Read or download Austin Seminary's Advent Devotional here. 

Unto Us a Child is Born!

by Mark Horner, Senior MDiv Student, PC(USA)

Advent always seems to come when I am the least ready for it. Classes may be over, but finals papers lurk just around the corner! The weeks pass in a flurry of activity, burying the season in notes and copies and printed pages. I emerge from my work confused by our community Vespers service: surely it's too early for Advent!

By the time it's all over, after our papers are in and our books have been returned, Christmas seems too close to comprehend. Two weeks? Am I even remotely prepared for the coming of our savior?

But then I read the words of Isaiah 6:

                        For unto us a Child is born,
                        Unto us a Son is given;
                        And the government shall be upon His shoulder.
                        And His name shall be called
                        Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God,
                        The Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

And I cannot help but hear the music of Handel's "Messiah." As an undergraduate, I had the privilege of performing the "Messiah" with my college choir and orchestra. It was always a beautiful occasion, filled with stunning solos and soaring instrumentation. The melody still gets stuck in my head every time I come across this passage from Isaiah, and I am reminded of the awe and expectation, the joy and excitement, that Christmas portends. 

God's promise is made anew every time we celebrate the birth of the savior. The one who redeems our relationship with God comes afresh, beckoning us to behold his birth and follow his footsteps. The church retraces the life of Christ every year because the church bears witness to our hope in God's intervention in the world. We go to the manger at Christmas and we retrace the cross at Easter because we believe God is actively restoring the world in our midst and through our witness.   

A few weeks from now, I will be driving through the mountains of North Carolina, admiring the bare tree limbs and trying to catch a glimpse of pockets of snow cast here and there. These are also my own reminders of the renewed promise of the season. God's artwork on the snow-capped peaks brings nutrients and new life to the buds that will burst in spring, just as God faithfully brings new life to God's church, and God's people, each Christmas.

May your Advent be blessed!

"The church retraces the life of Christ every year because the church bears witness to our hope in God's intervention in the world." -Senior MDiv student Mark Horner, pictured above with Professor Suzie Park

You can read or download Austin Seminary's 2014 Advent Devotional here