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Advent 2023

Advent Week 1: Hope

Advent Week 2: Peace

Advent Week 3: Joy

Advent Week 4: Love

A Daily Prayer for Advent
Christ Jesus, 
we remember how You became human, 
making Yourself vulnerable and dependent like us. 
We see how You come now, gracing us continually 
with Your Spirit’s power and presence. 
We wait expectantly for the day of Your return, 
to bring us into the fullness of Your kingdom. 
Help us, Lord, to hold onto hope, 
to be grateful and honest, to keep abiding in You. 


“Let There Be Light”

By Kelly Wilbanks


The first words echoing into eternity were, 

“Let there be light.” 


Did it pulse out of the darkness? 

Did it shatter it like glass? 

Did darkness and light bounce like oil and water? 

Did the darkness flee? 

Did stars sweep across the heavens,

like lanterns in the expanse of space? 


Light changed everything. 


Ever since light was created, 

it has waged a war on darkness.


God is the source of the light. 

Then and now. 


His light began the world. 

His light saved the world. 

His light kindles and rekindles hearts to reflect 

His light to people living in darkness.


We did not make the light. 

We did not create it. 

We do not sustain it.


We are vessels for it.


Like Mary carrying Jesus in her womb. 

The light of the world— in an itty, bitty living space. 


We are light carriers. 


Oh, how I’ve pressured myself to be so much more. 


How often have I let this flame fizzle out, 

thinking it unimportant?


Virgins regard their lanterns. 

They didn’t create the flame—

they were only supposed to keep it lit. 


You do not create the light. 

You reflect it.


You are a vessel. 


When God chose Mary as a vessel, 

He didn’t spare her the journey to Bethlehem. 

He didn’t give Joseph the means to make her more comfortable. 

She gave birth in a barn. 

If He didn’t change her circumstances, 

how can I expect Him to change mine? 


We are light bearers, 

we tell about the light, 

we model the light,

we worship the light, 

and we reflect the light of the world, 

keeping with the first words that ever echoed into creation.


“Let there be light.”




“Peace Passed Over”

By Kelly Wilbanks


God fashioned a peaceful earth. 

It was good. 

It was complete. 

He could rest knowing His work was finished. 


The mathematical exactitude,

Of a spider’s web.

The impossible flight

Of the honey bee.

The transformational showstopper

Of the butterfly. 


The garden, bursting 

with infinite design, 

A creative resting spot 

for the God almighty 

to walk through 

on a sunny afternoon. 


Can you imagine it?


His joy?

His pride?

His love for every detail… admiring each atom. 

Marveling at what each genetic blue print

Revealed when it came to life.


How long did this peace last

Before his image bearers, 

the very ones He’d created

To share in this perfection, 

Wandered into the shadows, 

Choosing their reasoning and judgment 

Over the warnings of the divine?


Peace shattered.


Murmurings, Churning, Changing…


An earth filled with ripened fruit, 

Now furrowed with thorns. 

Animals at rest,

Becoming prey and predator.

A people, unhurried, unworried, 

Now in conflict. 


Violence was predicted in the garden. 

Redemption was prophesied in the garden.

He will strike his heal. 

He will crush his head. 


There was not one righteous, 

Enough to save humanity, 

From Abraham to David, 

Each one mired in their own sin. 

Only God’s Son, 

A holy and righteous lamb, 

Could take away the sins of the world.

Only He could 

Create a bridge back to the garden. 


Through this war waged on sin and death 

We were granted access to life and peace. 


What did that look like? 

It didn’t look like peace. 


It looked like a battle for peace. 


Each cell screamed 

On Jesus’ bloodied back, 

Yet, He bore the cross

Choosing God’s wisdom, 

God’s plan for humanity, 

Over—His personal suffering. 


Murmurings, Churning, Changing…


Jesus chose God’s wisdom 

Over His own, 

Rectifying man’s choice 

In the garden. 

Taking on the covering 

Of this sacrifice

Is choosing 

Divine wisdom now. 


This is the path to true peace. 

A new peace. Reborn

Rebuilt on the 

Knowledge of its 

Cost and sacrifice. 

