Once again, the beautiful and meaningful season of Advent is upon us and our theme this year comes from the meaning of the four candles of the Advent wreath we light during the season of Advent. We follow the Advent season with a focus on the Old Testament readings from Isaiah.
This year we are offering a custom Advent devotional booklet written by the Pastors and members of Trinity. The booklet follows the themes of Advent as practiced in our congregation. Each week will start with a painting symbolic of the week’s theme. We journey from Hope to Peace, Joy, and then celebrate God’s Love to us through His gift of the Christ child.
Each day of the week have an offered piece, either in prose or poetry. Each author has a unique style of writing that speaks to his or her individual view of the Advent emotions. We received contributions from both lay and clergy members of Trinity in order to present a variety of perspectives.
To illustrate the themes each week we are delighted to offer paintings by Mariana Csaszar from Washington D.C. She was given the four themes and created the hands. We thank her and all our contributors for donating their time and talents to this project. We pray that this devotional booklet adds to the meaning and celebration of this Advent season.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
– Romans 15:13 (ESV)
God uses His hands/arm to do “mighty deeds.” Isaiah recounts some of the past mighty deeds of God which he describes as “awesome things.” The prophet calls upon God to “come down [again],” which is fulfilled in the coming of Jesus. Also verse 8: “. . . you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.”
1 Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down,
that the mountains might quake at your presence—
2 as when fire kindles brushwood
and the fire causes water to boil—
to make your name known to your adversaries,
and that the nations might tremble at your presence!
3 When you did awesome things that we did not look for,
you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.
4 From of old no one has heard
or perceived by the ear,
no eye has seen a God besides you,
who acts for those who wait for him.
5 You meet him who joyfully works righteousness,
those who remember you in your ways.
Behold, you were angry, and we sinned;
in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved?
6 We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
7 There is no one who calls upon your name,
who rouses himself to take hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us,
and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities.
8 But now, O Lord, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
9 Be not so terribly angry, O Lord,
and remember not iniquity forever.
Behold, please look, we are all your people.
And the peace of God which passeth all understanding,
shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
– Philippians 4:7 (KJV)
Isaiah describes the “comfort” and peace that is ours because our “iniquity is pardoned” and we have “received from the Lord’s hand double for all [our] sins.” Think of Jesus’ hands nailed to the cross for us. Thus (verse 11), “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.”
1 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that her warfare is ended,
that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.
3 A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
5 And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
6 A voice says, “Cry!”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All flesh is grass,
and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
7 The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the Lord blows on it;
surely the people are grass.
8 The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.
9 Go on up to a high mountain,
O Zion, herald of good news;
lift up your voice with strength,
O Jerusalem, herald of good news;
lift it up, fear not;
say to the cities of Judah,
“Behold your God!”
10 Behold, the Lord God comes with might,
and his arm rules for him;
behold, his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.
11 He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
– Psalm 51:12
Isaiah voices the future ministry of the Messiah (quoted by Jesus in Luke 4). Jesus comes to bring “good news to the poor,” “liberty to the captive.” It is a time of celebration and joy.
1 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
3 to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.
4 They shall build up the ancient ruins;
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations.
God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son,
that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.
– John 3:16 (ESV)
2 Samuel 7:1–11, 16
King David wanted to use his hands to build the temple. Instead, God “builds” His kingdom by establishing the house and kingdom of David forever. This kingdom is built on the love of God for His chosen people, expressed most fully in a descendant of David (Jesus) born as God’s love in the flesh.
1 Now when the king lived in his house and the Lord had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies, 2 the king said to Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent.” 3 And Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that is in your heart, for the Lord is with you.”
4 But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, 5 “Go and tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord: Would you build me a house to dwell in? 6 I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent for my dwelling. 7 In all places where I have moved with all the people of Israel, did I speak a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”’ 8 Now, therefore, thus you shall say to my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel. 9 And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. 10 And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 11 from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house.
16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’”
Christmas EveHope, Peace, Joy, and Love
Luke 2:1-20 (ESV)
All of the themes find fulfilment in the birth of Jesus: “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.” “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” “Joy to the world, the Lord is come!” “ . . . behold, I bring you good news of great joy!” “Love came down at Christmas.”
1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
Christmas Eve Worship Schedule
In order to provide a safe environment for in-person worship on Christmas Eve, we are asking you to sign up in advance. This enables us to maintain social distancing and reduce crowd size. In addition, the building will be closed after each service for cleaning. Doors will open ten minutes prior to each hour. Please be aware that additional service times may be added if needed; conversely, a service time may be removed if registrations are too few.