Our family (Scott) keeps a guest book on the glass top of the server just to the right of our entryway. It is a tradition passed down from my parents who kept a guest book in my childhood home. Their guest book, as does ours, catalogs the various people who have shared a meal, spent a night, or dropped by for an afternoon coffee or tea over the years.
It may seem a bit old-fashioned for a 21st century family to keep a written log of home visits and shared hospitality, but it is a diary of sorts for us. We have signatures of guests, contact information, personal notes of gratitude and well-wishing that take us back to certain seasons and events in our lives.
The names of the guests from decades past bring to mind the impact that visit had upon us. There were…
Visitors for whom we were unprepared
We have visitors whose names are written in the book who simply showed up on a Sunday afternoon from out of state unannounced, for whom we were unprepared, but pleasantly surprised to see.
Visitors who challenged us
There are other names of visitors whose time in our home proved a challenge because they queried us on how we lived or what we thought, sometimes in a confrontational way.
Visitors for whom we are grateful
Other names of visitors fill us with gratitude for what they shared, what they gave, and how they encouraged us during the highs and lows of life.
Visitors who enlightened us
Of course, there are those guests whose words and thoughts enlightened our thinking and caused us to constructively reconsider a pattern of thought or plan of action.
Advent anticipates a visit from God.
The Lectionary’s Gospel texts for this season provide a guest list of visits and visitors who prepare us for God’s arrival. Matthew and Luke give us an Advent Guest Book with distinct visits:
- The forewarning of the unexpected visit of the Son of Man in Matthew 24:36-44 for which we are unprepared
- The “in your face” visit of John the Baptist in Matthew 3:1-3, which challenges us to turn away from our comfortable life
- The visitor who blesses and encourages us and fills our hearts with gratitude in Luke 1:46b-55 in Mary’s Magnificat
- The visitor who enlightens and expands our thinking in a way that transforms our actions in the angel’s visit to Joseph in Matthew 1:18-25
The Method of this Advent Series
The Advent series we have provided follows the Revised Common Lectionary, Year A. It is meant to be a reflective guide for you in your preaching preparation for Advent. The series provides you with the collection of lectionary texts for each Sunday of Advent and highlights a central text for preaching. We provide a set of lenses for looking at each highlighted text that focuses on the AIM of the text. AIM stands for Ancient context, the text through the lens of Jesus (Ἰησοῦς), and our Modern application.
We think that understanding the Ancient or original context of the passage is necessary to inform and guide our interpretation of its theme. We also believe, along with the Reformers, that the interpretation of the Ancient context of the Hebrew scripture for the church necessarily flows through its Lord, Jesus Christ. Furthermore, we affirm that the role of the preacher’s AIM is to bring the congregation from the Ancient through Christ and to the Modern context, making the message real in our hearts and lives. In addition, we will resource you with themes for preaching for each highlighted text, including referenced illustrations, and quotes from The Pastor’s Workshop library.
We pray that our Advent Guide will be a help to prepare you and your people for the greatest visit of all in God’s presence among us.
Scott, Stu & the TPW Team
- Exegesis of Text Through AIM Methodology
- Key Quote
- Key Illustration (and comment)
- More Illustration and Quote Themes
- Liturgical Elements