Day 3 — Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
Romans 13:11–14

Christmastime is a season of anticipation. As a kid, I anticipated the arrival of Christmas on account of the lights, the fun, and the presents. But I’ve come to realize that the Christmas season is a time of anticipation and preparation. Whether buying presents or observing Advent, I am making preparations for the celebration of Christ’s birth. 

Christmas marks the first coming of the Savior, but believers now anticipate the Second Coming of the Savior. Paul reminds believers that our ultimate salvation, the return of Christ for his people, will happen soon. The Light of the world is coming again to make his home among us! And as we anticipate the Second Coming, we are to prepare for his return. During the Christmas season, we prepare to host friends and family. We clean house, bake, and decorate — all in anticipation of their arrival. Similarly, we prepare to welcome Christ through our loving obedience: we abandon the darkness of self-gratifying ways of living to love Christ. We love Christ because He first loved us, and it is only Christ’s love that edges out the allure of sin and darkness in our hearts. We love Christ — or as Paul puts it, we put him on — by obeying his commands.   

Our Decembers quickly become consumed with getting ready for Christmas Day. There’s hardly time for anything else in the flurry of those preparations! In the same way, loving Christ is all-consuming. Our lives are to be so oriented towards Christ’s Second Coming, that our hearts can only be filled with Christ’s love. This Christmas season, may our hearts be full of that love as we celebrate the Christ child and prepare for his Second Coming.

Emily McCarty is a visiting assistant professor of philosophy at Hope College.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Day 2 — Monday, November 28, 2022

I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the LORD!”
Our feet have been standing
within your gates, O Jerusalem!

Jerusalem — built as a city
that is bound firmly together,
to which the tribes go up,
the tribes of the LORD,
as was decreed for Israel,
to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
There thrones for judgment were set,
the thrones of the house of David.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!
“May they be secure who love you!
Peace be within your walls
and security within your towers!”
For my brothers and companions’ sake
I will say, “Peace be within you!”
For the sake of the house of the LORD our God,
I will seek your good.
Psalm 122

The first word of Psalm 122 is a word of gladness. ‘I was glad,’ to be invited on the journey to God’s house, David sings. He’s grateful and delighted to go to the house of God. And, he’s glad for the journey up the hills with the tribes of the Lord. He’s grateful for what God is doing to hold it all together. And, he’s eager to pray for peace for his community and to seek the good of the kingdom of God. 

‘I was glad’ is also the first word of Advent. I wonder what our Advent journey might look like this year if we can join David, receiving with joy the beloved community of God. These days, we too often see a fractured Christian community with frustration rather than with delight and gratitude. This is not new. Truth be told, the tribes journeying together in Psalm 122 didn’t see eye to eye on all of the issues either. Throughout history, there have been disagreements, struggles, and contempt in every community. And yet, David leads the tribes — and us — by expressing gladness for the invitation to join a community on a journey to the house of the Lord. He leads with an expansive and beautiful vision for a community that only God holds together. The community is held together as they journey toward the dwelling place of God. This is our Advent journey.

May our prayers this advent join David’s. May God shape our hearts to see — and to love! — the beloved community journeying toward the house of the Lord. May we receive the invitation to join them with gratitude. And, may we pray for peace, seek the good of the kingdom of God, and journey together with joy.

Becky Starkenburg is the dean of students at Hope College.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Day 1 — Sunday, November 27, 2022

It shall come to pass in the latter days
that the mountain of the house of the LORD
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be lifted up above the hills;
and all the nations shall flow to it,
and many peoples shall come, and say:
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations,
and shall decide disputes for many peoples;
and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war anymore.

O house of Jacob,
come, let us walk
in the light of the LORD.
Isaiah 2:2–5

Sometimes God’s promises seem, not just distant… they seem impossible.

Light is coming? Maybe, but I can’t see it.

A time of no more conflict? A time of no more disputes? A time when nation won’t take up sword against nation? Hard to believe all that when division here, just in our nation, seems near an all-time high.

The natural question to ask God in response to these promises is: How can this be?

That is precisely the question Mary posed to the angel Gabriel when he told her that she would give birth to the world’s Savior.

His answer: “The word of God never fails” (Luke 1:37). In other words, if God said it, it will happen. Just trust Him.

