Signifying emotional intensity.
Red increases respiration rates and raises blood pressure.
It’s aggressive and energetic.
Bold and vivid and sure.
Gracious Father, Advent is upon us—the cherished season when we remember and celebrate the coming of Jesus, the promised Messiah, your beloved Son, our gracious Savior. Grant that it will prove to be much more than Advent-as-usual.
Renew my passion for you during this Advent season. Let me long for You as desperately as You want me. Pursue me, at the time as I pour my energies into finding more of You – learning about You, drawing close to you, feeling the heat of your embrace, the intensity of your life. It is fitting that red is color of blood and love, because both, together, represent the reality of the sacrifice You made for us – without my asking of even knowing I needed it. You are passionate and expansive in the ways You love. Help me to see, to understand the all-consuming and never-ending love you have for me – for each and every single one of us. And give us the courage to welcome it, accept it, and embrace it. In all its vibrancy, all its passion.
Surprise us, Father. Let us engage with the story of Jesus’ birth as though for the very first time. Rescue us from the sentimental and the predictable. Bring familiar Scriptures alive in fresh ways. Reshape how we do Christmas this year by the power of the gospel.
Already this morning I’ve been arrested with Isaiah’s picture of your “Advent arms.” The promise of the Messiah carries with it the promise of the embrace we all need but scarcely believe. In Jesus, you come near to us as the sovereign Lord, with your sleeves rolled up as the great ruler. Your arm rules over all history, all nations, all kings, all circumstances. Nothing and no one can alter, subvert, or change the story you are telling through Jesus and the kingdom you are advancing through Jesus.
In Jesus, you come near to us as the most compassionate Shepherd, gathering and carrying your lambs in your arms. The image and hope are staggering. To be tended as a dumb sheep, to be held close to your heart, to be gently led—what more could we possibly long for?
These aren’t mere metaphors, Father. Metaphors cannot save us, only inspire us. You really are this kind of God and you really are this kind. The coming of Jesus puts all nations on notice: there is only one true King. And the coming of Jesus puts all your people facedown in adoring love, for Jesus is a most wonderful, merciful Savior, Immanuel, the God who is with us and the God who is for us. I pray with Advent wonder, in Jesus’ matchless name. Amen.
You who bring good news
lift up your voice with a shout,
lift it up, do not be afraid;
say to the towns of Judah,
“Here is your God!”
See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power,
and he rules with a mighty arm.
See, his reward is with him,
and his recompense accompanies him.
He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.
Isaiah 40: 9–11 NIV