Category Archives: Advent

“Christmas is not coming. It has come.” by Sinclair Ferguson

“When I was a child, Christmas seemed to die every year by bedtime on December 25th. The anticipation seemed long; the realization all too brief. I even tried wrapping up my presents again and opening them the following day. But my childhood disappointment could not be relieved. It was gone for another whole year.

I know now why that was true for me, as it is for every child. It was because the true meaning of Christmas eluded me. In that sense Christmas never did really ‘happen.’ I was looking in the wrong direction for the wrong things instead of in the right direction for Jesus.

The truth is, Christmas is not coming. It has come. The Word already has been made flesh. He already has lived, bled, died, and risen again for us. Now all that remains is to receive Him. For Jesus Christ Himself is the meaning of Christmas.

Have you received Christ? One of the ways you will know that you have is this: you will begin to call God ‘Heavenly Father.’

Why not put this book aside, and do that now?

Lord God,

You sent Your Son from the heights of heaven to the depths of earth for us.

I have begun to see the ugliness of my sin in the light of His beauty.

I know I deserve only Your judgment.

Lord, I want Jesus the Lamb of God to be the Saviour who takes away my sins. I ask you to forgive me, and to enable me to turn away from sin and begin to live for Him.

Thank you, Lord, for Your promise that if I seek You I will find You, and if I knock the door will be opened, no matter how sinful I have been.

Father, I confess now that I have turned from You in my sin. I need forgiveness and new life from Your Son. Help me to receive Him and to discover what it means to be forgiven and to become one of Your own children.

I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

–Sinclair Ferguson, Child in the Manger: The True Meaning of Christmas (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 2015), 41-42.

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Roark Family Advent Devotional

A few years ago I created an advent devotional for my family. Folks have asked for a copy of it over the years, so I’m happy to share it here. Enjoy!

–Nick

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“The House of Christmas” by G.K. Chesterton

There fared a mother driven forth
Out of an inn to roam;
In the place where she was homeless
All men are at home.
The crazy stable close at hand,
With shaking timber and shifting sand,
Grew a stronger thing to abide and stand
Than the square stones of Rome.

For men are homesick in their homes,
And strangers under the sun,
And they lay on their heads in a foreign land
Whenever the day is done.
Here we have battle and blazing eyes,
And chance and honour and high surprise,
But our homes are under miraculous skies
Where the yule tale was begun.

A Child in a foul stable,
Where the beasts feed and foam;
Only where He was homeless
Are you and I at home;
We have hands that fashion and heads that know,
But our hearts we lost – how long ago!
In a place no chart nor ship can show
Under the sky’s dome.

This world is wild as an old wives’ tale,
And strange the plain things are,
The earth is enough and the air is enough
For our wonder and our war;
But our rest is as far as the fire-drake swings
And our peace is put in impossible things
Where clashed and thundered unthinkable wings
Round an incredible star.

To an open house in the evening
Home shall men come,
To an older place than Eden
And a taller town than Rome.
To the end of the way of the wandering star,
To the things that cannot be and that are,
To the place where God was homeless
And all men are at home.

–G.K. Chesterton, “The House of Christmas” in The Collected Works of G.K. Chesterton, Volume X: Collected Poetry, Part I, (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1994), 139-40.

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“The Maker of man became Man” by Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430)

“The Word of the Father, by Whom all time was created, was made flesh and was born in time for us.

He, without whose divine permission no day completes its course, wished to have one day set aside for His human birth.

In the bosom of His Father, He existed before all the cycles of ages; born of an earthly mother, He entered upon the course of the years on this day.

The Maker of man became Man that He, Ruler of the stars, might be nourished at His mother’s breast;

that He, the Bread, might hunger;

that He, the Fountain, might thirst;

that He, the Light, might sleep;

that He, the Way, might be wearied by the journey;

that He, the Truth, might be accused by false witnesses;

that He, the Judge of the living and the dead, might be brought to trial by a mortal judge;

that He, Justice, might be condemned by the unjust;

that He, Discipline, might be scourged with whips;

that He, the Foundation, might be suspended upon a cross;

that Courage might be weakened;

that Healer might be wounded;

that Life might die.

To endure these and similar indignities for us, to free us, unworthy creatures, He who existed as the Son of God before all ages, without a beginning, deigned to become the Son of Man in these recent years.

He did this although He who submitted to such great evils for our sake had done no evil and although we, who were the recipients of so much good at His hands, had done nothing to merit these benefits.

Begotten by the Father, He was not made by the Father.

He was made Man in the mother whom He Himself had made, so that He might exist here for a while, sprung from her who could never and nowhere have existed except through His power.”

–Augustine of Hippo, Sermons 184-229: Sermons on Liturgical Seasons (Edmund Hill O.P. Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 1993), 191.1.

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Lord’s Day Hymn – “What child is this?”

“What Child is This?”
By William Dix, 1865

What Child is this who, laid to rest
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing;
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.
Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh,
Come peasant, king to own Him;
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.
Raise, raise a song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

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“Two kinds of black” by Douglas Wilson

“As we celebrate the coming of the Christ, we must never forget the kind of world He was born into. The blackness that the star of Bethlehem shone brightly from was a creational blackness, the kind of blackness that was visible on the first day of our world–when it was evening and it was morning, the first day, and it was all very good.

But the child Himself was the morning star, and the blackness that He shone brightly from was a Herodian blackness, a moral darkness, an ethical night of pitch black sin. The slaughter of the innocents is an integral part of the Christmas story, and not some unfortunate event that happened around the same time.

It was the kind of thing that illustrated the reason why Christ had to come in the first place. But strikingly, I don’t think it is possible to buy a nativity set that has any of Herod’s soldiers in it. We don’t want to tell ourselves the whole story, whether past or present.

Then, as now, the choice was stark. Either we will receive Christ to rule over us, and we will welcome Him gladly, or we will turn our backs on Him, and welcome the ways of coercion and blood. Ultimately, there will be blood one way or the other, and so the choice will be between the blood of the willing sacrifice, or countless unwilling sacrifices.

It is either Christ on the cross, and the salvation of the world, or it will be all the possible permutations of Molech worship, and the maw of death that is never satisfied. It will either be the death that arrived when Christ cried out, ‘It is finished,’ or it will be the way of death that is never finished and never satisfied.

And so, celebrate this Advent with gospel satisfaction. Rest in the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, that was a once for all completion. Tell the story of the turmoil and unrest in the world that Christ came into, and teach your children how that unrest cannot be given rest apart from receiving the yoke of Jesus Christ.

In that manger we see the warrior who was born to slay the dragon, and we see that the dragon instinctively knew the nature of the threat and tried to do what dragons always do. The dragon raged all through the streets of Bethlehem because his time was short.

We sing in the streets of Bethlehem because the dragon has been slain, and we say of the one who did this great thing that of the increase of His government there will be no end.”

–Douglas Wilson, “Two Kinds of Black” as cited on http://www.dougwils.com/index.asp?Action=Anchor&CategoryID=1&BlogID=7185 (accessed December 7, 2009).

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