by Braden Corliss, Director of Discipleship
I have prayed more for the Lord to return in triumphant glory in 2020 than at any other time in the past. From the COVID-19 turmoil to a tumultuous election, it seems the pressures just keep building. As a follower of Jesus, the natural response of my heart is to pray “Come, Lord Jesus, come.” Sometimes I pray this in desperation when I see or hear of tragedy. Other times I pray these words when I think about the present context and just long to be with the Lord where there is no pain or struggle.
In this time of year, we are stepping into a time of Advent which marks the beginning of the Christian year. It is a time to reflect and await the coming of the Lord Jesus. We know the climax of Advent to be the coming of the Lord at Christmas with Jesus in the incarnation. When Jesus decided to take on human flesh, step into our world, and endure the same struggles we face as humans. In this waiting and in our desperation for Christ to return we ready ourselves in a world of adversity by learning and living the story of Jesus.
But how do we learn and live the story of Jesus? Primarily, we read and hear the story of Jesus. But how should we read this story? I think one of the best places to go to answer this question is Psalm 1.
Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.
The psalm begins with a promise “blessed is the one” then the psalmist describes the one who receives this promise. He does not walk, stand, or sit in the company of the wicked, sinners, or mockers. But what does the blessed one do? He delights in the law of the Lord, which for the psalmist would have been the Torah - the first five books of the Bible. And, he meditates on The Lord’s law day and night.
Here is the crux of how we read the Bible to learn and live the story of Jesus. This word meditate has been pretty popular in our present day. It might remind you of yoga or mindfulness practices. But, what the biblical author is trying to portray here is more akin to muttering to oneself instead of emptying oneself. This word meditate is used to describe the noise a dove makes when it coos or the noise a bear makes when it eats its meal. It’s the sense of doing something intensely under one’s breath. The Psalmist writes that the one who is blessed “meditates on His law day and night.” In the morning and the evening, the reader of the Torah speaks allowed the words of God and slowly, but confidently the words of God begin to reveal themselves to the person.
The psalmist goes so far as to declare the person who mutters intensely the Torah of God day and night will not be thrown over by the schemes of the wicked. The wicked do not meditate and love the Law of God; thusly they are destroyed. In a year of such turmoil where we desire the favor of God we must root ourselves in this type of transformational reading of scripture.
I am challenging you this Advent series to read through the four gospels of Jesus Christ - Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John - in the same spirit of the writer of Psalm 1. When you read try to do so slowly and aloud. It’s been separated in a way that there are only a few chapters a day. If one day you happen to forget to read, pick up where you left off and catch back up. But one more important thing, the Bible is also intended to be read in community. During each Monday in Advent at 6:00pm, we will plan to read aloud one gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. This evening, November 30th we will read aloud the book of Matthew. You can join us on this Zoom event by following this link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84145922278. (Meeting ID: 841 4592 2278)
On December 7th, we will read aloud the gospel of Mark. On December 14th, we will read aloud the Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Luke. And, on December 21st, we will read aloud the John. Watch the First Church Facebook pages on those days for the link to the Zoom event.
But, for reading on your own throughout the Advent season, the scripture references below will take you through the gospels and give witness to the story of Jesus.
Day 1 - Matthew 1-4
Day 2 - Matthew 5-8
Day 3 - Matthew 9-12
Day 4 - Matthew 13 - 15
Day 5 - Matthew 16-19
Day 6 - Matthew 20 - 23
Day 7 - Matthew 24 - 28
Day 8 - Mark 1-3
Day 9 - Mark 4-6
Day 10 - Mark 7-10
Day 11 - Mark 11-14
Day 12 - Mark 15-16
Day 13 - Luke 1-4
Day 14 - Luke 5-9
Day 15 - Luke 10 - 13
Day 16 - Luke
Day 17 - Luke 14-17
Day 18 - Luke 18 - 20
Day 19 - Luke 21 - 24
Day 20 - John 1 - 4
Day 21 - John 5-7
Day 22 - John 8-10
Day 23 - John 11-14
Day 24 - John 15 - 18
Day 25 - John 19 - 21
May your Advent season be blessed!