I’ve often thought, in my moments of doubt, how nice it would be to have that kind of assurance of a promise from God — directly from an angel. But after further reflection, I realize the angel was only with her for a few minutes. Then Gabriel left. And Mary was alone, trying to explain her pregnancy to everyone else. And I’m guessing no one believed her. Why would you? It’s not like this had ever happened before.

I wonder… faced with the doubt of others around her, did she ever start to doubt the promise herself? How could you not doubt if you were her? Because things quickly got complicated. Just as she is due to have the baby, a census gets called. So, she has to travel, which isn’t very pleasant. Then she gets there and there’s nowhere to stay. So, they get stuck in a barn just as she is going into labor.

I imagine her looking at the blood and water in the dirt and thinking, “If this baby is really from God, shouldn’t things be a little easier? Shouldn’t this whole thing be a little less of a train wreck?”

And then, all of a sudden some shepherds show up. They say angels appeared to them and told them this baby is indeed the savior of the world.

The word of God never fails.  

But sometimes, it sure looks like it might fail. 

Fast forward thirty-three years later. Mary finds herself at the foot of the cross with her son dead. Once again, she finds herself staring at blood and water on the ground, wondering, “Did I make the whole thing up? He was supposed to save the world. It wasn’t supposed to end this way.” 

And then, three days later…  The word of God never fails.

But, it sure looks like it’s going to fail. 

God has made promises over each of our lives. And He has made promises to us as a community — that we would be a beacon of hope for the world. Along the journey toward these promises being fulfilled, there will be many moments of doubt and discouragement. I find great comfort in the reality that often, just when things seem farthest away from victory, that’s precisely when God’s triumph is nearest. When things are at their darkest point, light is on the verge of breaking through.

Whatever you’re going through right now, as we begin the season of Advent, let’s remember that light is coming.

How do we know? Because God said so. And the word of God never fails.

Matthew Scogin is the president of Hope College.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Welcome — Advent 2022

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.
John 1:9

Light has come into the world.
John 3:19

Welcome to Hope College’s second annual Advent devotional!

This year’s theme, Light Has Come, highlights something of the paradoxical nature of the Advent season. 

Advent is primarily a time of waiting. It’s a time of patient anticipation as the whole church looks forward to the second coming of Jesus Christ, to the day when he returns again. So, in this sense, the light has not come — not yet. It is still coming.

More immediately, it’s that time of the year when we wait for Christmas Day, December 25. If there are already presents under the tree, you mustn’t open them yet. Again, the light has not yet come (or at least, our annual celebration of it hasn’t arrived). 

It’s this second type of waiting, the waiting for Christmas Day, that makes Advent so peculiar: Every year, we wait to remember something that already happened in history: More than 2,000 years ago, all the children of the world woke up, rubbed the sleep from their eyes, and stumbled downstairs to find they had been given an undeserved, immeasurable gift — the gracious gift of Immanuel, God with us, born as a babe in Bethlehem.

Here is the Advent paradox: Even while we wait for the light to come, we also wait precisely because the light has come already. The light has come, the light is coming, and the light will come again. Come, Lord Jesus!

If you follow along with us, every day of Advent — beginning tomorrow, November 27 — you will find a new devotional reflection by a member of the Hope College faculty and staff. (If you haven’t already done so, please subscribe.) Each scripture passage is adapted from the Revised Common Lectionary readings for Advent.

Please join us for this Advent journey toward Christmas Day, as together we wait for the Light that has already come.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Subscribe to daily Advent emails

Hope College is pleased to announce its second annual Advent devotional, Light Has Come!

Beginning on November 27, 2022, faculty and staff from Hope will guide us on a devotional journey to Christmas Day. Every day of Advent, you will find a new meditation on a scripture passage adapted from the Revised Common Lectionary.

If you haven’t already subscribed to receive daily emails, please sign up below. (If you already subscribed in 2021, there’s no need to re-subscribe.)

Or, you can follow along online right here at the blog. And please, share this with your friends and anyone else who might be interested in joining us.

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Day 28 — Christmas Day 2021

The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shone.
You have multiplied the nation;
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as they are glad when they divide the spoil.
For the yoke of his burden,
and the staff for his shoulder,
the rod of his oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
and every garment rolled in blood
will be burned as fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
Isaiah 9:2–7

The wait is over. It’s Christmas morning. My 11-year-old legs race down the hallway and into the living room. The stockings, empty hours ago, are now bulging. I yell to my slumbering family, “It’s Christmas!”

