Copy of Psalm Book PDF


Advent 2023 Scripture tells us God’s love for the world moved Him to send His Son, Jesus. This Advent season, as we celebrate the first coming of Christ and anticipate His second, we want to be praying for this world He loves.

Within these pages, you will find a reflection on each of the four themes of Advent: Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love.

You will also find a Q&A with four missionaries from around the world. Pray that the believers in these areas would experience hope, peace, joy, and love in Christ, regardless of their location, their traditions, or their needs. Finally, each section includes suggestions for additional Scripture reading, Advent and Christmas music, poetry and hymns, recommended art to research, and art by Sojourn artists.

As we prepare our house for the coming Christmas season, we would also prepare our hearts for the returning Christ.

You came once for your people, O Lord, and you will come for us again.

In view of such great tidings of love announced to us, and to all people, how can we not be moved to praise and celebration in this Christmas season? As we decorate our tree, and as we feast and laugh and sing together, we are rehearsing our coming joy! We are making ready to receive the one who has already, with open arms, received us! We would prepare you room here in our hearts and here in our home, Lord Christ. Now we celebrate your first coming, Immanuel, even as we long for your return. O Prince of Peace, our elder brother, return soon. We miss you so! Amen.

Excerpts from Every Moment Holy, Vol. 1 “A Liturgy to Mark the Start of the Christmas Season”

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.

Hope “When your time comes and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up after you your descendant, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will discipline him with a rod of men and blows from mortals. But my faithful love will never leave him as it did when I removed it from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and kingdom will endure before me forever, and your throne will be established forever.” Nathan reported all these words and this entire vision to David.

At this moment, there is a toilet paper roll wrapped in aluminum foil hanging on our Christmas tree. Way back when, to my first-grader eyes, it was a shimmering, glorious candle resplendent with a red yarn bow and tissue paper flame. It was the pinnacle of my crafting career, and I was proud to hang it in a prominent place on our family’s Christmas tree. Finally, I had something worthy to add to the celebration. In 2 Samuel Chapter 7, King David is also in a celebratory mood. He has settled into his fine palace of cedar and has “rest on every side from all his enemies” (v.1). He has just successfully relocated the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem with lots of fanfare and revelry. Now, he wants to add one more thing to the celebration: a worthy home for the Ark. Instead of the Tabernacle tent, David wants to build a house for God to dwell in. There’s just one problem: The LORD says no. Because of his history of bloodshed and violence, David is not counted worthy to honor God in that way (1 Chr 22:8). But God, in His grace and kindness, grants David a greater, more glorious “yes.” Instead of David constructing a home for his God, he is told, “The LORD himself will make a house for you.” This isn’t just another fancy palace for the king and his family. This is a lineage—a dynasty that will “endure before [the LORD] forever” (v.16). David did the best mankind can do: He offered God his best effort—a grand, but earthly structure tied to a place and time—and it was found wanting. Nothing that we create in our own strength is worthy of Him. Yet God did not wholly spurn David’s gift. Instead, he exchanged it for the hope of an even better gift to come. It is tempting to expect instant fulfillment of God’s promises to us, and we do see the short-term results of this particular promise in the person of Solomon. He is David’s descendant who builds a house for the name of the LORD (1 Kgs 6). We see how God disciplines Solomon but never removes his faithful love (1 Kgs 11). Yet these are temporary blessings: David’s grandson inherits a broken kingdom because of his father’s sin, and the temple Solomon built is destroyed by an invading army (2 Chr 36:19). Where is God’s promise of an established-forever throne? Where is David’s hope fulfilled? Fast-forward to the very beginning of the Christmas story, when the angel Gabriel describes Mary’s coming son: “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will have no end” (Lk 1:32-33). Centuries later, God’s covenant with David is perfectly kept in Jesus. He is the Son of the promise whose throne is permanently established and whose house has sufficient rooms for all who would enter in. He is the

2 Samuel 7:12-17


new and better Temple. He is the best gift. He is the hope fulfilled.

