No doubt, you have plenty of resources for your church during Advent. Still, I thought you might benefit from this little quote collection I compiled during sermon preparation and study over the years. I wish you a blessed beginning to this season of expectancy. Enjoy!
For outlandish creatures like us, on our way to a heart, a brain, and courage, Bethlehem is not the end of our journey but only the beginning – not home but the place through which we must pass if ever we are to reach home at last.
—Frederick Buechner, The Magnificent Defeat
A prison cell in which one waits, hopes,…and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent.
Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this life, in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; So that, at the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal.
–The Book of Common Prayer
Waiting is a period of learning. The longer we wait, the more we hear about him for whom we are waiting.
The church set aside this four-week pre-Christmas season as a time of spiritual preparation for Christ’s coming. It is a time of quiet anticipation. If Christ is going to come again into our hearts, there must be repentance. Without repentance, our hearts will be so full of worldly things that there will be ‘no room in the inn’ for Christ to be born again.…
—John R. Brokhoff
Before the hero enters, people anticipate his coming…Who’s coming? What’s his name? What’ll he be like? What’s he going to do?…So kindled are many emotions that good hearts break into song both in heaven and on earth waiting for, waiting for…
—Walter Wangerin Jr., from Preparing for Jesus
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.
—2 Corinthians 8:9
Let’s approach Christmas with an expectant hush, rather than a last-minute rush.
My idea of God is not a divine idea. It has to be shattered time after time. He shatters it Himself. He is the great iconoclast. Could we not almost say that this shattering is one of the marks of His presence? The Incarnation is the supreme example; it leaves all previous ideas of the Messiah in ruins. And most are “offended” by the iconoclasm; and blessed are those who are not. But the same thing happens in our private prayers.
—C.S. Lewis, from A Grief Observed
The church prepares our devotion before Christmas Day with four Sundays in Advent, which bring Christ nearer and nearer to us and remind us that he is coming to enable us by a further examination of ourselves to depart in peace, because our eyes have seen his salvation.
—John Donne, from “The Showing Forth of Christ”
He became what we are that he might make us what he is.
Advent: the time to listen for footsteps – you can’t hear footsteps when you’re running yourself.
The Advent story we associate with the joy of Christmas actually begins with deep sorrow and longing [the story of Elizabeth and Zechariah]. But thankfully, in the kingdom of God there is always more to the story than meets the eye.
—Enuma Okoro, from Silence and Other Surprising Invitations of Advent
What a difference! The three kings had only a rumor to go by. But it moved them to make that long journey. The scribes were much better informed, much better versed. They sat and studied the Scriptures like so many dons, but it did not make them move. Who had the more truth? The three kings who followed a rumor or the scribes who remained sitting with all their knowledge?
—Soren Kierkegaard, from “Only a Rumor”
…All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death?
There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt.
I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like
Death, our death,
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.
—T.S. Eliot, from “Journey of the Magi”
The only people whose soul can truly magnify the Lord are… people who acknowledge their lowly estate & are overwhelmed by the condescension of the magnificent GOD.
When at last she saw from the corner of her eye the gold fringe of his robe she felt no fear, only a glad awe, the Word already deep inside her as she replied yes to that she’d chosen all her life.
— Robert Siegel, from “Annunciation”
Small as she was, how could she keep in her heart Those centuries of praise?
—Jeanne Murray Walker, from “Portrait of the Virgin Who Said No to Gabriel”
The gospel teaches that Christ was born, and that he died and suffered everything on our behalf, as is here declared by the angel…he does not simply say, Christ is born, but to you he is born. Neither does he say, I bring glad tidings, but to you I bring glad tidings of great joy.
O come, O come, Emmanuel, And ransom captive Israel, That mourns in lonely exile here Until the Son of God appear. Rejoice! Rejoice!Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
—Traditional Advent hymn
Note: Many of these quotes came from Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas (Orbis, 2004). There is a new edition I have not read, but it also looks excellent.
Originally posted 2016-11-22. Updated 2018-12-02.
Canon David has over 35 years of local congregational ministry, diocesan and national involvement, leadership, and ministry experience and is the founder of Leaderworks. He was the founding Rector/Pastor, Christ Church, Plano and currently serves as the Strategic Leader and Dean, Diocese of C4SO.