Thank you for joining us this Advent season! Derived from the Latin word adventus, meaning "coming" or "appearance," Advent is a season of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of our Savior's birth! Our advent wreaths are lit up each week to represent the four pillars of Advent: hope, love, joy, and peace. As we join together, we are given the opportunity to focus on being joyfully content in what God has given us and patiently await and prepare for all that He has planned for us in the future.
Since the 6th century, Western Christians have been observing Advent as they prepare for Christmas and celebrate our Lord's incarnation. Recapturing the rich heritage of Judaism and Christianity, through our observation of Advent, is an important part of our religious calendar here at First Pres. This devotional reminds us of God's faithfulness to our congregation and gives us the opportunity to reflect upon God’s presence in our lives. Through the experiences and stories shared within these pages, we are able to celebrate together as a church family. This year we are celebrating the glimpses of God’s glory that we see as we journey through each day. As we go about our daily routines, we are often blessed with moments where we can feel His presence amidst the darkness that surrounds us in the world. With each candle lit on the Advent wreath, His glory is ever present with the flickering candlelight that signifies the hope, love, joy, and peace that He provides to all who believe. Through the lighting of the Christ candle, we embrace Jesus as the light of our life and celebrate His birth, the redemption His arrival provided, and the ways that He continually remains present through the ups and downs of our world.
Within these pages, you will find many beautiful and moving submissions that share personal stories of the glimpses of God’s glory that the authors have experienced, along with promises from God's Word. Throughout the weeks ahead, keep an eye out for the moments that God stops you to be more aware and overcome by His glory and make note of it in a journal or even on the pages of this devotional. Be sure to reflect on these divine moments together and use this time to create memories and traditions to treasure forever. Set aside a time, perhaps at family dinners, to read the devotions, pray together, and discuss the moments God has caused you to stop during the day and reflect on His love and the joy of being in His presence. We look forward to this season of celebration and hearing about how it has been full of His glory!
Please invite others to join with us for the Advent and Christmas festivities as we join together for Advent recitals, the Christmas Cantata, Jingle Jam and worship services where we will rejoice in celebrating our Savior’s birth. The schedule can be found on the last page of the booklet.
Advent Wreath Instructions
Cover Photo Explanation
As we all know, Advent is a time of celebrating the birth of Christ. Most often, this season is depicted through colors of red and green, images of poinsettias and candles, and the beautiful nativity scene showcasing our precious Savior. The cover for this devotional clearly does not contain any of these characteristics and so we wanted to give a small explanation as to how the cover is indicative of this most sacred time of year. Our theme “Glimpses of God’s Glory” calls for us to embrace the moments that God gives us throughout the day to stop and observe the ways that He is showing us His presence. The painting on the cover is by a beloved departed member, Carol Malon, and is based upon the photo above, taken by our own Reverend Lucky Arnold, which shows what is often referred to as a “fire rainbow.” Reverend Arnold, who was going through a bit of a stressful time, went fishing with a friend on New Turkey Key and happened to look up and see this beautiful sight. Thinking at first that it was his glasses, Reverend Arnold took a second glance and immediately knew that this was a gift from the Lord, a true glimpse of God’s glory. Years passed and he was fishing in the same exact spot and once again God’s glory was exalted in the sky above through this same cloud formation, in the same exact spot. Reverend Arnold researched this beautiful site and confirmed what he had already suspected,which was that this gift from the Lord was quite rare indeed. In fact, the conditions required to form such a sight are very precise. The sun must be at an elevation of 58 degrees or greater, there must be high altitude cirrus clouds with plate-shaped ice crystals, and the sunlight has to enter the ice crystals at a specific angle. For Reverend Arnold, God’s glory was displayed through this rare phenomenon, but God’s glory shows up for each of us in so many different ways. It may be through a chance encounter; it may be through a fleeting childhood memory that fills your heart with joy; it may be through a Bible verse that keeps coming up in different ways, but one thing is certain, when we are willing to stop and take time to observe His presence, we will find in the midst of these moments God’s glory shining brightly. Through these moments, He keeps the flame alive in our hearts and helps us embrace another day, as we allow Him to exhibit His glory to others through our lives.