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Fourth Week of Advent



Isaiah 7:10-16
Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
Romans 1:1-7
Matthew 1:18-25

The Revised Common Lectionary

We light the fourth candle representing love on this final week of Advent.


By Mary Pandiani
Executive Director
Selah Center

The Emmanuel Story
Luke 1:68-79

The Christmas story isn’t only about Jesus’ birth. It also involves all the other characters who make up the narrative of God’s story of Emmanuel – “God with Us.”

Zechariah, a priest for the Israelites, is one of those people. His story includes not believing God when his wife, Elizabeth, tells him after years of trying that she is pregnant with their son. As a result, he is struck mute and cannot communicate again until his son is born, and he names his son John (as in John the Baptist), the cousin of Jesus.

In Luke 1:68-79, the words of adoration and praise come from Zechariah in response to the birth of his son. Zechariah sees the faithfulness of God’s promise as a “new day is dawning” in verse 78. In the darkest places, God breaks through so that we might find ways of peace and freedom.

While I wouldn’t say I was struck mute in 2008 after a difficult decision to leave a position I enjoyed for a number of years. I did lose the voice I once had in people’s lives. I was in a dark place, searching for identity and worth, apart from the vocation that once defined me.

Eventually, I recognized God’s invitation to live into a “new day” of freedom only God provides, not other people or positions. In that place, I began to name the life God has always held for me. My Emmanuel story continues to encourage me today. I have a voice because of the God who is with me, not for any other reason.

God shows up in light and dark places of our life, whether we recognize God or not. So whatever place you might find yourself during this Advent season, know that the Emmanuel story is part of your story just as it is for me and as it was for Zechariah.

God is with you. Emmanuel.










Second Week of Advent

Day 8


Isaiah 11:1-10

Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19

Romans 15:4-13

Matthew 3:1-12

from The Revised Common Lectionary


God of peace,

Instill in us Your peace

That surpasses all understanding.

As we prepare for God’s coming,

Make us instruments of Your peace

And held us to find rest

In the Prince of Peace

Your Son, Jesus the Christ.


ON THIS SECOND WEEK OF ADVENT, we light the candle of peace. A state of being that means tranquility, mental calm, and serenity. We bring our request before God in asking for peace, no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in. Christmas is typically a time of celebration and joyous expectations. 

Anticipating the Christ

By Debora Buerk
Editor, Here & Now
& Selah Companion


[ˈadˌvent] (noun).

Old English, from the Latin

adventus ‘arrival’

and from advenire,

from ad- ‘to’ + venire ‘come’.

Synonyms: arrival,
birth, approach, nearing.

For Christians, Advent is a time spent preparing for Christmas. For many of us, this can include decorating our homes, putting up a Christmas tree, creating an Advent calendar, writing Christmas cards, gathering with family and friends for dinner, and giving gifts.  

The word Advent originates in Old English from the Latin word “adventus,” or “coming”—the arrival of God in human form, umbilical cord, and all. 

While some are tempted to think of Christmas as an event to be observed at the end of the calendar year, they would miss the origin and meaning of Advent.

We don’t know when the period of preparation for Christmas, now called Advent, began. It existed from about 480, with the Council of Tours in 567. What we know and celebrate is a time of preparation for Christmas Day, when we celebrate the birth or beginning of the Christian liturgical year. 

Advent anticipates the “coming of Christ” from three different perspectives:

  1. The physical Nativity in Bethlehem
  2. The reception of Christ in the heart of the believer
  3. The eschatological second coming 

This third meaning, I believe, was the focus of the early church—to wait for Christ’s second coming. This, however, has become downplayed among today’s Christians.

What if our focus

was to shift to waiting

for Christ’s

second coming?

What if our focus shifted to waiting, anticipating, and preparing for the King’s return to earth, the defeat of Satan and sin, and peace on earth? Now that would be something to anticipate and celebrate.

So this Advent season, as you decorate for Christmas, sing the carols, and light the advent wreath, try to anticipate—look forward to Christ’s return and, with it, peace on earth. What if we wished each other a “Blessed Advent” as a prelude to “Merry Christmas?”

In doing so, we can simultaneously give and receive the love of God to each other—as we anticipate and draw near his birth.

I wish you a joy-filled Advent for all of us in the growing Selah community.