Soon my two sisters and my parents join me in the living room. I am particularly eager. For months I’ve dropped hints for an X-Wing Fighter. The X-Wing is a small fighter of the Resistance against the Empire responsible for taking out the Death Star in the movie Star Wars. 

My sister, who plays Santa, passes out gifts. She places a box on my lap. I rip open the wrapping paper. There it is, my X-Wing. For the next month all I did was fly it around the house, making swishing sounds and blaster noises at the dog. 

Years later, I realize my desire wasn’t for a toy, but to participate in a bigger story where light overcomes the darkness; to find myself inside a story where darkness is defeated by a threat so small it goes unnoticed. In this way, the X-Wing may be responsible for preparing me for the real gift of Christmas. 

Isaiah describes a world living in deep darkness, who receives the gift of an overwhelming light. This gift is a child born for us. He enters our darkness small and humble, yet with the power to penetrate the empire of darkness, and establishes a new reign of peace for all the world 

Today, we recognize the name of this child as Jesus, who is the Christ. He is Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. Jesus is the gift of light shining the way forward for all living in the land of deep darkness. For he is not only the way, he is also our destination. Amen.

The Rev. Dr. Trygve D. Johnson is the Hinga Boersma Dean of the Chapel at Hope College.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Day 27 — Friday, December 24, 2021

On your walls, O Jerusalem,
I have set watchmen;
all the day and all the night
they shall never be silent.
You who put the LORD in remembrance,
take no rest,
and give him no rest
until he establishes Jerusalem
and makes it a praise in the earth.
The LORD has sworn by his right hand
and by his mighty arm.
“I will not again give your grain
to be food for your enemies,
and foreigners shall not drink your wine
for which you have labored;
but those who garner it shall eat it
and praise the LORD,
and those who gather it shall drink it
in the courts of my sanctuary.”

Go through, go through the gates;
prepare the way for the people;
build up, build up the highway;
clear it of stones;
lift up a signal over the peoples.
Behold, the LORD has proclaimed
to the end of the earth:
Say to the daughter of Zion,
“Behold, your salvation comes;
behold, his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.”
And they shall be called The Holy People,
The Redeemed of the LORD;
and you shall be called Sought Out,
A City Not Forsaken.
Isaiah 62:6–12

Have you ever visited a building that has been deserted for some time? Once vibrant and full of life, now unkempt and uncared for? An old Disney short, The Old Mill, shows one such story. Set to music, the animals who live inside the abandoned mill are fearful and in danger when a storm comes. My four-year-old son would ask, “Why is that mill broken?” Without care and attention, things naturally fall into disrepair. 

In Isaiah 62, God declares that Jerusalem will no longer be The Forsaken City (v. 4). Israel’s capital city has been under the control of the Babylonians. But God loves Jerusalem and she will be redeemed by her Savior. In fact, watchmen have been posted and called to pray both day and night (v. 6), urging the Lord to complete the promised work (v.7). Although Jerusalem has fallen into disrepair and Israel has been held captive by her enemies, the Redeemer is coming. And in preparation for Him, the people are called to pray faithfully, to go out and prepare the road, so that the people of Israel can return to Jerusalem (v. 10).

Where in your own life with God have things fallen into disrepair? What roads need to be cleared, what banner might be raised, to declare that you are part of The People Redeemed by the Lord? Perhaps your worship, prayer, reading of scripture or devotional life has been neglected lately. Perhaps you have not been actively and intentionally loving your neighbor. Perhaps you have not honored your body as a temple of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps your gifts of intellect, athleticism, or artistic ability have not been offered to God and the world around you. The Redeemer is coming. God will complete His redemptive work. How might you prepare the way before Him? 

Dr. Lindsey Root Luna is an associate professor and the chair of the Department of Psychology at Hope College.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Day 26 — Thursday, December 23, 2021

When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then they said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us;
we are glad.

Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like streams in the Negeb!
Those who sow in tears
shall reap with shouts of joy!
He who goes out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him.
Psalm 126

As we prepare for Christmas, it seems for me that I am always more stressed about all that is going on around me than ready to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior. Family stresses, rushing to get to the next event, family dynamics, along with the constant pull of the world create opportunities for less joy than what God intended. In today’s scripture we see what brings joy. The ability to look back and to celebrate all that God has done. 

