Each week, as we make our way through this Advent season, LTN Writers will provide short nerdy devotionals for you and your family to enjoy. You can find them all below. Also, if you want more nerdy advent content, check out our Advent Calendar from 2018.
Week 1 – Hope – Prophet’s Candle – Drew Hood
“What does the ‘S’ stand for?” – Lois
“It’s not an ‘S.’ On my world, it means Hope.” – Superman
There is a sense in which every story contains echoes of Eden, the hope that someone will make all things right, that the world will make sense amidst all its brokenness. We see it in pop culture in stories like Harry Potter, Star Wars, and The Lord of the Rings. Darkness seems to be winning, and we long for the day when the darkness is overcome, and the light prevails. Nowhere does this seem more obvious than in the story of a baby sent to earth; a father beyond the stars sends forth his son to earth into the gentle care and love of two unlikely parents from a small, backwater, town. This son would grow in wisdom and stature and save mankind from the darkness within and without. Sound familiar? Of course, I’m talking about Superman, the Man of Steel. The Superman mythos has always contained layers of the gospel at its heart, even the name Kal-El means “voice of God.” We tell these stories because deep down we know that brokenness and hurt abounds and we desperately want to see it set right.There is a sense in which every story contains echoes of Eden, the hope that someone will make all things right, that the world will make sense amidst all its brokenness… We tell these stories because deep down we know that brokenness and hurt abounds and we desperately want to see it set right.
The focus of the first week of Advent is all about hope. It is about the longing felt leading up to the birth of the Messiah, and the realization of that hope made flesh. This Messiah would make all things right, and usher in a kingdom far greater than we could ever imagine. He would once and for all put an end to sin and death reigning over His people and keeping them in bondage. This Messiah is one day going to return, and everything will be restored, renewed, and beautiful. It is a longing, a hope, we all feel. As we kick off this Advent season, let us embrace the hope and longing for the return of Jesus, and celebrate the hope felt before his birth! “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13 ESV“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13 ESV
“You will give the people of Earth an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you, they will stumble, they will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun, Kal. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders.” – Jor-El
Week 2 – Love – Angel’s Candle – Andrea Racoti
One of the truest demonstrations of love I’ve ever had the privilege of witnessing in a story comes from Final Fantasy X. This title demonstrates how pure unconditional love is when it places someone else before ourselves. In Final Fantasy X, our main group of characters undertakes a pilgrimage to fight Sin, a deadly creature who returns, again and again, to destroy lives, casting the world in a state of fear and prejudice. Tidus, the “main” character, builds a relationship with Yuna, the summoner that the pilgrims are tasked with protecting, who is the only one who can defeat Sin. Tidus witnesses the destruction and death that Sin causes everywhere, and the heavy burden that Yuna has undertaken, as she plans to sacrifice her life to defeat Sin. Tidus’s love for Yuna leads to his promising he will find a way to save her, and they will find a way to defeat Sin together.
Final Fantasy X reflects many elements that Christ followers will recognize and can contemplate over. This Advent season, we reflect on the love shown when Christ came down in the form of a human to be the Savior of all humanity. He came ultimately so that we would learn from Him, and that He would die for us, demonstrating how far He would go for us, His own creation. One of the most powerful verses in all of Scripture comes from John 15:13 (NLT): “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Christ gave us this great gift to mend the chasm between God and humanity—a chasm created by sin. That is true unconditional love. So let us remind ourselves of this, for Christ’s gift is all the more reason to cherish this season in which we celebrate the birth of our Savior.There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13 NLT
Week 3 – Joy – Shepherd’s Candle – Colby Whittaker
I think, if nothing else, nerds understand Joy. To love something, to enjoy something, is at the core of what we do. We immerse ourselves in it. We advocate it to others. We want our joy to catch like fire, spreading out to our friends and families and even strangers, drawing them into the weird but beloved things we have found.
For me, it’s tabletop RPGs. My personal, professional, and social life has left dozens of new roleplayers in its wake. I started a Youth group Pathfinder and a pastor’s group D&D. I even started a homebrew (or original) Weird West game just for my in-laws. When I like something, I want to share it with the people I like. The joy I find in it overflows into sharing.
Joy is also central to the Christmas story. The folks who experienced it first hand couldn’t help sharing about the wondrous things they had heard and seen, this good news that a savior had come into the world. That God was with them in a new and powerful way. We can see this in Luke 2:17–21:
And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.When I like something, I want to share it with the people I like. The joy I find in it overflows into sharing.
Every year my church likes to end our Christmas candlelight service with “Go Tell It On The Mountain.” Our last charge of Advent brings us back to Joy, to be filled with so much light and love that you have to carry it out the doors and share it with the world.
Week 4 – Peace – Bethlehem’s Candle – Amy Cokenour
This week of peace in Advent can be a difficult one to sit in if you don’t know how to define peace. The peace that the world offers is so fleeting, dependent on how you feel on a particular day or the circumstance that you may find yourself in. We are left to determine what peace looks like for our own lives, and that can cause friction depending on how different our opinions on peace are from one another. Despite all this, peace is something humanity as a whole desperately longs for and has been longing for throughout all of history. We seek it even when we don’t really know how to define it or where to find it, and when we find some semblance of what we believe to be peace, we return to it over and over. We find this pattern not only in our own lives but also in the stories we tell, with Coffee Talk being an example.
As you serve the various customers in the eponymous shop Coffee Talk, you learn that they all have situations they are trying to escape from. They have struggles—work crunches and burnout, family tensions and disapprovals, and romantic relationships. By providing a safe space for them, they return again, and gradually you are able to speak advice into their situations. They are encouraged and emboldened to not give in to the turmoil in their lives but to stay steady in spite of it, a peace that they ultimately would not have found on their own. It is only through the intervention of you the player that they are able to be given peace.Perfect peace ultimately cannot be found on our own, but we are reminded in this season of Advent that peace is available to us all through the birth of Jesus.
Perfect peace ultimately cannot be found on our own, but we are reminded in this season of Advent that peace is available to us all through the birth of Jesus. We are given this promise by the Prince of Peace Himself: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27). I invite you to not be pulled into the chaos that this season can often bring, but rest in the peace we have been given.
Week 5 – Light – Christ Candle
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