Not a peace felt on earth,

But, rooted in the eternal

A promise unfolding

A hope unyielding 

Held in the tension of 

Now and not yet.


Jesus’ covering allows us 

To weave back into 

The infinite, majestic pattern 

of God’s intelligent design 

Because we are Kingdom people, 

Living with an urgent hope 

For peace on earth, again. 






“Joy in the Wilderness”

By Kelly Wilbanks


Mud, straw, bricks, chains, Masters, whips


A people moaning, groaning, hoping


Four hundred years, a slave


Praying for oppression to cease, for peace


Beseeching their God for a rescue


10 signs, Blood, Frogs, an Angel of death


A first pass over, a final release 


Chariots thundering in the distance 


Slavery seeming better than corpses in the wilderness


But…waters divide, freedom on the other side


Songs sung by slaves set free, in the in between


Joy in the wilderness


Before the promised land


Before God’s promise fulfilled


Joy defined by a future destiny, anticipation


Hope in a future kingdom


A land, a nation, a blessing, a Savior


A lineage, a seed, a Redeemer,  


But…a kingdom falls into ruin,


Prophets cease, people scatter, tyrants reign 


Four hundred years of silence and pain


Darkness until a star in Bethlehem appears


Unconstrained Angels joyously claim, 


“Good news and tidings of great joy!”


Joy brought to earth


Emmanuel, God with us


To a world expectant, waiting,


To a world enslaved, unknowing 


Both true, wise men knew, kings confused 


Shepherds, first in queue to see joy incarnate


Joy in a barn, Joy held in arms


Son of both God and man


A final pass over, a future release


Joy in the wilderness


Joy is an embrace to leprous man 


Joy is a stillness to the waves


Joy is picking up your mat and walking 


Joy is trusting all will be redeemed


It is enduring the cross, for the joy set before Him


When all seemed lost, death in a tomb


But, hope breaks through


A resurrected King 


The fullness of joy released on earth


Emmanuel, God within us


Choosing joy incarnate; the spirit manifest


Happiness hangs on the horizon, 


In a world marked by sin and death


Joy is remembering you’ve been rescued


Surrendering, transforming, radiating 


Hymns sung in prison cells


Strangers breaking bread


The commissioned, spread 


It is joining into a chorus composed of all creation


With the rocks, and trees, and clay breathed to life.


Rejoicing, and again I say rejoice. 


"Love is the Reason"
by Kelly Wilbanks

Love is the reason, love is the why
Love is what sparked this earth into existence
A Being, a Triune God overflowing with love
Creating a world purposed to receive it


An ecosystem, a habitat, an environment perfectly suited
Renewed and repeated, of other centered God given-love
But, we lost our connection, we lost our epicenter, our locus


Love became unclear

We forgot the source of our love.
We traded it… for less.
We got caught in our shadows.
We projected. We protected. We hid.


We experience things called love that never should have been.

God made a plan to overcome it.
To give a world devoid of love
A gift, a model, a reflection, a revelation
A rebellion, a servant, a sacrifice


Jesus lived in love

In washing feet, in moving towards lepers,
In healing the broken, in casting out demons,
In caring for those he did not stand to benefit


He remembered the forgotten,
He served the abandoned,
He touched the communicable,
He welcomed the outcasts,


This love reflects the heartbeat of God

Jesus died for the selfishness and corruption of his enemies.
For those who plotted, betrayed and mocked,
standing frenzied at his cross.
This counterintuitive, enemy embracing love
Reveals God’s heart for every one of us
His wild, unwarranted grace


His death defying rescue
Connecting you back to your design
So you can become Love
by experiencing the Divine


Jesus is our conduit

This love invades, it pervades, it fills, it glows
like an ember in your heart, brightening the road
Revealing, redeeming, releasing,
Taking you to people, to places,


You cannot imagine living—
without the love of God
A moment longer


You were never meant to sustain love without God
We squint in a haze, in a fog, fumbling, stumbling
The blind circling the blind, needing, always needing
more love, as basic as water and air
Without it babies wither in their beds


Because we are made of more than muscle and bone
The need to love and be loved is woven like a
Metaphysical reminder of what we were made for
Love is the reason

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