“We were filled with laughter, 
and we sang for joy.
And the other nations said,
“What amazing things the Lord has done for them.”
Yes, the Lord has done amazing things for us! 
What joy!

Psalm 126:2–3 (NLT)

In celebrating the amazing things He has done for us, the Lord promises to not only bring joy to us but also to allow others to see the joy in us. Our celebration of the goodness of God multiplies out and impacts those around us.

So today I would challenge you to do one thing. Stop rushing, stressing, running for just a few minutes and take time to look back on all God has done for you — and celebrate!! Whether your year has been filled with unexpected blessings or sorrows, the Lord has done great things, and taking the time to celebrate will bring joy.  

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22–23

Tim Schoonveld is the director of athletics at Hope College.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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Day 25 — Wednesday, December 22, 2021

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;
to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
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.
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.

For I the LORD love justice;
I hate robbery and wrong;
I will faithfully give them their recompense,
and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their offspring shall be known among the nations,
and their descendants in the midst of the peoples;
all who see them shall acknowledge them,
that they are an offspring the LORD has blessed.

I will greatly rejoice in the LORD;
my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the earth brings forth its sprouts,
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up,
so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise
to sprout up before all the nations.
Isaiah 61:1–4, 8–11

Isaiah reminds us that the coming of Christ is world-changing. Christ is proclaimed to be good news for the poor, the brokenhearted, the captives, the prisoners, those who grieve, and those who mourn. Millennia of pain and injustice are put on notice; this is the beginning of the end for the old order. God’s cosmic promise is to make all things right. God sees the evil, has given it strict limits, and we are coming up on its end.

This passage is a source of personal hope and encouragement. By December of every year, those of us in the north see too little daylight, the winter gets long, and the weight of the year’s toil and disappointments can feel overwhelming. God assures us that this world is not as good as it could be, not as good as it is supposed to be. All of those things that make life terrible really are terrible. There is real evil, and we don’t need to rationalize it, we don’t need to learn to live with it. God mourns with those who mourn and promises that the mourning will end. God’s anger is kindled against injustice, and so the captives will be set free. I take comfort knowing that Christmas is the announcement that we can hope for something better.

The final metaphor that Isaiah offers is that of soil in a garden. This is how the incarnation changes the world: through an underground, subtle shift in the direction of humanity. When God lives among his people, good things grow. In his soil, lives change, and hearts lean toward righteousness and praise. God has chosen to include our lives in the working out of his cosmic plan to bring justice and goodness to the whole world.

Dr. Steven McMullen is an associate professor of economics at Hope College.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Day 24 — Tuesday, December 21, 2021

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation.

2 Peter 3:8–15a

Advent season never fails to remind me to slow down. Maybe as I’ve reencountered this passage in the final stretch of the semester, faced with lingering uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and continuing news reports of racial injustice, I am drawn to the repeated references to patience in this passage: “The Lord is patient toward you… that all should reach repentance… We are waiting for new heavens, and a new earth… The patience of our Lord should be counted as salvation.”

Then, the very end of this passage says, “… be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.” I’m not sure how I’ve missed the “at peace” part of this command. Historically, I’ve read this passage and focused on being found by the Lord without spot or blemish; a perceived call, on my part, to be a “better” person, to be “more” righteous. 

In this prolonged period of waiting, I find myself wondering, can I be at peace in a season of waiting? Can I not wish myself through yet another month, but instead be patient in the busyness? Aren’t periods of waiting and anticipation where change and growth occur? “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you.” In His patience, I can experience growth. I can experience repentance. I can experience transformation. 

This brings me comfort this Advent. I do not have to magically be better through my own, doomed-to-fail efforts at being without spot or blemish; rather, as I wait in peace and in expectation for the Lord, He is patient toward me. In this season of Advent, anticipating the birth of Christ, can I find comfort in the waiting for answers to God’s promises? Can I be patient, waiting for a new world where righteousness reigns? In this season of hopeful expectation and waiting, be patient, and be at peace, friends. 

Dr. Lauren Berkshire Hearit is an assistant professor of communication at Hope College.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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