And not just for David. Through Jesus’ sacrifice, God adds all of us to the family line and grants us the promises given to Him: faithful love, sonship, and a home. Like David, we can’t produce anything to be worthy to receive these gifts. But we don’t have to. The Lord generously and abundantly blesses us out of his great love—not out of need for what we could give back to Him. Every gift that we try to give God, whether it’s a tin-foil candle for the Christmas tree or a gold-covered temple for the Ark, is eventually exposed for what it is: fleeting and flawed. My shining candle became a sad toilet paper roll, and Solomon’s great temple was reduced to a pile of rubble, but God’s great hope given to David endures. There is still a good King on the throne who welcomes us in, and someday He will dwell with us and be our light and our temple in a new, everlasting Jerusalem. We will stand before him, wearing His worthiness, celebrating and saying with David, “Who am I Lord God…that you have brought me this far?”

Additional Reading: Deuteronomy 18:15-19 Acts 3:11-26 Isaiah 7:14 Matthew 1:18-25 Micah 5:2-5a Matthew 2:1-12 Luke 1:46-55 Hope

Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus Charles Wesley

Come, thou long expected Jesus, Born to set thy people free; From our fears and sins release us, Let us find our rest in thee. Israel’s strength and consolation, Hope of all the earth thou art; Dear desire of every nation, Joy of every longing heart. Born thy people to deliver, Born a child and yet a King, Born to reign in us forever, Now thy gracious kingdom bring. By thine own eternal spirit Rule in all our hearts alone; By thine all sufficient merit, Raise us to thy glorious throne.

Recommended Albums: A Seed, A Sunrise: Advent to Christmas Songs - Caroline Cobb Waiting Songs - Rain for Roots In the Fullness of Time - Matt Boswell & Matt Papa

Recommended Art: The Annunciation - Henry Ossawa Tanner

Luke & Aime Chermue Tha i land

Q: How does your local culture celebrate the seasons of Advent and Christmas? What traditions are common among families and churches? A: Thailand has its roots in Buddhism. Therefore, Thai society has no activities during this season except for shops decorated for marketing purposes. Christmas is only recognized in the commercial sense. What we do personally is spend time with our family reading about the birth of Jesus Christ and unwrapping the gifts on Christmas morning. As for the church, we take time to show our love for each other, read about Jesus, and explain God’s love through Jesus. This is a good opportunity for the church to explain the Gospel because Thai society has a misunderstanding about Christmas. Most Thais think Christmas is only about exchanging gifts, not knowing what the best gift of all actually is...Christ. Q: Is there a specific tradition from your local culture that has particularly delighted or encouraged you? A: There is one tradition that I think is good and comforting, which is at the end of the year when there is a long holiday. All family members will come together. Thai society is a society that lives very closely together. Q: Are there local holiday meals or treats that you particularly enjoy? If able, please share a recipe with us. A: There is a delicious snack that can only be eaten during the cold season. It is taking glutinous rice flour and shaping it into small balls. Then put the coconut inside. It is something that can be found in the local area. (

Q: During the 1st week of Advent, we will light the Hope candle and read 2 Samuel 7:12-16. How do you see this theme reflected in the lives of local believers? What needs in your local culture relate to this theme? How can we pray for Thailand in light of this theme? A: It is sad that Thai people do not know Jesus. Thus causing them to have no hope in Jesus. Thai society tends to place its hopes more on tangible things or things that can be seen in this world. What is needed here is a desire to know Jesus. Only then can they have a real Biblical hope. Q: How else can we pray for your family, other believers, and your local people? A: Pray for us to have strength to do our work in Thailand. Evangelism and discipleship, that the Spirit will work within people’s hearts and welcome Jesus as their Savior.

Peace The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; a light has dawned on those living in the land of darkness. You have enlarged the nation and increased its joy. The people have rejoiced before you as they rejoice at harvest time and as they rejoice when dividing the spoils. For you have shattered their oppressive yoke and the rod on their shoulders, For every trampling boot of battle and the bloodied garments of war will be burned as fuel for the fire. For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on his shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. The dominion will be vast, and its prosperity will never end. He will reign on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from now on and forever. The zeal of the LORD of armies will accomplish this. the staff of their oppressor, just as you did on the day of Midian.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow penned the words to I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day amid significant personal and national turmoil. Shortly after the start of the Civil War, Longfellow’s wife tragically died when her dress caught fire. Their son ran away to join America’s bitter war between brothers and was wounded. The tension of this time is felt when we hear the words,

“And in despair I bowed my head; ‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said; ‘For hate is strong, And mocks the song Of peace on earth, good-will to men!’”

