the “bread” for this sacred journey, God’s word. We are to hear, read, mark, learn and inwardly digest Holy Scriptures.
Praying through each verse of Psalm 24 can be a wonderful way to implement this practice. This psalm serves as a call to worship Christ our King of Glory. These verses remind us of Jesus’s kingly attributes.
1 The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein,
2 for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers. (Psalm 24:1-2 ESV)
Our King owns it all.
If I recognize Jesus today as the King who owns the entire world, and the fullness thereof, can I hold back from feeling the pressure to take care of all things that come to my mind? Can I lay that down today and bow to Him, my loving King?
3 Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place?
4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. (Psalm 24:3-4 ESV)
Our King provides access for His people to worship Him.
Jesus’ death on the cross gives me access to worship Him. In my own efforts, I can never have clean enough hands or a pure heart, but Jesus paid my debt for me. Today, I will choose to lay down my own efforts to measure up.
5 He will receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
6 Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah Psalm 24:5-6 ESV
Our King works through generations.
Whenever I see the word Selah weaved into the Psalms, I know a particularly profound declaration has been made. The word Selah signals me to pause and drink it in. I need to take note of Jesus’s promised blessings on those who seek Him. Even better news, He speaks of generations because His Heavenly Father works through families.
My relationship with Jesus has a profound effect on the generations that come after me. Because I am adopted into the family of God, my very identity has been changed. I have become the daughter of the “Most High King”. I am grafted into God’s family and so my daughter’s daughters will be affected by my choices. While each woman and man who comes after me will have to come to his or her own saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, our lineage will be profoundly altered by the change in my status.
7 Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.
8 Who is this King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle! Psalm 24:8-9 ESV
Our King reigns for eternity.
Jesus reminds me to lift up my head and shift my perspective from being caught up in my everyday stress. As I look up and see the blue skies, the trees of the field, my grandson’s face, the stars in the night sky, my temporary afflictions pale in comparison to the greatness of my King. He is strong, mighty and will win the ultimate battle and reign eternally.
9 Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory! Selah Psalm 24:9-10 ESV
Our King requests greater access to our lives and hearts.
Jesus is asking me today to open my heart and my life more fully to His presence. My tendency, when faced with challenges, is to close up. I need more of Jesus in my life for the ongoing work of sanctification and transformation.
How will you hold onto hope in the season of Advent?