This December, I decided to prepare for Christmas by reading through the daily Advent readings in the Book of Common Prayer. Spending time in Scriptures that prophecy both the birth of the Messiah and the eventual return of Christ has filled me with anticipation. I have been especially impressed by the sense of the bleakness of the world before God sent his only Son to the rescue and, by association, the darkness of my own heart before God saved me. It is a strange and eager feeling, to look forward with longing to the Savior's birth; the event has already happened, and I know the rich truth of its significance, yet for this month I dwell imaginatively in a realm waiting for the breakthrough of the gospel.
Here are some meditations from one passage of Advent reading (I recommend reading the verses from Isaiah first):
Before the coming of the Savior, we were laden with iniquity. We were utterly estranged from God. Though children should know and obey their father, we lived in rebellion and more base than the beasts who know their Creator and follow his natural order. We languished sick in head and heart and body. Our souls were completely unsound and we could apply no remedy. We could make no sacrifice to please God or gain his favor. The blood of sin covered our hands, and we could never wash the stain off. Though God, in his holiness, could not heed our prayers, he still took the initiative to save. We were lost in evil, but he came as a man to make a reasonable way. God said, "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool." The blood of my sin could only be washed by the blood of Christ crucified. The only white I can claim is the pristine robe of Christ's righteousness.