As in Longfellow’s day, despair may threaten to overwhelm us; internal and external chaos may attempt to drown out the truth of God’s promised peace. We can give thanks that Longfellow’s words continue and, more importantly, that they are thus— “Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: ‘God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; The Wrong shall fail, The Right prevail, With peace on earth, good-will to men.’” God is not dead! This truth is made more magnificent by the fact that the Incarnate God did die once. His death and resurrection ushered in a most glorious peace now and the promise of peace eternally. Most importantly, “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). This necessary reconciliation was provided by the blood of Jesus (Colossians 1:20) while we were deep in enmity with God (Romans 5:10). Our glorious peace with God then extends into peace with others through Christ. Ephesians 2 speaks of an incredible unity amongst believers, whether Jew or Gentile. This unity is only possible because of Christ who “is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility” (v 14). This united family is called to peacemaking as only sons and daughters of God are able (Matthew 5:9) – by living and preaching the good news of peace with God through Christ. Christ’s blood also provided access to the throne of God where we can receive peace from Him. As we present our circumstances, decisions, desires, and fears to the Lord, “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). Even as relationships may fracture, losses will occur, and earthly wars persist, the peace we have now – with God and from God because of Christ – will give way to perfect eternal peace. When the Prince of Peace returns, the weapons of war will be unnecessary (Isaiah 2:4, 9:5-6) and His united people of every nation and language will proclaim His worth together (Revelation 5:9-10, 7:9 10). God is not dead. Therefore, the wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on the new earth.

Isaiah 9:2-7

Peace Illumined By Life from “Sheltering Mercy: Prayers Inspired by the Psalms” Ryan Whitaker Smith & Dan Wilt be one of thanks to You; every thought in my mind a meditation on Your goodness. All I am, all I have, is from your hand - You, the Giver; me, the happy recipient of breath and bread; of beauty, joy, and grace. The wise among us know their own poverty; their unpayable debt to You. The only response is gratitude: heartfelt thanks for all You have done. But You are not only Provider, not only Lord; You have condescended to dwell with us - a knowable God. I have reached for You and found You. I have known the comfort of Your Spirit; the tenderness of Your mercy. I have traded my worries for the peace of Your presence. I am illumined by Your life, Your face shining upon me: a dim mirror, awaiting glory. How could I turn back to what I once was? Father, may every word on my tongue

I was just a beggar at the door of grace, but You welcomed me in; heard my story; offered me a seat at Your table; commanded the hosts of Heaven to watch over me. I am a permanent guest in the house of God - If only all could trust in Your goodness - would they not be ushered in as I have been? Awed by Your glory, quieted by Your presence? So many starve outside the banquet hall, while the doors are open, and the table is set. The secret of the universe is not so difficult to find. I could tell it in simple verse; in a song; in a children’s tale. You have set life and death before us: the sweet and bitter fruit - our choice. a beneficiary of infinite kindness. In Your presence I lack nothing. planting seeds in shallow soil. Do they not all long for You, unconscious desire burning within them? As for me, I have resolved to walk in Your ways; to tell the truth with mouth, hands, feet: a living witness to Your mercy. You are everywhere, but nowhere so much as with Your children: Faithful Father. Everywhere I look, I see people searching for life in all the wrong places;

Righteous Redeemer. By Your light, we see.

But those who have shunned You - who cling to the darkness while infinite joy is offered them - will suffer the harshness of the dark lands, shadowed by Your turning away.

One with Christ, we are patient in our afflictions, awaiting the day when the last enemy falls, sorrow flees away, and we look with fresh eyes on a world made new.

You are the night watchman of Your blood-bought children; the shepherd of Your flock. Savior of the afflicted, the scorned, the forgotten.

All who walk in death worship death, become death, suffer death.

In the end, only the ransomed will remain; children at the feast of God - the humble exalted; the proud humbled; the King of New Creation glorified. Amen and Amen.

