My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. For he has regarded the lowliness of His servant…And His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; He has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty. — Luke 1: 46-53 – often referred to as the Magnificat
We’re on to the final week of Advent and its almost Christmas! To some this is a relief (that was a lot of scripture reading), others dread (so much yet to do), others excitement (gifts!), others apathy (just another Christmas), and others mystery. The journey of the wise men to follow an ominous star sets the mood for the fourth advent nicely.
The wise men knew about preparation! They studied, they watched, they were ready for … something. And then the star appeared, and they were off. This is you! You have taken Advent for what it is: preparation for the coming of the Lord. The wise men and their entourage set out to worship a mysterious King, bringing costly gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh – all prized during that day. But the ultimate preparation was still before them.
Now, we have grown accustomed to appreciating the wise men for being sensible pagans who at least knew how to respect what they didn’t understand. We’ve even sung “The Little Drummer Boy” consoling ourselves that we don’t have much to offer like the magi but we want to partake in Christ’s glory nonetheless.
However, what if the wise men were not bringing gifts to prove their dedication to the King? What if they were offering their confession! What if they knew gold, frankincense, and myrrh symbolized their greatest failings! Casting down their works of darkness at the trough where Christ lay, the wisest men of the day prepared to receive from this King forgiveness, love, and His abiding presence.
This fourth Advent is for your confession, which could take two paths. Use this time to acknowledge an idol of your heart, and/or use this week of Advent to discover a fresh way to magnify the Lord.
Advent Week Four: Sunday, December 21
Set the mood by lowering the lights and and preparing candles. You’ll need five – one for each week plus one for Christmas Day. Light the three Advent candles from the first 3 weeks of Advent.
Read the scriptures.
- II Samuel 7:1-11, 16
- Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26 (David was far from perfect, yet God loved him – and he magnified the Lord)
- Romans 16:25-27 (do you think you have something to offer God?)
- Luke 1:26-38 (this leads up to one of the greatest songs…ever – see the intro to this blog)
Discuss what you’ve read.
- In the II Samuel passage, where was Christ born? Where does he now dwell?
- In the passage found in the Psalms, we note that David was far from perfect, yet God loved him. And David magnified the Lord!
- Do we have something to offer God? (refer to the Romans passage)
- The Luke passage provides on of the greatest song texts ever written which has been interpreted by composers for hundreds of years. Below are a few for you to enjoy!
Light the fourth Advent candle.
Sing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”
Listen to Magnificat:
- J.S. Bach This one is worth watching just for the goofy conductor! Bach brings so much celebration to this song.
- Arvo Part A totally different way of viewing this song! Was Mary not filled with wonderful dread after her meeting with mighty Gabriel? The Phoenix Chorale will perform this arrangement during their Christmas concerts this weekend.
- Herbert Howells: Watch at 4:20 in the video – a lot of those boys have the whole thing memorized!
- “First Week of Advent: Hope” by Philip Martens
- “Second Week of Advent: Preparation” by Philip Martens
- “Third Week of Advent: Joy” by Philip Martens
- Lifeway: Advent Week Four
Written by Philip Martens - Website
Philip Martens has lived in Phoenix for twenty years, but grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Raised in a Christian environment (family, church, school), he desired a relationship with Christ at the age of six and was later baptized at thirteen. He graduated from ASU with degrees in History, Accountancy, and a Masters in Accountancy. His wife of 16 years, Susi, also hails from Canada; they have four children. He currently manages the US portfolio of a Canadian real estate investment trust. He has been a member of CBC since 1998.