Advent Devotion – Sunday December 16

December 16, 2018 ~ Carolyn Matthews

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Rev. Robert Wilkins, retired CEO of East Bay YMCA, Oakland, CA



What Should We Do?  


Zephaniah 3:14-20

14 Sing aloud, O daughter Zion;
shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
O daughter Jerusalem!

15 The Lord has taken away the judgments against you,
he has turned away your enemies.
The king of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
you shall fear disaster no more.

16 On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
Do not fear, O Zion;
do not let your hands grow weak.

17 The Lord, your God, is in your midst,
a warrior who gives victory;
he will rejoice over you with gladness,
he will renew you in his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing

18 as on a day of festival.
I will remove disaster from you,
so that you will not bear reproach for it.

19 I will deal with all your oppressors
at that time.
And I will save the lame
and gather the outcast,
and I will change their shame into praise
and renown in all the earth.

20 At that time I will bring you home,
at the time when I gather you;
for I will make you renowned and praised
among all the peoples of the earth,
when I restore your fortunes
before your eyes, says the Lord. (New Revised Standard Version -NRSV)
See also Isaiah 12:2-6; Philippines 4:4-7; Luke 3:7-18


What should we do? This nagging question looms heavy and easily when dark and difficult circumstances visit our lives. The answer to this vexing query requires disruptive action – a forceful reversing of fortune from an unpleasant outcome that seems certain to occur.

These seemingly unrelated passages [unrelated to each other and surely unrelated to the season] are bound together by unfavorable circumstances. Isaiah writes from lonely exile in Babylon; Zephaniah speaks to a nation awash in sin, idolatry and oppression; Paul pens a letter from a prison cell and John scolds a complacent, greedy and hypocritical people. “What should we do?” they all surely must have asked.

Somehow, despite the odds they faced, they all speak emphatically of joy…and rightly so, since the third Sunday in Advent has come to be known as Gaudete {“joy) Sunday. This joy is not mere happiness, but rather a defiant shout of celebration in the face of an indifferent and recalcitrant world. This joy disrupts self-pity, self-interest and doubt, and proclaims the certain coming of a new day in God.

Advent is God’s disruptive act to the unruly, materialistic and violent rhythms of the world…. Advent is Joy. What, then should WE do?  DISRUPT…. REJOICE!! .


O God, help us with the decisions we make; that we might resist the temptation to give in, give up, give out. Help us to embrace the joy you offer to us through Jesus. Amen.