We are burdened, but not crushed; struck down, but not destroyed.

These momentary sufferings prepare us for glory.

Recommended Albums: Seeds of Christmas - Seeds Family Worship Advent, Pt. One - Sarah Sparks Recommended Art: The Good Shepherd, the Story of Jonah, and Orants - Catacomb of Saint Peter and Marcellinus

Additional Reading: Matthew 4:12-17 Luke 1:67-79 John 16:33 Romans 5:1-11 Colossians 1:15-20

Beverly Burton Ha i t i

Pray for followers of Jesus to boldly tell unbelievers (voodoo parents and siblings) about the good news of Jesus. A: The theme of peace in Isaiah 9:2-7 is what sustains the Haitian followers of Jesus. There is no government to care for the people, no police to keep them safe, very few parents to provide for the children, very few people who love like Jesus taught us.We teach our 249 students and staff to talk to Jesus each day to tell Him their needs and desires. He gives the only peace Haitians truly know. How can you pray for Haiti? 1. 2. Pray for gangsters to give their life to Jesus. 3. Pray for each follower of Jesus to have a full portion of His peace, joy, and love in their spirit. Q: During the 2nd week of Advent, we will light the Peace candle and read Isaiah 9:2-7. How do you see this theme reflected in the lives of local believers? What needs in your local culture relate to this theme? How can we pray for Haiti in light of this theme? Q: How else can we pray for your family, other believers, and your local culture? A: How can you pray for me and Haitians? 1. For me to be obedient and do everything God asks me to do. 2. For Patricia (Director) and Toutoute (Administrative Director), teachers, and staff - that God will fill them with the abundance of His peace, joy, and love because their daily life is filled with hunger, uncertainty, and fear. 3. For Peacemaker School students to have good health, protection from evil, food, and clean water to drink. Q: How does your local culture celebrate the seasons of Advent and Christmas? What traditions are common among families and churches? A: Haitians do not celebrate Advent in the churches or schools. But this sounds like a good tradition to begin at Peacemaker School. There are no presents given or received, no trees, decorations, or cards. Instead, Christian families go to church on Christmas Eve and Day to worship for many hours.

Joy For the choir director. A psalm of David. May the LORD answer you in a day of trouble; may the name of Jacob’s God protect you. May he send you help from the sanctuary and sustain you from Zion. May he remember all your offerings and accept your burnt offering. Selah. May he give you what your heart desires and fulfill your whole purpose. Let us shout for joy at your victory and lift the banner in the name of our God. May the LORD fulfill all your requests. Now I know that the Lord gives victory to his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with mighty victories from his right hand. Some take pride in chariots, and others in horses, but we take pride in the name of the LORD our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand firm. LORD, give victory to the king! May he answer us on the day that we call.

Most of us have little personal experience with the nationwide dread that follows a declaration of war, nor the overwhelming joy that comes because of proclaimed victory. Today, we are uniquely blessed to be inexperienced in such risk. However, as significant victories become increasingly distant, we may struggle to truly appreciate the reality of freedom. To experience joy in freedom we must be reminded of the cost and learn to deeply appreciate the victory that has been won on our behalf. The nation of Israel regularly faced enemies that wanted to challenge their freedom. Psalm 20 is a petition for God’s deliverance through His anointed, the king, during a time of trouble. While anticipating God’s salvation, the congregation promises to response with rejoicing. The people would sing for joy in the victory accomplished by God through the king. While Psalm 20 likely had international conflict as the primary issue and a temporal anointed king as God’s agent of salvation, we must acknowledge its place in God’s covenant with Israel. God’s use of temporal faulty prophets, priests, and kings in the Old Testament to help Israel occupy a promised land and be a set apart people pointed forward to an eternal and perfect remedy. Our joy in temporal national freedom is hardly comparable to the joyous freedom from sin that God offers in Christ. The petition for God’s salvation through His anointed during a day of trouble in Psalm 20 may direct our minds to the suffering Anointed King, Jesus. Perhaps the heavenly host were quoting Psalm 20 as Jesus wept in Gethsemane, stumbled towards Golgotha, and hung upon the cross as they knew well that He was the source of great joy, the one who would be crushed for our sin (Lk. 2:10, Is. 53:5). To the church in Corinth Paul referenced the prophets Isaiah and Hosea to proclaim Jesus’s victory on the cross as Lord and Christ, or Anointed (1 Cor. 15:54-56, Is. 25:8, Hs. 13:14) – .

