Tag Archives: Advent

The Lord is our Righteousness

righteousnessAdvent
November 24, 2015

Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 33:14-16

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfil the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’

The Hebrew word translated righteousness here is only used twice in the Hebrew Bible, both times by Jeremiah (see also 23:6). It refers to the Messianic King to come and is described thusly, righteousness as vindicated, justification in controversy with enemies and troubles, deliverance, victory, prosperity*. The interesting thing about this scripture is that it can easily be transformed from righteousness for all people to self-righteousness for some.

The implication of Kingdom language is at least that the Messiah is coming to bring righteousness to more than just me or even the people who think and act and look like me. Jesus came to this world to demonstrate in real time how the love of God works. It is like the love between parents and a newborn; like the love between fellow workers for a cause, we call them disciples; and like the love of one willing to risk and sacrifice his or her own life for others. These truths have been placed in human hands. Alone each of these examples can play out daily absent God’s love. Children are abused and neglected, churches war within themselves and with each other over who is more righteous, and suicide bombers waste their lives proving nothing.

The irony of God is played out fully in sending a helpless infant to show the way to the Lord’s righteousness. We too are infants in love as compared to the love of God and need the nurture of God’s abiding presence to abet our recognizing what is righteousness and living it.

Prayer: Love that will not let me go infuse me with the insights I need to fulfill your righteousness in every part of my being and life. Amen.

*http://biblehub.com/hebrew/6664.htm

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized 
Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council 
of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights 
reserved.

Keeping a Promise

The-Promises-of-GodAdvent
November 23, 2015

Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 33:14-16

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfil the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’

People seem to not care about promises anymore or even telling the truth. I am tired of hearing leaders, political or otherwise, explaining away the falsehoods they spread to make themselves seem different, stronger, better than then really are. And what is in a politician’s promise anyway? The temptation is to not trust anyone or expect anything from anyone no matter what they say. Does that mean we also take the promises of God lightly too?

It is my experience that what God says God does. It may take more time than my patience allows, but at some point, I see God in something when I least expect it. God was, of course, there all along. God keeps God’s promises.

I guess, the question, we must ponder is this: If God promised to execute justice and righteousness in the land, why are we all trembling in fear of standing against injustice when we see it?

He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
   and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
   and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8

But let justice roll down like waters,
   and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. Amos 5:24

Prayer: Lord, as we enter this time of Advent where we remember the world before you came to us as God with us, renew and refresh our understanding of your purpose that is now our purpose. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized 
Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council 
of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights 
reserved.

Light

Light bulbAdvent
December 13, 2014

Scripture Reading: John 1:6-8, 19-28

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. — John 1:6-8

My mother, born in 1908, grew up in a time when light, in general, was provided by the sun, the moon, on perhaps on a very clear night by the stars. The family had lanterns and candles, if absolutely necessary, but their lives were basically shaped around the natural availability of light.

My “guest” room is actually my office filled with a computer and monitor, two printers, and a modem with seven little blue and green blinking lights all in a row. Not to mention the digital clock by the bed and the digital telephone on the desk. The first night Mom came to stay with me, after she had gone to bed, she called out to tell me that I had left several little lights on in the room. I had shut the computer down and I actually had no idea what she was talking about when I entered the room and began to look around and there they all were. I recalled that she had frighten my sister once when she failed to answer the telephone. Arriving at Mom’s home to see what was wrong, my sister discovered that Mom routinely unplugged the phone by her bed to turn off the little light. The discovery of electricity and the electric light bulb changed our lives forever. Those of us who did not live through that change, take the availability of artificial light for granted every day. Even when the electricity is off for some reason we have our battery powered backups.

Advent is a time of year, each year, when we as individuals and as communities of faith throughout the world take the time to remember the time before the Light of Christ was introduced into the world. We do this for many reason, but one of them surely is to remind us to not take the gift of the Christ Child for granted.

Prayer: Light of the World, let your light shine through and among us so that the whole world can know a clearer vision of your love. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

The Lesson of the Fig Tree

FigsAdvent
November 30, 2014

Scripture Reading: Mark 13:24-37

‘From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. — Mark 13:28-31

I ate my first fresh fig ever this summer while touring Turkey and thought of Jesus’ lesson of the fig tree. Our tour bus pulled over next to a farmer’s fruit and vegetable stand by the side of the road. The farmer knew we were coming for he had already set aside more than enough figs for our group to each get one or two. It was delicious.

I recently volunteered to bring a fruit plate for the after-church reception we have each year on the first Sunday of Advent following our Hanging of the Green service. I looked for fresh figs but in Oklahoma in late November, I did not find any fresh figs so I got dried ones. I wanted others to experience the taste of new fruit, but I realized that the dried figs, like Christ’s words are just as nurturing and always available.

It is hard to know how to mark the church year in the midst of now Gray Thursday, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. I know it is important that our economy and all of the economies of the world remain stable so that all peoples can thrive. We have a long way to go in realizing such abundance throughout the world and a long way to go in setting our own houses in order regarding material wealth. It is, thus, important for us to remember that those things do pass away but the love of God through Jesus Christ never ends.

Prayer: Order our lives, O Lord, during this Advent season so that our love for you drives all that we are and do. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

Getting Our Attention

EarthquakeAdvent
November 24, 2014

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 64:1-9

 O that you would tear open the heavens and come down,
   so that the mountains would quake at your presence—
as when fire kindles brushwood
   and the fire causes water to boil—
to make your name known to your adversaries,
   so that the nations might tremble at your presence!
When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect,
   you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.
From ages past no one has heard,
   no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
   who works for those who wait for him. —Isaiah 64:1-4

Oklahoma has been experiencing what is called a “swarm” of earthquakes for the past few years. Since January 2009 [through October 2013], more than 200 magnitude 3.0 or greater earthquakes have rattled Central Oklahoma, marking a significant rise in the frequency of these seismic events….This “swarm” includes the largest earthquake ever recorded in Oklahoma, a magnitude 5.6 that occurred near Prague Nov. 5, 2011.* There is a lot of concern that this swarm may be the result of oil wells being drilled using a method called hydraulic fracturing and its accompanying wastewater disposal. It’s a tough issue with which to deal when the oil industry is a primary source of livelihood for many Oklahomans.

I was not at home the day of the Prague earthquake, but when I returned to my home all the pictures on my walls were on the floor, one with broken glass. It was eerie walking into my house sensing something was amiss but taking some time to figure it out. I didn’t know what the probable cause was until I heard the news later that evening of the recovery  work being done to buildings closer to Prague.

The prophet in our scripture today is wishing that God would get our attention, all nations’ attention, with as much intensity as an earthquake so that we and all the nations might know and recognize the one all-powerful God who works for those who wait for him.

I have lived in Oklahoma most of my life, have a working knowledge of tornados, draught, floods, and hail storms, but had never experienced an earthquake until some months after the one at Prague. It got my attention. I understand the prophet’s illustration. Today we mark the beginning of our waiting for a Savior. I pray that these next four weeks will be a time of deep contemplation on the one who is coming, who has come, and who is now with us forever from whom we gain a new and refreshed sense of God in our time and in our place and a new and refreshed sense of our role in living in God’s time and place.

Prayer: O God of Hope, as we enter this time of Advent bless us with new insights, new courage, and new hope built upon our past, present, and future. Amen.

*http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=3710&from=rss#.VHJlC7l0ycw

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.