Advent is a time of waiting. It is a time to prepare for the coming of Christ. But waiting doesn’t have to be boring, and preparation doesn’t have to be a chore.

Both can be filled with joy. And so we wait, with the joy of looking back and remembering God’s good works in the world and in our lives. And we prepare, bubbling with the delight-filled anticipation of setting up the party for an honored guest.

In hope, in trust, in thanksgiving, in joy let us lay our hearts before God.

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When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then it was said among the nations,“The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we rejoiced.

Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like the watercourses in the Negeb. May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy. Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves.

Psalm 126

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I was a teenager when my mother passed away. She was the most sparkle-filled lady you’d ever meet – kind, full of life, embarrassed me an appropriate amount, the best double-braider in the tri-state area. After her funeral, our house was packed with family and neighbors. The teenagers sat on the floor of my room, telling corny jokes while eating Chex mix and passing the Kleenex when necessary. The aroma of bubbling casseroles drifted up the stairs, along with sounds of grown-ups comforting each other with stories and even laughter. The house was filled with the sounds of a well-lived life and the promises of God’s work for the restoration of all things.

Happiness was absent that day, but joy was abundant. Even in the midst of our deepest ache, the past fulfillment of God’s promises and hints of the hope of what’s to come mean that celebration can live simultaneously with sorrow. We rejoice in God’s promises that all tears are temporary; God has done great things and will do great things. Redemption is coming.

Shelli Latham

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God, who makes all things new, thank you for your signs of light and hope in the midst of darkness and imperfection. Help me to trust in your promises and to remember all the ways you have come through for me and all your children in the past. And when happiness is hard to come by, may joy sustain me and point my heart back to you. Amen.

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“Turn around and believe that the good news that we are loved is better than we ever dared hope, and that to believe in that good news, to live out of it and toward it, to be in love with that good news, is of all glad things in this world the gladdest thing of all. Amen, and come Lord Jesus.”

Frederick Buechner

Shelli Latham

Shelli Latham is the pastor at Druid Hills Presbyterian Church, in Atlanta, Georgia. She believes the church is a place youth should be seen AND heard, loves Bible stories about feisty women doing gutsy things, celebrates any excuse to fly a kite in worship, and prefers her yellow cupcakes without icing.

Advent Reflections: Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

Joseph Martin

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