Psalm 20


Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, death, is your victory? Where, death, is your sting?

For a follower of Christ, the advent season can be a time of focused worship through anticipation. We worship with anticipation as we are reminded of the delightful details of Christ’s second coming, while also keeping in view the cost of our freedom secured in His first coming. And what is to be our response as we reflect and wait? Joy! Certainly, life includes trails of suffering, sorrow, and solitude. However, as our faith is tested and grown in anticipation, may we live as God directed through Peter. Though you have not seen him, you love him; though not seeing him now, you believe in him, and you rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy, because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls (1 Pet. 1:8, 9).



Psalm 20: XX Exaudiat te Dominus Malcolm Guite

Additional Reading: Isaiah 61 Luke 4:16-21 John 15:1-11 Psalm 16

All given for your growth, and your delight, All flowing for you from his sanctuary. Even before you enter in, his light Is blessing you. Now may his mystery Still draw you on, arouse your heart’s desire, And may each glimpse become epiphany. May brief sparks blaze into a holy fire Whose light and warmth illuminate your mind. And may some scent and sense of heav’n inspire. Your thoughts and words. May everything remind You of your Lord, that you may put your trust Entirely in his name, not in the blind Dependence of this world, whose weapons rust Into the soul and kill it from within. But may you find in Christ, riches and rest.

Acts 2:22-39 1 Peter 1:3-9 Revelation 21:1-7

Recommended Albums: Firstborn - Poor Bishop Hooper

Joy Has Dawned - Kings Kaleidoscope Gloria, Gloria - Jess Ray & Langdon

Recommended Artist: Lilias Trotter

Jonathan & Clarinda Halk Zambi a

Q: How does your local culture celebrate the seasons of Advent and Christmas? What traditions are common among families and churches? A: Advent doesn’t seem to be a thing here where they would take the whole month to focus on Christ. Honestly, this is the time of year they spend in the fields getting them ready for planting so that the rains can be the most effective. They are in survival mode trying to make what they have stretch to the next harvest season. For churches - most of them are used to having a program (mostly done by kids). Last year, I did a stick drama with about 7 kids. For families - there is a milk bread that is made here (very yummy and sells out quickly). If you are in the village it is hard to get fresh, but they will try to get it the day before Christmas and butter to have for breakfast. I believe that celebrating Christmas has become a thing because of the missionary influence, whether it be British or American, so many of their traditions are very Western. They are just starting to have Christmas trees, lights, and ornaments. Q: Are there local holiday meals or treats that you particularly enjoy? If able, please share a recipe with us. A: The local tradition is to have nsima (crushed white maize that is made into white thick mash potato-like patties) and is served with village chicken and ndiyo (relish - soup type side). If they have extra funds they may do rice instead of nsima. While we don’t have this at Christmas it is one of our boys’ favorite meals any other time we may have it. Q: During the 3rd week of Advent, we will light the Joy candle and read Psalm 20. How do you see this theme reflected in the lives of local believers? What needs in your local culture relate to this theme? How can we pray for Haiti in light of this theme? A: With this being such a new work, knowing who are true believers vs. those who claim to be believers is difficult. Seeing new believers trying to live out their faith in a community that is bound in bondage to jealousy is a joy in and of itself. Because everyone knows everyone and they rely on each other (I’ll do for you if you do for me”), if they try to be different or do differently, it is

seen as if they believe they are better than everyone else and the village will turn their backs on them. The many deeply ingrained beliefs that they carry causes confusion and blindness. So seeing them go through the realization, when the Holy Spirit brings it to the front, is amazing to watch and that is joyful. Please continue to pray for the church as we are in the middle of a witchcraft and Voodoo area, and the darkness and traditions blind so many and even hinder the believers in the area. Q: How else can we pray for your family, other believers, and your local culture? A: Pray that we continue to be faithful to the Word of God, that we would have discernment for when trouble arises, that we would learn the language, and become better equipped to help the people of Pachiyambi Baptist Church. Pray that God would make himself real to the believers and convict the unbelievers. I can’t imagine what this village could do if they were on fire for God and lived in such a way that would drive out the evil of witchcraft. Pray as we teach the children, that the boys that would normally go into this practice would be saved early and then would be set apart and live fiercely for God.

