Dec 20, 2023

Advent 2023: Experiencing God’s Love in Unexpected Ways

This Sunday, December 24, 2023, marks the fourth and final week of Advent this year. (If you’re unfamiliar with the practice or purpose of Advent, you can learn about the meaning in this video.)

So far in this Advent series, we’ve explored what it means for us as Christians to ground ourselves in hope, discover everlasting peace and hold fast to overwhelming joy in this season.

This week, we are reminded of the love that God has for us. In the four-minute video below, Kristel Acevedo—spiritual formation director at Transformation Church, teacher and author—shares a personal story from her own life that clearly displays God’s love showing up in unexpected ways.

Acevedo takes us back in time to when her parents were forced to flee their home country of Nicaragua due to a civil war—at the time, Kristel’s mother was nine months pregnant with her. For years, her family lived in exile, as refugees, before finally being able to plant roots and make a home in the United States. Kristel then transitions to another story, reading from Matthew 2 and noting parallels between the experiences of her family and Jesus’ family. While both stories hold twists and turns, fears and doubts, they both end positively, because God—in his unending love—already had a perfect plan in place.  

Throughout the video, Acevedo reminds us that:

  1. Sometimes God’s love in action appears in ways that we would never expect
  2. While we might not always know what the future holds, God has a plan for us and we can trust him
  3. God’s perfect plan and purpose cannot be thwarted—and that is a testament of his love

Acevedo wraps up by sharing her hope that church leaders in this season can know and experience God’s love in new and unexpected ways. 

May you be blessed this Advent season, brothers and sisters in Christ. 

Merry Christmas!

Further research and resources:

  • Interested in learning more about Kristel Acevedo’s work and ministry? You can do so here, and don’t forget to check out 3 Big Questions that Shape Your Future, a book Acevedo co-authored with Kara Powell and Brad M. Griffin.
  • Are you trying to figure out what it means to lead effectively into the future? You’re not alone. Join The Resilient Pastor Cohort, a 12-week learning community launching late  January 2024, to help you grow in resilience. Learn more here.
  • Currently on its third season, The Resilient Pastor podcast is hosted by Glenn Packiam, Rich Villodas and Sharon Hodde Miller. Follow along as the hosts invite pastors to think out loud together about the challenges and opportunities facing church leadership today.

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Since 1984, Barna Group has conducted more than two million interviews over the course of thousands of studies and has become a go-to source for insights about faith, culture, leadership, vocation and generations. Barna is a private, non-partisan, for-profit organization.

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