Love “Look, the days are coming” --this is the LORD’s declaration-- “when I will raise up a Righteous Branch for David. He will reign wisely as king and administer justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. This is the name he will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness. “Look, the days are coming” --the LORD’s declaration-- “when it will no longer be said, ‘As the LORD lives who brought the Israelites from the land of Egypt,’ but, ‘As the LORD lives, who brought and led the descendants of the house of Israel from the land of the north and from all the other countries where I had banished them.’ They will dwell once more in their own land.”

In John 11, a family beloved by Jesus is in mourning. Lazarus has died. Mary and Martha had sent for their Lord, expecting him to heal his dear friend. Rather, Jesus arrives in His own timing and meets the family amidst their sorrow. After speaking with Mary and Martha, Jesus approaches the tomb of Lazarus. Here he stands, observing that great consequence of Adam’s sin, and weeps. “So the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’ (v 36)” Truly, Christ did love Lazarus. He loved him as only the Incarnate God could. A few short words from the mouth of Jesus and Lazarus’ body was filled with life and strength. Imagine the expressions of love that overtook the mourning in that moment! Perhaps some of the same Jews re-emphasized their words, “See how he loved him!” How indeed. Not long after, Jesus entered Jerusalem where His love for Lazarus, His love for the world would be unmistakably displayed in his own death. “But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Certainly, Lazarus’ resurrection to this earthly life was a gift of extraordinary measure, but even that gift was a signpost shadow of what Christ would provide. “For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, emphasis added). The gift of Lazarus’ earthly life would eventually end again. However, as Jesus told Martha, “‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me, even if he dies, will live. Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ she told him, ‘I believe you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who comes into the world’” (John 11:25-26). Many years before, the weeping prophet spoke of a Messiah who would arise, gather God’s people from the lands of their banishment, and return them to their own land. Jeremiah described this “Righteous Branch for David” (Jeremiah 23:5) as One who would shepherd His flock into safety and security. This Good Shepherd did come and chose to “lay down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). More than leading His people back into an earthly land of promise, His sacrifice and resurrection guaranteed the promise of life in a new heaven and new earth where “God’s dwelling is with humanity, and he will live with them. They will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them and will be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4). “See what great love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children—and we are!” (1 John 3:1) Do you see how he loved us, how he loved you? This Advent season, declare with the Apostle John, “Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another” (1 John 4:11). Love that is sacrificial, unconditional, without favoritism or expectation of a return. It is that extraordinary love, the love of our Lord, that will remain when all else fades (1 Corinthians 13).

Jeremiah 23:5-8


Come, Behold the Wondrous Mystery Matt Boswell & Michael Bleecker

Come behold the wondrous mystery In the dawning of the King He the theme of heaven’s praises Robed in frail humanity In our longing, in our darkness Now the light of life has come Look to Christ, who condescended Took on flesh to ransom us Come behold the wondrous mystery He the perfect Son of Man In His living, in His suffering Never trace nor stain of sin See the true and better Adam Come to save the hell-bound man Christ the great and sure fulfillment Of the law; in Him we stand

Come behold the wondrous mystery Christ the Lord upon the tree In the stead of ruined sinners Hangs the Lamb in victory See the price of our redemption See the Father’s plan unfold Bringing many sons to glory Grace unmeasured, love untold Come behold the wondrous mystery Slain by death the God of life But no grave could e’er restrain Him Praise the Lord; He is alive! What a foretaste of deliverance How unwavering our hope Christ in power resurrected As we will be when he comes

Recommended Albums: Behold the Lamb - Andrew Peterson Heaven Has Come - Sovereign Grace Music

Additional reading: Isaiah 12

John 3:16-21 John 10:1-18 John 15:12-17 1 John 4:7-12 1 Corinthians 13

Recommended Art: Adoration of the Shepherds - Rembrandt

David & Emily Parmer France

Q: How does your local culture celebrate the seasons of Advent and Christmas? What traditions are common among families and churches? A: We are experiencing an interesting divide this Christmas season. Strasbourg considers itself the capital of Christmas. It’s home to some of the best Christmas Markets in Europe and the biggest Christmas tree in Europe stands in the center square. Walking the streets in December, you’ll find Christmas lights strung across the road, building to building, and huge Christmas trees in every square. You’ll smell roasting chestnuts, sausages, and spiced ciders or wines. The whole city is full of people eager to see the tiny, wooden stalls set up to sell their Alsacien Christmas wares. Many families cross the border into Germany to pick out their Christmas tree from the Black Forest and eat gingerbread while decorating it. However, most of the refugee families we’re friends with are Muslim and will not be celebrating Christmas. A: We’ve learned that the big celebratory feast in each family is usually held on Christmas Eve, rather than Christmas. The French pull out all the stops and serve foie-gras (duck liver), oysters, caviar, escargot, cuisses de grenouilles (frog legs), and many other expensive (read: unusual) dishes. Rather than the older tradition of burning a yule log on their hearths during the meal, they now will eat a log-shaped chocolate swiss roll for dessert. After this cozy meal has finished, the family may stay up late and attend the Midnight mass at the local Cathedral-Notre-Dame-de-Strasbourg. At the mass, the family will take communion, sing songs, and light many candles to represent Jesus as the light coming into the world. While our church doesn’t practice this service, the beauty of Jesus being remembered in a land where He has mostly been forgotten is delightful to us. Q: Is there a specific tradition from your local culture that has particularly delighted or encouraged you? Q: Are there local holiday meals or treats that you particularly enjoy? If able, please share a recipe with us. A: It’s got to be le pain d’epices! Otherwise known as gingerbread. This treat is everywhere in Strasbourg during the Christmas season, even in the decor! You’ll see happy gingerbread men and women placed in wreaths or hanging among the ornaments. We haven’t tried this recipe, but wish you the best of luck trying your hand at it! (

Q: During the 4th week of Advent, we will light the Love candle and read Jeremiah 23:5-8. How do you see this theme reflected in the lives of local believers? What needs in your local culture relate to this theme? How can we pray for France in light of this theme? A: We see this theme in a blatant way as we work side by side with our French, Turkish, Iranian, Afghans, South African, Canadian, and other believers to share the hope and love of Jesus and the invitation out of physical and spiritual exile into a true family to the lost and homeless refugees and immigrants here in Strasbourg. A large need is for the vast majority of local believers in Strasbourg to see the heartbeat of God for the exiled peoples who live in their city, on their streets, and under their bridges and to extend the invitation of life and love and family in real and tangible ways. You can pray that this Christmas season would be a time of renewal for the local believers and that the exiled here would hear and believe the good news of a Father who has his home open to them. A: You can pray that we would have the opportunity to invite the refugees we have met to join us in our celebration of Jesus and share a gathered time of fun, food, and worship. Pray for our family as we have large decisions to make by January and we are still in the process of trying to raise support to stay for a third year. We also have begun different activities to create relational opportunities with the students we work with: we need wisdom, courage, and lots of prayer covering all that we do. Pray that the local church here would be one spirit, united under Christ in love and grace, and empowered to go and speak the gospel in their neighborhoods. Pray for the local people here that their ears would be opened to the good news and the enemy would be silenced as he seeks to blind and devour them. Q: How else can we pray for your family, other believers, and your local people?

Christmas Market with the Notre Dame Cathedral in the background

Christ Candle Christmas Eve

Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God

as something to be exploited. Instead he emptied himself

Additional reading: John 1:1-18 Luke 2:1-20

by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity. And when he had come as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death-- even to death on a cross. For this reason God highly exalted him

and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow -- in heaven and on earth and under the earth -- and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:5-11

Recommended Songs: Immanuel - Beautiful Eulogy City of David - The Gray Havens Light Has Come - Future of Forestry Jesus, Joy of the Highest Heaven - Keith & Kristyn Getty Light All the Lanterns - Our Atlantic Roots

Recommended Art: Christmas 3020 - Makoto Fujimura

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